First off, the FAFSA is a Free Application for Free Student Aid that almost every college student is forced to fill out. Very few, if any, colleges will offer scholarship money without first receiving the FAFSA report. This leads too many colleges deciding how much money to give based on a simple application. However, there are many things wrong with this logic and with the FAFSA itself. The FAFSA tells thousands of students every year that they are too rich to receive several need-based grants, but college is too expensive for most students to afford.
Based on the Previous Years Paycheck
The information submitted on the FAFSA is from the tax return of that year. This shows the amount of money made the year before and does not accurately reflect how much has changed in that year. While filling out your tax return, questions are asked about whether you moved, medical expenses, and things of that nature. However, the FAFSA does not ask anything about those scenarios and does not have a blank spot for you to fill in the missing information. It also does not ask if you were fired, demoted, or if you had changed jobs toward the end of the year. Such a change does not show up as much on a tax return and in return does not show the lesser paycheck the family will expect.
Doesn’t Show Much about Medical Expenses
Medical expenses can be a large part of someone’s financial struggle and can be the reason that college is unreachable. Several families have at least one child or parent that is having problems with their health. Some problems are not fixable with one treatment and must be checked on continuously. Then there are lifelong illnesses or mental difficulties that cost more than a simple trip to the doctor. The FAFSA does not ask about such things and seems to ignore the possibility of anything but perfection in the family.
Questionable when it comes to Divorced Parents and Legal Guardians
There are large grey areas when it comes to who fills out the FAFSA and who claims the child as a dependent. Typically, the parent that fills out the form is the parent with whom the child lives with most or receives most of their financial support from. However, the FAFSA does not know which parent actually fulfills those responsibilities and as such, cannot prevent simple lies from occurring.
Number Given (SAR) is Unrealistic
The most important part of the FAFSA is the Student Aid Report (SAR) given at the end. That is the expected family contribution toward the child attending college. The number however is highly unrealistic. When my family filled out the FAFSA, we got the SAR number of 015313 which simply means that my family is assumed to be able to give me $15,313 a year to continue my education. When we saw this number we were startled. That is 16.78% of my family’s yearly income. However, even though I will be going off to college, my family will still be paying their house payment, car payment, insurance, gas bill, cable bill, buying food and many other things necessary to live. With all those things calculated in, my family cannot afford to give me that much a year for college. Granted, at most college fairs, they tell the parents that the SAR is not a specified amount they must write a check for, but it still makes it more difficult to receive financial assistance or student loans.