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omg help with fafsa-- what am I doing wrong.


Replies to: omg help with fafsa-- what am I doing wrong.

  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 73,108 Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    Colleges figure the bills will be paid three ways...

    Past earnings (savings)

    Current earnings (that would be something out of current income)

    Future earnings (loans)

    And yes, some people DO start saving money for college...some even before they have their kids. Again...that’s a choice some folks make.

    Luckily your student applied to some affordable options...as every student should. There is another whole thread in the Parents Forum about $70,000 a year colleges. The salient point is...that is a choice. No one is required to attend a $70,000 a year college.

  • AroundHereAroundHere Registered User Posts: 3,591 Senior Member
    Yes, the financial aid formulas are nuts. When the higher education act of 1965 was written the current census data was from 1960. A lot of the assumptions about allocations of family budgets are still based on that 1960 data -- though the numbers have been tweaked by the social security cost of living adjustments and a few other patches. But, fundamentally, the formula is divorced from reality. All you can do is run FAFSA estimators and NPC calculators and see how the formulas treat you. It's "fair" in the sense that everyone is stuck in the same boat, but it is not fair in the sense of being well-matched to national average or individual circumstances.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,590 Senior Member
    It's not as simple as saying they expect 1/3 of your income. There are (in effect) tiers of income that affect how much a family is expected to *be able to* contribute. Under XX, over YY, number of kids, etc. Your income happens to put you at a diferent level than someone supporting a family of 4 or 5 on 40k. The harsh view we sometimes take is that it's the college's money and not their fault, eg, that you still pay your own college loans or whatever.

    And you're getting this sticker shock late in the game.
    You're not necessarily expected to have saved 400k. Rather, to have explore the realities and options, just as families exxplore target colleges or review their kid's strengths, needs, and fit. The NPCs have been around since about 2011 or so.

    Ithink we understand your shock, but there are options.
  • gearmomgearmom Registered User Posts: 3,885 Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    @mhop72 They are expecting that you save 2-3k a year per kid so you would end up 45-50k in college savings. You've probably spent 70-90k on private schools per kid. Private school is a luxury item. People work towards that goal of saving by living in the towns with the best public schools such as Barrington or EG.

    You would then have 15k a year available for each kid from savings. You would pay 15k a year from salary. And then 15k in loans from Stafford (your kids portion) and Parent loans - funding based on future earnings.

    Most middle class people cannot afford these private colleges unless they have carefully planned for it which is why they are going to instate schools, high merit options like the University of Alabama or foreign options like Canada or the UK. The New England reciprocal program is tricky - FYI.

    UNLESS YOU ARE POOR. FASFA is ONLY useful for you to get the Stafford loan ($5500 Freshman year, $6500 Sophomore year, $7500 Junior, Senior years) And that is it. You don't just get money. Your kid gets the opportunity to take out 28K in LOANS. That is it. Even if you are poor, you don't get much extra. You are basically asking for a free ride.
  • lookingforwardlookingforward Registered User Posts: 30,590 Senior Member
    "New England State U's have a consortium for discounted tuition..."
    Be aware that's for certain majors only (not offered in the hoime state) or kids for whom the nearest public U is within X miles, in an adjoining state. And it only bridges about half the difference between the target college's instate and OOS tuition. If you apply as a qualified major but change, you may be back billed for cost differences.

    Have you now run NPCs on UMass and any other schools, plus epxlored the merit awards at URI? Plus, please be sure that 20k at the Catholic is for 4 years, if you're considering that college.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 73,108 Senior Member
    Actually... @gearmom
    Bill Gates can get the Stafford (Direct) Loans. Anyone who completes a FAFSA cannget the Direct Loans.

    However...reality is...those direct loans will really only find the cost of tuition at community college to which your student can commute.

    Financial planning for college comes in many many forms. Some folks have college savings...in 529 accounts or the like.

    The Thumper Family chose to fully fund the parents’ retirement accounts, and not college accounts. In addition, both parents worked. We paid off all debt before our kids went to college...mortgage included. No car payments, no mortgage payments, no other loan debt. Then both parents continued to work...and one entire salary paid college costs for the years our kids were in college. The other parent salary paid the rest of our bills. Kids went to our local public school which was a district we carefully chose when building our home. So...we had no private school bills either.

    I will add...we did look at private high school for one of our kids...but the kid didn’t feel there was a match as good as his public high school.

    We were fortunate that my salary was sufficient to pay all the college costs at private universities. But if that had NOT been the case, we would have had our kids look at less costly options, or places where more significant merit aid was offered.

    Our kids did take the Direct Loans...it helped us with cash flow. Our gift to them was full repayment of their undergrad loans. Those payments are a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of college.

  • gearmomgearmom Registered User Posts: 3,885 Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    @thumper1 I said that anyone can get direct loans. Fill out the FASFA and get 28k over 4 years. If you are poor you also can get grants. Sorry if that was not clear.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 73,108 Senior Member
    @gearmom yes!

    I’m just not sure what the OP expected for need based aid with a FAFSA EFC as high as hers is.

    And to the OP....when DID you complete that FAFSA...because your FAFSA EFC would,have been available to you within days of submitting that FAFSA...which could,have been in October.

    It sounds like this surprise number is coming up....now.
  • gearmomgearmom Registered User Posts: 3,885 Senior Member
    @thumper1 I know one student on here whose total college cost per year is about 7k a year. That is for a private LAC with funding from the private LAC. He is an Hispanic first generation college student whose family makes less than 20k a year. They are living below the poverty line. Those are the kind of people who are getting whopping aid (NOT Federal aid) to attend college.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 73,108 Senior Member
    Yes...the BIG aid is actually institutional aid...be that merit or need based. Let’s just say...the max $5900 Pell, plus to $5500 freshman Direct Loan...won’t pay for a student to attend a residential four year college. That student needs additional funds from someplace!

  • allyphoeallyphoe Registered User Posts: 1,894 Senior Member
    We're also on the Thumper Family plan, but add to that that we also chose to only have one child at least in part due to financial considerations, and my in-laws (who otherwise would not be financially self-sufficient, and who previously lived with their other child) have lived in our starter house with us for 15 years (in the bedroom that would have been occupied by an opposite-sex child, so another reason to have stopped at one). Cheap term life insurance, with the terms ending when the mortgage was originally scheduled to be paid off, when DD was scheduled to graduate high school, and when she was likely to graduate college, so that if one of us died untimely, insurance would replace that person's financial contribution. Both of us went back to school part-time at night, to community college and then the local directional public, paying as we went.

    Not saying that's the right choice for anyone but us; we've been lucky a lot. But if you want to know who can afford their EFC, we can, and making the cheaper choice over and over again is mostly what I attribute it to. And even for us, OOS publics without guaranteed big merit could never have been on the list, because they aren't affordable.
  • mhop72mhop72 Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
    edited March 2018

    Do I seriously have to justify myself to an online forum? Silliness! So so so uncool.

    I did not join the discussion to get harassed for my life's choices, I joined to gain understanding into the whole process.
    Thank you so much to those of you who are helping me "get it".

    thank you.

    Post edited by vonlost on
  • BelknapPointBelknapPoint Registered User Posts: 3,979 Senior Member
    edited March 2018
    I think everyone is missing my point. I am floored that US gov calculations give an estimate that is 1/3 of our family income. It does not matter if you earn 40k or 400k, no one is going to be able to give 1/3 their income to fund school. That is just bad math.

    How much over the years have you spent on private K-12 tuition? That money could have instead been put in 529 accounts for your children, and grown very nicely tax-free to pay for part of the EFC.

    Your choice.

    Edited to add: nobody is harassing you. Basic financial aid concepts are being explained. Part of the expectation is that some of the college expenses will be paid for with savings. If you spend the money that could be saved on something else, it should be no surprise that when college time comes the budget is stretched too thin.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 9,159 Senior Member
    OP- hugs to you. It is always a shock when you look at the actual numbers on the page for your eldest. Not the numbers that you hear about on the news- "college costs a quarter of a million dollars" which you tune out. Not the numbers that the guidance counselors talk about at college night. But YOUR numbers. What it would cost for YOU and your family.

    Now that the shock is (hopefully) wearing off, you can start to move towards a plan for your kid. The goal is to maximize your kids educational opportunities in a way that does not put your entire family at risk financially. That may mean community college, commuting, taking a year off to work and rethink the college application strategy, figuring out if your current retirement/life insurance plan is adequate or inadequate, etc. Lots of families end up using the terror and shock they feel when they look at the actual financial aid packages to move towards a healthier financial footing.

    I don't know the details of your work life, finances, health, age, if there are grandparents in the picture who want to help, etc. But nobody comes to your house and vacuums out your bank account- you (and your spouse and kid) need to figure out how to balance your financial health with the cost of various college options.

    Second hug. You can do this.
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