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Financial Aid Myth-Busting

"Only students with a high Grade Point Average get financial aid."

This is a common misconception. While a perfect GPA is a great goal, falling short of an A+ average does not disqualify you from financial aid. Federal student aid programs don't give preference to A+ students. As long as you are not flunking out of high school, you are eligible for federal funding. However, keeping a high GPA helps on college applications and can help with college-based assistance, so don’t let your grades slip.

"Applying for financial aid is time consuming."

Applying for financial aid is tedious, but it is the fastest and easiest way to get free funding. If you are need financial aid, apply. Filling out applications and waiting a month or so for your results is much faster than saving money on your own, and financial aid will save you hundreds in loan debit.

"There's not a lot of aid out there."

Wrong. In 2005-2006, financial aid funding rose to over $130 billion. Though not everybody receives federal grants, everyone gets federal student loans which have lower interest rates than private loans. Other types of aid, like scholarships, are offered by countless organizations and colleges have financial aid packages for incoming students. Contact the colleges you are considering to ask about the financial aid they offer to students based on your financial need.

"Financial Aid is only awarded to minorities."

While there are scholarships available exclusively to minorities, federal aid is not exclusive to a particular race, ethnicity, or gender. Federal funding is strictly need-based. The FAFSA does not require you to disclose information such as race/ethnicity.

"Billions in scholarship money goes unused each year."

This misconception is perpetuated by scholarship search services that charge a user fee. That is how they convince students to pay for something that is free at other services. You don’t read this claim on a free website or publication. There is plenty of financial aid out there, some companies just try to convince users that they have “exclusive information” to make money. This is a scam. Visit www.scholarships.com to conduct a free scholarship search and get free financial aid information.

"Financial aid is only for exceptionally needy students."

Everyone qualifies for something. Fill out your FAFSA to see what you qualify for. Thousands of students are awarded financial aid every year. Financial aid is available to all students in need, not just the exceptionally needy. Every award helps. Remember, to qualify you must submit your FAFSA. Apply early to get the best financial aid package possible.

"It's only financial aid if it's free."

Wrong. Federal aid divvies out in the form of grants and student loans. Still confused about the difference between a grant and a loan? A grant is a gift, and loans are borrowed and must be returned. Both grant and loans help pay for college so they are both considered financial aid.

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Last Reviewed: March 2020