Parents4Parents: Parent of Two, Highly Knowledgeable in Financial Aid Matters - ASK ME ANYTHING!

Thank you! I have the exact numbers somewhere, maybe it’s closer to 19K for the subsidized ONLY???

@kelsmom I am submitting some financial aid appeals for my current HS senior because we had significant one-time income in our base year. If the colleges take that into account, what are their options as to how they handle it? Can they take it out of the equation altogether? Alternatively, can they convert it to assets?

Also, one college wants to know what we spent the money on. Are some expenses considered more “legitimate” than others? And if we did spend the money on what they consider “legitimate”, (say, medical expenses or a younger child’s high school tuition) does it matter if all of the spending occurred in the base year vs the base year plus the next year?


There is always $2000 of the max that cannot be subsidized, so freshman year it’s $3500, then $4500, then $5500 and $5500. Not every student qualifies for subsidized loans or not for the full amount. There is also an origination fee, so it will cost you something.

Schools that approve a judgment request for removal of one time income will typically remove it from AGI but include it in assets. They ask about it because they might make a determination to exclude it from assets in certain instances. Each school will have its own policies about that. Also, if you still have the additional money in the bank, they want to avoid counting it twice.

@kelsmom - two Financial Aid questions. Thank you for sharing your expertise here, btw!
have an s20 (undergrad, FAFSA only school) and d16 (prof. grad school) this upcoming year.

  1. for 21-22; wondering if grad school student counts as having a sibling in college for S20 on FAFSA.

  2. cashing out on some home equity (HELOC) to help D16. Does that cash sitting in our account count as cash when filling out FAFSA for S20? **wrapping my head around this; home equity doesnt count on FAFSA, but does it count when it’s turned into actual cash through a loan?


I recently looked into the graduate school scenario, since I will have 2 in college in 2022 and 1 in graduate school, and I was told the student in graduate school will not help with FA.

i sort of figured that would be the case. that’s a lot of kids in school for you, mjkacmom!

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Re this: for 21-22; wondering if grad school student counts as having a sibling in college for S20 on FAFSA

You need to contact the college where the undergrad sibling goes to college. Some colleges will count the grad school kid as a kid in college, and others absolutely will not. And this is even if you do list that grad student as a dependent who is pursuing a degree on the FAFSA

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The money sitting in the bank does count. Only exception I know of is if it is from other FA, like money left from the year before.

Best to transfer it to the D16 if that is what it is for.

For FAFSA purposes, a sibling will not be included in a grad student’s number in college. This is because the grad student is automatically independent and is their own household (parents/siblings not included). Schools that collect parent information for grad school may very well consider a sibling in college when determining their own aid, though. Contact the college to ask about that.

Yes, the HELOC money will need to be reported if in the account when the FAFSA is completed. So either don’t tap into it until after, or pay it before. (And the rule of thumb is to never try to think logically when it comes to financial aid! The rules are so often illogical … just read the rules and follow them strictly, because that’s the expectation.)