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Financial Aid Assessment, College Recommendations Needed

KelseyMKelseyM 180 replies11 threads Junior Member
Hello all,
I am a student who was recommended to post here by a few senior members from another forum about my financial situations and to get college recommendations. They advised for "safer", non QB partner schools who give good aid to those like me, merit or need-based. Below, I will provide as much financial information as I can about my father, mother, and I as well as some of my academic stats and preferences in a separate post, so you can get an accurate assessment of what I'm like, academically and financially.
Occupation: Chef
Dependents: 1, father
Wages, salaries, tips, etc.: 18,263
Total income: 18,263
Adjusted gross income: 18,263
Standardized deduction or itemized deductions: 18,000
Taxable income: 263
Child tax credit/other dependent credit: 26
Federal income tax withheld from forms W-2 and 1099: 862
Total payments: 862
Overpayment: 862
FATHER (he has a lot more info since he is an individual business owner):
Occupation: Self-employed
Dependents: 1, daughter (me)
Time lived with dependent: 12 months
Wages, salaries, tips, etc.: NO NUMBER LISTED
Gross receipts or sales: 46,310
Total expenses (if you need specific numbers for each expense, ask): 32,261
Total income (Profit): 14,049
Adjusted gross income: 13,056
Standard deduction or itemized deductions: 18,000
Taxable income: 0
Child tax/credit for other dependents: 0
Total tax: 1985 (from self-employment tax)
Total payments: 3461
Overpayment: 1476 (amount supposed to be refunded, but note: no refund has been given due to legal complications)
EIC/ACTC/CTC/ODC eligible, yet not claimed (unsure of what this means)
Complete and correct Form 1040, Schedule C: Yes
Unmarried, provided total cost of "keeping up a home for the year for a person): Yes
Business interest expense (disallowed): 551
Adjusted taxable income: -5,456 (unsure of what this means)
Expected return (subtracting the dues of the tax preparation): 1,022
Occupation: Hostess at Wadsworth Old Chicago
Wages, salaries, tips, etc.: 3,320
Total income: 3,320
Standard deduction or itemized deductions: 3,670
Federal income tax: 165
Overpaid: 165 (was refunded)

Any information on any other lines was either not entered, the same as a preceding line, or had 0.

Additional information that may be needed:
- Never married, dad has custody
- Total child support paid for 2018: 0
- I'm told we're eligible for free/reduced lunches
- Dad has over 21,000 owed in IRS-related fees due to his tax preparations being done by "a corrupt CPA"; these are trying to be remedied by our new tax provider, but nothing has resulted due to legal complications
- Has overpriced medical bills due to an incident in 2018 that have not been paid due to the inability to afford them (He gets too upset when I ask him, but from heated arguments in the past it's over 30,000)

I'm sorry if this is a lot or seems too personal; the experts in the other thread told me to be as detailed as possible about my situation for accurate assessments. This is what I have for you. If I left anything out on those tax forms I need, let me know.
Thank you for your consideration!
edited July 2019
74 replies
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Replies to: Financial Aid Assessment, College Recommendations Needed

  • KelseyMKelseyM 180 replies11 threads Junior Member
    edited July 2019
    Here are academic stats. If extracurriculars are needed, I will provide. They are a little on the weak side, though, just a warning.
    ACT: 34 (Math:30 Reading: 36 Science: 35 English: 35) (taken only once)
    AP United States Government & Politics: 4
    AP English Language & Composition: 5
    AP Psychology: 5
    (AP Eng Lang was self studied, the others had courses at my other school, Walker Valley. I was forced to switch out by my dad because of some very serious social tensions there, which are non-political, by the way.)
    At Bradley, I am taking AICE (Cambridge) AS classes/exams. I have taken Biology, Travel & Tourism, and English Language. I will be getting those scores in August. I have one Cambridge AS test score so far:
    Cambridge AS-level Thinking Skills: a
    Personal Finance & Economics (required)
    Cambridge A-Level Pure Mathematics 1 (first half)
    Dual Enrollment Gen Bio I (or II, if I can skip this one)
    Dual Enrollment Beginning French I
    Cambridge A-Level Pure Mathematics 1 (second half)
    Cambridge AS-Level Engllish Literature
    Cambridge AS-Level Global Perspectives (required)
    World History Honors (required)
    Dual Enrollment Gen Chem II
    Dual Enrollment Beginning French II
    Chemistry is for certain, Biology is if I can handle it.

    Bradley only has one A-Level class, unfortunately. AS level is like half of an intro college class, so it isn't accepted for credit at most colleges, unlike AP. A-level is the full course, with additional exams. It takes a year, AS levels take one semester. I don't really do these courses for credits, I do them for rigor.
    Bradley doesn't have AP. Their highest level courses are Cambridge and Dual Enrollment. I'm taking everything I can. I know colleges like AP and IB the most, which is why I'm self-studying.

    Class ranking: 3/423 (exact, I switch between 3 and 2 frequently during the year)
    GPA (unweighted): 4.0 on 4.0 scale
    Lowest grade on transcript is a 96 in Driver's Ed (sophomore year), everything else is either 99 or 100, to be more specific.
    I can provide Junior and Sophomore course loads if needed.

    Some preferences:
    Close to or within a suburban or urban region
    Greek life is not necessary for a social life on campus (can be strong, weak, even non-existent, but not all-encompassing)
    There are ways to avoid drinking and drugs (i.e. substance free housing, can tolerate a lack of this if needed)

    I'm probably not any different from any other high-achieving student, I know. Here are my stats, though. Make of them what you will!
    edited July 2019
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 5497 replies93 threads Senior Member
    I have read some of your other thread, congratulations on your achievements so far. Although matching with a school thru Questbridge is highly competitive, you absolutely should pursue that path as far as it takes you. I believe your stats, being from Appalachia and being raised by a single parent make you a competitive candidate. I know you think your ECs are weak, but working to help support you and your dad is considered an EC, and an important one.

    You will likely qualify for at least a portion of a Pell grant. It is difficult to know whether any of your dad's business expenses will be added back into net income for finaid purposes so I am not sure NPCs will necessarily be accurate for you. Do the FAFSA4caster here to get a sense of your EFC (only dad's financial info goes into FAFSA) https://fafsa.ed.gov/spa/fafsa4c/?locale=en_US#/landing
    Here is 2019/20's Pell grant table https://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/attachments/20192020PellPaymentSchedule.pdf

    I will continue to think about matches and safeties, but start by looking at Berea College, which gives preference to students from Appalachia. Alice Lloyd does the same, but I don't think their service area extends as far south as Bradley County, but verify that too.

    Also look at some of TN's public colleges. Of course there is the flagship in Knoxville, but also look at UT Chattanooga, Middle Tennessee State and Austin Peay. They are all FAFSA only schools, and again, the NPCs may not be accurate for you. You can certainly reach out to each school's finaid office as you go thru this process. For your safety schools you may have to compromise on some of your criteria.

    There are also many scholarships specifically for students from Appalachia. Here is a short list to get you started, https://www.greatcollegedeals.net/scholarships/appalachian-students/, but do your research and go to each scholarship providers own website to understand the requirements.
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  • thumper1thumper1 78480 replies3537 threads Senior Member
    The application for University of Alabama is open now...and so is their scholarship application. I don’t know the “rules” for Questbridge applicants, but if permittted, I would suggest you go online and apply TODAY. It will take you less than an hour to complete both applications and you will have an admissions decision with their guaranteed merit aid within a couple of weeks.

    With a 34 ACT and a 4.0 GPA, you should get a decent merit award.

    University of Alabama Huntsville might give you even better aid...so apply there too.

    Any chance you are a National Merit finalist?

    @mom2collegekids can you comment?
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30444 replies59 threads Senior Member
    edited July 2019

    I agree with @thumper1 about securing ‘Bama or any sure thing as a safety school. You need money to go away to college and given your family situation, it’s no sure thing that you’ll get sufficient financial aid. to do so. Getting a lot of Merit money is no easy thing. It makes almost all school high reaches.

    You have great numbers, and an impressive resume. Yes, you are in the running for the highly selective schools and awards. But when you are looking at single digit acceptances and the very few big merit awards out there, yes, it is possible and happens each year that student like you ends up with no viable choice because they didn’t work st finding and applying to any.

    FAFSA uses only custodial parent’s finances, so it looks like you are PELL eligible which may help in terms of getting consideration for aid But the fact of the matter is that QB and most of your other schools use PROFILE

    You should probably start on the CSS PROFILE application first because it is much more extensive and intensive. It’s easy peasy to do FAFSA once you have PROFILE done. You’ll also have to deal with the time consuming and difficult task of getting your mother’s information, and that’s not something to put off. Your schools are mostly PROFILE driven. Thats a hard core fact. You are going to have to deal with what they define as your expected contribution given your dad’s business and your mother.

    Also, the QB deadlines are approaching. Absolutely, go through this channel, but be aware that the chances are very small in getting that match. It does help even if you do not get it. I think only about 1000 students get that match and full scholarship , and they generally have a zero EFC. But it does open a lot of doors and possibilities throughout the admissions process
    edited July 2019
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  • GTAustinGTAustin 1238 replies9 threads Senior Member
    You could consider UT Dallas in Richardson. At UT Dallas, you would be in the running for a full tuition scholarship plus either a $1000/semester or $3000/semester thru the AES scholarships. You have everything they are looking for. It is a more academically focused school and does not have a large sports scene and a small greek scene. It is known for its STEM programs and business. Great area for internships and easy to get to.
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  • thumper1thumper1 78480 replies3537 threads Senior Member
    While not a guarantee....apply early to Pitt. They do award some full merit awards. The early bird catches the worm.

    University of Chicago does not use non-custodial parent information, and uses the FAFSA and a very short Chicago form. That could be an option as they meet full need.
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  • GTAustinGTAustin 1238 replies9 threads Senior Member
    I agree about Pitt but do it early!
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  • LindagafLindagaf 10989 replies592 threads Super Moderator
    @mom2collegekids , any suggestions for this student? @HImom ?
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30444 replies59 threads Senior Member
    I urge you to get your free lunch approval. That is a question often asked and it may get you to a zero EFC on the FAFSA. I also urge you to consider reimbursing your father for your living expenses so that you have as little money as possible in the day you fine your FAFSA and PROFILE because that “snapshot” of what you own will be hit up st 20% if you don’t get that auto-zero EFC, whereas you father would get assessed 6% at most
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  • chmcnmchmcnm 776 replies6 threads Member
    University of Kentucky or WVU?
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30444 replies59 threads Senior Member
    I may be presumptive here, but I think the OP is looking for a full ride or very close to it to go away to college. That’s not easy to get. In fact, it’s very difficult. That she has such a sterling academic profile is what even make it possible.

    With a zero EFC, her chances for QB full ride goes up from zilch to possible. I don’t know of anyone who got that full match award without a zero EFC.

    It appears to me, that even with her mother’s financials in the picture , her institutional expected contribution is going to be very low. The kicker is her dad’s business. No idea how PROFILE schools will assess his situation.

    You only need one safety school locked up. Understand that is where you will be going if you don’t get other affordable options if you want to go away to college next year. So that school is a very important pick, even more so than the QB early match where you probably would be happy with any school you pick from their list but the chances of getting it are... well just 1000 kids got this total, last year. Get that safety, likely, fail safe school nailed down, and you can play the lottery all you want. Heck, yes, apply to HPY et al. Might as well if you don’t get the QB match, Max out your QB picks and use the great resources they have in the application process. From everything I have read, it does help your chances to get to say you are going through QB. The application procedure, I understand is onerous, but so is all of this Fin aid and regular app stuff
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43278 replies471 threads Senior Member
    Pitt might not work because their full scholarships have become very difficult to get, with most scholarship students seemingly having 35 on their act. :(
    What about Temple? (Their automatic merit scholarships don't exist anymore but competitive merit is less hard to get than at Pitt).
    Berea is an excellent suggestion.
    UTK and their scholarships remains your best bet at this point. Even if you don't want to there, you want that option.
    If you qualify for reduced/free lunch, check the box whenever requested such as on commonapp. (Use that benefit too but even if you choose not to, as long as you qualify for it, it "counts"). It means you could retake the ACT for free, once. Thee should be a session in September. Not that you'd need to (your score clearly places you among the top 1% test takers) but in case you want to see if you can crack 35. Maybe not a good use of your time.
    Itemized deductions will be added back in but still make your dad's business far from high earning so you're ok on that front.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 83775 replies743 threads Senior Member
    The difficult part of need-based financial aid for you is that you have two complicating factors:

    1. Non-married parents. For many colleges, including most Questbridge colleges (except Chicago and Vanderbilt), both will need to fill in CSS Profile forms. If they are cooperative about that, then good for you, but you need to include both of their finances in net price calculators at such colleges. If not, then that is a problem for you at such colleges.
    2. Custodial parent income/assets is mainly small business. Many colleges disallow some business deductions to recalculate income higher than what it is seen on tax forms. Whether their net price calculators ask the correct questions to give an accurate estimate in this case can vary.

    You may want to consider colleges with large merit scholarships (that do not depend on parent finances) for at least part of your application list.
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 34135 replies4918 threads Super Moderator
    Berea College sounds like a possible fit. They have links to Appalachia and charge no tuition. https://www.berea.edu/about/quick-facts/
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30444 replies59 threads Senior Member
    @ucbalumnus , the large merit awards part she needs to do independently from her QB schools. She needs at least one sure thing which would be automatic merit based on stats. Otherwise, it’s just another assessment contingency that may or may not result in award of any funds. She needs close to a full ride to go away to school. Not many of those out there that are not subject to a selection process .

    It appears to me that her NCP as she presents are not going to add much to any expected contribution. It’s the father’s business that would might. With free lunch, she would get a zero FAFSA EFC.

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  • KelseyMKelseyM 180 replies11 threads Junior Member
    edited July 2019
    Lots of great info, thank you guys. I am still unsure about what a zero EFC is and why I should get it, but if it would help, sure!
    There are merit scholarships on some QB partners I've looked at, but they seem really hard to get (like you have to revolutionize your community or something). So, I should rely moreso on merit-based aid, or equally weight it to need-based?
    My dad's business financials are confusing and I apologize for that. He doesn't get it either, and nor do I.
    I had begun a FAFSA form, but I don't know which year to apply for aid. I don't need it for high school, and there is no 2020 option. What year do I pick?
    I will look at PROFILE.
    Berea is very interesting to me and I will look more into it.
    I don't exactly know how UTK is with aid, but I will look at the application later tonight.
    How many safeties should I pin? Just one, or a lot so I have some choices?
    Thanks again for the info!
    edited July 2019
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 10388 replies122 threads Senior Member
    My daughter had two safeties, one was rolling admission so she knew in early October that she had an acceptance in hand. She would have been happy to attend either school. I would highly suggest having at least one rolling admission safety on your list. It's emotionally worth it!
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  • Erin's DadErin's Dad 34135 replies4918 threads Super Moderator
    FAFSA will open for the class of 2020 on 1 October 2019. Hold off on filling anything in right now. You can use school's Net Price Calculators (on each school's web site) for an idea of how much aid you'll get. You can use the FAFSA Forecaster to get an idea of your FAFSA EFC.
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  • KelseyMKelseyM 180 replies11 threads Junior Member
    I will absolutely use more NPCs. I did one for Vanderbilt and my estimated cost per year was $856. Of course, that's the exception without the NCP in the picture. I will do one for all of the school's I'm interested in as accurate as possible and I will get back to you with some numbers.
    Thanks a lot! Let me know any other suggestjons you may have.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 43278 replies471 threads Senior Member
    UTK would likely yield good need based/merit aid for our stats since you would match their scholar programs' criteria. Not a guarantee but close to it.
    So, you need to find more rolling quasi safeties. I'd suggest adding 2 or 3 from Pitt, Temple, UMN Twin Cities, UCincinnati, UIowa, and applying to their named scholarships. Then, add Berea.
    With that roster (UTK, Berea +2 or 3) you're covered because out of the 4 I'm pretty sure you'd have one or two positive (admissions+financial aid/merit scholarship) decisions by Christmas if not the end of October.
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