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).