No matter how hard the government, colleges or we here at The Penny Hoarder HQ work, we understand that getting financial aid for college can be confusing.
So the results of LendEDU’s recent Financial Aid Awareness Survey are slightly terrifying, but not surprising.
In honor of Financial Aid Awareness Month, the student loan refinancing company polled 500 college students about the financial aid process.
Here’s a peek at what LendEDU’s survey revealed.
No One Knows Anything About Student Loans (OK, It’s Not THAT Serious)
Of those LendEDU surveyed, 95% of the respondents had heard of FAFSA, but 84% didn’t know the filing deadline for the upcoming academic year.
(Have no idea when your FAFSA is due? Check this FAFSA how-to.)
Of the students surveyed, 78% had no idea what FAFSA stands for, 75% weren’t sure of the repayment term for federal student loans, and 74% didn’t know the current federal student loan borrowing limits.
(Free Application for Federal Student Aid; typically 10 years; no more than $23,000 in subsidized loans.)
And the response that just gave me three new gray hairs reading it: 49.8% thought they would be eligible for loan forgiveness programs after graduation.
(Nope. Loan forgiveness programs are reserved for people who go into certain nonprofit or public service careers — see #11 in our beginner’s guide to student loan debt. If you participate in an income-based repayment plan, the government will typically forgive your balance when the repayment period ends, but you’ll have to wait about 20 years.)
Lost and Confused? Don’t Feel Bad
But even if you started thinking about how to pay for college late in the game, you can still make progress toward your educational goals while avoiding the mountains of debt we usually talk about as if we’re telling scary stories around a campfire.
And remember, once you do your financial aid homework — and then your actual homework — your degree will start to pay off. Promise.
Your Turn: Could you answer LendEDU’s questions about financial aid?
Lisa Rowan is a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.