Do schools consider a family's student debt when calculating financial aid?

I’m applying to Columbia this fall, and after running the NPC I would have to pay ~$30k a year. However, my family has a lot of student debt ($100k+) and there was no question about student debt on the application.

Columbia (like most schools AFAIK) doesn’t consider consumer debt, but I don’t think student debt falls into that category, right? I think any reasonable person would differentiate between money spent on education and credit card debt accumulated from, say, financing an expensive T.V.

Student debt, whether owed by a parent or sibling, will not decrease your EFC.

Wow, that’s horrible. Thanks for the information.

Family student debt is not considered at all.

On the plus side, you are running NPCs to evaluate affordability. If your family cannot afford to pay your efcs you are seeing on the NPCs, try to get a firm estimate of what they ARE willing/able to pay each year. Add that amount to your $5500 fed student loan, and that is your rough budget.

If there is a big gap between your efc and your budget, you know that you will need to chase merit aid to get closer to your budget.

During these uncertain financial times, it does not make sense to count on additional parent loans to pay for your college expenses, especially on top of yout family’s current student loans.

Also, if you have younger siblings, your parents need to consider future costs for them as well. If your parents own a business, the calculators may not be accurate.

I’m not applying to NYU, just Columbia University. Perhaps you had the two confused?

Either way, I appreciate the advice. And what do you mean by my “$5500 fed student loan”? Is that a loan I’m guaranteed to get from the government?

Everyone is eligible for the federal loan. Depending on what FAFSA shows about half of that will have the interest subsidized.

People finance educations they can’t afford all the time. You have to think of it from the college’s point-of-view. If a family decides to borrow $50k/year to send one of their children to an expensive OOS college like UMichigan and that makes Columbia unaffordable for their next child, why should Columbia make up the difference? They aren’t interested in subsidizing other colleges.

Do you know how much your parents can afford to pay per year without borrowing? You can take the federal student loan, but those are limited to $5500 as a freshman, $6500 as a sophomore, and $7500/year as a junior and senior.

If you qualify for the student loan of $5500, remember that it is a loan for the year.

The *Free Application for Federal Student Aid/i is an application that you fill out and submit to the government, which will disseminate that information to schools where you have applied…

The government uses that information to see if you will qualify for limited grant monies and federal student loans. The best funding comes from the schools, not from a small government grant.

Those limited government funds don’t begin to cover your expenses at a school like Columbia. Federal Aid typically doesn’t make much of a dent in your overall costs for your university. If anything, it will, maybe, begin to cover your health insurance fees.

Most students utilize the “Bank of Mom and Dad”, or go to an instate affordable university, especially if personal debt is an issue.

Are your parents divorced? If so, Net Price Calculators aren’t going to be accurate for you. Make sure you have a couple of financial safeties on your list that are affordable AND you’d be happy to attend. Are you still in NC? They have some good in state options.

One could argue the same thing about income. Why should Columbia finance a student whose parents went into a lower-paying field despite having the opportunity to make a six-figure salary?

Roughly half that? But that’s not really my point. I’m trying to minimize the amount of money my family spends as much as possible. We took a serious financial hit at the beginning of high school. Asking them to pay for half of my education ($60k?) feels like a stab in the heart.

“Asking them to pay for half of my education ($60k?) feels like a stab in the heart” It does. That is why you may need to go to a less expensive school: your state flagship or a university that gives merit aid.

My concern is my post-grad earnings though. If I wanted to work in a high-paying field like Fintech or finance or whatever, I’m wondering if it’s worth the extra money. Columbia is $28k more than my in-states across all 4 years, unless I get merit aid at them.

Does going to a prestigious school like Columbia help increase post-grad salary so much that it would be worth the extra money?

A couple of months ago you said your major was “CS or bust.” Has that changed?

Going to Columbia may not get you a higher salary in Finance than someone who attends State U, but you may be more likely to get the job.

Do you live in NYC? IMHO the best value option for finance-related jobs is Baruch. Punches above its weight with employers. For CS, Stonybrook.

The question you’re asking- does the extra cost get justified with a higher salary- has about a zillion posts on CC already. There is no conclusive answer, mainly because you are trying to predict the labor markets in five years (impossible) AND predict your own academic performance (very hard to do, you’ve never been to college) AND predict your own interests (exceptionally hard to do, since you may fall in love with urban planning or econometrics your freshman year and completely change your career goals).

There are a couple of things that are not likely to change- if you end up a B student in college, you are not likely to get hired by Bridgewater, DE Shaw, Goldman Sachs, regardless of where you graduate from. If you go to Yale or Columbia, you can get hired by one of those places majoring in physics or history- as long as your math skills are top top top. There are no guarantees though- you can go to Columbia, have a 4.0 average in CS, and still struggle to get the kind of job you want mainly because industries shift rather quickly these days, and recruiting cycles are pretty long (students start interviewing for their internships in the Fall of junior year, hoping to get an offer for full time employment at the end of the summer BEFORE senior year, for a job that won’t start until August of that next year) so companies respond to market pullbacks and recessions very aggressively (i.e. canceling recruiting events) so they don’t get stuck with an incoming class much bigger than they need.

My advice? Figure out what you and your parents can afford. Go from there. If someone has to donate a kidney on the down-low for cash to afford Columbia, you can’t afford it. Move on. Affordable means-- you take the maximum government loan, whatever your parents can take from savings and current income, you get a job on campus to pay for incidentals, travel home. Either need based aid or merit aid if you qualify. And that’s your budget.

Not sure I buy that argument. Most people don’t choose to be lower income, but it’s easy (and crazy common these days) to choose to live beyond one’s means.

However, I do feel for the kids of parents that on paper are well off, but either can’t or won’t help to the level that the school feels they should.

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I’ve been considering going into Financial Tech. Let’s be realistic- I’m only 17, so I’m not really sure. The reason I said that was because someone suggested that I apply to Cornell’s Agricultural Science College for the chance of transferring in to CS, which was ludicrous.

Most people don’t choose to be lower-income, yes, but I’m talking about people who have the opportunity to go into higher-paying fields and just don’t. What do you say to someone who gets a BA in Philosophy when they could have gotten a BS in Computer Science? By your logic, you could argue Columbia is financing a lot of things- unexpected funerals, sudden medical emergencies, mortages, all things that they consider in regards to financial aid.

My point being, $125k education isn’t affordable for a family with $100k in student loans, and I didn’t know if they classify that as consumer debt. I don’t think it’s reasonable for it to just not be considered when they consider mortgages.

@blossom I assume government loans have lower interest, correct?

What’s your opinion on the “worth” of these schools?

No, unsubsidized federal loans can have a market rate interest rate.