There is no income limit for the FAFSA, and filling it out every year may lead to opportunities for federal aid and grants, as well as scholarships.

Most people qualify for some financial aid. Parents should complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) each year their child is in college to be sure they’re not missing out on any opportunities for money they can put toward college expenses.

It is common for people to think they make too much money to qualify for financial aid, but there is no income limit for financial aid eligibility on the FAFSA. The financial aid formulas used with the information you provide on the FAFSA are complex. Paychecks and tax returns are not a reliable way to estimate how much federal financial aid families may qualify for.

What is the FAFSA?

The federal government uses the FAFSA to provide more than $240 billion in scholarships, grants, student loans, and work-study funds each year for undergraduate and graduate students. Completing and submitting a FAFSA is the first—and most important—step in accessing those funds.

How is the FAFSA Used?

The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal and state aid, and many colleges also use it to award institutional aid and merit scholarships. Some private scholarship decisions can also be based on this information.

What is the Income Limit for Federal Student Aid?

There is not an income limit to the amount of money you can earn to qualify for federal student aid. Many factors go into the financial aid equation, such as taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits.

Should Our Family File the FAFSA if We Apply to Low-Cost Schools?

It is always a good idea to file the FAFSA no matter where you are applying. Costs include tuition, books, meals, fees, travel, data plans, housing, and medical expenses can add up quickly—even at a college with lower tuition.

Remember that filing the FAFSA isn’t an obligation to take any funds, and your student could end up qualifying for free money you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

Our Child Doesn’t Need Financial Aid, Should We Still File the FAFSA?

The FAFSA isn’t just for federal student aid. Many schools require you to fill out the FAFSA to be considered for merit-based scholarships and other institutional aid. In general, “when in doubt, fill it out” is a good rule of thumb.

It’s free to submit the FAFSA and it takes most people less than an hour to complete. It’s the first step to accessing financial aid and there’s no requirement to take the funds if you don’t need them.

About the Author

Jodi Okun is founder and president of College Financial Aid Advisors. She is also the Money Expert on “Paying for College,” and acknowledged by The Huffington Post as one of the “Top 30 Social Influencers in Personal Finance & Wealth.” She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Mashable, US News & Education and The Huffington Post. The opinions expressed in this article are Jodi’s and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Discover® Student Loans.

FAFSA® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover® Student Loans

We encourage you to consult a financial planner before making financial decisions. For tax advice, visit or ask a tax professional if you have questions.

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