Can You Earn Scholarships Without the FAFSA?November 17, 2023
Is FAFSA required for scholarships? This is an important question for anyone who is applying for college or attending school to earn a degree and is interested in getting help to pay for it.
Here’s what you need to know about whether filling out the Free Application for Student Aid is necessary to obtain scholarship funding.
Do you need FAFSA for scholarships?
FAFSA, or the Free Application for Student Aid, is a crucial document that schools use when putting together a financial aid package.
When you fill out the FAFSA online, you provide information about your finances, and if you are a dependent undergraduate, you’ll also need to complete a form with your parent’s financial details as well. This is sent to schools you are applying to, and it is used to determine what your expected family contribution is as well as what other kinds of student aid will be available to you.
Completing the FAFSA is necessary to become eligible for federal student loans such as Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans, as well as PLUS Loans. The FAFSA is also used by schools, many states and other organizations to determine whether you are eligible for financial aid — including need-based scholarships and grants.
So, do you need the FAFSA for scholarships? If you are hoping to get need-based financial aid from your school or other organizations that rely on this data, the answer is a definite yes.
However, there are also some scholarships that do not rely on FAFSA data. This can include merit-based scholarships that some schools offer, as well as many scholarships by private groups that could be available on the basis of academic performance, a desired field of study, a demographic group you’re a part of, or many other factors.
So, the answer to the question is the FAFSA required for scholarships is no– not necessarily. It does open the door to more scholarship opportunities but is not a prerequisite to getting all types of aid.
How to find scholarships you don’t need the FAFSA for
If you are looking for scholarships that don’t require you to submit the FAFSA, it’s important to answer the question, how do I apply for scholarships?
The process can vary depending on what specific scholarships you are applying for. There are a huge number of opportunities to get aid you don’t have to repay, but you’ll need to know where to look for them.
You can search databases of scholarships, including Fastweb and BigFuture. The scholarships listed in these databases will have their own application processes you must fulfill. Many will not require the FAFSA, so you will be able to apply even if you haven’t filled out this form. You’ll simply need to input the desired information requested by the scholarship administrator.
You can also check with your school’s financial aid office to discover scholarships that may be open to you. Remember, though, that your school may not have as many options available if you haven’t filled out your FAFSA since you’ll be ineligible for need-based aid.
Should you fill out the FAFSA?
While the answer to the question of, whether the FAFSA is required for scholarships, is no, that doesn’t mean that your opportunities for aid won’t be more limited if you forgo this form.
The reality is most people should complete it. It’s a simple form that takes only a few minutes to do online, and there’s no real downside to providing your financial information.
Even if you or your parents are wealthy and you don’t believe you’ll qualify for means-tested financial aid programs, there’s no reason not to give your school’s financial aid office the information they need to put together a plan for how you can afford your education.
If you do opt out of completing the FAFSA, be sure to let the schools that you are applying to know that you’ve made that decision so they don’t hold up sending you information as they wait for the forms to come.
Alternatives to funding schooling with scholarships
Scholarships are a great way to fund your education since you don’t have to pay back the money. However, not everyone can get enough money from scholarships to cover their degree.
This is especially true if you need more clarification on how to apply for scholarships, as getting enough scholarship money to cover your costs can require a lot of time, effort, and knowledge. Unfortunately, even if you do your research, it’s hard to get enough scholarship money to pay for a four-year degree.
There are other options, though. You could take out federal student loans, for example. However, while the answer to the question of whether you need FAFSA for scholarships is no, you must complete this application if you want federal loans.
You could also take out private student loans, which have their own application process. These don’t come with all the borrower benefits federal loans do, but they are offered by many lenders, each with their own qualifying requirements. You typically do not need to submit the FAFSA to be eligible to borrow from private lenders.
By exploring all the different funding solutions, you can find a good way to pay for your education that leaves you with the minimum of student loans. Filling out the FAFSA is usually the first step in this process, but if that’s not the case for you, take heart in knowing scholarship opportunities are still out there.