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Old 04-21-2014, 05:58 PM   #21
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There is a table with income thresholds for FAFSA in this article.

2014 Guide To FAFSA, CSS Profile, College Aid And Expected Family Contribution - Forbes

Our expected AGI in retirement puts us in the BLUE area of the chart in the linked article - but not by a lot. We're 5 years out from college, so everything can change. To be safe, we're saving and assuming we're paying.
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Old 04-21-2014, 06:05 PM   #22
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NYTimes always has good articles on College Financial Aid usually written by college financial aid administrators. Here's one of the latest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/13/ed...ut-should.html

but there are many others, so a search of the nytimes web site is worthwhile.
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Old 04-21-2014, 07:48 PM   #23
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This probably depends on what your goal is and where your kids are going to school.

When I did a play FAFSA

https://fafsa.ed.gov/FAFSA/app/f4cForm?execution=e1s1

In our case, 2 kids in college, I found that it was very difficult to get our income to a level where our kids could receive anything other than loans. We don't really want them to have loans so that isn't very helpful.

It is possible that if they were attending expensive private universities that some university aid might be forthcoming above that. But, we have chosen for them to attend public colleges so that isn't a factor.
Some might find it helpful to take a zero percent loan and invest the difference, or use the loan money to help keep taxable income low during the college years, which in turn might raise year's financial aid, ACA subsidies and lower state and federal income taxes to zero or maybe even get refundable tax credits.

We have loans in the kids' names but they know we will pay the loans off for them eventually or if we die they can pay them off from their inheritances, so they will never be out the money. It just works out better for us financially for the next few years to have zero or low interest loans instead of pulling the money from accounts where it would create additional taxable income.
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Old 04-23-2014, 04:03 PM   #24
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As far as funding... We've prefunded about 2/3's of their college expenses. DH retired earlier this year. I'm retiring next year. Our spending spreadsheet includes continuing to fund ($6k/year/kid) till they turn 18. We should have more than enough to pay for a public school education (CSU or UC).
I'm curious what the projected cost of a UC or CSU system is per year with boarding/housing/books/tuition all inclusive?
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Old 04-23-2014, 04:42 PM   #25
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Looks like keeping income under 30k will give the maximum aid.
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Old 04-24-2014, 03:13 PM   #26
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Don't plan on any financial aid, it's really only given to the very brightest, but very poor students. There are no secrets - we don't work, our daughter gets 2K out of 55K. haha

The only chance you have a large FA package is if you have a truly exceptional kid that they will pay to come. This happened to a friend of my son's who got perfect SAT score (I didn't even know he was smart, he seemed average). Because a school in our area wanted to start raising the profile of the school, they offered him 100% paid, in an engineering program, even though his parents made decent money.

Our first kid went to My Holyoke, 52K per year, we got zero. None for my son, and 2K per year for this past one who is in Boston College.

I think people don't understand how little money there is available now.
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Old 04-24-2014, 03:17 PM   #27
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Also there are two levels of FA, Federal with their rules, and then the school's rules which are much more strict.

For example, I went to a FA seminar for my son - I had just remarried. I made good money, but my son't father made zero so I felt like there could be a possibility. The person told me that schools count your husband's income as well, even though there was no way my new husband was going to be paying tuition for my son, when he had to pay for his two girls. My husband was a high wage earner.

I literally, packed up and left when I found that out.
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Old 04-24-2014, 05:41 PM   #28
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Don't plan on any financial aid, it's really only given to the very brightest, but very poor students.
"A New Jersey resident who will remain unnamed has a house worth well over $1 million, drives nice cars and has a daughter at MIT getting financial aid. How is it possible to live well and still qualify for a tuition handout?"

"Fafsa, the only aid formula used by most public colleges and many of the less-selective private ones, does not count the value of a small business. “Small” means one with fewer than 100 employees. Mom’s and Pop’s little software firm could be worth $20 million and it won’t show up."

Paying for College: Own a Business - Forbes

There are many loopholes. A business is just one example.
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Old 04-24-2014, 05:47 PM   #29
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....For example, I went to a FA seminar for my son - I had just remarried. I made good money, but my son't father made zero so I felt like there could be a possibility. The person told me that schools count your husband's income as well, even though there was no way my new husband was going to be paying tuition for my son, when he had to pay for his two girls. My husband was a high wage earner.

I literally, packed up and left when I found that out.
How sad, stupid and unrealistic that they rely on your new husband's income in assessing financial aid. Bozos.
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Old 04-24-2014, 05:56 PM   #30
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I'm curious what the projected cost of a UC or CSU system is per year with boarding/housing/books/tuition all inclusive?
I update our savings goals each year based on the admissions office. I look at UCSD and SDSU (my alma mater)

For UCSD - from their website, for in-state undergrads for NEXT year (2014-15 school year.)
Living at home: $24,855
Living in dorms: $31,245
Living off campus: $29,715
https://students.ucsd.edu/finances/f...d-2014-15.html

For SDSU - they don't list all the same incidental expenses
Living in dorms: $21,611
San Diego State University | Admissions

Our budget was based on the 2013-14 year - and we'll need to up it. We had budgeted $30k/kid/year.
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Old 04-24-2014, 08:44 PM   #31
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There is a table with income thresholds for FAFSA in this article.

2014 Guide To FAFSA, CSS Profile, College Aid And Expected Family Contribution - Forbes

Our expected AGI in retirement puts us in the BLUE area of the chart in the linked article - but not by a lot. We're 5 years out from college, so everything can change. To be safe, we're saving and assuming we're paying.
Here's the thing. I plugged in $60,000 AGI just for grins. We have 2 kids in college. I then went through the FAFSA caster calculator. By the time we finish this year we will have very few taxable assets left so the asset thing is not a big deal.

When it gets to the end our EFC is $2,837. OK, that is fine. DS, for example, is attending a state university and between living expenses and tuition, even at this school, a year's cost is close to $20k.

But although the EFC is $2,837 the type of aid that he would qualify to actual receive is underwhelming. For example, a Pell grant in the amount of $2,880. We could raise that some not withdrawing as much from the IRA this year and withdrawing more next year, but it wouldn't make a huge difference. And, it would mean really making a lot of effort to keep AGI low this year for really not a lot of return.

Also listed in the national average for work study of $1465. We actually don't want DS to work these last two years of school when he has a lot of difficult classes. Regardless, work-study is based upon getting a minimum wage job. We could do that without filling out FAFSA.

The final type of "aid" is student loans. We don't particularly want to saddle him or us with loans.

Of course it is possible he could get some grants directly from the school, but I'm not holding my breath.

The bottom line is that it just doesn't likely that any financial aid is going to matter in his case. It might be different if he was attending an expensive private school, but we have no interest in those.
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Old 04-26-2014, 05:56 PM   #32
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FAFSA is federal aid. What I am saying is that schools ask for and count way more detail - I have to enter half a condo I own with my son, they ask about businesses, etc. They ask how much your house is worth, what the remaining mortgage is, etc.

Articles like the Forbes article are very misleading. Sure maybe a kid of a parent who owns a small business gets a pell grant for 5K - but if you are in a private school, that's nothing and the school will be asking about that business. We have to submit our tax returns to BC every year.

Not trying to be negative, just realistic.
"Most colleges and universities nationwide use the FAFSA as their sole application for need-based financial aid, so students applying for aid at those colleges only need to complete the FAFSA."

2014 Guide To FAFSA, CSS Profile, College Aid And Expected Family Contribution - Forbes
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Old 04-26-2014, 06:13 PM   #33
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None of the schools our kids went to accepted only FAFSA. I am in Boston area, land of very expensive private colleges. So perhaps that is the difference.

Sorry if I am wrong, I still think trying to manage your life so that your kids get financial aid isn't the best idea.
FYI - this thread is titled "What FAFSA loopholes did you find with ER".
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Old 04-26-2014, 06:21 PM   #34
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OK I got it and deleted my posts. Carry on!
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Old 05-26-2014, 07:15 PM   #35
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I realize I'm late to the party here, but I do have real-world experience with this problem, and I noticed that a strategy was not mentioned in the thread.

Retirement assets escape both the federal and CSS profile formulas. The same can not be said for personal residence and businesses. Some schools will run both formulas and take the efc that benefits them the most. True fact.

But back to "retirement assets". You, of course, are limited in the amounts you can put into 401k, IRAs, but not annuitues. Annuity is a dirty word here, but you can get a variable annuity from VG or Fido that is basically a mutual fund wrapped in an insurance product. Those don't have the huge commissions and you never need to annuitize them unless you want to. The bad tax treatment (need to pull all of the gains first, and of course no cap gains tax treatment) is the big downside.

So if you had a kid thast was headed for a well endowed, internationally ranked school, that might make up the price difference in grants (not loans), then tucking assets in an annuity might make sense. You are basically trading off crappy tax treatment with a possibly huge discount on a college bill.

That strategy makes no sense if the state school is good enough, or if your kid doesn't have the grades to get into the Iveys (or thereabouts). But if the other bits fit, getting a 20 grand discount for 4 years in a row might close the gap on the crappy tax treatment. But its like a grocery coupon...only use it if you were going to buy the product anyway.
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Old 05-26-2014, 09:33 PM   #36
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The bottom line is that it just doesn't likely that any financial aid is going to matter in his case. It might be different if he was attending an expensive private school, but we have no interest in those.
One of the biggest mistakes families make when preparing to send a child to college is to assume the "expensive private schools" would cost more than an "inexpensive" state school.

The little known fact is that very few families pay the sticker price at selective private colleges. Most have strong endowments that fund substantial need and merit awards.

Inexpensive state schools typically have virtually no endowment to speak of. So there is little in the way of merit based aid.

If one's child is a good student, able to get acceptance letters to great private schools, the net cost of attending can be LESS expensive than a state school.
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Old 05-26-2014, 10:00 PM   #37
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One of the biggest mistakes families make when preparing to send a child to college is to assume the "expensive private schools" would cost more than an "inexpensive" state school.

The little known fact is that very few families pay the sticker price at selective private colleges. Most have strong endowments that fund substantial need and merit awards.

Inexpensive state schools typically have virtually no endowment to speak of. So there is little in the way of merit based aid.

If one's child is a good student, able to get acceptance letters to great private schools, the net cost of attending can be LESS expensive than a state school.
I assure you I am not ignorant. I recognize that there can be cases where expensive private colleges can be the same or less than attending a state university. Without getting into a long and boring story, suffice it to say, that those cases did not apply to our situation.
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Old 05-26-2014, 10:11 PM   #38
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One of the biggest mistakes families make when preparing to send a child to college is to assume the "expensive private schools" would cost more than an "inexpensive" state school.

The little known fact is that very few families pay the sticker price at selective private colleges. Most have strong endowments that fund substantial need and merit awards.

Inexpensive state schools typically have virtually no endowment to speak of. So there is little in the way of merit based aid.

If one's child is a good student, able to get acceptance letters to great private schools, the net cost of attending can be LESS expensive than a state school.
Many ER board members may be similar to me, with enough assets and income so our EFC is $99,999. DD got in some nationally ranked 20 private schools but received no aids other than $5,500 stafford loan. She decided to go to a relatively high ranking UC instead. The cost of UC is 1/2 of those privates.

So, maybe if DD applied for much lower ranking private schools and got accepted, she might get some aids.

When DS applied, he went to UCs only. No privates knowing he won't get anything.

So, the above known fact is not true in our case.
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Old 05-26-2014, 11:03 PM   #39
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Many ER board members may be similar to me, with enough assets and income so our EFC is $99,999. DD got in some nationally ranked 20 private schools but received no aids other than $5,500 stafford loan. She decided to go to a relatively high ranking UC instead. The cost of UC is 1/2 of those privates.

So, maybe if DD applied for much lower ranking private schools and got accepted, she might get some aids.

When DS applied, he went to UCs only. No privates knowing he won't get anything.

So, the above known fact is not true in our case.
Not true in our case either.
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Old 05-27-2014, 10:08 AM   #40
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My "problem" now is getting the money I saved by getting need-based grants at an internationally ranked school out of the 529 account. I can pull out amounts up to what I got in grants without penalty (but still need to pay tax on the gains). Of course I could leave it and use it for grandchildren, but according to DW, "that will never happen", hehe!
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