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EFC substantially over what we had expected?


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We just got DD's first financial aid offer, and the EFC calculated was 20k over what I was getting from online calculators. Realistically, we always knew we wouldn't get need based aid for any but the ultra expensive schools, and most of the schools DD has applied to were picked based on the likelihood of merit aid, but it was a little shocking! 

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So, your cost of attendance minus the financial aid is your net price, not your EFC. It's really important not to confuse EFC calculators and Net Price Calculators (ask if you need clarification).

If the financial aid offer doesn't match the school's NPC, it's absolutely fair to ask the financial aid office why. If a NPC asks about your student's GPA, AP scores, etc. it may estimate merit aid, but that merit aid may not come with the initial financial aid offer, so look at the need/merit/loan breakdown of the NPC output carefully and check how/when merit aid is awarded at that school. Merit aid sometimes comes early (if they just use a GPA/score formula), sometimes comes late (if they rank applicants against one another and pick the top X%). If the NPC doesn't estimate merit aid, check with a site like collegedata.com to see if they even offer much merit aid.

A guide to financial aid appeal letters is here https://formswift.com/swift-student

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2 hours ago, dmmetler said:

We just got DD's first financial aid offer, and the EFC calculated was 20k over what I was getting from online calculators. Realistically, we always knew we wouldn't get need based aid for any but the ultra expensive schools, and most of the schools DD has applied to were picked based on the likelihood of merit aid, but it was a little shocking! 

This didn't happen to be a CSS Profile school?  The schools dd applied to that used CSS seemed to calculate our EFC as twice the amount the FAFSA EFC. Double! And I did ask why, as we don't own a second home or a yacht or anything, and we drive old cars - I couldn't figure out where they thought this extra money would be coming from. One of the schools was supposedly 'meet full needs' - so I thought that aid would be offered up to at least close to the normal EFC.  I thought they'd made a mistake and hadn't realized dd was a twin.  Apparently it's because our house was paid off and dh had had the gall to put money away in his 401K.  Both of those were considered available money to borrow against to pay for college.  They could not explain how we were supposed to pay this money back when dh would be already in his 60s when the kids were done with college.  And we had two other kids going through school at the same time. Not their problem.  All the money for them.  So, she went to a state school, and is coming out not just loan-free but with savings.

Your dd is such a star - I'm sure somewhere will get with the program and offer you proper incentives. 🙂 

Edited by Matryoshka
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Is this typical of CSS profile schools? Dd has three reach schools on her list that are do-able using those school's online estimates, but if those are not correct, I'm reluctant to let her apply. Those three all use CSS profile. 

She has two safeties and three target schools that are all in-state and/ or fasfa.

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55 minutes ago, MamaSprout said:

Is this typical of CSS profile schools? Dd has three reach schools on her list that are do-able using those school's online estimates, but if those are not correct, I'm reluctant to let her apply. Those three all use CSS profile. 

She has two safeties and three target schools that are all in-state and/ or fasfa.

Our experience is that CSS did not adversely impact our FA packages. My students are good students but only qualify for automatic merit and do not earn competitive scholarships. We found that financially the best packages came from in state state schools (Note: Our state schools are extremely competitively priced and this not the case in all states.) This was then followed by 100% meets needs schools which were all CSS schools. The least financially competitively priced packages were non-100% meets need schools which were a combination of CSS and FASFA schools. 
What I learned through 2 application cycles is that there are a lot of variables which impact packages and reactions to those packages include location, types of schools applied to, caliber of student, and family financial aid expectations/needs. I personally would not rule out the CSS schools merely because of the additional information required. 

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2 hours ago, MamaSprout said:

Is this typical of CSS profile schools? Dd has three reach schools on her list that are do-able using those school's online estimates, but if those are not correct, I'm reluctant to let her apply. Those three all use CSS profile. 

She has two safeties and three target schools that are all in-state and/ or fasfa.

It depends on your finances. I know others who haven't had a big difference or have actually done better (ended up with a lower net) at CSS schools. I think you just have to apply and see where the cards fall... but just be aware that they may define 'need' a lot differently.  It's always good to have a good safety.

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This is a FAFSA school, but they did have more questions on investments, debt, etc than I remember on the FAFSA when I went through this process for BK. I'm scared to see what the CSS will say (if it doubles the FAFSA EFC, there isn't a school in the country where we'd have financial need....but there is no way we could pay that!). 

 

It honestly won't matter for the schools she's seriously considering...but wow!

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2 hours ago, Matryoshka said:

It depends on your finances. I know others who haven't had a big difference or have actually done better (ended up with a lower net) at CSS schools. I think you just have to apply and see where the cards fall... but just be aware that they may define 'need' a lot differently.  It's always good to have a good safety.

The college board does offer a Profile (they call it "institutional method") estimator but it is only somewhat accurate. https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/paying-your-share/expected-family-contribution-calculator#

Adjust it based on how individual colleges treat the value of your home using this chart:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1u6imBAFMlL_1_8FGI8lypF7fcHUi8LfH/view

So if the chart says home equity is capped at 2x income and your home is worth more than that, just enter 2x income as your home value in the college board estimator.

I do not know of a chart for adjusting for the value of your business.

 

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1 hour ago, BusyMom5 said:

I still haven't filled out the FAFSA yet, but I'm assuming we won't qualify for anything which is why I have only had her apply to schools that we could pay for after automatic merit aid.  We are hoping for more from institutional scholarships!  

Fill out the FAFSA! It is required at some schools for the "automatic" merit aid to be automatic.

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1 hour ago, JanetC said:

The college board does offer a Profile (they call it "institutional method") estimator but it is only somewhat accurate. https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/paying-your-share/expected-family-contribution-calculator#

Adjust it based on how individual colleges treat the value of your home using this chart:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1u6imBAFMlL_1_8FGI8lypF7fcHUi8LfH/view

So if the chart says home equity is capped at 2x income and your home is worth more than that, just enter 2x income as your home value in the college board estimator.

I do not know of a chart for adjusting for the value of your business.

 

I don't know what this means, lol. Does it mean the equity of our home is considered income? ETA- our older kids all went to state schools, so we basically paid sticker price except for the year where there were 3 kids + me in the state system.

Edited by MamaSprout
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4 hours ago, dmmetler said:

This is a FAFSA school, but they did have more questions on investments, debt, etc than I remember on the FAFSA when I went through this process for BK. I'm scared to see what the CSS will say (if it doubles the FAFSA EFC, there isn't a school in the country where we'd have financial need....but there is no way we could pay that!). 

 

It honestly won't matter for the schools she's seriously considering...but wow!

The amt schools expect you to pay can be quite shocking.  I've shared before that schools would expect us to not contribute to our 401K from 2007-2032 (the non-stop college yrs we have), no consideration for kids raised and out of home (only younger kids.....but those older kids' college contribution costs are real.)  Our family contribution approaches 7 figures for all 8 kids across all of those yrs (on an engineers income--totally unrealistic).  

5 minutes ago, MamaSprout said:

I don't know what this means, lol. Does it mean the equity of our home is considered income? ETA- our older kids all went to state schools, so we basically paid sticker price except for the year where there were 3 kids + me in the state system.

Some schools consider home equity, and yes, they expect you to sell your house to pay for college.

State schools on merit for our family!!

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1 hour ago, MamaSprout said:

I don't know what this means, lol. Does it mean the equity of our home is considered income? ETA- our older kids all went to state schools, so we basically paid sticker price except for the year where there were 3 kids + me in the state system.

There are two financial aid forms/formulas: FAFSA and Profile. Both consider both income and assets (savings, stocks,etc) except for retirement savings for the FAFSA (if in an IRS-approved account like an IRA or a 401k, not just any money you think of as "for my retirement") The FAFSA doesn't counsider your house as an asset either, but the Profile does (for some schools). But the amount of the asset is adjusted differently by different schools, which is what the second chart does.

It's easier to just run the college net price calculators to figure out a guesstimate, but some of those are bad, so being able to cross-check at the college board is helpful.

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13 minutes ago, JanetC said:

There are two financial aid forms/formulas: FAFSA and Profile. Both consider both income and assets (savings, stocks,etc) except for retirement savings for the FAFSA (if in an IRS-approved account like an IRA or a 401k, not just any money you think of as "for my retirement") The FAFSA doesn't counsider your house as an asset either, but the Profile does (for some schools). But the amount of the asset is adjusted differently by different schools, which is what the second chart does.

It's easier to just run the college net price calculators to figure out a guesstimate, but some of those are bad, so being able to cross-check at the college board is helpful.

So if the chart for the home equity says "100%", they look at the equity as if it were sitting in a bank account, correct? Sorry I'm dense here, lol. Our older kids had a handful of private scholarships, but they are all almost 30 year old. A lot of things have changed.

Edited by MamaSprout
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I will say we definitely had this happen.  The CSS and any applications that had additional financial questions definitely hurt  us in our case.  We own our house outright and it's in a fancy neighborhood.   However, both DH and I owned homes before marrying and bought low before a real estate boom and sold much higher.  We basically had to sink the money back into a house anyway..  Which is a modest, antique 3 bedroom that needs plenty of work in a highish COL area.  It's just favorable from a location perspective.   The straight calculators  didn't work for our financial situation either.  An independent financial advisor recommended we spend about 1/3-1/2 of our EFC.   I think they're totally broken for a lot of middle class families.   My kid's college offers had a span of over $40,000.  🙄

Edited by FuzzyCatz
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On 11/25/2020 at 11:18 AM, MamaSprout said:

So if the chart for the home equity says "100%", they look at the equity as if it were sitting in a bank account, correct? Sorry I'm dense here, lol. Our older kids had a handful of private scholarships, but they are all almost 30 year old. A lot of things have changed.

Yes, if it says 100% they look at home equity as part of your assets and assume that you can tap some percentage of that for college expenses (it's not 100% but I don't know the exact value).

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