Income Brackets Used to Calculate Financial Aid
Last year as a freshman at UMass Amherst, I got $9,000 or so in the form of a "UMass Grant," and expected to take out around $6,000-$7,000 in loans. Around August, after I promised to go there, I was one of the 20% of students chosen to have their FASFA reviewed. Turns out my dad missed reporting an $800 tax deduction, and so my EFC changed (I don't remember by how much). After reassessing my financial aid, UMass took away $3,500 from my UMass Grant. Needless to say, I was infuriated that an $800 miscalculation resulted in a $3,500 loss in financial aid. I talked to the department, and apparently UMass calculates their financial aid based on an income bracket system and based on EFC, and I was unlucky enough to get pushed from one income bracket into another by the $800.
This year my family has 3 in college instead of 2, so my EFC is $900 lower than last year. Unfortunately, despite fees going up 5%, I received less in grant money than I did last year (less than the amount AFTER they recalculated my financial aid and took away $3,500). I didn't really expect to have my grant go back up to $9,000, but I was shocked that a lower EFC didn't save me from losing another $1,200 off of my UMass Grant. I asked the department if their income brackets had changed from last year. They said they don't calculate financial aid based on income brackets, just EFC (not what I heard last year).
a) Does FASFA use an income bracket system to determine EFC? Does FASFA use any sort of financial information bracket? Is there any part of FASFA that evaluates someone's EFC based on what tax bracket or income bracket they fall into, or is each student's specific financial information used? I guess it's possible that whoever I talked to last year meant to say that a student's EFC was calculated by FASFA with some sort of bracket system, and that UMass just uses that EFC. Is there any part of FASFA that sounds like something she might have been referring to?
b) Has anyone ever heard of a college using an income bracket system in calculating financial aid? It's nowhere to be found on the UMass website (only EFC is mentioned specifically, but they don't really go into much detail).