When to NOT file the FAFSA

<p>Hoping to glean the expertise of some of the great experienced minds here (swimcatsmom?)</p>

<p>So - despite my embarassment at a simple question - I am just wondering if it is ever better not to file a fafsa?</p>

<p>If you will not qualify for a pell, seog, beog, etc. and have an EFC that is higher than you can possibly come up with under any circumstances, would it be risking anything to not file?</p>

<p>If I understand correctly, a person with a very high EFC (25K, say) may possible qualify for a an unsubsidized stafford loan - and that's all - is that correct? And are you able to apply for those without completing a FAFSA?</p>

<p>Just wondering if maybe skipping the whole thing wouldn't hurt .....</p>

<p>Compared to the price of college, an EFC of $25K really isn’t very high. Unless you’re only looking at cheap state schools or other low-cost options, it would be crazy not to file that FAFSA - that’s your gateway to lots of need-based funding. It could put some attractive schools within reach.</p>

<p>Now if you had a “full pay” type of EFC, that’s a different matter. Not sure whether there’s any reason to file, in general. But some schools seem to require the FAFSA even for “merit aid” - or so they say. It might be bogus.</p>

<p>If you have an EFC of about $25k, you’re probably not going to get need-based aid at most schools and you will definitely not get any federal government aid apart from an unsubsidized loan (and I personally don’t consider unsubsidized loans to be “financial aid” per se, although they can often be better than private loans in terms of interest rate and repayment options). You can’t really get those without completing the FAFSA though. It really is the gateway to all federal financial aid.</p>

<p>I’ve also read here on CC that some schools will not consider a student for merit aid unless there is a FAFSA on file. I suppose they want to avoid the embarassment of throwing a scholarship at a promising student, only to find out later that he’s a billionaire’s son.</p>

<p>The other thing is that there is always a chance that your family’s financial picture could take a turn for the worse in the next 4 years. Some schools will not allow you to apply for need-based aid in subsequent years if you didn’t apply in the first year.</p>

<p>FAFSA also makes your student eligible for federal work/study. I like it that my D works 10 hours a week at her work/study job, even though the amount she earns is a pittance compared to the total cost. It gives her skin in the game.</p>

<p>Filing FAFSA will not cost you anything except an hour or so of your time. There’s really no reason not to do it.</p>

<p>Real Life examples:
At S1’s school, FAFSA was required even for non-need-based aid. With an EFC of about $20,000, his school did not award any need-bassed aid other than unsubsidized Stafford loans.
At S2’s school last year, even with an EFC of about $22,000 he was able to qualify for just over $20k in need-based aid in addition to federal work study and sub- and unsub-loans.
Each family needs to decide, but for ours, the effort to file the FAFSA and Profile were worth it.</p>


<p>Not all schools require FAFSA to be considered for merit aid. Read through the information in the scholarship section of the school you are interested in. DS received multiple full academic scholarship awards and very few required filing FAFSA.</p>

<p>My advice is to go to the source, and contact the financial aid offices of (or read the website of) each of your child’s potential colleges.</p>

<p>I contacted six schools to which my daughter applied. None require filing for need-based aid as a freshman in order to get merit aid, or in order to get need-based aid in a later year. At the same time, I’ve learned from CC that there are colleges that do require filing. </p>

<p>The only way to find the definitive answer is to go directly to your colleges.</p>

<p>If you’ve already done the PROFILE, the FAFSA should be easier. I’ve read in the past on CC that there’s some magic button where you can export the PROFILE data to the FAFSA. </p>

<p>I’ll echo Schokolade’s advice to check with each school about their policies for merit-based aid and need-based aid in subsequent years.</p>

<p>Every student qualifies for unsubsidized Stafford loans. The only way to get those loans is by filing the FAFSA. You can reject all or part of the loans if you so desire.</p>

<p>We plan to file the FAFSA to cover ourselves in the event things change in future years and because D’s likely school requires it for any school aid. However, since we don’t expect to receive much if any, do we need to be one of the early birds? Do schools already start assigning aid before their deadline? D’s stats probably won’t get her merit aid and the COA is one of the highest at $50K. First-timer but our EFC may come out around $40K? Hoping for a little help. Any chance?</p>


<p>If your EFC will be about $40K at a $50K COA school, and your child isn’t likely to get merit aid, your child’s FA package will probably be just a Stafford Loan ($5500) with possibly some work study and a very small (maybe couple of K) grant. And that is if the school “meets need”. Most schools do not meet a student’s full need for FA. The school may also suggest that you take out a parent PLUS loan to meet any remaining need.</p>

<p>Sorry to be grim here, but it seems to be reality.</p>



<p>You can email the school and ask but, in my experience, schools do begin packaging students as their aid applications are complete. We have received award letters very close to the priority filing deadline and have know people who waited until just before the deadline to file and did not get their awards quickly. YMMV</p>

<p>Good thing we saved then. We’ve been very blessed. Will still be a tough check to write. Thanks for your replies. You moms rock!</p>