Are you confused about the financial aid process because you have heard a lot of differing information? The following will set those financial aid myths straight and give you the truth about getting money for college.
Myth: My parents’ income is too high to qualify for aid.
Truth: There are no income limitations on aid. Although not every student will qualify for need-based grants or scholarships (gift aid), every student is at least eligible for participation in the Federal student loan program (self-help aid). Furthermore, income is only one aspect of the criteria on which financial aid is based. Other factors include: number of family members in college, home mortgage costs, household size, age of older parent, etc. Just remember that while students from needy families may receive more aid than students from more well-off families, every student should apply for aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) even in order to be eligible for non-need based student loans and non-federal aid awarded by states and schools.
Myth: My family can’t afford a private school’s tuition.
Truth: Don’t rule out the college of your dreams just because of its sticker price. If a college has higher tuition, students can often get more financial aid to help cover the extra cost. If a private school meets your academic and extracurricular needs, go ahead and apply to it. Then you can make your decision when financial aid award letters arrive.
Myth: You can get more scholarships by paying someone to search for you.
Truth: Be sure to watch out for scholarship scams. You should never have to pay any amount of money for a scholarship.
Myth: I’m expecting to receive a lot of scholarships, so I don’t need to apply for aid.
Truth: You never know when there might be more grant or loan money that could cover incidental qualifying expenses, such as room and board, textbooks, computers, etc. You can always turn the money down if you find that you don’t need it. Also, in the unlikely event that you need to switch schools unexpectedly, you’ve at least already secured some aid towards your potential new school.
Myth: My parents saved money for my college education, so we won’t qualify for aid.
Truth: It is true that the more money you save for college, the less you will probably receive in financial aid. However, the expected family contribution is determined more so by income than by savings, meaning that you could still qualify for aid even if you have college savings. Keep in mind that it is smarter to save money and earn a return than to borrow money and pay interest.
Myth: The process of applying for financial aid is too complicated.
Truth: For many schools, the only step involved in applying for financial aid is to fill out the FAFSA. (Note: Some schools require you to submit the CSS/Profile or institutional financial aid forms in addition to the FAFSA. Check with your school to see what forms are required.) Filling out the FAFSA is actually very easy, especially if you fill it out online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. There are detailed instructions for every question, as well as online help from customer service representatives if you need it. If you fill out the paper version and need assistance, you can call 1-800-4-FED-AID.
There are several myths about getting money for college, so don’t believe everything you hear. If you have any questions about financial aid, be sure to contact the Financial Aid Office at the college you plan to attend.
Category: Money Matters