Can FAFSA Cover Full Cost Of College

Q: Is it possible to get enough money from FAFSA to pay for all of your tuition and college expenses?

A: Typically, a student will not be able to cover all of their college tuition costs and college expenses with FAFSA. If you have received an EFC of 0 from FAFSA, this does not mean that the government will simply provide you with enough grants and loans to cover all of your college expenses. All an EFC of 0 means is that you will be receiving the maximum federal financial aid available.

For example, a first year undergraduate student can receive a Federal Pell Grant at a maximum of $5,500 and $5,500 in Direct Stafford Loans, with no more than $3,500 of this amount in subsidized loans. If a first year student receives the maximum from federal financial aid, and if their first year of college costs were under $11,000 (extremely unlikely), only then would FAFSA cover the full college costs. Students could receive more federal financial aid through the Parent PLUS Loan Program, but this would be only if their parents are willing to take out a Parent PLUS Loan and if their parents met the eligibility requirements.

Some students can receive a substantial amount of money from federal student aid programs, while others may not receive much at all. Regardless of what you receive from FAFSA (or anticipate receiving from FAFSA) it is always worth applying for. Federal grants offer free money for college, and federal student loans offer some of the lowest interest rates and best repayment options available. Any amount of money a student receives from FAFSA will most likely be cheaper than borrowing money from the private sector.

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