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HELP w/ FAFSA. school's verifying my bank statements

blueunicormblueunicorm Posts: 5Registered User New Member
I recently turned in my FAFSA and I was notified that I was going to be going under the verification process. This wasn't a surprised to me since I was verified for the last three years without any problems. They would ask for my parent's tax forms, household statements, student non filer statements and income statements which I filled out and gave them without any problems. This is year is different however.

Under the question that asked for the amount of money in my bank account on the day I filed my FAFSA I initially put in the amount I believed was there, which was a quite a large sum of amount of money. I later realized that the amount I put there was not correct because it was only the amount I had in my savings, and that the amount should be higher so after the FAFSA was processed and I was able to assess it to correct it I realized that amount I put there should not include financial aid, which it did. I was unsure of what to put in the field now since I read that that question should not be changed, so I wanted to make sure it was correct before I made any corrections. I also realized that I had questions about whether or not i should file my taxes even though most of the money I receive is from financial aid.

Being the worrier that I am I spent the next week asking my parents, financial aid office, friends who filed the FAFSA also and the workers at FAFA.gov website whether or not I should file my taxes and whether or not I should include financial aid from my bank account. I was told by everyone that I should not have included the financial aid in that amount. At this point I was already asked for verification documents from my school. I decided that i would turn in my documents, then change whatever I needed to change on my FAFSA afterwards since Spring Break started the day after and I wasn't sure if the office would be open.

When I went to talk to a financial officer to turn in my documents she confirmed to me that I didn't need to file taxes. So that part was answered, and I turned in my documents. When I got home I took my billing statements and added all the refunds I had form scholarships and grants and subtracted it from the sum in my account. Since the aid exceeded the amount I just put 0 as the new number.

Right after I changed and submitted it I had to call my financial aid office to verify if they had my mother's w2 form since they didn't give me back the original copy after they copied it and also asked the officer about the question about the amount in the bank account just to make sure (I'm really neurotic). When I asked her that she asked me why was I going back to my FAFSA in a really accusing tone and attempted to explain me that it is the amount that is supposed to be the number that is in my account on the day i filed. I told her I knew that but that I was told that it should not include the amount from financial aid. She said that this was not the case, even though multiple people had told me otherwise. She then asked me whether or not all the money was from financial aid and I told her taht some was also from my parents, but I didn't know what amount was from whom so I just took the amount refunded to me in the beginning of 2010 til now and subtracted from my acount. Either she didn't understand what I was telling her, thought i was lying or I was completely wrong about the whole not including financial aid thing because she told me that they will request a copy of my bank statement to verify things, and will ask me why I changed the numbers. I asked if I should change my fafsa again to the correct number but she said that I should just wait for when they asked for the bank statements. So now I still don't know what really goes into that question.

I was completely upset about the whole thing, especially since the conversation with the financial aid officer seemed more like a trial that I had to defend myself then a friendly and informative consultation. I'm completely worried about the whole ordeal because I'm not really sure whats going to happen and what they are looking for in my statements. I changed my original number to 0 because I thought it didn't need to include financial aid money and my initial number was wrong so it wouldn't match the number in my bank account the day I filed FAFSA. Is there any chance that they will think that I am trying to commit fraud and fine me or take away my scholarship and grants?

I can assure anyone that if I was going to cheat the goverment, I wouldn't have reported such a high sum on in my bank account in the first place. I would gladly, in a heartbeat change it to the correct amount right now even if it means not getting any aid. ::sigh:: Overall, does anyone know how this process goes about? Are they just looking to see what the number is when I filed my FAFSA? After the whole talk on the phone with that counselor I just need some relief and peace of mind. It would suck to be subjected to investigation of fraud because of stupid mistakes and my own ignorance.
Post edited by blueunicorm on
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Replies to: HELP w/ FAFSA. school's verifying my bank statements

  • chaospaladinchaospaladin Posts: 747Registered User Member
    On the question where it says to enter the student's cash, savings account, checking account as of the day the student filled out the FAFSA, were there conditions where you could skip that question based on your other questions?

    I remember you can skip that question where it asks the parents' information on cash, savings account, checking account if the parents' AGI was below $57,000.

    Also what school is this?
  • blueunicormblueunicorm Posts: 5Registered User New Member
    I don't think I could've skipped that question. For my parents however, they didn't ask for their bank account info, just if they had assets over a certain amount of money.

    Its LSU.
  • 2collegewego2collegewego Posts: 2,583Registered User Senior Member
    First, calm down. You are NOT supposed to include financial aid.

    So... I would get ready to send them 4 things:
    1- a copy of my bank statement.
    2- a copy of my financial aid refund.
    3- I would write a letter clearly explaining my math.
    4- I would print this out and highlight the part where it says not to include financial aid under directions for question #41 student assets.

    Completing the FAFSA 2010-2011/The Application Questions(41-43)

    So my letter would read something like:

    I corrected the entry on FAFSA question #41, student asset amount, to comply with FAFSA directions that specifically exclude financial aid money held in accounts. (Please see attached FAFSA directions highlighting instructions to disregard financial aid money.) On Feb 1, 2011, when I filled out my FAFSA, I had $X in my account (see attached copy of bank statement). After deducting $X which was my financial aid refund (see copy of school invoice showing $X financial aid refund returned to me), there was no money that qualified to be included in question #41.

    $X
    -$X
    ______
    $0
  • chaospaladinchaospaladin Posts: 747Registered User Member
    What I don't understand is how the FAO is suppose to distinguish between FA money and non-FA money in the bank account in the verification process.

    Example 1:
    Someone has $2000 of non-FA plus $4000 of (extra leftover) FA money in his account for a total of $6000. When verification comes, he could just say all $6,000 of his money is FA money and write down 0 on the FAFSA. Keep in mind that most of the time colleges over estimate the COA to help the students budget, so that is why extra FA money is possible.

    Heck, how is the student is even suppose to distinguish between FA money and non-FA money and it is the student's own bank account? For example, the student spends hypothetically $2000. Does the $2000 get deducted from his FA money or his non-FA money? This is impossible distinguish if all of the FA money and non-FA money is in the same account.

    The only exception to my argument is the student has such an outstanding amount in the bank account that it would be obvious that the extra FA-money could not be comprised of the 100% of said outstanding amount.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,996Registered User Senior Member
    For many students all the money in their bank accounts is from financial aid. A student living off campus would get a refund of the money included in their FA for any non direct expenses such as room and board. Financial aid money is not supposed to be held against you when the EFC is calculated. That is why the FAFSA instructions say not to include them on FAFSA.
    40. Total current balance of cash, savings, and checking accounts. Include the balance of your (and your spouse's) savings and checking accounts as of the date the FAFSA is completed. Do not include student financial aid.

    To the OP - I would suggest bringing documentation to show where the money in the bank account came from. If you can prove that it is from financial aid you should be fine.
  • chaospaladinchaospaladin Posts: 747Registered User Member
    For many students all the money in their bank accounts is from financial aid.

    I agree with this.
    To the OP - I would suggest bringing documentation to show where the money in the bank account came from. If you can prove that it is from financial aid you should be fine.

    But how would he do this? He can't submit transaction papers because most people don't use transaction papers anymore. He can't print it directly from his online account of screenshot it and print it out because the images can be easily faked. If the FAO is dumb enough to accept print outs and screenshots then I'm speechless.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,996Registered User Senior Member
    It would not be hard at all. The school knows exactly how much they paid in FA refunds and when it was paid. Anything deposits that do not tie in with those amounts obviously is not FA.
  • chaospaladinchaospaladin Posts: 747Registered User Member
    It would not be hard at all. The school knows exactly how much they paid in FA refunds and when it was paid. Anything deposits that do not tie in with those amounts obviously is not FA.

    So you are saying if the school only mailed back refund checks totaling $3000 so far and the student has $4000 in the bank, then the FAO will know $1000 is non-FA money?

    Also what would be an acceptable form of proof for the bank account statement? Like I said earlier:
    But how would he do this? He can't submit transaction papers because most people don't use transaction papers anymore. He can't print it directly from his online account of screenshot it and print it out because the images can be easily faked. The FAO doesn't have the right to ask for the student's bank account username and password. I guess the FAO could call each person up to go in person to the FAO to log on to their bank online account but this process seems tedious. What if the student lives too far away? Is the student suppose to drive all the way like 5 hours to the FAO to log in to his account? Even then, this process seems like a violation of privacy. If the FAO is dumb enough to accept print outs and screenshots then I'm speechless.

    I made additions in bold.

    Also I forget. Does swimcatsmom or anyone reading this post seem to remember if there were certain conditions you could obtain in order to bypass the "student's assets, cash, savings account, checking account" question on the FAFSA?

    I know for a fact the question on "the parents' assets, cash, savings account, checking account" on the FAFSA can be skipped if the parent's AGI is below $57,000.
  • blueunicormblueunicorm Posts: 5Registered User New Member
    To the OP - I would suggest bringing documentation to show where the money in the bank account came from. If you can prove that it is from financial aid you should be fine.
    It would not be hard at all. The school knows exactly how much they paid in FA refunds and when it was paid. Anything deposits that do not tie in with those amounts obviously is not FA.

    Thanks, I will definitely be showing proof of the financial aid money. I already have the billing statements from school showing all the refunds they had given me from 2010 until now. I can further supplement that with the same numbers directly refunded to my bank account. The sum amount definitely exceeded the amount in my bank account. The only concern I have left if that since my parents have also been depositing money into my account how does that play into all of this. I initially took the money refunded to me from the financial aid and subtracted it from my bank account balance because I figured it was close to impossible to distinguish what money came from where and from whom and how it was spent over the course of a year. Was I right in doing that?
  • blueunicormblueunicorm Posts: 5Registered User New Member
    First, calm down. You are NOT supposed to include financial aid.

    So... I would get ready to send them 4 things:
    1- a copy of my bank statement.
    2- a copy of my financial aid refund.
    3- I would write a letter clearly explaining my math.
    4- I would print this out and highlight the part where it says not to include financial aid under directions for question #41 student assets.

    Completing the FAFSA 2010-2011/The Application Questions(41-43)

    So my letter would read something like:

    I corrected the entry on FAFSA question #41, student asset amount, to comply with FAFSA directions that specifically exclude financial aid money held in accounts. (Please see attached FAFSA directions highlighting instructions to disregard financial aid money.) On Feb 1, 2011, when I filled out my FAFSA, I had $X in my account (see attached copy of bank statement). After deducting $X which was my financial aid refund (see copy of school invoice showing $X financial aid refund returned to me), there was no money that qualified to be included in question #41.


    =) Thank you so much for the advice. This makes me feel SO much better. I've been so confused and stressed out about the whole thing that I haven't been thinking very rationally. It definitely helps to see what I can do to solve the problem rather then freak out about it.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Posts: 19,372Registered User Senior Member
    Chaospaladin,

    The banks record all transactions, often with detailed notes that would appear on a paper statement mailed each month to the account holder, or in a print out of account records issued by the bank itself. If more information is needed, the bank has records on paper (old style) or in electronic format. It really should not be hard at all for the OP to track down the records that are needed.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,996Registered User Senior Member
    I know for a fact the question on "the parents' assets, cash, savings account, checking account" on the FAFSA can be skipped if the parent's AGI is below $57,000.
    chaospaladin is offline
    No, that is not correct at all. It will vary by family and also by the state they live in. The skip logic that allows some people to skip certain questions about assets is based on parent asset protection tables and on their state of residence.

    Parent asset protection is based on the number of parents in a family and the age of the older parent. A two parent family with the older parent aged 65+ would have a higher parent asset protection than a two parent family with an older parent aged 56, who in turn would have a higher parent asset protection than a 2 parent family with the older parent aged 45. However a single parent family with the same age parent would have less than 40% of the asset protection then the equivalent two parent family.

    Additionally some States require that all data be reported and do not allow the skip logic questions at all. In those states assets must be reported even if they are below the asset protection allowances, or even if the individual qualifies for simplified needs or the automatic 0 EFC.

    The EFC formula and rules are quite complex. What applies to one person will not apply to everyone.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,996Registered User Senior Member
    Does swimcatsmom or anyone reading this post seem to remember if there were certain conditions you could obtain in order to bypass the "student's assets, cash, savings account, checking account" question on the FAFSA?
    Yes, I am perfectly aware that under certain conditions some student's may be allowed to skip the asset questions on FAFSA. If a student meets those conditions and lives in a state where skip logic is allowed, then they are given the option to skip those questions. But the OP apparently was asked to answer the questions so I am not sure how this is relevant to this thread.
  • chaospaladinchaospaladin Posts: 747Registered User Member
    Yes, I am perfectly aware that under certain conditions some student's may be allowed to skip the asset questions on FAFSA. If a student meets those conditions and lives in a state where skip logic is allowed, then they are given the option to skip those questions. But the OP apparently was asked to answer the questions so I am not sure how this is relevant to this thread.

    I'm not sure if I should PM you this question or say in this thread, but here it goes (it may help others so I'll ask it here):

    Would you happen to know if California is a state where the skip logic is allowed for this question? Is there a list somewhere online that gives you which states where the skip logic is allowed for this question? Let's say the skip logic is allowed and the student goes back and enters in a number anyway (due to FAFSA corrections and the student doesn't remember which questions where the skip logic was applied when going back and entering the corrections), is there a way to know which questions were applied to the "logic skipping"?

    The reason why I'm asking is because a friend says he was 99% sure that question was skipped for him and then he went back and entered a number and his EFC went up. He should have just skipped it to let his EFC be 0 but he forgot that it was a logic skipped question and thought it was a question he forgot to answer when going back and updating his FAFSA.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,996Registered User Senior Member
    I don't know about California specifically, though I suspect that as the calgrant takes assets as well as income into account they probably do require asset information.

    But entering information that is allowed by skip logic will not increase the EFC. The only reason it is allowed to be skipped in the first place is because it does not impact the EFC.

    For instance someone who is allowed to skip assets because they qualify for the simplified needs test may choose to enter the asset data for some reason. The asset data will still not be used in the EFC formula because the student still qualifies for the simplified needs test even though they entered the data.

    However, it could be that your friend changed some other piece of data that made them no longer eligible to skip the information. For instance if they said the parents would file a 1040A and they met the AGI requirements then they would qualify for simplified needs where assets are not used. But if when they filed taxes their AGI was $50,001 or if it was still under $50,000 but they filed a 1040, then they may not actually have been eligible for simplified needs and the data would now be required and might impact the EFC.
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