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According to The Institute for College Access & Success, the average college student graduates with $30,000 in debt. There are many factors producing this figure--from economic situations to uninformed spending. Applying for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) benefits is a great way to prevent this monetary weight. The FAFSA is a form that current and prospective students complete to seek financial aid. Unfortunately, the scope of the FAFSA deters some students from applying. Other students believe that their parents make too much money to be eligible; this is a common misconception.

So who is eligible? Click the graphic below to see a comprehensive list of requirements.


Universities that award financial aid usually won't consider candidates who don't have a FAFSA on file. For many students, submitting a FAFSA as soon as possible each year is an important step to securing a debt-free adult life. Many schools award financial aid on a first come first served basis, so waiting to submit isn't recommended.

Filling out the form correctly is also important. The latest statistics gathered by SMART College Funding show that 80% of FAFSAs contain at least one error. The most common error students make is assessing which assets are accountable. This makes a big difference in the amount of money a student can receive. For example, money in a retirement account won't count towards the amount of aid received but money in a checking account will. Knowing these differences when applying can maximize the amount of aid a student receives.

The FAFSA has been and will continue to be an important resource for students looking to reduce their financial burden. For more information on deadlines and to apply, visit the FAFSA website.

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