As you begin the financial aid process, you’re going to hear all kinds of rumors, most of which are untrue. We’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight on a few of the more popular ones.
- My Family Can’t Afford to Send me to College
Just what is affordable varies from family to family but last year the average yearly cost of a four-year public school was just $6,185.
- There’s Hardly any Financial Aid Available
There is currently more than $130 billion of student financial aid available. It’s true that there is less aid in the form of grants, but about two-thirds of all full-time undergraduate students still receive grant aid.
- I’m not Applying because my Parents Make too Much
Income isn’t the only factor financial aid officers consider. Factors such as other family members in college will be taken into account so don’t assume your family income will disqualify you. Apply for aid regardless of your circumstances.
- Colleges are all Too Expensive
While there are some expensive schools out there, 70% of students attend a four-year college or university where the tuition charges are less than $8,000 per year.
- My Grades aren’t the Greatest so I won't Get Aid
Many scholarships are merit-based but the bulk of federal aid is based solely on financial need and does not even consider grades.
- My Parents Saved for College, so we won't Qualify
A family's share of college costs is calculated based mostly on income, so their saving won’t affect your eligibility. Since most financial aid comes in the form of loans, having a college nest egg will help reduce the need to take out (and repay) education loans.
- I Only Need to Apply my First Year of College
You should apply every year because a change in family financial circumstances might affect your need for student aid. For example, a sibling also enrolling in college or unusually high medical bills could change your eligibility.
- I Have to Live at Home to Minimize Costs
Many scholarships cover room and board so don’t give up on campus living until you determine what aid you’re eligible for. Also be sure to consider commuting and parking costs when you do this calculation as you may not end up saving that much.
- We Can’t Afford Private Schools so I’m not Applying
Don’t rule out private schools based on expenses. Private colleges often offer more financial aid because it is their mission to attract students from every income level. That, and higher college expenses mean higher financial need so you have a better chance of receiving aid from a private school than at a public one.
- It’s Not Worth it to Take out Educational Loans
Consider this: college graduates earn an average of $800,000 more over their careers than high-school graduates. Educational loans are low-interest and payment is deferred until several months after you graduate so if these loans enable you to earn a college degree, don’t you think that’s worth it?
- We Can Bargain for More Money
Most colleges adhere to specific financial aid-award guidelines and will not adjust an award for a family that feels it got a better deal at another school. If circumstances have changed or there is information that you feel wasn’t considered, bring it to their attention but don’t expect to use it as a bargaining tool.