2-million students missing out on financial aid

NEW YORK (CNN) – It’s a reality many parents and students know well: the cost of college is rising. There’s help available, scholarships and grants, but many people don’t even bother applying.

Millions of Americans are leaving money on the table. 2-million students could have gotten some college money from the government, but they didn’t even apply for it.

We’re talking about the Pell Grant. It’s worth about 56-hunred dollars for this school year. Not everyone gets that maximum amount. Of the 2-million people who missed out, more than one-million would have gotten the full, 56-hundred dollars.

That’s enough to cover about 30-percent of college costs, at a public, in-state school. So why are people leaving so much money on the table?

Many don’t think they qualify, so they don’t bother applying. Issue is, the Pell Grant goes predominantly to lower-income Americans. Income is only one factor in the equation.

The government also considers the cost of college, whether or not the family has more than one child in college, and if the student is full-time or part-time.

Another issue: many people don’t apply because they don’t want to take on more debt. The Pell Grant is just that, a grant. It’s not a loan.  It doesn’t need to be paid back.

So go ahead, fill out the ‘free application for federal student aid,’ or ‘FAFSA,’ as its known. The worst the government can tell you is ‘no.’

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