Financial Aid adjustments
I'm breaking this out into a separate topic because I think it deserves attention.
If something doesn't seem quite right or quite fair in a financial aid offer, call and ask. The worst that they can do is review the file and say "No" to a request for more money.
The amount we were offered this year did not seem enough when compared to last year's in the context of this year's and last year's income.
I called Financial Aid and we set up an appointment with my favorite FinAid counselor. She reviewed the file with her supervisor and then she got back to me. At this point, the difference is almost $1,800/year more for this year and was $3,000/year last year. It may not be a lot but it's not chopped liver. Moreover, I now understand a particular issue where I need to make a further appeal to the head of the financial aid office in writing, though that won't be processed until after August 15.
Two notes: if a student's parents just have "normal" salaried income, I don't know how much wiggle room there is. Questions arise on my return because I'm self-employed. With self-employed people, they add certain deductions back into your income. Which deductions and how much of them can be a subjective arguable matter. Depreciation, car & truck expenses, and home office expenses are issues that have come up in our first two years and the home office expense is the basis of my further appeal.
Also, it would be a very rare student who is knowledgeable and coherent about parental tax returns. This is one of the calls that the parent needs to make.