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How many college students do I have for FAFSA and CSS purposes?

tandrsmomtandrsmom Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
I have a question about how many of my kids to count as students attending college on the FAFSA and CSS Profile that I am currently working on for DS18. My high school senior is applying to colleges for next fall, and has a 20 year old sibling who is a junior in college. The older student took a year off from school between freshman and sophomore year to live and work full time in his chosen state to establish residency in the state he is attending college in (state school so residency definitely impacted tuition; not a Profile school) and he has lived in that state for 3+ years now. However, when he filled out the FAFSA for 2017-2018, they required my information despite the fact that he is considered independent by his college - he was told FAFSA required it, but my numbers would not affect his aid package awarded by the school, and in fact it did not. They awarded him an aid package that did not include any expected parent contribution.

Now that I am filling out fin aid information for my younger son, although I listed our household size as 2 (single parent, and older son has not been listed as a dependent on my taxes for two or three years) should I have put that there will be two students in college for 2018-19? I only counted DS18, not my independent son, although apparently FAFSA still considers him "dependent" (is it his age?) My EFC on the FAFSA (which has been submitted only by my DS18, not the one currently in college) was relatively low (we still qualify for some Pell money) but would it be okay to list that I will have two in college for the purpose of colleges using CSS in calculating aid for my younger son, and if I do, could it affect my older son's independent status at his state school? (Remember, FAFSA required him to have me list my income on his application for aid.) My income is low (<45K AGI), but I have some assets that will definitely need to be included on the Profile that will affect need-based aid calculated using CSS.

Replies to: How many college students do I have for FAFSA and CSS purposes?

  • tandrsmomtandrsmom Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    Someone in the Paying for College-101 Facebook group linked the FAFSA dependency checklist, and it explained why my oldest is still considered a dependent for FAFSA purposes - it is age. So I went back and filed a correction to the FAFSA and changed my family size and number of students in college for the 2018-19 school year.
    Now I just need to know if I should reflect the same numbers on the CSS Profile. Thankfully I have not submitted that yet, so it will be easy to change, as it is still a "slog-in-progress."

    So, still asking if anyone knows how many I should list on CSS.
  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri Registered User Posts: 5,891 Senior Member
    @kelsmom would know, but I think the answer is yes. Children are dependent until they're 24 or meet some other requirement (married, in the military, etc.), so I'd include both.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 14,546 Senior Member
    If your older child tried to file FAFSA as an independent, he'd probably have the form rejected and told he's a dependent. If it works that way in to his detriment, it should certainly work to your younger's advantage. And your older son gets to claim his brother too.
  • tandrsmomtandrsmom Registered User Posts: 25 New Member
    When the older did the 2017-2018 FAFSA, it asked for my information, so he was definitely considered a dependent. I realized that is different than being considered independent for residency purposes for paying in-state tuition.
    When I looked at his aid page, I discovered (because now I'm looking closely) that there was an EFC which I assume used both my and his income information. The part that was the EFC was met by the school in the form of unsubsidized student loans (which I told him to reject in his aid package anyway.)

    I did all this closer looking today because I am still trying to determine if I should include #1 on the Profile. If I do, it may or may not work in favor of EFC for #2 son. However, I do not want to jeopardize my older's residency status if I include him on the Profile.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 14,546 Senior Member
    FAFSA, CSS, state residency, and IRS all have different tests for dependency and residency. You have to determine each one by the questions it asks for THAT purpose.

    My daughter is 20. For the IRS she's independent because she supports herself. For FAFSA she dependent. For residency she lives in another state and has a driver's license in that state.
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