FAFSA totally ridiculous?

<p>I got my rude awakening a couple years ago about FAFSA. Does anyone else agree that it's utterly ridiculous as a measure of ability to pay for college? It's supposed to be a measure of net worth and estimated family contribution but doesn't take into account debt. That to me makes the whole thing invalid.</p>

<p>I think the issue is that debt is often a choice.</p>

<p>I have in the past also had medical debt, so I realize that is not always the case. But if that is the situation, then a letter to the financial aid office to explain extraordinary circumstances often will make a difference.</p>

<p>So I don't think it is invalid, but sometimes more explanation is required.</p>

<p>What type of debt are you referring to? From the government's perspective, the primary purpose of FAFSA and the Expected Family Contribution is to determine federal aid eligibility, not the actual ability to pay. It's not designed to be a measure of net worth as it also doesn't consider home equity or retirement accounts. The Profile probably comes up with a better assessment of a family's actual ability to pay, but consumer debt is always considered a choice. </p>

<p>It's pretty clear on any of the college planning sites that the government and most colleges expect higher ed to be funded by a combination of past (savings), present (income), and future (loans) resources. I think we can all wish that college was less expensive for everyone, or that everyone could get grants, but I think that FAFSA does the job it was actually intended to do in a relatively fair and impartial way. Families with unusual circumstances can always request professional judgement from the FA office.</p>

<p>30 years ago debt may have been mostly a choice, but nowadays I would say mostly it's not. Medical debt is one example of not. Credit Card debt often is a result of having to live off them because of getting laid off...again not a choice. And so on. And to say FAFSA is about eligibility for federal aid but not ability to pay is just semantics. Of course it's about ability to pay. What problem exactly is federal aid meant to address if not the ability to pay for college?! </p>

<p>As for sending additional information to financial aid offices, that is unrealistic at best. Most responses I've ever gotten were in the form of "we have a standard formula to follow mandated by X".</p>

<p>Anyone else see the problem with FAFSA?</p>

<p>I work in the banking industry. Trust me, the VAST majority of credit card debt is a choice made by people living beyond their means.</p>

<p>Sorry Kjeavus, most debt is absolutely a choice. As far as medical debt, if there is an excessive amount of unexpected medical expenses there is a process for the colleges to review financial aid. Medical expenses are one of the few examples of "debt" that is not choice and college will consider the impact of excessive medical debt. Credit cards, houses, cars, consumer spending...all choice. </p>

<p>Never in history as there been an expectation that someone other than kids or parents would "pay" for kids to go to college. It has always been a combination of kids, parents, the federal govenment and increasingly the college themselves discounting the costs through grants and merit monies. It is a rude awakening to realize your income in context of expectations, but ultimately the costs of college comes out of savings, current income and future income either on the shoulders of the parents or the students or a combination of both. </p>

<p>Finally there are ways to decrease college costs....attend a nearby college or university and commute, attend two years in the community college system and transfer. Work and take longer to finish college...many college graduates are not wet behind the ears 21 year olds...many of in their mid to late twenties.</p>

<p>The best advice is to put pen to paper and figure out what, as a parent, can be afforded and then be honest with the kids.</p>

<p>*Never in history as there been an expectation that someone other than kids or parents would "pay" for kids to go to college. It has always been a combination of kids, parents, the federal government and increasingly the college themselves discounting the costs through grants and merit monies. It is a rude awakening to realize your income in context of expectations, but ultimately the costs of college comes out of savings, current income and future income either on the shoulders of the parents or the students or a combination of both. *</p>

<p>Very true. The primary responsibility to pay resides with the home. Many families can figure out how to cover the costs to go to a local CC and then transfer to a local state school thru loans, summer earnings, and parent contribution. </p>

<p>To go away to school is a LUXURY and no one should expect tax payers to fund that. When people talk about rising COAs, they're including room and board which distorts the picture somewhat since most students do NOT go away to school. Most families are just dealing with tuition, fees, books, and misc costs which can save them up to $15k per year. At many state schools the room and board costs more than the tuition!!! </p>

<p>If you feel that you can't pay what you're expected to pay (for whatever reasons), then you still have options....</p>

<p>1) commute to a local state school </p>

<p>2) go to a CC first, do well there, then transfer.</p>

<p>3) use your strong high school stats for merit scholarships elsewhere. </p>

<p>It sounds like you have an unaffordable EFC. Well, how much can you pay? $5k per year? 10k? More? less? </p>

<p>Whatever the amount is, be frank with your child, ask him to work/save summer earnings, look at schools that will give scholarships, apply to a local state school as a safety, and apply to other schools "just to see what happens."</p>

<p>edited to add....I see that you have one child in college and another who will be going to college. You're concerned about paying. Your older child's situation will be what it is, unless she transfers to a cheaper school. For your younger child, look into schools that give merit scholarships.</p>

<p>Must be me then. Most of our credit card debt wasn't by choice. I guess I just disagree with the assumption that having a high salary implies ability to pay for college. </p>

<p>It's also easy to give simplistic answers like "go to CC". Our local CC's suck and don't even offer classes, yet alone programs remotely related to what my kids want to study. In fact the in-state public colleges, with one exception, are strictly bottom of the barrel. And the one good one is way out of line tuition-wise with other states in-state schools. Also merit-based aid only goes so far, and not nearly enough.</p>

<p>I guess too I'm miffed by the fact that a kids opportunities for college can be so limited by their parents finances. We got into financial dire straights, but why should my kids, who work very hard in school and are straight A students pay the price of our misfortune (and I'm talking about any kid really, not just my own). Something tells me though this forum is full of "Me society" types who think education is a purchase, not a right.</p>

<p>I guess I look at it differently. Why should society pay for the higher education of child whose parents make bad financial decisions? That removed any incentive to save. </p>

<p>My patents were in that category. They did not contribute a dime to college. I took a year off and worked. Went to a cheaper school. Worked full-time during college and graduated in 4 years. </p>

<p>People today have an entitlement mentality. No one owes you anything. Go out and work for it!</p>

<p>Higher education is not a right in the US.</p>

<p>We got into financial dire straights, but why should my kids, who work very hard in school and are straight A students pay the price of our misfortune (and I'm talking about any kid really, not just my own)</p>

<p>Top students should look for schools which offer merit aid- there are a few threads floating around with suggestions.</p>

<p>Virtually all students are limited by their parents choices in residence location & their parents financial circumstances- your family isn't unusual.</p>

<p>
[quote]
I guess too I'm miffed by the fact that a kids opportunities for college can be so limited by their parents finances.

[/quote]

Yes. College comes in all price ranges. Choosing one is often based on what you can afford. In that way, it's not unlike housing. Essential, but we pay what we can afford. </p>

<p>
[quote]
Something tells me though this forum is full of "Me society" types who think education is a purchase, not a right.

[/quote]

You're correct in your assumption. Sorry.</p>

<p>
[quote]
Something tells me though this forum is full of "Me society" types who think education is a purchase, not a right.

[/quote]

Higher education is not a right in the US--this isn't a matter of opinion, but of fact.</p>

<p>You're right, it isn't treated as a right but rather a purchase (by Dems and Repubs alike btw). Which is why the US is now 27th in the world in terms of education. Then again, since being money grubbing materialistic consumers is the goal in the US, and being uninformed at that, I guess we're headed in the exact right direction!</p>

<p>OP, I sympathize with you and your situation, but there is no "solution" that works for all. The good news for your children is that there truly are merit opportunities that will help a straight-A student attend college. Why not start a new thread posting your child(ren)'s stats so that people here can help you find some workable options for them?</p>

<p>OP, sure you can be idealistic and say that higher education should be a right in the US. How do you propose to pay for that? What are YOU prepared to give up in order to make it happen?</p>

<p>If a child wants college and the parents have failed to provide for them the child had options to make it happen. They have to work hard for it. The "gimme" attitude of entitlements can't work any longer. </p>

<p>Want something? Work for it don't expect to have it handed to you. As parents we have to make choices. If some parents choose to run up debt rather than save for their children's education that is their choice. Just don't expect me to pay for it. I saved and sacrificed to send my kid.</p>

<p>And I think the problems with education in the US run just a bit deeper than the cost of college. On average we don't graduate high school students that are even close to stacking up to the 26 countries ahead of us. The problem exists long before the college decision.</p>

<p>The reality is that many colleges cost a ridiculous amount. Many families do not have the resources. That's the way it is. People make different choices. One of my kids has never been on a plane. That's because we never went on huge vacations. We live in a small house without a family room. They don't have their own TVs. And so on...
Yet we have it better than many, many people, and my children know that. </p>

<p>Some kids have to go to community colleges. Some get financial aid. Some have parents that have saved for college for years. It's the luck of the draw. But cream rises, and one can be successful by doing the right thing, even without a fabulous college pedigree. I've seen it happen many times.</p>

<p>If some parents choose to run up debt rather than save for their children's education that is their choice. Just don't expect me to pay for it. I saved and sacrificed to send my kid.</p>

<p>The OP mentions medical expenses- now the PROFILE does " consider" unusual medical expenses- a transplant, paying for grandma's residential care..., but that is also up to the college how they want to handle that.
The OP also mentions a small business that tanked in another thread & I am wondering if that was where the majority of their debt lies.</p>

<p>Sure, medical debt is different and can be taken into consideration by the college. There is a process for that. </p>

<p>My objection is to the people that make the decision not to save and/or run up consumer debt so they can't save and then turn around and scream about the unfairness of the system.</p>

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<p>Everyone gets a rude awakening from FAFSA, even those of us who live within our means. Luckily, you've find a site where you can get good information about low-cost alternatives. Once the shock subsides, start digging in!</p>