Financial Aid 101: How to Pay for College - What the Costs and Common Misperceptions?
“My parents make too much money to qualify for financial aid but not enough to afford the university I want to attend.”
“The financial aid process is too difficult to understand, so why bother trying?”
“There is so much scholarship money out there; you have to hire a scholarship company to find it.”
“Private universities are not affordable for my family, so I shouldn’t even
consider applying to any.”
“Colleges only want the brightest students from middle- and upper-middle-class families.”
“I am the first one in my family to go to college; it’s a shame there are no resources available to me.”
There are many myths and misconceptions about the access, availability, and ease of the financial aid process. Parents of students from low-income families may not understand the process or might believe there are few resources to help them. Parents of students from high-income families may not believe they qualify for financial aid, so they don’t bother looking for sources of money for college. None of the above statements are accurate, and by the end of this chapter, you are going to have a better sense of where you can obtain financial aid and what’s involved in applying for financial aid. You also receive some tips and techniques from experts in the field.
What Are Some Common Misperceptions?
A 2009 nationwide phone survey, conducted by the nonprofit organization Public Agenda, surveyed people’s perceptions about financial aid and tabulated the following results:
63 percent think the cost of college is going up at a faster rate than other items.
74 percent believe the price of college should not stop students who are qualified and motivated from going to college.
67 percent feel students have to borrow too much money to pay for college.
57 percent believe financial aid is available to help students pay for college.
Need-Blind versus Need-Sensitive Admissions
Some colleges practice the policy of need-blind admissions, while others are need-sensitive. Our financial aid experts explain the differences between need-blind and need-sensitive policies.
According to Jacquelyn Nealon, VP Enrollment Services at New York Institute of Technology, schools that are need-blind focus on the academic profile of the student, as well as other contributing factors like leadership. They do not consider a student’s ability to pay in the decision-making process about who to admit and they do not require financial information prior to acceptance.
Need-sensitive colleges take into account a student’s financial need when reviewing his or her college application.
When researching colleges, you should check whether they are need blind or need sensitive. Regardless of their policy, you should know whether a college will meet your full financial need, what the average financial aid package is, and whether merit- and/or need-based scholarships and grants are available.
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