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Sallie Mae Offers Tips, Free Resources to Help Families Complete the FAFSA®


Just 68% of College Families Filed the FAFSA Last Year, With Many Citing the Form’s Complexity and Time Needed to File

Last year, just 68% of families filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), the gateway to $150 billion in scholarships, grants, work study, and federal student loans. Among the top reasons for not filing? Families cited the complexity of the FAFSA, along with the time it takes to file. In addition, of those who didn’t complete the FAFSA for academic year 2020-21, 44% said they didn’t think they’d qualify for aid.

To help students and families complete the FAFSA®, and ultimately make informed decisions about financing higher education, Sallie Mae® today rolled out a free FAFSA® application tool that simplifies the process and dramatically reduces the time it takes to file for federal financial aid. In fact, students can file in as little as seven minutes.

“Completing the FAFSA® is one of the most important steps a student should take in their higher education journey,” said Jennifer O’Donald, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. “The reality is, nearly all who apply will qualify for something. It’s so important that students approach their college decision-making process with eyes wide open and maximize the resources available to them.”

Sallie Mae offers the following tips to help students and families get prepared to complete the FAFSA®:

  • Complete the FAFSA® on October 1 (or soon after) – Some financial aid is awarded on a first come, first-served basis, or from programs with limited funds. The earlier families complete the FAFSA®, the better the chance to be in line for that aid.
  • Do your homework before you file — Both students and parents should gather Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank statements, 2020 tax returns, and W-2 forms. Having this information ready before you begin the application can help expedite the process and alleviate stress.
  • Sync your tax return — Available through Sallie Mae’s free online FAFSA® application tool, students and parents can upload their tax return from the IRS’ website, expediting the process and simplifying the application.
  • Be mindful of potential errorsMistakes on the FAFSA® could delay an application, meaning students and families could possibly lose out on some financial aid. Entering incorrect social security or driver’s license numbers or forgetting to sign the application are some of the most common errors.
  • File the special circumstances form if COVID-19 impacted your finances — There’s an opportunity after filing the FAFSA® to submit a special circumstances form, specifically if a student or parent’s income has changed as a result of COVID-19 or other events. The form can be requested from college financial aid offices.

For more information about completing the FAFSA®, visit

Sallie Mae (Nasdaq: SLM) believes education and life-long learning, in all forms, help people achieve great things. As the leader in private student lending, we provide financing and know-how to help make college happen and offer products and resources to help customers make new goals and experiences, beyond college, possible. Learn more at Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

Category: Financial Literacy

Ashley Boucher

Source: Sallie Mae

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