Does Financial Aid Have an Income Limit?

You would be hard-pressed to find a parent who did not want to receive some sort of financial aid for their college-bound children, but far too many never even attempt to qualify.

In fact, many people assume that if they make too much money or have too many assets, then they have no chance of receiving any aid.

Clinging to that assumption, they don’t even bother to fill out the paperwork.

So is there is a specific level of income (this is a question we get all the time) that will disqualify you from financial aid eligibility?

Today we’ll dispel the rumors and let you know exactly who should be filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Here’s a hint: it’s you.

– Scott

Income Limits and Financial Aid

Let’s be clear from the start; every single family with college students should fill out the FAFSA every single year.

No matter who you are or where you come from, every person enrolling in college has the right to submit their free financial aid application to the Department of Education.

Sure, it can be tedious and frustrating, but you always have a better chance of receiving aid if you fill it out.

That brings us to the specific question at hand: Does financial aid have an income limit?

The simple answer to that question is “no” – there is not a set maximum income level at which a family will be disqualified for financial aid consideration.

The manner in which the government determines a family’s eligibility for financial aid is far more thorough and considers a number of factors; not necessarily just income.

This determination is consolidated into what is known as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

An EFC is the amount of money that a family is expected to be able to contribute to their student’s education costs. The number comes from a special formula that considers your financial data and calculates the amount of money you can reasonably afford to put towards a college education.

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the EFC, the lower the amount of financial aid one can expect to receive.

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Luckily, the EFC formula does not simply consider your income and then spit out a number based entirely on your paycheck. One of the most influential factors in determining an expected contribution is your adjusted gross income (AGI) which comes directly from your taxes (Form 1040).

However, the AGI is not the only factor considered in determining EFC. The size of a student’s household, number of household members currently attending college, the age of each member of the household, and their state of residence can all play a role in establishing a reliable EFC.

Simply put, just because your family has a higher level of income does not mean that you can assume that you will not receive any aid.

And for those who cannot escape a high EFC, this does not mean that you have no recourse to qualify for financial aid.

The simple act of filling out and submitting the FAFSA will alert prospective colleges to the fact that you are interested in some sort of monetary support. If the school is interested in your child, then they may discount your tuition or find some other way to provide reduced tuition costs, such as potential grants and scholarships.

Never assume when it comes to financial aid. Always do your research and do whatever it takes to give your child the best chance to receive financial assistance—starting with filling out the FAFSA.

To Your Financial Aid Success,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network, LLC

College Made Simple – The Free Educational Resource of the College Planning Network, LLC

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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.