I'm sure I'm just spinning my wheels, but I am getting really frustrated with the FAFSA worksheets.
Even though my preliminary trial runs through the FINAID calculator at FINAID.ORG reflects that our EFC exceeds the COA at the school she will be attending in Spring 2009, I still want to be able to provide the proper information on the application. I realize it isn't much ... but she's gonna need that $5500 unsubsidized Stafford loan.
I've called FAFSA several times today with various questions and have been just as frustrated after he phone calls as before.
When I ran the FINAID calculator, and it shows the logic behind the results it provides (unlike the FAFSA4caster.) It appears that on Worksheet B, when we reported amounts that we paid on behalf of our daughter last year, for the item that says "money received or paid on your behalf not reported elsewhere on this form" ... that amount was added to her income as "untaxed" income prior to calculating her expected contribution. 50% of her earnings while she was working and going to school and paying the majority of her personal expenses other than tuition and books?
However, I don't see where we are allowed to have that amount we contributed to her educational expenses deducted from our own income before our contribution is calculated.
Am I overlooking something? That amount we paid on her "behalf" seems to be used in both her income and ours.
At least commiserating confirms that I am not "alone."
Maybe it was just because it was Friday ... and summer time, but I wasn't very confident in the CSRs at FAFSA the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) where they answer FAFSA related questions.
The first one didn't know what I was talking about when I wanted to order the free pamphlet "Funding Education Beyond Highschool - The Guide to Federal Student Aid" for 2008-2009. I hate trying to read 58 page documents online and wanted a printed copy. I would have preferred to not print out 58 pages on my incredibly slow printer, but it is faster than trying to order it.
When I was trying to figure out how to answer the question about "household members" that addressed the parents' "other" children living at home, I was confused because of conflicting information I had read in various places.
The FAFSA guidelines seemed to be saying that I should count my 19 year old son who moved back in with us, even though we do not provide more than half of his support. FAFSA has an "or" clause in there that states that we would include him if he would answer "NO" to all of the questions that determined dependency status for FAFSA purposes. The rep told me that as long as we didn't claim him on our income tax and didn't provide more than half of his support, we wouldn't claim him as a household member for FAFSA purposes. I think he was wrong ... but what he was telling me matched what seemed to be conflicting information I had seen in various places on the internet. Maybe this is a new guideline, but if it is ... their reps need additional training.
As far as the Financial Aid office ... that was a bust as well. The only thing my daughter picked up for a Financial Aid packet was a single sheet flyer that directed us to web related resources (the school's as well as the governmental sites.) When I called to inquire about a more comprehensive printed packet and to ask additional questions, the individuals at both the school she currently attends and the school she will be attending were totally unfamiliar with the information on their own web-sites. Instead of having someone look into the inconsistent information I was running across that they provided in various places on their own sites, they referred me to FAFSA.
I spent most of the day on two schools' sites and on fafsa.ed.gov and studentaid.ed.gov as well as fafsa4caster.ed.gov and my mind is racing. I'm still trying to figure out where I ran across a "deadline" of June 30 and why the school's web-site says that the deadline for their processing FAFSA related applications is September 30 for Spring 2009. I'm going cross-eyed trying to keep everything straight.
This tells me that "money received or paid on your behalf" is NOT referring to support provided by parents ... just that provided by friends or other relatives.
Now I have to figure out if the fact that DD's BF pays a higher proportion of their shared expenses in their apartment means that she has to report the difference as "money received or paid on your behalf." I hope not ... he earns more than she earns and pays a higher proportion of their living expenses because of that. Where do they draw the line???