How likely are we to get financial aid?

<p>A little background: I am retired and receiving about $2100 a month social security. My wife is self-employed earning about $30K. Our son is a junior and is taking a lot of honors and AP classes. He has a 3.9 and got 1930/27 SAT/ACT. He is also a varsity baseball player. He has limited community service because he's always studying or practicing. </p>

<p>I'm just starting to get into this and would love to hear from folks as to what steps I should be taking to learn more and to hear your thoughts on whether we are likely to get merit money and what else our son should be doing.</p>


<p>Have you looked at an EFC calculator to estimate your federal aid status? That should be the first step.</p>

<p>Also, an excellent book is: Paying for College without Going Broke (2011 edition).</p>

<p>A large amount of assets other than IRAs/401Ks will affect your aid. For instituional aid at some colleges large home equity can too. Is this your only child? Family size and having multiple in college at the same time also affect your aid. As was suggested, do a FAFSA estimator to get an idea for federal aid. Do you have any schools in mind? Some schools have estimators on their website.</p>

<p>For merit aid, a general rule would be to apply to schools with merit aid where your student is at least in the top 25% of admittees stats wise, GPA, rank and standardized tests.</p>

<p>The first question to ask yourself though, is how much can you afford to contribute each year.</p>

<p>Re: your social security income – for FAFSA the untaxed portion of it does not have to be reported. I think it also doesn’t have to be reported for CSS.</p>

<p>I am in a similar situation – my husband just started receiving SS disability. Since I am still earning a pretty good living and we file jointly, a portion of his benefits will be considered taxable by the IRS (still waiting to hear from my CPA how much). That taxable portion will be included in our adjusted gross income on our 1040s, and will be included in the FAFSA calculation, but the rest won’t. </p>

<p>Since your wife’s income is fairly modest, unless you have a lot of reportable assets you should end up with a relatively low estimated family contribution (EFC). Non-reportable assets for FAFSA include the equity in your primary residence, funds in qualified retirement accounts and the value of a family owned business. (These things may be included by colleges which use the CSS Profile, though.)</p>

<p>I also second the suggestion of the book. It’s under $15 on Amazon. Also, hang around these forums – you’ll learn a lot.</p>

<p>Keep in mind that most schools do not have much aid to give beyond federal aid (which is low). So, even with a lowish EFC, you are likely to get “gapped” at most schools.</p>

<p>Many OOS state publics don’t help OOS students meet the high OOS costs. </p>

<p>Also, many schools practice “preferential packaging” and give better FA packages to those with high stats. High TEST scores are very important. </p>

<p>Many kids have high GPAs. FEWER kids have high test scores AND high GPAs…these are the ones who get the good merit scholarships.</p>

<p>*For merit aid, a general rule would be to apply to schools with merit aid where your student is at least in the top 25% of admittees stats wise, GPA, rank and standardized tests.</p>


<p>I would go further that that. I would say that to get a nice chunk of merit aid (like half tuition or more from the colleges that give merit), your test scores need to be in the top 10%.</p>

<p>Your son’s current test scores are not high enough for good merit at many schools. I would have him take both tests again this spring and again in the fall. Have him use some practice books. </p>

<p>Which schools are being considered?</p>

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

<p>How much do you think you can contribute each year?</p>

<p>What is his likely major?</p>

<p>I see that you’re in Washington and have a GET 529. Does this pay for all of tuition at a Wash state school (or give a certain amount towards an OOS school)?</p>

<p>How good is your son at baseball? Another approach to the problem is upping his test scores to make him a good catch for a private school with great need based aid who needs a ball player in his position - his baseball coach should be able to give you some idea of whether or not this is at all likely.</p>

<p>The GET pays 100% of public in-state Washington schools. And percentages OOS private and public and they vary.</p>

<p>It pays 100$ tuition in-state and varying amounts OOS.</p>

<p>Its early so our list is long. All West Coast including Univ. of Washington, Seattle U., Santa Clara, Caly Poly, Univ. San Diego, UCLA, UCSD. We are in Washington state, we would use GET to pay tuition, aid and perhaps up to $10K of our own. Our son’s academic rank at his school is 29th out of 550.</p>

<p>Your son’s grades and class rank seem fine, but his SAT/ACTs could be higher to maximize your aid, esp. OOS or private. Have you considered having him retake one or both after a review course and/or more practice? College Board offers an “SAT question of the day” for free and there are lots of online resources if you don’t want to pay [much] for a review course. It is not particularly late to retake them, my son is taking the SAT again this Saturday after scoring relatively high last fall (he is applying to some very-hard-to-get-into schools).<br>
I am just getting started with this process myself (our oldest is also a junior) but I have been reading about superscores (where they take best scoring parts of separate SATs). Don’t know if the schools your son is interested in accept this, but there is no down side to scoring higher even if they don’t. This could be especially helpful if there is a large differential from the different parts of the test.
Also, is he taking any AP classes? That would help show that he is academically inclined.
Good luck!</p>

<p>Since you have a rather complicated financial situation, you may want to print out the FAFSA formula, and work through it by hand <a href=“[/url]”>;/a&gt; That way you will be able to see clearly which factors most influence your FAFSA EFC.</p>

<p>As pointed out above, most places will expect you to pay more than your EFC. It is very important that you are very clear about how much you can afford. That way you can work with your son to develop an appropriate list that includes one or more clear financial safeties that also are academically safe for him.</p>

<p>Caly Poly, Univ. San Diego, UCLA, UCSD</p>

<p>Those are OOS publics that aren’t known for merit or aid for OOS students. So, unless you plan on paying all costs, those won’t work.</p>

<p>Publics can barely help their own state’s students. They need to reserve their FA for their own state’s students. </p>

<p>If an OOS student applied to UWash, he would get very little help as well.</p>

<p>Some publics (not in Calif) do give merit scholarships to OOS students with high stats.</p>

<p>Do a search for a thread by Momfromtexas. She did a lot of searching for significant merit aid for her kids. The thread is a bit old but the advice in it is good.</p>

<p>I can only comment about Santa Clara University. My daughter is a graduate of SCU. She had a similar weighted GPA, higher class rank and higher SAT scores (but not by a lot). She got VERY little merit aid from them ($6000 grant). Their most significant merit awards go to students who are accepted with distinction. I don’t know whether or not your son would meet this…but my daughter didn’t. They do not guarantee to meet full need of accepted students…and they don’t. Having said all of that, if you can AFFORD the school, it is terrific. Just by looking at your school list, I’m guessing your son is interested in engineering…their engineering school is very good (DD was an engineering major so we are a bit biased!).</p>

<p>Incredible, amazing stuff. It will take me awhile to digest all this. Thanks so much.</p>



<p>UCSD (University of California at San Diego) is a public university. University of San Diego is a private Catholic university located in San Diego. Many students who apply to USD also apply to SCU.</p>

<p>It is complicated. The bottom line, however, is that there are not very many colleges that guarantee to meet 100% of need. That is need as they define it, by the way, and may include loans as aid. When you are looking at colleges, look at US News & World Report to find out what percent of need each one that your son likes tends to give. Also look at what the breakdown of the aid is, grants vs loans. Then look at the cost of the college. Look at the statistics like the average test scores at the college, and you can get some idea how desirable a student your son is to that college. Look also if the college offers merit money, and what % of kids get that. </p>

<p>You can do a quick analysis of need using the FAFSA calculaltors that can give you what is called an EFC (Expected Family Contribution). If low enough, your son can qualify for the PELL grant and any state monies available for that purpose. The EFC does not guarantee your son money beyond that and Stafford Loan subsidization eligibility, but if the colleges have other government programs such as Perkins loans and SEOG, your son could be eligible for those.</p>

<p>When you need money, you have to cast a wide net. Financial safeties are very important and should be the first schools you identify. What colleges do you know you can afford and that he can gain admissions? Work outward from there.</p>

Caly Poly, Univ. San Diego, UCLA, UCSD </p>

<p>Mom2…UCSD (University of California at San Diego) is a public university. University of San Diego is a private Catholic university located in San Diego. Many students who apply to USD also apply to SCU. *</p>

<p>LOL…as a Catholic native of California, I know about USD… I thought he was listing UC schools… I missed that he wrote “Univ”.</p>

<p>If you read momoftexas’ thread keep in mind that 2006 was a veeeery different year than 2011. People were still exurberant and optimistic about the future financially etc. Some of those people that in 2006 criticized Momoftexas for the focus on finances could very well be praising momoftexas if the thread were started in 2008 or 2009 or even today. The strategy in that post, however, still holds basically true.</p>