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Financial aid appeal, reduction in income: Tax & income basis for updating the FAFSA EFC

only3more2goonly3more2go 2 replies1 threads New Member
Hi and thanks for your wisdom.
We have multiple children who will attend college full-time in 2020-21.
Our family suffered a major loss of income at the end of 2019 when my husband lost his job and benefits (no severance pay). Since then, I have been going through the professional judgment appeal for DD and DS, to ask for revised financial aid before the May 1st deadline. So far, our 2020 income has relied on unemployment insurance.
DS2 was interested in schools that happen to have an extended commitment date, June 1st. We are still in the process of submitting financial aid appeals for him based on the same loss of income.
Some schools seem to emphasize information from our 2019 IRS 1040 when making financial aid determinations. Others relied only on our estimated income in 2020. This results in different EFC estimates for three students who have identical financial circumstances and will attend at the same time.
Does anyone have experience with differences like these stemming from financial aid appeals? I fully expected each school to have its own way of allocating aid. What I was surprised by was the different EFC estimates for members of the same family.
edited May 26
8 replies
Post edited by CCEdit_Suraj on
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Replies to: Financial aid appeal, reduction in income: Tax & income basis for updating the FAFSA EFC

  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30405 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Your initial FAFSA EFC for the 2020-21 school year is based on your 2018 income and assets as of the day you submitted the FAFSA. When you request a review and revision of need, you are asking the financial aid director of each school to use professional judgement in coming up with a revised figure. So, yes, it can and likely will, as it has, differ
    from school to school. Especially when it comes to the dispensation of the schools’ own money.

    Federal funds are pretty much limited to PELL, subsidized loans and work study. Your state May have some money as well. FAFSA EFC is instrumental in access to those funds but they tend to be limited. For instance in my state, they tend to be limited to full in state tuition. Sounds great, except if the students wants to go away to school. The tuition is low anyways with the greater expense being the room, board and other expenses.

    If you are looking at schools that use PROFILE and other financial aid questionnaires to determine need, all bets are off. I know of only a very few schools that might use FAFSA only to determine need and then guarantee to meet full need based on that EFC. The school dips into its own money to meet any need that federal/state funds don’t meet, and these schools are much more detail oriented on available resources a family might have.

    So, yes, what you are going through is expected.
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  • thumper1thumper1 78320 replies3529 threads Senior Member
    Every college has its own formula to compute the awarding of institutional need based aid. This is why you are seeing a difference. This is more notable when requests for a special circumstances review is made.

    What you are seeing is very normal. Some colleges just have deeper pockets than others...and can award more institutional money than others.
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  • only3more2goonly3more2go 2 replies1 threads New Member
    Thanks to both of you for your insights. I was not surprised that the institutional funds would be awarded differently. It depends on what resources can be allocated and the needs of the students who apply. Would you expect this to also impact the PELL? That's one implication of assessing different EFCs.
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  • kelsmomkelsmom 16088 replies99 threads Senior Member
    edited May 24
    Yes, it can affect Pell. Professional Judgment is not a formula. Every school is required to have their own PJ policies, and those policies must be applied consistently but individually. Sound confusing? It is, in a way, but each school really does have a method ... and the method may very well differ from that used at other schools. There is a framework within which schools operate for PJ, but there is wide latitude within it that can result in differences. In fact, schools are not required to adjust the EFC due to loss of income, although many will review & make adjustments (especially for total job loss, as opposed to decreased income).
    edited May 24
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  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone 24837 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Yes. I had two in different schools. One school used professional judgment and gave D#2 a full pell grant for the year. Another school gave D#1 half the pell grant.
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  • only3more2goonly3more2go 2 replies1 threads New Member
    Again, I really appreciate your input! It's good to understand that differences in Pell allocation could arise for students with the same financial and family circumstances, depending on internally consistent protocols that vary by school. Thanks for your help.
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 30405 replies59 threads Senior Member
    Several years ago, my son returned to school full time after years of working. He did so after leaving his job in a dispute that took quite a bit of time for state unemployment and the DOL to decide upon eligibility for unemployment. He also appealed numerous times over his FAFSA personal judgement override.

    His income as an independent student during his key year for that FAFSA resulted in zero aid. That he was fully unemployed and going to school could give him a zero EFC and full PELL and subsidized loans. He was not entitled to state TAP money because of NY state draconian age requirements to be considered independent.

    His appeals won out in the end and his EFC was adjusted to a zero EFC, and he did get full PELL for the semester. Subsequently his fight with State Unemployment and DOL resulted in wins too. Sometimes it pays to be persistent

    In your case, with multiples in college, you could possibly leverage that , very nicely requesting the financial aid officers to reasssess the personal judgement. If you can get info from the schools that have you a lower EFC, perhaps you have some traction in this regard. My son started out with what he considered a hostile financial aid office and Officer, and after many hours of discussion, and information, was able to get initial Professional judgement changed.
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  • kelsmomkelsmom 16088 replies99 threads Senior Member
    Because schools must establish PJ policies and work within these established PJ policies, requests to match the PJ result from another school will be declined.
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