Financial aid is a complex issue with a variety of components that come into play. While there is an abundance of great information available, many myths have also emerged, so it is important to understand the facts when it comes to financial aid. Misconceptions about financial aid can easily hurt your financial situation and, in the worst cases, even cheat you out of the funding you deserve. Here are some popular financial aid myths. Knowing about these might save you some money when you enroll in college.
Common Financial Aid Myths
Myth 1: Completing financial aid forms is a waste of time.
Every student should take the time to fill out and submit financial aid applications. Even if you do not expect to receive any type of aid, you will never know unless you try. The FAFSA is free and filing one can only help you, not hurt you.
Myth 2: I can apply for financial aid anytime, even at the last minute.
Because funds are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, meeting deadlines are extremely important in the overall financial aid process. The earlier you submit your application and supporting documentation, the sooner you will receive your financial aid package.
Myth 3: My income (or my family"s income) is too high to qualify for financial aid.
Don't automatically think that you will not qualify for financial aid based on your income alone. Income is only part of the whole process, and is not always a factor in determining all types of financial aid. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine the amount a family is expected to contribute to the cost of higher education.
Myth 4: The government will not grant me financial aid because my parents put money in savings to finance my education.
Although tuition rates are sometimes awfully high, it is not the case that colleges are just looking for ways to drain your family"s savings accounts. An asset protection allowance is a standard feature of financial aid formulas, and is used to determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). For example, some savings accounts are specifically left out when totaling assets.
Myth 5: Home equity alone will eliminate my chances of receiving financial aid.
While inquiries about past income will be asked, you will not be asked about home ownership on the FAFSA. While home equity is a determining factor on other financial aid forms"like the College Scholarship Service (CSS), for example"it will not hinder many families for qualifying for financial aid. Formulas are often used to limit the effect of home equity when calculating the Expected Family Contribution.
Myth 6: My college is the best financial aid information source.
While colleges are often the best source when it comes to scholarship or grant information, financial aid officers at colleges and universities are generally trying to get as much money from every student as possible.Many schools will even go so far as to not inform you of other resources allowing you to seek additional financial aid.
Myth 7: Only students with great grades can receive financial aid.
A high GPA will definitely help you gain acceptance into good schools and be eligible for the best academic scholarships, but the majority of federal student aid programs do not take grades into consideration when awarding aid. Students must of course maintain satisfactory academic progress in their selected program, but those with average grades can still receive and maintain financial aid.
Myth 8: I am not a minority, so I will not receive financial aid.
Federal financial aid is awarded based on financial need, not by race or ethnicity. Most financial aid forms do not even require that information (FAFSA included).
Myth 9: I am only a part-time student, so I will not qualify for financial aid.
Financial aid is available for part-time students, too! Visit your school"s financial aid office for information on aid for part-time enrollment.
Myth 10: Once I file my FAFSA, my financial aid package cannot be raised.
Just because you received a small amount of financial aid the first time you applied doesn't mean that the amount is set in stone. You can always reapply! Many schools allow students to modify their financial aid award. Some schools will even agree to compete with financial aid packages offered by other colleges.