Adam Ruins College

Actually, yes— you can get financial aid

Think you’re not eligible for financial aid? WRONG. Watch Internet-famous truth revealer Adam Conover counter the many myths of paying for college. Turns out, you CAN get aid. And we’ll tell you how.

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Straight-up truth on financial aid


It stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. And filling it out is crucial, because it’s used to determine the types and amounts of federal student aid you can get. Plus, many states and colleges use your FAFSA info to determine if you can get their grants and scholarships too. That is, if you fill it out. No FAFSA, no aid.


Before you start the FAFSA, gather a few pieces of information. You know, just to make the process easier. Get things like your FSA ID (create your FSA ID now), Social Security number, savings and checking account balances, and a list of schools you’re interested in.


Is federal student aid just grants? Uh, no. It actually includes three different kinds of financial help:

Grants. Money given to you based on your financial situation—and you don’t have to pay it back. Boom.

Work-study. A part-time job that helps you earn money for college.

Low-interest loans. Money you borrow at low, fixed rates. (So no jaw-dropping rate hikes later.)


The 2017–18 FAFSA launched Oct. 1, so get on it! You might have heard it launches every January, but not anymore. And many states and schools have limited funds, so fill it out ASAP. Like, now.


Still don’t think you’re eligible?

Find out why you’re (probably) wrong.

Your myths, ruined.

Troy S.Milwaukee, WI

I heard the FAFSA now starts on October 1, but that’s just a rumor.

Truth: Nope, it’s true. The FAFSA launch date has officially changed to October 1. And since some schools and states have limited funds, you should fill out the FAFSA ASAP at

Brian G.Clifton, VA

I heard the interest rates on student loans are crazy high.

Truth: The interest rates for federal student loans are often lower than those from private loan companies. Plus, they’re FIXED rates, so the rate you see is the rate you get—forever. (Deep breath in, and relax.)

Cindy F.Bethesda, MD

I can’t file my FAFSA in October because I haven’t applied to any schools.

Truth: Actually, you CAN complete your FAFSA before turning in all your college applications. You’ll need to list at least one school on your FAFSA, but go ahead and add every school you're considering, because it’ll hold your place in line for financial aid. Then later, you can add or delete schools on your FAFSA. Easy peasy.

Kaleen O.Santa Monica, CA

I didn’t qualify for financial aid last year, so filling out the FAFSA again is just a waste of time.

Truth: It’s super important to fill out a FAFSA every year you’re in college. Why? Because things can change. Like, your school or state might create a new grant or scholarship. Or the factors used to calculate your aid each year could change. Either way, if you don’t submit a new FAFSA, you’re out of luck.

Sarah S.Atlanta, GA

I don’t have good credit, so I can’t get a student loan.

Truth: Undergraduate students don’t have to worry about a credit check because it’s not required to get a federal student loan. You don’t need a cosigner, either!

Matt G.Tucson, AZ

Federal student aid is just “free money” like grants.

Truth: Federal student aid actually includes three different kinds of financial help: grants, low-interest loans, and work-study (a part-time job on or near campus). It’s lots of good stuff, not just grants.

Edward P.Redondo Beach, FL

My parents make too much money, so I can’t qualify for financial aid.

Truth: That’s stinkin’ thinkin’. Fact is, your eligibility isn’t based solely on income. So it doesn’t matter whether your family makes very little money, more money than most people, or somewhere in between.

April J.Miami, FL

My parents are undocumented immigrants, so there’s no way I’ll get aid.

Truth: Your parents’ legal status is NOT a factor, and the FAFSA won’t even ask you about it. If your parents don’t have Social Security numbers, they can just enter all zeros into the form. Boom, problem solved.

Sandra V.Springfield, MO

I’ll have to update my FAFSA application after I file my 2016 taxes, won’t I?

Truth: Nope! You won’t need to update your FAFSA. Unlike past FAFSAs, you won’t have to use estimates or make updates after filing taxes. Just enter your 2015 tax info—or better yet, transfer it directly from the IRS—and you’re good to go.

Robert G.Chattanooga, TN

The FAFSA takes forever to fill out, and it’s really hard to do.

Truth: Look, if you’ve got 30 minutes to spare, you’re good. Because that’s about how long it takes to fill out the FAFSA. Could it be easier? Sure. But it’s not nearly as hard as you might think.