FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form for current or upcoming college students to fill out to see if they are eligible for a grant to help them pay for college. While some would agree that they would not be at college if it wasn’t for FAFSA, others would argue that the process is stressful, discouraging and a waste of time.

The process of applying for FAFSA is no easy task because of what you need to properly fill out your application. The application process can be more complicated for first generation college students. The FAFSA calls for federal income tax returns, W-2s, other records of money earned, bank statements and records of any untaxed income. Gathering information like this can be an overwhelming task, especially to families who are unfamiliar with FAFSA. Think of it as someone having their first child. It is not easy because they are stressed about doing everything right but by their second child they are more comfortable and less stressed than they were with their first born. The process may be easier the second time but for the people who are experiencing it for the first time, it can become very discouraging.

Not only is FAFSA difficult and daunting for first generation college students, it can also give students second thoughts about finishing the application, or even attending college. The process for applying can become so unbearable that students and their parents will start to wonder, “Is all this even worth it for going to college?” For first generation college students, their parents do not realize what the requirements have to be to receive a helpful grant from the government so their child will be able to attend college. This leads them to believe that the application process can be a waste of time.

Once the FAFSA is complete, the family sees if they are eligible for the grant they need to help pay for college. It is a heartbreaking moment to realize that after all you and your family went through, you are given less than $1,000 or nothing at all. For a student to be eligible for a grant, their parents income has to be that of the minimum wage. FAFSA can be a waste because the government sees your family’s income as enough to pay for college but for most families it might be barely enough for community college.

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