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FAFSA wrong in what a family can afford? Oh gee, what a shock

jym626jym626 55996 replies2916 threads Senior Member
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/15/your-money/fafsa-financial-aid-student-loans.html
“It’s a very harsh assessment of the ability to pay,” said Mark Kantrowitz, a financial-aid expert and publisher of Savingforcollege.com. “The assumptions they are using to calculate all of this have no connection to reality.”

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Replies to: FAFSA wrong in what a family can afford? Oh gee, what a shock

  • thumper1thumper1 75458 replies3308 threads Senior Member
    This article also assumes that parents don’t realize that their kids might go to college when they are born, and either plan accordingly financially, have a way to pay out of current income, or choose less costly options.
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  • OhiBroOhiBro 353 replies6 threads Member
    Some great points already made.

    Also, people that are shocked by the EFC can’t / shouldn’t assume that they would get a generous aid package if the EFC were much lower. If the EFC were much lower, it would be much lower for many families, and there simply wouldn’t be enough aid money for everyone.
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  • twogirlstwogirls 7371 replies7 threads Senior Member
    edited November 17
    A friend of mine sent her daughter to an OOS flagship that was very pricey...even with merit. Her younger D was also entering an expensive OOS flagship, and my friend insisted that she would be paying what her fafsa EFC indicated for 2 in school. She didn’t believe me when I told her she would be full pay for the younger one (unless she received some merit).

    Surprise!!!!
    edited November 17
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  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 13100 replies244 threads Senior Member
    Ms. Phipps, 53, said she and her husband, Andy, were stunned at what they were expected to pay.

    (next paragraph)

    “If we were paying our expected family contribution, we would be thrilled,”

    I'm sorry, what?
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9078 replies337 threads Senior Member
    Residential college is a luxury. If families don't have a cc or 4-year school within commuting distance then I understand the challenge. But it seems like plenty of people turn their noses up at the commuter options then get bent out of shape when their favorite colleges don't make the residential options affordable. How many states truly have unworkable options (either due to expense or distance) for their residents?
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34763 replies391 threads Senior Member
    edited November 17
    Don't choose a Mercedes if every cent is allocated to other expenses. Don't assume the EFC is the end of your research. What made them think Mass College of Art would fund their full need? I often think people spend more time analyzing car costs than college, which is a lot more.

    Their wording, "The Office of Student Financial Assistance at Massachusetts College of Art and Design is committed to helping students and their families get the resources needed to fund each student's education," is same as the old Boston U phrasing. Yeah, we'll help *you* get the resources. NOT, "We will make it affordable out of our own resources."

    Sorry, but Caveat Emptor.
    Notice, not a word in the article about the Net Price Calculators.
    edited November 17
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  • thumper1thumper1 75458 replies3308 threads Senior Member
    Agree...most often these articles focus on tuition only. That’s fine if one is within commuting distance.

    And really...in most cases, the net price calculator is your friend.

    Why did this family pick a college that was marginally affordable at enrollment but way not affordable for the subsequent terms? That’s like having the down payment for a car or house, and not being able to meet the monthly payments. The car would be repossessed, and the house would be foreclosed upon if payments couldn’t be made.

    If the family doesn’t have a way to fund college for the four years...it’s not affordable.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78957 replies701 threads Senior Member
    edited November 17
    How many states truly have unworkable options (either due to expense or distance) for their residents?

    Many or most states have regions which have poor commuting access to public universities -- typically rural areas (ask @HeartofDixie ). Also, some regions may have commuting access only to highly selective public universities that most potential commuter students cannot get admitted to (e.g. northern Santa Barbara County and southern San Luis Obispo County in California).

    Some majors may also be commuting-inaccessable to much of the state (e.g. much of Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh cannot reasonably commute to study engineering majors at public universities).

    Residential college is a luxury for most, but not everyone has doable commute options to their in state public universities. In states with strong-for-transfer-prep community colleges, that can help some students commute for two years before having to go residential for two, but not all states have good community colleges for this purpose.
    edited November 17
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34763 replies391 threads Senior Member
    They're digging into their full savings to pay now. Looking at adding private loans later.

    Nothing learned? Nada? Unable to say no? And one disabled parent.

    That's what's sad. The lifelong burdens. They had other options.
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 9898 replies64 threads Senior Member
    edited November 18
    This family continues to make mistakes by draining their accounts and planning on loans to fund an art school. Animation is big in California, but the studios are known to employ people from Community colleges who have 2 year degrees in animation.

    ROI does not sound too swift on the part of the family.

    Not to nitpick, but . . . . . . they included adding $6K in loan expenses for their son's future braces. Who takes out a full loan for braces?

    My kids went through the braces stage. We had prepared with some savings "just in case" and we did investigate when the need arose:
    With the first child, we learned that we could take advantage of a partial "share of cost" for braces with paying a bit more in the premium of the insurance through my husband's company.
    When the second child came along with the need for braces, we were prepared and raised the amount of the premium to cover more costs. Third child didn't need braces.

    Also, my kids had different orthodontists but we never paid in full, until the braces were off. The charges were divided over the life of the braces.
    I didn't realize braces had increased in cost to $6K. We paid less than $2K for the first child and around $2K+ for the second child. That's the total of the costs with the premium insurance covering about 60%.
    edited November 18
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  • gardenstategalgardenstategal 5932 replies10 threads Senior Member
    It's tough. I know someone who works in FA at a prep school who had a family explain that the country club membership was a necessity as the rest of the family, not just the student, relied on it for their quality of life. Imho, there's a choice to be made if you can't afford both.

    But I am also very sympathetic to families who live in high cost areas, often out of necessity (because of jobs, schools, for example.) It's super hard to amass savings when the rent/mortgage on postage stamp real estate is exorbitant (and getting out of the tiny home is a necessity but always involves spending money on something), etc. Having a chunk of money set aside for college isn't always possible.

    Often, areas with higher wages also have even higher cost of living. I agree that there are also often affordable options. I also don't think many parents know what the costs are until they get close to having to pay it. And really, at that point, it's late!
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