If you think you’re the only one facing obstacles, you’re not. Below are some solutions for common problems.

“There are so many financial aid options, I don’t know where to start.”

Money

Here's a made-up word for you to learn: FAFSA. It stands for "Free Application for Federal Student Aid." They're here: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov. Fill it out. It can be confusing, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from an admissions office. A FAFSA will help you increase the amount of aid you can receive from federal, state and institutional sources. It looks scary at first, but don't be intimidated. Filling out a FAFSA may be the key to becoming a student.

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“Getting financial aid takes a lot of work, like filling out confusing forms and keeping up with paperwork. I’ll screw it up.”

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Every school has financial aid counselors whose jobs are to make it easier for you. They’ll help you fill out the forms you need and they’ll help you gather the right documents. You don’t have to do it alone. There are some great websites (like EduLender) that’ll help you navigate financial aid. Once you begin, it immediately begins to get easier.

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“I won't qualify for financial aid because I’m not a top student.”

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Scholarships are not just for "straight A" students and athletes. In a given academic year, over $130 billion in financial aid was awarded to students of all types. Nearly 80 percent of students nationwide receive some kind of financial aid. You are very likely to get help if you seek it out.

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“I should find the school with the lowest price because that’ll be the most affordable.”

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Not necessarily! Some of the schools with a high “sticker price” have tons of money for scholarships from their own financial resources. As a result, they have more to give to students in the form of scholarships. After taking financial aid into consideration, a seemingly more expensive school may be more affordable than one with a lower list price. Investigate your options and compare.

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“College costs too much money – money I don’t have.”

Money

OK, no lie: An education isn’t cheap. BUT, the good news is that there are hundreds of different ways, including student loans, scholarships, grants, state/local/federal aid and endowments, that will help you pay for it. Schools are full of people who don't have enough money, and they will go on to have great and successful gigs. It’s true that you probably won’t find one financial aid option that covers all of it, and you may have to work. You're going to have to work anyway. Don't worry about it. Also, tell people "I am going to school come hell or high water." Tell everyone. Help will come from friends, family and employers when you least expect it. It sounds corny, but doors open once you start to act. They just do.

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