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FAFSA questions - how does one define "half"?
Old 09-24-2019, 11:36 PM   #1
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FAFSA questions - how does one define "half"?

Two FAFSA questions. I'll probably call the financial aid office and ask, but thought I would ask here too.

I'm getting ready to fill out the FAFSA with DS19 next week. He has an older brother DS24, and a younger sister DD17.

1. Do I include DS24 in household size? He is my child, lives with me, and attends college full time. I pay for his college and food and utilities. He is scheduled to graduate with his bachelor's degree on 12/19/2020. Upon graduation he plans to get a job and then move into an apartment, but who knows how long that will take - it could be a day, it could be three months. While he is looking for work, I think he plans to live here, and I will probably charge him nominal rent, but will let him eat and shower for free.

The law [20 USC 1087vv(k)(1)] says "Except as otherwise provided, the term “dependent of the parent” means the student, dependent children of the student’s parents, including those children who are deemed to be dependent students when applying for aid under this subchapter, and other persons who live with and receive more than one-half of their support from the parent and will continue to receive more than half of their support from the parent during the award year."

Emphasis added.

How do I calculate whether he will continue to receive more than half of his support from me during the award year (7/1/20 through 6/30/21). Is it 50% of the total support for the award year, or if I support him for more than 50% of the number of days in the award year? What if I simply can't predict the future - do I take my best guess?

2. Same question about DS24 regarding number in college. He plans to attend 9 credits next fall and graduate in December. I couldn't find the actual law citation on number in college.

I'm inclined to think the answer to both questions is "Yes". Extensive googling doesn't really seem to find any on point answers.
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Old 09-25-2019, 08:48 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by SecondCor521 View Post
Two FAFSA questions. I'll probably call the financial aid office and ask, but thought I would ask here too.

I'm getting ready to fill out the FAFSA with DS19 next week. He has an older brother DS24, and a younger sister DD17.

1. Do I include DS24 in household size? He is my child, lives with me, and attends college full time. I pay for his college and food and utilities. He is scheduled to graduate with his bachelor's degree on 12/19/2020. Upon graduation he plans to get a job and then move into an apartment, but who knows how long that will take - it could be a day, it could be three months. While he is looking for work, I think he plans to live here, and I will probably charge him nominal rent, but will let him eat and shower for free.

The law [20 USC 1087vv(k)(1)] says "Except as otherwise provided, the term “dependent of the parent” means the student, dependent children of the student’s parents, including those children who are deemed to be dependent students when applying for aid under this subchapter, and other persons who live with and receive more than one-half of their support from the parent and will continue to receive more than half of their support from the parent during the award year."

Emphasis added.

How do I calculate whether he will continue to receive more than half of his support from me during the award year (7/1/20 through 6/30/21). Is it 50% of the total support for the award year, or if I support him for more than 50% of the number of days in the award year? What if I simply can't predict the future - do I take my best guess?

2. Same question about DS24 regarding number in college. He plans to attend 9 credits next fall and graduate in December. I couldn't find the actual law citation on number in college. Perhaps he won't get done or decide to go for additional schooling.




I'm inclined to think the answer to both questions is "Yes". Extensive googling doesn't really seem to find any on point answers.
Answer Yes you don't know what will really happen in 20/21. Support is vague on the year a kid leaves school. Some schools do have follow up info they ask for when applying aid and if they have more questions you can answer then and talk directly to the school in question. As long as you are scrupulously honest on projected income, the finer points can be clarified when things are clearer. We had one double year with our kids. The oldest who we claimed as a dependent was a IT major near the top of her class and got a summer/part day job that covered everyone of her bills. She also got an extra scholarship. At the end of each semester the FA office sent her a check, which she put in her savings account.

We had no idea this would happen almost 18 months in advance, who does?


I doubt he'll leave your home the day he leaves school. It can take awhile to get on your feet as your comments indicted. Best not to have a record of nominal rent payments to muddy the waters. I've found it a good experience to make them buy groceries and such for the household in person. It's a good dose of reality for when they get that first "huge" paycheck.

Be aware if you call the FA office you could very likely get a work study student, who knows even less then you do. If you claim OS and he gets an amazing job before he leaves school you can call the office and say heres what happened do some adjustments need to be made.
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Old 09-25-2019, 09:01 AM   #3
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How do I calculate whether he will continue to receive more than half of his support from me during the award year (7/1/20 through 6/30/21). Is it 50% of the total support for the award year, or if I support him for more than 50% of the number of days in the award year? What if I simply can't predict the future - do I take my best guess?

2. Same question about DS24 regarding number in college. He plans to attend 9 credits next fall and graduate in December. I couldn't find the actual law citation on number in college.

I'm inclined to think the answer to both questions is "Yes". Extensive googling doesn't really seem to find any on point answers.
I think you’re overthinking this. Unless your son has moved out of your house and is independent, he qualifies as your dependent. When he moves out that may change.
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Old 09-25-2019, 10:33 AM   #4
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https://www.irs.gov/help/ita/whom-ma...as-a-dependent
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Old 09-25-2019, 12:23 PM   #5
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@ivinsfan, thanks, that's a good option to consider.

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I think you’re overthinking this. Unless your son has moved out of your house and is independent, he qualifies as your dependent. When he moves out that may change.
As commented above, he may or may not move out halfway through the period that the FAFSA talks about. He is clearly my dependent before then, he clearly will not be my dependent when he has a Real Job (tm) and his own apartment, which could happen during that time frame. And the law is asking me to predict the future and answer a Yes/No question when they answer is Yes at first and No later.

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IRS dependency and FAFSA dependency are two different things and are independently defined and determined by the law.
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Old 09-25-2019, 03:19 PM   #6
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I think that either method, days or $$, is reasonable since their guidance is vague. However, whichever you choose, you should be consistent and use that method year after year. No cherry picking.
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