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25, No Income, Financial Aid, COVID-19?

mareepmareep 4 replies1 threads New Member
Hello! I am a 25 year old female and for the past 2 years I was traveling and living abroad with my own money that I earned.

Therefore, I was not in the United States to file taxes or earn money from working since 2018.

My parents still file me under their taxes as dependent, but after I turn 26 next year they cannot do so.


I returned and decided to continue college to finish my remaining 2 years to get a Bachelors.

I currently still have no job due to COVID-19 so my parents are supporting me to pay for college. I live at home with them so I also have no bills to pay and they support me fully.


However we are not rich by any means, but more so lower middle class. When I applied for FAFSA as a dependent in the past, we never qualified because we are right at the cut off line for who qualifies and who does not.

Now my dad is retired but still works 2 nights a week, but the amount my parents earn is much less.


I need Financial Aid to go to college and I do not want to take loans because it will be too difficult for me to pay back in my situation and with my future career choice (in art).



Since I'm technically an "independent" due to my age, I'm wondering if it will it affect my eligibility.



How can I fill out the form to maximize my potential in receiving aid?

And

Should I still file as dependent due to my parents still claiming me on taxes?
Or should I file as independent because I'm 25?

Im not sure which one would allow me to receive more support money :(



Thank you very much in advance for your advice!
24 replies
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Replies to: 25, No Income, Financial Aid, COVID-19?

  • happymomof1happymomof1 30834 replies198 threads Senior Member
    Your post is not clear about your income situation while abroad. Were you earning money then, or were you travelling with money you had saved from previous earnings? If you did earn money while abroad, then you most likely should have been filing tax returns each year (chances are that you wouldn't have owed any money, you just would have needed to file the paperwork). Yes, your parents might still have been able to claim you as a dependent. If you and/or your parents need to re-do anything, read up on Form 1040x.

    You are independent for financial aid purposes because of your age. Your tax status has nothing to do with that. Fill out the FAFSA with only your information. Expect to be flagged for verification.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 3497 replies80 threads Senior Member
    Once you turn 26 you can file your own "zero return". It should be free to do that.

    @kelsmom may be able to tell you whether either makes a difference to aid. My guess is you are going to end up with some loans. Free rides are very difficult to come by, especially for transfer students.
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  • mareepmareep 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Hello thank you for your quick reply :)

    No I was not earning any money abroad or at all for 2 years straight, therefore did not file for taxes. I used only money I saved from working before 2018.


    I see, so if I do get flagged for verification, do you have an idea of what they would need from me to verify?

    Do no income independent students like me even qualify to receive anything?
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  • mareepmareep 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Oh thank you, I will look into zero return!

    I'm new to this site, do you know how I could contact @kelsmom about this?
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 24951 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Since you were over 19 and not a full time student, it may be your parents should not have taken you as a dependent. It would have depended on how much you made (the max is about $4000) and whether they supported you. The credit for a dependent over 17 is only a $500 credit, so it may be worth it for you and your parents to do amended returns.
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10376 replies72 threads Senior Member
    edited July 5
    Do no income independent students like me even qualify to receive anything?
    It depends on where you apply. Some schools may have some funding. With the COVID situation, schools will be tight for funding.
    Assume that your package will come with loans. I echo @Groundwork2022, Full rides are almost non-existent except for a few entering HS freshman or recruited athletes.

    Edited to add: I would suggest that you find a part time job to help your parents with your expenses. You will need cash to pay for your incidentals and your required health insurance. Because of your age, you won’t be eligible for insurance under your parents insurer. Assume $3-5K per year. This cost is generally not covered by the schools.
    edited July 5
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  • mareepmareep 4 replies1 threads New Member
    I see, yes health insurance is something that has been worrying me. I'm planning to start my own online business but will probably need to find a part time job on top of it.
    I was hoping to get some financial aid or apply for scholarships, but if not I guess it will have to be out of pocket.

    Thank you for your comment :blush:
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10376 replies72 threads Senior Member
    Financial aid is specific to the university fees and tuition but does not cover your health insurance. Financial aid, as a transfer, is usually limited to loans and small grants. Most students worry about covering the tuition first, and trying to get their financial aid to stretch to cover some of the tuition costs.

    The school generally will bill you for health insurance, through the University’s suggested plan. It is not covered by any grants because grants are generally limited to actual tuition and fees of education. Scholarships are generally and mostly small and won’t cover the cost of the health fees.
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  • mareepmareep 4 replies1 threads New Member
    Oh I never heard about schools billing for health insurance.
    I'm under my mom's insurance until next year. So I guess they will bill me when I turn 26.
    But what if I choose not to have health insurance if I can't afford it?

    And i'm not a transfer, I'm continuing at the same college I've been going to, I just took 2 years off to travel :smile:
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10376 replies72 threads Senior Member
    edited July 5
    At most schools, if you choose not to have health insurance, the health services office will put a hold on your record so that you won’t be able to register for classes until something is resolved-especially since COVID.

    If you only have two years of classes left, then you’re going to have to ask your parents to cover your health insurance fees out of pocket.

    Our daughter aged out this year, but is in a medical school program. My husband‘s company offered COBRA coverage for her, since she’s 26 and they’re willing to have us cover her through COBRA.

    The health insurance offered by her medical school is a lot cheaper than the COBRA coverage, so she’s going to pay for that.
    edited July 5
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 24951 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Health insurance requirements vary with state and school. For both my kids, one in school in Florida and one in Wyoming, I could just check a box that we didn't want the health insurance. Neither school checked. We bought the insurance in Florida because she was an athlete, but didn't buy the insurance in Wyoming because she was covered in Colorado and it is a short trip to the nearest Colorado medical services.

    Since you already have a relationship with the school, contact the FA office and ask them all these questions.
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  • kelsmomkelsmom 16155 replies99 threads Senior Member
    edited July 5
    You will be eligible for federal aid as an independent student. Since you did not earn money, you will indicate that you had 0 income. If you are selected for verification, as you probably will be, you just tell the truth about living off your savings. Unless you still have a significant amount of savings, you will most likely be eligible for a Pell Grant & possibly for SEOG (a federal grant allocated by the school). You will be eligible for federal loans. Depending on the school, you may or may not be offered institutional grants or scholarships.

    As for health insurance, many (not all) schools do require their students to have health insurance coverage. If you don’t have your own, you may be required to purchase their insurance. At the school where I most recently worked, our students were required to sign an affidavit certifying that they had insurance or be automatically billed by the school for the school health plan. Some schools (or the insurance company that provide their student insurance) will collect the health insurance information when a student says they have insurance & will actually audit it to make sure they really do have it. If they don’t, the school will put the student on their health plan and charge the student.

    Many of our independent students qualified for Medicaid, which they used instead of our student insurance plan. It was easy for them to sign up. (We are an expanded Medicaid state.)

    You should never go without health insurance. It’s really important.
    edited July 5
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  • thumper1thumper1 78481 replies3537 threads Senior Member
    edited July 5
    You will need to complete a non-filers statement for your college. This verifies that you had no income in 2018...and why.

    Being independent for financial aid purposes will net you any portion of the Pell Grant which you are entitled to receive. If your EFC turns out to really be $0, that’s about $6000. It would also give you additional Direct Loan money...but you seem to think you shouldn’t take loans.

    How were you paying for college before you left on your long vacation? Will your parents contribute as they did in the past? Does your college meet full need for all?

    My opinion...you need to find an affordable college to complete your degree. This might mean you have to take the Direct Loan to pay your costs to attend.

    You took a two year traveling trip. That cost money. Think about that for a bit.

    There is no college money fairy out there...and someone needs to pay your college costs.

    edited July 5
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10376 replies72 threads Senior Member
    My daughter also traveled to Europe and Asia, but tied it to academic experiences, finding internships and learning/taking languages that would be credited at her university and would help her translation skills in her clinics. She didn't travel for two years though, because that would have been too expensive.
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  • CollegeMamb0CollegeMamb0 96 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Yes it was not a great financial decision to use up savings for travel and not earn anything to replenish it.

    But I have also made poor decisions in the past, often because not all the information was available to me, or out of a reaction, so don't beat yourself up.

    Now is time to focus on repairing the situation, and flexibility is needed on your part. I'm assuming traveling (solo?) for two years taught you how to be adaptable and to persevere: now it's time to apply those skills.

    The end game is to get a degree and minimize your debt. I feel you may have to commute to your local 4 year college and take classes part time: a Pell and SEOG and federal loans, this might just cover tuition, and you will need to earn money to pay for everything else.
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  • thumper1thumper1 78481 replies3537 threads Senior Member
    edited July 6
    If this student plans to start college this fall 2020, it’s probably too late for SEOG which has limited funding and is awarded on a first come first serve basis (so those applying last October are first in line).

    And she doesn’t want to take federal loans...

    So that leaves her with finding a college that cost $6000 a year or so. All inclusive.

    What about working full time for the year (if she can find a job), living at home and saving the money to pay for college. Or working two years and then returning. Or working full time and taking classes part time.

    It sounds like the OP is looking for options to fully fund their college education to finish their bachelors. Maybe they could clarify that.

    ETA. If the OP is 25, he or she started traveling at age 23. But had only completed two years of college between ages 18 and 23? Why.
    edited July 6
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  • austinmshauriaustinmshauri 9982 replies386 threads Senior Member
    I currently still have no job due to COVID-19 so my parents are supporting me to pay for college. I live at home with them so I also have no bills to pay and they support me fully....

    When I applied for FAFSA as a dependent in the past, we never qualified because we are right at the cut off line for who qualifies and who does not.

    Now my dad is retired but still works 2 nights a week, but the amount my parents earn is much less.

    I need Financial Aid to go to college and I do not want to take loans because it will be too difficult for me to pay back in my situation and with my future career choice (in art).

    What state are you in? Is there a college within commuting distance that you can attend? Living at home will cut your expenses. You may have to work full-time and take classes as you can afford them.

    What do you plan to do with an art degree? If you can't earn enough to make the relatively small monthly student loan repayment maybe you should rethink your career choice. Is there something that you can combine it with that might allow you to support yourself better? If you want to run your own business maybe add that major to the mix.
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10376 replies72 threads Senior Member
    edited July 6
    @mareep, what are your parents saying?
    Are they concerned about the expense? Can they afford to help you pay for your education, health insurance and future housing?
    (As the parent of three adult children, my children are constantly calling and asking for advice, or pointers, on how to approach issues. They are all self-reliant, but it’s good to hear that they use Mom and Dad as a sounding board.)
    Do you even need an Art degree? What media will be your focus?
    Some community colleges have great vocational training programs that wouldn’t cost as much and could set you up for future income to support yourself.
    I don’t think you should rely on the university to fully fund your education at this point. The schools just don’t have that kind of money now.
    edited July 6
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  • Sapphire GSapphire G 31 replies0 threads Junior Member
    No one wants to take out student loans but most students do.

    Sounds like you need to get through 2 years which is obviously less than 4 so less money in loans.
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