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Think you can’t afford college? Think again

Tom Valles
CMC Corner

During my years in financial aid, I have met with folks who believe they cannot afford college and will not qualify for financial aid. Unfortunately, some people never go to college because they have believed such myths. Here are just a few I would like to address:

Myth #1: There is no point in filling out the aid application; I’m not going to get any money for college.

The only way to not get aid is if you don’t apply. It is well worth your time to fill out the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. Federal and state loans, grants, work study and even need-based scholarships look to the FAFSA to determine eligibility. For many schools, the FAFSA is the only tool they use to determine financial need, and completing it is a crucial step toward making sure you have the best resource available for financial aid.

Myth #2: Federal student loans are bad.

All things considered, if you must borrow money for college, federal student loans have significant advantages. Unlike private loans, there are multiple repayment plans, deferment and forbearance options (where you apply for a break in making payments) and consolidation that gives a student valuable options. There are no other student loans that can be put on hold in case you want to join the Peace Corps, for example.

Myth #3: Don’t work, just focus on your classes.

Studies have shown that students who work in moderation perform better in college. Having a work study job, for example, provides structure in a student’s schedule, makes them manage their time more effectively and reduces the amount they have to borrow. Furthermore, if the work study job is related to their program, students can begin building a work history and enter their job search with experience and a degree.

Myth #4: I can’t afford college right now.

Many people are eyeing community colleges, not only because of the attractive price, but because of the quality of the education they provide. A community college is a great way for someone to get a college education and build the first two years toward earning a four-year degree. At Colorado Mountain College in particular, tuition for in-district and in-state residents remains among the lowest anywhere. For those who aspire to go on to a four-year degree, CMC’s Richard C. Martin Grant makes it possible for a CMC in-district high school graduate who completes their first two years of college here, to get their next two years toward a bachelor’s degree at a significantly reduced price.

Tom Valles is the director of financial aid at Colorado Mountain College. Every school has a priority date to complete the FAFSA. For CMC, that date is March 31. This date gives students the best opportunity for consideration of all available aid. For more information on financial aid, please visit coloradomtn.edu.


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