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If I get married can I go to college for free?

BigTeaBigTea Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
One of the ways to declare independency on the fafsa is to be married. My girlfriend and I are stuck in very similar situations - our fathers make enough money to not to recieve any aid but have many other expenses and cannot afford to pay for us. They also have horrible credit and cant get any loans. I have figured out my situation for freshmen year, I have to commute nearly entirely on loans, but this is completely over extending my financial means. My girlfriend is a year younger and we are both intelligent for our ages, but we cant seem to understand how our financial future already looks this bleak! If we get married can we declare ourselves independent for next year and recieve the need based aid that we actually need?
Post edited by BigTea on

Replies to: If I get married can I go to college for free?

  • sk8rmomsk8rmom Registered User Posts: 5,746 Senior Member
    Being married may reduce your EFC, but it doesn't mean you'd go to college for free. The income protection allowance for independent students is lower than that for parents (only $7K if your spouse is enrolled at least half time) and income above the standard allowances is assessed at 50%. Even if your EFC was close to 0, it would only guarantee you a Pell grant, perhaps an ACG, and whatever your state gives for low income grants. If you're at a school that gaps, they will still gap you.

    Also, you should be aware that some schools will not allow you to change your dependent status after you enroll. Check with your school to find out their policy.

    If you have the stats to garner merit aid, I would suggest postponing your start at a college you can't afford and reapplying to some schools that will give you substantial merit money. I know it's not ideal, but marraige and debt will both be with you for a very long time...it's better to slow down and make smart choices now.
  • scottaascottaa Registered User Posts: 1,037 Senior Member
    sk8rmom does a good job of giving you the cons, but there are pros.

    My younger sister was in this very position when she and her husband went through school (albeit under less than favorable conditions). It worked out very well for them.

    Talk to your school's FA office and see what they say. Definitely check on other schools as well.
  • dntw8updntw8up Registered User Posts: 1,594 Senior Member
    Many schools will want to know how two young married students are supporting themselves. Schools have great latitude in the information they can request to determine who gets scarce financial aid dollars. The only automatic aid is the grants sk8rmom mentioned and some loans. Whether to award you aid money to fill the gap is at a school's discretion. If married students are not self-supporting, schools may infer that the students married to try to game the system, which is something schools are unlikely to reward with additional aid.
  • SlitheyToveSlitheyTove Registered User Posts: 6,332 Senior Member
    There've been several discussions about this in the last few weeks. There are many expenses you'll need to consider: for starters, you'll probably need/want to live together, rather than living with your families. You'll need to get medical insurance, rather than be covered under your parents' plans. There may be other resources at home like use of a family car, landline/cell phone service, laundry machines, cable tv. You'll need to be prepared to find alternatives or do without. It's likely you were planning on working part time to help with college bills, but both of you will need to work in order to pay for many different expenses. Keep in mind that your EFC may be lower, but that doesn't necessarily mean you'll receive more grants. Many schools may just offer you more loans.

    It's not clear if your girlfriend is also starting college, or if she'll be finishing high school. If she's a high school senior this year, getting married to help you go to school could seriously limit HER choices. What if she's smart enough and has the GPA and test scores to get admission to and merit money at some other school in a year's time, far away from where you're living?

    One more thing you won't want to hear. Though many young marriages flourish, many don't. Breaking up with a girlfriend/boyfriend is awful enough in your late teens. Ending a marriage is not only emotionally harsh, it also means legal fees and paperwork. It doesn't sound like you'd be considering marriage right now if your families were able to pay for college, or if you qualified for aid. Marrying just to get aid, without even being sure if you'd really get more aid because of the marriage, doesn't seem like the strongest foundation for a marriage. Like I said, you won't want to hear this, but it's another important factor to consider.
  • TrinSFTrinSF Registered User Posts: 1,482 Senior Member
    I keep writing about this! To sum up: don't do it! I'm not telling you as a parent or something, I'm telling you as someone who got married for FA purposes when she was 20. It *seems* like a good idea, but it's not. Go look for the other threads where I've written about it, or ask me in PM and I can tell you all the *many* reasons why.

    It's not worth it. I'm like, the Driver's Ed film of Getting Married for Aid, and I'm telling you straight out, not worth it.
  • calmomcalmom Registered User Posts: 18,620 Senior Member
    I actually checked into this at my daughter's school, out of curiosity -- ("what would happen if?"....) -- and it turned out that her college's financial aid office had a policy that they wouldn't change status for a student who got married after starting college. In other words, since my d. entered as a dependent, single student... that's how her aid package would be evaluated in subsequent years, even if she got married for real.

    So it probably won't solve your money problems.
  • garlandgarland Registered User Posts: 15,038 Senior Member
    I'm not saying it's a good idea, (it in most cases is not). However, as a point of fact, as far as the FA's office's view, if it is a FAFSA only school, they follow the FAFSA guidelines. And FAFSA changes your status at any point in your college career should your circumstances change. I've seen many students who get married while attending the FAFSA only private I work at be changed to independent status. I've seen that also for students who become parents (not that I'm recommending that, either....)
  • scottaascottaa Registered User Posts: 1,037 Senior Member
    It's one of those "don't make your decision based upon this, but you need to know the impact" kind of decisions.
  • sun_shinesun_shine Registered User Posts: 162 Junior Member
    Do you really want to get married just because of FA???
    I bet I can predict your marital status for your future!!
  • NorthstarmomNorthstarmom Registered User Posts: 24,853 Senior Member
    From other threads, I see that you college is U Mass. Amherst. It's not among the small group of colleges that guarantee to meet 100% of students' demonstrated financial need. The colleges that make such a guarantee are places like HPYS, which are among the nation's hardest colleges to gain entrance to.

    Virtually all public universities (with the exception of, I believe U Va. and UNC) lack the resources to meet 100% of students' financial need.

    I think that if you marry as an attempt to get more financial aid, you'll find yourself in a worse situation than you are now. That's because you'll have to pay for insurance and other costs that now your parents are picking up. And you are unlikely to get anywhere near the financial aid you'd need for college.
  • LobzzLobzz Registered User Posts: 1,970 Senior Member
    ^ Exactly! Dont get married, man. haha. You sly fox.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 63,509 Senior Member
    Please...don't get married just for the financial benefits for college. Please. First, you should marry for reasons other than this. Second, your financial situation could still be very disappointing.
  • KeilexandraKeilexandra Registered User Posts: 5,492 Senior Member
    ^^^ Actually, the University of Delaware is FAFSA-only and guarantees to meet 100% of in-state financial need. I think UMich also meets 100% of in-state need.

    Of course, this doesn't help the OP much unless he happens to live in those states. Going to UMass, I presume he lives in MA.
  • sk8rmomsk8rmom Registered User Posts: 5,746 Senior Member
    BigTea, can you find out if UMass tends to meet all/most of the calculated need for low EFC kids? I know some of our instate publics (SUNY) do as they have extra state and other grants they award. They don't "guarantee" to meet need, but frequently come pretty close. If you're serious about going this route, you definitely need to figure out if this would be true for you and your girlfriend as well.
  • applicannotapplicannot Registered User Posts: 4,366 Senior Member
    At even some top schools, the no-loans, 100% need policy is ONLY for dependent students. So you may not get a good financial aid package after all.
This discussion has been closed.