Whether or not you’ll qualify for need-based aid is pretty much outside of your control. There are many factors, like your parents' income, competition, diversity policies of the college, etc.
You should however definitely file a FAFSA form. Worst case, you will get an 'unsubsidized loan', which means your loan is not interest free during your time in college, but at least you have something.
You have much more control over getting private scholarships and merit-based aid offered by colleges themselves. The real power lies in how you perform on standardized tests and, of course, your GPA. But just how valuable is your GPA and test scores when it comes to winning scholarships?
1. The University of Alabama is the fastest-growing flagship in the country.
Enrollment hit 37,665 this fall, nearly a 58 percent increase over 2006. The average G.P.A. of entering freshmen is 3.66, up from 3.4 a decade ago, and the top quarter scored at least a 31 on the ACT, up from 27.
2. Enrollments from California are up 46 percent in six years.
“Stress in California,” said Kent Hopkins, vice president of enrollment management at A.S.U., “is definitely an advantage as we talk to California students and their parents.” One student turned down University of California, Berkeley, and canceled her Columbia University interview!
3. Alabama has invested $100M to lure students who do not qualify for federal financial aid.
The university is spending $100.6 million in merit aid, up from $8.3 million a decade ago and more than twice what it allocates to students with financial need. It also has hired an army of recruiters to put Bama on college lists of full-paying students who, a few years ago, might not have looked its way. The University of Alabama has 45 recruiters — 36 outside of Alabama.