Helping finance college for a much younger sibling, would you?

You can give $15k per year to anyone without being required to file a tax form for your lifetime gift taxes, not as a tax deductible gift. A gift payment to a relative is not deductible, even if it is for education.

Anyway, the OP isn’t trying to make it tax deductible, just trying to help. It is a good deed.

He needs to make sure the brother wants this arrangement, especially if it is set up as a loan. The brother applied to some nice schools, so it sounds like he does want to go to a 4 year school and this arrangement might allow him to do it.


I’d say consult with a tax person. But I do believe that a gift tax could benefit him.

Running the money through a 529 would be the way to get a tax deduction.

Are the parents contributing anything? Are they aware of/eligible for the AOTC? That would enable them to ‘recycle’ a $2000 contribution. They pay $2000 in fall, get a $2,000 tax credit in the spring, use that again and repeat for the next year’s tax credit.

1 Like

Just looked can’t be done via gift directly to a person (only institution). But @BuckeyeMWDSG 's approach would be a way to do it. Might be other approaches.

Maybe talk to his school choice financial aid and maybe there is some help they didn’t investigate… Doesn’t hurt. Will need his school ID if he has one… Just saying…

This is absolutely incorrect.

OP- ignore. Unless your sibling is a registered 501 C-3, your gift to him is not deductible…and you don’t need to check with a CPA. This is bad advice and incorrect.


I do think that you are overestimating the negative impact of starting at CC. A lot of the bad stories come from either students that are not motivated or students that have financial issues. I think that helping him not to have financial concerns as he goes the CC+4 year route makes the most sense.

There are targeted research programs just for STEM community college students.

“Community College Summer Enrichment Program (CCSEP): In summer 2021, the NIH will again offer a SIP subprogram designed to recruit community college students to the NIH. Students in CCSEP can take advantage of all the opportunities available to other SIP interns. In addition, they will make a commitment to completing an enrichment curriculum. If you are a community college student and interested, please read about CCSEP.”

1 Like

My biggest concern about community colleges in general is how credits transfer into university programs and whether or not those credits actually shorten the semesters needed to complete a degree.

Ohio used to have very bad transfer policies even between its own public institutions. Today they have standardized a set of transferable credits for introductory level classes between public institutions. We also have dual enrollment and colleges come into high schools to deliver that standardized curriculum.

10 years ago when my oldest was looking at schools like Case Western, none of those credits would have transferred there. A few years later when my son was looking, they were eager to share their new transfer policy that would count nearly all of those credits, not just as general credit, but as fulfilling requirements toward the degree.

The Ohio privates have overhauled their transfer policies to compete. I don’t think this arc is unique to Ohio. Bright students are being squeezed out of public universities because of cost. So universities are adapting their policies for transfer credit and financial aid for transfer students. And they are developing programs for transfers so that they can become engaged on campus as soon as they arrive.

It is more complicated knowing you’ll have to deal with transferring, but it can be done. And it could be a second chance to find a school that is an even better fit. With a bit of experience, he’ll know what he wants to pursue.

1 Like

is this something your bother might be interested in?

they are still taking applications. Have him talk to his counselor and reach out

The USDA/1890 National Scholars Program is a partnership between of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and 1890 Historically Black Land-Grant Universities. The program awards scholarships to students to attend one of 1890 Historically Black Land-Grant Universities.

What does a scholarship under the USDA/1890 National Scholars Program provide?

A scholarship under the USDA/1890 National Scholars Program provides:

Full tuition;
Employment with the USDA during the summer and after graduation;
Employee benefits while employed with USDA;
Use of a laptop computer, printer, and software while on scholarship;
Room and board for each of the 4 academic years.

Applicant must:

Be a U.S. citizen;
Be an entering freshman;
Hold a high school diploma or G.E.D. certificate;
Have a high school GPA of 3.0 or better;
Have a combined verbal/math score of 1,080 or more on the SAT or a composite score of 21 or more on the ACT;
Attend one of the eighteen 1890 Historically Black Land-Grant Institutions;
Study agriculture, food, natural resource sciences, or other related disciplines;
Demonstrate leadership and community service;
Apply for admission to the institution(s) of his or her choice;
Submit an official transcript with the school seal and an authorized official’s signature;
Sign all applications (original signature only);
All application materials must be postmarked no later than February 1st and sent to the institution(s) selected by the applicant to attend.


The CC-> University path is fraught with problems in PA, because CC’s lead to the “true” state universities (PASSHE) which do not offer Engineering (or just a few recent ones) and aren’t at the same level as the “state-related” (think Cornell’s contract colleges) Penn State/Pitt/Temple so CC classes may delay graduation; most do not meet pre-Engineering requirements as CC’s are not seen as leading to the flagship, if that’s what you want to do you use the 2+2 system, with pre-Engineering students usually starting at Behrend College in Erie or in Altoona.
The fact Little Brother got straight into Engineering at UP demonstrates his ability, as if you’re slightly borderline they direct you to branch campuses.If this student (Little Brother) got into the “flagships” for Engineering, which is extremely difficult, then the CC path would NOT be a good one for him.
CC-> PASSHE would work for Engineering Technology which, as you know, is totally different from Engineering.

As to “would you”, yes, I would. I would from current income, reducing my own lifestyle if need be, in order to reduce the debt, and I’d complete with a modest loan if possible. Lift as you climb.

Penn State Engineering is a powerhouse, but a tough one. Are your brother’s stats and preparation up to it? If so, it’s a definite achievement.
What Engineering (same major at each?)
Is there a difference in costs between PSU, Pitt, and Temple? Did he get into Honors at Temple?
All three will lead to great outcomes and excellent majors.
Did he apply to any “meet need” university, such as Lafayette?


“a brother who is a senior in high school who wants to study a business or STEM discipline”

Was he a direct admit to engineering? Or did he apply undecided and still needs to be accepted in to an engineering discipline?

It’s already been corrected blossom and an alternative was advised.

Yes. Seems like there is mixed opinion in this regard. I’ve seen that many families who are first generation in the US, or have come here recently understand this concept. There is little success without sacrifice by someone.
I hope the OP can figure it out.

OP have you also thought of doing something like a road race or some fund raiser to get others on board? Many people know how hard it is to get educational funds. They might be willing to join you in giving small amounts. Not a gofundme ( give us $) but raising money through a fundraiser. Or even looking into solid Summer jobs for your brother. Someone might surprise you.

PA public colleges are expensive. I don’t think repeating exactly the same applications after a year of community college would yield a smaller gap in aid.

“He got into all of the schools he applied to, which were a mix of in-state public colleges, and out of state public historically black colleges. Kicker: he got close to no merit aid from any of them”

I don’t see any mention of schools that meet need, or surprises from expectations set by net price calculators that had yielded affordable results when creating the application list. I see a lot of potential for better results through a second, more informed round of applications.

There may be still be time to do so now, or through the unfilled class lists that come out.

There is also the option of taking a gap year to work, save and apply to schools that are better financial fits.

Applying to a specific major opens department/major funding possibilities that might even yield a better result from some schools in a re-application next year.

I would love if OP were able to commit to filling that gap for his brother. I think a Penn State freshman year for an undecided student is a luxury, not a necessity. Is it worth a $5,500 freshman student loan and whatever a family can contribute? Yes. Should a freshman take on $20,500 of debt for that year? No.

1 Like

At Penn State, all Engineering students are considered “pre engineering”. They are in the COE but must take classes and meet benchmarks first. It’s different from being undecided. The same thing applies for most majors btw, to the point students apply DUS since it’s exactly the same as being premajor.

A gap year shouldn’t include community college classes or his brother will no longer have access to freshman admissions and scholarships.

The list could have included other colleges but that’s water the bridge right now, unless Op and his brother are open to a gap year with guidance from here.

Was he accepted into the College of Engineering, though? He doesn’t even mention engineering, just business or a stem discipline.

A point worth repeating, since I think he could benefit from a better application strategy.

But sometimes people do want to get started and it could help him figure out what direction he wants to go, business OR stem. Colleges to apply to could be very different based on which direction or even which stem discipline he gravitates toward.

1 Like

Sorry. I assumed Engineering.
But the same applies regardless of major - all students are premajor till they’ve met benchmarks. It’s the set up for all students and doesn’t indicate anything negative about the student.
Hopefully OP will return.

My point was not about the merits of the student. It was about a good pathway to finding affordable colleges.

If you want to study Math you have a lot more options than if you are only focused on big flagships that have good programs in business and every single stem discipline.