Financial Aid Myths
"Only straight 'A' students get financial aid!"
Reality: A good academic record can help students qualify for merit-based scholarships. However, most federal financial aid, such as Pell Grants, Federal Work-Study, and subsidized Stafford loans, is awarded based on need and not on merit. Furthermore, many scholarships from outside organizations are awarded based on need or for other qualities. Don’t rule out getting a scholarship if you aren’t a straight-A student. Visit RIscholarships.com to search through a comprehensive list of local scholarships.
“We saved for college, so we won’t qualify for aid.”
Reality: Saving money for college doesn’t mean you won’t qualify for aid if you need it. Only a portion of your assets is included in your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). File the FAFSA to find out if you qualify for aid.
“My grades will suffer if I work during the school year.”
Reality: Studies have shown that many students who work part-time while attending school actually perform better academically than students that do not work. Plus, they gain invaluable career experience.
“We were not eligible for aid when our first child went to college, so we won’t be eligible when our second child goes to school.”
Reality: Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will have to cover the Cost of Attendance (COA) at two schools instead of one now that your second child is attending college. This may mean you are now eligible for financial aid. Plus, your financial situation may have changed. You will never know if you qualify for financial aid unless you apply each year. File the FAFSA to find out.
"Our family just can’t afford college.”
Reality: While college costs may be on the rise, billions of dollars of financial aid are available to help families pay tuition bills. Grants, scholarships, student loans and work study can all help defray the cost of college. Plus, most financial aid is based on your family’s financial need, meaning the less money you have and make, the more aid you might be eligible for. Remember, college graduates earn more money over the course of their life-time than high-school graduates so college is a good investment. See annual earnings by education level here.
“It doesn’t matter how much money we make, because our child will fund education herself.”
Reality: Most need-based financial aid is based off of both you and your child’s income, regardless of whether you plan to pay for education costs as long is your child is considered a dependent. A student cannot legally declare independence simply because their parents will not help fund the cost of their education. Independent students must meet certain criteria.
“We make too much money to qualify for aid.”
Reality: Many factors are considered when assessing whether a family qualifies for financial aid. Although income is one factor, there is no cutoff. Other factors such as assets, parent age and family-size also determine EFC. Fill out the FAFSA to find out if you qualify.
“The FAFSA form is too hard to fill out!”
Reality: Applying online makes filling out the FAFSA easier. The web application provides detailed step-by-step instructions on how to complete the form. Plus, you can access a customer service rep through online chat if you have any questions. Free assistance is also available through the College Planning Center of Rhode Island. Make an appointment with an experienced College Planning Center counselor today to get help.
“There is no benefit to filing the FAFSA application electronically.”
Reality: Filing your FAFSA through the web has a lot of advantages. It’s faster, there’s immediate proof of submission and the web application can catch important errors. Plus, you may receive your Student Aid Report (SAR) quicker if you file online. All families are encouraged to file the FAFSA online.
“Private schools are too expensive for our family!”
Reality: While this isn't true for ALL private schools, many private schools often offer more financial aid to attract students from all income levels. Recently, some of the nation’s most elite colleges have launched financial aid programs that waive tuition, fees and in some cases, room and board, for families under certain income levels. Cost shouldn’t be the only factor you consider when developing a college list. Finding a school that meets career, academic and personal needs is also important. Just make sure to apply to at least one reasonably affordable school that you will be happy at and think you will be accepted to in case the financial aid offered at other schools does not meet your needs.