Some students are lucky enough to receive support from grandparents, aunts/uncles and other extended family members. Although it may seem uncomfortable to ask, the resources provided by these family members may make a significant dent in your out of pocket college costs.
If you are counting on need-based financial aid to help cover some of your college costs, it is important to understand the impact that support from others (i.e. non-parents) might have on your eligibility to receive financial aid.
Q & A
Will help from grandparents or others reduce the amount of financial aid a student receives?
Yes, it might reduce the amount of need-based financial grants awarded by some colleges. This, of course, assumes that your family is eligible for need-based aid to begin with and that you will be admitted to a college that awards need-based grants. Merit aid, which is growing as a percentage of total aid awarded, is not affected.
How can I figure out if support from other family will reduce my eligibility for need-based aid?
First you must determine if, without gifts from family, you would be eligible for need-based grant aid at your potential target colleges. Pick one or two target schools and use their net price calculator tool to estimate the cost of each school for your family.
Review the net price calculator (NPC) fact sheet for information about net price calculator tools.
If the NPC estimates do not reflect any need-based grant, then you probably have nothing to worry about. But if it looks like you might be eligible for need-based grants, then you should try to time these gift third party gifts so that they don’t reduce need-based aid eligibility.