6 Myths About the Cost of College

6 Myths About the Cost of College

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  • Apr 13, 2018

One of the biggest concerns about college is the cost and how to pay for it. Don't be fooled by these common myths!

Myth: College is unaffordable.

You can pay for college—in fact, most students don't pay full price. Students and families can use a Net Price Calculator to get an estimate of what they will actually pay after including some types of financial aid.

Most students pay for college in a variety of ways including financial aid, earnings from part-time or full-time jobs, savings and money from parents and family.

Myth: I'm not eligible for financial aid.

No matter your circumstance, you will be eligible for some type of financial aid to help pay for college. The FAFSA and ORSAA forms are free, so there’s no reason not to apply.

  • Part-time student? Federal financial aid is available for students who attend at least half time.
  • Older sibling in college that didn't get aid? The number of family members in college make a difference on financial aid packages.
  • Undocumented? Oregon offers state aid for eligible students who complete the ORSAA, and many scholarships don't require U.S. citizenship.
  • Not low-income? The federal government has a formula that determines the amount your family is expected to contribute to your college costs. Any costs above that have a chance to be covered by financial aid. Plus, there are a few sources of financial aid that are not need-based such as the unsubsidized Stafford loan and PLUS loan.

Myth: The cost of college only includes tuition.

College costs can include tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses, and transportation. Most colleges also require students to have health insurance. You can control some of these costs, so create a monthly budget based on your projected needs.

Myth: Saving for college will hurt my chances of getting financial aid.

Any money you and your family are able to save probably won't affect chances for aid. Here's why: Under the federal financial aid formula, what matters most is the parents’ income. Savings typically have little impact in the government calculation of Expected Family Contribution. It's never too early or too late to set up a college savings account!

Myth: Private colleges are out of my price range.

Although the “sticker” price for private colleges is often much higher than public colleges, private, not-for-profit colleges often have more financial aid to give students. Check the Net Price Calculator for each school to get a better sense of what you would actually pay (keep in mind that grants and scholarships are preferable to loans).

In addition, many private, not-for-profit colleges have higher 4-year graduation rates than public colleges, where many students take 6 years to graduate, which will also save you money. Check graduation rates as part of your considerations about the cost of college!

Myth: I should avoid taking out student loans—I don't want to be in debt!

Despite the horror stories you often hear in the media, just 58% of 2016 graduates of Oregon 4-year colleges had student loan debt with an average debt load of $27,321.

That said, it's important to understand student loans. In general, federal loans are better than private loans, and subsidized are better than unsubsidized. Also know that you don't have to accept the full amount of loans offered to you in your financial aid package.