Do you have to pay the FAFSA back?
While it may seem like you're getting money from the FAFSA, it's actually just a form and process to get federal student aid, not a student loan. If you receive federal student loans as part of your financial aid award, you would have to repay them.
Financial aid tip
File early to increase your chances of getting aid. According to our survey, most families who filed the FAFSA for the 2020-21 academic year took advantage of the earlier submission window, completing the application in October, November, or December of 2019.3 We recommend filing as close as possible to the FAFSA open date, which is October.
Debunking financial aid myths
Myth: My family's income is too high to qualify for federal financial aid.
Fact: Student and family income isn’t the only factor that the government uses to decide if a student qualifies for federal financial aid. The only way to know for sure if you’ll qualify is to fill out the FAFSA.4
Myth: My family has money saved for college so we won't get any federal financial aid.
Fact: Savings might not be a major factor when a school decides if a student qualifies for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans. There are allowances for savings and assets.5
Myth: My sibling wasn't eligible for much federal financial aid last year, so I won't be eligible when I enter college.
Fact: Actually, the number of family members in college might have a favorable impact on your financial aid eligibility.6
Myth: I’m only attending college part-time, so I won't be eligible for federal financial aid.
Fact: Financial aid is available for part-time students. Talk to the financial aid offices of the colleges you’re interested in attending about aid for part-time students.7