Paying for college can be a daunting task for many students and their families. With the rising costs of tuition, room and board, and other expenses, it’s no surprise that many turn to financial aid to help cover the costs. Two of the most common forms of financial aid are the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and scholarships. But can you get both FAFSA and scholarships? In this article, we will explore the answer to this question and provide valuable insights for students and their families.
Can You Get Both FAFSA and Scholarships
The short answer is yes, you can get both FAFSA and scholarships. In fact, many students receive both forms of financial aid to help cover the costs of their education. However, there are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to receiving both FAFSA and scholarships.
FAFSA and Need-Based Scholarships
As mentioned earlier, FAFSA is primarily based on financial need. This means that students who demonstrate a high level of financial need may be eligible for need-based scholarships in addition to federal aid. These scholarships are typically awarded by colleges and universities and are often referred to as institutional scholarships.Read:Can you get a scholarship at any age?
For example, let’s say a student’s family has an income that falls below the poverty line and they have a high level of financial need. They may be eligible for a need-based scholarship from their college in addition to federal aid from FAFSA. This can greatly reduce the amount of money the student and their family need to pay for college.
FAFSA and Merit-Based Scholarships
Merit-based scholarships, on the other hand, are not based on financial need. These scholarships are awarded based on a student’s academic, athletic, or other achievements. They are often highly competitive and can be awarded by colleges, private organizations, or government agencies.
Receiving a merit-based scholarship does not affect a student’s eligibility for federal aid from FAFSA. However, it is important to note that some colleges may reduce the amount of need-based aid a student receives if they also receive a merit-based scholarship. This is known as scholarship displacement.
For example, let’s say a student receives a merit-based scholarship from their college that covers their full tuition. The college may then reduce the amount of need-based aid they receive from FAFSA, as they no longer have a financial need for tuition assistance. This can result in a smaller financial aid package for the student.Read:Can you pay off student loans with scholarships?
How to Maximize Your Financial Aid
Now that we know that it is possible to receive both FAFSA and scholarships, how can students maximize their financial aid to cover the costs of college? Here are some tips:
- Apply for FAFSA every year: As mentioned earlier, FAFSA must be completed every year that a student wishes to receive financial aid. This means that even if a student did not qualify for aid in previous years, their financial situation may have changed and they may be eligible for aid now.
- Research and apply for scholarships: There are thousands of scholarships available to students, and many go unclaimed each year. It’s important for students to research and apply for scholarships that they may be eligible for. This can greatly reduce the amount of money they need to pay for college.
- Be aware of scholarship displacement: As mentioned earlier, receiving a merit-based scholarship may result in a reduction of need-based aid. It’s important for students to be aware of this and to carefully consider their options when it comes to accepting scholarships.
- Consider other forms of financial aid: In addition to FAFSA and scholarships, there are other forms of financial aid available to students, such as grants and work-study programs. Students should research all of their options and apply for any aid they may be eligible for.
Let’s take a look at two real-life examples of students who were able to receive both FAFSA and scholarships to help cover the costs of their education.Read:Can you hire someone to find scholarships for you?
Example 1: Sarah
Sarah is a high school senior who comes from a low-income family. She has a strong academic record and has been accepted to a prestigious university. Sarah’s family is unable to afford the full cost of tuition, so she decides to apply for financial aid.
Sarah completes the FAFSA and is awarded a Pell Grant, which is a need-based grant from the federal government. She also applies for several scholarships and is awarded a merit-based scholarship from her university. The combination of the Pell Grant and the scholarship covers the majority of Sarah’s tuition, and she is able to attend her dream school without taking out any loans.
Example 2: John
John is a high school senior who comes from a middle-class family. He has a strong academic record and has been accepted to a state university. John’s family is able to afford some of the costs of tuition, but he still needs financial aid to cover the rest.
John completes the FAFSA and is awarded a small amount of federal aid. He also applies for several scholarships and is awarded a merit-based scholarship from a private organization. The combination of the federal aid and the scholarship covers the majority of John’s tuition, and he is able to attend his top choice school without taking out any loans.
In conclusion, it is possible to receive both FAFSA and scholarships to help cover the costs of college. FAFSA is primarily based on financial need, while scholarships can be awarded based on a variety of criteria. Students should research and apply for all forms of financial aid they may be eligible for in order to maximize their aid package. It’s also important for students to be aware of scholarship displacement and carefully consider their options when it comes to accepting scholarships. With careful planning and research, students can successfully navigate the world of financial aid and make their college dreams a reality.