If I file the FAFSA, what happens if I decide I don't want to go to college anymore?

Question

I'm unsure about college still. If I apply for FAFSA, and I get the money already, what happens to it if I decide I don't want to go to college anymore?

Answer

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) does not mean you are awarded money right away. The information provided on the FAFSA is shared with your prospective colleges and you will only receive financial aid monies from the school where you decide to enroll. It is not uncommon for some individuals to complete the FAFSA in order to determine what amount of financial aid they will be awarded to see if they can afford to attend college.

Now if you decide to attend college, enroll, receive financial aid funds and then decide to withdraw, there could be some financial consequences. When you withdraw from a school, there are two withdrawal policies that could impact you.

  1. Your School’s Withdrawal Policy. You can generally find this information in the school’s student handbook or their website. Each school will have its own policy, however it should explain how they handle withdrawals and explain how charges will be applied.
  2. Federal Student Aid and Withdrawals. If you used federal student aid (like a Federal Pell Grant or Federal Stafford Loan) for your educational costs, your school may need to return some of the “unearned funds” back to the federal government. Your federal financial aid is given to you to pay for education costs for a certain period of time (like a semester). If you are only enrolled for a portion of that time, then you are not considered to have “earned” the full amount. Your school would need to complete a calculation to determine what percentage of the federal financial aid you earned. This information should also be available in your school’s student handbook or in the financial aid office. (Another important note, any outstanding student loans will need to be repaid.)

It is okay if you are unsure about college right now. It is always best to wait until you are ready, because withdrawing from school could have some financial consequences.

Best of luck!

The Edvisor®