The Worst Financial Aid Advice I Ever Got

If I had a dollar for every time someone tried to give me college advice, I could finally buy that pony I’ve been wanting since the third grade.

Although I know people mean well, the constant input can get tiring. This is especially true when the advice is as fantastically bad as the kind I got concerning financial aid.

It was like everyone around me was plotting to keep me from getting any money at all! The good thing is that I didn’t follow any of it, in fact, I usually did the complete opposite and everything has worked out fine.

Here are my favorite “words of financial aid wisdom”:

  • You won’t qualify for aid, don’t even apply

I heard this many times from friends who had applied for aid in the past and didn’t get it. The problem with this is that nobody except your parents or guardians really knows what your financial situation is like, therefore, they have no idea if you qualify or not.

In fact, even if your parents think you won’t be eligible, you might as well fill out the FAFSA form, just in case. It’s free and it takes less than an hour, you have absolutely nothing to lose.

  • Lie on your FAFSA to get more money

This suggestion honestly appalled me; not just because it’s dishonest and wrong, but because it’s highly illegal. The FAFSA form even includes a warning on the front that reads in part:

“If you get Federal student aid based on incorrect information, you will have to pay it back; you may also have to pay fines and fees. If you purposely give false or misleading information on your application, you may be fined $20,000, sent to prison, or both.”

The amount of money you might save by lying on your application will seem like pocket change if you get caught. Don’t even bother.

  • Just take out a loan and be done with it

Look, I understand not everyone can afford to pay for college, I definitely couldn’t, but I don’t think loans should be your first choice. Student loans can add up very, very quickly and they will follow you until you pay them, no matter what.

Unlike every other type of loan, they can’t be discharged, even if you file for bankruptcy. While you might think you’ll be able to pay them off right away, you should consider all your alternatives first. Try to find scholarships and other forms of aid first, loans should really be your very last resort.

  • Rely solely on your financial aid advisor

It’s not so much that I think the financial aid advisors are bad at their jobs; it’s just that they’re so busy they can’t possibly keep up with everything. It’s been my experience that unless you check up on them constantly and make sure your paperwork is up to date and being sent to the correct places, you may miss out on receiving aid; don’t expect them to do the work for you.

Some advice can be beneficial and truly help you, especially if it’s from those who have been in your situation before. However, you have to learn to tell the good from the bad, especially when it comes to money.

At the end of the day, you’re the one who’s going to gain or lose financial aid, so you have to do what’s best for you, always.

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Mercedes Espinoza

Mercedes Espinoza

Mercedes Espinoza is a senior at Florida Atlantic University pursuing a degree in Multimedia Journalism. Although reading is her first love, writing is a close second and she can usually be found with her nose in a book or hunched over a laptop typing away. Outside of school and work, she’s interested in all things fitness as well as continuing to grow an already massive nail polish collection.