FAFSA should have a better way to assist students in all circumstances


Ellie Haase, Social Media Editor

One main concern students and families face when considering where to go to college is finances. No matter the household circumstances, it’s easy to admit that college costs a lot of money. 

According to US News, “The average cost of tuition and fees for the 2020–2021 school year was $41,411 at private colleges, $11,171 for state residents at public colleges, and $26,809 for out-of-state students at state schools.” 

College tuition rates even continue to rise even though the professors are the same and the campus really isn’t changing.

The tuition for when my sister became a student at Michigan State University 4 years ago is about $1,095 less than what I will have to pay when I begin college. I know that isn’t that much of a difference, but every dollar counts.

According to SoFi Learn, “Currently, just 29% of parents plan to fully cover college costs for their kids. This number is trending downwards: in 2016 43% of parents planned to pay for the entirety of their child’s university costs.” 

Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form you can fill out to determine your eligibility to receive any financial aid or grant money from the federal government to help you pay for college. 

FAFSA can be super helpful for students, and I am fortunate to even be getting any assistance paying for college, but FAFSA doesn’t necessarily take into account a family’s bills for their homes or cars, saving for retirement, the cost of other children’s education, or any other expenses. All of these factors can highly impact the amount of money left to go towards a child’s college expenses. 

When filling out FAFSA there are questions along the lines of “how many siblings do you have still living in your home” and “how many family members do you have in college” but it doesn’t seem like they factor those into the amount of financial aid given to you.

My sister started at Michigan State University 4 years ago and was the first out of all our siblings to go to college, so she couldn’t say that she already had other family members in college. Now there will be 3 of us going to college, so when I filled out my FAFSA, I put that I had other family members in college. Despite our answers being different, we were awarded nearly the exact same amount of money for the Pell Grant and the MSU Student Aid Grant. 

 There need to be more opportunities to accommodate different household situations. According to Statistica, the average size of a household in 2020 is 2.53, and of course, that is just an average, but I have 4 other siblings. My parents couldn’t possibly pay for 5 whole college tuitions, and they aren’t just going to pay for one person and not another.