The amount of financial aid your child will receive to attend the college they apply and get accepted to depends on several factors.
Aid is determined by the information you submit to the federal government, on the FAFSA form (Federal Application For Student Aid) as well as the CSS Profile (a form for aid from private colleges).
These applications are due in the fall (FAFSA applications can now be submitted in October) and January. You use estimated income when you fill out the forms, then you amend the forms once you have actual numbers when you file your tax returns.
There are approximately 70 factors that are involved in calculating the financial aid formulas to determine your Estimated Family Contribution (your “EFC”).
Income is the most heavily weighted factor. Assets are another. Your child’s assets are treated differently than parent assets (knowing this ahead of time, you can organize your finances accordingly to qualify for the most financial aid you can).
Other factors affecting your EFC are:
– Your age
– The number of students in college at the same time
– Whether you own a business
– Your marital status
– Things that have nothing to do with you, such as the historical generosity of the college
Income is but one of many factors — and even if your income is too high to qualify for need-based financial aid, your child can still qualify for merit-based financial aid in the forms of scholarships and grants.
Because there are many elements that go into determining your EFC with financial aid, you can save more than you may realize if you talk with someone (like us!) that is an expert in the area of college funding.