From Quora: My Answer to "Should I choose not to pursue need-based financial aid in my school application, but instead get a student loan, so they don't judge me and refuse my application?"
No. Apply for financial aid - the truly elite schools have “need-blind” application processes, so they won’t judge your application based on your financial need. Even with non-need-blind admission, you might as well let your prospective colleges know what kind of aid you’ll need, so they can (tactfully) reject you if they know they won’t be able to help you get the aid you need.
You might even want to ask the school’s financial aid department if it’s realistic for you to expect to be able to attend their school. It’s really unfortunate that student loans have become so privatized and predatory during the decades since I was in school, because banks will now gladly lend you enough money to put yourself into crippling debt for the rest of your life (or at least 20–30 years). Avoid taking out private (as opposed to federal or state) loans if that is at all possible.
A plusher and more fun college experience isn’t worth ruining your financial future. In practically all cases, a cheaper state university will teach you exactly the same things an expensive private one will, even if some things are annoying and cheesy (relative course availability, facilities, etc).
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Author: John Linneball Who did you think? ;-)
I'm the proprietor and only tutor for this business; that's why I named it after me.