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College Financial Aid Myths

10TV debunks some myths about college admission and scoring financial help.

Ohio State University sophomore Brandon Mohr proudly walks to the oval to class each day.

He moved from New York and said landing scholarships to his first-choice school, Ohio State, began online.

"Do your research because there are a lot out there you may not be aware of," he said.

That help can make a big difference.  For many families, deciding which campus a high schooler will soon be strolling can come down to numbers.

Laura Meek, financial aid director at Ohio Dominican University, said families shouldn't worry about the private school prices because it's possible to bring the cost close to less-pricey state schools.

"Don't be too concerned or afraid of sticker price especially at a private school," she said.

Meek and other financial aid directors said paying for college does take a little planning and a little work, but there are a couple of myths that need to be debunked:

  • Myth: The FAFSA form is too complicated.
  • Fact: Meek said the form is simplified and online, and filling it out can save a student thousands of dollars.
  • Myth: Athletes get all the scholarships
  •  Fact: About 2 percent of high school athletes play at a collegiate level and only part of those players receive scholarships.
  • Myth: A parent's income will definitely discount a student from aid.
  • Fact: Many students believe that maybe if their parents make too much money, that they won't qualify for aid. Meek said students are surprised to learn their parents' earnings did not discount them from tuition help.
  • Myth: Grades are not high enough to qualitfy for aid.
  • Fact: "You may be surprised at what you're eligible for in terms of academic scholarships," Meek said. "You don't have to be a 4.0 student to get an academic scholarship."

She added that the magic number at most universities is a 2.5 GPA or higher in high school.

Winning scholarships may not come down to grades at all. Other times that can score money include volunteer work, clubs and even more unique qualities- there are scholarships awarded for students with red hair, another for left-handers and another one for knitting.

There are also scholarship lotteries, which helped one student significantly.

"We had one of our students win and it paid for their tuition for four years," Meek said. 

But whether it's talking to high school counselors for local money opportunities, preferred college for scholarships, or filling out the federal aid application, the most crucial tip is simple: the earlier, the better.

"Start early, because once you get closer to the end of the period for people to hand in applications, that's when a lot of people hand it in," Mohr said.

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