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Financial Aid Myths

Seeking financial aid for college can be a challenging prospect. There are many myths that swirl around as prospective college students seek help to pay for college.

student smiling and studying

Myth #1

If we apply for financial aid, it will hurt my son or daughter's chances of being admitted to the college of their choice.

Fact: Most colleges practice need-blind admissions. This means the applicant’s financial aid status is not visible to admissions deciders and has no bearing on the qualifications of the applicant.

Myth #2

You need good grades and a high SAT or ACT score to go to college and get financial aid.

Fact: The State of Tennessee offers multiple financial aid programs that are not tied to a GPA or admission test score. Of the $97 Billion in financial aid awarded to undergraduate students annually, most of it is based entirely on financial need and has nothing to do with the student’s academic performance in high school. There are over 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States and they vary greatly in a number of factors including academic competitiveness, cost, and financial aid availability.

Myth #3

My family makes too much money to be eligible for financial aid.

Fact: In Tennessee, many state-provided financial aid programs require students to complete the FAFSA, regardless of their financial need. Generally, there are no income cut-offs to applying for financial aid, and eligibility varies from college to college based on the institution’s cost and availability of financial aid funds. Even if the student doesn’t have financial need at a college, they are eligible to borrow low-interest rate federal loans if they complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). In addition, some colleges require that students complete the FAFSA to be considered for merit scholarships. 

Myth #4

We have a lot of personal debt, so we should be eligible for more financial aid.

Fact: Federal financial aid formulas measure the family’s overall financial strength based on income and assets. Personal debt is not considered when determining financial aid eligibility.

Myth #5

If I save for college, I won't get any financial aid.

Fact: While assets are considered in determining eligibility for aid, income is the biggest factor in calculating the parent’s contribution to college costs and ultimately their eligibility for financial aid. Families that save have more options when it comes to determining how they will pay for college expenses.

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