With high school graduation right around the corner, students and families may not know that they are eligible for free grant money from the government to help pay for higher education. More often than not, these grants are overlooked — as much as $2.7 billion in 2015.

Why Is This?

Because they don’t realize how essential it is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA. Tackling the application could take you a Saturday afternoon, and while that may seem like a lot of time, the FAFSA application could save you serious money.

To file, you’ll need tax returns for you or your parents handy, your Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number (if you are not a U.S. citizen) as well as bank statements including a record of assets and investments, an eligible form of government ID and the federal school codes for the schools you will be applying to, which are available at fafsa.ed.gov.

Debunking Rumors About FAFSA

There is a lot of inaccurate information about the FAFSA application and process out there. Is it really worth filling out? Are you truly eligible? If you don’t receive grants through the process, is it a waste of time?

If you have any intention of borrowing money at all to help pay for college, experts say that it is imperative to fill out a FAFSA application. Even if you think your family earns too much money, most applicants discover that they qualify for some aid — money that could help in all sorts of ways.

If special circumstances prohibit you from filling out a traditional FAFSA application, or if your parents do not wish to disclose their financial records, you may indicate so on your application and complete the form without those details. Just be sure to check with the financial aid office at your school to make sure they have the documentation they need.

Don’t Miss Out

Filling out the FAFSA may qualify you for other types of aid beyond the federal level, too; work-study programs, grants, scholarships and other private aid are also available. Until you apply, you never know — and it could be worth so much to find out what you may qualify for. Don’t pass on a great chance to help you reach your goals.

If you need additional help, contact your Student Financial Services office or explore the FAFSA website.