The Non-Trad Financial Aid Conundrum

So after a late, rocky start last cycle, I was waitlisted at two schools. This cycle I went early decision with my local med school, and I received my acceptance call last Friday. At the same time, my son received his acceptance package from his first choice college in the mail.

So now we are that household, and I’m at a loss as to how to proceed with the financial aid paperwork. I haven’t had a chance to speak to either school’s respective advisors, but my husband is adamant that I ensure both our FAFSAs are linked to one another in order to let officials know what our situation is (if that’s even possible)

I’ve never qualified for financial aid because of DH’s salary, but I wonder if the situation is different now that we’ll have a child in college and one of the wage-earners as a jobless med-student (his tuition will be slightly higher than mine, since I’ll commute).

Has anyone else found him/herself in this situation? If not, are there any helpful sites I should try? My search on Google so far has yielded a lot of generic information not really relevant to my problem.

As always, thanks in advance.

Remember that the FAFSA is not the end-all-be-all, especially with his undergrad institution. You can request a review of the additional information, including the fact that you are in med school, and they’ll revise your award. I went to a top-50 private liberal arts college, and they still revised aid because of these types of situations, even though they didn’t have to. However, you’ll answer that you both will be in college on your FAFSA (how many people in your household are going to school).

In short, call the financial aid offices of both your med school and his undergrad and ask them for the paperwork needed. They should all have a protocol.

Nine -

My memory may be a bit rusty, but I took some classes while both my kids were in college, and when I filled out the FAFSA there was a way to indicate all three of us for when they calculate expected student contribution.

Also, my tax guy was great at figuring out lifetime learning credits…who qualified for what, which helped out a lot.

Sorry I can’t be more specific!


Oh, I got another tidbit from the financial aid office this week. Normally to calculate loan repayment the feds figure payments to pay it off in 10 years and your amount is whatever it would take to do that, which may be more than you can afford.

So you can apply for “income-based” repayment. They look at your income and your payment cannot be more than 15% of your disposable income (ie - net). Your payment amounts probably change yearly as your salary does. If anything is left after 25 years (or if you die) the rest goes away. There is no problem regarding qualifying for this - you simply have to apply when loan repayment time rolls around.

I just filled out the FAFSA today, and I think they asked how many members of the household were in college, how many dependents, etc. The financial aid is tricky, and each school seems to find/give different amounts of money based on your situation. Good luck with it.