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Do My Parents Make Too Much Money For Me To Submit The FAFSA?

One of the biggest myths in the student financial aid world is that you can't submit the FAFSA if your parents have a high income. Everyone, regardless of their parents (or their) income should submit the FAFSA every year.

Anyone who has gone through the college application process has heard of the FAFSA. When it comes to the FAFSA you probably have a lot of questions. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. e

We answer some of these questions in our FAFSA guide.

But one of the biggest questions is: Can I submit the FAFSA if my parents have a high income?

The short answer is yes you can. Below we discuss why you can and should always submit the FAFSA.

What is considered a “high income”?

First things first, there is no income limit when it comes to the FAFSA. Everyone should apply for financial aid, no matter your or your parents’ income. Edvisors wittily says you should always apply for financial aid, “unless [your] parents earn more than $350,000 a year, have more than $1 million in reportable net assets, have only one child in college and that child is enrolled at a public college.” Only then would submitting the FAFSA do almost no good, because the $15,000 a year for state school would seem like nothing,

That being said, there’s a complex formula involved in determining financial aid. It involves more than just your parents’ income.

Assets, other tuition they pay, the cost of their home or business, the cost of your school’s tuition, and more all go into deciding how much aid you can receive.

This leads up to your parents’ expected family contribution.

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will determine how much aid you receive

EFC is exactly what it sounds like: How much your family can contribute to your education. Again, this is calculated by more than just your parents’ income.

Eligibility for need-based financial aid is determined by a formula that subtracts the student’s expected family contribution (EFC) from a college’s total cost of attendance. This determines financial need. The equation looks like this: (cost of attendance – EFC = financial need).

College has risen in price drastically since the 80’s. That means funding an education for one or more children is a HUGE expense. Add on the astronomical cost of a private education, and it gets even more difficult. So, families with a high income are probably more likely to qualify for aid than they may realize.

Other aid and scholarships may require the FAFSA

Some grant programs require that you submit the FAFSA so they know you’re trying to maximize your aid.

For example, the Tennessee Promise is a program that offers all state residents two years of free tuition at a state community or technical college regardless of income. But you also need to submit the FAFSA so they know you’re trying to get as much aid through the federal government first.

Some merit scholarships don’t necessarily require the FAFSA, but it helps schools decide, if a student is on the cusp of both which they may get. Plus, school that offer merit-based scholarships, automatically consider students who submit the FAFSA for merit scholarships.

You may also be in the running for state grants, some of which are not based on financial need.

Filling out the FAFSA shows admissions that you’re interested in a school

Filling out the FAFSA can actually help you get accepted to schools in some cases (although it’s definitely not the largest deciding factor).

According to Lucie Lapovsky, former president of Mercy College, “admissions officers know that students hoping for aid who don’t submit FAFSAs to the college are less likely to enroll. So some schools may not want to waste an admissions letter on a student they think is unlikely to attend.”

When you submit the FAFSA you WILL qualify for a loan

Even if you don’t qualify for need-based aid through your university, you automatically qualify for a basic, low-interest federal loan when you submit the FAFSA.

If you can afford to pay off these loans quickly, it’s a great tool for building credit.

If you’re curious how much aid you could get, or what you would get for loans, you can use the FAFSA4caster, which can give you an estimate of what your school believes your families EFC would be.


In short, everyone should fill out the FAFSA every year regardless of parental (or personal) income. More goes into determining your financial need than just your parents’ income. How many children they have in college, their mortgage, and assets also go into the financial aid formula.

Read more

  • Money Under 30’s Guide To Filling Out The FAFSA
  • Everything You Need To Know About The FAFSA (But Were Too Afraid To Ask)

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