When thinking about funding sources for your children's college education, you may assume
your family earns too much to qualify for Federal grants, loans, and work-study job assistance.
However, families with higher incomes are frequently eligible to receive some form of financial
aid from the Federal government.
The U.S. Department of Education uses a formula for calculating financial aid eligibility that
considers a range of factors in addition to income and assets, including family size and other
financial obligations. When assessing a family's ability to pay for college, the Federal government
recognizes only a small percentage of parents' assets as potential contributions, while other
types of assets, including home equity and savings in IRAs and 401(k) plans, do not factor into the
Filing the FAFSA
Even if you expect to cover your child's college costs
through sources other than Federal aid, it is usually
worthwhile, if not required for you to complete the
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
as the initial part of the process. In addition to
determining your family's eligibility for Federal
assistance, the FAFSA is the primary qualifying
form used by many college, state, local, and private
financial assistance programs.
The first step in applying for financial aid is filling
out the FAFSA, which is distributed and processed
by Federal Student Aid, an office of the Department
of Education. Hard copies of the FAFSA are often
available at high school guidance offices, libraries,
or post offices, or by calling the Federal Student Aid
office. The simplest way to complete the FAFSA is
by applying online at fafsa.ed.gov. Filling out the
form online will alert you to mistakes or omissions;
it can also expedite the processing time by one to
As a parent, the documents you will need to
complete the FAFSA include your Federal income
tax return and W-2 forms from the previous year,
current bank statements, records of untaxed
income, such as Social Security or veteran benefits,
current business and investment mortgage
information, and investment records. If you are
divorced and are the child's custodial parent, only
information about your own household's income
and assets, including any child support and alimony,
are required by the FAFSA. While some colleges
look at the financial resources of the noncustodial
parent in determining the student's need, the
Federal government does not.
The Student Aid Report
When filling out the FAFSA, you may request
that your financial information be sent to up to
six colleges. If your child intends to start college
next fall, it is advisable to file the FAFSA as soon
as possible after January 1, because deadlines for
submitting FAFSA information can be early in the
year for some colleges and state awards programs.
Within a few days to a month after you file, you
should receive by postal mail or e-mail a form known
as the Student Aid Report (SAR). On the SAR, you
will find the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), an
estimate of the amount of your family contribution
toward the student's college expenses for the year.
The colleges you listed on the FAFSA will use this
figure as a basis for determining the amount and type
of any financial aid you will receive.
If financial need is determined, the schools that
admit your child as a student will prepare a financial
aid package that may cover all or part of the
difference between your family's EFC and the cost
of the college. Depending on your family's income
and the resources of the institution, colleges may
offer more or less aid than the difference between
the EFC and the cost of attendance.
A final thought
The high school class of 2017 left as much as $3
billion in federal grant money for college on the
table. Simply because they didn't complete the Free
Application for Federal Student Aid.
No matter how slight you believe your chances of
receiving aid are, apply. You may receive more aid
than you expect.
For more information about federal funding for
education, visit the Department of Education at
Important Disclosure Information
The article above was provided to Synovus by eMoney Advisor, LLC, and is used here with permission from eMoney or a third party content provider. eMoney does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual's personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. This information was provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice.
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
You are about to leave the Synovus web site for a third-party site
Third-party sites aren't under our control, and we are not responsible for any of the content or additional links they contain. We don't endorse to guarantee the goods or information provided by third-party sites, and we're not responsible for any failures or inaccuracies. Third-party sites may contain less security and may have different privacy policies from ours.