By Alden Wicker
This post originally appeared on LearnVest.
Add to that the confusion that even parents feel when faced with the math and subtle nuances of covering the high costs of college, and it’s a journey that’s ripe for potential errors.
Since we’re big proponents of proper financial planning, we consulted pros in the field of financial aid to find out some of the misconceptions, myths and mistakes that students and parents can make when trying to pay for college. And then we helped set the record straight.
1. Every college applicant should fill out the FAFSA. And you should do it every year.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is akin to a golden ticket. It’s what the federal government and schools use to decide how much to give or loan to a college-bound student. You should fill it out-—even if you think that you won’t qualify for any money.
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“I often hear from families who apply for financial aid the first year that their eldest child goes to college. They don’t get anything other than low-cost loans, so the second year, they may say, ‘Why bother?’ ” says Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president of edvisors.com and the author of “Filing the FAFSA.” “But the financial aid formulas are very complicated, so there are very subtle things that can change from one year to the next that can have an impact on aid eligibility.”