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How was Financial Aid Calculated

andisoulandisoul 13 replies6 threads Junior Member
Anyone experienced on how to estimate family contribution from profile at Northwestern?

I am trying to backtrack how it was calculated. It is 3X higher than FAFSA EFC, $5K higher than NU NPC and I think $10K+ higher than intuition estimate. We can swing the 2020 family contribution but I really need to estimate for potential for future years.

Is this a strange coincidence? From our profile answers: if I take $ parents will contribute + $ son will earn summer 2020 + 1/4 son's assets + work study $ + 2 fed loans $ = only $127 short of family contribution!! Could it be as easy as that or is that just coincidence?

2020 is the last year we will have 2 kids in college. How do I figure out how much the 2nd child's college reduced NU 2020 Family contribution so I can figure out how much next year will go up. Other child's COA is much cheaper state school, we put this on profile along with amount parents will contribute in 2020.

We own a small S corp. We pay ourselves w-2 and every year either loss or gain (from k-1) is added on 1040. I'm really concerned because in 2018 we had 50K business loss and 2019 had 30K gain. I don't understand accounting but I know my family doesn't really feel this money but will this look to NU like we made an additional $80K? I've read some schools calculate 47% of income to be used as family contribution, so could next years family contribution be an ADDITIONAL $37,600 only due to this small business gain?

Does NU add in the $19K we paid for self employed health insurance back into income?

Does NU include 5% of home equity in family contribution? On profile I used Zillow value, if NU used the Federal Housing Multiplier Index calculator instead it would have calculated a value $100K higher!

Any chance NU financial aid office would walk me through how the calculations were done?

Thanks for helping!
edited July 9
13 replies
Post edited by CCEdit_Suraj on
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Replies to: How was Financial Aid Calculated

  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 5358 replies90 threads Senior Member
    edited March 26
    I don't know their formula for calculating a family's contribution, but NU FA office will walk you thru their calculations.

    The business and adding back in deductions might be a part of the problem, or % home equity, or several other things....Did you add back to income your 401K contributions?

    The actual offer being within $5K of the NU NPC is actually pretty good...but it's fair to ask what the difference is.

    Call or email the FA office now to make an appt to speak with someone. Good luck.
    edited March 26
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  • brantlybrantly 4277 replies77 threads Senior Member
    Throw out the FAFSA EFC and the Intuition estimate. They're irrelevant. So is your reversed-engineered reasoning. Only two things matter:

    1. The NPC result for year 2020-21. Your family contribution is $5k higher than the estimate. Is that $5k AFTER loans are included in the FA?

    2. Your future years' FA. However, this will be a constant. You'll have the same issue at any university.

    So, here's what you need to do: CALL the FA office. Ask them why the FA offer does not match the NPC result. And then ask them to give you a pre-read for next year, if possible. Do your 2019 taxes so the pre-read can be accurate.

    Do you have better FA offers at other colleges?
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  • andisoulandisoul 13 replies6 threads Junior Member
    Thank you for your comments!

    We did not have any 401k contributions.

    I agree only 5K higher than NPC is good, I'm just worried about future. I tried NPC again with 2019 numbers and it went up way too much...but is NPC mainly for freshman? Is it near accurate to calculate soph year, because of things like "base year"??

    The family contribution includes work study and unsub loan. The $3500 sub loan is in addition, so to me it feels like family contribution is actually $8500 higher than NPC.

    Very good point. I will finish my 2019 taxes and then ask for preread!!

    Yes my son can go to UIUC extremely cheap because he is in state with a UIUC scholarship and outside scholarships. He knows how good UIUC is for engineering but he is not positive which type of engineering he wants. NU is so flexible, where at UIUC he will be mechanical.
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  • brantlybrantly 4277 replies77 threads Senior Member
    NPC estimates your financial aid package for ANY year. The formula doesn't change after freshman year. Your circumstances may change, but the formula remains the same.
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  • VCHopeVCHope 8 replies0 threads New Member
    Brantley, could you comment on our situation? We’ve been offered $42K in Gift Aid by USC while Northwestern has offered nothing. It appears that difference is that USC doesn’t consider home equity when they calculate their awards, while NU does. We also have the option of going UC Berkeley which would cost even less than USC.
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  • brantlybrantly 4277 replies77 threads Senior Member
    VCHope wrote: »
    Brantley, could you comment on our situation? We’ve been offered $42K in Gift Aid by USC while Northwestern has offered nothing. It appears that difference is that USC doesn’t consider home equity when they calculate their awards, while NU does. We also have the option of going UC Berkeley which would cost even less than USC.


    Is the $42k in "gift aid" need-based financial aid, or merit aid, or some combination of the two?

    Just to clarify ... you have been determined to be full pay at Northwestern? If the $42k at USC is gift aid and it's all accounted for due to different treatment of home equity, you'd have to have home equity of about $750k. Does that sound about right?

    If UC Berkeley is the least expensive option, go for it! That's an excellent choice.

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  • VCHopeVCHope 8 replies0 threads New Member
    Thanks for your reply. USC’s gift aid is need-based, as they don’t consider home equity, which in our case is about $750k. And yes, we are leaning Berkeley, but Evanston is safer and has a much lower student to faculty ratio. The whole thing is upsetting because I’m an NU alum, and if I had realized this would happen I I wouldn’t have let my son waste his energy on those essays, and apply instead to U Chicago.
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  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 5358 replies90 threads Senior Member
    edited April 4
    VCHope wrote: »
    Thanks for your reply. USC’s gift aid is need-based, as they don’t consider home equity, which in our case is about $750k. And yes, we are leaning Berkeley, but Evanston is safer and has a much lower student to faculty ratio. The whole thing is upsetting because I’m an NU alum, and if I had realized this would happen I I wouldn’t have let my son waste his energy on those essays, and apply instead to U Chicago.

    Did NU's NPC show that you would receive aid?

    OP, have you been able to speak with NU's FA office?
    edited April 4
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  • VCHopeVCHope 8 replies0 threads New Member
    I never did their NPC. I had already done them for a number of other top schools and they were all coming out similar, so I mistakenly thought NU’s NPC would be equivalent. I did speak to financial aid and they told me that they consider 100% of home equity, and that was non-negotiable (at least according to the person I spoke to).
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  • andisoulandisoul 13 replies6 threads Junior Member
    How did NU calculate your $750 K home equity? Is this the amount you put on your CSS Profile form? or did NU calculate a different amount than you declared? I am afraid they calculated a value that is not accurate for our home.

    Also, did you speak to someone by phone during the shut down from covid 19? I have not been able to "speak" to anyone, their message says to send an email but when I emailed very specific questions the response I received was a very generic canned response.
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  • VCHopeVCHope 8 replies0 threads New Member
    Yes, I spoke to someone directly a few days ago but I had to place a lot of calls to get through. They had their own estimate of my home value and used my statement of loan balance.
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  • brantlybrantly 4277 replies77 threads Senior Member
    It is what it is. It was your mistake to assume that all "top" schools would give the same aid. They are not going to change their formula. Northwestern's philosophy is that home equity is a source of funds. Berkeley is a fine school. The published student-faculty ratio is an average and could have no bearing on your son's individual experience.

    At this point in time, when we are headed for a real economic depression, the cheapest is the best.
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  • VCHopeVCHope 8 replies0 threads New Member
    I got side-tracked - thanks for your words of wisdom!
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