As I have said before, there are plenty of factors that go into the final Expected Family Contribution (EFC), so getting the number down as low as possible is often a game of changing the inputs. Now this tip may seem extreme, but getting married might do your EFC some good if the circumstances are right. Here’s another quick EFC reduction tip…more after the jump
Take a Walk Down the Aisle – So you are currently dating or engaged to your high school sweet heart and both of you are in college. You want to be married anyway, but are waiting until you get jobs after school so you can pay for the wedding. However, you may be spending money you don’t have to now and taking out loans you will be paying on for ten years at the same time. Marriage is one of the many factors that makes you INDEPENDENT for financial aid purposes. If you are currently a dependent and own or both of your parents are working, it is likely the aid you receive is mostly made of Stafford or PLUS student loans. But marriage takes your parents income out of the equation. And if you are a student already, your income is likely much lower, and therefore you would both have a lower EFC overall. Now this strategy only works well under the following conditions;
1) Both you and your potential spouse are currently college students (Undergrad or Grad) enrolled more than half-time (6 Semester Hours) and working towards a degree
2) Both you and your spouse earned less than $25,000 in the prior year
3) You were married on the day you filed the FAFSA
4) Both of you don’t already receive Pell, state tuition waiver, work-study, or other form of non-loan based financial aid, or…
5) One of You don’t already receive subsidized student loans and are relying on yourself or your parents to pay for your education out of pocket or with private loans.
6) Both of you have current EFC’s above $5337
Now I would never suggest taking marriage lightly, and tell you to get married just for the extra financial aid. But, if you are already headed down the aisle, and are spending a fortune on your education, getting married a little early might help you financially. Beyond the savings that come from sharing living expenses, the reduction in your EFC could save you thousands on student loans in the long run.