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How will marriage change my financial aid?

Malishka31Malishka31 Posts: 2,971Registered User Senior Member
Ok i have attempted to use various calculators and the estimates range from $0 to $16000 for EFC. This is clearly a huge gap.

How is EFC calculated when we would both attend school, but one person attends grad school? Is that taken into consideration or do they only consider college as the 4 year university type.

What is a good calculator i can use, or how can i obtain a relatively accurate estimate.

I am trying to decide if i should get married now or later. There are clearly tax benefits but this would go to waste and i wouldnt even be able to attend school if my efc became an insane 16k.

how do i figure out what the actual EFC will be?
Post edited by Malishka31 on

Replies to: How will marriage change my financial aid?

  • thumper1thumper1 Posts: 32,614Registered User Senior Member
    OK...my advice would be to get married when you are ready to get married. Do not get married for the financial aid benefit. First of all...even if your EFC is lower, there is no guarantee that your university will meet your full need. If you are married, you are considered an independent student, and the income and assets of both you and your spouse will be considered, not your parents. But I would still advise..marriage should be for marriage sake, not for finaid purposes. Just my two cents worth.
  • zuzusplacezuzusplace Posts: 311Registered User Member
    I agree thumper, but you can't really be advising that if she wants to get married for marriage sake (which clearly seems to be the case) that it might not be prudent to wait a bit longer if it would increase her EFC by $16,000 a year. This doesn't seem to be someone who's getting married to reduce EFC, but actually the opposite. It sounds like she's saying there would be financial aid harm done by getting married.

    Malishka, when using the calculators be sure that you are putting that there are 2 people in the family, not including your parents income, and putting your income and your future spouses in the income section. I find it hard to believe that marriage would increase your EFC when you no longer have to take the parents income into consideration. In addition, the "income" of a graduate student is relatively low.

    For the specific question asked though, Sallie Mae states, "Who qualifies to be counted in "number in college"?
    Any person—not including parents—who is counted in the household and will be attending any term of the academic year at least half time. The enrolled family member must attend an eligible program at an eligible institution. You (the student) do not need to be enrolled half time to be counted in the number in college.

    To be counted in the number in college, the person must be working toward a degree or certificate leading to a recognized education credential at a postsecondary school eligible to participate in federal student aid programs. "

    So I would say that you have 2 in college if you get married.
  • Malishka31Malishka31 Posts: 2,971Registered User Senior Member
    I just want to make clear that i am not marrying for tax benefits .... but i can wait another year or two until we graduate if it will save us thousands of dollars.. .tens of thousands of dollars.

    My EFC right now is 0. My mom is on SSI, i get automatic 0 EFC, i made 18k last year.

    My fiance makes about 75k a year while being a part time law student. His EFC is like 25k or something. (he borrows money and gets some merit aid from school)

    If together our taxes will show like 85k but both of us are in college, what would our EFC be? Do they take into account that he pays back taxes just becuase b4 we marry his tax bracket is super high. Out of that 75k, he takes home about 45k. .. plus 400 monhtly to pay off that tax he owed the year b4. Does any of that matter?
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,871Registered User Senior Member
    You are right - if you get married now your EFC will skyrocket as, once you are married and therefore independant, you will lose the automatic zero EFC you get because of your Moms low income.

    I am not sure how the back taxes would affect your situation - FAFSA does allow for normal taxes and State taxes in the formula - I don't know if back taxes would be treated the same or differently. Based on a combined income of 85K your EFC would be @ 33,000 or 16,000 if it is halved based on 2 being in college (assuming he is at least half time in college).

    If finances are an issue you would be better of waiting until after you graduate.
  • zuzusplacezuzusplace Posts: 311Registered User Member
    I agree with swimcatsmom. If you fiance makes that much money and you currently get an automatic EFC it might be best to wait until you are done with school if finances are an issue (or at least wait until grad school if that's in the plans, because often funding there is not need based).
  • Malishka31Malishka31 Posts: 2,971Registered User Senior Member
    Ok what about when i turn 24 next year, i would be independant than, so my 10-20 k that i would make will count, but it should still keep my EFC relativley low if no one claims me as a dependant.

    However, if i live with him, and he does provide support does he HAVE to claim me as a dependant? or if he does claim me, does fafsa check that?


    And its really not THAT much money. He is in NYC so its Fed, City, and State tax... and 30k a year for law school that he takes in loans. For me to move over there in a month we are genuinly wondering if we will make it financially in these upcoming 2.5 years prior to our graduations.
  • Malishka31Malishka31 Posts: 2,971Registered User Senior Member
    If he claims me as a dependant but we are not married, does FAFSA hold him responsible for my education as well?

    Or am i considered dependant if someone claims me dependant on taxes? or would i still be independant because i would be 24?
  • zuzusplacezuzusplace Posts: 311Registered User Member
    Well 70,000 a year is a very respectable amount. I think most grad students would be happy to get even half of that. As far as the loans that he takes out, those don't calculate into considerations for tax or financial aid, so that really won't impact the governments calculations.

    No, he does not have to claim you if you live together. As for FAFSA checking, you can not claim yourself as a dependent on your taxes if someone else does. That will be something that impacts your financial aid and if you lied on the FAFSA and got caught it would not be a pretty situation. Really I think it is a moot point though because the IRS has five tests that must be passed to claim someone as a dependent. One is "gross income". The dependents gross income can not be above the exemption amount unless they are under 19 (or under 24 and a full time student). Since you would be older than that, I don't think he could claim you (unless you were married filing jointly) unless your income dropped drastically.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,871Registered User Senior Member
    For FAFSA purposes you are independent once you turn 24. Not a choice - if you answer yes any of the dependency questions listed here
    http://www.finaid.org/calculators/dependency.phtml
    you are independent.

    Being claimed on someones taxes is a completely seperate issue than the dependency questions for FAFSA. For instance we do not claim my 21 year old son as a dependent for taxes as he earns over the limit. But for FAFSA he is a dependent.
  • Malishka31Malishka31 Posts: 2,971Registered User Senior Member
    Ok, so in theory, if we dont marry and i have 0 income, he can claim me on taxes dependant, and we get the tax benefit and FAFSA would still consider me independant?

    But isnt there a question on FAFSA "does someone claim you as dependant" Or am i just making that up?
  • calmomcalmom Posts: 15,731Registered User Senior Member
    You can go online at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ and fill out a FAFSA there to see what all the questions are -- you don't have to submit it if it is a just a "practice" FAFSA for you. You can also print out worksheets from the web site.

    But the answer to your question is here:
    How To Determine Your Dependency Status

    The following 7 questions, which are listed on the FAFSA, determine your dependency status. If the student answers yes to any of the following questions the student is independent otherwise you are dependent. Nothing else matters in the dependency analysis, it doesn't matter where the student lives or who does or doesn't claim the student for tax purposes.
    The Following Questions Determine Your Status

    1. Are you 24 year of age or older?
    2. Are you married?
    3. Are you enrolled in a master or doctorate program?
    4. Do you have children who receive more than half of their support form you?
    5. Do you have dependents other than your children or spouse who live with you?
    6. Are you an orphan or ward of the state?
    7. Are you a veteran of the U.S. armed forces?
    See: http://www.financialaidsupersite.com/independent-dependent-student.php

    Where it gets complicated is that you have to report "untaxed" income - so if you were unmarried and supported by your fiance, technically you would need to report the total amount of cash he gives you -- so you are probably better off with at least a small amount of income and paying for your own out-of-pocket expenses.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,871Registered User Senior Member
    But isnt there a question on FAFSA "does someone claim you as dependant" Or am i just making that up?

    Don't think so. There are questions about exemptions (tax related) but i don't thing there is a question about anyone claiming you as a dependent. But tax dependency and dependency for financial aid are quite different.
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