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Posted March 7, 2017

With financial aid deadlines fast approaching, there are some misconceptions you want to be aware of. Know the facts and submit your FAFSA as early as you can. Don’t make the mistake of deeming yourself ineligible or skip the application altogether. Here are 7 popular financial aid myths.

I can’t afford to go to college.

The cost of attendance seems high but is that really the case? Universities include the cost of student housing, books, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses in their estimates. Projections may be nowhere near your cost to attend, especially if receiving financial aid. Don’t let a school’s sticker price scare you. Instead, focus on net price, that is your cost to attend minus any financial aid you receive. These numbers can be quite different.

My family’s income is too high.

Universities sometimes require you submit the FAFSA to be eligible for any type of financial aid. You may or may not qualify for need-based financial aid, but you certainly could be missing out on merit- based aid such as scholarships along with low-interest loans; both can help you pay for your education. Don’t let doubt keep you from missing out.

My grades are poor.

Admission and financial aid are two separate matters. While schools may have GPA requirements for incoming freshman, the FAFSA has none. The financial aid that is extended to students is based solely on financial need. Note that you must reapply each year you’re in school and meet basic criteria to remain eligible. To learn more, visit your school’s website and search for their Satisfactory Academic Progress policy.

I can exclude my parent’s information.

Your parents aren’t going to help pay for school so surely you can exclude them, right? For the most part, the answer is no. There are only a few special circumstances which allow you to exclude your parent’s information. Be sure to review the Who is Your Parent guide to learn more about whose information you should report.

Filling out the FAFSA is hard.

Filling out the FAFSA is pretty straightforward. When completing the application online, you are guided through the process.The more prepared you are the simpler it is. If you haven’t already, you’ll begin by creating an FSA ID, a username for U.S. Department of Education sites. Get your social security number, driver’s license, and financial information ready.

I can fill out the FAFSA at any time.

You can apply for federal financial aid even after you’ve started school as the deadline to apply is June 30. States and universities, however, have their own student aid deadlines. Not only do you want to submit your FAFSA before those deadlines, you want to submit it as soon as possible as some financial aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis.

Filling out the FAFSA is time-consuming and costs money.

The FAFSA can generally be completed in under an hour and that’s overestimating the amount of time it requires. An hour or less for access to thousands of dollars doesn’t seem like a bad deal. Plus, it’s free. That’s right. The FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, won’t cost you a thing.