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Why Families Should File For Financial Aid, Regardless of Income

A big misconception in college financing is that middle-class families will not qualify for financial aid for college. AAA highlights a few of the most important reasons why this is not true. Regardless of family income, it is very important to file financial aid forms each year.

Key Financial Aid forms at a glance:

  • Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
    • The FAFSA for can be filed online at The 2017-18 FAFSA filing open date was October 1, 2016 and it now requires your 2015 tax information. Learn more about the 2017 – 2018 changes here.
    • In addition to the FAFSA, 500 private colleges nationwide also require the CSS PROFILE to receive financial aid. The PROFILE form can be filed online through the College Board at

  • Regardless of parental income, every student that applies for financial aid will have access to at least the Federal Stafford loan. First year students can receive $5,500, and students filing independently can receive $9,500.
  • Many private colleges offer merit-based aid to students - they need to file financial aid forms to qualify.
  • Federal work-study is administered by schools and provides part-time jobs for students to earn money to help pay education expenses. Work-study is awarded to many students that come from middle-class families. To be eligible, students also need to file financial aid forms.
  • Even if families think they will not qualify for need-based aid, colleges may still award partial need-based aid to students.