At what level of income should you forgo the FASFA

<p>I have talked to a few parents who have told us the FASFA was not worth filling out. They got no financial aid. At what level of income would you recommend not filling out the FASFA?</p>

<p>We knew going in that we'd not be eligible for financial aid, but we did the FAFSA because several of the scholarships (merit) out there -- including some of the universities our kids applied to -- require the FAFSA for merit aid considerations, too.</p>


<p>Filing of FAFSA was required for merit aid award at S's school. The form takes me about 15 minutes to complete, once I have compiled info on all of our financials. I think it's always worth it (S would not qualify for any need-based finaid because of a hefty college fund we've built over the 19 years).</p>

<p>Filing of FAFSA is required if you are interested in the unsubsidized Stafford loans, which are available to all students, regardless of income.</p>

<p>I concur...what little time FAFSA took to complete was worth it. Many scholarships wanted information provided from it. It's not really time consuming and you never know.</p>

<p>I was thinking of blowing it off as well until I saw some statistics like these:</p>

<p>Oberlin</a> College :: Office of Financial Aid :: Overview</p>

<p>and realized that people at and above my income level were getting need based aid.</p>

<p>I always suggest that folks complete the financial aid applications. I agree with the points raised above. Also...we all hope we will not have any kind of catastrophic financial issue (loss of income, large medical expenses, etc), but sadly this happens each year to many folks. If you want the school to consider you for additional aid mid-year, you need to have these forms on file. Then you would need to send in the information that shows how your income has been affected. If you don't have the FAFSA (and Profile or school form if needed) already on file, you will have to complete them for reconsideration of need based aid. Simply put, the LAST thing you will want to do if you are in such a situation is fill out these forms. Do it now. It doesn't take long...and you don't lose anything by filling them out.</p>

<p>Agree with all of the above, I learned with my first that many schools use the FAFSA for distribution of merit dollars. We required Stafford loans for the kids to have skin in the game and the FAFSA made that part very painless as they were already "in the system." I agree with Thumper1 regarding future financial situations. Also, I wanted to add that I did not find the FAFSA invasive nor did I feel that it contained much information that the government didn't already have or couldn't ascertain from our tax filings. I felt differently regarding the profile which I felt drilled down on the numbers more.</p>

<p>I don't think we'd qualify for financial aid based on combined annual income (naturally, this is the first year we are doing so well) but I agree it makes sense to file the forms for all the reasons stated above. </p>

<p>How do you answer the questions on applications relating to whether or not you are applying for financial aid? Since the motivation for filing is not reflective of pure financial need, how do you convey that on the application? Also, could filing a FAFSA delay or even compromise merit aid offers?</p>


<p>^I think that is a very good question, and am interested in others' perspectives on this. In our case, I knew we would not get aid and did not want to risk losing an acceptance by virtue of checking the FA box in order to get the unsubsidized Stafford (I know schools say "need-blind," but some people dispute the veracity of this), so AFTER D was accepted, I called the FA Office and explained that we wanted the unsub. Stafford, and was told to complete the FAFSA.</p>

<p>Filling out a FAFSA does not necessarily mean that you are going to apply for financial aid from the school, so you could file it and then decide how you want to answer the question of whether you are applying for need-based financial aid at a particular school on a case-by-case basis. Many schools do not have a need-blind admissions policy, which means that someone who would need a lot of aid to attend is going to have a harder time getting admitted at those schools than someone who is able to pay full tuition.</p>

<p>The aid decision is usually made on the basis of income, assets and the amount(s) you may be paying to other colleges, so do not be so quick to assume that you will not qualify just because your combined income has recently spiked. (Of course, if current income is REALLY high you will still get nothing.) I was very surprised that there were more than 400 families with kids at Oberlin who were getting need-based aid in large amounts despite having combined income over $100k.</p>

<p>As others have reported, NOT filing a FAFSA could certainly delay or eliminate the possibility of merit aid at some schools. I find it difficult to come up with a scenario under which filing a FAFSA but not seeking need based aid from a given school would hurt your chances of merit aid from that school in any way. If they truly have need-blind admissions, it should not matter one way or the other. If they do not have need-blind admissions or say they do and act otherwise, your willingness to forego need-based aid from the institution would serve to increase your chances of acceptance, and you have to be accepted for them to offer merit aid.</p>

<p>EDIT: OK, thinking about it I did come up with one potential scenario. If a college that is need aware (whether or not they admit it) gets applications from two students who are similar in every way except that one comes from a family whose EFC is, say $50,000 for one kid in college and the other comes from a family whose EFC would be way over $99,999 if it went any higher. The school, having cost of attendance of say $40,000 might reason that a $10K merit scholarship would not influence the decision of the wealthier family as much as it would the other so they accept both and award the scholarship where they think it may help their yield figure. In that case, unless you are the super-wealthy one who really could afford to pay full boat, filing the FAFSA still helps.</p>



<p>Actually, I'm not sure the finaid applications care about the amounts you pay to other colleges. They don't ask for amounts...only to list who also will be attending college (don't even ask where). </p>

<p>DS went from a very expensive (very) private university to a state funded conservatory. Costs were 1/3 of the private cost. Our EFC for both kids remained the same despite the difference in costs.</p>

<p>It is always a good idea to do the FAFSA regardless of income, because it is needed for federal student loans, parents plus loans, outside scholarships, merit aid and any consideration for school grants and scholarships. You will not even be considered for any of it without it. It is even easier and painless to fill it out online, so it is worth the 15-20 minutes it takes to do it.
It also give the FA office something to work with as far as the COA when they send your Package and outline what your sources will be to help finance your child's education. These packages then are normally renewable every year as long as your FAFSA remains relatively the same.
You are not required to accept any of the offers or suggestions, but it is good to have in hand when deciding which school to attend.</p>

<p>I have a contrarian view on this one.</p>

<p>For some families, filling out the FAFSA is not easy or painless, but time-consuming and exasperating - especially if one or both parents has a small business. Around here, people who have one small business often have a second or third, since they put together several jobs or kinds of work to make one full income. People in this situation have told me that it took them 2-3 days to work on their FAFSA, and it was worse than doing their taxes because it was so unfamiliar.</p>

<p>I'm also not convinced by the scenario of needing the FAFSA to be already in the system in case you lose a job. The FAFSA filing period is open throughout the academic year, so you can file it even after the school year has started if you have a sudden need for a Stafford or PLUS loan. But I'd really like to hear from a financial aid officer if this scenario isn't right!</p>

<p>Finally, on the issue of needing a FAFSA for merit aid, the schools that require it will spell it out on their web sites. So you'll be able to know in advance if you have to fill it out for scholarships at any of the schools on your kid's list.</p>

<p>The threshold for when it's not worth it to apply is unclear, because it depends on the kinds of schools you're applying to as well as your own situation. With one kid in college and no unusual financial circumstances, I'd guess that an income of $200k is a safe boundary for being pretty sure you won't get any need-based aid. But if you have a younger child in private high school, another kid in college, medical bills, or grandparents you're supporting, and the college is generous with financial aid, it could still be worth it to apply.</p>

<p>Some examples: Princeton's EFC formula seems to be generous to high-income parents, and they have an online estimator you can try out. Macalester has a chart showing some aid to high-income families: Macalester</a> Admissions</p>

<p>thumper, you are correct that the EFC does not change based on the actual amounts paid to other schools. The point I was trying to make (but did not do very well) was that if you have more than one kid in college at the same time, the EFC gets spread across more than one school and you usually wind up getting more combined aid than you would if you were only paying for one.</p>

<p>Both of my kids happen to go to schools that use the Profile in addition to the FAFSA (lucky me) and both schools wanted information on where the sibling was going and how much they got in scholarships the previous year before coming up with their own aid numbers. The FAFSA numbers do not change, but the awards made by individual institutions may very well change depending on where siblings are going and awards that they have previously received. It is certainly possible that some schools may not include this sort of thing in their calculations.</p>

<p>So, if I was Bill Gates, I should still fill this out? Obviously there would not be much need, but why the financial info for merit aid? Don't you have to provide tax returns too? We have friends who filled it out and got nothing. They did not want to take out loans, so they totally recommended to not fill it out.</p>

<p>To further above, would you file if you had income</p>

<p>above $250,000
Above $500,000
Above $750,000</p>

<p>What threshold would it not be worth it?</p>

<p>The main reason is for the subsidized Staffords. It can be difficult for kids to get loans for their college without a co signer. The Stafford is a good route to go. Also some states offer good loans and awards that require FAFSA. Some colleges have merit awards that require FAFSA too even if income is not an important factor or a factor at all to get that money. </p>

<p>If you do not want the Stafford and your school has no merit awards that require the FAFSA, my guess is that around $300k is a threshhold. This is an individual number that you have to back into for a truly accurate range since the number of dependents, age of parents, number of kids in college can have a large impact on threshold. </p>

<p>Also, there are colleges that may eyeball the EFC even if it is above COA. It may be a contributing factor in getting a merit award. A family with a $50K EFC is not in the same league as one with double that amount, and financial aid counselors know that. Even if the student does not technically show need, there may be college funds there to give a little boost where it can do some good. That's why it is difficult to come up with a number.</p>

<p>That threshold will vary depending on a number of things, including the number of kids you have in college (and possibly in other private schools at the elementary and secondary level), whether or not you own a business or farm (which can make filling out the forms much more time consuming), whether or not any of the schools to which your child will apply requires the FAFSA for merit-based aid, whether your child is likely to receive such aid and in what amount, the value you place on your own time and the value you place on keeping one or more colleges unaware of your financial situation.</p>

<p>It is impossible for me to say that if you make $186,547 per year you should fill out a FAFSA but if you make $186,548 you should not. There are simply too many variables involved.</p>

<p>Looked at another way, suppose someone is making $500,000 per year, which comes out to roughly $250 per hour. They can probably afford to pay full price for two or three kids to go anywhere. Yet if just one of their kids would qualify for a $10,000 merit scholarship in return for a couple of hours work filling out some paperwork, the return there is $5000 per hour. That could be a hard hourly rate to turn down even for someone making half a million per year. On the other hand, maybe it is worth turning down the $10,000 if you really don't want the kind of attention you might get for the rest of your life if the school were to find out how much you are making. Then again, if they know you can turn down $10K just like that, they will probably assume that you are pretty wealthy anyway.</p>

<p>In the end, the decision on whether or not to file is an individual one that depends on a lot of personal information that does not belong on a public forum like this one. There are certainly some people who have very little to gain from filling out forms that can take from under an hour to several days worth of work to complete. If you consider yourself in that group then, by all means, do not file a FAFSA. It may just happen that there is more aid available for those who need it and are willing to work to get it.</p>

<p>I agree with Bassdad and cpt - our EFC was basically the same this year and last year, last year we got some aid money for S1, this year we did not. I frankly think it was an enrollment enticement. The time it took me to fill out the FAFSA was well worth to me the $$ I did not have to pay last year. The enticement didn't tip the bucket for his choice, but I felt like it was a thank you to us parents who write the checks. After you've filled out the first FAFSA, the next one is a piece of cake if your circumstances have not significantly changed. Most of our friends did not fill out the form figuring they wouldn't get anything...but I grew up with frugal depression area parents who taught me nothing ventured, nothing gained so it wasn't a difficult decision for us...if you really don't think you're going to leave money on the table don't fill it out. By the way, back in the 70s my frugal depression area parents would not fill out financial aid forms because they knew back then they would not qualify for aid. And very few of any students I knew received "aid" at my private college. Times are very different now and the structure of college financial situations are different. Also, my child's first choice was an FAFSA school where his stats put him in the top 15% and he was geographically desirable... frankly I don't think the majority of profile school would have given us any financial help and I never sent a profile.</p>