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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 it certainly can't hurt to earn high marks in school, falling short of an A+ average does not mean you will wind up washing dishes 60 hours a week to pay your way through college. In fact, most federal student aid programs don't even consider a student's grades, provided he or she maintains a reasonable grade in their program of study. This doesn't imply that you should start shooting for D's—by all means aim for the stars, but don't feel as though you have to be a child prodigy to receive financial assistance for college.

"Applying for financial aid is time consuming."

Not so, in fact, it is probably one of the easiest ways that you are likely to ever encounter to receive free funding. If you are in need of financial aid, it is worth it. The process seems tedious; however, it doesn't actually require much of you. Let's be pragmatic for a moment—how long would it take you to save $20 thousand dollars on your own? Certainly far longer than the few months it takes to obtain thousands of dollars in financial aid.

"There isn't much aid out there, anyway."

On the contrary, student financial aid in 2005-2006 rose to over $130 billion. Though not everybody will receive a federal grant, the kind of aid you never have to repay, there are plenty of low-interest student loans offered by the government. Other types of aid, like scholarships, are offered by all sorts of different organizations and most colleges provide some sort of financial aid package. Contact all of the colleges you may be considering attending and ask what type of financial aid you can expect to receive based on your personal situation. This could be a deciding factor when it comes time to choose a school.

"Financial Aid is only awarded to minorities."

While there certainly are some scholarships available exclusively to minorities, the money from federal student aid programs is not disseminated in this way. Funds are awarded based on financial need, not race, ethnicity, or gender. When you fill out your FAFSA, you will notice that information about your ethnicity is not even required of you. Everyone has the opportunity to receive financial aid.

"Billions in scholarship money goes unused each year."

This all too common misconception is perpetuated largely by certain fee-based professional scholarship search services. This is their way of trying to entice students into giving them money for something that can be found elsewhere for free. You’re not likely read this fallacy on any free website or publication. While there is plenty of financial aid out there, these folks would like you to believe there is a surplus of scholarship funds and only they have the information that can help you get it. Don’t forget to visit www.scholarships.com to conduct a free scholarship search and to get more free financial aid information.

"Financial aid is only for exceptionally needy students."

Unless you fill out your FAFSA form, you will never know if and how much aid you actually qualify for. Thousands of students are awarded aid every year; it is possible to receive financial aid if you are in need but not necessarily needy. Financial aid comes in many forms, and the truth is that even a small award helps. Don't sell your self short of receiving aid from the government, submit your FAFSA as soon as possible.

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

The majority of financial aid the government divvies out is in the form of both grants and student loans. Confused about the difference between a grant and a loan? When you think grant, think gift. When you think loan, think lent sum. Both grant and loans help you pay for college, therefore, they are both considered financial aid.

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