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bethben

When to apply for FASA?

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My ds is a junior.  I am getting conflicting information as to when we should apply for FASA.  One place said we should apply this January for the 2019-2020 school year and another place said we should wait until his senior year of high school.  When should we?

 

Also, we make a decent salary but half of it is non-taxable.  Do they count just taxable income or all income?  We also have been pretty decent with money.  Our only debt is our house and we have 6 months emergency savings along with some 401K savings and IRA savings.  Will our being good money managers count against us?  We have always chosen to live below our means and drive cars until they don't drive any more.  We have a disabled son who will need full time care for his life, so unfortunately, all our extra money goes toward making sure he is cared for long term.

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File the FAFSA after October 1st of senior year of high school.

 

There are two forms: FAFSA and Profile. The Profile considers many more types of assets. You can see more of the worst case in terms of what they look for by using the College Board EFC estimator:

 

https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/paying-your-share/expected-family-contribution-calculator

 

Special circumstances, like caring for your disabled son, will have to be done in a separate financial aid appeal to the college(s) that accept your student. Assets that are saved for your disabled son that are in an actual special needs trust that cannot be accessed for other purposes are not counted as assets to pay for your other child's college. However, if it's just a pile of money in a savings account, that's different. Assets in 401K and IRA accounts are also not considered for financial aid purposes.

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You will want to submit when the FAFSA opens up in October of his senior year. You will use "last-last" year financial information.

 

Ex. A student who is a senior this year intends to go to college in fall 2018.

He submits a FAFSA senior year. FAFSA app opens Oct 1, 2017. The deadline is in spring of 2018 but they complete as early as they can so they have an earlier idea of need based aid and meet fall deadlines for scholarships.

The family income information is from 2 years before he would start college. Ie the 2016 taxes (from the return filed in 2017).

 

The FAFSA is free to complete and submit.

 

There is another form which a smaller number of schools use. This is called the CSS Profile form. You don't have to care about this one unless one of his schools uses it. This form is managed by College Board and there is a per school charge for submission.

Edited by Sebastian (a lady)
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Yes, the Profile is not required in many cases.

I suggested the college board EFC calculator that returns results for both forms as a way of getting a handle on both scenarios just in case your student attends a school that requires it. Or, if you happen to have a Profile (IM) EFC that is much higher than the FAFSA (FM) EFC, you can avoid schools that will penalize you too much.

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Mine are in college, but I plan to get it done during Thanksgiving Week because I'm off of work.

 

Both attend state colleges that require it even for merit aid.

Edited by G5052

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One thing to think about is that you are required to report assets you possess on the day of filing. So it makes sense and is perfectly legitimate to time filing after major expenses to reduce assets.

We file after paying tuition for the winter semester and not before when the tuition money is still in the bank and counted as asset.

Edited by regentrude

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One thing to think about is that you are required to report assets you possess on the day of filing. So it makes sense and is perfectly legitimate to time filing after major expenses to reduce assets.

We file after paying tuition for the winter semester and not before when the tuition money is still in the bank and counted as asset.

 

I know that we will be "penalized" because we actually choose to live below our means and don't max out our income with new car debts and a bigger house that we could afford and which a bank would willingly loan us money for.  We have a lot of equity in our home and won't compromise an emergency savings so that we look better on paper.  I guess it just bugs me that if we lived beyond our means purposefully even if we don't have to, our ds could get better financial aid.  I understand there are some places that we would have no choice, but our choices to buy the much less expensive house, the used cars, and run the cars we have to the ground is going to hurt us with financial aid.  Irritating.  

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I know that we will be "penalized" because we actually choose to live below our means and don't max out our income with new car debts and a bigger house that we could afford and which a bank would willingly loan us money for. We have a lot of equity in our home and won't compromise an emergency savings so that we look better on paper. I guess it just bugs me that if we lived beyond our means purposefully even if we don't have to, our ds could get better financial aid. I understand there are some places that we would have no choice, but our choices to buy the much less expensive house, the used cars, and run the cars we have to the ground is going to hurt us with financial aid. Irritating.

assets are not "taxed" as heavily as income, and there is also an allowance. Retirement savings also don't count. Edited by regentrude

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This is a common sentiment but is usually not very accurate. The fact is, family income has a much larger effect on eligibility for financial aid than assets.  Someone who earns big but spends big will NOT be getting financial aid while a family with more modest income and hard earned savings miss out.

 

I highly recommend looking closely at the FAFSA calculation to see exactly what it includes and how it the EFC is calculated.

 

 

 if we lived beyond our means purposefully even if we don't have to, our ds could get better financial aid.  ... our choices to buy the much less expensive house, the used cars, and run the cars we have to the ground is going to hurt us with financial aid.   

 

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