Ask Terry Questions FAFSA and parental privacy

FAFSA and parental privacy

By Terry Savage on January 13, 2015 | College Savings / Student Loans

Hi Terry. I just read your BLOG posting about FAFSA and Family via Huffington Post. You are the first person I have seen comment on the privacy issues and parents possibly not wanting their 18 year old to know all of the details about their finances. I don’t understand why the gov’t doesn’t set it up where there is a parent account and a student account, and the student doesn’t have access to the parent account. I have no problem sharing my info with the gov’t and the schools, and I understand that the student needs to see the expected family contribution, however I do not what my child to know how much money I make and what my assets are. From what I have seen on Net Price Calculators there is no way that she will qualify for need based aid, so I am even less interested in letting her see the info. However on their websites, some schools seem to be saying that to qualify for MERIT aid you need to have completed a FAFSA. My daughter has pretty good grades and test scores, so she is qualifying for merit aid at some schools. So two questions – do you have any idea why the gov’t thinks it’s ok to share all financial info with kids, and do you have any suggestions how to handle the merit aid issue? My daughter was accepted at Fordham in NY, and it APPEARS that they require a FAFSA for merit aid. I know we can contact the school and ask them, but do you have any other suggestions?

Terry Says:  I’ve written about FAFSA for years, but only recently when I helped a family go through the process online (just to see how it’s really done) did I realize the implications.  The parents were open to me knowing their financial facts that had to be revealed — but very hesitant to let their daughter know.  And I remember that I had absolutely no idea how much my father earned when I was in college!

I think it’s insane that the government doesn’t separate the figures for privacy from children.  Imagine how difficult this is for a divorced family, child living with mother and step-father, for example, and the step-father must reveal ALL even though he has no responsibility to support the wife’s child in college.  And the non-custodial parent avoids revealing anything!  Idiotic — but the entire student loan process has become a way to make kids dependent for life on government for loan repayment!  Don’t get me started on that topic!

In specific answer to your question,  yes it is very likely that even merit scholarships would require FAFSA.  But do contact the admissions and financial aid office of the school to which your daughter has been accepted and ask them if they will consider her without FAFSA because of privacy issues.  And if they will, please let me know by posting again —



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