There are so many misconceptions about the way that financial aid works in college that it can be difficult to weed through them all. Understanding loans, grants, and scholarships are hard enough, and every school is different, but there are still some absolutes when it really comes down to it.
Here are 5 common myths about financial aid in college.
The Middle Class Really Gets Pinched
Some people think that the wealthy have no problem paying for college and working-class individuals receive the most federal aid, so it’s really the middle class that struggles the most with paying for college. However, most Pell grants, which are offered primarily to students from families who earn $50,000 or less per year, only pay for about two-thirds of tuition costs. This leaves low-income students with an additional third of tuition to pay for in addition to living costs, which they often have to come up with on their own. In truth, the high cost of a college education affects all families regardless of their income levels.
A Full Ride Scholarship Pays for Everything
Just because you got a full-ride scholarship for sports, academic performance or financial need doesn’t mean that all of your college costs are taken care of. You still need to pay for food, transport, books, and any kinds of recreational activities that you would like to engage in. Thus, it’s important even for students who have full scholarships to apply for jobs or student loans as well.
Financial Aid is Only Available to Low-income Students
If you think that you will not be eligible for financial aid simply because you come from a relatively affluent family, you’re wrong. Most private schools offer significant levels of financial aid to students who are very high achievers. Whether you qualify for a merit-based award or need-based aid, it is important to apply for and research every funding option no matter how much money you and your family have for college costs.
Federal and Private Loans are the Same
If you are considering taking out student loans, you want to know that private and federal loans are very different things. Private loans normally come with variable interest rates, which means that they could change dramatically at any time, so if you don’t pay them off quickly, then you are really gambling with your money. On the other hand, federal loans normally come with fixed rates and they even offer a few different ways to receive debt forgiveness.
It’s Hard to Get Grants
Most people think that in order to be eligible for grants you have to either have a ridiculously high GPA and SAT scores or come from a low-income family. On the contrary, there are all kinds of grants out there and they are offered for different reasons. If you do a little bit of research, you will assuredly be able to find a grant being offered that reflects your talents and your strengths. When you do, you’re going to want to apply immediately and see if you can get any financial assistance.