Why Some Students Believe They are Ineligible for Financial Aid

on December 13, 2016

According to data from the 2011-12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), 44.7 percent of students who did not file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) believed that they were ineligible. A new report from the National College Access Network (NCAN) finds that these students actually did not know whether they were eligible. Rather, they lack information about their eligibility for need-based financial aid.

While there is no lack of publicly available information about financial aid, it is not reaching these students, many of whom would qualify for a Federal Pell Grant if they had only filed the FAFSA. These students may know nothing about financial aid. They may also be misinformed about the nature of financial aid, with many thinking that it consists of food stamps or housing assistance. Even when they know that financial aid is money to help pay for college, many of the students who did not file the FAFSA think that financial aid consists mainly of loans. More than half of the students who did not apply for financial aid think that grants must be paid back. Students who did not apply for financial aid are more likely to have been warned to avoid loans and are more likely to be afraid to take out loans to pay for college.  

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