As you may know, my oldest is in his senior year of high school, so I am living “FASFA Time” from a different perspective this year.  Parents, I am right there with you.  College applications have officially all been submitted and now our focus turns to exploring our options and the financial costs.   A higher education is expensive for both the parents and the students.  How will it be financed; how much will be the student’s responsibility and how much will the parents’ fund.  How much has been saved, how much aide is available and how much will be needed in loans?  There are so many questions.  Here is some information to help point you in the right direction. No matter who you are or your financial situation, you may want to consider submitting a FAFSA. Wait, let me say that again, REGARDLESS OF YOUR FINANCIAL SITUTATION, COMPLETE AND FILE THE FAFSA! 

Preparing for college while still in high school can be difficult for even the most academically minded student. These days, you need to excel in the classroom, make sure you’re involved in extracurricular activities, and enroll in challenging classes to impress a college admissions board. On top of that, the financial cost of higher education may add to what is already a stressful time in an ambitious student’s life. Luckily, with a little preparation, you may be able to make applying for financial aid painless and stress free. Read on to learn more. 

Standardized testing matters 

Every October, third-year high school students can take the Preliminary SAT (PSAT), also known as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (NMSQT). Even if they won’t need to take the SAT for college, taking the PSAT/NMSQT is required for many scholarships, such as the National Merit Scholarship.(1) Looking forward to the spring of their junior year, college-bound students will want to take the SAT or ACT. An early test date may allow time for repeating the test their senior year, if necessary. No matter how many times your child takes the test, most colleges will only look at the best score.  


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the single-most important form you need in order to secure financial aid from the federal government. Each year, roughly 13 million students file their FAFSA and receive a combined total of more than $120 billion in grants, work study, and low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Education.(2) Recent changes to the website have streamlined the application process, but some preparation before you sit down to submit your FAFSA can make it even easier. Make sure you gather all the information you can regarding your and your family’s finances. Pausing now to make sure those documents are close at hand can save both time and frustration later on

Don’t forget about “gift aid” 

Grants and scholarships are often called “gift aid” because they are free money – financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid. College-bound students can learn about grants and scholarships in several ways, but the most-effective strategy starts with contacting the financial aid office at the college or university you plan to attend. Doing your own research can also be an effective strategy but be careful: scholarship and grant scams are plentiful.(3) 

Exploring the Federal Student Grant Program  

Last year, over 60% of high school seniors submitted a FAFSA to the Department of Education to secure financial assistance. But what many prospective and current students may overlook are the various federal grants awarded to students in need each year.(4) After all, the grants listed below do require recipients to have an application (FAFSA) on file with the Department of Education. And who knows? The potential financial benefit that you could secure may surprise you.

Most federal grants, unlike loans, function as sources of funding. There are some exceptions, though. For example, if a student is awarded a grant, but withdraws from the program in which they’re enrolled, they may be required to pay back all or a portion of that grant.(5) 

Know your grants 

The Department of Education offers multiple aid packages as part of the Federal Student Grant Program. The following four are granted most often, and each has different requirements for eligibility. The information below applies to the 2020-2021 academic year: 

  • Federal Pell Grants – With a maximum award of $6,345, Pell Grants are reserved for undergraduate students who have exceptional financial need and have not earned a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree yet.(6)
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEO) – FSEO Grants award a maximum of $4,000 to those who demonstrate exceptional need and have not yet earned a bachelor’s or graduate degree. FSEO Grants also give priority to Pell Grant recipients over other applicants.(7) 
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants – These grants award a maximum of $5,829.50, and they’re only for students whose parent or guardian served in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and died while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan after the events of 9/11.(8)
  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants – TEACH Grants award a maximum of $3,764, and they’re reserved for students who are enrolled in teaching preparation programs and agree to teach for a minimum of 4 years at the elementary or secondary school level in a high-need field.(9)
  1. Heading off to college is an exciting time for your child, but covering education expenses can be pretty painful. Hopefully you find the above information helpful.  Below are listed some links to other sights that you may find useful.  

The New FAFSA Opened October 1, 2021 — Take These 5 Steps to Prepare ( 

10 Common FAFSA Mistakes to Avoid – Federal Student Aid 

14 Costly FAFSA Mistakes To Avoid – Forbes Advisor 

How to Find Local Scholarships in Your Own Backyard | Paying for College | US News 


Even if your child isn’t heading out the door to college this year, with the proper financial planning, you could be whistling your child’s college fight song all the way to the bank! Please reach out to us if you would like more information on education savings options. We are here to help! 


  1. Federalreserve, 2018 
  2., 2019 
  3., 2019  
  4., 2019 
  5., 2020 
  6., 2020 
  7., 2020 
  8., 2020
  9., 2020 

 *The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. This material was developed and produced by FMG Suite to provide information on a topic that may be of interest. FMG, LLC, is not affiliated with the named broker-dealer, state- or SEC-registered investment advisory firm. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Copyright 2021 FMG Suite. 


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