“I can’t afford college” and Other Financial Aid & Grant Myths


College Financial Aid & Grant Myths & College-Bound Loan TipsCollege application season is in full swing. Parents and students are filling out forms, editing essays, and checking their bank accounts. Students worry about getting rejection letters, but some parents may worry more about what they will do once their son or daughter is actually accepted. There’s a lot of information out there—both good and bad—about paying for college. I want to clarify a few of the less-than-true statements you may have heard.

Myth #1:

You can’t afford college, or you can’t afford the college of your dreams.

Many students and parents see the tuition price, the cost of living in the dorms, and the price of textbooks and say there is just no way they could ever afford it. Let’s face it, college is expensive! It’s the largest single investment many families ever make. However, two out of three students get at least some financial aid to help make college more affordable, according to Sallie Mae, the largest education lender.

Students can receive a combination of grants, loans, scholarships, or work-study jobs to help reduce the cost of college. So, don’t ignore a college just because of its “sticker price.” If a college has higher tuition, students often can get more financial aid to help cover the extra cost. For example, parents with incomes below $60,000 aren’t expected to contribute to the cost of their child’s education at Harvard.

Myth #2:

You have to be very poor, very smart, or uncommonly talented to qualify for financial aid.

Financial aid comes in many forms—grants and scholarships, which you don’t have to repay, and loans, which you do have to repay. There is need-based aid for students who come from lower income families and merit-based aid for students who excel in athletics, drama, debate, instrumental music, community service, and many other areas.

You will find financial aid from a number of sources: the federal government, state government, the college or university itself, a parent’s employer, and many other organizations. When students take the time to discover all of the possibilities, they can be surprised at what offers for aid they may receive.

One good source for information is http://studentaid.ed.gov, where you can get Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid. The guide is also available in print at many public libraries and schools or by calling 1-800-433-3243.

Myth #3:

You can get more scholarships by paying someone to search for you.

Scholarship scams are everywhere. Beware of any group or individual that guarantees a scholarship if you pay a fee. There are many very good, FREE scholarship sources—check out www.fastweb.com or www.finaid.org.

Myth #4:

My child will pay for college herself, so it doesn’t matter how much money I make.

Most need-based financial aid is based on parents’ income and assets. Most schools require students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to qualify for need-based aid. That form asks for income information similar to what you need for your income taxes. You can find it by logging on to www.fafsa.ed.gov. After submitting the FAFSA, students receive a report that shows how much the government expects you to pay towards your child’s education. If you’re not ready to actually file yet, you can get an estimate of your expected family contribution by going to www.act.org/fane.

Myth #5:

You can wait until you get accepted to a college before worrying about financial aid.

Most financial aid is doled out on a first-come, first-served basis. Since most students will search for some type of financial aid, you shouldn’t wait too long to get started.

Looking for financial aid is probably not the way that most teenagers want to spend their free time. But a little work now can go a long way in paying for an education tomorrow.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

This article was written by Rose Rennekamp

Rose Rennekamp is the chairman of the board for the Iowa College Access Network and the former vice president of communications for ACT. She is a mom and has a Master of Education in guidance and counseling.

99 Comments

  1. Joseph Bartels

    My parent don’t make much combined >65000. They pay a mortgage, support my grandmother who lives with them, pay taxes, bills, etc. I can’t even expect them to pay for my textbooks (~$400) each semester. And only about 1/2 of my tuition is covered by financial aid in the form of LOANS! That’s about ~$4000 every semester. I receive about $250 in grants per semester; that doesn’t even cover my textbook costs! I was recently declined for a private loan from my bank whom I’ve already taken out 4 educational loans with. There reason was that based on mine and my parent’s income that the accumulated debt from all previous loans would be too high if I take out another loan. WHAT!?? I’m a 3rd year undergraduate, I have 2 more years to go and my bank that I’ve been with for 7+ years will not loan me any more money for school!! ..How am I supposed to pay for the rest of college? MYTH #1 is NOT a myth -it’s reality for people like me. You know how tough it is to focus and find motivation to study when you don’t even know if you’ll be able to afford next semester. And get this! – you can’t drop out cause as soon as you do you’ll have to pay back the loans! But you can’t stay in school cause you can’t afford it! Oh isn’t this great…

  2. Joseph Randall

    Myth #1 is making light of an unwise financial choice. Scholarships are based on grades, abilities, and so on. They are less likely to cover a large chunk of tuition compared to Financial Aid. The money from grants and other resources are little compared to the overall reckless spending that will take place utilizing Financial Aid. I’d rather you take advantage of a community college to ‘save’ money. You’ll be able to take General Education classes that are less expensive keeping good quality, instead of paying a hefty price at a 4-year private or public institution.

    “The ability to think is the ability to make wise decisions using discernment.” – J. Randall

  3. Lindsey Smith

    I can honestly say that this article actually made me angry. It give people the idea that if they work hard and make smart decisions they can pay for college. Not true. Some of us just get dealt the worst hands in life and that makes paying for college a near dream. I’m 21 and the first person to ever attend college in my family. My mom is a sinlge parent, with me in my third year of college and my sister about to graduate from highschool. As a whole, we make less than 50 grand a year. I’ve paid my own rent since I was 18, and the idea of anyone in my family helping me pay for school is entirely laughable. I went to community college for two years to keep my education costs down, and could barely afford that. Now that I’m transferring to a four-year university, I’m not even sure how I’m paying for THIS semester, let alone three more. I’ve got lots of scholarships and grants, because I’ve maintained a high GPA and have financial need, but it’s still not enough. My Pell grant is only 800 dollars. Why? Because our education system views me as a “dependent” of my mother and factors her income into my education costs. Even if I move out and pay rent somewhere else, I’m still her dependent until I turn 25 or get married. Even with all my scholarships, grants, and student loans, I’m still $6,000 short for this semester. PLUS loan perhaps? Oh yes, I have one. One that my mother made me sign a contract for stating that while the loan is in her name, I will really be paying back. And thank’s to my mothers credit score, I can’t get more than $2000 dollars. I can’t get a bank loan, because my credit score is low thanks to the high balance on my credit cards, which I used to buy $500 dollars worth of used books and make two tuition payments. Their are just some people who can’t get the money they need. Even though I have a 3.8 G.PA, even though I’m a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, even though I spend approximately four hours every week doing nothing but searching and applying for scholarships, even through I’ve worked full time making minimum wage trying to scrap up anything I could save for the last three years, I’m still not sure how I’m going to pay off my tuition by the end of the semester. That’s reality. Some of us don’t get the help we need.

  4. Student

    Here’s my story….
    I’m a freshman in college going to my second semester. I spent my first semester at a community college (Due to the fact that I was accepted for the spring semester at my 4 year college) I paid absolutely nothing for my fall semester at my community college. Even brand new books were free. The community college even awarded me $600+ for not using all of my financial aid. If I weren’t young and dumb I would’ve at least spentmy first year there but because my parents already paid the enrollment fee for my 4 year college and I had a bunch of local scholarships only awarding for a four year school I have to go. My mother was unemployed (now working 2 part time jobs because the economy sucks. And imagine she has her MBA and Nursing Degree) and my father’s self employed job was very successful before the turn of the economy and now it’s failing. We don’t have enough money to send me and my brother to college. THAT’S THE REALITY. I worked my ass off just to get $8000 worth of local scholarships and that doesn’t cover my spring semester. I’m always worrying about the next semester. Stop writing false claims about financial aid. Financial aid doesn’t begin to cover college expenses for MOST struggling Americans. Our country is setting us up to fail.

  5. Nikki

    My mom makes less the 45,000 a yr. The college I was accepted to costs $42,000. I received a $16,000 artistic scholarship from the college school, and with pell and fed direct loans a total award of $24,500. My mom and I still have to come up with $18,000. My mom is a single mom, never received child support, and I worked my butt off. Whats the point of working your butt off when even when you get an amazing scholarship you still can’t go to a school other then community college. its true when they say the rich get richer and poor get nowhere. All my hard work was for nothing.

  6. James

    I’m 28. When I started college my parents made over $200,000 per year combined, but they didn’t have the ability or willingness to help. I was always on the blocked list for registering since my bills were past due. I worked but that only paid for housing. I actually got a full tuition scholarship for being top of my class and scoring a 31 on the ACT. I maintained a 4.0 for the first year in 20 cr hours of pre-med classes. I eventually had to drop out when my immune system failed. I transferred to Baylor eventually and even though the tuition is 3 times what my public state university was, I got scholarships and need based aid. It still wasn’t enough, but I would say that going to a private school can help if you are a student in need. Many of the students will be paying their own bills via their parents income, and that leaves more aid for needy students. Also, many alumni of private colleges donate so I got scholarships in some semesters with some rich people’s name on it! I was stuck in the middle zone where my parents where high earners but didn’t help me out. My advice to these students is to just travel or work for a few years instead of starting college. Or go to a community college for just one year and get straight A’s. Then when you transfer, you will get scholarship aid based on college rather than high-school grades alone. I went back to school when I was 26 and classified as an independent student, and I got $22,000 per year of need based aid that I don’t have to pay back. I can finally go to college without financial stress beyond what is manageable! I think this is a good article, but I definitely see where the commenters are coming from. Hey, college is not the only way to make money or be successful. It is not a right, it is a privilege and it is super competitive. Stop complaining and figure it out!!! Another solution is to start a blog about your college experience and post video updates every week. If you gain some followers (and you will) then when you hit a spot where you need $4,000 to pay for next semester, just post a new video and talk about it, then end the video with a request for help “if anyone is able.” People will help!! Trust me, I’ve done this. Here is the formula: post videos that help people understand your college journey and reason for going. The better and more sincere your reason for college, the more likely people will engage and help. Just help others while you are in college in whatever topics you can, and people will not allow you to fail or drop out for money issues. Give and you will receive. Too many Americans want to sit around and get without giving first. What have you done for anyone else lately? Share your knowledge in a blog. Tutor people with videos on your stronger subjects. Even other college students have wallets. Help people and you will not fail.

  7. frustrated

    I have issues with the myths and the entire financial aid situation. My son will start college this fall and we are having issues determining where we will get the money to pay for it. I went back to school late in life and we are currently paying 800 a month for my student loans, which is not taken into consideration when determining what the family is expected to contribute. We are not low income so he doesn’t qualify for any grants. We are not wealthy, but in that lovely middle class who is expected to pay for everything.

    Additionally, my son has a 2.9 GPA and needs a 3.0 to qualify for the lottery scholarship. He is an Eagle Scout, but he did not qualify for the scholarship because he will turn 19 this year.

  8. Julia

    The United States has the most expensive tuition on the planet. The planet. Runners up are Canada and Great Britain, but the average cost in Great Britain is only $5000/yer. Some difference! I grew up in a middle class family that was dangerously crazy to the point where child protective services took me away from them. I became an emancipated minor – only colleges would refuse to look at only my earnings to determine financial aid. They said they could do that until I was 32 years old. As a result I am about $100,000 in debt – this is $60,000 in actual tuition debt PLUS $40,000 in added fees when I was forced into forbearance several times. Do yourself a favor – don’t get an education in the United States. Head to Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, even the UK – places where they aren’t throwing their students to the wolves.

  9. Cowan

    I googled and found this article. I have a 15 year old who is an very good student with good grades. I wanted to get an idea of what it might cost and read the article above; the article makes it sound as if it is a breeze to get the needed funding to go to collage…After reading comments from everyone, it saddened me to see the struggles to afford to attend collage. I am extreamly worried for my son. I wish I could pay for him but I fall into the middle class category which sounds like the kiss of death.

  10. martha

    This article is ridiculous. I’m supposed to start cosmology school in the fall and currently have a full time job that barely pays the bills I have now. Im not sure if the government is aware of this, but the program Im going into requires me to go to school for 16 months straight and has me going to class 5 days a week from 9-4. And they don’t offer any living expense loans until I complete my first 3 months. According to the lady I did my college tour with I’m supposed to get a summer job or have my parents help me. Neither of my parents are employed and I already have 2 jobs that hardly cover the bills I do have. Unless I can get a 14,000 dollar loan to cover my living expenses for those 16 months, college won’t be an option for me. Something needs to be done about this.

  11. Duncan

    I have to agree with Lindsay Smith about this, as it made me about as angry as it made her. The truth is, college isn’t magically paid for, especially your dream college, as that’s probably way more expensive than other colleges. This article tries to support the pipe dream that everyone can afford to do college how and where they want if they just work hard enough. For those of you who are reading this article, I have to say don’t get your hopes up, because some of you, for academic, financial, or other reasons, simply won’t make it. I was considered one of the best and brightest students in my high school, and everybody was always so certain that because of that and the fact my family had a total yearly income of less than 40,000 dollars, my college would be all but free. WRONG! In reality, colleges can’t just give you free tuition, they have operating costs, and they can’t afford to lose money on students. I hate to be the voice of doom here, but don’t be taken in by these ideas that no matter who you are, college is an option. Sometimes it really isn’t, and much as it may seem like it now, it isn’t the end of the world.

  12. doofus

    The most difficult part of college is paying for it. I meet way to many undergraduates who don’t even understand basic logic… so apparently anyone can get a degree as long as they have the cash.

  13. Trixy

    Well I sorry to say I agree with the individuals that say this artifical is a farce. I have one child in college and another ready to go in the fall. I was always told that when you have more than one child in college you are eligible for more money. That was a lie. I got nothing more. My imaginery EFC changed but that didn’t change how much anyone would give me in grants or scholarships or loans. Right now I am broken hearted that I don’t know how to pay for my second child to attend college. I went back to the financial aid office of the private school my son was accepted to and wants to attend and they gave me an additional $4000. Grateful as I am, I still need to come up with $25,000 for him and $27,000 for my daughter. Okay so where is this supposed to come from when I make the only income in the house and that amounts to about $84,000 in adjusted income. Middle class gets the short end of the stick. I can’t pay my mortgage and bills and college. I have borrowed against my mortgage and 401k which everyone says don’t do. So what should I do. Tell them to stay home and flip hamburgers. Sorry for the sarcasm but we need to wake up. Education is a right for the privileged not the average person. If I were dirt poor, I could get a full ticket. What happens to people who work hard to get a little something. We end up out in the cold !!!!

  14. ken kodger

    Biggest Myth is:
    Students can receive a combination of grants, loans, scholarships, or work-study jobs to help reduce the cost of college.

    All this program has REALLY done is to INCREASE the cost of college for everyone who attends! You students & parents get a temporary break and maybe actually get an education but in the long run this program only makes you FOREVER beholden to the Federal Government!

    Time to stop all government assistance to everyone – sure it will take time to reap the benefits of less government but it took 60 years to get us to $16,000,000,000,000.00 in debt – this makes us all slaves!

  15. Debra

    Just lost my job. Husband gets 2% raise this year and first son in college has loans on his own and the parent plus loans we signed for. Just got his 6% tuition increase for next year letter. We have house mortgage under water and a maxed out $50,000 equity loan. Second son has 30 ACT and good scholarships and grants, work study, but not enough to attend. Also has lots of AP credit. Daughter will be senior in high school next year. We’ve spent over $100,000 in education for them so far and not one college degree yet. Grandmother left them $20,000 each but can’t be touched until they are 23. Colleges say its an asset. Some asset! We pay tax every year that can’t be used for need now. Community college for what? We need more on the job training programs in fields where there are actual jobs that can provide a decent wage and lifestyle. There is no middle class.

  16. Eileen

    I also in shock. The financial aid package is no where near what my daughter will need for a tuition that is 51K per year without books or a meal plan. Single parent here, widowed since she was age four and middle income. I just refinanced our home last year and have 30 more years to pay this off. The “wonderful” loan at 7.9 percent as part of the fin aid package is more than 40 percent of my total income. Huh?? My daughter is heartsick since I just told her the REAL deal-there is no way I can take on any kind of loan since there is NO money after paying bils. I am opting to try to sell our home and perhaps I may be able rent a studio apartment on my own. Is this what we expected it would come to? Absolutely not. I agree with the person that states “if we had NO income” we would be better off. Horrible.

  17. Linda

    This article is a farce and it is completely WRONG to get a person’s hopes up that they can afford college. Our son was just accepted to college in Boston. He did get scholarships worth $15,000 but that leaves us with over $27,000 more to pay that we don’t have. We just can’t justify having him owe almost $120,000 when he graduates. How would he ever pay that off? Sadly, he is not going to attend. I will never forgive myself for not being able to afford to send him. My heart is broken and I can’t understand how all these kids are able to attend. Are that many people putting themselves in astronomical debt or are that many people rich enough to pay in full? We, as a middle class working family, just can’t do it. I keep thinking that we”ve failed him as parents but then again, wouldn’t we be failing him more if we let him accumulate that much debt at such a young age with no guarantees on how he’d pay it back? You just can’t win.

  18. Brenda

    I am sorry but this financial aid was going to help my child with college, well not true my husband made 62,000 thousand last year but lived in a different state and had to pay for two different households and now he got laid off. He couldn’t get a job in the state of Florida. They tell us we have to pay for it, HOW. With one child thats handicap and one dying to go to college and become a doctor to help others. How can we do this? where is the help, I have searched and no help. Where is all the help for those who need it?

  19. Fleeced Parent

    I am so sick of colleges saying that the costs don’t matter. It is going to cost me nearly 30% of my gross income to send my daughter to a state school. These administrators are more interested in their reputation than they are educating students. How many colleges brag about being the most affordable? The brag about being known. It is all about attracting out of state students so they can get more money.

  20. CocoJ

    I don’t even know where to start on these comments, really. Middle class cry babies with 4 kids they should never have had, you could have been upper middle by now, and not deluding yourself into believing that you have it even worse than the bottom 5th. It makes me sick to hear that you make $60,000+ a year and you can’t afford another $20-30 thousand because you have bills to pay. While I live on $12,800 it sounds to me like you have at least an extra $47,000 annually. If you wanted your kid to have a college education then you should have just had one of them and lived within your means while taking that 18 years to save for the day you knew was coming.

  21. Joe

    Well i can’t afford college. Im 22 years old i live on my own and support myself with no contribution from my family. My first semester i received aid because i wasn’t working much. Now that i found a decent paying job ($22000 not very much) i ak not qualified for grants. The loats offered to me would cover half of my tuition at a community college. I am going to have to wait until im 24 so that the $35,000 my father makes will not be figured into my fafsa. Good luck.

  22. Alex

    well i cant even think about going to school. both my parents went to jail and im only 20.. i have to either get married, have a kid, or turn 25 to be able to fill out a FAFSA and go to school on my own. i pay my own rent and and utilities. i neeeeeed help.

  23. Sad Mom

    I have a daughter who just graduated with and honors diploma for having a solid 4.0 all 4 years of high school and a 31 ACT score. She received a scholarship for $5000 from the college she would like to attend. Tuition for the first year will be between $20,000 and $25,000 which is about 1/3 less than if she chose to attend the out of state college that was her first choice. She received about $2000 more in scholarships at HS graduation. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa because of her outstanding academic status. However, the grants and student loans she qualifies for are not near enough to cover the remaining tuition. Thanks to my credit not being outstanding, I cannot even get a PLUS loan to help her. I have tried to get approved with a cosigner, declined again. For a family of 5 our taxable income is about $26,700 and we both work full time jobs. Her scholarships, grants and loans still leave about half her tuition unpaid for and that doesn’t include textbooks. I blame myself for not working 2 jobs (which I did at one time) to save for college education. When they say start saving by the time your child is 3 years old, please listen. It doesn’t seem fair that our children suffer from our unsatisfactory credit, which I’m not sure how high your score has to be. Mine is about 640, which isn’t good but it isn’t bottom of the barrel either.

  24. Dee

    Unfortunately, not all of this article is true to life. As a parent my income decreased by 30k from last year, unfortunatley, the FAFSA looks at the prior year…
    She is a straight A high school student, worked part-time, did community service, an internship and applied for multiple scholarships….very few recieved! Life lesson, work hard and ….

  25. Doug D

    This article perpetuates the myth that if you work hard and get great grades you can go to a good university. This is a lie! Private university attendance is a luxury item that is out of reach for the middle class. The FAFSA’s EFC is meaningless. It is a unrealistic number and the universities do not meet your need anyway. I was supposed to have 2 in college this fall with an combined EFC of $25000. They have 2100 SATs and 97 and 99 averages, respectively. The colleges have ignored this EFC and expect me to contribute over $72000 per year. This is my family income. The colleges responses are ‘we do not meet need, take a parent plus loan’. We have a house under water and due to medical expenses (cancer) have depleted our family savings and 401Ks. Formal appeals to the colleges fell on deaf ears. My children will be attending community college in the fall. Myth #1 is this article is Fact#1.

  26. jacque

    I started my college experience at a lovely private christian college. My first year I had no worries about financial aid. I had a grant (that the government did away with my sophomore year) and another grant that my school only rewards to freshman (imagine that!). well, my second year I struggled both semesters to come up with the funds. I had to ask my grandparents for help and I had to drop a few classes just to afford to go to school. This semester I owe more than I can make before the last payment in December. My family cannot afford to pay for any of my college and they refuse to take any loans for me (we are still paying off my dads debt from when he got his ba and masters). My pell grant went down but we are paying off his student loans and the rest of the money goes to utilities and such. I don’t know what to do. This would have been my third year in college and the local schools don’t have my major. I don’t think i can afford to transfer anywhere bc most places don’t offer the financial aid that I have been recieving at my school (which failed anyway). I just don’t know what to do anymore. Can somebody help me?

  27. Tee

    myth #1 really isn’t a myth… i don’t even know what im going to do for pay for college , i just wish i could get scholarships..

  28. Theresa

    My parents refused to pay for college and 20 yrs later I’m taking out loans to go finally get my degree. You don’t have to pay them back until you graduate and you can work for the government and get those loans forgiven after college. Your kids can pay for them too. There’s no excuse and there’s always a way to pay for college. We can also band together and make our wonderful politicians focus on educating our youth so they have better jobs. If you don’t like the way out country gives out financial aide, fight for it!’

  29. Theresa

    And forgive my spelling, it’s the iPhone not me. :)

  30. Theresa

    In other words, if your kids really want to go to college. Find a way to make it happen. It’s tough to do it when you are older.

  31. Debbie

    I searched this article to find hope not despair. I am a middle class mommwith a daughter who has workded so hard. She has excellent grades, community service, clubs, excellent dancer. You know , supposedly the magic formula yea right! Okay, she got offered partial scholarships to private schools we can not afford, Heck we can not even afford a state school. I feel like even though I have a 529 plan, work hard I am failing my daughter. How can I let her life start with so much debt??? I am besides myself and need a solution.

  32. Rachel

    As an upcoming college freshman, I am attending a private Christian university. I was giving 1 scholarship and 5 grants, which left me with 3 loans of $5,400 for my freshman year. I was expecting to owe more money because I need more money for books and supplies. My mom is a single woman that is unemployed and does not qualify as a cosigner for any loan, not even parent plus. My church promised me a scholarship that I did not receive; my school district promised me a scholarship that they canceled; and my senior year I was employed with an average of 4.2 grade point. I leave for campus in three weeks and I don’t even have sheets to sleep on.Why do parents like mine have 5 children in poverty and don’t think about college when they’re new borns? People like me have to go to college just to get out of the Hood and surround ourselves with rich people and opportunities. God blessed me with gendometriosis because I would never have a child in a cruel world. I’ve paid tithes at 60% just to hope I wouldn’t be I a debt over 30,000 dollars in my college career. Working hard academically and being nice others only goes so far. Some of us has to strugg

  33. Bubby

    I wish this story were true.
    My son started college this summer and passed his classes. Payment for the fall semester is due in two days and we don’t have it. The college made an error (which they are trying to correct) and awarded him very little grant money. Even once it is corrected, we don’t have the rest. We were denied for a loan because we don’t make enough money. We simply cannot afford financial aid. I wish there was someone that could help but I have to face it. I cannot send my child to college.

  34. Jamie

    Myth #1 is not a myth at all. It doesn’t matter if I get multiple scholarships and loans and grants. Unless those items pay for the cost of tuition and fees ENTIRELY then I cannot go to college. I live paycheck to paycheck, I’m an independent student, and my parents live on social security. I don’t have 2, 4, 6, or $8,000 just lying around. It would take me years to even save up $2000. So, sorry guys, some of us are just that poor and we’ll never be able to attend college.

  35. Lisa

    My single mom, who has worked 2 and 3 jobs just to pay our monthly bills, is too tired (and old) to keep up at that pace. She got blackballed out of her computer career because she refused to go to India when she had a 3 year old me to take care of. My dad ran up her credit when they were battling through divorce, so she had to file for bankruptcy. She can’t get out of debt it seems, and we lost our car and home. We live with one of my high school teachers, which was definitely weird during my last year of high school. I’m almost 19, and have been applying for jobs since I was 14. It seems my stupid classmates with less than half a brain and more than wealthy parents got hired instead. I am artistic, but can’t find any scholarships that are directed at me. My mom wants me to go to the community college in town to save money, which makes sense even though I don’t want to, but I haven’t been able to even get the money for THAT. I got derailed in high school, so my GPA sucked and the SAT was the hardest test of my life, resulting in about 500 for each section. My boyfriend’s parents have gotten themselves and him seriously in debt sending him to the college of his dreams, and they’re upper-middle class. If they struggle to get by, how will I, with my mom making less than $20 000 a year go to college? Everyone tells me, even my mom tells me, there has to be grants and scholarships. There are not. I can’t get a loan with no job and no credit history, and my mom obviously can’t cosign. My dad never payed child support, and as much as I want to take him to court to try to get that money (he can SO afford to pay, he doesn’t want to is all) court costs are a lot too. I feel stuck and can’t believe my rich cousin got a full ride scholarship to the U of HER dreams, plus extra money from our grandmother. I just…..what do I do?

  36. Starmaccer

    Doesn’t these universities assist you to get financial aid since they are basically getting free money from the government?? I’d say you will never know how much you get and if the financial aid is not enough you can get student Loan just make sure you do ur calculations and don’t take too much money that you don’t need. That’s wen paying back student Lone become a problem

  37. Doug

    I just left my wife and daughters in oregon to go off to UTI in Sacramento. Got down here and what the school never told me is that the minimum wage is $8 here and the only jobs that work with thd school schedule is part time with low hours. I have $1250 in bills each month and thats including student housing here. Ive been going around looking for jobs because I want to stay but I will never make nearly enough to cover it all. I just got here and now I have no choice but to go back to oregon and leave this school. Guess it’s back to working at my job I left from at $14 hr and figuring out something else. The school I guess forgets to mention some things. Well atleast I will be back with my wife and kids:)

  38. marymom

    As a Mom of 5 kids, I agree with everyone that posts here. You like CocoJ especially. Not one person has a right to tell any of us how many kids we can afford, the issue is HOW WE PARENT THEM. My oldest son went to UGA and got all the loans he needed and 10 years later, he can’t afford a house because his monthly payment to cover the interest on his loans are equal to a mortgage. Yet, he never compains and works many hours to just live. My youngest daughter spent the other day crying in my ear because she can’t get the financial aid to continue another semester, she just got laid off from a job that took her 7 months to find and she has no money left to fall back on. I am recently divorced and even though I am a nurse, have not been able to find work so I could not offer her any help. I resent the ones that think they don’t have to work to get what they want, I resent the ones hate those that are more fortunate than them. The reality is that GREED had put us all in the position that we now find ourselves. When we can all just CARE and help each other help each other, so much of these problems could be worked out. Instead of just compaining and pointing fingers, could we put all this energy into working together to get the solutions that we all need ?

  39. Excuse you

    I don’t know where you manage to live on $13K but guess what, different places have different costs of living. And don’t fuck around going “well then move where you can afford.” You’re born where you live and you stay there because you get stuck there because if you can’t afford to live there, you sure as hell can’t afford the cost of moving out: taking time off to scope for a new home and job, spending money on packing and transport, being able to pay the last payments on your rent/mortgage and the first payments on your next place at the same time. Just because people don’t need as much help as you doesn’t mean they don’t need help. Not getting enough help, in this situation, comes to the same result as getting no help. So how about you stop being bitter and keep your nastiness to yourself.

    Sincerely, a struggling 35K household in an 50K-average-yearly-cost-area who ISN’T a bitter ass.

  40. Brittany

    “I can’t afford college” is most definitely NOT a myth. My school took away my aid when I was in the hospital and had to medically withdrawal. But, they still charged me for school that semester, even though I wasn’t even there, and they took my aid away. So, now I have this huge bill and cannot go back anywhere until it is paid off. Which will never happen because I’m 20, come from a poor broken home, and have no help. So, some of us really can’t afford college. I don’t have a cosigner to get any sort of loan, and I know other people don’t either. yeah I still get aid for when I can go back to school, but I can’t get anything for my bill from when I had to leave school. So, I will never get to recieve the aid because I don’t qualify to go back to school in the first place. It’s so unfair and I hate how our country favors healthy, rich people from happy, perfect homes.

  41. Brittany

    CocoJ obviously has no idea how life works.

  42. CocoJ is a Troll

    You can’t live on $12,800 without getting some assistance either housing or food, you troll.

  43. lolawantedthechancetobegreat.

    I can’t go to college my mother is abusive but I can’t qualify for independent because I put up with her shat. She is considered middle income with great credit so the school gave her the Plus Loan choice, she ripped it and laughed. I am only 18 and my “award” won’t even cover the semester with housing. I am an aspiring advertising major I am a great artist but can’t pay the deposit fee to assess my scholarship in time. Why not? My mother sabotaged my job when I was seventeen. I just got a job so I can work to pay the deposit fee and attend in the summer and hopefully get my scholarship. Ican’t cosign because my mother hasn’t even purchased me food when I was five. She cut off the internet on purpose and the phone. We live alone in ca and she and her family hid my own ss number from me and I had to steal the card. On top of that, I still need ten grand to cover the rest of the first year. I am stuck. This article is crap. Stop the dream talk and tell it like it is. Some generation let college get out of hand and we will never be able to afford it. That’s coming from a girl who won a huge cca scholarship , shops at thrift stores while her mother drives in bmw’s and calls to get her daughter fired. Stop the dream mess , college needs a reform. :( Pronto . It will only get more expensive.

  44. lolawantedthechancetobegreat.

    You need at least 30,000 to spare when applying to college, how is an eighteen year old going to find such cash? And yes I was awarded Grants and a the highest Stafford Loan , Pell grants and a big Merit Scholarship. I still can’t afford it.

  45. lolawantedthechancetobegreat.

    Gosh this article made me so mad and I cried reading this. We can’t pay for it and I wasn’t blessed with a parent who will “send” me to such a place or at least help me get INTO the college. There is no way , I am frustrated , sad and heart broken and they don’t hire teens anymore so your kid can’t even save for college. Education Reform , guys watch College Conspiracy , it shows how the universities priced everything and how banks own them.

  46. Thank you for helping out, fantastic info. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” by J. K. Rowling.

  47. Tess White

    My dad made $15,000 this year. My mom does not work at all. I have not been accepted into any instate colleges, and have no way to pay for any type of college. I live in a rural, economically depressed area. College is literally out of reach. I want to go, but I have no money, heck we can barely pay our house bill. I just dont know what to do anymore.

  48. V Smrz

    U should talk about how at 28 I can’t support my family without a degree, but I can’t afford a degree that will make a difference in my life. There is not enough financial aid in the world to help ppl like me. I am a newly married gay woman, with no kids, and I don’t see my prodgeny’s future being as bright because I was never able to afford college. Even with a tested IQ in genius levels, i cant test out of enough classes or win enough aid to lower the cost of my desired education. The maximum allowance for government aid only covers less than two years at a mediocre school. I would still be paying my college loans by the time my kids apply for college. The system blows.

  49. ace

    wow, here i was thinking am having it rough. My dad died when i was twelve and my mom is terminally ill so she can not work. I graduated from high school with a B grade. I then went abroad to work as a housemaid to save up for college. Am now twenty and was about to go back home so i could go to college. But my lilltle sis is joining high school and has no one to pay her fees so am paying for and have to make up for it by staying here for another one year. We’ve tried everything. They want A students. i got a 70% scholarship but gave it up. Where would i get the 30% when i couldn’t even afford an air ticket?

    college is realy important to me. Not for the dream job that’s not guaranteed, not for the status of being a college graduate. I want to complete the 8-4-4 sylabbus set by my country. O want to be competent. I never start something i can’t fifnish. my dream is to be an entrepreneur. Am confident i could do that without the college. But i also know education makes a difference in people.
    Wake up peopleif u want it that bad, You’ve got to go out there and find another way.

  50. Deb

    My youngest of 2 daughters is hoping to afford college in the fall.
    She’s been applying for every scholarship under the sun & will still fall short.
    The entire system is so messed up. Her hard work isn’t paying off & neither does ours. Our oldest has struggled with her colleges loans from SUNY school & now youngest wont have the advantage of us co-signing because of previous loans
    We already signed for.
    My husband & I have both worked since we were 16 years old, now 46, & ALWAYS lived within our means. Never accepted a handout in our lives & ALWAYS paid our modest bills, auto repairs, rising healthcare insurance costs.
    unexpected home repairs, kept food on table & roof over our heads. unexpected things in life have depleted anything we saved. For example, replaced part of our home’s foundation because a side was caving in @$8000 price tag, replace roof @$5000, replaced auto transmission @ $1800. What the hell are you supposed to do? Some people just don’t get it & assume all people are just blowing their income
    On frivolous items.
    When you’re applying for aid, doing your taxes, no one considers
    these types of challenges, only what you earn on paper. You just can’t catch a break.
    It’s all smoke and mirrors

  51. Suzanne

    I am 22, turning 23. This May i’ll have been graduated from High School for 5 years. 5 YEARS!! I have 1 semester of college under my belt but had to drop out because of Family issues and my college no longer being paid for. It took me 3 years to pay off that semester, by myself, after it had gone to collections. My credit is CRAP because High School does not pre pair kids for the real world. I had gotten a credit Card right out of high school and being uneducated, spent everything and destroyed my credit at 18 yrs old. I have tried almost every year to get back into college and have had absolutely no luck. I got close last year when I was FINALLY approved for a Federal loan after my mothers divorce, and was approved for a Pell Grant, but i was still over $4,000 short for the semester, SEMESTER! I wasn’t able to attend college, once again. When they say that kids should at least go to community college and transfer out, that’s just a load of shit! Lets say you have to take loans and grants and a left lung just to get to community college, then after 2 years you realize you cant afford to go to the 4 year college, and now your stuck paying off that two years and have to wait even LONGER to go to that 4 year college because now you’re paying off two years of practically nothing. I can’t even afford to go to my local Technical college since i am living on my own, have bills to pay, and have to go to work to pay for all of it. I have to work so often just to keep my head above water, how am i going to find time to take classes or even afford it? I made over $21,000 last year, but have nothing to show for it because of so much to pay for every month. I worked 13 days straight at 16 hrs each day at one point and worked a minimum of 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for 4 months and still don’t have money saved for college. Every day college just seems further and further away for me, and I’ve just started to lose hope that i will ever be able to attend college and have my dream job. College should NOT be this hard to get into, it just shouldn’t be.

  52. Anna

    Coco, Those of us making 60K are the ones putting your $12.8K into college, paying for your state medical benefits, WIC etc. Now, can you tell me again where my extra $47K has gone to?

  53. princess

    I was only granteed partial of pell grant anything to help?

  54. Scared Parent

    Parent of 2 kids in college.
    The first 3 myths are not myths. #1) I sent my daughter to a great private college because she got $12000 in scholarships and grants. I looked at it as an opportunity. We are still ending up with a $6000/semester bill to pay. #2) Anyone who has ever gone to fastweb for scholarships knows it’s worthless. Virtually every advice article tells you to go there for scholarships, so everyone goes there. What are the chances of you actually getting a scholarship which everyone else is trying for, and unless you have financial need or are really smart (myth #2) you have no chance.
    If you can’t afford college, at least go to community college for 2 years and get an associates degree. Then try the job market. You can always spend the next 5 years taking night classes and still end up with a degree but little debt.

  55. Private Colleges NOT

    My wife and I make less than $20k per year together. Daughter wants to attend a Private college. College sends Financial Aid Report includes Grants and Scholarship.
    Downfall is still have $8k to $20k per year ro make up. Bad Credit and lack of Income as parents we are unable to help. She rank 5th in her Class, 3.9gpa (96 gpa with Honors and College credited classes in H.S.) getting the College Academic Scholarship and needy family extra but Unable to Afford Cost. She refuses to attend a Community College or SUNY (State Univ.of NY) schools. She works hard as claims she deserves a Private School. College waiver or they pick up the tab does not happen on $10,000 per year. Maybe if $1K or $2K short.
    Attending College is Not Affordable to the POOR.
    You can Thank OBAMA DRAMA in making it super Impossible very soon here in 2013 and beyond. Community College tuition has been taking study hike rates each year soon to be unaffordable too.

  56. Robin

    Okay. No, these “busted myths” are not accurate. I think most of us can agree on that…and I understand the difficulties faced by some who are unable to qualify for need-based aid. My younger sister was ineligible because my mother’s contract was bought out by her employer the year before she applied. If it hadn’t been, then she would have been eligible for aid. I was eligible, because I was divorced by the time I was 20 and declared independent status when I went back to school.

    I do take issue with some of the comments here though:

    First, do NOT complain about being MIDDLE CLASS. “Kiss of death!?” What are you on? My parents raised me & all of my siblings in the working class. You want to trade? Middle class standing is something that many people in this country can only hope for. It is ridiculous and just plain ignorant for you to whine about that.

    Second, no, you may not be able to get into the school of your dreams with the hopes of having aid pay for it all. If it’s an out of state school (which a lot of these sound like, based on your statements) maybe have your child live there for a year so they can get residency. They can work, save up a little bit, and then get in-state. It’s a lot cheaper. I mean A LOT. If you don’t want them out of school for a year, have them go part-time. The tuition is still cheaper than being full time and, again, they’re working toward becoming an in-state resident. I know a lot of people who have done this.

    Finally, yeah, it can be hard to get complete financial assistance. My EFC is $0. I made less than $5,000 last year. Yes, you read that right. And I was ineligible for my full amount of need-based aid. I work a job at my university that covers my room and board, and another job that helps to pay for any additional costs that I need. I’m putting myself through school working toward two degrees (meaning that I’m taking a minimum of 20 credits each semester) to cut the costs of having to come back for the other degree. I’m watching the debt rack up, and I’m still planning on going to graduate school. I’ve received grants every semester, and I’ve worked the job every semester that has saved me almost $10,000/year in living expenses, I’ve received random grants and scholarships, but I still have a lot of loans. And I’m looking at about 6 more years of school.

    Education is an investment. Decide if it’s worth it.

  57. stomach turning

    i have a 17 yr old daughter. just visited her choice for college. its a state school. she has to live on campus as we are over 3 hrs away. combined income of 70 thousand. DID THE FAFSA…ITS A JOKE…500 DOLLARS IS ALL THEY GAVE US…what….i was so under the assumption she could get student loans with no interest for atleast 80% of her college cost. NO WAY..she can get only 2600 a year in no interest loans with no payments til after graduation. she can take out COSIGNED LOANS BUT THEY ACCRUE INTEREST FROM DAY ONE…
    what do i tell the girl who worked hard but gets no scholarships money even though she tried for all of them i think..she will graduate with over 100,000 dollars in deBT BUT WILL ONLY HAVE A ATCHELORS DEGREEA MAKES ME SICK TO MY STOMACH THINKING ABOUT IT

  58. doesn't matter

    I love how this is basically throwing everything onto the parents’ shoulders. Whoever wrote this didn’t think too deeply on the fact that many families have 1+ kids, and the kids usually are within a couple years of each other. I know I’ve an older sister a little over 2 years my senior and the struggle is real, especially with COA in a regular public school reaching $20,000 per student (at least for us). My parents, for example, have a home, two modest jobs, and another kid.Though they make a little less than $60,000 annually, they can’t whip out an extra $40,000, or even $1,000 mainly because they have bills to pay-there’s such a thing as 1st & 2nd mortgages, debts, and ya know, housing bills, it’s just not gonna happen. as for the availability of scholarships: more students are going to school- but economically, such schools(private and public are in the same boat) are growing more and more expensive, and their financial aid isn’t gonna magically take in a couple more students, because a school can only give out so much money until it itself is in a financial crisis. The student body in need has outgrown the schools wallets- or vice versa, depending on which angle you look at it.
    Personally I find Myth #2 laughable; they don’t actually deny the idea of “You have to be very poor, very smart, or uncommonly talented to qualify for financial aid,” and in doing so, I imagine the writer getting writers block, but then going, “Well, yeah..yeah I guessBUT YOU KNOW WHAT FINANCIAL AID COMES IN MANY FORMS—GRANTS AND SCHOLARSHIPS, WHICH YOU DON’T HAVE TO REPAY, AND LOANS, WHICH YOU DO HAVE TO REPAY.” which isn’t true, if you get a loan which you have to pay- that’s called a loan- not financial aid, sir.
    Myth #5- is what everyone dreams of being real, but then you looks at your schools fin-aid a couple weeks later and see that you missed 234567898765 scholarships and die a little bit. But this problem’s source is a double ended sword. Schools set up their fin-aid deadlines in a scattered manner as to not overload its staff and those who make the decisions on who makes bank and who doesn’t, but they tend to overlook the busy-life of students. We’ve got class time eating up 2-8 hours of our day, work eating up, 8-12 hours, and hw (homework) the rest. For those without hw, socializing, and for those with both- well, they pick and choose, but I feel like schools don’t consider the fact that no student has time to be excelling in school, and being a good citizen by volunteering and all that jazz, AND working part-time to pay for school, AND find themselves and whatever. However, students preparing for their next year of college do need to learn how to play catch up with their responsibilities, however stressful and unnecessary they may be.
    Myth#3- if you didn’t know that by now, then good luck with the rest of your life.
    Also, in reference to Cocoj- I’m sure that would help immensely seeing as we’re overpopulating the world, but I don’t really wanna dive into that because I don’t see any fault in my parents for having 3 kids when they could’ve just had one, because that’s not an arguement, that an accusatory statement of something that’s not bad at all, I don’t think anyone born within the last 5 years could have thought tuition would’ve gone up to $200 per credit hour. Maybe $150, but not $200.

  59. Casey

    I can’t believe an article this poorly written would even be published, let alone make its way to the top of the search results for paying for college. I was trying to find useful information, but instead found another site that helps privileged families feel like they have to struggle.

    Those of us who don’t have families who are able or willing to provide any help are in a different situation. When my wife transfers to a university this fall we will be losing most of our income, all of our health insurance and taking on an insane amount of debt just to cover tuition. She still has to work, since my income isn’t enough to cover everything, so the idea of a student just worrying about being a student is ridiculous. I’ve been searching for information on people who have been in our situation, and who need additional loans just to cover rent and Ramen. This isn’t it. It’s really too bad that we live in a world where jobs are demanding higher education and increasing rates and the number of people capable of obtaining those degrees is shrinking entirely due to poor budget management. This article has helped me be even less confident in our ability to succeed.

  60. Aaronk

    I don’t know what to do either, I am 22 and just now deciding to go back to school, even at a community college. I am going to have to pay 264 dollars for every college credit hour. I need 28 of them to complete the certification.. lol I am fuckeddd

  61. Bridgitt

    This article made me angry as well. I am in the same boat as well. It is utterly ridiculous with how the loans are. When it comes down to it with how bad the economy is and your lot in life, and so forth, are you going to put food on the table and have shelter or are you goi ng to take out ridiculous loans for thousands of dollars, when you can’t even get hired at Dunkin Donuts? I know many people who have had to leave school, even with so called “State” schools, because there is just no way, they can mae it even with parent’s help. Yeah try being bankrupt etc. If this country wants their people to be so “educated’, it would be wise if they gave out the grants and so forth.

  62. Andrew

    Your article is bs. I get exactly nothing from my parents, and you’re expected to be able to attend college, pay for renting a place, gas, car, food, all on your own just on loans – that’s 80,000 after a bachelors degree-

    Grants don’t pay for much at all either, they’re a few thousand out of tens of thousands,
    and forget about interest!

    I don’t understand how people are expected to pay almost the price of a house just to finish college, and what’s the point…

  63. Madelyne

    If you go to a private university, of course you are not going to be able to afford tuition. Perhaps state college would have been a better idea in retrospect.

  64. Tina

    Here’s one story to add to the others posted here. My husband and I have one child. She did all the right things in high school to get good grades, volunteered in the community, held a part-time job, etc. But, we don’t know how to help her attain her college dream at a STATE college. Why? Because 10 years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and the day after that diagnosis my husband was laid off from his $40K per year job. Family health insurance vanished. Oh, we could have continued to pay for group insurance through the government’s COBRA at over $800 per month but we had no income coming in and rent to pay and food to buy and well, it was a downward spiral. I’m still alive but only because everything and I mean every single penny we had saved in our lifetimes went to pay doctors and hospitals. I still can’t work but I’m alive. Our daughter went to community college for 2 years thanks to the savings we had saved up over the past 10 years. We didn’t qualify for much through FASFA because my husband makes too much at $40 / year. So, we pay $750 a month to live in a very modest apartment and electric bills here in the south of over $250 per month (old apartment buildings are not known for great insulation!). I am not going to go on about bills. There is no public transportation here so an old beater of a car is all my husband has to get to work If that fails…. Well, I think you get the picture.

    Our daughter has done her part and saved from her minimum wage job. Even has a couple of scholarships to go on to a 4-year state school. But it’s still not enough. The day she was born I swore she’d have it better than I did. But it looks like that promise will not come true. My heart is breaking.

    All I can tell her now is to go back to the community college and get training in something other than her dream. Otherwise, despite completing, with honors, in 2 years all the core subjects for a 4-year degree, she will be stuck in nowhere jobs for who knows how long. So very very sad for all young people in similar situations.

  65. donovan

    Try cappex.com. I got some scholarships through there.

  66. JESSICA PEDDYCORD (MOTHER)

    My daughter has worked for 7 years very hard to go to IUPUI in Indianapolis she was inducted in the NHS in her junior year . She has worked so hard she has earned over 100,000 towards collage but even with her scholerships and every loan they will give her it is not enough I don’t know what to do. My sister was gonna help but she changed her mid. Tabi starts school in 21 days we don’t know what to do……. Any suggestions will b much appreciated. my daughter deserves this I am will to cook clean anything to help her. desperate

  67. Teresa

    Rose (author of this article) – darling, you need to grip reality more often. I have worked at a University for 12 years. I struggled as a non-trad, taking out loans and now I suffer… and according to the federal gov, I know “make too much” for my child to even consider student loans as an option. I barely pay our mortgage, so I assure you – I do NOT make too much (by the way, ZERO credit card or car debt). This article is grossly incorrect. Sad….

  68. yeap i can't afford it

    It’s 12:48am and I am sitting in my university computer lab felling like “yeap, I don’t belong here.” I have no textbooks and I did the whole check “the class out to figure out if you really need the book thing” and I do need them. I was hoping to get extra money back from the university after bills at least $1000 to help my mom pay off her wells fargo debt but I naively din’t plan for the over $1000 in student fees. I want to say fuck it, I’ll go to a community college and, do generals, transfer and get into medical school but as Tina showed, that’s not always a guaranteed plan. I feel like staying here and not affording to help my mom like I promised is a mistake. I want to run and hide because the 10 pages of calculations I did never change the numbers… I can’t even afford books. I want to just fall asleep and not wake up, screw chasing dreams, it only works for rich, mostly white kids that walk around in yoga pants… you and I both know they have no worries.

  69. NO help for Middle Class

    I read this since my daughter is 15 and thought I’d get something out of it. Was I wrong. My brother in laws girlfriend has been going to community colleg since she was 20. She does have a child so evidently she was able to do the financial aid with just her. She does not work and only goes to school part time. Pell grant pays completly for her classes. the gets money for books etc and gets a check back for not using all the money they give her for the books. Granted that was never her $, it’s our tax dollars so if she does not owe it back why does the government issue out check for unused money. She on top of that gets a student loan over $5000 each semester too and blows the crap out of it. So the system helps in many of the wrong ways. I guess when it’s time for my daughter to go I will have pay for most all for her since we won’t qualify due to income even though once mortgage and bills paid there is not any left so set aside thanks to Obama for causing my insurance to increase almost $200 more a month that was not in the budget.

  70. Ryan

    Myth 2 is not a myth, it is absolutely true, but if your family has money it shouldn’t apply. The people that get screwed are the working and middle class.

  71. The System is awful

    Tired of hearing that what happened to me is a myth. It isn’t!!!!! I know several others who fell through the cracks like I did. The sad thing is that it was all of the intelligent ones who got screwed by financial aid and all the ones who got handed financial aid money every quarter regardless of performance. I have nearly a 4.0 in college, was in the honors college, and took on a BS in Business Management, a BA in Honors English, and a minor in Geology. Suffice to say, college was EASY and financial aid was NON-EXISTENT!!!! My Family is not wealthy by any means, we just own a business that gives my dad a place to work. My father has 3 employees who make more than him!!!! My father was nearly killed in an explosion on the job (not his fault) and my family almost lost our business and our house because my father could not work for a very, very long period of time. Of course this happens a year before I go to college. My family struggled to get back on track and I struggled to pay for school because I got no financial aid. Yes, NONE! I never got any because the government always said my family had too much money! Yeah, right… Despite stellar grades, and working, I couldn’t afford to finish. So I quit. I payed off the $35,000 I took out in private loans and waited until I was over 24 and went back to school. Now money is thrown at me from financial aid. It makes no sense AT ALL! Why couldn’t I get what my peers got? How come they could be lazy and get money at a young age and I had to wait? They had degrees at 22 and put in minimal effort. I’m much older now and still working on my degrees even though I have paid multiples more and put forth multiples of effort. College was not fun for me, but I saw the fun others were having. It changed me to see the inequalities firsthand. I am not the same person who left home at 18 and never will be. I blame financial aid 100% because I have now received aid at a much later point in my life and I have had 0 problems. The rules suck and everyone should get financial NO MATTER WHAT! Quit saying financial aid’s failings are a myth, because they aren’t. Oh, and by the way I am one of the students who went after the department of education and got the rules changed for private loans, essentially almost ending the college private loan industry. You’re welcome.

  72. nene

    If your parents can’t afford it, MOVE OUT and try applying as an independent student. Apply as an individual adult once you reach age 24. Live with friends or something. You CAN make it.

    I hear ya! Sick and tired of everyone saying college is available for all and that everyone can get loans and financial aid. First of all, are you aware that if some school’s Financial AID OFFICE MAKES AN ERROR, YOU MAY OWE THE MONEY??? That’s what one college website says!

    Sometimes it takes them forever to get the 12,000 documents needed for you to be firmly ensconced in a class, even after you have mailed it to the aid office. They then sometimes say they need something else at the last minute, meaning you don’t know if you’re going to be in a class or not because you are totally dependent on the fin. aid office at your college doing everything properly and on time!

  73. worried sophomore

    This is the deal. I dont live in United States or some famous country. I live in a poor country called Myanmar (or Burma) in South East Asia. My mom is an assistant teacher at my school. She only makes 300$. but with extra tuition outside of school, (she works 12 hours a day) she made about 2800$ each month. We barely save 300$ each month. And my dad is sick so he cant work at all.
    I hate my school grading system. I am a bright kid, when it comes to tests I ace them very easily. The only problem is the homeworks, participation, and projects. I get an average of 3.7 GPA on a 4.3 scale. But if i calculate my semester test scores, i get 4.1. I know only the over grade counts not my semester test scores.
    I cant afford to college. I am afraid because of my grades, i wont get acceptance. I dont worry much about acceptance. i just worry about the financial scholarships that i might not receive. I plan to go to singapore or australia. I got an uncle in Singapore. I plan to go live there after 12grade and get some money or get an internship at his job. (computer networking). I want to be a computer engineer, i am really got at maths. ( i got a total of 99.7% in the overall semester grade). I hope that experience with the internship might help a bit.

    can somebody advice me some cheap colleges. I know, i know, it might not help with my education. But i plan to get a diploma and get some work and try to save money.

  74. Lavine

    This is soooo frustrating. My son is heading to college in the fall. I make $95k per year and my EFC is $21,422. The school he’s going to is $33,000 per year and it’s likely that I’ll be on the hook for all of it because we are not need based. I did save form him but it’s not enough to cover $33k times 4. For one, it took time for me to get to that income level so I wasn’t always in a position to save and when I did it wasn’t enough to cover over $100k in college expenses. I think the problem with the entire system is both college tuition rates AND Financial Aid. Those who are in the middle —not enough to just cut a check or poor enough to qualify for aid although we get hit with 28% tax rates are SOL. I’ve been fiscaly responsible…purchased a reasonable home, made sure my son was at good schools and exposed to healthy extra activities…but it feels like everything I worked for is now at jeopardy because I have to figure out how to handle this debt without putting my son in the poor house when he graduates. Very tough situation.

  75. Lala

    Wow do much negative experiences. My story is I divorced my daughters father when they were twelve and nine because he was very abusive. My children and I struggled with him trying his best to destroy me financially. My oldest graduated H.S. last year with a 4.8 gpa she got a very good scholarship we applied for financial aid all went as planned and she is now a freshman studying nueroscience. I remarried her senior yr. And my hubby is in school and recieved financial aid and his work pays some. I am getting ready to return and finish a bachelors with financial aid and my 16 year old is expected to be a merit scholar and her teachers are confident she will scholarship and financial aid will help with any gap. Determination, planning and commitment is needed for any measure of success. No one handed me or my girls anything we fought abuse discrimination and poverty but we are going to college.

  76. Levi

    I have a 3.9 GPA and am in a single parent house with 4 children all together. I’ve taken a.p. and dual enrollment courses my whole high school career. I’ve been in sports and clubs and worked my butt off. My mother is a cashier at a store. She makes less than 15,000 a year! College is a joke. Rich parents breed rich kids because they can afford college. Poor parents breed poor children. The scholarships and financial aid i received still put me at a deficit because tuition+room&board+book fees are just too expensive. The chances of me taking out a loan are slim to none because as I stated before my mother makes less than 15,000 a year. Yea, tell me more about doing whatever you want to do as long as you put your mind to it.

  77. Nick

    This whole paragraph is a joke. My parents apparently make too much money..And because of this I HAVE to suffer. I only quality for enough cash to pay for a year of school if that even…When my brother tried he had to leave school because his AID ran out after the first semester. He contacted a few people at UMFK..They told him to if he wanted to continue he would have to move out of our home… But 80% of the kids in this town are on drugs and their parents are bums…get to have ALL of their schooling paid for…Not only that the kids dont even want to go to school…The teachers even preach to them that they have to go-and they do it…just to get kicked out because of partying…Dont EVER say its a myth if you have not been in my shoes. Its a FACT. The economy is awful in Northern Maine. The U.S has really out done themselves this time!

  78. Sad Mom

    My daughter is in the 2nd semester of her freshman year. She was a dream student in high school and was accepted to a wonderful university. To make a long story short, we did not qualify for a Parent Plus loan due to my husband’s health being poor and a decline in our credit. I tried to apply for hardship, so she could get work study, but that was declined. We have our home paid off, but we were declined for a home equity loan. Presently, we don’t know what we are going to do. I am heartbroken. She wants to be a doctor. All I do is pray. I know God has a plan for her life. Presently, the Obama administration is trying to make the middle class into the working poor. My husband and I both have master’s degrees, and I have taught for 29 years. Who has ever heard of not being able to provide for your daughter? I had no idea that college would be so hard for us to attain. My heart breaks for all of us. All of these letters sound the same. The rich and poor are taken care of. Our middle class kids are dying. Someone has to help them. I just read that California is starting to help its middle class students. What will happen to the U.S. when our best and the brightest cannot pay for their college? There is the lowest amount of students in 2014 enrolled in college. I sure know why. They can’t pay for it. They can’t get ahold of the dream. How sad.

  79. Curtis Lindsay

    Ive been out of high school for 3 years and still havent gone to college and similar to the girl Lindsey Smith. i dont really have ANYONE to help me pay for college. im 22 years old i mean my family has struggled there whole entire lives with money my dad dropped out of high school and is working at walmart smfh and my mom was a cna but she’s 52 and sure not going back to school and none of my brothers went back to college so i have to kind of set an example but its soo hard because i grew up in a bad neighborhood my whole life and the whole college thing wasnt my ME at first but now all i do is wake, brush my teeth, take a shower, get dressed, etc and look for stupid minimum wage jobs thats hiring which are basically NONE because of our economy! Im not saying just because i grew up in hood i cant go to college im saying me doing it alone is impossible and i feel really stupid not going to college right out of high school because all my friends that i went to high school with are now graduated out of college, so its like i just feel stupid and angry that i cant do it alone u know but i guess thats life

  80. Hope

    We have 2 children in private colleges and learned a great deal along the way. Number 1 is do not have a dream college. Apply to private colleges with large endowments. Student should have great grades, put in tons of community service hours and practice interviewing. Apply to many colleges, which is worth stretching the budget for. Wait to see the offers and make the best offer your dream college. We did a version of this with 1st child, and did even more of the same for second child with even better results (3 full ride offers). We are a 2 income family making 68k, we do not fit in any minority or vet classification, both children work every summer, we are living in a rural small town which I believe also helped. Posting to let families know not to give up hope, we have been very blessed. It can happen to you. Do not rule any school out including the very best because you think it is not possible, I am here to tell you all things are possible.

  81. Melissa

    I hate description of college being “the largest single investment most families make.” Families have nothing to do with it, it is an individual expense. My parents together almost make over $200,000 a year, so financial aid gave me enough LOANS to cover half to a third of my tuition. This wouldn’t be a problem if my parents helped me pay for college, but like MANY Americans, my parents do not help with my school payments what so ever. It is a mockery and a joke that financial aid is based off of the income of ones parent or parents, opposed to their future potential. Being a Dean’s List student for outstanding grades obviously says nothing, since I was not even given any of the scholarships I applied for, probably because I did not “show financial need.” It kills me that I am a full time student keeping up a GPA over 3.75, who also works 16 to 20 hours a week and might still not be able to enroll next fall because I will end up on financial probation. “Full time student” used to make sense as a term but now, it seems as though taking 12 to 18 credits should be considered as “a side job.”

  82. Thanks

    I was a great HS student. Solid grades (4.0), played sports, did everything right. My parents both worked and made over 275K a year combined. My parents went to school in the 80′s when tuition was nothing and both worked their way through college part time and graduated with no debt. (Totally impossible these days to do). Anyway – I got accepted to Univ Tex Austin and was able to barely afford one semester. I know you think that you know how expensive things are – but you really just don’t until you have to write that check. My parents refused to help because they said that me paying my own way would make me appreciate college more. I could get virtually no grants or anything because of their salaries (shouldn’t there be a block on the FAFSA that says “Yes my parents are jerks and NO they are not helping me pay one single cent!!!”) Anyway – was unable to come up with enough money to start my third semester (was a mere $540 short) and basically found myself with no school and un-employed. (The funny thing was that my parents told me that I could move back home and live for free for as long as I needed – yet wouldn’t help with even $540. It still amazes me.). Anyway – moved back home – a month later joined the US Army. That was four years ago. I got out a few weeks ago – and now due to the Hazelwood Act of Texas and the 9/11 GI Bill will have all four years of UT Austin paid for completely 100%, tuition, books, dorm, everything – and also actually make $880 a month stipend from the VA. I am now going to pick up exactly where I left off – but now four years older – 100 years smarter – AND upon graduation will already have four years experience in my field – plus companies love hiring VETS for tax purposes. Are my parents still jerks – YEP. Do they think they did the right thing by not helping me at all – YEP. Is this world fair – NOPE. But if I hadn’t joined the Army I would never have been able to afford college and would be flipping burgers somewhere for sure — plus honestly – four years went by fast … OH.. and while I was in the Army I got to CLEP about 40 hours of college from all the courses I took during for my job and even deployed was able to knock out allot of college classes at night and on the weekends.

  83. jessthefacts

    Of course, in a sane America joining the military would be a very good solution to parents who refuse to pay for college. However, with a president who obviously wishes harm on our military and our country I would not recommend it as a strategy. My fiance just went that route and we’re both lucky that he made it out alive – those left in Afghanistan and the debacle that has turned into may not be so lucky.

  84. So Stressed

    I just want to say that I’m about to start college and I’m so stressed out… My parents are going through a divorce right now and honestly we’re poor. They barely make above $20,000 a year and I have 2 siblings. My EFC for the fafsa was $0 and yet I barely got any grants, only about 3,000. If your family is not expected to have to contribute any to college then why didn’t I receive hardly any money? I kept about a 3.9 gpa in high school and graduated 22 in my class of over 300 students, participated in many clubs, honor societies, volunteering, and sports. I received one other scholarship that I applied for but it’s not much. I have worked my but off in school and it’s like it wasn’t even worth it. My parents want to help pay but they just can’t and especially since il be the first in my family to go to college I just don’t know what we’re going to do…. Sorry to bore you with my story but it feels good to say it to someone.

  85. LjH

    What is the point to write all these sad stoires. Who is listing? I’m single mom and have 3 kids graduated High School in 2013. I manged to send one in college. He is finished first year, but I can’t send him back this year . I have to pay out of my pocket, twice as much as I did last year. My second child started college, and accoding to FAFSA familly contribution is 4,000 for each child. Still, school comes up with crazy fees. My son has to come up with 16,000.00 this year. FAFSA what? Grants what? 2000 here and there will not help much if you want to go in good college. Job is not garanted after college, and how they dare to demand so much money. Education is important, but it shouldn’t be so expensive. USA Education System is failing for so many young people, and giving them no HOPE. I don’t even know how to tell my son that he can’t go back to collage………….

  86. Jody

    Wow, this is all really scary as I too am looking for ways to pay next year. We are middle classers with not perfect credit, lost savings etc. I am currently into these few ideas: 1 is -My child is now in comm. college getting good grades for a few hundred a semester, for 2 years. Sad, but he did it. 2 is – if your state is like mine, there are tuition free state schools. Ga. is one, also Ca. -like UCLA, UC Berkeley, no slouching schools. If my child gets transferred to one nearby there would be no dorm or food plan costs. The costs remaining such as fees are way lower that the 40-some thousand with dorm and food plans for these schools. My friend a dental hygenist can afford to send her kids to a UC ( Ca. universities system) this way. 3 is -There are also some really cheaper schools like 21 thou as compared to 40 thou. a year. And maybe lower, those “….State” schools. 4 is – maybe where you apply to really needs you, or may give you a lot of help. there are so many little or obscure colleges and universities. Maybe a counselor can help you contact some of these. There are full on books just listing them..5 is – if you really have no money, but you can wait a few years, you supposedly can get full aid that you don’t have to pay back. I wish Hope and a way-found for us all!

  87. Scar

    In my opinion, high school did a terrible job of preparing kids for the reality of the financial situations they will be placed in. They shoved FAFSA down our throats and said we would be promised money if we did it correctly, and that even just a *little* money would help. In the long run, it doesn’t. At all. Kids are paying thousands of dollars just for food and books alone. Colleges expect the children to take responsibility, yet, what average, middle class child has thousands of dollars saved up and ready to just give to a college. They need to be brutality, brutality honest with juniors and seniors in high school.

  88. crystal

    I can totally see why college is out of reach for people – because they choose over-priced schools! I am 29 with a family of 3. Our gross income is about $26,000. Even BEFORE grants/loans – for 18 hours this semester, my college tuition expenses is only $2300. Maybe if people would live within their means and choose less expensive options for school, then they could afford it.
    I do get a Pell Grant and I will take a loan out on the rest of the amount. But I’m also paying on my loans as I go to school, even just a little bit helps. But even BEFORE any financial assistance, my tuition/fees is FAR less than what I’m reading in some of these comments.
    If you couldn’t afford an expensive college, why didn’t you break it to your kid while they were still in high school instead of letting it go so far that you are now having to make decisions to pay for school or lose the house? Set the expectation early and tell them what you can and cannot afford. Who cares if their feelings are hurt or they aren’t able to go to a big university with their friends?

  89. Truth Spreader

    I’ve read through the comments and the majority of the posters seem to be upset baby boomers who can’t send their kids to private universities or out of state schools. NEWS FLASH. Send your kids to public colleges or community college. I can promise you these same people who are yelling about the cost of their kids colleges are allowing their children to take useless degree programs such as philosophy, history, social sciences, art. WAKE UP. Learn to be responsible parents and stop spoiling your children. If they want to go to a $40K a year school, say that’s great, but you’re paying for it. If they say they are taking liberal arts classes, tell them to get out of your house because that’s not what you’re sending them to college for.

  90. Heather

    I went to a 4 year university full time, worked full time hours, and was a single mother of 2. It CAN be done.

  91. An hs graduate who can't afford college

    I graduated high school with a 4.0. I tried hard while doing community service and joining clubs. I applied to schools, got into them, and rejected all their offers because I simply couldn’t pay for any of them even while they’re all state schools and even if I did commute. My dad makes around 70k a year, so obviously financial aid didn’t offer me anything. I got $0 in grants! There is no one who can help to listen to our real circumstances. I’m receiving no help from my father. I have to single-handedly go to college and drown in debt if I want to, but I’m too terrified. I’m not in school yet because of that. My mom has arthritis and diabetes and all kinds of sufferings yet my dad just flaunts a big “no” and “I regret getting married and having kids” to her, me, and my sisters. I’m the youngest, while I have sisters at 19 and 22. They haven’t been motivated and sent to college with the financial support system they needed either. Now it’s all three of us. I’ll have to start at a community college, but even then I might be able to tackle on the debt when I don’t have grants to ease the cost of each semester. So many people who didn’t care enough about school and bs’ed their way into graduating are given more opportunity than me. And I’m envious and so depressed about it. The quote that money can’t buy you happiness is pure bs. Money is the source that allows you to get somewhere, and I just don’t have it.

  92. A high school graduate who can't afford college

    I might not be able to tackle on debt*

    Ugh. This venting leaves a lot of typos.

  93. Mom

    I think college workloads have increased tremendously compared to college even 10 years ago due to online assignments on computers. I earned my Bachelor’s degree 30 years ago, and it does not compare at all to the workload my daughter now has. I used to have lots of reading, midterms, papers, and finals. My daughter has all of this too, but she has hours of online homework due at a deadline hour. I think many people can be self-righteous and say “if I did it, you can too…but, things have changed for our current college kids…” They have a terrible economy, tuition is through the roof at even state universities, and working tons of hours on a part time job can’t even begin to cover the tuition and books.
    The middle class getting a college education is in crisis mode. Very few people talk about it, but we have a record number of very smart young people completely blocked from college until they can get extra help at 24 years old. They need to hang in there and not give up. Many kids are in college right on track but throw away their futures through partying and drinking. Please remember that God’s delay is not God’s denial. God has a special plan for your life. Please do not give up.

  94. Eduardo

    These… all of these posts are a relief, yet a rude awakening to know that I am not the only one stuck in life, it’s just that some of our lives have been predetermined.Sorry to say that most of you and I were put here to make sure OTHERS (richer, privileged) succeed. Without us there wouldn’t be a them! That’s the role ‘we’ have in life in hopes that when we have children they may face better chance.
    Financial aid requires me to earn less that 12,000$ …lmfao, How will i survive on that? I like most here am so stuck with a mindset that I want to go to college and live a middle-class life that I’m miserable because I just can’t. My debt is huge in medical bills and right down regular bills. My parents are not in the picture. I dont have any back up whatsoever. I understand that posters point, why? Because he is probably one of those privileged people I mentioned, or his view of difficult situations was two jobs to go to school, some people just have all the luck.

    I am still hopeful, still struggling just to go back to school and my post is mainly frustrated reality cause I dont see my self going back soon =( I just can’t afford it. I urge those who can, please better yourselves give us, those who flip your burgers, clean your restrooms, and those who u take out all your frustration on for our hard work not being good enough (I had to wait 5 minutes for my fast sh** food ), please dont let our mediocrity and struggles go to waste, get off your lazy @ss and do something.

    I owe 65 Grand in medical bills, live by myself, pay rent and restitutional fees for a car accident, $10 an hour job, earn about 18 grand a year with expenses over a grand a month… his post is insulting and gives other false hopes you should apoligize. “Where there’s a will there’s a way” then there’s reality.

  95. Megan

    I was raised by a single mother who has been unemployed for the last few years. I was able to take a few AP courses and dual credit college classes during high school, and graduated with a 3.96 GPA. I was the super smart nerd who everyone assumed would go to college and be brilliant.
    I watched as my friends went to college and took out large amounts of loans and debt. I had spent hours my senior calculating and trying to figure out how I would afford it… I couldn’t. Then I figured out my game plan.
    So I worked for a year, and then got hurt and had to quit. A few months late, I got another job. I worked nights, and started attending an online college (WGU, which is accredited and respectable) at the library during the day, because I did’t have internet at home. I even use a tracphone to save money. I accelerated through my classes and graduated with my bachelor’s in a year and half as a high school math teacher. Total out of cost pocket for college: x<$2,000.
    I relocated for the school that hired me. I do not want to be a teacher, I sincerely dislike my job to be honest. But I have a degree, and less than a thousand dollars in debt. I don't make a lot as a teacher, however, I make enough, and live way below my means to save up every penny I have.
    I am now working on my computer science degree from another online reputable school, because that is what I actually what I want to do with my life. I watch as the students I teach make silly mistakes and get into colleges they can't afford. I warn them and yet most are still in their little bubbles of unreality. It's nice being 20 and having a degree, even if it's for a job I kind of loath.
    You can do it, find a way. I did.

  96. Ron

    Why are the middle class people complaining who makes 70-100k a year lol my parents make 40-50k a year and we’re living in an okay, fairly good condition. Why can’t they dish out 20-30k lmao

  97. Lisa

    My daughter is 21 years old. She is a senior in college at a Private University. My husband and I both work and we make about $90K a year. We thought the same things that a lot of people here are saying. But with financial aid and scholarships through the school we have been able to pay for college for my daughter. We still had to take out loans but she will graduate in May 2015 with a BA degree in Biology and go on to get her Master degreee in nursing. As a parent all I can say is that if I needed to cut back so that my daugher can fulfill her dreams then it was a no brainer. We want our children to be sucessful and we need to give them our support but emotional and financiial. Money comes and goes it the choices that we make that count. I just want to say don’t give up hope. You can do it!!

  98. Rod

    Megan, you need to be the one putting together these websites, not some govt. funded non-profit that merely spews gov’t illogic. I began researching this when my oldest let me know she is now in debt for $40,000 and has a year and one half to go and my youngest, still in high school, just informed me she calculated that it will cost her $80,000 to go to school. I love how the gov’t. just makes it the parents responsibility whether they can afford it or not, until the child is 25. These kids will be getting out of school with much much debt, find a job with their degree that pays just a bit over min. wage and then be expected to pay it all back, provide for their food and housing, and pay for every feel good project suchs as trails and bike lanes via tax dollars. What a cycle of failure we have developed in this country. The potential middle class in this country is being pounded into the ground. Who’s going to pay for all the stuff then?

  99. Ana S

    Oh… I just agree with all the souls here that hate this insanely stupid article. I’m 18 years old, and if you think you got it bad, I got it worse. I’m not even from U.S, I don’t live in the U.S, I a Panamanian and live in my home country which has virtual free upper education….that is a total shit. Class rooms in state universities -which are the better than the private one, but still mediocre- resemble horse stables, most professors are mediocre, I have an art history professor that couldn’t explain to me th difference between pre-renaissance and renaissance, YES this actually happens it’s what they call Third World Countries. Applying for an international scholarship is mission impossible, you’ve got to be admitted at three universities first, and then take that to the state institution giving away the scholarship and hope they like the career and universities you chose…this if you were already admitted. And when you ask for a loan you have to pay it immediately because they will only give til 30 grand without having to pay immediately, and let’s be honest, there’s no country in which you could survive with 30000 and at the same time go to a college that every year costs what your parent’s home is worth. And what? you parents just earn 45000 a year? Mine just make about 25000 or less. It doesn’t matter if you were first grade when graduating from high school, if you don’t like the careers Panama needs, and your parents aren’t the Kardashians, darling, unless you sell yourself into prostitution or are VERY lucky… you just get Panamanian upper education, which honestly sucks and I can’t stand anymore.

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