How do I apply for financial aid?

Each college or university has their own requirements and deadlines. US citizens and permanent residents begin by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as of October 1st of your students Senior year in High School.

Most private schools also require the completion of the CSS/PROFILE application with the College Scholarship Service (CSS), which also charges a $5.00 fee to file, plus $18.00 per school. Each school has their own deadline for the PROFILE as well as the FAFSA. If you have applied Early Decision/Early Action, this deadline is often much earlier, so you’ll need to check early on in your senior year.


Do I have to reapply for financial aid each year?

Yes. Most financial aid offices require that you apply for financial aid every year. If your financial circumstances change, you may get more or less aid. Note that your eligibility for financial aid may change significantly, especially if you have a different number of family members in college. Renewal of the student’s financial aid package also depends on making satisfactory academic progress toward a degree, such as earning a minimum number of credits and achieving a minimum GPA.

Should we apply for state aid?

By completing the FAFSA, you are already applying for state as well as federal aid. However, be sure to meet your state’s deadline, as each state has its own deadline. Also, some state programs, like New Jersey, are requiring that in—state state schools be listed first on the FAFSA.

I probably don’t qualify for aid. Should I apply for aid anyway?

Absolutely! Many families mistakenly think they don’t qualify for aid and so lose out by failing to apply for it. In addition, there are a few sources of aid such as unsubsidized Stafford and PLUS loans that are available regardless of need, but you must complete the FAFSA to be eligible. The FAFSA is free, so there is no good excuse to not apply. Sometimes a family’s financial situation dramatically changes and the college can respond more quickly if they have your information on file.

I want to apply for financial aid, but my parents haven’t completed their Federal Tax Returns yet. What should I do?

Go with your best estimate and then update the FAFSA when the tax returns are completed. At the more selective private universities and even some publics, regular decision applicants are required to submit copies of their most recently completed tax returns (including all forms and schedules) as early as February 15th. If you have not yet completed your tax returns by this date and are using estimated tax data when completing the Profile and FAFSA application, you should submit a copy of your previous year’s tax returns by February 15th. Financial aid awards based on estimated data and tax information will not be made final until the tax return requirement has been completed.

Will I get the same financial aid for all four years?

Students must reapply for financial aid every year. We review your eligibility for assistance each year with the updated information you give to us. However, you should expect to receive the same financial aid provided there are no significant changes in your family’s finances and you meet the financial aid renewal deadlines. You can also expect the se|f—help portions of your award will increase slightly each year.

My family’s circumstances have changed dramatically since we filed the CSS/Profile and the FAFSA. Can the college take these changes into consideration?

Yes, Colleges always want to know if you experience a dramatic financial change such as an unexpected significant change in income, a serious medical problem, or other extenuating circumstances. You should contact the financial aid office and ask how they want you to communicate this information. It may be in writing (either by letter or e—mail) outlining the change and giving them as many dollar—specific details as possible. Essentially, tell them what happened and then tell them what it means.

We have a great resource to assist you with crafting a winning appeal. Take advantage of our Financial Aid Appeals Kit.


Do I need to be admitted before I can apply for financial aid at a particular university?

No. You can submit the FAFSA for financial aid any time after January 1st. To actually receive funds, however, you must be admitted and enrolled at the university. However, some colleges and universities have earlier deadlines for Early Decision and Early Action. For these programs, the CSS/Profile is required.


What do I have to do to continue to receive financial aid each year?

You must update your financial records by filing renewal financial aid applications, such as the FAFSA, CSS/Profile (if required), and institutional financial applications every year in the Winter/Spring. Deadlines vary from school to school. Your need-based financial aid is not contingent upon maintaining a target grade point average, other than to meet the college’s standards for minimum academic progress. Students receiving selected merit-based scholarships may have to meet additional academic standards to retain these awards.

When will I receive a response to my aid application?

If you apply on time, you will receive your response along with your offer of admission or soon afterward.

I notice my award letter says that my financial aid is contingent on receipt of additional documentation and information such as my parents’ Federal Tax Returns. Does this mean my financial aid award could change?

If the additional documentation or information still required reflects different information than what your family provided the school on the CSS/PROFILE or FAFSA, your aid eligibility will be re-evaluated. Your award might then be changed to reflect the more accurate information.

How much will college cost?

College will cost your family the amount calculated and identified as your EFC, plus your gap times the number of children your family will put through college times the number of years that it takes each child to accomplish the first bachelor’s degree.

What is the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

Your family contribution is a calculation or snapshot of your financial parameters that determine the amount of money your family will be expected to pay for one year of higher education for that student applicant. There are two types of calculations that will determine your family contribution. The one used by all colleges that offer federal financial aid is the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and this is called the federal methodology. The second one used by some colleges is the institutional methodology, which determines the amount of institutional aid offered by those colleges. This institutional methodology is almost always accomplished by the use of the CSS/Profile. The colleges that use the CSS/Profile still use the FAFSA to determine the amount of federal aid offered by that institution. The colleges that do no use the institutional methodology for institutional aid use the FAFSA for both the institutional and federal aid.

What parameters are used to calculate the EFC?

The family contribution has many variables that fall into four major categories. The categories are:

The parent’s income

The parent’s assets

The student’s income

The student’s assets

How did you determine my expected student contribution?

The need analysis formula is used to determine the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is shown on your Student Aid Report. The Federal Methodology takes family size, the number of family members in college, taxable and nontaxable income, and assets into account. Some private schools use their own institutional methodology that takes into consideration assets, such the net value of the family’s residence that is not counted by the Federal Methodology.

What is the Gap?

The Gap is the amount of need-based monies not covered by the college’s financial aid offer and your family contribution. Example: The cost of attendance is $20,000, your family contribution is $10,000, The financial aid award is $8,000, and therefore the gap is $2,000. The family will be required to fund the gap.


The total cost to the family will then be your family contribution plus the gap or $12,000 in this example.

How can we eliminate the Gap?

The Gap cannot always be eliminated but can be minimized by applying to the right school, early. The right school would simply be defined as one where your academic abilities match what the school programs offer. Example: if your SAT/ACT and other factors are below the average for the incoming freshman class of the previous year at a particular college then you will only receive federal and state aid which will generally create a large gap. The opposite is also True. If your SAT/ACT and other factors are above that same average then you are a desirable freshman for that college and you have an excellent chance to have no gap.

What can be done to lower the family contribution?

Proper financial & tax planning can mitigate the family contribution but the family must understand that the responsibility for the cost of higher education belongs to the parents of the student.


What is the timeline of events that will maximize the amount of financial aid my family can receive it the student is worthy of assistance?

PSAT in the sophomore and junior school years.

SAT/ACT Test in spring of the junior year.

College searches and visits starting in the spring of the junior year until the final six are decided on.

SAT/ACT Test in fall of the senior year. (Our test prep program is the best on the market and well priced! We have found that the results, (which are guaranteed with a money-back refund) are significant, which can mean a higher offer of aid to your family)


Decide on the final colleges To apply to by November and December.

Complete the CSS/Profile, if required, in December.

Complete the FAFSA no later than January.

Complete institutional financial aid forms, if necessary in December & January or when they become available.

In March/April, respond to housing deposits early, as most are refundable if not used.

In March, April, and May, respond to award letters as soon as possible and ask questions of the financial aid department so that you understand why your award is what it is.

Complete your loan applications if they are necessary in May or June.

What are assets in the financial aid formula?

Assets in the federal formula (FAFSA) are cash, savings, checking, certificates of deposit (CD), bonds, trust, money markets, mutual funds, additional real estate and stocks that are not wrapped inside retirement financial vehicles like 401-K, IRA, Pension Plans, Annuities and Life Insurance products that are held by the student (student’s spouse) and or parents or legal guardians.


Assets in the institutional formula (CSS/Profile) are cash, savings, checking, certificates of deposit (CD), bonds, Trust, money markets, mutual funds, additional real estate and stock that are not wrapped inside retirement vehicles like the above. In addition to the above, The assets of the student’s siblings are considered in a weighted formula and the equity of your home are considered as an asset. Some selective colleges will assess the students 529 or College Savings Plan as a resource. This means a dollar for dollar reduction in financial aid.

As a student, how do my assets affect the formula?

The FAFSA multiplies all of your assets by 20%. Example: $5,000.00 of assets will increase your family’s contribution by$1,000.00 for every year the money is there.

The CSS/Profile multiplies all of your assets by 25%. Example: $5,000 of assets will increase your family’s contribution by $1,250 for every year the money is there.

As a student, how does my income affect the formula?

The FAFSA multiplies all income over $6,550 (W-2) income by 50%. The freshman year in college will be affected by the income from January 1st of the junior year To December 31st of the senior year.

The CSS/Profile multiplies all income over a variable number and therefore the income limit for freshman is roughly $2,500.

As a student, how does my social security payment affect the formula?

You are the beneficiary of the social security check; however, the check is cashed by your parent and therefore will be calculated on the parent’s side of the formula. This can be a costly mistake considering the 50% multiplication factor for income as opposed to the 12% multiplication factor for parents.


How much is my asset protection allowance?

The asset protection allowance under the FAFSA is $8,100.  If you do not have enough assets to worry about then complete the FAFSA as early as possible in January.

The CSS/Profile asset protection allowance is arrived at by a sliding scale formula that includes all assets, including home/farm equity.


I have a property that I hold the mortgage on. How does this affect the formula?

When you have sold a piece of personal property to someone where you are the bank and you hold the mortgage then you have the asset. This asset is equal to what is owed to you or equal to what you could sell the mortgage for on the secondary mortgage market, whichever is less. Check with your local real estate professional for the value of the held mortgage.

Given the choice, should I borrow needed funds from my primary residence or from my second property?

You should borrow against the second property if the colleges you have chosen use the FAFSA exclusively. It will make no difference which property you take a loan out on in the CSS/Profile, as all assets are treated by a sliding scale formula.


How do medical expenses affect the formulas?

The FAFSA does not take in account family medical expenses and therefore has no effect on the Expected Family Contribution. If your medical bills are larger than 4% of your total income, then a separate written form documenting these expenses should be sent to the financial aid office of the college you have chosen. Do not send this documentation to the Dept of Education with the FAFSA, as if will be discarded and not be reported on the FAFSA.

The CSS/Profile specifically asks this question, so you do not need to send additional documentation directly to any schools.

What should I do with cash or monies in my savings and checking accounts?

For students, if you are planning on making cash purchases anyway, now is the time. This is not The green light for a shopping frenzy, but it is better than to let the money be assessed by the formulas.

Parents, if your assets are below the asset allowance it will not matter. Therefore leave it. If your cash is above the allowance, then again as above, now is the time to purchase needed items, such as those for college, or to pay off debts.


l have decided, as a non-working parent currently, to go back to work to help defer the cost of our child’s higher education. Is this a good idea?

This is actually an excellent idea. The amount of income you bring into the household is an important figure to analyze. You will receive an allowance of 35% of the lower wage earner income to a limit of $2,800. The optimum second wage earner range is 6-9 thousand dollars per year.

What are other resources in the financial aid process?

Resources, as defined by the Higher Education Act, are not income or assets. Resources are also called estimated financial assistance and are not considered in the calculation of a family’s contribution. By law, resources and financial aid may not exceed the amount of a student’s calculated need. Therefore resources are assessed at 100%. Examples of resources are outside scholarships, tuition or fee waivers, veteran’s educational benefits, and money paid directly to the college from a relative or friend. Also, some selective colleges will consider Section 529 College Savings Plans as a resource.

What are the sources of money for a college education?

There are seven major sources of money for a college education. They are:


College athletic based awards

College academic based awards (some are only given if there is need)

College need-based awards

Federal Programs

State Programs

The family’s contribution or EFC

Outside scholarships (Local, Public, Private)


What is the income “cut-off” for financial aid?

We encourage all applicants for admission who think they need assistance to apply for financial aid, regardless of income level. We apply a formula that uses all of the information on the FAFSA and the CSS/Profile. There are a number of factors other than income that we take into consideration when assessing a family’s ability to contribute. We may also take into account any special financial circumstances.


Why is the family contribution listed on the SAR different from the family contribution expected by the university?

The federal formula for computing the expected family contribution is different from those used by many universities. In particular, the federal formula does not consider home equity as part of the assets.


Where can I get information about Federal student financial aid?


Are work-study earnings taxable?

The money you earn from Federal Work-Study is generally subject to federal and state income tax, but exempt from FICA taxes (provided you are enrolled full time and work less than half-time). Federal Work-Study earnings during the calendar year should be included in the totals for AGI and Worksheet C on the FAFSA. Work—Study earnings should only be included in Worksheet C when they represent financial aid to the student since the answer to this question is used as an exclusion from taxed income. The student should also be careful to report amounts based on the calendar year, not the school year.


Will my chances of admission be diminished if I apply for aid?

Some colleges and universities are need-sensitive and will take into consideration a family’s ability to afford the education before granting admission.


If I don’t qualify for aid, can I reapply as an upper-class student?

Yes. You may apply anytime during your period of enrollment.


What can I do if my parents are unable to meet the parent contribution?

If there are no changes in your financial circumstances and no additional information that you did not originally include when you applied for financial aid, your parents will need to consider ways to pay based on their income, assets, ability to borrow, and their own financial priorities. Many schools offer a number of parent payment and loan options that can help make paying for college a manageable expense. If circumstances have changed, then you should update your FAFSA and also contact the Financial Aid Office of the schools that you have applied to make sure that they have enough information before they decide on your aid offer.



FAFSA Questions


I have more than six colleges to have the FAFSA information sent to. How do I make sure that all the colleges get the information? Rank the colleges you have applied to from most important to least important. if you have sent applications to 12 colleges, with 4 of them being reach schools and 4 of them being safety schools, you should put the remaining 4 peer (or average chance) schools in the order of preference, followed by your reach schools and then your safety schools on the FAFSA. When the Student Aid Report (SAR) comes back, you can then call the Department of Education and have your remaining schools added to your SAR. You will need the title IV codes or names of the schools and the Data Release Number (DRN). The DRN is a four digit number found at the top right of the first page of your SAR. Remember, you want the schools to receive the data as soon as possible, so complete this work item the same day you receive the SAR in the mail.


If you filed your FAFSA on the Web, you can log back into the FAFSA website and make a correction by deleting the first set of schools, then add your remaining six schools in your order of preference. You will then have a second SAR that is made available. Your first six schools will still receive the first SAR; by “deleting them” you simply created a new SAR that will available only to the new schools that you added.


What is the Student Aid Report?

The Student Aid Report (SAR) is the Department of Education’s response to your FAFSA. If you filed your FAFSA on the Web, you will receive an email explaining that your SAR is now available online. You will have to log back in to the FAFSA website to view your SAR and make corrections, if necessary. You can also download a copy of your SAR.


It is always a good idea to keep a copy of your SAR, should a financial aid issue arise in the future.


What qualifications must a student meet to be eligible to receive federal financial aid?

To be eligible to receive federal financial aid, a student must:

Be a US Citizen/National or an Eligible Noncitizen

Be Registered with Selective Service (required for males l8 years of age or older)

Have earned a high school diploma, GED (General Education Degree), or have the ability to benefit according to federal regulations

Be enrolled in a program leading to a degree, certificate, or transfer program, and be taking courses applicable to the program

Be making satisfactory academic progress

Not owe a refund on a Federal grant or be in default on a Federal educational loan

Have financial need as determined by the US Department of Education need analysis system


What is the deadline for the FAFSA application?

The deadline for federal aid for the award year will be the earlier of June 30 or the end of the school year as determined at your school. This form may be used to apply for aid from other sources, such as your state or college. For information on deadlines for other sources of aid it would be best to contact your high school counselor or a financial aid administrator at your college.


I haven’t finished my taxes yet. What should I do?

The FAFSA is filed using the prior “prior” year’s tax information. So there is nothing you can do. However, if you feel that you were not awarded properly, you can request an appeal with the college. You can use our appeals kit to assist you in crafting a winning appeal.



Why do I have to provide my parents’ information on the FAFSA?

When you apply for federal student aid, your answers to the questions in Step 3 of the paper FAFSA or in Step 2 of the online FAFSA will determine whether you’re considered dependent on your parents or independent. If you’re considered dependent, your parents‘ income and assets, as well as your own, must be reported on the FAFSA. Students are classified as dependent or independent because federal student aid programs are based on the principle that students (and their parents or spouse, if applicable) are considered the primary source of support for post-secondary education.


Where can I get a copy of the FAFSA?

It is preferable and much faster to file the FAFSA online. Processing only takes a day or two, while the paper version can take three to four weeks. You can ask your guidance counselor for a copy. You can also get the FAFSA from the financial aid office at a local college, your local public library or by calling I-800-4-FED—AlD. File your FAFSA online at www.fafsa.gov.



What do those acronyms on the Student Aid Report (SAR) mean?

The acronyms on the bottom of the SAR represent intermediate results in the need analysis. To fully understand their meaning, you will need to be familiar with the federal need analysis methodology, such as is used by the EFC Estimator. The meanings of the acronyms are as follows:

EFC: Expected Family Contribution

TI: Total Income

ATI: Allowances Against Total Income

STX: State and Other Tax Allowance

EA: Employment Allowance

IPA:  Income Protection Allowance

CAI: Contribution from Available Income (Independent Student)

DNW: Discretionary Net Worth

APA: Education Savings and Asset Protection Allowance

PCA: Parents‘ Contribution from Assets

AAI: Adjusted Available Income

TPC: Total Parents’ Contribution

TSC: Total Student’s Contribution

PC: Parents‘ Contribution

SIC: Dependent Student’s Income Contribution

SCA: Dependent Student’s Contribution from Assets

If an asterisk appears next to the EFC figure, the student has been selected for verification. The asterisk is followed by a code that explains the reason why the student was selected for verification. The letter explains the reason for selection, and the number indicates the priority, with the code I the highest priority and code 25 the lowest priority (although there are higher codes).

Questions about Appealing My Financial Award

What is a Financial Aid Appeal? A formal request to have a financial aid administrator review your aid eligibility and possibly use Professional Judgment to adjust the figures. For example, if you believe the financial information on your financial aid application does not reflect your family’s current ability to pay (e.g., because of the death of a parent, unemployment or other unusual circumstances), you should definitely make an appeal. The financial aid administrator may require documentation of the special circumstances or of other information listed on your financial aid application.


I received a better financial aid award from another university. Will the college match the other school’s award? Colleges and universities don’t “negotiate” or match financial aid awards from other universities. It may be that another university is offering scholarships based on merit, and not demonstrated financial need. If, however, the other school has information about your family’s financial situation that you did not share with your preferred college, or if you have reason to believe an error was made during your evaluation, you will want to contact the financial office to discuss a possible re-evaluation.



Questions about Students Loans & Borrowing Strategies


Are my parents responsible for my educational loans?

No. Parents are, however, responsible for the Federal PLUS loans. Parents will only be responsible for your educational loans it you are under 18 and they co-sign your loan. In general, you and you alone are responsible for repaying your educational loans. On the other hand, if your parents (or grandparents) want to help pay off your loan, you can have your billing statements sent to their address. Likewise, if your lender or loan servicer provides an electronic payment service, where the monthly payments are automatically deducted from a bank account, your parents can agree to have the payments deducted from their account. But your parents are under no obligation to repay your loans. If they forget to pay the bill on time or decide to cancel the electronic payment agreement, you will be held responsible for the payments, not them.


Is it legal for a 17-year-old student to sign a promissory note for a student loan, even though the student has not yet reached the age of majority?

Normally, a minor cannot be held liable for a contract that they sign. However, in 1992 the Higher Education Act was amended to permit eligible students, defined as per Title IV regulations, to sign promissory notes for their own Federal student loans. As such, student loans represent one of the few exceptions to the so-called “defense of infancy”. The specific citation is section 484A(b) (2) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 USC lO9l a(b) (2)), and applies to Stafford, PLUS, and Consolidation Loans. lt does not appear to apply to Perkins and Direct Loans, although it was clearly the intent of Congress that it should.


Several states have also passed similar laws that consider minors to be competent to enter into a contract for an education loan. This extends similar protection to private and non—federa| loans. All private education loans require a cosigner when the student is under the age of majority, just to be safe.


Can my parents find out in advance if they will qualify for a parent loan?

The most frequently used parent loan program is the Federal PLUS Loan Program. Most lenders participating in this popular program have a Pre-Approval Service that parents can use to determine their eligibility prior to actually completing the application process. Loan processing for PLUS loans doesn’t actually begin until mid-summer.

Questions about Owning a Business

I am self-employed. Is my business considered an asset? The value of your business

minus debt goes through a weighted formula and is then considered as an asset.


Questions about Independent Student Status

Why am I not considered an Independent student when I pay my own bills and school? If you feel you have special circumstances not considered below, please speak with the financial aid office at your school.

The Department of Education has a very rigid set of criteria for determining if a student is INDEPENDENT for financial aid filing, and it is essential for you to know your status. Regardless of how much support you actually receive from your parents, you are still considered a DEPENDENT student for financial aid purposes UNLESS:

The student is married

The student has a child or other dependents) who receive more than half their support from the student, and who also live with the student

The student is enrolled in a graduate or professional student

The student is a qualified veteran of the US Military (not on active duty)

The student is an orphan or ward of the court or was a ward of the court until age 18

If none of these criteria are met, the student is considered DEPENDENT and must provide custodial parents’ financial information. If the student IS dependent, it is very helpful to have the custodial parent available for the application process as well, since questions will be asked about their financial data. Please bear in mind that filing under the incorrect dependency status will result in your application being rejected by the Federal Processor. We understand that these rules may not make sense to you. Many students feel they are INDEPENDENT, because they have their own house or apartment, file their own taxes, or receive no support from their parents. Though the rules may seem unfair, the Department of Education is very rigid on this point, and the correct information must be provided. To determine each state’s residency rules, visit: wvvw.collegeboard.com/about/association/international/residency.html

I was considered Independent when I was married, but am now divorced and considered a dependent student. How do I get the form to recognize me as an independent student? If a student was considered independent only by meeting the requirement for being married, and has since divorced, the student is considered a DEPENDENT student by the Department of Education guidelines. We understand that these rules may not seem fair to you. Many students feel they are INDEPENDENT because they have their own house or apartment, file their own taxes, or receive no support from their parents. Though the rules may seem unfair, the Department of Education is very rigid on this point, and the correct information must be provided. You can check with the Financial Aid office at your school to see if they have policies for special circumstances that may apply to you.

How do I become “independent?” Students are not considered independent by the federal government unless they meet one of the following criteria: age 24, ward of the court, married, has a dependent of their own, or is a veteran of the armed forces.

Financial aid programs are administered by the university. The federal government provides the university with a fixed annual allocation, which is awarded by the financial aid administrator to deserving students. Such programs include the Perkins Loan, Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant and Federal Work—Study. Note that there is no guarantee that every eligible student will receive financial aid through these programs, because the awards are made from a fixed pool of money. This is a key difference between the campus—based loan programs and the Direct Loan Program. Do not confuse the two, even though both loans are issued through the schools.


Questions about Eligible Noncitizens


What qualifies a student as an Eligible Noncitizen? To qualify as an eligible noncitizen, the student or parent must be one of The following:

A US permanent resident who has an Alien Registration Receipt Card I—551 or I-151 (green card)

A conditional permanent resident with a I-551C

A Noncitizen with a Departure Record (I-94) from The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) showing any one of The following designations: ‘Refugee’, ‘Asylum Granted’, ‘Indefinite Parole’, ‘Humanitarian Parole’, or ‘Cuban—Haitian Entrant’.

What disqualifies a student as an Eligible Noncitizen?

F-1, F-2, or M-1 student visa

J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor visa

B-1 or B-2 visitor visa

G series visa (pertaining to international organizations)

H series or L series visa (allowing Temporary employment in the US.)

Notice of Approval to Apply for Permanent Residence” (I—171 or I-464)

“Temporary Protection Status”


Questions about Special Circumstances

I did not know about the income allowance as a student and managed to make $5,000.00, is there anything I can do? The results for this year are an increase in the family contribution of $1,225.00 as per the formulas calculation, but there are two things to remember. First, college is a multiple year programs and you will be eligible for more aid in the following years. Second, documenting that this level of income will not be available during the first and subsequent years with the college may result in a better award in the first and subsequent years.

We live on a farm, how do we list the farm on the financial aid forms? The equity of a farm is not listed on the FAFSA if you live and “materially participate in the farm’s operation”.

The CSS/Profile does count the assets of your farm equity. A word of caution, do not list the home part of the farm twice in the CSS/Profile under home and part of your farm property.

Am I considered a Veteran? The Department of Education defines a Veteran as the following:

Select “Yes” if the student: is a Veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces. The student is a veteran if he or she: served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard), or served as a member of the National Guard or Reserves and was called to service for purposes other than training, or was a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies and was released under a condition other than dishonorable.

Select “No” if the student: Has never served in the U.S. Armed Forces, is currently an ROTC student, a cadet or midshipman at a service academy, or a National Guard or Reserves enlistee activated only for training.

If the student is unsure of his or her status, contact the school’s financial aid office.

If I take a leave of absence, do I have to start repaying my loans? Not immediately. The subsidized Stafford loan has a grace period of 6 months and the Perkins loan a grace period of 9 months before the student must begin repaying the loan. When you take a leave of absence you will not have to repay your loan until the grace period is used up. If you use up the grace period, however, when you graduate you will have to begin repaying your loan immediately. It is possible to request an extension to the grace period, but this must be done before the grace period is used up. If your grace period has run out in the middle of your leave of absence, you will have to start making payments on your student loans.


Are there any programs that provide financial assistance to families who are homeschooling their children? The US Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education does not currently provide any funding for home schools. Many states require that homeschooled children take the GED to be eligible for state aid for college. To be eligible for federal student aid, the student must pass an independently administered test that is used to determine the student’s ability to benefit from postsecondary education. Tests approved by the US Department of Education include the ACT, ASVAB, ASSET, BEST, ETS TALS forms A and B, GED, PSAT, SAT, SLEP, TABE, TOEFL and several others. Call l—800—4—FED—AID for a full list of approved tests.


I am a merit scholar, is it necessary to re-apply for the scholarship each year? You do not need to re-apply for merit scholarships. If, however, you have received need-based aid in addition to the merit scholarship, then you must update your financial records by filing renewal financial aid applications every year in the Spring. Students receiving certain merit scholarships may have to meet academic standards to retain these awards.


Does applying for Early Decision (ED) hurt my chances of receiving adequate financial aid? No. In most cases, those applying under ED who demonstrate financial need will not be discriminated against. Usually, the composition of all financial aid awards to ED students is exactly the same as it is for students applying under the Regular Decision program. However, you won’t be able to compare financial aid awards from other schools.


Questions about Grandparents


My grandparents want to gift money to me for college. Will this affect my family contribution? Yes, it will. There are two considerations: First, the grandparent’s should wait until later to gift the student. You could, if necessary, borrow all of the money you need for college from many sources and then ask them to gift you the money when repayment time comes after graduation. If you have done calculations on your family contribution and you know you will not receive financial aid then gifting and trusts that help tax situations works for the best of all concerned. Second, the grandparents could gift the parents instead of the student. The worst case for this gift would be a 5.6% assessment times the gift as opposed to the 20% assessment times the gift for the student.


Questions about Divorced/Separated Parents: There is much devoted to the topic of Divorce and Financial Aid. Which parent is responsible for completing the FAFSA? What are the obligations of non—custodial parents to pay for college? College support agreements, the obligations of step-parents, and the ability of non—custodial parents to take advantage of the various tax benefits for education?


As a student, how does my non-custodial parent’s child support affect the formula? Child support that the custodial parent receives does not affect the student’s contribution to the EFC. However, it is included in the calculation of the parent’s contribution to the EFC.


My parents are no longer married[have remarried. Whose financial information should I provide on my FAFSA form? Use the following guidelines to determine which parent’s information must be included on the application. This may not follow tax forms filed or to be filed.

If your parents are both living and married to each other, provide information for both of them.

If your parent is widowed or single, provide information for that parent.

If your widowed parent is remarried as of today, provide information for that parent and the person to whom your parent is married (your stepparent).

If your parents are divorced or separated, provide information for the parent you lived with during the past 12 months. If you did not live with one parent more than the other, provide information for the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months, or during the most recent year that you actually received support from that parent. If this parent is remarried as of today, provide information for that parent and the person to whom your parent is married (your stepparent)


My spouse and I have ‘legally’ separated after filing taxes. What information should I put down for my income information? If you are ‘legally’ separated, you are not required to report your spouse’s income information.


My parents are divorced. What information do colleges require from the non-custodial parent? That will depend on the type of school you are applying to. Some schools don’t ask for this information and others that provide a great deal of aid will want it. If you are required to complete the CSS/Profile registration, The College Board will notify you what colleges require the Noncustodial Profile. You will be sent an e-mail that details the requirement and you will be directed to share This email with your noncustodial parent. This e-mail will contain a link to The Noncustodial Profile website as well as login instructions for your noncustodial parent. Your noncustodial parent’s tax return should either be submitted in The same packet with The custodial parent’s information or in a separate packet mailed to The College Board’s IDOC Service with a copy of your original IDOC letter.


Questions about Pell Grants


What do I need to know about Pell Grants? A Federal Pell Grant, unlike a loan, does not have to be repaid. Pell Grants are generally awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor’s or a professional degree. (In some cases, however, a student enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program might receive a Pell Grant.)


If I am eligible how will I get The Pell Grant Money? Your school can apply Pell Grant funds to your school costs, pay you directly (usually by check), or combine these methods. The school must tell you in writing how much your award will be and how and when you’ll be paid. Schools must disburse funds at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter). Schools that do not use semesters, trimesters, or

quarters must disburse funds at least twice per academic year.


How do I apply for a Pell Grant and other types of need-based aid? Submit a FAFSA. To indicate interest in student employment, student loans, and parent loans, you should check The appropriate boxes. Checking these boxes does not commit you to accepting these types of aid. You will have the opportunity to accept or decline each part of your aid package later. Leaving these boxes unchecked will not increase the amount of grants you receive.


Questions about Scholarships & Scholarship Scams


How are scholarships from outside sources treated? Unfortunately, the university will adjust your financial aid package to compensate. Nevertheless, the outside scholarship will have some beneficial effects. At some universities, outside scholarships are used to reduce the self—help level. For example, at MIT the outside scholarship is first applied to reducing the self—help level, and only when the scholarship exceeds self—help does it replace institutional grants. At other universities outside scholarships are used to replace loans instead of grants.


I got an outside scholarship. Should I report it to the financial aid office? Yes. If you are receiving any kind of financial aid from university or government sources, you must report the scholarship to the financial aid office.


I’m expecting to receive outside scholarships from my high school or other sources outside of my chosen college. How will these affect my financial aid award from my college? Many universities that meet a very high percentage of your demonstrated need, will likely make a dollar-for-dollar adjustment when students receive scholarship funds. In order that these awards can help a student as much as possible, some colleges policy’s are to replace a student’s self—help first (loan and work-study awards) with any earned outside scholarship funds they receive. If the amount of outside aid received exceeds the amount of loan and work in your package, institution grant funds are then reduced. Some schools send entering first-year students an Outside Scholarship Form to complete early in the summer.


Questions about the SAT/ACT

Do SAT/ACT prompter courses really help? The prompter courses appear to help most students. Taking the SAT/ACT tests multiple times may be a cheaper way to accomplish the familiarity that a prompter course will give you. Recommendation: during the junior year do at least one crossword puzzle once per week for at least six months prior to the exam.



Questions about Educational Strategies


Can participating in AP courses offered by my high school reduce the cost of my higher education? Yes, successfully completing AP courses will allow a student to achieve college credit at high school prices. However, not all colleges accept AP courses so check with the colleges during your college search period to see if this plan of action will work for you. Those colleges that do accept AP courses have a minimum score that they will accept to grant the credits. For those who do not accept AP credits, a student can take CLEP to receive college credit.


How many colleges should I apply too? I already know where I want to go. You should apply to one to two reach schools, three to four peer (or average chance) schools and at least two safety schools. To maximize scholarships or discounts offered by a college, a student should be in the top 20% of the applicant pool as measured by the SAT or ACT. Excellent opportunities are available to students who also consider enrolling into schools outside of their region.


Questions about Cost Reduction Strategies


Can attending summer semesters reduce the total cost of education? Maybe, summer sessions will allow you to graduate early thereby getting you in the workplace sooner and additionally summer session credits may be less expensive at many colleges. The total cost for your degree will be about the same.


Can attending a two-year college reduce the total cost of education? Yes, it can. You must check with The college you are ultimately going to transfer to for transferability of credits. The cost per credit hour at a two—year college will be less than a four—year college. In some cases, the savings could be in the tens-of-thousands of dollars saved depending on what college you are transferring to.


Questions about Bankruptcy & Debt


Do the formulas take into account a high level of consumer debt? The FAFSA does not have a question on debt, but a separate document can be written up and sent to the financial aid offices of the colleges that the student is applying to. DO NOT send any separate documents to the Department of Education with your FAFSA.


The CSS/Profile application has a section where you can note special circumstances such as high consumer debt.


The absolute way to address this debt is to consider a home equity loan for college and debt. This action will now put the debt into view and in some cases actually lower your family contribution, as it lowers the amount of equity in your home, which the Profile does include in its assessment. In lieu of home equity for this kind of debt, you may want To consider lowering assets and paying off consumer credit. This also makes the credit visible and yet lowers the asset side of the formula.


As a student how much debt should I budget for during the college experience? None! Debt will, however, be a reality for almost all college students. Your debt load, as a graduating senior from college, should be 8%—lO% of your total projected income for the job represented by your degree field. Example: You have a degree in engineering. Your starting wage is $35,000. The budget then is l0%, which comes to $3,500 per year, $291 per month starting six months after graduation. The cost-per-thousand per-month for ten years is approximately $1 1 (depending on what interest rate and type of loan you acquire). The amount of money that the student can borrow in Stafford and Perkins Loans is approximately $35,000. The rest of the cost of your education will be from awards from colleges and your parents or other sources. If the combination of your major, grades, community involvement, SAT/ACT scores and ability to pay cannot combine to go to The college you want you may need to consider the second college you want instead. If you start the process with only one college in mind you may be making a mistake in judgment.