FAFSA® Made Easier: A simpler way to apply for financial aid

Filling out the FAFSA® is probably the single most important thing a college-bound student can do to pay for college. It opens up a whole slew of student financial aid, both governmental and institutional, worth $15,000 per year (on average). That’s $60,000 for a four-year degree!

This is particularly a good deal because filling out the FAFSA® is 100% free, whether you use the government form or our Going Merry FAFSA® Made Easier.

Even for higher-earning families that don’t qualify for need-based aid, the FAFSA® still is key to unlocking lower-interest rate government loans and is often still a requirement for merit-based scholarships. In some states like Texas and California, it’s also a high school graduation requirement!

Why create a different FAFSA®?

At over 100 questions and with constant technical issues, the government’s FAFSA® form can be a really frustrating experience. In our experience guiding students through the form, we also noticed a lot of them making the same mistakes, over and over.

So we decided to redo the FAFSA®, to make it simpler and clearer, while of course keeping it totally free.

How is FAFSA® Made Easier different

1. It’s friendlier.

We know the college app season and the FAFSA® process raises anxiety levels. Our FAFSA® mascot Gopher Mary tries to bring that down a notch, by making it more human — or umm, more mammalian?

2. You can get on a roll (skip questions, keep going!)

On the government FAFSA® form, if there’s something you don’t know the answer to, or need to find your tax forms for, you have to stop.

On the FAFSA® Made Easier, you can skip it and return to it later. That way, you keep making good process. Plus, we make it easy to see what you previously skipped because you’ll see you’re missing info in your progress % wheel, and you can filter to only see the questions that are still unanswered.

3. All important info is obvious, never hidden in footnotes.

The FAFSA® hides a lot of important information in footnotes or help articles. Our mascot Gopher Mary makes sure to highlight this info, right under the main question text.

4. Clear guidance on tricky financial questions.

The financial questions in the FAFSA® can be some of the trickiest. That’s why we help you answer these correctly and confidently by making three key changes:

  • We show you exactly where to look in your tax forms.
  • We separate out all the types of “income” you’re meant to report, so you can be confident you’re reporting everything you should be (and nothing you shouldn’t be).
  • We help guide you on what counts as “investment assets” (hint: don’t include your home value nor your retirement account savings!)

5. Warning messages to catch your mistakes (You’re welcome 💁‍♀️)

Because our Going Merry team has years of experience helping families (and high school counselors / college admissions counselors) fill out the FAFSA®, we’ve seen a lot of mistakes over the years.

So when designing our FAFSA® Made Easier, we made sure to build in lots of warnings to point out potential errors, color-coded based on how sure we are that you made a mistake:

  • Red = Whoa! Pay attention – This is almost definitely wrong
  • Orange = Hmm, this is suss. Take another look.
  • Green = This is a bit unusual but definitely possible, so just double-check your answers, and feel free to ignore if things look right.

6. Get help, quickly.

There are hundreds of FAFSA® help articles, searchable from right within the form. You just click a “I need help” button and a panel slides out on the left (no getting redirected elsewhere!)

Plus, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, within that same panel, you can send our team of FAFSA® experts a message, and we’ll help you out!

What do people say about our FAFSA® Made Easier?

Students and parents have said things like:

  • “This FAFSA® tool has made applying so much easier! I was initially scared to fill out such an intense application, but Going Merry had many examples and tips on what to look for.” 
  • “I loved filing the FAFSA® through Going Merry, and will definitely recommend it!”
  • “Thank you for such a simple and user friendly website/form. This compared to filling out the FAFSA® [on the government site] for my oldest son was like night & day.” 

We also work directly with counselors, school administrators, and school district representatives to help improve FAFSA® access and completion rates. (More info on that here.) From these partnering schools and districts, we’ve heard:

  • “The students responded very well to the FME! I did it along with them and we got so much farther in one class session than we ever did by using the government website in the past! I absolutely loved it!”
  • I’m so happy I can share this with counselors now and be an advocate for how much time, energy, and sanity Going Merry can save them.

How to sign up for FAFSA® Made Easier

  1. Sign up for Going Merry (if you haven’t done so already) by going to this link here.
  2. Once you sign up (“Boom, account created!”), select the option to “Skip to the FAFSA® Made Easier” or decide to answer the initial questions and later on manually navigate to the Menu > FAFSA® Made Easier.
  3. Fill out your FAFSA® on Going Merry. Remember that this form replaces the government one (we’ll submit all your info to the government for you), so you do not need to do both.
  4. Sign the FAFSA®, and you’re done!

Have more questions?

Reach out to our FAFSA® team at fafsa@goingmerry.com

Ready to find scholarships that are a match for you?