Why students don’t apply for financial aid

Even if students don’t plan to borrow to pay for college, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid automatically puts them in consideration for various types of aid, grants and scholarships offered by states, institutions and private funders, making the federal aid form an integral part of accessing higher education.

Yet despite its importance, one quarter of students don’t complete it.

A new report from the National Center for Education Statistics, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, provides some context for why that is, with reasons ranging from the students’ perception that they may not qualify for financial aid to the perception that the forms and application process are too burdensome to concerns about debt.


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