Applying To College? FAFSA Just Got Easier

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Big changes to FAFSA: starting this year, applications are available in October. This means students can find out how much financial aid they’ll get BEFORE they apply to college. Youth Radio’s Amber Ly weighs in on how that information would have affected how she applied to schools.

This time last year, I was scrambling on college applications–and completely blind to how much tuition would cost.

Neither of my parents went to college, so I had to figure things out on my own. I didn’t think much about the price tag. This may sound naive, but I just assumed that FAFSA, you know, federal financial aid, would cover the costs.

But when I got a preview of how much financial aid I actually would get, I freaked out. Half of the schools that accepted me were completely unaffordable. Even witheven with federal help, I would have to take out thousands of dollars in loans. And there’s no way my family and I could afford that.

I thought back on the budget schools I wrote off before applying, and wished I had known I should give them a second look. But that’s the thing about financial aid — by the time you find out what you can afford, it’s too late.

Students this year, may have better luck. Now, you can apply for financial aid while you’re still choosing your schools. And here’s why this is a game changer: they can make informed choices before sending in applications.

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