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FAFSA 43D - EFC calculation

edited October 14
I have a question about other's experience with question 43D on the FAFSA. My daughter had a significant amount of taxable scholarship income that was filed with the IRS for 2019 - over \$28,000. One reason for the high number is that she transferred schools between the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic years and the school she transferred from reported her spring aid in her 2019 1098-t, but the school she transferred to reported all of her aid for the full 2019-2020 year in her 2019 1098-T. It would have been high already, but this was a substantial increase.

This brings me to my issue/question/concern. Next year I will have 4 children attending college and we completed the FAFSA for the youngest as part of her college application process. Her calculated EFC was about \$3600 and based on the 4 kids in college, this looked correct to me. Next, because the FAFSA allows you to just transfer parent financial data to the next dependent student, we decided to complete my eldest's FAFSA. We used the IRS transfer tool to transfer both the parent and the student income from the IRS, and then filled out the Student specific information for my oldest daughter, including putting the \$28,000 amount in question 43D. However, based on the EFC that was calculated, almost 13,000, it looks like 43D had no effect of removing her taxable scholarship income from the calculation. If you use the income allowance, 6970 and then divide her income by 2 (the 50% liability for regular student income) and then add that to the "parent" portion of the EFC, it ends up very close to the calculated EFC. If I just don't enter her income in the AGI, the EFC on the calculator comes out close to my youngest daughter's.

I have reached out to the FAFSA help line, submitted a "complaint" through the complaint system (they informed me today that the DOE only reviews those once a year) and have reached out to my daughters school. When using the calculator on the college board's web site, it does something similar. If you enter an amount in their "Student financial aid received" field that is more than 1/2 of the amount entered in the students AGI field, it doesn't include the number in the calculation at all. If you enter exactly 1/2, it looks like it does reduce the EFC and only considers 1/2 of the students income. I have a feeling college board used the same programmers or is using the same calculator that the FAFSA is using, but i don't want to just reduce the number by 50%, because it still leaves the EFC much higher than it should be.

Has anyone else experienced this issue? Does anyone know of a way to inform the DOE of this issue that isn't through their "help line" or the complaint system (Once a year review is not very helpful)?
edited October 14
10 replies

Replies to: FAFSA 43D - EFC calculation

• 5111 replies23 threads Senior Member
It's not exactly clear what your issue is. Any amount reported on FAFSA question 43.d is subtracted from the student's income which will likely result in a lower EFC.
• 25 replies2 threads Junior Member
OK, so the issue is, the amount in 43D is not being subtracted from student income. It looks like a bug in the FAFSA. The only difference between my youngest daughter's FAFSA and the oldest is the Student income, that should all be "subtracted" from the students income. Yet my youngest daughters efc is \$3800, and my oldest is almost \$13000
• 30787 replies59 threads Senior Member
Take a look at your DD’s 2019 tax return to see what number might have been transferred over.

This recent FAFSA has just come out snd Im just wrapping my mind around some changes Uve noticed.
• 5111 replies23 threads Senior Member
OK, so the issue is, the amount in 43D is not being subtracted from student income. It looks like a bug in the FAFSA. The only difference between my youngest daughter's FAFSA and the oldest is the Student income, that should all be "subtracted" from the students income. Yet my youngest daughters efc is \$3800, and my oldest is almost \$13000

You can verify if it's a bug in the FAFSA by calculating the FAFSA EFC on your own, using the document provided by the Department of Education:

https://ifap.ed.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/2020-08/2122EFCFormulaGuide.pdf

Use the same data that you used when you first completed the FAFSA, and see if you get a different EFC result.
• 25 replies2 threads Junior Member
BelknapPoint, That's a great suggestion, I actually had that document already, but I overlooked field 34, and mistakenly thought it wasn't taking question 43 into account. Let me complete it and i'll update this thread with my results.
• 25 replies2 threads Junior Member
As suggested, I completed the worksheet linked by #BelknapPoint, and the EFC calculated for my daughter is right where I thought it should be, based on my younger daughters EFC: \$4981. When I remove the allowance for scholarship income and include her full income, the calculation for the EFC is \$12952 So there is obviously a bug on the FAFSA (or the IRS transfer tool???).

Again, I have raised this issue with my daughters school and will hopefully get it resolved with them. I have reached out to the FAFSA help line and submitted a case with the "Complaint" department (https://studentaid.gov/feedback-center/). My bigger concern here is that the bug exists and will impact anyone in my daughters situation, but there's no direct avenue to even get someone at the Federal DOE, or financial aid department to look into it. I was hoping someone in this forum would have a suggestion for a contact, to get someone to look at this?
• 16435 replies99 threads Senior Member
edited October 14
It is possible that there is a glitch. Contact the school & ask to speak with the director or associate director (depending on the size of the school ... you can request the director at a smaller school). Explain the situation and tell them that you did it by hand. Ask them to please do the same. I was a financial aid director, and I absolutely would have done it. (I found an error years ago when I realized an EFC on a FAFSA I was verifying was too high.) You can also report your concern to the FAFSA help line, but I believe contacting an aid professional is best.
edited October 14
• 25 replies2 threads Junior Member
@kelsmom, Thanks for the advice. One question about contacting the Financial aid director. It's quite early in the process for the 2021-2022 aid year and this year, my daughters aid wasn't posted until about a week before the bill was posted. Also, I already called the financial aid office and followed the advice of the counselor I spoke with and emailed the financial aid office with the details of my daughters case. How long should I wait to request to speak to the director/associate director? If it helps, the school is Cornell University,
• 16435 replies99 threads Senior Member
They won’t package retuning student aid until spring, but the aid office is setting up systems and getting ready to review FAFSA information already. Catching a possible issue early is important to the financial aid community.

I would guess Cornell has a very well trained group in their aid office. I think you can wait a few weeks. If you don’t hear anything by then, I think you can email the associate director of financial aid counseling. They are hiring for that job, so it’s possible that they are short handed right now (but maybe not). Give it a few weeks first. There’s no harm in waiting at this point in the year.

I will watch the financial aid professional forums to see if this issue is raised there. If so, I will report back here.
• 25 replies2 threads Junior Member
Thanks again for the advice. I'm not sure how many people would even notice this issue, as the amount of taxable student income needs to quite high (above the 6,970 threshold) before it starts to impact the EFC, and even then it's a 50% calculation after reported taxes/other qualified income reductions. It also doesn't help that there's a similar bug in the College Board's online calculator (referenced in my original post), which I suspect many use to validate their EFC numbers, since it's much easier to enter the numbers online and have it do the calculation for you.

It is quite a dramatic difference in my daughters case just because the amount she had to report in 2019 was so high.