Discover Student Loans survey finds 97% of families plan to complete FAFSA, but confusion persists

RIVERWOODS, Illinois–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nearly all families surveyed (97%) plan to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA ®)1, according to a 2019 Discover Student Loans survey of parents of college-going students aged 16 to 18. Completing the FAFSA is free and provides access to the largest source of financial aid to help pay for a college education. In 2018, Federal Student Aid provided more than $122.4 billion in grants, loans, and work-study funds to approximately 12.7 million students attending nearly 6,000 participating schools.2

Of the 97% of families considering completing the FAFSA, 43% of parents say they will do it themselves, while 37% say they will do it with their child. Seventeen percent say their child will fill out the form and the parent will sign it, and only 3% say no one in their family will fill out the FAFSA.

“It’s great that most families are considering completing the FAFSA and almost half are including their children in these discussions,” said Nicole Straub, vice president of Discover Student Loans. “The FAFSA is an important first step toward paying for college because it is used to determine student eligibility for federal, state, work-study, and institutional aid such as grants and scholarships.”

While most parents of college students consider completing the FAFSA, some seem confused about when and why they should complete it. Only a quarter of parents know the FAFSA will be available in October, and more than half think it’s available year-round. According to the 3% of parents who say their family won’t complete the FAFSA, the top reasons are not needing federal help (50%) and not believing they would qualify for it (37%).

“More than a third of parents said filling out financial aid forms, such as the FAFSA, caused them anxiety. However, filling out the FAFSA only takes about 30 minutes, which is one of the reasons why everyone should fill it out. Even families who don’t need financial aid or don’t think they qualify can get help. We’ve seen about 85% of students receive some form of financial aid3“, Straub said. “It’s really important to know that some schools give financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis, so parents and students should complete the FAFSA as soon as it becomes available on October 1. ”

Discover Student Loans offers a variety of free resources to help families figure out how to pay for their college education, including College Covered – a site created to provide high school students, parents and counselors with the know-how to plan and pay for their college studies. College Covered provides a variety of resources to help families understand the FAFSA. Discover’s FAFSA Wizard is an interactive tool that can help you prepare for the FAFSA application by answering a few questions. Additionally, families can refer to the FAFSA Do’s and Don’ts guide as an additional resource.

Discover Student Loans offers private student loans and is not affiliated with FAFSA or Federal Financial Aid. For more information on Discover Student Loans, please visit

About the survey

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a Dynata (formerly Research Now/SSI) survey conducted on behalf of Discover Financial Services. The survey was conducted online in the field from June 19-24, 2019, with a total sample of 1,501 US parents of college students (ages 16-18). The margin of sampling error was ±2.53 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payments company with one of the most recognized brands in financial services in the United States. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company issues the Discover card, the pioneer of cash rewards in the United States, and offers private student loans, personal loans, home equity loans, checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit through of its direct banking activity. It operates the Discover Global Network consisting of Discover Network, with millions of merchants and cash access points; PULSE, one of the nation’s leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payment network accepted worldwide. For more information, visit

1 FAFSA is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover Student Loans.



Previous No negative impact on the rating of class A loans issued by CarVal CLO II Ltd. due to partial refinancing
Next Construction and Appraisal - VA Home Loans