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FAFSA: What does this all mean, and what will I need to take out in loans?

maskingtapedmaskingtaped Posts: 209Registered User Junior Member
I'm attending Boston University as a freshman in the fall.
I live with my father (single income), and my younger sister.. my dad's income is ~50k/year. last january, my younger brother passed away, so i'm not sure if that factors into aid (going from having 4 members in the household, down to 3).

I just filed my FAFSA (with 2011 numbers.. I WILL update when my dad does his 2012 taxes, unfortunately it isn't possible for him until after Feb. 1st).
The EFC is 03678.
The pell grant estimate given to me = $1,900
Direct Stafford Loan Estimate = $5,500

ALSO - under my financial award tab on my BU account, they gave me tentative financial aid package, and it goes..
$20k/year presidential scholarship.
$26.4k/year in grants.

So total aid from BU, that I'm receiving per year = 46.4k.
The total cost of attendance is ~60k/year.

There are also spots for..
Federal Perkins Loan - $1,500/year
Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan - $3,500/year
Federal Work-Study - $2,000 for the fall semester only.

Neither of my parents have any money saved up for college, for me or my sister.

I guess my whole post revolves around the fact that, I have NO IDEA what any of this means. I'm a first-generation college student; my mom is from Japan - basically, no one in my family really knows what any of this indicates.

How much am I going to have to take out in private loans?
What does EFC specifically mean?
Is this amount of financial aid & loans bad?
Am I going to be knee-deep in debt when I graduate in 4 years?
Post edited by maskingtaped on

Replies to: FAFSA: What does this all mean, and what will I need to take out in loans?

  • keesh17keesh17 Posts: 270Registered User Junior Member
    Maskingtaped, first of all congrats on your acceptance at BU! Secondly, congrats with getting a free ride - well almost anyway.

    According to BU, cost of attendance is 59,100 which includes 2,916 for books, supplies and incidentals - lets leave those out for now which gets you to 56,184 needed to atttend.

    You are getting:
    46,400 from BU - not a loan
    1,900 Pell grant from the US Gov. - not a loan

    5,500 in loans from the US Gov. at a cheap rate, no co-signer needed.
    2,000 in money from the US Gov. for which you have to work on campus.

    Total so far in assistance: 55,800

    56,184 - 55,800 = 384 <-- this is what you are short for a full ride plus the money for books, supplies and incidentals.

    With a summer job and careful spending you should be able to cover the cost of attendance. Buy books online or download them for free, put yourself on a budget, and ask relatives and friends for cash for HS graduation presents and birthdays etc.
  • lerkinlerkin Posts: 1,428Registered User Senior Member
    First, I am sorry about the loss of your brother.

    Second, EFC is expected family contribution, but unfortunately it is only used to figure out pell grant in the schools, like BU, that do not promise to meet need.

    So what it means is that you have enough aid to cover 48.3K and have to come up with 11.7K, either from loans or from a job.

    You have 7.5K covered with loans (5.5K) and work-study (2K - not guaranteed).

    The shortfall is 4.2K (assuming 60K price tag). You will either have to ask your parents take out parent plus loan or earn this money during this up-coming summer. You might also be able to shave off some costs by buying cheaper books and cheaper meal plan - YMMV.

    If your parents are not approved for parent plus loan, you will be able to get additional 4K in stafford loans, but I would not recommend it. Try to get a job.

    I would say, that with some sacrifices this schools is doable and you got a really good package.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Posts: 18,813Registered User Senior Member
    FinAid | Calculators | Award Letter Comparison Tool

    FinAid | Calculators | Loan Calculator

    This is not the best aid package ever, but it is not the worst. If you can make decent money during your vacations, and if you do find that W-S job and manage to earn all of the money you are qualified for, and if you live cheap in college (used books, cheapest dorm, inexpensive meal plan, free weekend entertainment, etc.) you may be able to make it. Find out if the aid from BU is dependent on you maintaining a certain GPA, whether it will increase automatically with each year's increases in cost, etc. Oh, and do find out if the Pell is already included in the total grants from BU or if it is in addition to those grants.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Posts: 22,705Registered User Senior Member
    I am so sorry about the death of your brother. Tough times now, I know.

    What the award says, is that based on the numbers given to them, BU has offered you $46.6 in grant money for the year. In addition you have about $1.9 in Pell grants bringing the "free money" up to $48.5. The PELL is from the federal government and would be the same pretty much whereever you go to college. BU is not giving you that money out of their own funds but is brokering it from the governement.

    Using $60K as the Cost of Attendance (COA), you need to come up with aobut $11.5 more. You are also permitted to take out $5500 in Stafford loans, with $3500 of the money subsidized which means no interest on that money accrues until you leave school and the interest rate is also lower than unsub loans. The Perkins amount of $1500 is also subsidized. BU has only shown the subsiized part of the Stafford in their package to you, but you can take out the entire $5500 amount. That means by borrowing these amounts from the government, you now have to come up with $4500 for the year. Work study funds in $2000 have been allocated for you, so if you find a job through that program, you can earn up to that much during the fall, but you have to work it and get it as you earn it. That leaves you with $2500 that you and your family have to find somehow in order to make it a go. Maybe you can work in the summer, during the spring term, and/or cut back on the non fixed expense part of the COA by getting cheaper books, a cheaper meal plan, a cheaper dorm room than the norm.

    For BU, a school that does not tend to meet full need, your package is outstanding. It does mean borrowing $7K this year and probably a bit more next year as prices go up, and the Stafford maximum goes up too. It means about $30K in debt when you finish in 4 years if you take all of these loans. If you or your family can come up with more money, you can decline some of the lonas. THese are alll government loans and it does not appear that you willl need to take out private loans. It is difficult if not impossible for most students to get a private loan without their parents also going in on the loan with them. They can also apply for a parent loan, but he Stafford for students which you have gotten have preferable interest rates to those PLUS loans. But for the most part, you have gotten the max you can get from the government.

    The amount is on the high side, yes, but not unthinkable and undoable. This is something you have to consider. Repayment terms tend to be flexible with govenment loans but, yes, that is alot of money and something to discuss with your parents.

    EFC is the term that is used for Expected Family Contribution and is calculated by the FAFSA you filled out with our family financial info. The $3678 is the amount that you and your family have to pay out of pocket if you get what they feel is fulll need met. The reason the amounts don't quite match up is because BU is not including the $2K of Unsubsized Stafford loan in their award lettter, but I am as money you can tap. You can take that out and replace it with family contribution or if you can earn it on top of what you need to pay out of pocket.

    Knee deep in debt. Yes. Up to your neck, no. Look at your other choices and then you have to decide if this is worth it. But, this is a typical good, very good package. Congratulations.

    One thing I want to warn you is that the money is all dependent on how close your 2011 figures that you used turn out to be to the actual 2012 numbers. If they are different, you package will be so adjusted. PELL would be adjusted first as it is directly related to that income. THe rest is up to the college.
  • maskingtapedmaskingtaped Posts: 209Registered User Junior Member
    thank you everyone so far; you've cleared up a lot of my confusion!!

    & i forgot to add, since it is early decision - i WILL be attending, no matter how much i need to take out in loans. i've already sent in my enrollment deposit (paid for very generously by my grandparents)
    i'm just starting to worry about loans - i've never taken any out before, so i'm really unsure on where, or when, to start...
  • ordinarylivesordinarylives Posts: 1,948Registered User Senior Member
    You may want to ask if the 26,400.00 in grants includes the 1900 in estimated Pell or if the Pell will be added on top of the 26.4K
  • lerkinlerkin Posts: 1,428Registered User Senior Member
    You don't have to attend if you cannot afford, even if you are accepted ED. You can be asked to be released from ED, if the numbers do not work.

    As others have said for BU you have a great package. However, you do have to figure out where the short-fall is going to come. You alone cannot borrow more than 5.5K staford in the first year. So you either have to ask your parents get parent plus loan, ask your grandparents to give you money (perhaps interest free loan) or line up summer job.
  • maskingtapedmaskingtaped Posts: 209Registered User Junior Member
    ordinarylives; i can do that right now.. i'll send an email to the financial aid office.
  • thumper1thumper1 Posts: 32,630Registered User Senior Member
    Look at the cost of attendance and see what costs you can reduce that are not directly billable to the university. You can reduce books (by buying used online), personal expenses, travel, etc. what you need to look at very carefully is your costs that are billed directly by BU. these would include room, board, and all fees. If your family has equivalent health insurance and you can stay on that plan, you can also waive that fee which is over $1000.

    Perhaps working now, and during the summer will help with some of that shortfall.

    You have gotten an excellent award from BU.
  • maskingtapedmaskingtaped Posts: 209Registered User Junior Member
    I think my mom told me that her parents would be willing to send me ~$1,000 from Japan, to help pay for freshman year.. but i'm not sure if they'd be willing to send more (even as a loan). I'm super grateful for them even sending anything.
  • intparentintparent Posts: 10,339Registered User Senior Member
    Not sure how the BU website shows the cost of attendance (tuition, fees, etc.) but many colleges do not even show that health insurance fee as part of the overall cost. They have tuition, room & board, and "student fees", but the "student fees" do NOT include that potential health insurance cost. So is is likely that that $59,100 number for overall attendance (plus books, incidentals, and travel) does not include that insurance number.

    If the OP has health insurance that meets the college's criteria, then no problem. But I do think this expense bites a lot of students who are counting their pennies (as their families may also be less likely to carry health insurance).
  • maskingtapedmaskingtaped Posts: 209Registered User Junior Member
    ** Just received this email from the BU financial aid office!

    "The $26,400 is the entire Boston University need-based financial assistance grant. It does not include the Pell grant. BU has not received your FAFSA yet (it takes a few days) so your current financial assistance package does not show a Pell grant. Once we receive the FAFSA, we will adjust your package accordingly. If the Office of Financial Assistance can furnish any additional assistance, please feel free to respond to this email directly."
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Posts: 22,705Registered User Senior Member
    Your package will likely be adjusted when actual numbers come in. Your EFC and your PELL wil certainly change, and BU will make adjustments as well. But this gives you a good idea of what you will be getting from BU.
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