Debunking the Myths of Financial Aid
Financial aid is a critical resource for students and their families while attending higher education. Scholarships and grants are the two most common sources of financial assistance. Both are free to apply and generally do not have to be repaid. In order to qualify for federal and state grants, students and parents (if applicable) must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Completing the application takes approximately 20 minutes by going online to www.fafsa.ed.gov. The best time to apply is January through February for financial aid and scholarships. Eligibility is driven by students’ and their family’s (if applicable) income from the previous year, current assets, and household size. But why are more students not completing the FAFSA and missing out on potentially free money?
Myth #1: There is no point in completing the FAFSA because my parents make too much money.
False. The FAFSA application is not solely based on income alone. Determination for eligibility in financial aid is also based on household size, number in college, type of tax return filed, assets, and other financial information. Even if you do not qualify for grants, you must complete a FAFSA to qualify for other types of financial assistance such as work-study and some scholarships.
Myth #2: The FAFSA application is too long and complicated.
False. The FAFSA application now has an IRS Data Retrieval Tool. The IRS Date Retrieval Tool allows students and parents to link to the IRS and automatically populate your FAFSA. The SIC Financial Aid Office also assists students and their families with completing the FAFSA. SIC financial aid representatives visit district high schools providing assistance with completing the application as well.
Myth #3: I’m waiting to complete the FAFSA until I decide if and where I will attend.
False. You may list up to ten schools on your FAFSA. If you have not decided what college you want to go to, list all your options. Even if you are undecided about going to college or going back to college, you should complete your FAFSA early. The earlier you apply, the more funding you may receive.
Myth #4: I am not going to school full-time so I cannot receive financial aid.
False. You do not have to be enrolled full time to receive financial aid. However, if you are only eligible for the minimum Pell grant, you may not qualify for Pell if you attend half-time or less in some cases.
Myth #5: I receive a scholarship so I am not eligible for grants.
False. Students who receive scholarships may also receive federal and state grants. Even if your scholarship covers all your tuition and fees, the Pell grant is a refundable grant to help meet other expenses incurred while attending college.
NOW is the time to apply for financial aid and scholarships for Fall. The deadline for scholarship application at SIC is February 28! Find the application at www.sic.edu/scholarships.
Submitted by Emily Henson, Director of Financial Aid