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Debunking Financial Aid Myths

Here’s the Real Scoop About Your Funding Options

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Sunset on campus

Figuring out how to pay for college can feel intimidating. But it’s important not to let sticker price scare you. There are so many ways to make your University of Arizona education more affordable so that you can achieve your dreams – without breaking the bank. Here are some common misconceptions when it comes to financial aid.

Myth: I’ll have to repay financial aid after I graduate.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between gift aid and self-help aid. 

Gift aid, like scholarships and grants , are money for college that doesn’t need to be repaid. These “gifted” options can be awarded on a variety of factors and come from many different sources.

Loans are a type of self-help aid that provides money for college that needs to be repaid, usually with interest. Many loans include a six-month grace period once you are no longer enrolled at the university, which means you have time to land a job after graduation before your first payment is due.

While loans are a popular funding source for students, they aren’t your only option for self-help aid. You may be eligible for Federal Work-Study, a program that funds part-time jobs for students. If you qualify, you can find opportunities to earn money to help with your educational costs while also building valuable career experience.

Myth: Scholarships are hard to find.

Scholarships are out there – you just have to know where to start.

When you apply to the University of Arizona, you’ll automatically be considered for the Wildcat Tuition Award (in-state students) or Arizona Tuition Award (out-of-state students) and National Scholar Awards, which are merit-based scholarships of varying amounts that are based on your academic performance.

Once you are admitted to Arizona and complete your Next Steps, you will gain access to Scholarship Universe. This powerful tool connects Arizona Wildcats with even more scholarships. All you have to do is complete your profile and you’ll start getting matched with funding you could be eligible for. You may also find more opportunities through your academic college or department.

Myth: My family makes too much or too little money for me to get financial aid.

There are aid options for almost any family’s financial situation. In fact, about nine out of ten Arizona Wildcats receive financial aid.

The first step to finding out if you qualify for federal funding is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Be sure to complete the FAFSA by our priority deadline of March 1 and use Arizona’s school code: 001083.

Students from low-income families in Arizona may be eligible for opportunities like the Pell Pledge Grant and Arizona Assurance to help cover funding gaps. The Arizona Promise Grant is a state-grant program for Arizona resident, Pell-eligible, first-year students. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant is also available for undergraduate students with exceptional financial need.

But the options don’t stop there. There are even more opportunities for merit- and need-based aid, plus funding based on your area of study, personal experiences, and so much more. You can learn about some of these once you are admitted and log into Scholarship Universe.

Myth: Financial aid is too confusing for me to understand.

If all this talk about your aid options has you feeling overwhelmed, you’re not the first. Fortunately, we have an entire team of people ready to guide you through the entire process.

The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid has tons of resources – from help understanding your aid offer to a chat option so you can get answers quickly. Plus, they offer a number of free workshops on tons of helpful topics.


Get more details on the types of financial aid available. And if you have additional questions or need support understanding your options for funding your University of Arizona education, visit financialaid.arizona.edu or contact the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.

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