Charlie Javice on Maximizing the FAFSA During COVID-19

Apr 14, 2021 | podcast

Welcome to College Admissions in the Era of COVID-19 Virtual Summit! On today’s episode, we give you a glimpse into Dr. Legatt’s conversation with Charlie Javice.


VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. So, what’s your dream school? 

AL: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk. I am Dr. Aviva Legatt, founder and elite admissions expert at Ivy Insight and author of “Get Real and Get In”. You’re going to be hearing today from our summit speaker, and I’m so excited to share just a glimpse of the summit with you. I wanted to give you a sense of what you missed if you had to miss it and invite you to get a VIP All-Access Pass to the summit. This access pass will allow you to get full, unlimited and lifetime access to all those session recordings. This is just a clip. You’ll also have the ability to attend live Q & A session with me where I will answer your questions about college admissions right on the spot. And you’re going to also gain access to my personal Ultimate College Application Template bundle with bonus materials and that has a value of $397. So click on the show notes. Go ahead, reserve your VIP ticket so that you can gain access to the full summit experience and all its perks. See you soon. 

Welcome to Charlie Javice, who’s the founder and CEO of Frank. Frank is the leading platform connecting students the financial aid at US colleges. In less than three years, the company has helped over 4,250,000 students find at least $12,000,000,000–that’s so much money–in tuition savings for college. At 19, Charlie was the youngest person to be named one of Fast Company’s most creative people. In 2019, she topped the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the Big Money and Finance category. She’s a thought leader in fine tech and education. She authors op-eds for New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and she’s working on a bill now to advocate for a change to student loan disbursement that would save students billions of dollars in interest fees. Could have used that, Charlie, when I was applying– 


CJ: Yeah, exactly right. 

AL: And Charlie graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which is where I met her. So today Charlie and I are going to be talking about maximizing the FAFSA during COVID 19. Welcome, Charlie! 

CJ: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been so much fun doing these events and talks and catching up throughout the years. AL: Absolutely. Absolutely. I know I shared a little bit about your work, but would love to hear from you a little bit about what you’re doing now and what you’d like folks know about Frank. CJ: For sure. Right now. It’s been a fascinating years as we start to think about what life post COVID or post vaccines look like. And during 2020, we just had an enormous growth here just because so many more families needed access to financial aid. And it was something that happened mid semester, and it was always never planned, right? If you lose a job or get hours cut back or financial situations change, it’s just something where you need a lot more help. So we’ve been really active on eight appeals. We’ve been really active helping students think about cheaper transfer credits than getting courses at other universities so that they’re spending a couple of hundred dollars versus a few thousand dollars, and it still counts all the same. We’ve also worked a lot thinking through kind of what next year looks like and adding student loan repayment option. So everything in and around financially, there’s just been a ton of activity. I think, as parents or even as students, financial aid is a big part of applying for college, and you may or may not think you qualify. And that’s kind of part of why I think we’re having this panel, but everybody is eligible for something, and it doesn’t matter what income level you are. You could always access subsidized loans or plus loans, and they have great kind of options on top of just financial aid. a bunch of things so happy to dive deeper into that. Excited to be here so much to talk about and excited questions at the end of it, too. 

AL: So, Charlie, I’d love to hear because a lot of folks that I’ve worked with believe they don’t qualify for any financial aid. So I’m curious what to advise folks in a situation? Should they fill out the FAFSA? Should they not fill out the FAFSA or what pathway should they take if they’re not sure if they should qualify? 

CJ: So there’s really no reason to not fill out a FAFSA. I know most of our students fill it out in 5-7 minutes if they use us. The government’s probably an hour if you use them, but it’s something where it gives you your eligibility. It opens doors to scholarships that aren’t necessarily need based that are also merit based and just gets you in the system. It’s also great to have because you never know what can happen halfway through the year where you might need financial aid. So it’s great as a backup to be able to use. But typically the rule of thumb is if you’re earning as a household less than $250,000, you will get some level of gift aid. If you try and push hard and above that, you will still get subsidized loans and interest rates on personal loans. You probably wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else. So it’s generally good debt to have if you are on the kind of upper spectrum of that income level. So, overall, just good to have good to be in the system. Even if you decide to take out $1,000 or $2,000 a year, it’s something that teaches financial responsibility. And again, it’s good debt to have to start building 

AL: That’s such great advice. And I want to echo your advice and also share something with the folks out there who may make $250,000 or more, which is to say that if you have college savings and you think you do want to pay in cash, even if you fill out the FAFSA, which I think is a good step, be mindful of sharing that information with the colleges on the Common App. So they’re going to ask you in one of the questions if you plan to fill out the faster or not, depending on your situation, if you truly know you need the money to get through college, definitely say “Yes”. But if you’re not sure if you’re going to use the money provided by the FAFSA, I would advise you to say “No”, because in the admissions realm, if you can pay fully for college and show that that can be a bit of an advantage. I’m not saying that with any pride or enthusiasm, but just to share that if you want to be strategic and you do have the extra money around and you think you would need a minimal amount or you wouldn’t qualify, then just be mindful of sharing that information on Common App. But please do take Charlie’s advice and fill out the FAFSA. 

CJ: I echo, Aviva. I’ve heard horror stories on this. I would even say even if you do plan to fill out a FAFSA, do not list it on the Common App unless you hit some level of diversity. And that’s what I’ve heard from the admissions side. Financially is pretty separate, so it doesn’t mean you’re not actually filing a FAFSA, but if you do indicate on your Common App, it means admissions will use that in their decision making. I would even say even if you do plan to fill out a FAFSA and do need it like do not list that on the common app, it doesn’t mean the school’s rejecting your FAFSA at all. It’s two separate processes. It’s just a piece of information, usually not need to volunteer unless, again, you basically have full financial aid ride from FAFSA. And then some schools like the IVs target that segment specifically for high achievers high potential, but basically no income, which I feel like on this event, might not be the category. 

AL: Right. So good. Well, I’m glad that I’m not the only one thing that. The idea of the school being need blind is a bit of a misnomer because if you’re saying that you applied for faster, they may not know how much you’ve asked for, but they know you’ve asked for something, they’re going to see that, and they’re going to read into it in one way or another.

VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com. And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.