Financial Aid

Financial Aid
What is a FAFSA form?
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) determines how much money you and your family must contribute each year for your education. Your FAFSA will be evaluated using a standard formula which takes into account your and your family's income, assets, as well as othe special circumstances. This evaluation determines the amount you and your family will need to contribute to the cost of your education. The difference between the cost of your education and your family's contribution is called need. This is the amount of financial aid you're eligible to receive.

Where can I get a FAFSA form?
FAFSA forms are available online at: www.FAFSA.ed.gov

When should I file the FAFSA?
As soon as possible after January 1st of the calendar year you will be starting school.

I know we make too much money to qualify for financial aid. Why should we fill out the FAFSA?
Regardless of family income, students may borrow an Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan. The FAFSA application must be completed in order for a student to borrow under this loan program. Many colleges also wish to have FAFSA results on file even if a parent PLUS loan is the only form of assistance being requested.

My parents have a lot of debts. Isn’t there a place to report their expenses on the FAFSA?
No. The formula used by the Federal processor to calculate Expected Family Contribution assumes that a certain amount of income is needed to support a family. Also, it’s based on household size and the number of family members in college. The Federal financial aid methodology does not make allowances for different lifestyle choices, which often influence the amount of a family’s living expenses.

My parents are divorced and I live with my mother, but my father claims me as a deduction. Whose information should I use?
The student must use the income and asset information of the parent they lived with most during the past 12 months, regardless of who claims them on the tax return. Any child support paid to the custodial parent is reported as untaxed income.

My stepfather will not be helping me with my college costs. Do I have to report his income on my financial aid application?
Yes. Federal regulations require that the financial information of the parent the student lived with most during the past year and their spouse, be reported on the FAFSA.

Why do they want last year’s tax information? My father just lost his job, so my parents’ 2009 income will be a lot lower than in 2008.
Income information from a completed tax year is requested because it is easily verifiable and more accurate than projected income figures. If a family has experienced a reduction in income, the financial aid administrator at the college should be contacted. They may be able to use professional judgment to adjust the expected family contribution to reflect the family’s current circumstances.

Would we be better off reporting savings under the student or the parent asset section?
The asset must be reported where it is most appropriate, based on whose name is on the account. The financial aid formula assesses student assets at 35% and parents’ assets at a greatly reduced rate which is partially dependent on the age of the older parent.

How can a student be considered as independent status on the FAFSA?
The student must meet one of the following criteria:
1) be 24 years old by December of the award year
2) be an orphan or ward of the court
3) be a veteran of the Armed Services
4) be married or have legal dependents other than a spouse
5) be a professional student or a graduate student
6) be judged independent by the financial aid administrator, based on documented unusual circumstances
7) be an emancipated minor
8) have a legal guardian
9) if at anytime after July 1, 2009 a high school official, a director of a federally funded emergency shelter or a director of a runaway or homeless youth facility, determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless.

What does the term "Expected Family Contribution" (EFC) mean?
EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION (EFC) is determined by a formula (The Federal Methodology) which evaluates your income, certain assets and liabilities, income of your student and their assets and determines how much you should be able to pay toward the total cost of college. Regardless of the cost of the college, the amount of Expected Family Contribution does not vary. The family gross income, assets less home or farm, age of the parents, the number of dependent children, the number of family members in college, all have an impact on the EFC.

How can I reduce the amount of my student loan?
Ask your school if they offer a payment plan. Most do. A payment plan takes the amount of money you have to pay for college and divides it into monthly payments. That makes it so you don't have to pay the entire lump sum at the beginning of each semester. Even if you can afford just a few hundred $ a month toward a payment plan, you can still reduce the amount you have to borrow. You're paying as you go. If you owe $10000 and pay $400/monthly, the total you'll have to borrow is $5200. If you pay $830/monthly, you'll have to borrow $0.
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