There’s a lot of financial aid myths that circulate frequently. Today, I want to address five myths so you can focus on getting aid.
The first step in the financial aid process is completing FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is essential in affording college for many people.
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If you don’t fill out the FAFSA, you could be missing out on a lot of financial aid. I’ve heard a number of reasons students think they shouldn’t complete the FAFSA. Here are a few:
“I (or my parents) make too much money, so I won’t qualify for aid.”
Truth: There is no income cut-off to qualify for federal student aid. Many factors besides income—from the size of your family to the age of your older parent—are taken into account. Your eligibility is determined by a mathematical formula, not by your parents’ income alone.
And remember when you fill out the FAFSA, you’re also automatically applying for funds from your state, and possibly from your school as well.
In fact, some schools won’t even consider you for any of their scholarships (including academic scholarships) until you’ve submitted a FAFSA. Don’t make assumptions about what you’ll get—fill out the application and find out.
>> Learn more about the FAFSA
“FAFSA is only for federal student loans.”
Truth: In addition to federal aid, FAFSA is used by your state and college to determine your eligibility for needs based student aid. FAFSA is the first step to apply for nonfederal aid. Many colleges many also look at FAFSA information to base their merit-base scholarships to determine how it fits within the total student aid received.
However, understand that FAFSA does not apply to private student loans. With private loans, you must complete an application with a private lender.
>> Learn more about apply for private student loans.
“Only students with good grades get financial aid.”
Truth: While a high grade point average will help a student get into a good school and may help with academic scholarships, most of the federal student aid programs do not take a student’s grades into consideration.
If you maintain satisfactory academic progress in your program of study, federal student aid will help a student with an average academic record complete college education.
>> Learn how to complete and get the most from FAFSA.
“The FAFSA is too hard to fill out.”
Truth: The FAFSA is easier than ever, especially if you fill it out online at www.studentaid.gov. There are detailed instructions for every question, and the form walks you through step by step, asking only the questions that apply to you.
If you need help, you can can call, email, and chat with a customer service representative. If you’re filling out the paper FAFSA, you can get help from a high school counselor, from the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend, or from our toll-free number: 1-800-4-FED-AID. All these sources of advice are FREE.
Learn how to complete FAFSA.
“I’m too old to qualify for financial aid.”
Truth: Funds from federal student aid programs are awarded on the basis of financial need, not on the basis of age. Adult students can get financial aid, so be sure to fill out the FAFSA.