FAFSA questions

<p>How much does FAFSA look at the individual factors surrounding a student's application? My mom makes a little under $70,000 per year before taxes, but we have a lot of financial trouble because we live in a fairly well-off neighborhood, but my dad is flat broke and doesn't pay child support. My younger sister had back surgery last summer (though thankfully our insurance covered the vast majority of it), I'm having oral surgery in a couple of weeks, $350 school registration fees for my sister and I, and my mom's old student loans are leaving us with very little money to spare. Will these issues be taken into account, or should I not count on getting a lot of help from FAFSA?</p>

<p>FAFSA doesn't give you "help" -- it just establishes your eligibility for federal grants and loans. With your mom's income you would not qualify for Pell grants, but you would qualify for subsidized loans at most colleges and universities.</p>

<p>When you apply for financial aid at school, they can take into account special circumstances like unusually high medical costs or outstanding student loans -- that is something each financial aid office would optionally consider, under rules applicable to "professional judgment". Most private colleges that provide their own grant money to help meet the need of their students will also want information about your father's income and assets, but if he truly is "flat broke" that won't make much of a difference. (On the other hand, if that's just the line he gives your mom as the excuse for not paying child support ---- his income is likely to be considered whether or not he actually plans to contribute to your college education).</p>

<p>Anyone in your situation should definitely file a FAFSA. You should apply to a range of schools, including colleges that promise to meet full need; a more affordable in-state public; and colleges where you have a good chance of getting a substantial amount of merit-based aid.</p>

<p>Fafsa doesn't really consider individual factors when figuring EFC. Exhusband's incomes don't count either. And, it doesn't matter if you live in a well off neighborhood. </p>

<p>Also, FAFSA doesn't give you anything. FAFSA just computes an EFC for colleges to use to determine if you qualify for any federal aid. College are not required to meet need and most cannot.</p>

<p>Your EFC will be based on your mother's income and assets.</p>

<p>So, with an income of about $70k and a family of 3, I would imagine that your EFC will be about $12,000. </p>

<p>That's too high for free federal aid, but you can get a small student loan....about $5500.</p>

<p>What schools will you be applying to? Most schools don't meet need anyway, so you'll need to be careful. </p>

<p>I'm guessing that your mom won't be able to pay the EFC. How much can she pay? Anything?</p>

<p>If the answer is that she won't be able to pay much or anything, then you'll need a careful strategy when picking schools.</p>

<p>What are your stats? What state are you in?</p>

<p>First of all you don't get anything from FAFSA. All FAFSA does is calculate an EFC based on your family income and assets. That EFC is used by your college to determine what aid you are eligible for.</p>

<p>When calculating the EFC FAFSA takes into account income and assets, number in family, and number of students in college at the same time. There is a certain amount of built in income protection based on family size. It does not take into account where you live or actual expenses. FAFSA does not take into account any debt. </p>

<p>The fact that your father does not pay child support will not have any affect. Only the custodial parent's income and assets must be reported. If he did pay child support then your Mom would have to report that as income on FAFSA.</p>

<p>If you have large medical expenses uncovered by insurance then you can ask for a special circumstances adjustment to reflect those expenses. Whether this is granted is at the discretion of the school. There is already a certain amount of money for medical expenses built into the income protection allowance. Your out of pocket expenses must exceed the built in allowance for the school to consider making an adjustment. Then it is not a $ for $ adjustment to the EFC. What they do is reduce the amount of income reported on FAFSA (only the school can do this) to reflect the medical expenses. Then FAFSA recalculates a new EFC. Whether this results in more aid will depend on individual circumstances and the school's own aid policies.</p>

<p>You mention registration fees. Are you already about to start college? If so is your financial aid not already sorted out?</p>

<p>Thanks for all your help!</p>

<p>@mom2collegekids I'm in Illinois. My mom said said she'll try to help me out as much as she can, but it's definitely not going to be $12,000 a year. I'm not positive which schools I'm applying to yet, but a lot of the ones that have caught my interest have tuition between $40,000 and $50,000, so I'm still looking. My current favorite is Beloit College in Wisconsin, which is about $40,000 for all tuition, fees, and room/board.</p>

<p>@swimcatsmom Sorry, I was talking about high school registration fees.</p>