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Financial Aid: Myth vs Reality

First and foremost, remember this:  Loans are not gifts. One day — and sooner than you think — you’ll have to pay this money back in full, plus the interest that begins to accrue from the moment you accept the funds.

MYTH REALITY

I make too much money.

» Eligibility is determined by a mathematical formula; there’s no income cut-off.

Only students with good grades get financial aid.

» A high GPA can help you get into a good school, maybe land an academic scholarship, but it doesn’t affect financial aid. Students with so-so grades get loans, too
I’m too old to get financial aid. » Funds are awarded based on financial need; no one cares about your age.
The form is too confusing. » Not if you fill it out online at www.fafsa.gov. Every question has detailed instructions, and the form walks you through the process step-by-step. Plus, you can talk to a real person at 1-800-4-FED-AID.

NO STOPPING HER

Returning to college after even a few years out in the workplace can be tough, but Lori Auxier-Hash is proof that it can be done.

First step for this single parent low on funds was to complete her FAFSA; then Lori sought advice from her school’s financial aid office. Thanks, in part, to a winning 500-word essay, she snagged a scholarship to pay for her first year at Saint Leo University. In 2013, she’ll graduate with an M.B.A.

Lori’s advice: “It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you waited too long to further your education — don’t let that happen to you. It’s never too late to learn and start pursuing a new dream!”

Lori Auxier-Hash, Director of Outreach Services, Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA), Florida Department of Education, West Palm Beach