If there’s one thing more frustrating than trying to get into the right college, it might be paying for the degree. That’s what thousands of parents discover daily while discussing how to foot the bill.
In online communities like Facebook and Reddit, some parents share standard suggestions like saving more money or choosing a less-expensive state school.
Others are proposing more drastic measures.
For example, if a student gets married, they’re legally considered independent from their parents and may be eligible for more aid. So why not marry the kids off?
Some parents suggest moving money around – perhaps, for instance, moving savings out of a student’s name and to a sibling’s account.
Some parents lay out divorce as an option. That way only one parent’s income is considered in the government’s calculation of the family’s eligibility for scholarships and loans. Debbie Schwartz, the founder of the Facebook group “Paying for College 101” said she has often seen parents jokingly suggest a legal separation.
“‘I’m happily married, but if my husband and I actually got divorced, I’d be in a better situation.’ They’re kind of saying it like that,” Schwartz said.
But some parents aren’t laughing; they’re taking notes.
College has never been more expensive, and students are graduating with more debt than ever. This leads some to extreme measures to reduce costs, as was the case in Illinois. An investigation by ProPublica Illinois and the Wall Street Journal in July found some families were giving up legal custody of their children, thereby making them eligible for financial aid that would be normally reserved for needy families. The University of Illinois referred the cases to the U.S. Department of Education and rescinded the scholarship money it had provided to the students.
Schwartz, a parent who herself has had to navigate paying for children’s college costs, said she doesn’t endorse what the parents in that situation did. But she did say a little piece of her did “understand the frustration that might have led to it.”
This type of financial maneuvering is an extreme example of what some parents consider online in groups like Schwartz’s, but the goals are roughly the same. In the same way people plan for retirement or try to lower their tax bill, parents often talk about how to decrease the amount they’re expected to pay toward a students’ college expenses. That figure isknown as the “expected family contribution,” and it comes from the government’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid –the FAFSA form students fill out to get financial aid.
In a perfect world, families would pay the EFC, and the college and the government would take care of the remaining costs. But it doesn’t work like that in practice.
Parents often struggle to cover the amount the government says they can afford to pay. Even those with an expected family contribution of zero may end up paying for college. Students may have living costs not covered by the college, or their financial aid package may still include federal loans that will have to be repaid later.
For the full article click here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/education/2019/11/22/fafsa-college-financial-aid-what-is-efc/3930953002/
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