12 Myths about paying for college as a homeschool family
As you think about your son or daughter attending college, you might be thinking about the price of school and how your family will pay for a university education. If you homeschool, you might even have wondered can homeschool students go to college? They can indeed, but there are a number of misconceptions out there which include how to pay for school when you’re outside of the usual private or public-school environments. Homeschool college statistics trounce this, but some myths are hard to shake. Use the myths below to put your mind at ease so you can focus on what matters and real ways to pay for school.
College decisions on financial aid are final
Colleges want you to think their offer is final, but that is not true. Most schools have a defined appeal process, but don’t advertise it. Don’t wait to do this. Make an appeal sooner rather than later to ensure any available aid money is allocated to your deserving student. Not all admissions officers are familiar with the nuances of a homeschool education so an appeal might be as simple as explaining a transcript.
Homeschool students can not apply for scholarships that have class rank requirements
Although many scholarships make mention of applicants in the top 1%, 5%, etc. of their class, don’t let a ranking question deter you. Many homeschool associations will rank students in their association, but even then, don’t let the absence of a rank deter you. Contact the scholarship committee or other representative to ask how your family should best format the application.
Homeschool students are at a disadvantage for scholarships
This is simply not true. First, homeschoolers are very competitive for scholarships across the board. This includes need-based and merit-based scholarships. Second, there are scholarships out there that were created specifically for homeschool students. Homeschool college scholarships are available, some specific and some general, but your research will be rewarded.
Homeschool applicants are not actively recruited by top schools
Does Harvard or other Ivy League schools count? The diverse curriculum and community involvement that students with a home centered education demonstrate is sought after by college recruiters including top universities. Homeschool college admissions and scholarship processes can be different, but students are not recruited any less than their peers.
Homeschool applicants can’t apply for athletic scholarships
Tim Tebow, the former University of Florida quarterback, is the best known example of a homeschool student excelling in college athletics. He’s not alone. Across the range of athletic scholarship opportunities, homeschool athletes have competed just fine for scholarship dollars in the athletic arena. The NCAA even has resources on how to do it. Homeschool college acceptance rates for athletes are very positive.
A guidance counselor is required to apply for opportunities
You don’t need a guidance counselor to apply for any kind of financial aid. Some applications require a signature of someone besides the minor, but this need can be fulfilled by a parent with no problem.
Homeschoolers who have a job can’t qualify for financial aid
Many homeschool students take advantage of the flexibility in their schedule to find a part time job. Some parents worry that a teenager with an income will be disqualified for financial aid. A part time job will not disqualify your teen from aid. It’s also very unlikely their modest income will have any impact whatsoever.
Financial Aid opportunities that don’t mention homeschoolers aren’t an option
When some families review financial aid guidelines or FAQs for a specific opportunity, they sometimes feel discouraged when public school and private school are the only options mentioned. That discouragement translates for some families into walking away from an application altogether. Don’t do that! Just because an opportunity does not give a “check box” for homeschool that is not a reason to avoid the application. The application may require a bit more work or an inquiry to the provider but press forward.
Financial Aid forms like FAFSA don’t have options for homeschoolers
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form almost all financial aid applicants will fill out. This form accommodates homeschool applicants with options specific to your student. In other words, there is a box to check for “homeschool.” Many other financial aid applications have options specifically for homeschool students, but even if they don’t, press forward.
A GED is required to apply for aid
A GED is not required for college acceptance or scholarships. As long as you meet the criteria in your state, your student will be fine. It is true that some colleges are more homeschool friendly in their process than others and you might need to educate an admissions officer, but precedent is on your side here. The HSLDA has even helped in some cases regarding homeschool college acceptance. A GED may not be required but a transcript will be.
Recommendation letters are only recognized from public school teachers
You don’t need a tradition schoolteacher to write a recommendation letter. You will, however, want a non-family member to draft the recommendation. This could be a coach, church member, civic leader, or any other person that has seen the applicant’s skills and contributions. Homeschool college requirements are no different in this regard. The real key Is finding someone who can give specific examples and instances of the applicant’s value as a future university student.
Savings options like 529 plans are only available for public school families
529 savings plans, or any education vehicle like a education savings account (Coverdell), can be opened for your child. There is no requirement to open or save money tied to the method of schooling you choose for your child. In fact, these can even be established before the child starts school of any kind!
The next time you hear statements like "can homeschool students apply for financial aid?" you'll know myth from fact. As you think about how your family will pay for school, don't be discouraged by your choice of independent education. As in many other respects, it helps and does not hurt. Focus on real ways to plan for the cost of school and don't let myths hold your family back.
e-book: 10 Ways to Pay for College as a Homeschool Family
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