Before you accept any financial aid to help fund getting your degree, there are some myths you should be aware of.
If you need help right away, some programs may direct deposit a short-term loan into your bank account.
Unless you have thousands of dollars saved up or make a solid income, you’ll probably need help in financing your college education. Where can you get that help?
You could reach out to your family and friends, although that’s probably not such a great idea. Instead, financial aid in the form of loans, grants, and scholarships is what will help you get over that hump.
Can financial aid help obtain your degree? Absolutely, as it can take a huge load off of your shoulders as far as money is concerned. But financial aid can be tricky, and these myths could put you in hot water if you aren’t aware of them already.
Financial Aid Myth #1: Your aid will cover all of your costs.
In a perfect world, there would be enough financial aid to go around for everyone who needs it. That’s not the case, though, as funds are limited. So, if you think that applying for financial aid and searching for scholarships and grants will cover all of your tuition, housing, and other costs, think again.
You may still end up needing to pay some expenses out of pocket. This can be done through part-time work, side gigs, or taking out loans that you’ll have to pay back later. In short, look at financial aid as help and not a complete cure for your costs.
Financial Aid Myth #2: All aid is free.
What constitutes “financial aid”? It’s usually these three things: loans, scholarships, grants. As such, financial aid isn’t necessarily “free money.” Are scholarships and grants free? Yes, which is why you should aim to apply for as many of them as possible in your quest to fund your education. But if you end up taking out a loan, that is not free, and you will be expected to pay the money back plus interest later on.
Financial Aid Myth #3: An offer of financial aid means you’re in the clear.
If you get offers for work-study or scholarships, congratulations. Both can help you pay for school. But just getting those offers does not mean that you’re in the clear or that the money is all yours.
Grants are a different story, as they’re usually awarded based on financial need. But if you get a work-study offer, for example, you will have to work to earn it, as if you were at a regular job. And if you get a scholarship, you will have to hold up your end of the bargain by keeping your grades up or fulfilling other requirements to hold onto that college cash.
Financial Aid Myth #4: You cannot negotiate financial aid offers.
You may receive financial aid offers that weren’t what you expected. They may be too low for your needs, and you may need additional help. If that’s the case, you can negotiate the offer to see if you can get more favorable terms. Financial aid officers will handle such appeals, and they’re worth your time if you’re really serious about funding your education with outside help.
Financial Aid Myth #5: Once you get an offer, you must accept it.
A financial aid offer is just that: An offer. It’s not a done deal or something that you must accept, even if you don’t want to. If you receive financial aid offers that aren’t helpful to your situation, contact the financial aid office and let them know that you’d like to decline them.