Paying For College: 6 Financial Aid Myths

Paying for college is challenging and the financial aid process can be confusing for high school students and their parents.

Below are 6 Financial Aid Myths that you should be cautious of as you navigate the financial aid process.

  • Myth #1 – My Parent’s Make Too Much Money, So I Won’t Get Financial Aid

Before you make the assumption that your parent’s make too much money for financial aid, you must first fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Form. The Government considers a lot of different variables when determining your financial aid award. Some of these variables are totally unrelated to income, like how many brothers or sisters you have that are currently enrolled in college.

In addition, filling out the FAFSA is also the only way that you can get access to low-interest Government loans and some colleges won’t even consider you for school grants and scholarships if you haven’t first applied for Federal financial aid.

  • Myth #2 – I Have A College Fund, So I Won’t Get Financial Aid

If you are lucky enough to have parents who saved for your college education through a savings account or other asset, don’t count yourself out from receiving financial aid just yet. The Government’s financial aid formula provides an allowance for savings and assets. They don’t expect your parents to fork over all of their retirement savings or equity on their home to pay for your college education; instead, the Government only expects parents to contribute a portion of their savings to their child’s education.

  • Myth #3 – My Sibling Didn’t Get Financial Aid, So I Won’t Get Financial Aid

As I mentioned in Myth #1, how many brother or sisters you have that are currently enrolled in college makes a difference in how much financial aid you’ll qualify for. Just because your sister or brother wasn’t eligible for financial aid, doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be eligible.

  • Myth #4 – I’m Only Going To College Part-Time, So I Won’t Get Financial Aid

This is a myth. Even if you’re going to school part-time, you must still fill out the FAFSA form. Financial aid is indeed available for part-time college students. If you have questions or concerns about the financial aid process since you’ll only be taking a couple classes each semester, you should contact the college’s financial aid office for assistance.

  • Myth # 5 – There’s Only So Much Financial Aid To Go Around, So I Probably Won’t Get Any

The amount of Federal financial aid available to college students goes up every single year. In fact, recently the Federal government has significantly increased investment in college student  aid. They are awarding higher Pell Grant awards and more low-interest student loans.

The Department of Education has budgeted over $160 billion to go towards post-secondary student aid. This number does not include the number of state and private scholarships, as well as grants that colleges offer to new college students, so you should definitely apply for financial aid!

  • Myth #6 – The College I Want To Attend Costs Too Much, So I Shouldn’t Apply

Even if you first-choice school is significantly higher than the other schools on your list, you should still apply. The higher the school’s cost of attendance, the easier it will be for you to demonstrate financial need.

Additionally, the “sticker price” of some schools can be deceiving. Oftentimes, the school has aid available to make tuition and related expense more affordable to students and their parents. So, don’t let the “sticker price” scare you; just apply to the school anyway and wait for the financial aid award letter to come in the mail. You might be surprised by the outcome.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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