EFC calculations and ED considerations

<p>I am making this separate thread about EFC and ED even though I know that there are other similar threads going as I am in hopes of avoiding the theoretical and ethical questions. Fat chance-right? LOL.</p>

<p>Today I called a very selective ,very generous numero uno reach school of D's and reached a wonderfully patient young lady who answered to the best of anyone's ability every specific question I could ask on how particular tax return and asset questions would be answered by them in determining whether or not my daughter qualified for aid, and if so, in what amount. I had , of course, already taken advantage of their "Calculator"-actually weeks ago. In two out of 5 hair-pulling hard questions her honest response was to put me on hold and come back with the answer-"I don't know and there is no way to predict exactly how we would handle that situation until we had the entire file in front of us with all supporting schedules and returns."</p>

<p>My question to the pro's is, "how can I get closer than that?". I'm willing to hire an accountant versed in this if I knew one, but every school seems to have a dramatically different view of our ability to pay based on their view of what constitutes or is countable as income or what assets are counted and at what valuation. For illustration purposes only : Most of the differences between, let's say- Princeton's and Dartmouth's (neither of whom I called) estimation of our EFC involves the value of a self-employed person's business "equity", the family farm asset equity valuation when it is also your home , family farm income or loss when the "loss" is primarily the result of depreciation (total farm income -expenses +depreciation added back in ?). There are others but that's enough for a tremendous swing in EFC in our case if 2004 was our base year. A swing for us so great as to make ED only slightly less frightening than Ebola.</p>

<p>Help! </p>

<p>I am way over my head here ,folks. I just remember a self employed non-custodial father in a similar profession and position saying Yale scoured his records like an IRS audit . He felt that they had suspicions that he was hiding business income or personal or business assets -which he wasn't. He was ultimately able to substantiate the numbers, his D was accepted with a very generous aid package and all was well with the world. If I can only be so lucky. Anyone out there been through this with a complicated return and balance sheet?</p>

<p>I don't know anything about the topic, but I will say this, CHILL! Unless you are considering "betting the farm" (sorry I couldn't resist), you don't need to fret so much until after she has done some visiting, met with some coaches, etc. If say in late August, she has an over the moon favorite, and you are considering ED at a school because it is a clear winner, then go over the books with a fine tooth comb, who knows, maybe they will even give you a financial read prior to applying. If the EFC is so high at all the need based schools that you can't possibly meet it, then you need to have a hard conversation with her about what realistic options are. But, even if the shortfall is 10-15K per year it might be worth the loans. You really only care about what her first choice ED school thinks about how to value the farm.
I found my daughter to be remarkably mature about this whole process, actually in some ways more mature than I was. If you tell your daughter before she visits the Dartmouths and Princetons of the world that the finances will be important, and these are the schools that are the least likely to be financially workable, you might be surprised at the maturity of her evaluations.</p>

<p>curmudgeon, if money is a concern to you, why don't you also look at schools that give good merit aid?</p>

<p>We are already there Dstark. We realize that she is likely to be limited to choosing between merit and state schools. As you said this is only that important for that ED school, for others we will be able to compare offers. But that's pretty important and I am the type to be proactive (read:obsessive).</p>

<p>Hey, that's kinda cute (the little purple smilie). How did I accidentally do that?</p>

<p>If you figure it out, I'd love to know (about the smiley :))</p>

<p>Come on guys! Before you post do "Go Advanced" then run down to the very bottom of the page, you should see a list of commands in the lower left corner, click on the word "Smilies" which is a blue link, that will bring up a page of commands for the smilies - C'mudge's is "Embarrassed" I think. ;).</p>

<p>Cur: you might check for wise counsel in your big city because there are bound to be financial planners who specialize in FinAid. Those types are extremely knowledgeable about the complex subject, particularly as it relates to small business and property. If your kid is a Junior, now is the time to evaluate family assets; Dec 31 balances become the base.</p>

<p>btw: you need to go to the big city bcos your local cpa across your 'crick' is probably to busy with local oil baron's returns. LOL</p>

<p>Cangel, if it is in fact embarrassed then that fits rather well. I've got to find the "sheepish" one. I'll use it. A lot.</p>

<p>I will seek them out ,BlueBayou, but are you sure we have to go all the way to Mt.Pilot?</p>

<p>Oh no, no, you'll need to go down to Raleigh! Bluebayou has a great suggestion, whether she goes ED or not, getting someone to sift thru the FA maze well be worth it. Good Luck, and CHILL!</p>

<p>Well,gol-l-l-l-l-y and shazam.Aren't I cool:cool: I'll really be able to get people torqued at me now. :rolleyes:. WooHoo! Thanks, Cangel. I feel emboldened (not really.)</p>

<p>We had what would seem like a very simple EFC situation. State government employment, little investment income, house worth nothing to speak of, a little bit of outside employment, wife worked part-time and is in school. No farms, businesses with capital, or any such stuff.</p>

<p>The offers from need-blind schools varied as much as $12,000 (or more than the cost of an entire year!), with loan portions varying from $0 to $17.9k over four years), summer work expectations varying widely, and campus jobs varying from dishwashing to research assistantship.</p>

<p>If you are thinking of going ED, and financial aid is a big concern, I'd be very, VERY careful. (Frankly, based on our experience, I can't think of any circumstances under which I'd do it - the top 25 or so schools just don't vary enough to justify it.)</p>


<p>better yet, ask Aunt Bee...."she knows everything" LOL</p>

<p>ok, how do y'all change fonts (italics, bold), and add picture faces? Or, should I ask Gomer?</p>

<p>curmudgeon, chilling is always an option, but I think you're doing the right thing tracking this information down now, if your child has a first choice college that stands out far above all others, and you agree that it's the right school. </p>

<p>I'd probably try their financial aid office again and if they can't answer the questions, ask to make a phone appointment with somebody who can. They're not going to tell you how much you will get, but they should be able to tell you what they take into consideration and how.</p>

<p>Or finances are more streamlined than yours seem to be, but we did have some specific concerns when our daughter applied ED to Northwestern. It all worked out, and was definitely worth doing.</p>

<p>Thanks Nan, I'm not likely to stop trying. Not my style. Cangel's just worried about my blood pressure,LOL, and I do need to stress out less.She's right -as usual. Time for a weekend away.</p>

<p>And to bluebayou, unfortunately Gomer's still at the base peeling taters for Sgt. Carter, but I'll see if I can find Goober for you down to the garage. I don't know any of that other stuff, I just learned the smilie thing-y :cool:. (Pssssst I have my suspicions that people who can do the grey box dealie are practitioners of the black arts.)</p>

<p>and ,Oh my Gosh-Mini! Glad to see you post again! Our numbers on different estimators vary by $20-25,000. Mostly asset driven by our choice of retirement vehicle (the ranch), but also some income and loss items.</p>


<p>Several years ago when we were applying, we had phone calls and faxes and emails going back and forth with a large private in Cali. It felt more like they wanted to find ways to help figure out how to get us more aid, but the details (like tell us all your monthly expenses & income) got to be pretty intense, and the May 1 deadline was looming. I learned on the PR site about others who had issues by year 3 with thast school and we dropped it in favour of a highly rated state school using the formulaic FAFSA. :(</p>

<p>As a self-employed person, you realise that tax circumstances can be viewed many ways....like losses, depreciation, etc. I think it is really going to depend on the entire picture and on the exact school. With my oldest, we applied ot a reach ED< but would have backed out if their EFC was greatly different than our pre-calculated EFC. With kid #2, no binding ED, we'll just wait and see what happens :cool:</p>

<p>We have two apps in private schools this year and are self-employed. I'll be happy to let you know how things turn out. Because we are self-employed, 100% commissions, sometimes we make lots, sometimes we don't; therefore, we endeavor to have our house paid for soon. We have no retirement other than what we provide ourselves and could not afford to have a big mortgage, so we shall see what they think of that :rolleyes:</p>

<p>Hey, these little smilies are fun :P</p>

<p>I know,Somemom, I'll have to wean myself off them. I'm getting addicted.</p>

<p>OT. Bingo. We are where you are (steak or shoe leather,we like to call it.), or O.K. maybe a little more complicated. Substitute retirement ranch for retirement house and wife has W-2 income. How did the schools value your commission income producing business? Did they gig you for the income AND 2 or times gross receipts as a business "equity" that of course, doesn't exist? That's a big one for me as yearly gross receipts are very healthy, net after expenses is not that healthy these days. PM or e-mail me if you want.</p>

<p>Okay, that smiley buttkon was way down there, past all the letters. Who thought to look there.</p>

<p>And I also want to know how to do the gray box thing (thank God, for Curmudgeon; I haven't had the guts to ask!) I looked all over "advancedd" and I don't see any quote button....how do you all do it?</p>

<p>(And then I'll go back into my cave and watch the shadows flicker on the wall) :p</p>

<p>You might try CC's Dave Berry, either publicly via "Ask the Dean" or by private (paid) consultation. He and his group are quite knowledgeable about the behavior of NE LACs and elite colleges in general.</p>