At St. Edward’s, practically every student receives scholarships or grants they never have to pay back.

In fact, the average scholarships and/or grant — that’s free money — this year for our first-year students was more than $37,000. But every year, some students miss out on their chance to make college more affordable because they don’t fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Everyone should fill out the FAFSA. It’s your ticket to being considered for grants awarded by the government and by the colleges where you’re applying, as well as for low-interest student loans and some campus jobs. And it takes the average family less than an hour to complete.

If you’re graduating from a Texas public high school in 2024, you’ll be required to fill out the FAFSA. But no matter where you go to school, it’s worth spending the time applying for what could be life-changing financial aid. Here are 6 reasons why.

The FAFSA is for people in all kinds of financial situations.

A few types of financial aid are reserved for families with very limited incomes. But many students with more resources also receive assistance, particularly at private schools where tuition is higher. In fact, the higher the “sticker price,” the more likely you are to receive financial aid. Don’t assume you won’t qualify; you might be forfeiting free money. In fact, at St. Edward’s, every student who completes the FAFSA is awarded a grant.

Filling out the FAFSA helps you make better decisions about college.

Every year, we hear from a few students who decided St. Edward’s was “too expensive” — but they never filled out the FAFSA. Completing the FAFSA, and having your results sent to every school you’re considering, helps you make an informed decision about college. You’ll be able to compare the real cost of attending each school, not the sticker price. Filling out the FAFSA can turn the most expensive school on your list into one of the most affordable.

It takes most families less than an hour.

That’s a small investment of time for a potential payoff of thousands of dollars. Make the process go smoothly by collecting the documents you’ll need in advance. Be sure to get the school codes for each college you want to receive your results; the St. Edward’s code is 003621. You can cut down on the time it takes to complete the FAFSA by using the IRS data retrieval tool to auto-populate your financial information. Be sure to set up your FSA ID in advance.

The FAFSA helps you maximize your financial options.

In addition to state and federal grants, you’ll be considered for grants awarded by the college itself. Every year, St. Edward’s offers millions of dollars in grants — that’s money that never has to be paid back — from its own funds. You’ll also get the best, most consumer-friendly loan options through the FAFSA. And the FAFSA can determine whether you qualify for some campus jobs. You can accept or decline any part of your financial aid offer — there’s no obligation.

The FAFSA considers your one-of-a-kind financial situation.

The financial aid you receive is influenced by many highly individual factors, family income, assets and and family size. You might be offered a completely different financial aid package from a friend applying to the same school because your families’ situations are different. You also could be offered a different financial aid package from your sibling who applied to college last year — because now there are two of you in college. Bottom line: Don’t make any assumptions about financial aid because of someone else’s situation.

The FAFSA makes big life dreams possible.

It can connect you with financial support that allows you to attend your dream school instead of one farther down your list. It can help you access smaller classes, study abroad adventures, success coaches, the chance to conduct research, support for your mental health and growth, and professors who care about you as a person. Investing an hour completing the FAFSA can help make your ideal college experience attainable.

Ready to Get Started?

Here’s what you need to know.

1. The St. Edward's school code is 003621. You'll include this in the FAFSA form.

2. You should fill out the FAFSA in the fall of your senior year. The FAFSA opens in late December, and the priority deadline to complete it is March 1 — but St. Edward’s starts mailing financial aid offers in mid-November. The sooner you file your FAFSA, the better your options will be.

3. Questions? When you’re accepted to St. Edward’s, you’re assigned a financial services counselor who can explain the FAFSA process. Your counselor is there to help – all the way until you graduate.

4. Many people’s financial circumstances have changed due to the pandemic and its economic impact. If the FAFSA doesn’t reflect your family’s current reality, talk with your financial services counselor.

Make a plan to complete the FAFSA, and give yourself the best options for financing college.