FAFSA Frequently Asked Questions: Siblings in College, ‘Deadbeat’ Parents, & Outside Scholarships

College Made Simple tackles your most common questions

Each and every day, we here at College Made Simple receive scores of questions about the FAFSA. So many, in fact, that we’ve decided to put together a comprehensive question-and-answer series covering the most common queries. Here’s part IV of our series:

Q: I have a sibling entering college while I’m still attending. Will that make a difference in my aid eligibility? Should I update my FAFSA?

A: The short answer: Yes, it could make a huge difference, and you absolutely should absolutely update your FAFSA with that new information.

Now, there’s no guarantee that your aid will change. If you’re already receiving the maximum federal money, for instance, then you won’t be eligible for more.

But, in almost every case, the adjustment you get to make to your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will make a large difference. Going from one college student to two will almost cut your EFC in half (not exactly half – parents are expected to pony up a slightly larger percentage of income with two children, for instance – but very close).

Q: I’m paying for my schooling myself, but my parents are behind on their taxes. Now I’m not being allowed to fill out a FAFSA – what can I do?

A: Sadly, this isn’t an easy fix. Children are considered dependent on parents through age 24, outside of very specific circumstances. These can include marriage, having a dependent other than a spouse, or emancipation.

If you have parents that are hindering your FAFSA through owed back taxes or other issues, it’s worth consulting with your financial aid officer and seeing if a solution can be found, or what sort of documentation you need to prove you’re paying for everything on your own, and your parents aren’t involved.

It’s possible. It’s just difficult, and involves a lot of red tape. Prepare yourself for a difficult endeavor.

Q: If I win a fellowship or other outside help, do I need to declare that on my FAFSA? Will it affect my expected contribution?

A: Many independent scholarship groups are upset that yes, you need to declare any grants you may be given, and yes, it will affect aid.

Scholarships and fellowships are set up to assist students – not save money for universities. However, most universities will need to see taxed scholarships as part of a student’s income, and non-taxed stipends will appear as resources. These differences will change your aid – you should still come out ahead, but not by nearly as much as you would if schools didn’t count your scholarship as income and assets.

Follow these links for more FAFSA Frequently Asked Questions:

FAFSA FAQs:  Deadlines, Renewals, and Student Loans

FAFSA FAQs:  Loans, Student Aid Reports, and Divorce

To your successful college funding,

Jodi Polster
Education Director, www.CollegeMadeSimple.com

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.