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mominwestlake
03-18-2008, 09:15 AM
I have been a stay at home mom for the past 12 years. We have 5 children. The oldest is a freshman in high school and the youngest is in kindergarten. I am now trying to decide when to go back to work. I taught high school for several years before having children and would want to return to teaching either junior high or high school- if I can find a job.

My question is this- how would my 2nd income affect college financial aid? My dh makes anywhere from 80 to 90,000 a year. Will we qualify for financial aid based on this? I guess I am more interested in money my dd won't have to repay. I have been trying to read up on college aid and have looked at expected family contribution. If our EFC is $12000, will colleges help us with the difference by giving my daughter grants? If I go back to work and make $40,000 a year I doubt we will qualify for any aid. We also have an 8th grader- so we will have at least 2 in college at a time.

Or am I being silly to even think about college aid? I know that work will add a lot of stress to our life but I will do it if necessary.

Thanks for any input.

nowellsl
03-18-2008, 09:34 AM
I would be surprised if you would qualify for anything even with just your husbands salary - maybe loans? You most likely wouldn't get any need based aide.

Kellydelly
03-18-2008, 09:40 AM
I'm wondering why you would need to worry about financial aid or grants if you and your husband make such a good living? I am a SAHM currently attending nursing school. We would most likely qualify for some financial aid for our children, based on my husband's current salary (I got a whopping $90 this term :rolleyes: , I think mainly due to the size of our family). I am trying to get this ADN degree so we can pay for braces, extracurricular activites, retirement, college, etc. (my kids are still quite young). What is the purpose of you going back to work, if not to provide for your family/future? Why would you ask the government to pay for your kid's education if you are capable of doing so?

Toby'sFriend
03-18-2008, 09:50 AM
JMHO - but you have 5 kids to put through school.
Take the job and start putting money away. Encourage your children to work and also save part of their salaries. Financial Aid for the middle class is very scarce and is basically made up of loans. What you are asking is "should I not take a $40k a year job so that we might receive a $4k grant or loan next year?"

My oldest son is a Senior this year and I know alot of kids that could be going to some really good schools next year. But the money is not there so they are not going. They're going to CC next year instead. I don't think there is anything wrong with Community Colleges, but I'm just a little shocked at the number of parents who thought they'd be able to send their kids to major Universities for a couple thousand a year and then they're puzzled and angry when it doesn't happen.

Lisa_M
03-18-2008, 09:54 AM
I'm thinking with your husband's salary, grants would be out of the question. 8 years ago when I started college, my parents combined income was 110k, I was only offered loans, every year. Everyone is eligible for unsubsidized Stafford loans and then I had to seek private student loans to cover the rest (I had a small merit scholarship). The school never covered the difference between cost and EFC (which makes me wonder what the point of the EFC is).

DH's parents made only 50k combined and one year he was eligible for a $500 grant, in addition to loans. The other years he did not receive the grant.

If you want to go back to work, you should go. I would venture that your children will probably not be receiving any grants even if you stay at home.

mominwestlake
03-18-2008, 10:02 AM
I don't think his salary leaves us with that much leftover- and we live very simple lives. We own our 2 cars- one is 9 years old and 1 is 4 years old. Our house is nothing fancy and our mortgage payment is $1300 a month. Property taxes are $4000 a year. Add to that car and homeowners insurance, retirements funds, groceries, utilities, cost of gas for our cars, the cost of 5 kids and we don't have that much left over to pay for college.

If I go back to work there will be more taxes to pay, after school care for my youngest child, wardrobe cost since I don't have any suitable clothes, plus the stress.

I don't expect the government to give us a free ride and I don't want to be slammed. I was just wondering for those with kid's in college now, what their thoughts were. Currently, I have a part time job and can make around $18000 a year after tax.

Lisa_M
03-18-2008, 10:09 AM
I don't think his salary leaves us with that much leftover- and we live very simple lives. We own our 2 cars- one is 9 years old and 1 is 4 years old. Our house is nothing fancy and our mortgage payment is $1300 a month. Property taxes are $4000 a year. Add to that car and homeowners insurance, retirements funds, groceries, utilities, cost of gas for our cars, the cost of 5 kids and we don't have that much left over to pay for college.

If I go back to work there will be more taxes to pay, after school care for my youngest child, wardrobe cost since I don't have any suitable clothes, plus the stress.

I don't expect the government to give us a free ride and I don't want to be slammed. I was just wondering for those with kid's in college now, what their thoughts were. Currently, I have a part time job and can make around $18000 a year after tax.

Unfortunately, it doesn't matter to the federal government what your expenses are. If you look at what you make relative to the rest of the country you make over the median income. Grants go to the families who make next to nothing. I'm talking poverty levels. This is where the middle class gets screwed over. Someone's child living off of welfare for a lifetime will get a free ride to college, while the person's child whose taxes pay for that welfare will get offered financial aid in the form of loans.

Your best bet is to save what you can (and your children too), continue to live frugally, apply and hope for some merit scholarships and if need be, take loans to cover the difference.

daughtersrus
03-18-2008, 10:20 AM
My DH's salary is less than yours. Next year I will have two in college. The EFC for my oldest is $13,000 and for the other is $9,000 for a total EFC of $22,000. Based on this, I would say that it's likely that your EFC will be higher than then cost of a state school.

Toby'sFriend
03-18-2008, 10:25 AM
Everybody has expenses.
What people are trying to say to you is:

College is expensive and tuition traditionally rises at a rate far greater than inflation.

College Financial Aid is scarce for anybody with an income that would qualify them as "middle class." What is available is mostly loans which will have to be paid back.

Even really good students with High GPAs are hit and miss on scholarships. There are very few "full rides" out here and alot of students competing for them.

You make the decision from there.

tar heel
03-18-2008, 10:26 AM
I'm sorry you got unfairly slammed.:confused3 $80,000-$90,000 a year is certainly not an exorbitant salary for a family your size. After taxes, insurance, food, clothing, retirement, etc., I can't imagine where you would find $12,000+ for college expenses, but I'm pretty sure you would get very little direct aid even if you don't go back to work. Your situation is a lot like ours.

My oldest son got a National Merit Scholarship (lots of prestige, not much $) and we looked at colleges like Duke and Davidson assuming he would be offered enough aid to bring the cost down roughly equal to the state universities. Imagine our surprise when we found out our estimated family contribution was almost twice what a North Carolina state university costs. He ended up at a state university, and we're not even looking at private ones for our other two kids.

I did go back to work full-time (had done part-time since my youngest was 3) after the kids started college -- I can't imagine how we would pay for everything if I didn't. I'm not sure financial aid will matter much in your decision about going full-time, but other things are: taxes, the education tax credits (you'll qualify at $90,000 but won't get much at $130,000), etc.

KelNottAt
03-18-2008, 10:31 AM
What you are asking is "should I not take a $40k a year job so that we might receive a $4k grant or loan next year?"


I think that sums it up nicely.

If I were you, I'd return to teaching, arrange for the necessary after-care, and bank every penny of the remainder for college. This way you'd continue to live off your DH's income while simultaneously saving for college. Even if you net half, you're still coming out way ahead compared to hoping for a pittance of aid.

leahjade
03-18-2008, 10:42 AM
We make less than your husband and we haven't qualified for anything yet except for Stafford loans. I went back to work when my oldest was in high school and it's worked out well. Most of my salary goes directly to her tuition and she pays her own room and board from her summer job salary. That teaches her budgeting and a good work ethic and what we come up short, she takes out loans for.

Mocharilla
03-18-2008, 10:44 AM
Since you probably won't get any/much money from the government anyways, take the job. Even if you did get government money, you'd be better off with the money from a salary, because you'd have to repay the government money, and it'd be less.

maggiew
03-18-2008, 10:46 AM
See if there is a college nearby that offers free tuition to employee's children. Try and get a job there.

Maggie

nowellsl
03-18-2008, 10:57 AM
We have a dual-enrollment program in our county and my daughter was able to do this in her senior year (it's also available in 11th gr.) she graduated high school with 30 hours of college credits under her belt - paid for by the school system. It's not for every student, but she was ready to move on from high school and was able to handle the "freedom" she was given at the community college. Those were the best grades she got in all of high school and college!

lovepurple
03-18-2008, 10:57 AM
We have 4 kids and combined make less than your husband. Two of our kids are in college. The only thing we can get is the unsubsidised Stafford Loan. We could get the PLUS loans also but my credit card actually has a better interest rate. So I don't think your working or not working will make any difference as far as financial aid goes. Now if your husband were to quit his job, then you would be able to get financial aid. That is probably not a good idea though. Make sure your kids apply for scholarships like crazy. They are not all need based. The school guidance counselor should be able to help when the time comes. My DD got $19K in scholarships to a private college. That would have left us with $11K still to cover for the semester, so she decided to go to the local state school that is about $5K/year and she can still live at home.

eliza61
03-18-2008, 12:06 PM
I have been a stay at home mom for the past 12 years. We have 5 children. The oldest is a freshman in high school and the youngest is in kindergarten. I am now trying to decide when to go back to work. I taught high school for several years before having children and would want to return to teaching either junior high or high school- if I can find a job.

My question is this- how would my 2nd income affect college financial aid? My dh makes anywhere from 80 to 90,000 a year. Will we qualify for financial aid based on this? I guess I am more interested in money my dd won't have to repay. I have been trying to read up on college aid and have looked at expected family contribution. If our EFC is $12000, will colleges help us with the difference by giving my daughter grants? If I go back to work and make $40,000 a year I doubt we will qualify for any aid. We also have an 8th grader- so we will have at least 2 in college at a time.

Or am I being silly to even think about college aid? I know that work will add a lot of stress to our life but I will do it if necessary.

Thanks for any input.
Never silly thinking about college aid, the cost is ridiculous. Unfortunately with your salaries even with 2 in college you won't qualify for much in the way of need based grants. We're in the same boat. Dh works for a major oil company and with his salary the last couple of years, it really bumped up our EFC (we exceed both stimulas plan benchmarks, so we're getting zippo back there also). Our son is entering college in the fall and we got zippo in the way of need based grants. It sucks.

eliza61
03-18-2008, 12:11 PM
I don't think his salary leaves us with that much leftover- and we live very simple lives. We own our 2 cars- one is 9 years old and 1 is 4 years old. Our house is nothing fancy and our mortgage payment is $1300 a month. Property taxes are $4000 a year. Add to that car and homeowners insurance, retirements funds, groceries, utilities, cost of gas for our cars, the cost of 5 kids and we don't have that much left over to pay for college.

If I go back to work there will be more taxes to pay, after school care for my youngest child, wardrobe cost since I don't have any suitable clothes, plus the stress.

I don't expect the government to give us a free ride and I don't want to be slammed. I was just wondering for those with kid's in college now, what their thoughts were. Currently, I have a part time job and can make around $18000 a year after tax.

Hey Mom, Please don't justify your life. We got the same argument about the stimulus plan. People told me all the time, "You make a good living why should you get any thing back"? excuse me? why shouldn't I? :mad:

MELSMICE
03-18-2008, 12:40 PM
I'm wondering why you would need to worry about financial aid or grants if you and your husband make such a good living? I am a SAHM currently attending nursing school. We would most likely qualify for some financial aid for our children, based on my husband's current salary (I got a whopping $90 this term :rolleyes: , I think mainly due to the size of our family). I am trying to get this ADN degree so we can pay for braces, extracurricular activites, retirement, college, etc. (my kids are still quite young). What is the purpose of you going back to work, if not to provide for your family/future? Why would you ask the government to pay for your kid's education if you are capable of doing so?
Actually, for a family of 7, $80,000 - $90,000 is considered middle class income. It's certainly a decent wage, however, not enough that the OP wouldn't hope for some financial aid.

I think she is fair in questioning whether it would be beneficial to go back to work. If she would receive some sort of aid with her husband's salary, however, not receive aid if she added to their household income, then why would she go back to work & incur (sp?) additional expenses in the way of clothing, child care, gas, etc?

Unfortunately, OP, I don't believe the government will deem that you'll need financial aid based on your DH's salary. Sad, but true.

momminnie
03-18-2008, 12:48 PM
All I can say is good luck. I have a son in his 3rd year at Military college and all we have been able to get is loans. No he is not going into the Military after college he just always wanted to attend that college and get a degree in law enforcement. We don't make near as much as your husband and we live pay check to pay check. We just weren't the lucky ones. Maybe you will be.My son will be in debt up to his ears when he gets out. Hope you can figure out how to keep yours from being in debt. Maybe you could pay for them. I sure wish I could. And I would if I could.

DVC Sadie
03-18-2008, 01:05 PM
Make sure your kids apply for scholarships like crazy. They are not all need based. The school guidance counselor should be able to help when the time comes. My DD got $19K in scholarships to a private college. That would have left us with $11K still to cover for the semester, so she decided to go to the local state school that is about $5K/year and she can still live at home.

I agree!! There are scholarships out there that will pay 100% of tuition. I would look at my local community foundations and also ask directly through the college or university that my child was interested in attending.

KatheeME
03-18-2008, 01:28 PM
I'm wondering why you would need to worry about financial aid or grants if you and your husband make such a good living? I am a SAHM currently attending nursing school. We would most likely qualify for some financial aid for our children, based on my husband's current salary (I got a whopping $90 this term :rolleyes: , I think mainly due to the size of our family). I am trying to get this ADN degree so we can pay for braces, extracurricular activites, retirement, college, etc. (my kids are still quite young). What is the purpose of you going back to work, if not to provide for your family/future? Why would you ask the government to pay for your kid's education if you are capable of doing so?


With a family of 7 to take care, $90,000 a year isn't going to allow anyone to pay out of pocket for college tuition. As for FAFSA .. it only based on what the government think you can borrow, based on your income ONLY. Good luck!

Kathee

LoveBWVVBR
03-18-2008, 01:45 PM
We don't have kids in college yet, but I will be going back to work as a teacher when my youngest goes to school. If I were you, I'd be concerned about upping the household income to the point where you lose all 5 child tax credits, the tuition tax credit, etc. The child tax credit alone is worth $5000/year to your household, right?

Our plan is that when I do go back to work, my income will be put into a maxed-out 403b plan, maxed out healthcare spending account, and possibly into a dependent care spending account if we need aftercare for the kids. This reduces the taxable income and hopefully won't push us over the point where we'd start losing tax credits. Also, that would hopefully keep you from losing the ability to get financial aid. Perhaps your household would then be able to save more in terms of out-of-pocket healthcare costs, dental costs, braces, etc. and you'd have more $$ in the budget for the college tuition payments.

nowellsl
03-18-2008, 02:00 PM
With a family of 7 to take care, $90,000 a year isn't going to allow anyone to pay out of pocket for college tuition. As for FAFSA .. it only based on what the government think you can borrow, based on your income ONLY. Good luck!

Kathee

This is just not true, particularly if the student starts off in Community College, lives at home and works part time and summers! Ideally you don't start thinking about it when the student gets in high school and have been saving for years. I suppose it also depends on where you live (cost of living) as well. Also, if mom goes back to work they shouldn't have any problem putting all 5 through college since they are used to living on one salary.

tinaluis
03-18-2008, 02:45 PM
Wow, you guys are making me feel so poor! We're a family of 6 and make just over half of what the OP makes and we live in a high cost of living area. (I'm kidding about the poor part -- we do just fine with a lot of budgeting). :lmao:

We try to save what we can, but our DDs know that they will have to start out at Community College and go on to a State University and will have to contribute by working, work-study, loans (if necessary). Nothing wrong with that. In fact, I watched many friends who were on the six year plan for college because their parents were paying for it spend their nights partying and their days skipping class.

Kellydelly
03-18-2008, 04:52 PM
With a family of 7 to take care, $90,000 a year isn't going to allow anyone to pay out of pocket for college tuition. As for FAFSA .. it only based on what the government think you can borrow, based on your income ONLY. Good luck!

Kathee


I have no idea how FAFSA works, all I know is that I have to fill out my FAFSA forms to apply for scholarships :confused3 . As for paying for college when you have a family of 7 and a salary of $90,000, that can be done if one chooses a school they can afford :idea: . Our household income is less than the OPs and with a family of six we are paying for my nursing school out of pocket. Community College is a beautiful thing for middle income people :cool1: !

hinodis
03-18-2008, 05:07 PM
I have a son in college. Most of our help came form academic scholorships. He was offered money from every school he applied at. It really is about the numbers. The GPA, the ACT and the SAT. My son was told by one university that if he retook the ACT and got 1 point higher he would get more money. It is called merit money. It is not based on the family income. Look around at college websites and you will see what they offer/look at. Most offer presidential type scholarships for very high GPA's. Help the kids hit the books and make sure they realize that GPA is very important. It starts freshman year. Be sure to check out the private schools. The tuition may be higher but the scholarship money is also higher. We pay $7,000 a year for a $38,000 a year school. Thats really his room and board!

rockyroad
03-18-2008, 05:18 PM
When I taught in Tn. the children of public school teachers received a 25% reduction in tuition at state colleges. Of course now we have to pay tuition and fees and there was no discount on fees.

My oldest started college 6 years ago this fall.
Tuition has gone up at least 15% every year.
Wages have not gone up that much.

It's getting more and more difficult to pay for college.

About Fasfa, if the parents are divorced, then only one parent's income is considered.
So if the parents are divorced, it actually helps the kid qualify for a Pell Grant.
And if the mom remarries, then the step-father's income must be considered.

phragmipedium
03-18-2008, 05:22 PM
Generally speaking, families need an EFC of $4300 or lower to qualify for the Pell grant. Many public universities tie other federal grant funding that they control to the Pell grant. Occasionally there may be grant programs through the state that you may be eligible for with a higher EFC, but not much higher than the Pell Grant limit. It would be my guess that with a $12000 EFC, you would already be out of grant range, so you might as well work if that's a primary consideration. What that *could* do is change your student's loan eligibility from subsidized to unsubsidized, but the benefit from a second income probably outweighs that issue.

If your child chooses a private university and is an excellent student academically or athletically or falls into their range of higher need, it's possible they could have more private funding to offer.

As a former financial aid counselor, however, I'd never recommend a family make job or career decisions solely with the idea of the FAFSA, but instead be saving for college knowing that you probably will not qualify for much grant aid and would like to prevent borrowing much. Your extra income could be much more beneficial in the sense that you could save it toward their college, rather than a hindrance with the FAFSA in mind. Toby's Friend was correct about how relatively small the amounts of grants are, even for those on the very low end of the income spectrum.

LoveBWVVBR
03-18-2008, 06:24 PM
Toby's Friend was correct about how relatively small the amounts of grants are, even for those on the very low end of the income spectrum.

Have grants gone down over the years? I ask because my family was pretty solidly middle class with 2 incomes, and I still got a pretty decent grant from my college. I graduated in 1995. My grant went down some each year as my Stafford Loan went up, but overall I think that my financial aid package remained pretty good. My DH had a pretty good amount of grants also, and his parents also both worked pretty middle class jobs. Both of us had decent summer jobs and we probably even "hurt" our aid by earning a decent amount. We still did OK grant-wise, though.

The other thing that I really wanted to ask you is why a lot of schools offer what I call the "bait and switch" aid package. By this, I mean that in the freshman year, they offer substantial grants, small loans (just subsidized Stafford and maybe Perkins), etc. Then, in the sophmore year, they pull the rug out from under the family even though nothing has changed:sad2: Suddenly the grant is gone, the loan is unsubsidized, and the EFC has gone WAY up. This happened to my sister, and it keeps happening to children of my mother's friends.

FWIW, these are all private colleges, so I'm not sure if the grants are discretionary or what. They seem to offer this tantalizing grant package to get the student to say yes to the school, and then the grant vaporizes after that first year. The parents don't want to move the student, who is by then thriving in the environment. Most of them have ended up borrowing on the home equity to pay for the last 3 years.

dsanner106
03-18-2008, 09:43 PM
I have a freshman and the aid situation was an eye opening experience for us. We have 3 kids, med bills and a reduced income for me following an accident, practically no spendable income, but nowhere near the grants range, so I would say you also would not be eligilble. I would go back to work and save the increased income, and yes, look for a college job that offers tuition remissions.

Drew

disney1990
03-18-2008, 09:47 PM
Don't give up people. My daughter barely made it through high school. She went to Community College and brought her grades way up. She has now applied to several colleges and has been offered anywhere from $1300 a year to $13,000 a year in scholarships from these colleges. She has 4 acceptances to colleges and everybody offered her money. These scholarships don't just go to the children with the A++ grades. They also go to the students with the great essays that tell why they want to continue their education.

phragmipedium
03-18-2008, 11:37 PM
Have grants gone down over the years? I ask because my family was pretty solidly middle class with 2 incomes, and I still got a pretty decent grant from my college. I graduated in 1995. My grant went down some each year as my Stafford Loan went up, but overall I think that my financial aid package remained pretty good. My DH had a pretty good amount of grants also, and his parents also both worked pretty middle class jobs. Both of us had decent summer jobs and we probably even "hurt" our aid by earning a decent amount. We still did OK grant-wise, though.

The other thing that I really wanted to ask you is why a lot of schools offer what I call the "bait and switch" aid package. By this, I mean that in the freshman year, they offer substantial grants, small loans (just subsidized Stafford and maybe Perkins), etc. Then, in the sophmore year, they pull the rug out from under the family even though nothing has changed:sad2: Suddenly the grant is gone, the loan is unsubsidized, and the EFC has gone WAY up. This happened to my sister, and it keeps happening to children of my mother's friends.

FWIW, these are all private colleges, so I'm not sure if the grants are discretionary or what. They seem to offer this tantalizing grant package to get the student to say yes to the school, and then the grant vaporizes after that first year. The parents don't want to move the student, who is by then thriving in the environment. Most of them have ended up borrowing on the home equity to pay for the last 3 years.

I'm coming from a public school perspective. The federal pell grant has not gone down, though it's maximum has increased only several hundred dollars in recent years - while tuition has skyrocketed since the early 90's. Your school, being private, sounds like it might have had a grant program that was privately funded rather than federally. The federal Pell grant does not exceed $4300 no matter how expensive a school is. There are some other smaller federal grants if a student meets priority funding deadlines, but generally speaking federal grants alone will not usually cover a public school student's cost of attendance, even if they qualify for the maximums.

In terms of your question about "bait and switch" - I want to clarify this for you, that it doesn't sound like that's what the school has done. If your EFC has skyrocketed, that has nothing to do with the school but rather the information you have input on the FAFSA. The FAFSA application determines your EFC. FAFSA submits this to the school, and they use the FAFSA information to determine your eligibility in their aid programs. It really doesn't sound like this particular situation classifies as bait and switch. You might have more legitimate concern if your EFC stayed exactly the same and your aid package changed, but even sometimes that happens - sometimes a school's level of funding stays the same, but more students qualify based on EFC for a program than in the prior year, so to spread the funds around they have to reduce the eligibility cutoff of EFCs for the program. This happens a lot with federal work study, for example - maybe you qualified last year with an EFC of $6978 but now it's only available for those with EFCs less than $6000. I still wouldn't call it bait and switch as the school is operating with some factors out of their control, but it is hard to swallow and feels unfair when that happens.

I know families frequently feel like "nothing changed from last year to this year," but it can take a very small difference and make a huge change in how the formula is figured for your family. If your school, like most, had eligibility cutoffs on their programs and suddenly your EFC was much (or even just a little) higher than it was before, you may simply no longer have qualified for them. When you receive an aid package much different than prior years, it never hurts to go to your aid office and ask them to help you figure out how it changed. You might even have made an error on the FAFSA that you can correct, but at the very least they can help you figure out why your EFC was higher and you subsequently lost eligibility, so you don't feel like the school was just trying to put one over on you. And you will also want to make sure that the "grant" disappearing after the first year wasn't just a one-time scholarship or something like that. Not all scholarships are renewable, and if it's a private school, they might call their scholarship a "grant" whether it's need-based or not.

StephMK
03-18-2008, 11:49 PM
Since I don't want to start another college thread, hope you don't mind if I post a related question here.

Do you think where (as in different part of the country) you apply makes a difference? Both in acceptance & aid available?

When we lived in NoVa, it was so highly competitive that kids you'd think would have no trouble getting in weren't because supposedly "there were too many kids from that area" applying & colleges could be extra picky. Would someone have a better shot at a far away place rather than the local schools? Maybe that's a myth but wondered if anyone had insight.

To the OP - also consider the years of working would increase your retirement funding - assuming the schools offer some type of match -and increase in salary over the next 5 yrs. I know it's tough to weigh salary vs. family. We went through that recently & I went back FT a few weeks ago. Good luck w/your decision!!

BostonTink85
03-19-2008, 12:08 AM
I think it depends on where they end up going and how much it is, etc. I go to a private college and my first 2 yrs got about 9k each in grants plus loans, once my brother started school I've gotten about 18k each yr in grants plus various loans. This is with my dad working full time and my mom part time putting us over 100k in income. So I guess it really varies on how much the school is and whatnot (for me it's over 45k/year).

BostonTink85
03-19-2008, 12:13 AM
Since I don't want to start another college thread, hope you don't mind if I post a related question here.

Do you think where (as in different part of the country) you apply makes a difference? Both in acceptance & aid available?

When we lived in NoVa, it was so highly competitive that kids you'd think would have no trouble getting in weren't because supposedly "there were too many kids from that area" applying & colleges could be extra picky. Would someone have a better shot at a far away place rather than the local schools? Maybe that's a myth but wondered if anyone had insight.



I have a job in the admissions office at my school which is well known locally in the northeast, but not as much across the country and I know that they do take into account geography - to try to become more diverse. You still need to have the grades and whatnot but the geo certainly won't hurt when you're from further away. They also look at the # of kids applying from each specific high school and compare them. Different colleges may have different policies though. :thumbsup2

may06orbust
03-19-2008, 07:39 AM
The other thing that I really wanted to ask you is why a lot of schools offer what I call the "bait and switch" aid package. By this, I mean that in the freshman year, they offer substantial grants, small loans (just subsidized Stafford and maybe Perkins), etc. Then, in the sophmore year, they pull the rug out from under the family even though nothing has changed:sad2: Suddenly the grant is gone, the loan is unsubsidized, and the EFC has gone WAY up. This happened to my sister, and it keeps happening to children of my mother's friends.

FWIW, these are all private colleges, so I'm not sure if the grants are discretionary or what. They seem to offer this tantalizing grant package to get the student to say yes to the school, and then the grant vaporizes after that first year. The parents don't want to move the student, who is by then thriving in the environment. Most of them have ended up borrowing on the home equity to pay for the last 3 years.

I have found the above to be true as well. We have DD20 now living at home and attending the local state university, where I also work. She spent her first 2 years attending another state university 3 hours away before she transferred home to save on living expenses--it's cheaper to live with Mom and Dad than in an apartment with roommates or in the dorms. Many of my DD's hs classmates found themselves in the predicament stated above and chose to move home and transfer to our local state university. I even see it at work. I have many freshman and sophomore student workers (work-study awards) that do not receive any work-study/grant awards when they return for their sophomore or junior year. It stinks because I have to start training all over again every fall with 12-15 new student workers.

Luckily, DD qualifies for roughly a 1/2 tuition reduction both here and at her previous university because I work for the state university system. We have to work here 3 years before we qualify. I qualified the winter of her senior year. Post Secondary options are really popular here as well. I know one young man who was able to enter the University of MN as a junior because he attended our local university as a junior and senior in hs. His story may be unusual as he was super motivated but he saved his parents a huge chunk of change.

OP, college for our oldest is scary for you. There are so many myths surrounding college funding/scholarships. I also suggest as PPs have to spend time with your hs guidance counselor. They are trained to help and may have some tricks up their sleeve.

As for our family, both DS and I work (I'm part-time with full benefits.) with a combined income of roughly 70k per year. The FAFSA always says our EFC is 8-20k, depending on the school. We do not have that kind of cash laying around either--we prefer to eat. DD was accepted to a couple of very nice private colleges, but due to her GPA, did not receive enough $ in scholarships to attend. She chose the state university that she could live with at the time. Truthfully, she just wanted to get out of her hometown.

DD usually qualifies for subsidized Stafford loans. There have been years she has not. She has taken out a few SELF loans. DH and I took out one Parent SELF loan, which we are now paying $50 a month on an original 3k loan. DD current loans total around 9k which we are hoping that she is done taking out. She just got back from a school sponsored trip to Italy which she financed with student loans--3k. Ouch!

DH and I made an agreement with DD. We will pay 3k a year for college--I know it doesn't seem like much, but I like PPs believe that students work harder when it's their dime. We also had no college savings--I always told her that I was her college savings, by my working. With our tuition reduction, 3k usually covers all of DD tuition. She pays for her summer classes herself. She works 2 jobs. She does not own a car--she owns a bus pass. We share my car which I'm happy to do. She does not pay us rent as she is a hard working college student. Was she always this responsible? No, but 2 years living away from home and pissing her student loans away made her responsible. Last year she lived in an apartment with roommates, worked 20-25 hours a week at her next door restaurant. She didn't have a car there either. She walked to campus.

I gotta go--have to get ready for work.

tzolkin
03-19-2008, 10:00 AM
Grants go to the families who make next to nothing. I'm talking poverty levels. This is where the middle class gets screwed over. Someone's child living off of welfare for a lifetime will get a free ride to college, while the person's child whose taxes pay for that welfare will get offered financial aid in the form of loans.



Maybe you think there are more grants available than there actually are. I got a "free ride" to a top 20 college, but i believe less than $2,000 per year were in federal or state grants. (certainly not enough to actually cover tuition costs) The rest was scholarships given to me by the college. At the time the cost was over 37K per year. This was the most expensive school I applied to but wound up being the cheapest for me to attend because it has significant alumni support and many "rich kids" who received no financial aid. I worked 30 hours per week to pay for books and the EFC (expected family contribution) and took out a $750 perkins loan each semester.

Oh, and my family never received any welfare. So you can rest assured that I didnt live off your tax money before getting my free ride to college. :sad2:

Lisa_M
03-19-2008, 10:16 AM
Maybe you think there are more grants available than there actually are. I got a "free ride" to a top 20 college, but i believe less than $2,000 per year were in federal or state grants. (certainly not enough to actually cover tuition costs) The rest was scholarships given to me by the college. At the time the cost was over 37K per year. This was the most expensive school I applied to but wound up being the cheapest for me to attend because it has significant alumni support and many "rich kids" who received no financial aid. I worked 30 hours per week to pay for books and the EFC (expected family contribution) and took out a $750 perkins loan each semester.

Oh, and my family never received any welfare. So you can rest assured that I didnt live off your tax money before getting my free ride to college. :sad2:

I think you misunderstood me. I'm sure your free ride to college was based on your merit, otherwise you wouldn't have gotten those scholarships. Congratulations!

BostonTink85
03-19-2008, 11:13 AM
Originally Posted by Lisa_M
Grants go to the families who make next to nothing. I'm talking poverty levels. This is where the middle class gets screwed over. Someone's child living off of welfare for a lifetime will get a free ride to college, while the person's child whose taxes pay for that welfare will get offered financial aid in the form of loans.


In my experience (being a current college senior) this isn't true. I know many students, including myself, whose families I consider middle class (make over 100k) that have received grants. Yes, I am a good student, but I was not offered any scholarship money for the school I currently attend, however I was offered grants - this year totalling close to 19k. I think it really just depends on the family situation, the cost of the school, what the student is like and many other factors in the admissions process that change from year to year.

leahjade
03-19-2008, 12:21 PM
and a lot of people will be upset to learn that foreign students pay almost nothing for their education here in the US. My daughter goes to a large expensive college and all the kids were talking about how much they pay, and all the foreign students pay almost nothing. The schools said they want diversity and recruit students from other countries. The thing is that many of the kids come from extremely wealthy backgrounds and still pay nothing. It doesn't seem fair but since it's a private school, they can do what they want.

phragmipedium
03-19-2008, 12:38 PM
and a lot of people will be upset to learn that foreign students pay almost nothing for their education here in the US. My daughter goes to a large expensive college and all the kids were talking about how much they pay, and all the foreign students pay almost nothing. The schools said they want diversity and recruit students from other countries. The thing is that many of the kids come from extremely wealthy backgrounds and still pay nothing. It doesn't seem fair but since it's a private school, they can do what they want.

I think that must vary from college to college, and maybe by private/public. At the university I worked at (public), students from other countries were expected to pay the much more expensive non-resident tuition rate. We certainly didn't have the money, as a public school, to have any program where international students paid nothing in the name of diversity. The international students also had to go through quite a process for admission, including documenting sources from which they'd be able to afford that tuition expense prior to be admitted. Generally speaking they do not receive federal financial aid unless they are in the "eligible non-citizen category," and might have been offered only campus-based work study and any minimal scholarships they qualified for - not even Stafford and Parent loans. Many private lenders also will not lend to international students, so in my experience it was even more difficult for them to attend unless they were from relatively affluent families, because they basically needed to show up front that they could afford it without any aid (even loans, which are a form of financial aid).

There were a few international students who received fellowships as graduate students in certain programs, but by and large the average undergrad experienced what I described above - so I don't think it's free everywhere, at least.

tzolkin
03-19-2008, 12:39 PM
I think you misunderstood me. I'm sure your free ride to college was based on your merit, otherwise you wouldn't have gotten those scholarships. Congratulations!

The scholarships were financial need based only. Our family income was approx 35K for a family of 6. My last year of college my parents made a little more, but there were 3 of us in college that year. I think my school and situation was fairly unique (not many schools offer aid packages like that-- that's why i decided to take them up on it).

I don't think I misunderstood you. You said that children who live off of welfare will get a free ride to college. I honestly do not believe that is the case. They would get the same $2000 or so in federal/state grant money that anyone with a relatively low family income would get and the rest would be up to them to figure out through scholarships, loans, and work just like everyone else. Maybe I am mistaken, but this is what I have seen among all students I have known.

KCMiller
03-19-2008, 01:03 PM
See if there is a college nearby that offers free tuition to employee's children. Try and get a job there.

Maggie

That's what I did - I found out how many years I would have to be a full time employee at OSU to get a break on tuition for my kids, and started work in time for my oldest son to start college, and thank you Ohio State - it's only half off the tuition, but that's about $8000 a year they don't have to find (for the two of them - and one more still in high school). And I say 'they' because my children pay the balance of their tuition themselves. They've taken out loans, and we encourage them to apply for as many scholarships as they can. We pay for all the other costs, like insurance, cars, clothing, books, etc, but they are paying their own way through college. Not that we can't afford to help them, but my DH and I feel that they'll be better off in the long run if they earn their degrees themselves, with support from us.

(don't tell them, but the long term plan is to actually pay off their student loans for them - but they don't need to know that right now. Right now, they are earning their way, and we truly believe that this will help them become mature, self sufficient adults - time will tell, of course)

My husband and I make a bit more than the OP makes, but not much more, and the Expected Family Contribution for our family was laughable.

KCpirate:

LoveBWVVBR
03-19-2008, 01:28 PM
In terms of your question about "bait and switch" - I want to clarify this for you, that it doesn't sound like that's what the school has done. If your EFC has skyrocketed, that has nothing to do with the school but rather the information you have input on the FAFSA. The FAFSA application determines your EFC. FAFSA submits this to the school, and they use the FAFSA information to determine your eligibility in their aid programs. It really doesn't sound like this particular situation classifies as bait and switch. You might have more legitimate concern if your EFC stayed exactly the same and your aid package changed, but even sometimes that happens - sometimes a school's level of funding stays the same, but more students qualify based on EFC for a program than in the prior year, so to spread the funds around they have to reduce the eligibility cutoff of EFCs for the program.

In the cases that I am talking about, nothing changed on the FAFSA in between the freshman and sophmore year. In one particularly eggregious case, the student's self-employed father became ill with cancer in between the student's freshman and sophmore year, had zero income, and the school STILL wouldn't consider this a change in circumstances. In that case, the student got a 22K aid package (16K in grants) in the freshman year, and a 6K aid package with 2K in grants for the sophmore year. Again, nothing changed on the FAFSA, and there was a huge loss of income and associated medical cost going on within the family. The mother went to the FA office at the school, and they refused to increase the aid package. They told her to take out PLUS loans.

I DO consider this a bait-and-switch, since the family would not have opted to have their son attend this particular college if they'd known that they would lose almost all of their financial aid in the sophmore year. The same thing happened to my sister, and to the children of other friends of my mother. These were all private colleges. I am always skeptical of freshman year financial aid offers as a result. While DH and I personally didn't have the experience of losing our financial aid with no change in income/assets, I've seen it happen enough times to know that this is something that a lot of private colleges do.

phragmipedium
03-19-2008, 03:25 PM
In the cases that I am talking about, nothing changed on the FAFSA in between the freshman and sophmore year. In one particularly eggregious case, the student's self-employed father became ill with cancer in between the student's freshman and sophmore year, had zero income, and the school STILL wouldn't consider this a change in circumstances. In that case, the student got a 22K aid package (16K in grants) in the freshman year, and a 6K aid package with 2K in grants for the sophmore year. Again, nothing changed on the FAFSA, and there was a huge loss of income and associated medical cost going on within the family. The mother went to the FA office at the school, and they refused to increase the aid package. They told her to take out PLUS loans.

I DO consider this a bait-and-switch, since the family would not have opted to have their son attend this particular college if they'd known that they would lose almost all of their financial aid in the sophmore year. The same thing happened to my sister, and to the children of other friends of my mother. These were all private colleges. I am always skeptical of freshman year financial aid offers as a result. While DH and I personally didn't have the experience of losing our financial aid with no change in income/assets, I've seen it happen enough times to know that this is something that a lot of private colleges do.


I see - perhaps I misunderstood. I thought you said in your original post that the EFC skyrocketed after the freshman year and the aid package changed as a sophomore. If that were the case it would have been an issue of what had been reported on the FAFSA that was impacting the change in aid. I haven't worked in a private school, so I can't really speak to the phenomenon you're discussing if there is actually no change in EFC.

feedthebirds
03-19-2008, 04:23 PM
mominwestlake-

My cousin's daughter will be attending Cal Lutheran next fall as a freshman. They are a family of 5. My cousin works part time and her dh makes about what yours does. She got a scholarship which reduced the tuition to about 1/3 of the yearly fees. It was suggested that my cousin not go back to work full time by a counselor for this first year. Her other daughter will start the year after next. The other daughter wants to go to Cal State. I'm curious what the counselor will advise my cousin to do then. If she goes back full time and doesn't get any aid, it would be full tuition for Cal Lutheran and CSU. That alone is so expensive, add in after school care for the younger one and all the extras such as taxes, wardrobe, gas and such as you said, which would make a full time job not worth it. For now she will stay put and cut back where she can. BTW the girls both have part time jobs also and are expected to contribute. I think student loans are definetly in their futures.

MammaNicholas
03-19-2008, 04:35 PM
I work at a university. Why? Because with what I am capable of making in my profession, and what my dh is capable of making in his profession, we're just right there at lower middle class, making financial aid a major long shot for our two children. With me being employed at this university, my children (and myself if I so choose) will qualify for free tuition next year. Putting away what we can, when we can for books and stuff like that. And it's a good thing I like it here, my children are 6 & 2.

LoveBWVVBR
03-19-2008, 07:10 PM
I see - perhaps I misunderstood. I thought you said in your original post that the EFC skyrocketed after the freshman year and the aid package changed as a sophomore. If that were the case it would have been an issue of what had been reported on the FAFSA that was impacting the change in aid. I haven't worked in a private school, so I can't really speak to the phenomenon you're discussing if there is actually no change in EFC.

This phenomenon seems to be exclusively the domain of private colleges from what I've seen. My friend who attends a public university gets pretty standard aid if I'm understanding your posts correctly. It doesn't change from year to year. She qualifies for a Pell grant (she's a young, single mom with a low income), and she qualifies for something else that makes it totally possible for her to attend her school with no loans:thumbsup2

There is another question I want to ask you, actually! My friend may take more than 4 years to graduate. She did the first 2 at a community college, and not everything transferred over to her university. If that's the case, will she still be able to get the federal aid after the 4 years (total) are up? She says that she thinks so, but that she doesn't really know for sure.

phragmipedium
03-19-2008, 08:37 PM
This phenomenon seems to be exclusively the domain of private colleges from what I've seen. My friend who attends a public university gets pretty standard aid if I'm understanding your posts correctly. It doesn't change from year to year. She qualifies for a Pell grant (she's a young, single mom with a low income), and she qualifies for something else that makes it totally possible for her to attend her school with no loans:thumbsup2

There is another question I want to ask you, actually! My friend may take more than 4 years to graduate. She did the first 2 at a community college, and not everything transferred over to her university. If that's the case, will she still be able to get the federal aid after the 4 years (total) are up? She says that she thinks so, but that she doesn't really know for sure.

Federal aid isn't really looked at by the number of years - what they count is that they believe that you should be able to complete you degree within 150% of the time it *should* take to receive one. For example, at my school, we were on a quarter schedule and it required 180 credits to graduate. So, students at our school could receive federal aid until they had *attempted* taking 270 credits. An attempted credit does include transfer credits, whether they were completed and passed or not - a W for withdraw counted for an attempted credit and an F for fail counted too. If she's concerned that she could be close to that limit, she should talk to her office.

The other thing that counts is that there are federal loan limits. As long as she hasn't reached the Maximum Attempted Credit Limit, she can still receive grant aid, presuming she qualifies, until she finishes. But if she's receiving federal loans, there are limits in those programs too. If she contacts the aid office, she can determine what she's borrowed so far and how much she has left.

The loan limits are strict and there's no way around them - though she could receive private loans past that point if she applied and was approved, if that was the only way she could finish. The Maximum Attempted Credit Limit policy can generally be appealed through the office, if the student believes they have adequate reasons that they were unable to complete their degree in that time. These appeals went before a committee at our school, and we were quite strict, because the regulations don't really leave much room for "well, I changed my major," or "well, I just decided I wanted to go to another school," but I think it varies by school - our approvals were more rare and usually for petitions along the lines of, "I was nearly finished with my degree and the school closed; there is not a similar degree here that my credits applied to," or "I have only one term left, I had a catastrophic event during my sophomore/whatever year when my parent died, and it took me some time to get back on track," or "I was diagnosed my junior year with xyz mental or physical illness that was preventing me from being successful; see attached treatment plan and statement from doctor that this should no longer affect my ability to succeed." A Maximum Attempted Credit Limit approval is a professional judgment, so again it's a personal decision by an aid administrator or committee that they feel is documentable and justified.

rheffelf
03-19-2008, 11:03 PM
If you want to approximate how a second income would possibly affect financial aid, why don't you plug some numbers into a financial aid calculator... Here is a link to one: http://www.finaid.org/calculators/quickefc.phtml

StephMK
03-20-2008, 08:15 AM
I have a job in the admissions office at my school which is well known locally in the northeast, but not as much across the country and I know that they do take into account geography - to try to become more diverse. You still need to have the grades and whatnot but the geo certainly won't hurt when you're from further away. They also look at the # of kids applying from each specific high school and compare them. Different colleges may have different policies though. :thumbsup2

Thanks, that exactly what I needed to know! She is currently a straight A student in 8th grade honors classes and very motivated about going to college. She will either go local or back to the East where she grew up. Some of the schools she likes are super competitive in NoVA so it's nice to know she might have a better shot as a kid from NE.

LoveBWVVBR
03-20-2008, 03:27 PM
Federal aid isn't really looked at by the number of years - what they count is that they believe that you should be able to complete you degree within 150% of the time it *should* take to receive one. For example, at my school, we were on a quarter schedule and it required 180 credits to graduate. So, students at our school could receive federal aid until they had *attempted* taking 270 credits. An attempted credit does include transfer credits, whether they were completed and passed or not - a W for withdraw counted for an attempted credit and an F for fail counted too. If she's concerned that she could be close to that limit, she should talk to her office.

The other thing that counts is that there are federal loan limits. As long as she hasn't reached the Maximum Attempted Credit Limit, she can still receive grant aid, presuming she qualifies, until she finishes. But if she's receiving federal loans, there are limits in those programs too. If she contacts the aid office, she can determine what she's borrowed so far and how much she has left.

She actually hasn't had to take out any loans yet, so I think she's OK there. She could theoretically end up taking some time off from school, though, since she has recently given birth. She's finishing this semester, but she hasn't told me if she's definitely going back in the fall yet. I'd assume so, but it's possible that she will take some time off too. Does this count against the 150%, or is it strictly by credits? Thank you for all of this aid info. It is very educational!

phragmipedium
03-20-2008, 04:06 PM
She actually hasn't had to take out any loans yet, so I think she's OK there. She could theoretically end up taking some time off from school, though, since she has recently given birth. She's finishing this semester, but she hasn't told me if she's definitely going back in the fall yet. I'd assume so, but it's possible that she will take some time off too. Does this count against the 150%, or is it strictly by credits? Thank you for all of this aid info. It is very educational!

The Maximum Attempted Credit Limit only counts for actual credits attempted, not how many years or terms have passed since the student started attending. Also, it doesn't matter if the student is receiving aid or not; as long as the attempted credits show on their record, they count toward the limit. So, it's perfectly fine if she wants to take some time off - she should just check with her school about whether there will be any re-enrollment procedure, and make sure to keep up with doing her FAFSA early each year and let her aid office know to cancel any aid she has during terms she plans not to attend. If she's not going in the fall but could go in the spring of next year, she should still do a FAFSA for 08-09. Encourage her not to try to go back before she's sure she's ready, because signing up for a full courseload and then failing or dropping those credits with a W for withdraw on her transcript *would* affect her number of attempted credits. You're very welcome for the help. :)

mominwestlake
03-20-2008, 05:08 PM
Thanks for all the input here. Call me dumb but I guess I thought a college would find out your EFC and then the difference would be made up with $ that didn't have to be repaid. I thought that because people I know with older kids keep talking about these great college packages their kids are getting. I know some of the packages would include merit or sports scholarship $ but not all of these kids qualify for that. I know- silly me. So basically I know now that we won't qualify for need based grants. If we're lucky our kids might be offered scholarship money for their grades, test scores, or perhaps musical talent. Otherwise we are on our own with money saved or money borrowed. Does this sound right now?

As for me getting a job- high school teaching jobs are very hard to come by but I have 3 years to try to find one before my 1st child starts high school. Working at a college for reduced tuition sounds like an interesting idea but I wonder what I could do there that would pay as well as a public high school teaching job?

LoveBWVVBR
03-20-2008, 05:23 PM
Thanks for all the input here. Call me dumb but I guess I thought a college would find out your EFC and then the difference would be made up with $ that didn't have to be repaid. I thought that because people I know with older kids keep talking about these great college packages their kids are getting. I know some of the packages would include merit or sports scholarship $ but not all of these kids qualify for that. I know- silly me. So basically I know now that we won't qualify for need based grants. If we're lucky our kids might be offered scholarship money for their grades, test scores, or perhaps musical talent. Otherwise we are on our own with money saved or money borrowed. Does this sound right now?

As for me getting a job- high school teaching jobs are very hard to come by but I have 3 years to try to find one before my 1st child starts high school. Working at a college for reduced tuition sounds like an interesting idea but I wonder what I could do there that would pay as well as a public high school teaching job?

I don't think that your assumption was dumb at all. I think that financial aid is basically a topic that is shrouded in mystery for most of us. I think that your current assumptions that you will probably be on your own with saved or borrowed $$ are probably correct.

As for finding a job as a high school teacher, I'm not sure where you are or what you teach, but in our state there are lots of jobs for "critical need" subjects (math and science, for sure, not sure what else). Maybe it won't be too hard to find a job:confused3

phragmipedium
03-20-2008, 05:29 PM
Thanks for all the input here. Call me dumb but I guess I thought a college would find out your EFC and then the difference would be made up with $ that didn't have to be repaid. I thought that because people I know with older kids keep talking about these great college packages their kids are getting. I know some of the packages would include merit or sports scholarship $ but not all of these kids qualify for that. I know- silly me. So basically I know now that we won't qualify for need based grants. If we're lucky our kids might be offered scholarship money for their grades, test scores, or perhaps musical talent. Otherwise we are on our own with money saved or money borrowed. Does this sound right now?

As for me getting a job- high school teaching jobs are very hard to come by but I have 3 years to try to find one before my 1st child starts high school. Working at a college for reduced tuition sounds like an interesting idea but I wonder what I could do there that would pay as well as a public high school teaching job?


Yes, if your EFC is not actually a practical number in terms of - "Okay, this is what I'll have to write a check for." Your school just uses it to determine what kind of actual aid you will qualify for. They usually make "packaging groups" based on various factors - EFC, year in college, date of application. Various packaging groups qualify for various Depending on how expensive your school is, how many scholarships you have, what kind of funding the school has, and how they've decided to divvy-up their campus based grants, you may end up being responsible for more than your EFC, or less. It's just not something you can look at and think about in practical terms, and I wish that the FAFSA were clearer about that. Your EFC can be much lower than the cost of attendance at a particular school, but not low enough for grants - and you might still have to finance the whole thing with loans in an amount even higher than your EFC.

If you go to a private school, the lines may be more blurry, because they may have their own private grants, even if your EFC is not low enough for federal grants. It cannot hurt to have your FAFSA sent to any school your child might really want to go to (though you'll probably have to apply for admission to see an aid package). You never know what your aid will look like until you've applied. :-)

nowellsl
03-20-2008, 07:18 PM
One other thing, be sure to fill out your FAFSA as soon as possible. Most colleges only get a set amount of grant/scholarship money and it's given out first come first served. Once it's gone, it's gone. At least that's what I've been told!

LoveBWVVBR
03-20-2008, 07:38 PM
Yes, if your EFC is not actually a practical number in terms of - "Okay, this is what I'll have to write a check for." Your school just uses it to determine what kind of actual aid you will qualify for. They usually make "packaging groups" based on various factors - EFC, year in college, date of application. Various packaging groups qualify for various Depending on how expensive your school is, how many scholarships you have, what kind of funding the school has, and how they've decided to divvy-up their campus based grants, you may end up being responsible for more than your EFC, or less. It's just not something you can look at and think about in practical terms, and I wish that the FAFSA were clearer about that. Your EFC can be much lower than the cost of attendance at a particular school, but not low enough for grants - and you might still have to finance the whole thing with loans in an amount even higher than your EFC.

If you go to a private school, the lines may be more blurry, because they may have their own private grants, even if your EFC is not low enough for federal grants. It cannot hurt to have your FAFSA sent to any school your child might really want to go to (though you'll probably have to apply for admission to see an aid package). You never know what your aid will look like until you've applied. :-)

I was telling DH about what I've learned on here about what the EFC really means, and he was as surprised as I was. We both really thought that it was what the school thought that the family could afford to pay, not just the number that is spit out of a formula after determining how much aid that family qualifies for even if the school knows that the average family could never write an annual check for that amount. They shouldn't call it the EFC, because it's just confusing to people who know that they don't have 30K or whatever to put towards college every year. They should call it something else, like the "leftover amount that you'll have to find some way to pay for"!

cruisnfamily
03-20-2008, 07:54 PM
I was telling DH about what I've learned on here about what the EFC really means, and he was as surprised as I was. We both really thought that it was what the school thought that the family could afford to pay, not just the number that is spit out of a formula after determining how much aid that family qualifies for even if the school knows that the average family could never write an annual check for that amount. They shouldn't call it the EFC, because it's just confusing to people who know that they don't have 30K or whatever to put towards college every year. They should call it something else, like the "leftover amount that you'll have to find some way to pay for"!I agree!

phragmipedium
03-20-2008, 09:14 PM
I was telling DH about what I've learned on here about what the EFC really means, and he was as surprised as I was. We both really thought that it was what the school thought that the family could afford to pay, not just the number that is spit out of a formula after determining how much aid that family qualifies for even if the school knows that the average family could never write an annual check for that amount. They shouldn't call it the EFC, because it's just confusing to people who know that they don't have 30K or whatever to put towards college every year. They should call it something else, like the "leftover amount that you'll have to find some way to pay for"!

I very much agree that it's not well described or explained by FAFSA. It's a pretty archaic formula, though, and it's what we have to work with. Sometimes, families end up having to pay *less* than their EFC or nothing at all - students get great scholarships, private school offers them a great aid package, etc. It's hard to know a lot about how to judge your EFC, other than - if it's higher than a school's cost of attendance (estimated tuition, books and supplies, room/board, personal expenses), you'll almost certainly only qualify for unsubsidized student and parent loans, as well as any scholarships the school offers or the student has accumulated. And if it's below $4300, the student should receive the federal Pell grant and maybe more grant aid as well, along with loans. But between those two, it's hard to judge whether it's low enough for grants at the school of your choice, or high enough that it will only be loans - you just have wait to see.

Please keep in mind that it really isn't the school determining your EFC, though, or giving you what you feel is a ridiculous EFC that you could never afford - the federal processor calculates it based on the information you report on the FAFSA, and then reports it to each of the schools you list on your FAFSA application. Unless there are special circumstances and the aid office tinkers with your EFC at your request, the school has nothing to do with the calculation itself. They just use that number, figure out where it falls along with all their other students, and determine how the money has to be spread around. Sometimes they have some ability to determine how large awards will be and how high the cutoffs will be, like with campus-based federal grant aid, but other times they are limited to federal regulations (ie no Pell grant for EFCs over $4300.) Private schools have the same limitations with federal aid but clearly much more private funding to work with and spend as they choose.

LoveBWVVBR
03-21-2008, 12:35 PM
Please keep in mind that it really isn't the school determining your EFC, though, or giving you what you feel is a ridiculous EFC that you could never afford - the federal processor calculates it based on the information you report on the FAFSA, and then reports it to each of the schools you list on your FAFSA application. Unless there are special circumstances and the aid office tinkers with your EFC at your request, the school has nothing to do with the calculation itself. They just use that number, figure out where it falls along with all their other students, and determine how the money has to be spread around. Sometimes they have some ability to determine how large awards will be and how high the cutoffs will be, like with campus-based federal grant aid, but other times they are limited to federal regulations (ie no Pell grant for EFCs over $4300.) Private schools have the same limitations with federal aid but clearly much more private funding to work with and spend as they choose.

I think that your summary here gives the perfect description of how the private schools do what I called the "bait and switch". That EFC comes from the FAFSA, but in order to "hook" the families, the private schools come up with these generous grants for the freshman year. The EFC probably does not change from year to year because it's coming from the FAFSA, but the bottom line sure changes when the grant vaporizes in the sophomore year.

The parents don't understand that the aid package that they receive is variable based upon discretionary grants given by the private college. They just think that they qualified for all of those grants based upon income/family situation/etc. That is exactly what I thought until you started explaining that the EFC is something that is set by a formula through the FAFSA, and that private schools have discretionary funds. This should be made CRYSTAL clear to parents before they opt for a $$ private college that offers an outstanding grant package to their freshman, but of course it's not.

You really should become a consultant. I know that my mom's friends would pay to have someone like you come to give a speech and answer questions. You shed a lot of light on the mysterious process of financial aid and you'd save a whole lot of people a whole lot of headaches/heartaches/financial aches!!

dizkids
03-21-2008, 01:20 PM
just subscribing..interesting and helpful info

DMickey28
03-21-2008, 02:23 PM
I don't think his salary leaves us with that much leftover- and we live very simple lives. We own our 2 cars- one is 9 years old and 1 is 4 years old. Our house is nothing fancy and our mortgage payment is $1300 a month. Property taxes are $4000 a year. Add to that car and homeowners insurance, retirements funds, groceries, utilities, cost of gas for our cars, the cost of 5 kids and we don't have that much left over to pay for college.

If I go back to work there will be more taxes to pay, after school care for my youngest child, wardrobe cost since I don't have any suitable clothes, plus the stress.

I don't expect the government to give us a free ride and I don't want to be slammed. I was just wondering for those with kid's in college now, what their thoughts were. Currently, I have a part time job and can make around $18000 a year after tax.

What is that $18K before taxes? What would your salary be if you go back? 40K? I have no idea about college and really the decision of you going back to work shouldn't be based on that. Do you want to go back to work? I doubt with the difference of approx. $20K you would end up much further ahead than you are know making $18K. Just my opinion.

m&m's mom
03-21-2008, 02:45 PM
Let me say this. DH for many years was certified by the government to write the program to determine Financial Aid and I worked in the FA dept of my university while in grad school. We started saving for our future kids college before they were even born.
Choosing the option get a job to help your kid in school seeme like a 100% no brainer!

phragmipedium
03-21-2008, 03:22 PM
I think that your summary here gives the perfect description of how the private schools do what I called the "bait and switch". That EFC comes from the FAFSA, but in order to "hook" the families, the private schools come up with these generous grants for the freshman year. The EFC probably does not change from year to year because it's coming from the FAFSA, but the bottom line sure changes when the grant vaporizes in the sophomore year.

The parents don't understand that the aid package that they receive is variable based upon discretionary grants given by the private college. They just think that they qualified for all of those grants based upon income/family situation/etc. That is exactly what I thought until you started explaining that the EFC is something that is set by a formula through the FAFSA, and that private schools have discretionary funds. This should be made CRYSTAL clear to parents before they opt for a $$ private college that offers an outstanding grant package to their freshman, but of course it's not.

You really should become a consultant. I know that my mom's friends would pay to have someone like you come to give a speech and answer questions. You shed a lot of light on the mysterious process of financial aid and you'd save a whole lot of people a whole lot of headaches/heartaches/financial aches!!

Thank you for the compliment. :) I really enjoyed my time in the aid office - it can be very stressful and heart-wrenching, and it's definitely an emotionally exhausting job, but it's always nice to hear someone say "NOW I understand." :)

Keep in mind the FAFSA is redone each year, so aid packages can vary every year no matter what school a student attends based on how the EFC fluctuates and how the funding/number of eligible students fluctuate at that particular school. But if a private *or* a public school is offering a "grant" or scholarship, be sure to ask if it's a renewable, 4-year grant based on grades or continued financial need - especially if it's not federally funded. It's really important to make sure it's not a one-year thing. A *lot* of scholarships are one-year or one-time only, so always ask if it's a renewable award and what the student needs to do to keep receiving it.

LoveBWVVBR
03-21-2008, 03:35 PM
Thank you for the compliment. :) I really enjoyed my time in the aid office - it can be very stressful and heart-wrenching, and it's definitely an emotionally exhausting job, but it's always nice to hear someone say "NOW I understand." :)

Keep in mind the FAFSA is redone each year, so aid packages can vary every year no matter what school a student attends based on how the EFC fluctuates and how the funding/number of eligible students fluctuate at that particular school. But if a private *or* a public school is offering a "grant" or scholarship, be sure to ask if it's a renewable, 4-year grant based on grades or continued financial need - especially if it's not federally funded. It's really important to make sure it's not a one-year thing. A *lot* of scholarships are one-year or one-time only, so always ask if it's a renewable award and what the student needs to do to keep receiving it.

Hmmm...well, none of these grants would be considered academic merit scholarships from the colleges I don't think. I know for sure that my sister's was just a grant from the college. I doubt that my mother actually asked if it was renewable, since she just assumed that it was given to them based on the FAFSA/EFC. Even if you ask the private college if the grant is renewable, you may get an answer that doesn't jive with what will end up happening. The grant could be "renewable," but that doesn't necessarily mean that it WILL be renewed, KWIM? All of these families had the same level (or greater) of financial need in the sophomore year that they had in the freshman year. The difference seems to be at the discretion of the university. I understand trying to get desireable candidates to choose your school. I don't understand doing that under false pretenses, though (like giving a big grant that will disappear after a year) and not being up front that that is what is happening.

Seriously, the topic of financial aid deserves some sort of insider expose. Maybe someone can convince John Stossel to do a report on it or something :laughing: People really need the full picture before they 1) count on getting financial aid in the future or 2) count on getting the same grant package from year to year.

LoveBWVVBR
03-21-2008, 03:39 PM
Let me say this. DH for many years was certified by the government to write the program to determine Financial Aid and I worked in the FA dept of my university while in grad school. We started saving for our future kids college before they were even born.
Choosing the option get a job to help your kid in school seeme like a 100% no brainer!

So would you also say that trying to save for 100% of your child's education is the way for most families to go (assuming that they value a college education for their child)? We save a large amount in DD's 529 every month, and we're about to double that when baby #2 arrives. Honestly, we live on a tight budget to be able to save for college and retirement. We do feel that it's our responsibility to fund 100% of undergrad, and we don't think that financial aid would even be a possibility. We're saving like we'll have to fund the entire thing. I'd be lying if I said that it was easy to live on such a tight budget to make the savings goals, though, and I do wonder about the future when our kids will have more expensive interests that will add to the budget. I always say that the month that we miss the savings goals for college and retirement is the month that I stop being a SAHM, though.

swilshire
03-26-2008, 07:08 PM
I only read a couple of the responses, but I agree that you're unlikely to get need-based aid for many schools based on just your husband's income. I discovered that even having a little money in the bank makes your estimated contribution ridiculous. Don't even get me started on how any money the kid has in the bank adds to the number.

You can always go online and fill out the FASFA adding your estimated income. Then just correct it without the fake money. The colleges will use the last numbers. You might even be able to start with no schools listed so they would never see the fake numbers.

Even if you won't get any need based aid, a lot of the grants (like our state's lottery fund) require you to fill out the FASFA. The kid gets the same amount regardless of the numbers you put down.

Sheila

phragmipedium
03-26-2008, 07:32 PM
I only read a couple of the responses, but I agree that you're unlikely to get need-based aid for many schools based on just your husband's income. I discovered that even having a little money in the bank makes your estimated contribution ridiculous. Don't even get me started on how any money the kid has in the bank adds to the number.

You can always go online and fill out the FASFA adding your estimated income. Then just correct it without the fake money. The colleges will use the last numbers. You might even be able to start with no schools listed so they would never see the fake numbers.

Even if you won't get any need based aid, a lot of the grants (like our state's lottery fund) require you to fill out the FASFA. The kid gets the same amount regardless of the numbers you put down.

Sheila

I'd recommend doing your estimates with an EFC estimator like at finaid.org rather than using the actual FAFSA to estimate a hypothetical situation like having a second job. (Unless, of course, your child isn't going to school this year). If your child is actually going to school and you input information that spits out an EFC, and then you make corrections that significantly drop your EFC, that is going to set off flags at a lot of schools. At our school, if we received an updated FAFSA that significantly changed income amounts (especially if it lowered the income), we didn't process the new information right away - we did not necessarily "use the last numbers" we received. Too many families become unhappy, unfortunately, with the EFC number they receive, and go back into the FAFSA to "tweak" it - in dishonest and inaccurate way. A lot of families make numerous FAFSA updates, so much so that it's very difficult to tell which FAFSA reporting had the most accurate information. So instead, we selected the family for "verification" and sent out a letter requesting actual tax documents, etc to verify the FAFSA information and produce a correct EFC based on actual information. For most families this is nothing more than an inconvenience because what they've done is accurate and the changes they made were valid for a variety of reasons, but once selected for verification, your award package is tentative until all steps are completed, and of course subject to change if the information provided differs from the FAFSA. And, at our school, if you refused to complete verification you would not receive any aid (even federal student loans) until you did so. Some schools, especially smaller ones, automatically select everyone for verification, so it might not make a difference - but I just wanted to put that out there.

This is probably not something to worry about if you're a family who (as you should) files early in January with estimated income from the prior year, and then updates in February once you've gotten W2s and have actual tax figures - the changes are likely to be slight, and the school should be able to see that on your first FAFSA you indicated "will file, but have not yet filed" and on your updated application you changed it to "have already filed" - so they will know what you were doing. But I'd be very hesitant to "play" with such a significant jump in income on the FAFSA if your child is actually going to school that year. I'm not sure if it's possible to complete a FAFSA without inputting school codes; I don't think it is - but you may as well just try the EFC estimator at finaid.org instead.