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

mhop72mhop72 Registered User Posts: 38 Junior Member
Our household income was 157k. We are living check to check. I have 14k in tuition for a daughter and 4k in tuition for a son annually. I owe 35 k for my own college education. We are massively in debt-- mainly educational expenses, no fancy cars, boats, or vacations. I do not see ANY of this on fafsa forms... no accounting for anything education expense-wise? ?? We have no assets but 401k w employer and maybe 60k in home equity. <?> So, as a family of five, with a mortgage of 1550, and a huge college debt already incurred for me. OUR EFC IS 45 thousand? 45K WHAT. Just what??? . Help. I figure we can give 8-10k for college. I can't understand this at all.

I am freaking out. I tried to review the form but I see no place to enter family expenses, parents other educational loans, or etc. Can someone explain how this nonsense works? 45 k is like 1/3 our income or almost half after taxes and tuition.
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Replies to: omg help with fafsa-- what am I doing wrong.

  • aunt beaaunt bea Registered User Posts: 9,228 Senior Member
    FAFSA=Free Application for FEDERAL Student Aid.

    This federal application is sent to the universities.
    Based on your income, you don't qualify for federal aid. FWIW: Most people don't qualify for federal aid. The income bar is set really, really low. Federal aid won't give you much; it is basically a Pell Grant and Loans. Current Pell Grants run at $6K per year.
    The FAFSA information then gets sent to the universities. It's up to them to decide what paperwork you need to fill out. If your children applied to CSS schools, that's where you would fill out some of your expenditures for education.

    The universities then put together packages and send those out, based on what your children may qualify for in funding. With an income of $157K, you may not qualify for much, unless there are significant medical expenses.

    The universities don't have a lot of funding and will not supplement college debts and expenses.
  • gearmomgearmom Registered User Posts: 3,885 Senior Member
    edited March 13
    @mhop72 They don't take into account debt. 45K is considered coverable in theory by taking 1/3 from savings, 1/3 from salary and 1/3 loans. Now the reality is that might not be your family situation. Consider starting kiddo at a community college or a gap year to work and save. For middle income families, expect nothing in financial aid besides the Stafford loan ($5500 Freshman, $6500 Sophomore, $7500 Junior/Seniors years.

    Also there is no reason to HAVE to spend 45k per year at a school. Your instate options will be cheaper. Do you have a state flagship kiddo could commute to? What can you afford per year. Start there and that will determine the schools that can be applied to.

    EDIT I see that you can afford 8-10 k per year. With a Stafford, Your college budget is 13k-15k per year. Kiddo can probably earn 2K each summer. Maybe, you get to 15-17k. Start at a community college or commute because you can afford just tuition. Those are the options for that price range. You make too much for need based aid. You might possibly try for a very high merit option for schools depending on your kids stats. You have to be flexible for those.
  • gearmomgearmom Registered User Posts: 3,885 Senior Member
    @mhop72 Oh I see you are trying for a private like Brown. I don't think with a base salary of 157K that you will get a lot of need based aid and they do not have merit aid. Did you run the NPC on Brown? What was it?
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 18,608 Senior Member
    Is the tuition for your son for k-12 school and for your daughter currently high school? If so, that is not considered on the FAFSA. Neither is your educational loans or other consumer debt. If you are currently contributing to your 401k, the amount you contribute is added back to your income.

    You are in the 'donut hole', earning too much to pay for a $70k per year school but not 'needy' enough to receive enough FA to get you into the zone where you can pay tuition. Your best bet is to go to a school that offers a lot of merit for high stats or to go to a very inexpensive public school.
  • gearmomgearmom Registered User Posts: 3,885 Senior Member
    @mhop72 Are you in state for RI (both you and your dad Brown alum). Community college would be free and you can then spend everything on a school she transfers to. Then she could move to a more prestigious option for grad school. With 157K, there is the assumption that there have been considerable assets accumulated and savings. Another possibility is if your parents could contribute. You might want to reconsider the private option for your younger child and put that money into a college fund instead. 60k-80k in the college fund rather than high school will make a big difference with his college options. They should also consider working and saving each summer. They could have another 8k available that way.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Forum Champion Financial Aid, Forum Champion Alabama Posts: 83,798 Forum Champion
    edited March 13
    Why are you just filling out FAFSA now?? And you still have to fill out CSS profile. CSS will determine how much institutional aid you qualify for. FAFSA is just fed aid which isn’t much at all.

    The American taxpayer isn’t going to fund your child’s college or really most children’s college costs. Can you blame us? Do you want to pay for other $70k+ earning people’s children to go to college? Imagine what your taxes would be if that were the case?? (And low income students don’t get much from the feds either....just $6k or less)

    Did you run the NPC on brown’s website and the npc on other schools’ websites? If not, do that now to get an idea of how much aid you’d get.

    What financial safety schools did your child apply to? Those are schools that you know for sure that you have all costs covered from assured merit scholarships and family funds and maybe a small student loan.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 70,475 Senior Member
    With $157,000 income, I would think that $45,000 EFC per FAFSA is about right.

    Is your kiddo a HS senior NOW? It looks like it from your other posts. If so...the 2018-2019 FAFSA was available for completion and submission on October 1.

    The FAFSA does NOT consider consumer debt...mortgages, other debt, college debt, none of that. You could have put a comment about that on your Profile (I see your kiddo applied to Brown...and that school uses the Profile), but really, your consumer debt is viewed as a choice...and colleges don’t consider it.

    Do you own a business? Are you self employed?

    Did you run the net price calculators on the college websites your kiddo was considering for applications?

    Did your kiddo apply to any schools where he would receive excellent merit aid?

  • scmom12scmom12 Registered User Posts: 2,940 Senior Member
    Yep that’s about where we were and even without debt OP has we laughed at spending that much. And we didn’t. @mhop72 the fact is that any expenditures you have are considered a choice of how to spend your money including k-12 tuition and credit card stuff and the size house you have mortgage on, etc. It may not seem fair but there are people who (if that mattered) would buy a car or second home to “look” poor. For instance, We looked at private school at one point but realized it was better to just live in district where happy with schools since over time we would have spent approximately 30k a year just during HS for two Ds.

    As someone mentioned, schools using CSS will look at mortgages and the expense side. But some of them Also want to know about the number of cars your own and if you have money from grandparents and stuff like that.

    You are not alone in your surprise. It’s sad that people don’t know to look at this stuff when kids are younger and there would be time to change how money is spent. Sometimes life happens and there are no choices but sometimes there are.
  • BreakfastClub1BreakfastClub1 Registered User Posts: 172 Junior Member
    edited March 13
    @mhop72 You state that you pay $14K for your D for HS but only can pay $8-10K for college. I assume you get some type of HS price break for stating that or you would have $14K to put towards college. The EFC sounds accurate even though you have high educational expenses. Sending kids to private schools prior to college is by choice, not a requirement. Please understand, we have chosen that route also at catholic/Jesuit schools ourselves. Last year, we had three in a Jesuit HS and one in elementary catholic school. Your daughter needs to understand the situation and parents need to be realistic on what they can afford. D should have some safety schools where her stats are high at, she may receive decent merit money. I had an obnoxious amount of debt after college because I had little guidance from anyone. Since you are still paying on loans, the last thing you want is additional amounts of loans for yourself. Also, based on your experience, you should guide your daughter on ways to avoid high debt because of college. There are lots of great schools out there and you should look at multiple less expensive options.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 70,475 Senior Member
    Right...if you are currently paying $14,000 for private high school...can’t that same amount be spend for college each year.

  • gearmomgearmom Registered User Posts: 3,885 Senior Member
    @BreakfastClub1 If DS moves on to that private high school and they now have to pay 14k rather than 4k for him in addition to her college, then there is no 14k available. It is too late for high merit schools this year. I doubt those Midwestern inexpensive schools would be acceptable for a kid who has had an expensive private k-12 education. Private k-12 education has used up your family resources. To be frank, it doesn't seem at all affordable for your family if you want to send them to college. In order to perpetuate a cycle of elite education, someone has to make a significant amount of money. Places like Brown are now only affordable to the wealthy or poor or those who have saved from birth. You might want to gap year and look at Canadian options for a better value. @DadTwoGirls You really should withdraw DS from the private system and use all your family resources for college which might be your state option.
  • gearmomgearmom Registered User Posts: 3,885 Senior Member
    @thumper1 Not if they plan to spend 14k on DS's high school. Private high school is not affordable for this family. I let my family members know early on (125-200k range) to expect NOTHING in financial need aid. You have to gun for merit.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 8,883 Senior Member
    OP- what are your commutable options?
  • sixkids6sixkids6 Registered User Posts: 16 Junior Member
    The sticker price is always a shock. We still have daycare/ afterschool care costs for our younger two of about $12,000/ year. I have always wondered if there are other parents out there facing daycare and college costs at the same time - could not find anything on CC about daycare costs (lol!). Unlike private school, daycare is not really an option if one has to work! But I would imagine that Brown has very good FA. I would wait and see what you are offered before getting too nervous. Our son's college was very understanding. We had to send in the extra documentation, but we received more than FAFSA would have given us. That might be the case for you, or maybe your D's private high school would lower their price tag next year. Private schools don't like to lose their students any more than colleges do.
  • sixkids6sixkids6 Registered User Posts: 16 Junior Member
    And I should add, the amount seems about right. We earn just under $140,000 and have six kids (but we don't live in a high-cost-of-living area like Boston, San Fran, or CT etc.) and our FAFSA EFC was $ 24,000 (but interestingly I used the Yale calculator for kicks and we only had an EFC of $8,000 there, which is why I think Brown might actually expect less than your actual FAFSA EFC. Sadly, son did not apply there).
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