Dependent/Independent/Financial aid/State Residency combined confusion

Tippyboat

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Hi guys, let me try to structure this in a sane format:

1. It sounds like financial aid is based mostly on financial need instead of merit. Is this true?

2. If that is true, do I benefit financially from applying as an Independent instead of Dependent of my parents? In other words, if I'm applying as Independent, will financial aid be based on how much money I have instead of my family's situation?

The reason I'm pondering #2 is because it might impact my state residency issue. If I apply as a Dependent (I was a dependent on my parents' taxes this year), my state residency would be with them. If I apply as Independent, I'd be from CA. But if I do apply as a dependent, do I put myself in a bad situation for financial aid? My parents aren't super rich or anything but obviously they have more than I do...

Thanks and hope that wasn't too confusing
 

TexasPhysician

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1. Each medical school is different.

2. Everyone in medical school does NOT put down their parents information on fafsa whether they are dependents or not.......because you are not required to as a graduate student. Hence it doesn't matter if you are a dependent or not. Everyone in medical school ends up being "need based" for grants, scholarships, loans, etc.
 

LizzyM

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^correct. On the other hand, some schools provide need based aid from their own coffers and they require parental financial informaton before they do so. If you don't provide it, you are not considered for that pot of money although you'd still be in the running for federal aid.
 
Feb 8, 2010
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Well, this has been very confusing as a parent. my son has been admitted to a couple schools, waitlisted at 3 others. We filed his FAFSA as an independent, then both schools he was accepted at required it updated to include our parental finances.

No problem, we did that. My question now is, by making him eligible for school specific monies (by including our income-roughly 100K), did we hurt his chances at federal loans/$, as his income was only $2,500?????

Not a clear cut process like his undergrad FAFSA/CSS profile was.
 

LizzyM

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I have no professional experience with the financial aid office. I believe that the federal money uses the FAFSA but that the schools prefer to give their money (from their endowment, donors, alumni) to the most needy students and that they factor family resources into that mix. If two students have the same annual income but one comes from a family with a fortune of $10 million in assets and the other has no assets and an annual income of $47,000 which should get some of that alumni scholarship money?

Again, this is just what I've gathered from a few casual conversations.
 
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mvenus929

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Well, this has been very confusing as a parent. my son has been admitted to a couple schools, waitlisted at 3 others. We filed his FAFSA as an independent, then both schools he was accepted at required it updated to include our parental finances.

No problem, we did that. My question now is, by making him eligible for school specific monies (by including our income-roughly 100K), did we hurt his chances at federal loans/$, as his income was only $2,500?????

Not a clear cut process like his undergrad FAFSA/CSS profile was.
This whole process has been driving my mom crazy because one of my schools requires her information (and she's in Iraq right now, which completely complicates the tax-filing process since most of her income is tax-free and thus doesn't factor into the AGI).

No, your information will not affect anything for federal loans. He will be seen as independent as far as the federal government is concerned (his EFC won't even be affected by putting in your numbers). Only the individual schools that care about your information for their own scholarships/grants/etc will pay attention to your information on the FAFSA.
 
Feb 8, 2010
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Thank you. This makes me feel better, that is for sure. I realize he is not going to get scholarships, but I worried I compromised his ability to get loans. With his sibling starting college in the fall, we aren't going to be much help with med school.

Good luck to you, and God bless your mom. We are truly fortunate to have the men and women we have to serve our country.
 

organdonor

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1. It sounds like financial aid is based mostly on financial need instead of merit. Is this true?
For the most part, yes. There are a very small number of merit scholarships but need based ones are more likely
2. If that is true, do I benefit financially from applying as an Independent instead of Dependent of my parents? In other words, if I'm applying as Independent, will financial aid be based on how much money I have instead of my family's situation?
For the FAFSA, you will be considered independent. If you will be in medical school, you will be in graduate school, and therefore independent by FAFSA standards. I believe state residency, as in for lower tuition, is a separate matter determined by the medical school. You should contact the medical school to find out about whether or not you can claim in state status (you should have figured this out when you filled out their secondary?)

Nearyl all schools require you to put your parents income and assets on the FAFSA in order to be able to receive ANY need based scholarships. No matter what income level you report, I believe you will always be able to take out the loans, so reporting your parental income cannot hurt you here. It can only help you by possibly qualifying you for scholarships. So if you DON'T report their income/assets, you definately won't receive need based aid, but if you DO report it, you might. Do yourself a favor and report it.[/QUOTE]