When you first hear the word ‘college’ what do you think of? A place for higher education? A chance to earn a degree and get a great job? The price-tag everyone has associated with it?
For many people, it’s the last item on that example list—which is understandable given that the cost of college has increased significantly over the last decade or so. But as college costs have increased, so has the availability of financial aid—except students are just not applying for it.
We go more in-depth as to why students don’t seem to be applying for financial aid in this post (where we take a look at an NCAN study that says only 45% of graduating high school students filed the FAFSA). So in this article, we’ll focus on why you should apply for financial aid—no matter what.
Think You’re Ineligible? Think Again! Everyone Should Try to Apply
Some students and families don’t bother applying for financial aid because they think they simply won’t be eligible. The fact of the matter is, most students are qualified for aid of some sort—even upper-middle-class families with high EFC. Filling out and submitting the FAFSA is an easy way to discover federal aid you could potentially receive. Many other forms of aid—like scholarships and grants—might also request you to file the FAFSA for need evaluation.
You’re likely to get something when you apply for financial aid. It may not be enough to cover the entire cost of attendance for a college, but every little bit helps. The only financial aid you’re 100% guaranteed not to get is the aid you never apply for.
Myth: College is Just Too Expensive, There’s No Way I Could Ever Afford It
What if we told you that Stanford—yes, Stanford—was the most affordable college in California? You’d think we’re crazy, right? Tuition is listed as $64,992! How in the world is that affordable? Well, because very few students actually pay that full amount in order to attend. Why? Financial aid!
Colleges and the federal government are the two biggest leaders in terms of offering financial aid packages, programs, and scholarships to students. Colleges want you to attend their school. Even with big sticker prices, they have to discover a way to make it affordable. Thus, they offer financial aid packages that can slash sticker prices to much more affordable and manageable amounts. So while Stanford’s sticker price might be $64,000, an average student might only actually pay $22,000 or so—a number that can be further lowered by other sources of aid.
So how can you discover what your actual cost would be? College Raptor’s free match tool and net calculator makes it ridiculously easy. Just enter your academic and financial information in once in order to see your personalized college price estimates for nearly every college in the country. Seeing the difference between the posted price and your personal estimates can be enough to turn college from a far-off dream into an attainable reality. It can be more affordable than you might think.
Scholarships Aren’t Only for Students with 4.0 GPAs
Many are frightened off from applying to scholarships because they’re under the impression only straight A+ students qualify for them. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! There are many scholarships for students with an impressive academic record. There are also just as many for students of all other sorts.
Scholarships can be awarded to students who fit a certain ethnic demographic, are interested in a specific major, volunteer, write essays, play a sport, enter a contest, are of a certain faith, and so on and so forth. There’s a scholarship for just about every little interest or area of study. There’s even a zombie apocalypse preparedness scholarship!
And while on the subject of scholarship myths, let’s bust a few more real quick: you can start applying for scholarships even if you’re not a high school senior, you can apply for scholarships year-round, you should not only apply for full-ride scholarships, and be sure to apply to smaller award amounts that aren’t full-ride in addition to larger amounts.
You Hold the Key
There is a lot of misinformation, myths, and doubt out there in regards to college—things that can keep anyone from hoping to get a higher education. But all it takes is a bit of research, self-education, and the proper tools to discover that college is more affordable than you imagined.
No matter your situation—whether you’re a low-income, first-generation, independent, or just about any other sort of student (or a combination thereof)—college is a possibility. And we at College Raptor are happy to help you discover that fact through our tools, resources, articles, and more!