To FAFSA or not to FAFSA?

<p>I've run the numbers and due to a fairly unusual circumstance there is absolutely no way D. will qualify for any need based aid. That's fine, but my question is whether to bother with all of the financial aid forms. It seems like a lot of work to be told we don't qualify.</p>

<p>Would not applying for aid be to her advantage or to her disadvantage? Not all the schools she is applying to are need blind. Would knowing she could easily pay her own way help her get admitted anywhere?</p>

<p>Is there a possibility for merit aid? If so, for some colleges, you may still need to file with FAFSA.</p>

<p>Definitely at one school. Thanks--I hadn't considered that.
I feel a little embarrassed even applying after reviewing her finances last night. She has a trust and from what I can tell that is counted as her asset, so it weighs far more heavily than parental assets do. Between what she has and what her parental contribution would be she's set.</p>

<p>There is no reason to be embarrassed about seeking merit aid. The colleges are the ones who should be embarrassed about their costs of attendance. Check with that school to see if a FAFSA is needed for merit consideration. Usually a FAFSA will not be needed but some colleges blur the separation between need and merit.</p>

<p>Carnegie Mellon has one merit scholarship reserved for students who do not qualify for any, or much, need-based aid. To prove that you do not qualify for need-based, you must file a FAFSA. There may be other schools with a similar merit award, but I don't know about them.</p>

<p>This question comes up each year...I'll post my answer. File the FAFSA. There are a number of reasons to do so. First, as noted, some schools require this even for merit aid. Second, it will qualify your student for a Stafford Loan (unsubsidized if there is no need) which many parents feel is a good loan for the student to assume towards college expenses. And third, and most important, IF you have some kind of financial set back during the school year, your FAFSA will already be on file for the school if they need to reconsider finaid for your student. Sadly, there are situations of job layoffs, huge medical bills, death of a breadwinner that put a college student's finances in a tailspin. If you have one of these extenuating circumstances, the last thing you will want to do is have to complete a FAFSA for finaid consideration. Do it now....have it on file, and hope you never have to use it.</p>

<p>Thumper's post makes sense. It's another reason to add to my list that I wish I'd found CC before our son applied to college.</p>

<p>Nevertheless, we didn't qualify for financial aid and did not file the FAFSA. At the time, we were happy we didn't have to fill out one more form. Despite this, our son was offered merit aid from all but one of the colleges to which he applied. I imagine, however, that it depends on the college. The college he ended up attending offered one merit scholarship that required the FAFSA. Upon further checking, however, FAFSA was required because it was a factor used in awarding the scholarship. In other words, even though it was listed as a merit scholarship, it was actually a need/merit scholarhip. It's always possible our son might have missed a chance at a scholarship but it was highly unlikely.</p>

<p>As for whether no financial aid helps with admissions, I can only offer our experience. Our son was a NMF with good grades from a non-ranking private high school. We live in West Texas. He was accepted at an Ivy League college with limited ECs and no hook. Northstarmom once suggested this was probably because we live in an underutilized area and that may be true, although our area sends several students each year to the Ivy League. It is also possible that our willingness and ability to pay full fare was considered. We'll never know and, frankly, it was never an issue for us. Our son chose a college honors program that he liked and whose administrators demonstrated they wanted him as a student. In his freshman year, when our son grew a little homesick or was tired from studies and tests, it helped him to remember why he chose his college and to keep plugging away.</p>

<p>Mombot and Thumper,
I have given this long consideration, as we are in the same situation of not qualifying for need based aid. It seems that not checking the FA box on the application, MAY have a very slight favorable effect on decision outcomes of borderline applicants, or getting off waitlists.
Our situation follows. Some schools are near and far reaches. Only the far reach requires FAFSA for merit awards. Our student doesn't come close.
The schools which might bestow a merit award do not require a FAFSA filing, consideration is automatic for all applicants.
We do expect our student to take an unsubsidized Stafford. The deadline for filing the FAFSA for 2007-2008 is sometime after April 1st, maybe July 1. (This is NOT the school's deadline, but FAFSA's, for loans).
Our D will not check FA box on applications; when our deposit check is sent, maybe to a reach, we will file the FAFSA for the loan.</p>

<p>What about the CSS profile in that circumstance - not eligible for need-based aid but wanting to keep open the possibility of merit aid?</p>

<p>If the Profile is required by the school for need-based, I'd check with the school to see if they need or want it filed for merit based.</p>

<p>FAFSA also qualifies students for work-study, which are some of the best jobs available on or near campus. Your student can decline the job, but it at least allows the student to qualify if s/he decides it's something s/he wants to explore.</p>

<p>We did NOT submit the FAFSA because the schools our S applied to assured us that they did not require or consider it for the merit-based aid he sought & got. We did NOT want him to work his freshman year. When we did the preliminary FAFSA worksheets & programs, it was clear our EFC was MUCH higher than the annual costs at all the schools S considered. My sister did submit the FAFSA, tho her EFC also exceeded the cost of both her kids colleges & her freshman D was awarded loans & work-study.</p>

<p>My understanding though, is that work study is need-based. In our family, when we filed FAFSA etc, but did not qualify for need, kid got no work study. Now that we qualify, we did get it. So I doubt Mombot's kid would qualify for that.</p>

<p>Note: some colleges (including the members of the 568 group) compute EFC based on a formula that treats assets held in the student's name in the same way as assets held in the parents' name.</p>

<p>So do not give up on the hope of need-based financial aid if your daughter is applying to colleges that use both Profile and FAFSA. You might be surprised to see how the EFC calculation comes out. Not all colleges use the FAFSA methodology to compute EFC. They are free to use their own institutional methodology.</p>

<p>More details are here:
<a href=""&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>MIT's financial aid officer has discussed how MIT treats assets held in the student's name. How those student trust fund assets are assessed in the MIT formula depends on who set up the trust. (Apparently if the parents set up the trust, the proceeds will be treated more generously than if someone other than the parents set up the trust.)</p>

<p><a href=""&gt;;/a>
(scroll down to second post to see MIT's Dan Barkowitz' discussion.)</p>

<p>According to my sister, her D didn't qualify for need-based FAid either, but she was given work study anyway, so it might be worthwhile to try (if the family is willing).</p>

<p>After I picked myself off the floor when I ran last year's tax return through a college's website calculator, we decided to not file the FAFSA - I guess we didn't want them to know our business. The earlier poster is correct, you can apply for a Stafford "separately", and many schools do not require a FAFSA for merit - you are precisely the people they are looking for.</p>

<p>The work-study argument I have not heard, and that is interesting, because my D is having a hard time getting a campus job, the few non-work study are during prime class hours.</p>

<p>File the FAFSA if you there are any merit awards that may need it, if there is a chance you may qualify later (some schools have rules limiting later Financial aid if the app was not file with a financial aid request. You won't be penalized at the need aware schools. What they do, is look to see how much financial aid is needed, and then make the decision whether the student is worth financing for that much, once they are down to the point where they have to start rationing. Many kids apply for financial aid and are not eligible--you happen to be ahead of the game cuz you ran your numbers through the calculator. Too many people do not do this and are shocked to find out that they are too rich for aid when they are barely getting by as far as they were concerned. Also, there is a big difference between those kids with a zero EFC, and those with, say, less than $5000 in need.</p>

<p>Thanks everybody. I'm going to check out MIT's site. MIT is her top choice; the trust was set up under the terms of her dad's will, so I don't know how that is taken into consideration.</p>