FAFSA confuses me.

<p>I see everyone here is extremely helpful and way more knowledgeable than I am so I will put my situation out here for people to help me with.</p>

<p>My parents live in Indiana and I live in Texas. I have lived in Texas for almost a year now and I really want to get back to college. I work two part time jobs to pay for rent with my roommates and I was hoping maybe I could get some help via financial aid. As I was applying for FAFSA, it tells me that I am still a dependent despite living in a completely different state and not having lived with my parents for almost 3 years now. It also goes on to say as I answer the questions that I should count myself in their household? I'm not at odds with my parents or anything. However despite "how much money" they make they are struggling to survive and I stopped asking for their help ... well... three years ago. As sad as this sounds, they might go into bankruptcy this year or next year... should I wait for that to happen to apply for financial aid? According to FAFSA, they are "too rich" and I should have no problem getting aid from them.</p>

<p>I make A's and B's, I graduated high school with a 3.4, academic honors, several recognitions and was always on the dean's list at college in Indiana.</p>

<p>I am female and asian, if it matters.</p>

<p>I've been working since before I was 18 and I am 22 now.</p>

<p>I was laid off for a year and received worker's comp for around 3 months until I finally decided to move to Texas and found employment.</p>

<p>I really want to get back into college, if not this year then next year. I moved to Texas on 8/18 of last year (or rather that's when I got a TX DL).</p>

<p>I also am physically handicapped, or rather I "was" handicapped in Indiana. I have had multiple surgeries on my feet as a child and was determined to be legally handicapped for life because I am unable to stand on my feet without becoming crippled in pain. I have not been to a doctor to get registered for that yet in Texas but if it makes a difference...</p>

<p><em>edit</em>
My sister is also starting college, but she lives with my parents. Whatever little my parents have to offer, she is already taking it.</p>

<p>My father was laid off last year and has just recently gained employment(last week), yet the income between my parents is still too great.</p>

<p>Barring certain circumstances (military service, orphan/foster, married, homeless, etc.), every student is considered a dependent for FAFSA until age 24 regardless of whether their parents actually support them or not. Likewise, the EFC is going to be based on both your income/assets and your parents...those rules apply across the board. The good news is that you can ask for an adjustment of your EFC based on your father's reduced income for 2010 (since the FAFSA was based on 2009 income) if that's been a significant factor. Your sister's student status would also reduce the parent contribution to the EFC significantly as it's now divided between the two of you. However, it sounds as if your own income may be having a significant impact on your EFC and that won't change until after you reduce your earnings, if you plan to, while in school.</p>

<p>I don't know that it's necessary to "register" as a disabled person - not sure what you mean by that! But if you're planning to attend a public school in TX, you might check to make sure you meet their residency requirements for instate tuition as that could save you a lot. Do you already have a bachelor's degree? If so, none of the federal aid other than loans will likely be available. If not, how long will you be in school and what is your planned degree?</p>

<p>Well, not really register as a disabled person. Medically speaking in Texas, they have no knowledge/record of me being handicapped for some reason, despite having papers for it from Indiana. I have to go to a doctor in Texas and get them to get records from Indiana to give to me with the Texas approval... or so they lead me to believe. I have a foot condition where the bones in my feet are connected improperly and despite the many adjustments they have tried to make, has ultimately failed to get me to walk properly. It results into me stumbling all the time, struggling to stand straight, inability to run, toes not function, mind numbing pain, and sometimes my foot cramps up for no reason at all except to cramp up. I sometimes walk around by dragging my foot. It gives everyone a good laugh. When I went to get my license plate in Texas for a disabled person, they said that the papers I had for Indiana weren't good enough and that I had to see a doctor in Texas for it. I had no medical insurance since that dropped when I got laid off and I was waiting to get medical insurance from my work.<br>
<em>edit</em>^I can't remember the medical term for this foot disease but it was something I was born with/something my mother caused by forcing me to wear tiny shoes and my feet grew wrong. Medically, they have no way of fixing this besides surgery/replacing my feet with a prosthetic. I'm not ready to accept the prosthetic.<em>edit</em></p>

<p>Residency requirements is after a year, or at least it is at the colleges I've been looking at. That's the big reason why I've been waiting until now to look into financial aid.</p>

<p>I do not have a bachelor's degree unfortunately. I could be going to school for a very long time because I can only do parttime with all the hours I work. I would love to attend SMU in Texas. I have always loved programming and art. Either doing game design or graphic design. Tuition is ~50,000 for the whole shebang.</p>

<p>:( I suppose I can try to see I can have an adjustment on my EFC but according to my sister, they got nothing. My parents earnings together are really good... except they own a house/two car payments that amount to more than their earnings. My father has tried to sell the house since he got laid off years ago (has been on/off 5 jobs since then). Bad economy, huge house, can't sell it, he said it's only a matter of time before the bank takes it from him. </p>

<p>Does it help to get married?</p>

<p>Well, in my experience only if he does ALL the dishes and laundry:) But married students are considered independent for FAFSA.</p>

<p>I see what you mean about registered now, but don't think it changes anything about your financial aid situation. Sorry to hear of your challenges...to me, chronic foot pain is the worst! Do you qualify for Social Security disability benefits?</p>

<p>I know many couples who are planning to get married put it off because of financial aid. The answer to your question of whether it helps to get married, is that it depends on the financial situation of the person you marry--income and assets, and your own finances which will be hit even more heavily as an independent student.</p>

<p>You may be eligible for in state tuition in Texas which is reasonably inexpensive. But as a dependent for FAFSA reasons, you and your sister might quaify for something, at least subsidized loans with two kids in college. If your parents income is so low that they cannot make the mortgage payments, then with 2 kids in college, no assets, the two of you kids could get some loans subsidized, and get $4000 more in Staffords loans apiece if your parents cannot qualify for PLUS which will happen if they are 90 days behind in their mortgage. Also you might get $1000 here and there from the school or from outside awards if you look for them. With a part time job, this is doable, though on a very tight budget.</p>

<p>I always thought being married wouldn't help me out. I've been telling my fiance that I wanted to wait until after I graduated college before we got married. I'm not sure if he makes a lot either but I guess it can't hurt to work out the numbers.</p>

<p>I don't know if I do or don't qualify for Social Security disability benefits. I have always gone out of my way to find jobs that I can keep quiet about my foot condition since I don't want to mark on applications that I have the problem. It's probably why I also want to become a programmer or a graphic artist because those require very little standing/walking and even when I end up in a wheelchair in ten to twenty years, I won't have to worry about not being able to perform my tasks.</p>

<p>
[quote]
My parents earnings together are really good... except they own a house/two car payments that amount to more than their earnings. My father has tried to sell the house since he got laid off years ago (has been on/off 5 jobs since then).

[/quote]
</p>

<p>OK...I'm confused. On one hand you say your parents earn a good income..and on the other hand you say your father was laid off from his job. Which is it?</p>

<p>Also, your family's consumer debt is NOT factored into the financial aid calculations...that would include your home mortgage and your car debts.</p>

<p>SMU is an expensive private school that does not meet full need. </p>

<p>Another confusion for me...have you been attending college while living in Texas? You might want to check because sometimes you cannot establish residency for tuition purposes WHILE you are attending school.</p>

<p>Are you hoping that your disabled status will make a difference with your financial aid?</p>

<p>Certain disabilities could make you eligible for specialty scholarships. You have to look for them My son has one as a cancer survivor, the only one he got as an outside award. </p>

<p>What I don't get is if he is losing his hous from non payment of the mortgage, then the money is not going towards the mortgage. I don't get the good income part either. </p>

<p>If this is such an issue, I suggest working another year and taking a class or two part time and then next year when you are 24 , you can apply as an independent student. Just want to warn you that many do not find that such a windfall since much more of your earnings is taken into account, and most schools don't meet full need anyways. Run some numbers through the online calculators, including what you would get as a second child under your parent's financial umbrella, and you may see what I mean. </p>

<p>My son got that surprise when he qualfied as an independent student a few years ago. Didn't qualify for PELL or the state fund. Just meant some subsidized loans is all he netted. It's not like a pot of gold is waiting for those kids who are independent.</p>

<p>
[quote]
OK...I'm confused. On one hand you say your parents earn a good income..and on the other hand you say your father was laid off from his job. Which is it?

[/quote]

My father made a ton of money last year and my mom works at a hospital, combined, they made/make a ton of money. My dad has been laid off since the end-ish of last year and like I said above, just recently (like last week) got a job again.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Also, your family's consumer debt is NOT factored into the financial aid calculations...that would include your home mortgage and your car debts.

[/quote]

I knew that, which makes it look like they make a ton of money even though they're about to go bankrupt.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Another confusion for me...have you been attending college while living in Texas? You might want to check because sometimes you cannot establish residency for tuition purposes WHILE you are attending school.

[/quote]

No, like I said above, I haven't decided when to go to school yet because of my financial situation. I saw that establishing residency takes a year in Texas so I was going to wait until after 8/18.</p>

<p>
[quote]

Are you hoping that your disabled status will make a difference with your financial aid?

[/quote]

I sadly do not know what does or doesn't help in financial aid situations. When I lived in Indiana, I had a job that was good enough to help me pay for college for three years (but I only did a class or two each semester). Was basically a 50/50 split and I never sought after financial aid because I could handle it. I was laid off because they had to cut half their entire staff and I sadly did not have enough seniority there.</p>

<p>Well, the application season is over pretty much for this fall and most of the financial aid and merit goodies are gone, so if you can hang in there for the next year, your parent's income will be very low in 2010, and if you are still a dependent and your sister is still in college, you two may well meet Pell Grant eligibility and any state supplements for Pell eligible kids. Also you can get some subsidized loans.</p>

<p>I really am grateful for all this feedback. I will just keep getting more information for next year.</p>

<p>Do you have any less expensive options within the Texas public university system or is SMU local? Would you have sophomore status when you return to school or do you have enough credits to be considered a junior? Stafford loans for juniors/seniors are $7500 per year so that, combined with your savings/income, may be enough.</p>