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UMGC Blog Should You Submit a FAFSA?

Philip D. Adams
By Philip D. Adams

Going to college to pursue a bachelor’s or master’s is an investment of your time and money. Regardless of how you plan to pay for that investment—even if you have the money to pay out of pocket, an employer is paying your tuition, or you’re using military TA or veterans benefits—you should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year. If you are not familiar with FAFSA, it is a form you should fill out to get any financial aid from the federal government to help pay for college. Each year, over 13 million students who file the FAFSA get more than $120 billion in grants, work-study, and low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Education. The FAFSA is free—you don’t need to pay anyone to prepare it for you.

How can this help you? Here are three key reasons to submit the FAFSA, even if you aren’t interested in taking out student loans:

  1. The FAFSA can unlock additional funding you can apply to your education, and you may qualify for Federal student aid funds you don’t need to pay back.
  2. Most UMGC scholarships and other scholarship and grant opportunities require you to have submitted the FAFSA. Don’t count yourself out of these great opportunities for funding.
  3. Just because you are offered various types of federal financial aid through the FAFSA application does not mean you have to accept them. It’s good to know what your options are.

Haven’t submitted the FAFSA before or weren’t happy with a prior award offer? No problem! Remember that requirements and student aid calculations are updated every year, which means your eligibility may change from one year to the next. You may be eligible for new types of aid or new award amounts each year.

"The new 2024-2025 FAFSA has undergone quite an overhaul to make it a better, simpler form," said Jeremy Brannan, associate vice president of tuition planning at UMGC. "If you determine that Federal Student Aid is one of your desired options, we can assist you in completing the FAFSA.”

The FAFSA generally takes less than an hour to complete, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and forms submitted electronically are generally reviewed within just a few days. Once you submit the FAFSA, you may find out you’re eligible for Federal student loans or grants.

Types of Federal Student Aid

Federal Loans
Not everyone has to borrow money to pay for school, but for more than 43 million Americans, financing their education means taking out a Federal student loan. More than 92 percent of student loans are Federal loans1, so if you’re paying for your own education in whole or in part and don’t have the ability to pay out-of-pocket, the FAFSA is the key to securing funding for your education.

Pell Grants: A Pell Grant is a form of need-based Federal funding awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to help students from low-income backgrounds pay for college. In 2024-25, an estimated 7.3 million students will be eligible to receive up to $7,395 for tuition and other college expenses, and because it’s not a loan, a Pell Grant does not need to be repaid2. To be considered for a Pell Grant, you must submit the FAFSA each year.

Other Grants: The U.S. Department of Education offers other types of grants as well, including Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants. Grants do not need to be paid back, but you need to submit the FAFSA to be considered.

Federal Work-Study: Some colleges and universities participate in Federal Work-Study, a type of part-time employment through which you can earn money to help cover your expenses. UMGC does not offer Federal Work-Study opportunities.

UMGC and State Scholarship and Grant Programs

Submitting the FAFSA also unlocks opportunities for funding through UMGC and state scholarship and grant programs.

UMGC Scholarships: Each year, UMGC offers more than 140 merit- and need-based scholarships, providing students with over $19 million in support. Being awarded one or more of UMGC’s scholarships can greatly reduce your education costs. While each has its own requirements and application process, most UMGC scholarships do require that you submit the FAFSA.

UMGC Institutional Grants: The Maryland Resident Success Grant is a need-based grant through which Maryland residents may be eligible to earn up to $1,500 from UMGC. Through the President's Grant eligible undergraduate and graduate students can earn up to $1,400 from UMGC. Both of these UMGC institutional grants require a FAFSA. 

State scholarship and grant programs: Various funding opportunities are provided by the education departments within each state. Because UMGC is based in Maryland, Maryland Higher Education Commission scholarship and grant programs are commonly used by many UMGC students. Students residing in other areas should check their state website for opportunities. These state scholarship and grant programs generally require students to submit the FAFSA to be considered.

UMGC Can Help You Develop a Plan to Afford Your Education

Whether you’ve already submitted the FAFSA or are still working through your options, UMGC staff are ready to help ensure your education is affordable.

“UMGC is here to guide you regarding all your funding options,” said Brannan. “The professional tuition coordinators at UMGC’s Office of Tuition Planning will consult with you to ensure your ever-changing situation is regularly evaluated to determine your qualification for aid.”

1Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).” USAGov. 2024

2 Federal Pell Grants.” Federal Student Aid. U.S. Department of Education. 2024


Reference on this webpage to any third-party entity or product does not constitute or imply endorsement by UMGC nor does it constitute or imply endorsement of UMGC by the third party.   

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