Myth: Only Students With Good Grades Get Financial Aid

It's a myth that good grades get financial aidAs senior year goes by and the reality of college gets closer, financial aid might be on your mind. College is expensive, and financial aid is the best way of paying for a higher education. But what if your grades aren’t so stellar? Do only students with good grades get financial aid?

Do only students with good grades get financial aid?

While it’s true that many financial aid programs are merit-based, the idea that these are the sole options for college students is simply false. Financial aid from the government, distributed through FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) goes to those who need it most, taking necessity into consideration before the high school grades of the applicant. That is to say, if you come from a working-class family and have a 2.2 GPA, your family’s income will be the primary factor that decides your level of aid. Your GPA has nothing to do with it.

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It’s a bit different in college though

However, once you start college with federal aid, it’s a different story. There’s a clause in the FAFSA form that requires recipients to meet satisfactory academic progress (SAP) to continue receiving money. SAP, sometimes called “good standing,” is measured by your individual school. Generally, you must maintain a 2.0 GPA as an undergraduate or a 3.0 GPA as a graduate student. What happens if you don’t meet this requirement for a semester? Well, your FAFSA money is on hold until your GPA rises above the watermark.

Everyone should file the FAFSA

Approximately 80% of all college students fill out the FAFSA form, because there’s really nothing to lose by doing so. It will cost you nothing but a few minutes of your time. Not to mention, until you apply, you won’t know for sure how much money you’ll definitely be eligible for. In a 2012 study, 44% of college students who had no form of federal or private aid said that they thought they wouldn’t qualify for any sort of said assistance. It’s very important to realize that you should explore all possible options for financial aid, especially FAFSA. Regardless if you personally feel like it’s a waste of time, you may find help available that you never even considered.

To this last point, like we’ve discussed, many students with mediocre or poor grades think that the FAFSA form will be a waste of time for them. It is vital to dispel this myth, as it often hurts those most in need of financial assistance. FAFSA programs do not discriminate based on any reason. The function of the application is solely to provide financial assistance to those who need it most. On the other hand, you have to be very careful to not slip academically once you start your college career. In short, FAFSA money is not based on your grades in high school. However, bad grades in college can take it away.

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