I had two questions, regarding Net Price Calculator calculations for my daughter;
A) What if the Net Price Calculators are not updated? How do I compare possible costs? One of the colleges is asking for a 2011 tax form, and gives me the cost of attending in 2012-2013. I plugged in this past year's numbers just to see, but I am sure that it is not accurate. The school uses its own calculator on its site. It is a state school. Should I just ignore this school's calculation?
Here is my more involved question:
B) Simple Version:
Do colleges who give grants/gifts REDUCE the grant for the kid who goes there after the older sibling graduates college, IF the initial grant/package did not fund the gap to the the EFC in the first year and STILL does not meet family EFC in subsequent years? This is not merit, but grant.
Detailed Version, using Net Price Calculator: (FAFSA estimates our EFC to be about $11,500 for each kid.)
1) my son, a Junior, will be in college for his last year - calculator included him;
Following numbers are for my daughter:
2) School "X" after grant/gift aid lists the Net Price as 31,362.
3) After Student Loan (5,500) and Student Work (2,600) School X lists Estimated Remaining Cost at about $23,500, which is about what our EFC is for BOTH kids combined (I am positive I entered both kids);
4) School X calculator does not mention EFC, nor does it ask for it;
5) Since I became full time a few years back, I've put aside a little each month for our kids' college. As my husband is self employed, and I'm a teacher, we knew it would never be enough, but we've tried. We did have to take a chunk out of the savings account last year when our transmission died, and we used it as a downpayment on a used car. (Transmission on 12 year old van was quoted at over $6,000, with bad reviews for the replacement. Our other car is a 21 year old Volvo.) Bye, bye van. Hello used car. Ugh. Daughter's account now has about $14,000 in it.
6) The Cost of Living where we live is very high. We need to stay here, because I teach nearby.
We have only been required to file the FAFSA since my son's senior year in high school (CSS only one year, yay!) - daughter's schools only wanted the FAFSA.
We've decided that we may need to get a loan to cover this year, with both in school, if my son's college does not reduce our contribution. The financial aid office at his college has been great, however, funding right up to our EFC every year. We are hopeful we will not need a loan for this year.
This next year is just about affordable. Maybe. I expect the following (2016-17) year's EFC (with just my daughter in college) to rise up to about $19,000 (up from $11,500, but reduced from $23,000 total between our two kids, as my husband is self employed - last year was a very good year - this year he hasn't worked at all in his "real" job, but does have a second job. This is the life of being self-employed. Scary at times. And of course his "best" year had to happen last year. He has asked to go "full time" in his second job. We'll see.)
While I realize that this is all in the calculator, and not a "real" offer of aid, it has me thinking about subsequent years. School X has a very helpful Grant in the Net Price Aid, of $18,000. The school did not meet, however, our EFC by about $11,000. Do schools typically REDUCE a Grant/Gift Aid if the EFC is not met but the other student (my son) is no longer in college? How do we determine if the subsequent years will be affordable? While my son will be out of college, I will have spent my daughter's savings in entirety for her first year of college. Since I've been currently saving about $5,000 a year for her (I took what I was saving for my son, and am now saving it for her as well as her own savings, so doubling it) I know that in her final three years, I can use that $5,000 cash in addition to about $19,000 in earnings to pay $24,000 a year, and a little more in each year, including transportation, etc. (she would also have a job/take out a subsidized loan.) However, if they reduce the grant by a chunk, or even eliminate it because my son is no longer in college, even though our EFC is not met, I can't imagine being able to afford to send her. On the other hand, if they do still offer the entire grant, the school will be more affordable than our state school, and it has a major which is much more in line with what she wants to study. It is a good fit if the grant stays as it is.
Anyone have experience with this? I hope that I have been clear. My only experience is with my son's college, which has been great with aid. I wish that I had a working crystal ball.
This may all be a moot point, as we haven't had any financial aid offers yet. I am just trying to anticipate next year. If I call financial aid, what should I ask? Thank you!