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CSS Profile - "How much do parents plan to contribute?" [but don't include loans...] ??

gaupmwgaupmw 3 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
There's two places in the CSS: Household Summary/Dependent Education Expenses and Student Income/Student Resources--where the question is essentially how much the parents plan to contribute towards educational expenses in 2018-2019 either for the student's siblings or for the student herself. Last year we put an amount approximately = to the FAFSA EFC, which we planned to pay from savings in a 529 plan. But we've just about exhausted those 529 savings and now plan to take out a home equity line of credit (i.e., BORROW) to make contributions towards school expenses for the remaining school years for both of our kids. We have some taxable savings and investments, but do not want to liquidate them to pay tuition, doing so would have a big capital gains tax impact and make our income look even higher for the next year's FAFSA and CSS. So borrowing on home equity makes more sense for us. However, the instructions in both of these places say "Do not include amounts they [parents] plan to borrow..." That says our daughter should enter ZERO into these lines. That seems really strange--but that's what the instructions say. We're concerned if/how this will help or hurt her prospects for aid. Any thoughts on this? [I tried to find a thread on this topic to avoid creating a new one but no luck, sorry if this is already discussed somewhere...]
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Replies to: CSS Profile - "How much do parents plan to contribute?" [but don't include loans...] ??

  • adlgeladlgel 772 replies34 threadsRegistered User Member
    We just filled out the CSS Profile last night and also was confused/surprised by this question, mainly because I don't understand the relevance of the parents planned contribution to the process of determining financial aid. Isn't the whole point of filling this out for the college to determine what they will contribute and then it's up to the parents to figure out how to fund the rest? From what I've read, it doesn't matter whether if the parents plan to contribute less than what the college thinks they should be able to contribute. The college determines need per their algorithms regardless of what the parents themselves think they can contribute.
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  • MYOS1634MYOS1634 41883 replies451 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    Would you truly contribute nothing from your income? Not even cost of books and/or the cost of gas?
    edited November 2017
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  • BelknapPointBelknapPoint 4479 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    ...I don't understand the relevance of the parents planned contribution to the process of determining financial aid.

    Maybe the parents are planning (for whatever reason) to contribute more than the school determined EFC. The school would certainly like to know this information, and perhaps direct financial resources where they are more needed. I can think of other reasons why this is a reasonable question to ask.
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    We always lowballed the actual number. I doubt it makes a difference in the aid offer, honestly.
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  • BelknapPointBelknapPoint 4479 replies16 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    We always lowballed the actual number. I doubt it makes a difference in the aid offer, honestly.

    You're right; it probably makes no difference, at least in most cases. But it's only reasonable that someone from whom you are requesting a large amount of free money to help fund a certain endeavor should have an interest in how much money you are prepared to spend on that endeavor.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 78247 replies690 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    Theoretical possibilities of how the answer to this question (call it $P) can affect financial aid office decisions:

    a. College calculates its expected parent contribution $C by its usual method. If $P > $C, then it uses $P instead of $C, adjusting the aid offer (unfavorably to the student).

    b. College calculates its expected parent contribution $C by its usual method. If $C exceeds $P by a small amount, and the applicant is one that the college really wants to attract, it may preferentially package financial aid using the slightly lower $P instead of $C as the expected parent contribution.

    Of course, colleges may also completely ignore the answer to this question.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34153 replies378 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    This one isn't rocket science. It's to guage what you have available. It's not cast in concrete. And ime, it doesn't affect much. Some may have xxx set aside already. In a bad year, I put down 2k. And yup, we did need a loan to meet our family portion.
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  • annamomannamom 1305 replies145 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    What about if a parent put the dollar amount as what the parent planned to take out loan. I assume the CSS profile can't be changed after it has been submitted, does the parent need to contact each college?
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  • gaupmwgaupmw 3 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Of course we're not contributing "nothing!" Don't know if you read my original question. We just plan to finance what we contribute--pay it out of a HELOC rather than draining emergency cash reserves, selling off mutual funds, etc.
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  • gaupmwgaupmw 3 replies1 threadsRegistered User New Member
    Seems like most of the replies ended up on the topic of how much the parents plan to give, whether that is relevant, whereas I'm trying to understand how/why the school care HOW we come up with the money we give, out of assets, or by borrowing. We already provide enough info so that the school can gauge our ability to sell off assets, or to borrow on home equity, etc. Just seems like an odd way to ask this question about parental contributions. Ask it in two parts A) how much do you plan to contribute and B) of the amount in A), how much do you plan to borrow? Otherwise there's no way to distinguish parents who do give nothing (because they cannot, or do not want to) from parents like us who ARE contributing, just coming up with the money in a different way. As someone above said, however, unless a parent is contributing MORE than the EFC, I would think the answer here doesn't matter...thanks anyway.
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  • homerdoghomerdog 5065 replies93 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    We will be able to afford our EFC with funds coming from 529 funds as well as other savings, but we really don't want to pay full price. Our S19 has a list of schools that includes some that give merit and some that do not. I don't know if it's wise to just say we will pay upwards of $65,000 or if we should say what we would like to pay for the right school and the right merit which would be more like $45,000 for some of the schools on his list. I don't get the reasoning behind the question or how schools look at the answer. If we say $45,000 yet our EFC is much more, would a school that gives no merit want to forgo an acceptance because we didn't say we would pay full price? If we say $65,000, would a school that gives merit be less likely to give our S19 money because we have the funds?

    Since S19 is a good student, I'm hopeiny that he would get merit where we would expect him to get merit regardless of how we answer this question.
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  • SybyllaSybylla 3818 replies48 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited November 2017
    <<<<<<<Since S19 is a good student, I'm hopeiny that he would get merit where we would expect him to get merit regardless of how we answer this question.>>>>

    Merit aid that is not linked to need is different kettle of fish though. If your EFC is over 65K I am not sure where you would even apply for FA? Is this just a school question in the application? Or are you actually applying for FA? No one wants to pay full price, hence UA or other merit guaranteed without need schools.
    edited November 2017
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  • homerdoghomerdog 5065 replies93 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @Sybylla Yes. I understand that merit is separate. The schools in question give merit scholarships. They are mostly Midwestern LACs. We will be filling out FAFSA and the CSS Profile because some of the schools on his list require we send the Profile. My understanding is that this question is on the Profile so has to be answered.
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 22990 replies17 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I don't think it matters. The schools use the CSS (and sometimes FAFSA) and figure out what they think you SHOULD pay, not what you CAN pay.
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  • binky99binky99 8 replies0 threadsRegistered User New Member
    I answered this question based on EFC number of EA school and submitted CSS in Oct. Now I'm going to submit profile to more regular application schools and realized the EFC results are significantly different among these schools. Basically the number I put is much lower than the ones I got from regular application schools. I like to change the answers based on each school's EFC. Can I make such changes?
    How will the answer to this question affect the acceptance decision in addition to the financial aid?
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  • thumper1thumper1 74811 replies3279 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    @binky99
    Welcome to CC. When you have a NEW question, it is best to start your own thread rather than hijack a thread started by others who hnismabout a totally different question.

    But to answer your question. NO you cannot change the fields on the Profile online. But really...it’s not likely going to matter.
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