Harper College

Financial Aid: Myths vs Facts

Gain an accurate understanding of the financial aid application process by taking a few moments to separate myth from fact!

Fact: Nearly 11,000 students were awarded more than $26 million in scholarships, grants and tuition waivers through Harper College in 2020-2021.

Fact: Generally, the FAFSA only takes 30 minutes to complete.


  • The FAFSA offers tips that guide you through the taxes.
  • There is an import feature called the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) that allows most applicants to import their tax information directly from the IRS.
  • Harper College staff can help you complete your FAFSA.


  • Not at all! All students should apply and see if they qualify. There are all kinds of scholarships and many only require a minimum GPA of 2.0 to apply.
  • Harper’s Donor Sponsored Scholarships are provided by the college’s Educational Foundation and can be awarded based on the detail and quality of your essays as well as each scholarship's criteria.

Fact: While it’s true that some certificate programs are not eligible for financial aid, MOST certificate programs are eligible.

Fact: Your parents’ citizenship status does not affect your eligibility for federal student aid. In fact, the FAFSA form doesn’t even ask about your parents’ citizenship status. Parents without SSNs should enter zeroes (000-00-0000) in the SSN fields on the FAFSA.

Fact: For Federal Direct Loans, your credit is not taken into consideration. A credit check is required for a parent(s) taking out a Federal Direct PLUS Loan. If you want to borrow money from a private source (such as a bank), a credit check most likely will be run.



  • All students should complete a FAFSA to determine if they qualify for financial aid or not. You won’t know for sure if you don’t apply.
  • Many scholarships require your FAFSA information. Most colleges and universities have institutional funds that require a FAFSA, whether or not the scholarship is based on financial need.

Fact: When completing the FAFSA, you will answer 10 questions to determine if you need to include your parent’s information or not. Just because you support yourself does not mean they aren’t required to be listed.


Fact: Each FAFSA uses a different tax year. You should apply every year to see if you qualify.


  • Each student is different because a student’s own personal income is part of the calculation and each sibling’s cost of attendance is different.
  • Remember: Every student needs to complete their own FAFSA to determine eligibility!


  • Generally, the FAFSA only takes 30 minutes to complete, so why wait? There are deadlines that you must meet to qualify for aid.
  • Apply as early as you can to maximize the amount of aid you receive. Some sources of funding are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. You could miss out if you wait too long.

Fact: There are so many funding opportunities in addition to grants. Remember, scholarships are awarded for many reasons aside from financial need. Most colleges and universities have work-study programs that can help you pay for college. You may be eligible for federal student loans as well.

Fact: Complete the FAFSA to determine if you qualify for financial aid. There are also work-study opportunities that may allow to you earn income and be employed by the college!


Get help and advice from Harper's financial aid experts: 

Talk to a One Stop Advocate

Hours: Monday thru Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Email: onestop@harpercollege.edu

Call: 847.925.6710

You can also meet with a Financial Aid Specialist. Request an appointment.

Last Updated: 3/14/24