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General Admissions & OTCAS FA/loans questions

Discussion in 'Occupational Therapy [ O.T.D ]' started by CAOT, Aug 21, 2015.

  1. CAOT

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    I have some very basic questions re: how to cover MOT costs. I was fortunate that my parents covered undergrad for me, so this whole process re: loans is new. Like everyone else, I'd ideally like to keep my debt to around 1 year's worth of salary, since I've read that's a good "rule of thumb."

    Here are my questions:
    1. Dependent vs independent status. I have read that it's better to become and declare independent status, because otherwise, if you list parents' income/assets, you may not qualify for loans. But if the loans aren't based on financial need, what difference does it make?

    2. If I'm independent, won't be working (much if at all) in grad school, and have 1 credit card with a $1200 limit, will I even qualify for loans? I don't really have much of a credit profile built up.

    3. If I'm independent, can my parents still help me, if they choose to? Can they pay my tuition, rent, etc should they offer?

    4. If I take out loans for example on year 1, but then between my parents and I, we figure we can cover year 1 with our combined savings, can I say "no thank you" to the loan before it's disbursed or pay it off in full? Or do they have caps where your NOT allowed to pay it back too early/or by too much?

    5. I'm reading it's best to fill out FASFA after you know where you're going. True?
    If so, how does that make it possible to compare packages between schools? Say, if I'm lucky enough to have a choice of where to attend, how does one pick the "cheapest" school before you have the financial aid picture of each?
    And, I know for undergrad, the rec is to fill out FASFA right away in Jan because the money runs out in March. Not true for grad school? If I'm waitlisted or don't find out where I'm going until spring or even summer, not too late to get aid?

    Thank you for anyone who takes the time to read this and respond. To tell the truth, I'm not even sure what questions I should be asking (and neither are my parents).
     
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  3. weaver84

    2+ Year Member

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    1. Definitely go independent because YES, loans ARE based on financial need. I'm not sure why you thought they weren't? Unless you're thinking of private loans like Wells Fargo, etc.
    2. You'll definitely qualify for any loans as long as your parents are cosigning and long as you haven't defaulted on anything(and if you are currently, clear that up).
    3. It's in your parent's best interest that you establish yourself as independent to save money for both themselves and you. You will NOT get as much aid if they claim you.... by "as much", I should say... in most cases, none. That being said, they can still offer help where they can. I wouldn't mention this to financial aid. Why? Because honestly, it all evens out and you will learn that you have to jump through the hoops and make the education system work for you to make it to a life that you are no longer dependent on aid.
    4. This will depend on your loan servicer. I haven't had a problem returning funds back; instead of "returning/reversing" the loan I just give it back in the form of a large "payment". But really, talk to your loan people.
    5. Where are you reading this?? No, no, no! When you fill out your FAFSA, there is a portion that you can pick several schools to send your information to. This is also highly important to claim independent status on and DO NOT report your parents information, this is optional. You will definitely want to fill out the FAFSA immediately in January or whenever you finish your taxes. The FAFSA is free, it does not penalize you in any way if you fill out the info and then don't go to school at all or change institutions. They just need your info in their database so, that max funding is set aside for you, and then if you go somewhere cheaper then ok, if you use the max the gov't won't be in the red, and if you don't go at all then they shift or bump those funds to next year. HERE is where things get tricky and an example of WHY your parents should let you a. claim independent b. help you out: I currently go to a private school and was told not to work and that all my expenses would be covered by the Grad Plus loan. The reality? Each school wants to be seen as the most "affordable" and use that as a selling point to get students to attend their program. They will more than likely severely limit the budget you can pull for Grad Plus and give you the max for Stafford. I had to fight and prove with documents/receipts for the amount I received. And that was for a $460/mth, 525 sq, ft., 1 bedroom apartment. The school only allotted $1300 for the year on books/supplies. For the Fall semester a blew through $1300 in books, laptops, cadaver lab supplies, fees for immunizations, background checks, etc. None of this is included in their budget for books and supplies. Capstone projects and out-of-state field work expenses are somehow not accounted for either - this may be due to the fact we don't know where we go until Spring semester. Anyway, brace yourself. Unless you're parents help you substantially, you're going to be poor ;) But it is sososoooo worth it. Just breathe, bite the bullet, and get through 2-2.5 years... not long at all :)
     
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  4. weaver84

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    I should also add.... even if you qualify for Stafford and Grad Plus, but your school is limiting your Grad Plus you will NOT be able to turn to Wells Fargo student loans and ask for money because the school STILL limits, approves, and denies all funds coming in. That fixed number is solid, regardless of where the money comes from. All you can do is provide proof by docs/receipts to get an increase on that budget.
     
  5. Bokonomy

    2+ Year Member

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    Oh, hey, thanks for the info. They let you cover fieldwork living expenses??? It's more generous than I thought (even though it's all loans). So you talked to the school for a loan increase? How much is it going to cost you after all is said and done? Are you doing public service loan forgiveness?

    To add for OP, if you're a grad student, you're automatically considered independent anyway as far as I know. Like my brothers are in undergrad now, and next year, I won't be considered part of the household and they're going to get less financial aid. And I agree, just do the FASFA in Jan/Feb when you can.
     
  6. CAOT

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    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer! Clearly, I have a lot of work to do in this area, but I appreciate you setting me straight!
    I have 1 more question: wouldn't it be better to have more money extended by Stafford over Grad Plus anyway, because the interest rate is lower?
     
  7. weaver84

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    Yes, the rates are lower, but capped at $10,500 per semester. Which, doesn't even cover tuition at my school which is around $13000 a semester.
     
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  8. weaver84

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    No, no they do NOT cover fieldwork living expenses lol
     
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  9. Bokonomy

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    How annoying. So you're basically stuck living at home for fieldwork? My mom had better not move to Florida...I can't stand the heat.
     

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