Help me get the most from Financial Aid!
December 30, 2009 7:05 PM   Subscribe

Going back to college! Severed in November, start school in Florida in January. Need Financial Aid advice!

I'm attending a Florida institution to finish up my BA.

I have considerable savings (>10K) and a car but no other assets. Last year I made around 50K. I'm independent, mid 20's, no spouse or children.

I plan to go full time to school and do not plan to collect unemployment and do not plan to seek employment.

What can I expect to receive from financial AID? I don't want to end up getting nothing, or end up not qualifying for the cushy subsidized loans because I have savings or because my last tax filing's income was drastically higher than 0. I'll most likely exhaust those savings paying rent and living expenses during school.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total)
I'm 27 and just went back and have worked the last five years making about 25k and had pretty much no savings. That said i get about half of my 4k a semester in grants and the rest is loans. I am afraid that you may be in the zone of no assistance.
posted by djduckie at 7:26 PM on December 30, 2009

Tax returns weigh more heavily than your savings.
You will likely not qualify.
Do not be tempted to lie.
Look into scholarships.
posted by defragmeout at 7:42 PM on December 30, 2009

Did you fill out a FAFSA yet? Do that and it'll give you your EFC number.

Also, call the school's fin aid office. They're there to help you.
posted by k8t at 7:43 PM on December 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

If I remember right, my school's financial aid department had a form for students who were leaving the work force. I'll see if I can find more info on that, but you should see if your school has something similar.
posted by chndrcks at 7:46 PM on December 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I couldn't find anything definite, but this forum discussion has a few posts which say the same thing I said. Maybe it's school specific.
posted by chndrcks at 8:00 PM on December 30, 2009

I was pretty much in the same position, my first year in school was hard because they base your need on your tax return, or what you made last year, and I was up around $45k for the year before. I got government loans but they were unsubsidized and only covered my tuition. The second year (when my income the year before was under $25k) I received enough to cover my tuition and living expenses, about 60% was grants and scholarships and 40% was subsidized loans.

As my financial aid counselor says, "There is ALWAYS loan money." You should still apply for anything and everything possible but be aware that your first year is going to be tough. Go in and talk to the people in the financial aid office, they are awesome and they are the ones who know all the tips and tricks and will work really hard to get you the money that is available, I know mine did.

Good Luck!
posted by magnetsphere at 8:09 PM on December 30, 2009

You should fill out a FAFSA and find out your Expected Family Contribution. It is from that number that colleges will determine your need-based financial package. It is unlikely you will qualify for a Pell grant, and I'm unsure what income limit they cut off subsidized loans. But you will likely be offered unsubsidized loans, and possibly also work study money. You should also apply for scholarships, both independently and those tied with your school itself.

But again, it's very difficult to say until you file your FAFSA and determine your EFC. To provide my own data point: before I was 24, I had to file using my parents' income since I was not "independent"; the government thought with my parents combined income of roughly $70,000 a year, my EFC should be about $20,000 a year. (Completely ridiculous, incidentally.)
posted by asciident at 9:55 PM on December 30, 2009

If you're starting in January, talk to your school's financial aid people ASAP! They should be able to tell you if they'll be able to get FAFSA info in time to do any good.

(If school is starting shortly, be prepared for a wait in line with lots of other people who waited until the last minute, and be sure to be extra nice to all the folks there, including/esp the receptionist.)
posted by epersonae at 3:48 PM on December 31, 2009

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