1. Myth: "I'm in legal guardianship, so I can't file the FAFSA"
This is FALSE. A student who is in legal guardianship as determined by a court in their state can file a FAFSA and is automatically considered independent for FAFSA purposes. This means no parent information is required. The student should answer “yes” to the legal guardianship question in the dependency section of the FAFSA. Because no parent information is needed, two sections of the FAFSA will be skipped automatically, making it even easier to complete! For more information on legal guardianship and the FAFSA, see StudentAid.gov.
2. Myth: "I live on my own because I couldn’t live with my family, so I can’t file the FAFSA."
If a student is considered homeless (McKinney-Vento) or at risk of homelessness, the student can indicate this on the FAFSA. In the dependency section of the FAFSA, the student should answer “yes” to the homeless question. If the student isn’t homeless but has experienced abuse, neglect, abandonment, incarceration of parent(s), or other special circumstances, the student should indicate they have a special circumstance preventing them from providing parent information. The student will likely need to provide documentation of the situation to the college financial aid office, but this documentation can come from a variety of sources. For more information, check out Federal Student Aid’s Questions and Answers on Federal Student Aid and Homeless Youth.
3. Myth: “I’m in foster care and can’t provide a parent’s information, so I can’t complete the FAFSA.”
That’s not the case! A student who was in foster care at any time after turning 13 is automatically considered an independent student on the FAFSA and is not required to provide any parent information. However, the student may have to provide documentation of being in foster care to the financial aid office at their college, so be on the lookout for requests for information by mail or the student's college email after the FAFSA has been filed.
4. Myth: “I can’t apply for financial aid because I’m not a citizen of the United States.”
You do not have to be a citizen of the United States to apply for federal financial aid. Eligible non-citizens can qualify for federal financial aid and should file a FAFSA. Not sure who’s considered an eligible non-citizen? See Federal Student Aid’s criteria for eligible non-citizens. If you aren’t an eligible non-citizen, there are other types of financial aid you can apply for that don’t require a FAFSA. Check with the college you are interested in attending, organizations that support individuals new to the United States, and/or your employer to see if they offer scholarships. Visit the New Mainers section of FAME’s website for more information, including a list of scholarships.
5. Myth: “I won’t be able to attend college because my parents refuse to fill out the FAFSA.”
In this situation, the first step is to understand why a parent doesn’t want to provide information on the FAFSA. Sometimes a parent thinks providing this information means they will be responsible for paying for college, which is not the case. No one can make a parent pay for school. Once a parent understands this, and that providing the necessary information allows the student to be considered for grants that don’t have to be repaid, the parent may be willing to reconsider. If a student is still not able to provide parent info, it’s a good idea to discuss the situation with the financial aid office. The student may be able to request a Dependency Override or attend a Maine Community College for free.