Citizen with non citizen parents

You are talking about averages in earnings versus actual debt. Furthermore, we are talking about the OP taking out a loan, on the chance that their son will make that money back, sometime in the future. In the meantime, the OP is dealing with debt in India.

CS is indeed has high paying jobs, regardless of where one does their undergrad, so long as the place is ABET accredited. So going into $250,000 in debt for a perhaps $15,000 a year higher initial paycheck makes no sense at all, especially if that

In general, a CS degree is one of the degrees for which it makes the least sense to go into debt, if a student has an affordable choice.

Since she was already 23, and had a bachelor’s degree and a post-graduate diploma from Indian universities before she went to do her master’s at Yale, and was already working in a well paid job when she was accepted to Yale, I find this to be highly unlikely.

I think this is one of the very worst pieces of advice that I have read here on CC.

I mean, seriously? You are proposing that a retired man take on massive debt, just so his kid can go to a college which may, perhaps, in some cases, provide a chance to make an initial salary which is 10% higher than the initial salary which the son could make if the son attends a college which would not cause the OP to incur heavy debt.

As for “smarts”? Smarts is starting work at the age of 22 without having $280,000 in debt, which will also cost another few hundred thousand dollars in debt.

PS. My wife Is CS faculty, and has advise undergraduates who were going off to the job market for over 15 years. I am surrounded by CS faculty and professionals, and have actually taught engineering undergraduates.


Many people making low incomes are not required to file tax returns. Most do, especially now that many of the tax credits are refundable, but it is not required.

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This parent cannot file a U.S. tax return @twoinanddone . Not citizens and live in India.

But if their income is really below $25,000 a year as stated in the OP, an auto $0 EFC per FAFSA would work at a school like University of Chicago which uses the FAFSA and a very short school form to determine awarding of need based institutional aid.

For other schools that meet full need…the CSS Profile will be required. There is no simplified needs test or auto $0 EFC on that.


If total COA is within 25K, I will pitch in 25% and rest I will let him go on debt either through a bank in India or US.

Your son can’t borrow from US banks without a US citizen cosigner. That’s too much debt anyway. Students shouldn’t take ~$75k of debt for an undergrad degree.


Then the choice is easy: Brigham Young- Provo: #80, COA ~$20K

@thumper1 is correct. It’s not that they aren’t required to file a tax return … it’s that they can’t.

The revised simplified needs formula has some changes that affect some students who might have qualified in the past (e.g., the income threshold is no longer used).

You have 400K in assets, and 25K in investment income. This would interfere with fin aid at all but the most generous schools, not because of the investment income, but because of the 400K in assets.

Because he is luckily a US citizen, if he could get into a school that is generous with financial and/or merit aid, he could probably swing it without help from you. He is in a MUCH better position than international students without US citizenship.

He has very nice grades and SAT, but this probably won’t be enough to get him into a T20 school unless he has some very interesting EC with extraordinarily high achievement.

He has several options. One, take a gap year and move to the US to a state with a low cost of living, and a flagship state U with a good comp sci department. It needs to be a state that gives in-state residence for community college after 6 months, and in-state for flagship state U after 12 months. He works many hours/wk in the best paying job he can get (I’m talking a full time and a part time, probably 60 hrs/wk) while he gets in-state residence. Meanwhile, he takes as many CLEP exams as possible to CLEP out of as many gen ed classes as possible, for free. Take a look at He applies for fin aid for January, goes to a community college with a guaranteed transfer to the flagship state U, at a very fast clip (community college in the US is absurdly easy, so he could take possibly 6-7 classes at a time). He can get $5500/yr in student loans from the federal gov’t without any financial need, and probably more, since your income and assets are relatively low, by US standards. He also would probably get a full tuition scholarship from the community college, since he’s such a good student. He then transfers to the flagship state U after he gets his community college degree - he might be able to transfer with his associate’s degree by the next September, after only a spring and summer semester at the community college, maybe would need as much as 3-4 semesters, depending upon how much CLEP credit he can get. If his grades continue to be excellent, he would likely be given a full tuition scholarship at the flagship state U. Graduates with his Comp Sci degree after two years there, gets a good job, employer pays for his master’s degree. Utah is one state where this is feasible, but there are many others.

Option 2. He applies now to good schools in the US that offer full rides, or at least full tuition, to excellent students, as he is. This is an option for him, because he is a US citizen. Honestly, a degree in Comp Sci from almost anywhere gets you many good job offers in the US, and after the first job, no one cares where your degree was from. Plus he can get a master’s from someplace good, and then he has a famous degree, too.

Option 3. He joins the National Guard. It will usually pay for tuition at any state school in the state where he is in the National Guard, plus give him some living expense money. He’d have one full summer in it, then one or two weekends a month and two weeks every summer, plus he’d be liable for being called up to serve further.

So, because he is a US citizen, it is really very possible for him to go to school in the US. If I were him, I’d explore and shoot for the full ride at a lesser school option, because he would have little to no debt, and not have service obligations. But the others are there as backup.

Great responses. Excuse my not as detailed responses. At a high level response to OP was directed at an immigrant with a smart US kid. Its not applicable for everyone. For immigrants that are not from money, loans will be one of possibly many bad options. Suggestion of student loans are as a last resort. It beats selling a kidney or having a sit down with Tony Soprano (kidding). Student loan system is flawed as is evident to most. Many here have offered better detailed solutions that proffer alternatives.

Per sacrifices, immigrants from time immemorial have sold and risked everything to ensure a better life for future generations. In this case, i’m generally not advocating taking on such risk for the average kid. However if you are an immigrant and have a kid you think (hopefully data supports this) is the next Elon Musk or Sundar Pichai, then you’d better do all you can to increase their odds of fulfilling their potential. By the way Elon Musk arrived in Canada in ‘89 with ~CA$2500. Paid his own way through college, ending with ~$100k student debt (again not a debt advocate, debt comes with risk). Good luck to OP and his kid.

If the EFC falls under the automatic 0 formula, the assets could be in the millions & would be ignored. In all other cases, they would come into play. However, that is only for FAFSA … Profile schools may very well consider the assets when determining institutional aid. FAFSA-only schools don’t typically meet need, but it’s possible that with full Pell, merit, grade-level loans & parent contribution, there could be affordable schools for the student.

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Yes, I understand that but thought @kelsmom was saying that without the parents filing a US tax return the student (a citizen) couldn’t qualify for an auto $0 or simplified assets, and I think he (the student) can qualify without it. Not all low income earners file, and they can still qualify with a non-filer’s letter and manually filling in the income on the FAFSA.

I think this family can do that. Yes, it takes the CSS schools off the table, although a school may opt to give aid based just on income ($25k) and not assets ($400k). The OP would have to research which schools might be open to review their finances.

I am saying that auto 0 can apply. Tax return is irrelevant for this formula. It’s income only, which in this case requires the parents’ income to be less than $27,000 USD (if not paid to parents in USD, conversion is required to determine USD).

Being able to qualify for simplified needs formula, if income is greater than/equal to $27,000,up to $49,999, which would allow the assets to be ignored, is what I was not sure about. The regulations changed for 2022-23 & I hadn’t reviewed them carefully. I just did, and it looks like parents COULD qualify, as long as they would not have been required to file schedule 1 had they earned their money in the US. I try not to make assumptions given that I don’t know the intimate details of the earnings. If schedule 1 would not be required, though, it seems that simplified needs formula could be applicable for FAFSA, if automatic 0 doesn’t end up being applicable.


Would this student be able to borrow $9,500 freshman year since his parents won’t be Plus eligible?


Yes, they would be eligible to borrow $9,500. They would need to request the increase from the financial aid office, but it’s an allowable reason to receive the independent student amount (parents won’t qualify for a PLUS loan if not US citizens).


Harvard’s net price calculator shows a net price within budget.

Case Western has always been generous to families I know with large assets held outside retirement accounts, meets need but is now need aware, but they also have some merit money. We received an application fee waiver for demonstrating interest.

What is the budget for applications?