The aid process may seem daunting for many families at times with the seeming complexity of filling out your taxes. The common myths that we have collected here are a simple way for us to assure you that there are misconceptions about the process. Aid is not as confusing as it may seem; aid is not only for the super bright or for the extremely poor. There is financial assistance that comes in many forms and many hard-working people are here to help you through the process. If you’re reading this you are taking the first step to taking charge of your financial aid process. We hope you see the value of John Carroll and a Jesuit education and hope you consider us partners as you explore your college options and apply to John Carroll University.
Myth: I won’t apply for financial aid because I know I won’t get any federal aid.
Many families don’t file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) because they think they won’t receive any assistance other than loans. If this describes your family, you will miss many opportunities for assistance. John Carroll University considers all applicants for merit-based scholarships. Any additional grant aid and most jobs on campus are only considered for students who have applied for federal aid. In fact, federal grant aid comprises less than seven percent of all funding received by John Carroll students each year. JCU uses the family income information from the FAFSA to review your eligibility for all institutional aid sources. We can provide the best financial award to you if you file the FAFSA forms.
Myth: We’re not filing a FAFSA. Our income is too high to qualify for financial aid.
You will never know unless you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The federal government formula considers a variety of factors. Family income is only one factor – other factors include, but are not limited to, the number of children in the household and the number of family members in college. No single aspect of your family financial situation should prevent you from completing the forms.
Myth: We have money saved for our child’s college education, so we won’t get any aid.
Many families mistakenly believe that they are penalized for saving, and that they would be better off if they didn’t save. The Federal Need Analysis Methodology does count a portion of the family’s assets, so a family with more assets may get less need-based aid. However, the federal formula provides an allowance for your savings and assets and doesn’t expect all your savings to go toward your child. The bottom line is: The more money you save, the more options you’ll have. To encourage family savings, JCU has partnered with SAGE Scholars. This program allows families to earn Tuition Rewards by saving for college with a variety of financial partners. To learn more about this program visit www.tuitionrewards.com.
Myth: We didn’t receive any financial aid last year, so we won’t be eligible this year either.
Your life changes every year. Similarly, some of the questions and calculations in the federal formula can change, as well. Your savings, your income, and the number of family members in college all significantly impact your financial aid eligibility and these things change over time. With two in college your FAFSA results can be significantly different than with just one. Be sure to keep in contact with the Office of Financial Aid for changes in your family situation such as this.
Myth: The FAFSA form is too hard to fill out.
The FAFSA is easier than ever, especially if you complete it online at http://fafsa.ed.gov. There is also lots of free help if you need it. You can chat online with a customer service representative when filing via the Web, or call the Department of Education toll-free at 800.4.FED.AID. We can help as well – various high schools and colleges sponsor FAFSA completion workshops. JCU offers community programs that allow families to call with questions or arrange an appointment for help completing FAFSA forms. Check our website for more information.
Myth: Private colleges are just too expensive.
Some colleges with a higher “sticker price” allocate significant amounts of money for scholarships and need-based aid. Don’t judge a book by its cover! Private college education is more affordable than most people think – especially since higher college expenses mean a better chance of qualifying for financial aid. Your FAFSA information is consistent school-to-school, but your costs will be different. At a lower-priced school you may only receive student loans, while at a more expensive school you may receive grants, work and other aid because you need more assistance to attend.
Do not rule out schools early in your search simply due to cost concerns. If you are interested in a college, apply! Find a college that meets your academic and personal goals. Apply for admission and allow the school the opportunity to create a financial aid award for you and your family. College is an investment in your future that will open doors you never imagined possible. College graduates earn an average of $1 million more over their careers than high-school graduates. In the end, a seemingly more expensive college may be more affordable than a college with a lower tuition.
Myth: I need to be a straight “A” student or a super athlete to get a scholarship.
Scholarships (merit awards) at most schools and from private foundations are based on characteristics of a student. While many scholarships are competitive and based on academics, many scholarships can also be based on other factors such as an essay you write, an activity in which you are involved, where you are from, or if a family member is a war veteran. JCU offers merit awards based on academics, but also for student leadership (Leadership Scholars Award) and commitment to community service (Arrupe Scholars Award). There is more to you than just your grades; our scholarship programs attempt to acknowledge that.
Myth: I don’t want a job during school so I can focus on my grades.
Research shows that students who work a moderate amount (10-15 hours per week) actually often do better academically. A job, especially if it can be related to career goals or allows you to meet more people, is a good way for budgeting your spending money throughout the year. Summer job savings can go toward your tuition payments and work during the year will cover your weekends, books, supplies, and more. Working on campus is also a great way to make friends, be connected to the institution, and make connections for future employment after graduation.
Myth: I will commute to college to save my family money.
It’s wise to study every option for reducing college costs, but living at home is not always less expensive. If you live at home, you still need to account for groceries, other living expenses, and commuting/gas/parking costs. If you live at college, your meals are covered in those costs, and a car won’t be needed. When you look at all the costs (and we can help you do this), living on campus may be less expensive and it will create some unexpected benefits. Nationally, students who live on campus feel more connected to the institution, are more satisfied with their college experience, and perform better academically.
Myth: Paying for college is like buying a car – we can negotiate a better deal.
Many colleges will be sensitive to a family’s specific financial situation, especially if certain nondiscretionary costs, such as unusually high medical bills, have been overlooked. John Carroll has a consistent awarding strategy for our need-based assistance. John Carroll University awards the best financial aid award we can within federal and state guidelines and within the limitations of our limited resources. Therefore, the idea that there is “room” for negotiating a better financial aid award is not realistic. Every school has different resources and strategies and JCU will not change awards simply based on a student receiving more aid from another institution. Additionally, JCU will not process a financial aid appeal unless a FAFSA has been filed by the student. Click here for more information on JCU’s Appeal Policy.
Myth: I should pay for college search services to help me get more private scholarship funds.
Never pay for scholarship or aid help! Many resources are free and will point you to where you need to go. Unfortunately, some scholarship services are scams – and charge to provide you with information that you can get for free just by calling our financial aid office or searching online. Information can be easily accessed online or through your high school counselor. A great, free online resource is www.finaid.org – start there!
Myth: Our child will be attending college part time, so he won’t be eligible for financial aid.
Various financial aid programs are available for part-time students. Check with our financial aid office for information on aid for part-time students.