Most college students get a refund check from their schools every semester for the money they did not use up in financial aid. This money is whatever the aid added up to in excess of tuition costs and fees. Some people get more money back than others, but all college students jump to the same conclusion after their first check or direct deposit. They assume they can just live off financial aid and not get a job. As tempting as this may be to do, the fact is that it is highly unpractical. I have actually done this myself, so I know what the consequences are of relying on financial aid as a source of income. Let me break down my experiences so you can hopefully avoid them in the future.
Financial Aid Won’t Last Forever
You are only going to get financial aid money for as long as you are in school. If you drop out or even get kicked out of school, you are going to lose all forms of income that you have in a heartbeat. You can’t collect unemployment if you were never employed in the first place, so you’re going to be SOL if something goes wrong with your college student grants. That money also won’t cover you for the summer unless you decide to take summer school, but that means that your money throughout the rest of the year will be reduced. Either way, you are going to have to stretch a small sum of money over a long period of time. It may not be enough in the end.
Financial Aid Fluctuates
The money that you get back each semester is going to change based on your class schedule. If you remain a full-time student only taking 12 credit hours, you will receive the most money that you can from your school. However, the cost of tuition and the cost of your school fees will change every year, and that will cause you financial aid money to change accordingly. The more the school wants to charge, the more money you will be out. That will make it a little tough for you to predict your finances.
Financial aid will also change if you drop a class in the middle of the semester. You may be asked to pay back a certain portion of your aid before you can enroll for next semester. Then what are you going to do? That is why it is best to avoid relying on this money for anything. You never know what it could turn out to be.
Financial Aid Does Not Count as an Income
If you want to apply for a car loan or any other source of financing, you aren’t going to be able to count your school money as a source of income. My husband and I tried to do this when we bought our second car together, and the lenders almost laughed at us for thinking about it. You may see that money as your income, but a bank isn’t. They are going to want to see that you have an actual job that you can pay your bills with.
As tempting as it may be to avoid work when you have financial aid coming in, the fact is that you have to get a real job if you want to support yourself in college. Every other college student has to come to this realization, so you might as well do this right now. Avoid the fatal mistake of relying on aid to get you by. You can do this with a little thing called effort.