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Janice in NJ
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Someone should make the FAFSA folks update their "estimates" page. It's insulting. We live about 10 minutes outside of NYC. Husband works in NYC. Everything just costs more here. Over Christmas, my family members were discussing the price of milk; they couldn't believe what we pay. It's just more. The cheap grocery stores here cost more than the deluxe stores cost elsewhere. It's just the way it goes. I get it. We live here because dh's job is here; there are lots of benefits. I get it. But come on, that form makes no sense here. According to the estimates, we are supposed to be able to support a family of five on 27K after taxes. OK. I grew up in the middle of no where; my parents still live there. We grew up on a shoestring. So I get it. But the numbers don't work here. They just don't.

 

So if we didn't own a home - our home is priced lower than median for our town, so we aren't living in a mansion BUT IF we rented in our town - which would be cheaper than mortgage, taxes, repairs, and utilities - we could get a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment in one of those apartment complexes for $ 1,300 per month. Really - that's not the price for the nice one; that's the price for the regular 'ole complex. That's $ 15,600 per year for housing and utilities. That leaves $ 226 per week left over. If Dh used public transportation and we sold both cars, it would still cost him $ 16.10 to get to work every day. That's $ 80.50 per week for dh to commute. That leaves $145 per week for a family of five to live on to cover EVERYTHING except housing and transportation for dh to work. No phone. No groceries. No medical insurance or expenses. No toilet paper. :001_smile:

 

Huh? I feel like I'm communicating with someone who lives on Mars. This form will reveal almost nothing about what we can reasonably expect to pay for college. And if I quit sleeping and go get a job, we can afford to pay more - a lot more. Although I'm not sure if I would even have that money left over after I paid the taxes. Good night!

 

They really should just change the numbers so they make sense and then just tell me, "I know that you can't possibly come up with this much money, but this is what it's gonna cost ya." At least I wouldn't feel like the person sitting across the table from me is missing a FACE!

 

Rant over. I get it. There's no money for college. We're going to have to go massively in debt. I get it. But just tell me that. Don't keep waving formulas in my face. It's frustrating.

 

Peace,

Janice

 

I don't know what that form is you are talking about.

 

Are you thinking of going in debt for a child's college education? Or your own?

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Yes, I know. I consider it my personal message to keep telling people how they aren't going to get financial aid. Merit aid, maybe, but financial aid= nope. These are people who live in my area- the DC area. The only people who will be getting it is very large families. The formula does not count at all the cost of living in many places and the EFC more and more is only affordable by quite wealthy or those with basically no income. If you are a family that actually pays income tax, it will probably be much more than you can imagine. Yes, the income holdback is very low and what it works out to be is somewhere between 25-33% of your income supposed to be going to college. I think we are actually more towards 35% of gross income. The only thing that is letting our daughter go to college is the GI Bill or fantastic merit aid. (Depending on where she goes we will use one or the other). For daughter number three, we will be depending on merit awards.

 

Just to make it clear, we don't have an issue with paying money towards college. We were paying all of my son's when he was attending a state school (about 10K a year) and we would have no issues paying somewhat more too.

 

It is why more and more middle income families are forgoing the very expensive schools. Less and less of them are getting any aid.

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I totally get what you're saying... we're more No.VA people. I did a FAFSA estimate and just about choked. We have a few more years before it becomes serious, but we're already telling our children to have an open mind about where they go -- because it will be based more upon what we can afford, than almost anything else!

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Yup. Like all rites of passage, I'm left slack-jawed. Thanks to you and others on this board, Jane, I knew what I was up against. BUT it doesn't make revisiting the whole thing any less of a "huh?" I knew what it was going to say. I just think the way they say it is really insulting. :001_smile: It's things like this that undermine my confidence in government. Be straight with me. I get it. There's no money available. I get it. But don't treat me like I'm a dolt. My bucket may be leaking, but it isn't leaking THAT bad! At least ASSURE me that what I'm feeling is what I'm supposed to feel. Don't tell me I'm obviously spending all of our money on non-essentials. We aren't chewing THAT much gum around here! :001_smile:

 

Now I DO get it. Neither of my parents went to college. And my dad didn't make a ton of money. So college was expensive for my sister and I. And we got help; I'm REALLY grateful for it. Our husbands got help too; all four of us graduated from college. We had lots of loans, but we did get some grant money. So we didn't pay full price. And the three of them are now all making good livings - I'm the only one who doesn't make a dime. :001_smile: But I get it; now it's our turn to pay close to sticker price. Both my sister's family and our family will be forking over money. That's as it should be. My younger sister dropped out after a semester. Her husband didn't go to college either. They should be able to afford to send their boys. I suspect they will get some help; I'm psyched for them. So really, I get it. You pay it forward. I just wish they would change the way they generate the numbers so I didn't feel SO misunderstood! Somehow I feel chided by that form.

 

Thanks Jane!

Janice

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Yup. Like all rites of passage, I'm left slack-jawed. Thanks to you and others on this board, Jane, I knew what I was up against. BUT it doesn't make revisiting the whole thing any less of a "huh?" I knew what it was going to say. I just think the way they say it is really insulting. :001_smile: It's things like this that undermine my confidence in government. Be straight with me. I get it. There's no money available. I get it. But don't treat me like I'm a dolt. My bucket may be leaking, but it isn't leaking THAT bad! At least ASSURE me that what I'm feeling is what I'm supposed to feel. Don't tell me I'm obviously spending all of our money on non-essentials. We aren't chewing THAT much gum around here! :001_smile:

 

 

 

If it is any consolation, colleges have their individual formulae. Some parents have reported substantial differences in financial aid awards from school to school.

 

One of my son's friends was given a grant that exceeded the FAFSA estimate--probably because he was planning on studying science at an LAC that is roughly 60 percent female. As another poster so aptly put it, financial aid is a black box.

 

Welcome to the roller coaster ride.

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Mmmmm, yes. I just wanna peek, ya know?

 

Before the New Year, we finalized ds's Common App and hit "send." He has already sent in some free applications this fall and has heard back with some nice merit aid. Not enough to take make us breathe a sigh of relief, just enough to make us hopeful. :001_smile: We couldn't do early decision with his first choice school because of that black-box business. We have NO way of knowing how much the different cars on the lot will actually cost. Seems kinda weird. In an era of computer-generated-everything it seems like we should be able to get a reasonable idea of what things will cost before we "apply to buy." Money spent on applications. Money spent to forward test scores. And now the Profile people want to know how much coffee I waste in the bottom of my cup every morning. In an insta-era where everything is available with a quick search, it seems weird to have something so important be cloaked up until March or April. Just seems odd. Like someone's trying to razzle-dazzle me. I feel like I'm watching a cheesy reality-TV show. :001_smile:

 

Trying to stay sane. Trying to stay sober. Trying NOT to lose interest - but really, this game is starting to take on the flavor of a dice game instead of a strategy game!

 

Peace,

Janice

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And now the Profile people want to know how much coffee I waste in the bottom of my cup every morning.

 

Actually, they want to know how much money you might make selling platelets. Do you have a spare kidney?

 

Maybe we should market the FAFSA magic eight ball. It could read things like "beans and rice" or... Or what? Seems like it's beans and rice for most people.

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It's a shell game. When we started looking around and gathering info back in 2006 it didn't take long to figure out that even when you are offered money at most schools, you're still going to go massively into debt. There are very, very few kids who actually do get a free ride. And even for those who do, a large percentage (according to what I'm seeing currently) are just wasting that money.....

 

My son's school seems to have an admirable policy of trying to recruit a group of kids from one area who have significant need and providing full scholarships for them. The trouble with this is, that once the kids get here, far away from their homes, they may have each other, but they don't have a red cent to their names. They're on the meal plan, of course, but the one cafeteria on campus isn't always open (and it's not open over holidays; so if they can't afford to go home, how do they eat?)

 

So the university gives them all a job earning about $500 a month so that they will have spending money. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Well, maybe, for some who might truly want this opportunity and appreciate what it means for them. But in general, wrong. For my son's roommate, it has meant that he's gone out and bought a huge TV, X-box and every game he can think of. And play games is all he does. I have no idea what sort of GPA he ended up with last semester. He told my son he was "shooting for a C"......

 

There are 10 of these students on this campus that I know of. Just the full, four year scholarships equal $1,680,000 and that doesn't include books, full meal plans, all sports equipment (they all play something, I think), and the monthly spending money they "earn" doing various odd jobs around campus, like taking tickets at various sports games, etc.......

 

I guess it's no small wonder there's no money for those who would really like to benefit from it.....

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The only people who will be getting it is very large families. \.

 

We didn't find that family size made any difference. What they expected as our EFC was almost 1/3 of dh's income. :confused: There was absolutely no way that we could feed our family and pay housing expenses on what was left. It really is beyond ridiculous. The only thing ds qualified for were non-subsidized loans which start accruing interest the day you take them out. :tongue_smilie:

 

We are actually looking at out of state schools for our 11th grade dd b/c she can attend out of state at many universities cheaper than attending in-state here.

 

Thanks to Michelle in AL, one of the schools she wants to visit is Mississippi State since you can attend for instate tuition with an ACT score that she surpassed the first time she took it.

 

She is great student, but not "showy" enough for most merit scholarships, so her choices are reduced to what are financially feasible.

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It must have something to do with assets, not income. Or income, but nothing that makes sense!

 

So, I did a little calculating to try and figure out how they come up with these numbers. First, any assets over $43,400 are multiplied by 12% to go towards the EFC. Or so I thought, but it is much lower than that for young parents. That's okay - we won't have any assets for a LONG time.:D

 

For income, you get a credit (based on income) for FICA, federal, and state taxes. In addition, there is an "Income Protection Allowance" based on family size. It does seem that is $27K for a family of 5 - is that where that number came from? But, after the allowances and credits are accounted for, the formula only takes about 1/3 of the amount left.

 

So, 1/3 of your after-tax income (minus $27K for a family of 5) plus 12% of assets over whatever amount your age allows you (which does *not* include equity in a primary house or retirement funds.) It doesn't seem to matter much, though, once you get over the Pell Grant limit anyway, because most grants are tied to that number. Colleges may have need-based aid, but they use their own formulas anyway, so you may still get aid.

 

So, I used our "expected" numbers for next year (hoped for?:tongue_smilie:) with a family of 9. The EFC will be $7172 and leave us with an after-tax, mandatory retirement, health insurance, and EFC income of $71K. Sounds great, right? When I plug that extra roughly $600 amonth into the budget - not so good. They don't take into account the $1400 a month in daycare, do they? Or *my* student loan payments? I have to say, though, as someone who is currently living on 1/3 of that amount, the thought that it wouldn't be enough is cracking me up.:lol: But, I am looking at the numbers in black and white on my spreadsheet - it wouldn't be.

 

Thankfully ds already knows it ain't happening - we've promised to come up with in-state tution, fees, and books at the local cc. Anything above that and he is on his own. (Unless, of course, he and his Dad make up enough that he'll sign the paperwork for the tuition benefit from his employer.)

 

So, looks like I will be right here with you next year.:auto:

Edited by Renee in FL
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We didn't find that family size made any difference. What they expected as our EFC was almost 1/3 of dh's income. :confused: There was absolutely no way that we could feed our family and pay housing expenses on what was left. It really is beyond ridiculous. The only thing ds qualified for were non-subsidized loans which start accruing interest the day you take them out. :tongue_smilie:

 

We are actually looking at out of state schools for our 11th grade dd b/c she can attend out of state at many universities cheaper than attending in-state here.

 

Thanks to Michelle in AL, one of the schools she wants to visit is Mississippi State since you can attend for instate tuition with an ACT score that she surpassed the first time she took it.

 

She is great student, but not "showy" enough for most merit scholarships, so her choices are reduced to what are financially feasible.

 

Ours was 10% of income (in the calculation above) and it seemed that the EFC difference between a family of 5 and 9 was about $5K (so about 14.8%.) As the income gets higher, the percentage gets higher as well. So, at $150K the EFC was about 1/5 (based on gross, not net) for a family of 9 and a little more for a family of 5 (it's because the allowances are fixed numbers, not percentages - I think.)

Edited by Renee in FL
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There are two thoughts that come to my mind.

 

The first is that this is why we push for high academics and high scores on the PSAT/ACT/SAT. They pay off at many places IF you can get them, so it's worth the time and effort to try. Couple it with the education needed to get there and good extra curriculars and it all can pay off.

 

The second is that some colleges offer a bit in decent need-based aid for students they want. It might be sports. It might be high academics (beyond merit aid). It might be geographical or other diversity. It might be the winner of the magic 8 ball. It's worth applying and seeing, but without being "set" on any one dream school.

 

I've learned from my first to not let sticker shock scare me into not letting middle or youngest apply where they like, but I've also had "the talk" with them about our finances and their future (pros and cons of debt for education - there are pros and cons). Educational institutions are not equal in more ways than one. It's worth it to do personalized research.

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Ours was 10% of income (in the calculation above) and it seemed that the EFC difference between a family of 5 and 9 was about $5K (so about 14.8%.) As the income gets higher, the percentage gets higher as well. So, at $150K the EFC was about 1/5 (based on gross, not net) for a family of 9 and a little more for a family of 5 (it's because the allowances are fixed numbers, not percentages - I think.)

 

I'm not sure what you are looking at or where you are getting your numbers from, but when we first started the process with our oldest, our EFC was literally close to 1/3 of dh's gross income, not even in the ballpark of 10-15%. Ds's tuition, room, board, and books at the university he is attending issignificantly less in cost than what our EFC was expected to be.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I am not sure either. We have a salary of 112K and then an additional housing allowance of about 30K but that will be dropping to about 21K midyear. I did this calculation with 5 people and one in college. We have assets under the level where they are counted. We don't own a home either. Oldest parent will be 48. Our estimated efc is 49K. That is more than 1/3 of our salary plus housing allowance. It is also undoable where we live now and I am not talking buying cars or expensive toys or anything like that. One reason our housing is expensive is so we don't live too far from dh's work. He travels a lot and works very long hours. Keeping him to a half hour commute is only reasonable. It isn't like we can move again before we move in July anyway. We will be in cheaper housing then but then we will be receiving less money for that housing.

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The people who figured out the formulas used in the FAFSA don't live in the real world. We have three dc in college. The FAFSA expects us to spend 35% of gross income. We don't have assets that count on the form. Housing costs are absurdly high in our state, and one must pay about the highest cost per gallon of gas in the nation because of state laws on gasoline ingredients. There is absolutely no way we can put 35% of gross income into paying for college. Take away that 35%, then subtract state and federal income tax and housing costs and there is not much left to live on.

 

I don't know anyone whose dc have received any money based on the FAFSA. Maybe the formula makes sense in some states, but not in the high cost of living states.

 

It is essential that dc get merit scholarships, and even then there will be loans. It's that or they don't go to college.

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FASFA is basically a joke. Though we aren't in an expensive area to live, we aren't rolling in money by any stretch of the imagination. The FASFA estimated that with six people living in the house, we should be contributing 35% of our income to college!

 

Seriously, I don't know what planet the FASFA people live on but it's not earth. Literally, we wouldn't be able to have car insurance, health insurance (because we pay half of the premium - his company pays the other half), meet our health deductible, or pay for ds's vision therapy which is not covered by medical insurance if we contributed 35% of our income to college.

 

Oh and we still don't know why it came up with 35%...dh's salary is in the $70,000.00 range.

 

Faith

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Well, as someone with a large family and low income, I find it annoying and demeaning to have to outline, over and over and over again, that, YES, we really have no money, just to find out that our EFC is $0. Yeah, I could have told you that, but I am too busy trying to figure out how to pay the two remaining bills from December! :D

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We didn't find that family size made any difference. What they expected as our EFC was almost 1/3 of dh's income. :confused: There was absolutely no way that we could feed our family and pay housing expenses on what was left. It really is beyond ridiculous. The only thing ds qualified for were non-subsidized loans which start accruing interest the day you take them out. :tongue_smilie:

 

We are actually looking at out of state schools for our 11th grade dd b/c she can attend out of state at many universities cheaper than attending in-state here.

 

Thanks to Michelle in AL, one of the schools she wants to visit is Mississippi State since you can attend for instate tuition with an ACT score that she surpassed the first time she took it.

 

She is great student, but not "showy" enough for most merit scholarships, so her choices are reduced to what are financially feasible.

 

I agree that I didn't see a big difference because we have a big family, nor did my sil (She has 6 kids, I have 7) My kids went to community for the first 2 years and my older 2 got some very nice transfer scholarships. I am hoping ds will be able to get good transfer money too.

 

Dh and I can not afford to contribute to our kids school bills. They have taken out subsidized loans, work (a lot of hours on top of classes and all summer and winter break) and I help by paying their cell phone, car insurance, books and I try to throw them gas money and food money when I can. How much the school costs is definitely a big part of our equation when choosing colleges.

 

Faithe

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FAFSA is crazy. If you are really, really poor -- as in, there are only two of you but your income is maybe $15,000 a year -- your EFC will be $0 or close to it. (This was my actual situation this past year as a married lady.)

 

If you make semi-decent money, say between $40k and $60k a year, perhaps, and have many children, EFC will be $0. Actually, if you have many children, your older kids will be just fine. Your younger kids will not be, because by the time they get to be college age the older ones will no longer count for family size.

 

If you are truly wealthy, FAFSA will tell you that you need to pay for all of your kid's college and you will actually be able to do so.

 

Everyone else is just, well..screwed.

 

Thankfully, colleges, especially the more expensive private ones, often have systems in place to mitigate the ridiculousness of FAFSA, such as having people explain their *actual* financial circumstances, or even providing flat-out free rides to students whose parents make less than x amount of money. Of course, the only colleges I know of that do that are the ones that are super hard to get into, but hey...

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Our EFC ended up being 15% of our income, but with the economy being down, our income isn't as high as some of you are reporting. Since we didn't have a college student when our income was higher, I've no idea what the benchmark between 15% and 33% is.

 

And no, at the moment, we can't afford the 15%. However, we are fortunate that oldest won a couple of nice outside scholarships plus grandma has kicked in for some. He's doing a college offered work-study (not federal), and we've scrimped and saved on books, COL (there), and transportation estimates. He gave us a tally of what we'll need to pay this coming semester assuming all goes as planned with his work-study. It's $200. He does have a couple of federal loans, but his overall debt amount after 4 years should be less than 20K. I'm ok with that amount. It's easily repayable in 5 years for him (or us if we help) and is well worth his double degree that he's getting.

 

As I've said before on other threads, it's less expensive for us to send him to [the right - for him] private 4 year college than to send middle son to our local cc for 2 classes. I'm even counting grandma's money as ours when I make that statement.

 

If a student is attractive to a college, some colleges can make it more feasible to attend through whatever combo of merit (he got some, but we couldn't afford it on just that) and need-based aid.

 

I like this list for starters: (title of link =

The Experts' Choice: Colleges that Go the Extra Mile to Make It Financially Possible to Attend)

 

 

http://www.insidecollege.com/reno/The-Experts-Choice-Colleges-that-Go-the-Extra-Mile-to-Make-It-Financially-Possible-to-Attend/352/list.do

 

No one can guarantee good aid, but for us, it's certainly possible and my other two will check out 4 year privates as well as state schools. (A state school may indeed be the best for middle son - regardless of cost.) We're not cc "people" so that's not an option in our house except as high school classes - when we can afford them!

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For ds last year, it came down to two local colleges that both really wanted him - but one had a financial aid office that was adamant about our being able to pay the EFC as determined by FAFSA and made their merit offer accordingly (and half of that was in the form of a grant that may or may not have been renewed each year.)

 

College number 2 gave a larger, totally renewable scholarship AND some smaller ones that made our remaining costs BELOW the EFC.

 

He is now at the second college. :-)

 

(note - these were both private schools in the $40,000 a year total cost range. With the merit aid our cost is LESS than it would have been at the local state U.)

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I'm not sure what you are looking at or where you are getting your numbers from, but when we first started the process with our oldest, our EFC was literally close to 1/3 of dh's gross income, not even in the ballpark of 10-15%. Ds's tuition, room, board, and books at the university he is attending issignificantly less in cost than what our EFC was expected to be.

 

I pulled those numbers off of an EFC calculator online. It seemed to be using the formula correctly. However, I was using income only, no assets. Having assets in excess of the allowance means your EFC would be higher.

 

I used a different calculator and got roughly the same thing. $150K in straight income, paying $14K in taxes, assets below the allowance - the EFC was $26,619 or 17.7% of gross.

 

I used a third calculator and got $25,914. The only way I can get anywhere close to 1/3 is by having significant assets ($190-200K), which of course they expect you to use to pay for college. The federal methodology doesn't count retirement or home equity. Assets in the student's name are counted more.

 

Are the calculators that far off?

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I am not sure either. We have a salary of 112K and then an additional housing allowance of about 30K but that will be dropping to about 21K midyear. I did this calculation with 5 people and one in college. We have assets under the level where they are counted. We don't own a home either. Oldest parent will be 48. Our estimated efc is 49K. That is more than 1/3 of our salary plus housing allowance. It is also undoable where we live now and I am not talking buying cars or expensive toys or anything like that. One reason our housing is expensive is so we don't live too far from dh's work. He travels a lot and works very long hours. Keeping him to a half hour commute is only reasonable. It isn't like we can move again before we move in July anyway. We will be in cheaper housing then but then we will be receiving less money for that housing.

 

I got $32K on one and $33K on the other - not sure what I am doing differently than you are. The reason why it is higher than my other calculation *is* based on family size because the Income Protection Allowance is based on number of family members. So, in your case, it is 22.8%.

 

Which calculator did you use? Did you factor in how much you paid in federal taxes?

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I pulled those numbers off of an EFC calculator online. It seemed to be using the formula correctly. However, I was using income only, no assets. Having assets in excess of the allowance means your EFC would be higher.

 

I used a different calculator and got roughly the same thing. $150K in straight income, paying $14K in taxes, assets below the allowance - the EFC was $26,619 or 17.7% of gross.

 

I used a third calculator and got $25,914. The only way I can get anywhere close to 1/3 is by having significant assets ($190-200K), which of course they expect you to use to pay for college. The federal methodology doesn't count retirement or home equity. Assets in the student's name are counted more.

 

Are the calculators that far off?

 

Well, I can assure you that we don't have assets any where near that range! Even based on this school yrs FAFSA ds did not qualify for anything other than non-subsidized loans.

 

I'm not sure what you are entering and not entering, but the projections you list are way out of kilter with our real FAFSA #s.

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FASFA is basically a joke. Though we aren't in an expensive area to live, we aren't rolling in money by any stretch of the imagination. The FASFA estimated that with six people living in the house, we should be contributing 35% of our income to college!

 

Seriously, I don't know what planet the FASFA people live on but it's not earth. Literally, we wouldn't be able to have car insurance, health insurance (because we pay half of the premium - his company pays the other half), meet our health deductible, or pay for ds's vision therapy which is not covered by medical insurance if we contributed 35% of our income to college.

 

Oh and we still don't know why it came up with 35%...dh's salary is in the $70,000.00 range.

 

Faith

 

These calculators aren't accurate at all then - none of the 3 I have tried are giving me anywhere near the numbers y'all have actually been given. I used 4 people in Michigan with $71K in income and $20K in the bank and got an EFC of $5187 (7.3%)!

 

If they aren't even close to accurate, then why are they online? One was even on the College Board site - you would think they would have one that was at least close to accurate!

 

Student income and assets are "docked" at a higher rate, too, it seems. They are expected to pay 50% of their income after allowances and 20% of the assets in their name.

 

I can link the Federal formula and you can calculate it yourself without a calculator.

 

http://ifap.ed.gov/efcformulaguide/attachments/111609EFCFormulaGuide20102011.pdf

 

It seems pretty straightforward and matches the calculators' methodology, so why are you getting numbers that are so high?!?!?!

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Well, I can assure you that we don't have assets any where near that range! Even based on this school yrs FAFSA ds did not qualify for anything other than non-subsidized loans.

 

I'm not sure what you are entering and not entering, but the projections you list are way out of kilter with our real FAFSA #s.

 

Editing: Actual number using the federal worksheet - $28,734

 

This is with a family of 9, 1 in college, $150K income, Federal tax paid of $14K, FICA allowance of $8796, State Tax Allowance of $7500, and Income Protection Allowance of $46,130.

 

The only thing I can think of is that the formula has changed drastically for the 2010-2011 FAFSA year from previous years?

Edited by Renee in FL
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Well, I can assure you that we don't have assets any where near that range! Even based on this school yrs FAFSA ds did not qualify for anything other than non-subsidized loans.

 

I'm not sure what you are entering and not entering, but the projections you list are way out of kilter with our real FAFSA #s.

 

Once you get over an EFC of $4619, you don't qualify for federal aid other than unsubsidized loans, no matter what the cost of attendance is.

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Once you get over an EFC of $4619, you don't qualify for federal aid other than unsubsidized loans, no matter what the cost of attendance is.

 

You can qualify for subsidized loans and federal work study above that number. At least my oldest has (last year - this school year).

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At the risk of sounding like I am an apologist for FAFSA (which I assure you I am not) I do think that it is a bit unfair to characterize the EFC as a percent of income. Colleges and the FAFSA people all assume that parents are saving for the education of their children from birth on. So even if parents do not have the assets today, the formula (as I understand it) assumes that parents could have (or should have) saved x number of dollars for college based on income stream.

 

Is this unreasonable conceptually? I do not think so. Education is important to me so I opened a mutual fund for my son's college savings a couple of months after his birth. There are those who claim that students should not have assets since FAFSA assumes that these funds will go toward college. My starting assumption was that we would of course be paying something for college.

 

And that brings up another issue... Just because FAFSA determines a low EFC, students do not always receive their financial aid in the form of direct grants. Loans are a part of the package. The subsidized Staffords are a good deal but many of us do not qualify for them. The unsubsidized Staffords are issued to anyone who fills out FAFSA--but these loans start collecting interest on Day One, not after graduation like the subsidized loans.

 

Including the latter information for parents who are new to the game,

Jane

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At the risk of sounding like I am an apologist for FAFSA (which I assure you I am not) I do think that it is a bit unfair to characterize the EFC as a percent of income. Colleges and the FAFSA people all assume that parents are saving for the education of their children from birth on. So even if parents do not have the assets today, the formula (as I understand it) assumes that parents could have (or should have) saved x number of dollars for college based on income stream.

 

Is this unreasonable conceptually?

 

Not conceptually, but practically, and realistically... yes.

 

That formula assumes the family has been making roughly that income stream for many years... which (especially today) is becoming less, and less true.

 

In my dh family, my FIL did not start earning a substantial income until DH was a senior in high school, that was the year he made $100,000. The years prior? He made less than $40,000.

 

In our family, my father made good money, plant closed down, and he was 35, with 2 high schoolers, a child in Jr. High and one in elementary school starting over making $25,000 a year, and no assets.

 

We have had to "start over" twice (started over the first time, with just a lost in assets, and only one child and 1/2 income. Started over the 2nd time from zero assets, and 1/3 prior income and 4 children). We are now starting to save a little more, but would never come up with the projected $27,000 per year the FAFSA caluclation expects us to contribute. We will be nearly 50 when our oldest leaves for college, and nearly 60 when the youngest goes.

 

Just because your income is $125,000 the year you're filling out the FAFSA, does not take into account that just 5 years ago, you weren't even close to that income stream. It doesn't take into account other significant issues either (high medical expenses, being one).

 

So, no, any formula that "assumes" a prior income stream similar to what is being reported that year is not truly "reasonable" IMHO... but then, that's the same problem I have with "rich" being defined as an income level.

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Not conceptually, but practically, and realistically... yes.

 

That formula assumes the family has been making roughly that income stream for many years... which (especially today) is becoming less, and less true.

 

In my dh family, my FIL did not start earning a substantial income until DH was a senior in high school, that was the year he made $100,000. The years prior? He made less than $40,000.

 

In our family, my father made good money, plant closed down, and he was 35, with 2 high schoolers, a child in Jr. High and one in elementary school starting over making $25,000 a year, and no assets.

 

We have had to "start over" twice (started over the first time, with just a lost in assets, and only one child and 1/2 income. Started over the 2nd time from zero assets, and 1/3 prior income and 4 children). We are now starting to save a little more, but would never come up with the projected $27,000 per year the FAFSA caluclation expects us to contribute. We will be nearly 50 when our oldest leaves for college, and nearly 60 when the youngest goes.

 

Just because your income is $125,000 the year you're filling out the FAFSA, does not take into account that just 5 years ago, you weren't even close to that income stream. It doesn't take into account other significant issues either (high medical expenses, being one).

 

So, no, any formula that "assumes" a prior income stream similar to what is being reported that year is not truly "reasonable" IMHO... but then, that's the same problem I have with "rich" being defined as an income level.

 

Herein lies the problem with a formulaic approach.

 

The next question is whether financial aid officers acknowledge situations such as those outlined above to re-evaluate the EFC. I'd be interested in hearing...

 

Jane

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Just because your income is $125,000 the year you're filling out the FAFSA, does not take into account that just 5 years ago, you weren't even close to that income stream. It doesn't take into account other significant issues either (high medical expenses, being one).

 

 

This is where it's extremely important to file an appeal with the college in question. Fafsa, itself, can't change the EFC. It's formulaic. However, they allow the colleges to change it IF they can substantiate why they changed it. High medical bills are an accepted reason - for a family member or parents. Other accepted reasons are a temporary change in income (say you sold a property or wrote a book that did ok - not great, but ok). Some places allow private school tuition to count. Some want to know if you are in an high COL area. There are many acceptable reasons an EFC can be lowered by the college. If in doubt, it's worth it to check. The number you get doesn't have to be the final answer in many cases.

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Jane,

 

We found no compassionate considerations whatsoever. The fact that our income consistently went down for many years before it ever went up and had only recently gotten to the level that caused dd to receive NO help, was not taken into consideration. That we have a son with a heart condition and a large medical deductible and tons of cardiac tests that the health insurance refuses to pay in full year after year did not count. That we'd taken a $65,000.00 loss on the sale of our house six months before she graduated high school did not count, yet they kept making the same comment over and over, "Just get a second mortgage." I wanted to shout, "Idiots, there is no second mortgage on a house that we no longer own. the sale of which cost us $65,000.00!" The present house has a $20,000.00 mortgage that is financed through a land contract because it was not available through a conventional loan and a second mortgage is not available even though we have huge amounts of equity. The current banking crisis has made lending practices tight and here in Michigan, it's pretty next to impossible to get a second mortgage.

 

One financial aid office worker actually made this comment to us, "You made the choice to prioritize your son's health over your daughter's college savings. So, she will have to suffer from your poor planning." Yep, apparently, we were supposed to let ds die or at least get into a situation in which he would need a cardiac surgery with a 25% pediatric mortality rate just so dd could go to college! Cold, very cold...but it was like that at every institution.

 

Thankfully, dd has found a pre-med program that we are all just barely affording and ds is healthy. But, I am amazed at the total cold-heartedness and the mind-boggling base assumptions on which the current system is based!

 

13 universities, 13 acceptance letters, 13 offers of merit based aid which accounted for not less than 50% of tuition and not more than 75% of tuition except one school that came in close to 100% but no help with room and board and fees/lab charges, etc. so high that it added easily $1500.00 per semester onto the portion of tuition not covered by merit based aid and the % of merit aid was not based on tuition and fees...just tuition. The least expensive college that she would have attended away from home, was a total annual bill to us, after 75% tuition scholarships, was still - mind you this was a state school - $1,000.00 a month for dorms plus labs, fees, and books.

 

Dh's pension, primarily contributed to by his employer, was counted against us even though he cannot have access to it at 46 years of age.

 

Totally, completely discouraging and demoralizing.

 

Faith

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One financial aid office worker actually made this comment to us, "You made the choice to prioritize your son's health over your daughter's college savings. So, she will have to suffer from your poor planning." Yep, apparently, we were supposed to let ds die or at least get into a situation in which he would need a cardiac surgery with a 25% pediatric mortality rate just so dd could go to college! Cold, very cold...but it was like that at every institution.

 

 

 

:grouphug:

 

Dear Faith,

 

I am so sorry that you were subjected to such horror! This boggles the imagination...

 

When the father of one of my son's friends (a sophomore) lost his job, the college he attends immediately stepped in to help. I realize that not every college has a robust endowment which permits this, but I had hoped that this sort of action would be more common than rare.

 

The quote above is truly shocking.

 

Jane

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Jane,

 

Agreed. We should have found a way to save some money for this. It's not like we had no idea it was looming.

 

I DO get that. Bad me. Not trying to blame anyone else for that. I get it. But I did find all of the info kind of convoluted.

 

Thanks for everything!

Janice - who is done with the Profile and the FAFSA. Yea! Did em this afternoon. Told the children they weren't going to get me to teach 'em anything. Raised by wolves and all.

Off to drink buckets of wine and raid the rest of the Christmas chocolate. (I've already eaten all of the cookies out of the freezer. :001_smile:)

 

 

At the risk of sounding like I am an apologist for FAFSA (which I assure you I am not) I do think that it is a bit unfair to characterize the EFC as a percent of income. Colleges and the FAFSA people all assume that parents are saving for the education of their children from birth on. So even if parents do not have the assets today, the formula (as I understand it) assumes that parents could have (or should have) saved x number of dollars for college based on income stream.

 

Is this unreasonable conceptually? I do not think so. Education is important to me so I opened a mutual fund for my son's college savings a couple of months after his birth. There are those who claim that students should not have assets since FAFSA assumes that these funds will go toward college. My starting assumption was that we would of course be paying something for college.

 

And that brings up another issue... Just because FAFSA determines a low EFC, students do not always receive their financial aid in the form of direct grants. Loans are a part of the package. The subsidized Staffords are a good deal but many of us do not qualify for them. The unsubsidized Staffords are issued to anyone who fills out FAFSA--but these loans start collecting interest on Day One, not after graduation like the subsidized loans.

 

Including the latter information for parents who are new to the game,

Jane

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One financial aid office worker actually made this comment to us, "You made the choice to prioritize your son's health over your daughter's college savings. So, she will have to suffer from your poor planning." Yep, apparently, we were supposed to let ds die or at least get into a situation in which he would need a cardiac surgery with a 25% pediatric mortality rate just so dd could go to college! Cold, very cold...but it was like that at every institution.

 

 

 

:grouphug:

 

I know it could be asking for a lot, but I'd really like to know which college(s) to scratch off my list to make certain I don't even remotely consider them.

 

I know some hearsay regarding a few incidences where parents lost jobs and colleges were working hard to be certain kids could stay. I much prefer those.

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Jane,

One financial aid office worker actually made this comment to us, "You made the choice to prioritize your son's health over your daughter's college savings. So, she will have to suffer from your poor planning." Yep, apparently, we were supposed to let ds die or at least get into a situation in which he would need a cardiac surgery with a 25% pediatric mortality rate just so dd could go to college! Cold, very cold...but it was like that at every institution.

 

Wow...just wow. I've heard of this kind of cold treatment with certain credit card companies, but not college financial offices! Please let us know who these schools are, so we can avoid them like the plague!

 

(We do have several good leads on colleges, and assuming the kids remain at their current pace, and test levels... we shouldn't have too many problems. But STILL. Wow.)

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I don't think FAFSA is the problem. I think it is just a visible target. I find the problem to be multi-faceted:

 

1. College has become "necessary" (this was discussed in another thread), and thus simultaneously devalued (stay with me here...) eg: so many people are going - whether or not they ever matriculate - schools can essentially charge whatever they bloody well want, because they know that society has made a mental shift to deem the baccalaureate "necessary" (aka "the new high school).

 

and

 

2. Because of this ever increasing spiral, no "normal" person can afford it without assistance. Which puts pressure on the Federal Government to "lend a hand" - for the greater good of society. Of course, this is bunk: the greater good would be fixing the high schools so that the bs that is degree inflation would go the way of the Dodo bird, but that isn't going to happen. [Welcome to the convoluted world of public finance, where you pay companies to stop polluting...]

 

3. So what do we see? A higher and higher "debt limit" on student loans (and not necessarily public, as everyone knows) to match the limitless ceiling of tuition. All because not only should not everyone be going to college, but because it isn't a societal "good" - it is a privilege (don't throw the 'maters - compulsory education is only through 10th or 12th grade, not 16th) The Federal Government has no mandate to fund it, as uncomfortable as that concept may be.

 

It sucks. And yes, I do blame the Feds as much as the Unis. I believe that, if the Feds didn't continually raise loan levels to meet spiraling tuition rates, the Unis would be forced to drop tuition to levels that people could pay. Like I said, multi-faceted.

 

 

a

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I don't think FAFSA is the problem. I think it is just a visible target. I find the problem to be multi-faceted:

 

1. College has become "necessary" (this was discussed in another thread), and thus simultaneously devalued (stay with me here...) eg: so many people are going - whether or not they ever matriculate - schools can essentially charge whatever they bloody well want, because they know that society has made a mental shift to deem the baccalaureate "necessary" (aka "the new high school).

 

and

 

2. Because of this ever increasing spiral, no "normal" person can afford it without assistance. Which puts pressure on the Federal Government to "lend a hand" - for the greater good of society. Of course, this is bunk: the greater good would be fixing the high schools so that the bs that is degree inflation would go the way of the Dodo bird, but that isn't going to happen. [Welcome to the convoluted world of public finance, where you pay companies to stop polluting...]

 

3. So what do we see? A higher and higher "debt limit" on student loans (and not necessarily public, as everyone knows) to match the limitless ceiling of tuition. All because not only should not everyone be going to college, but because it isn't a societal "good" - it is a privilege (don't throw the 'maters - compulsory education is only through 10th or 12th grade, not 16th) The Federal Government has no mandate to fund it, as uncomfortable as that concept may be.

 

It sucks. And yes, I do blame the Feds as much as the Unis. I believe that, if the Feds didn't continually raise loan levels to meet spiraling tuition rates, the Unis would be forced to drop tuition to levels that people could pay. Like I said, multi-faceted.

 

 

a

 

:iagree: You are absolutely right. I would love nothing more than to be able to go back to certifications (or high school diplomas) for most jobs... but how do we do this?

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Well surprise, surprise. I did the Profile and the Fafsa yesterday. Somehow our Fafsa EFC as it the estimated thing they give you right away was 1/2 of the collegeboard estimate. That is much more reasonable. We are just waiting now to see who gives her what (some already have given her awards), how the latest GI bill changes will affect her if she uses that, and where she wants to go. SHe has two places that have given her particularly good aid so far but one is a very large school and she is probably not going to choose it. The other one seems more her style. We have to visit still and see.

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:iagree: You are absolutely right. I would love nothing more than to be able to go back to certifications (or high school diplomas) for most jobs... but how do we do this?

 

I have no idea. Although I strongly suspect that the ongoing "reset" of the world economy, along with the transfer from what is now an acknowledged dollar standard to a mix of yuan and dollars will fundamentally change many things.

 

Perhaps this shift away from being able to control the world's currency float will force the US to reinvest in learning how to create all levels of durable goods on a large scale again.

 

 

a

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Well surprise, surprise. I did the Profile and the Fafsa yesterday. Somehow our Fafsa EFC as it the estimated thing they give you right away was 1/2 of the collegeboard estimate. That is much more reasonable. We are just waiting now to see who gives her what (some already have given her awards), how the latest GI bill changes will affect her if she uses that, and where she wants to go. SHe has two places that have given her particularly good aid so far but one is a very large school and she is probably not going to choose it. The other one seems more her style. We have to visit still and see.

 

:hurray: So happy for you!

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