EFC went up! How do I see what correction a school made?

I got a notification that my child’s FAFSA was corrected. It says,

This FAFSA correction was made by the financial aid staff at your school. If you think you need to make additional corrections, contact your school’s financial aid office before doing so.

My child is a HS senior and applied to 17 schools. When I log into the FAFSA, I don’t see any indication about which school they’re referring to or what information they “corrected”—but our EFC went up by $10,000! :scream: This will be a major problem for us and put some schools out of reach if they assume that higher EFC. Any insight about this would be welcome!

I also got a notification that my FAFSA was corrected, a few days after I submitted a form to one of my schools that clarified some information about family info. I am assuming they updated the family info. So did y’all submit any recent forms to financial aid offices?


No, I don’t think we’ve made any changes since October or November.

Hmm, I’m sorry I can’t be of any more help - my result was similarly confusing! Maybe try reaching out to FAFSA help desk to see if there can be clarification?

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@kelsmom Any ideas?

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This happened to me with D17. I somehow figured out it was UVA. I think we just started calling school financial aid offices until we got someone willing to explain it.
They had made a correction that was an error. I remember I could go back into the FAFSA and change back the information to correct it again. I sent an email clarifying whatever the issue was to the school who admitted they had changed it. There was a back and forth hut in the end our version stood. I think I had to send some proof too.
I would start calling programs.

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Thank you for sharing your experience! And ack—my kid applied to 17 schools. That’s a lot of calls! I’m going to try starting with a call to the FAFSA office to see if they can at least point us in the right direction. It’s really helpful to hear how you tracked down the error & got it corrected (but ugh for both of us, for having to do this).

Got an email with the same notice about a school correction? FAFSA help desk said to call the schools, like you are saying to do. However why are the colleges changing info. and what are they changing? The EFC was the same number so clueless as to what was changed and how will that affect the other schools that have not sent award letter yet?

@kelsmom can explain better…but basically, if the schools find something that needs correction on your FAFSA, they are required to change it.

What are they changing? Well…that depends on what the financial aid officer finds that isn’t correctly done.

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If the EFC didn’t change, my guess is that they may have been changing something like where you’ll live (on or off campus) or something related to year in school or program (lots of mistakes made by students related to those questions). You aren’t negatively affected by the changes. The school is updating things so that everything is correct when they go to run automatic packaging for financial aid. Because the packaging routines are dependent on certain questions being correctly answered, schools have to make sure that they are … and a wise school tries to get things right before packaging, rather than trying to fix mistakes later.


In our case, if I recall, one school decided it didn’t like our income estimate for the next year or something because it did not accept husband’s contract had not been renewed. We had to send information proving that we were not making the income they imputed or something. It was annoying and insulting, but in the end, we straightened it out.
I would not assume a financial aid office is “correcting” something. In my experience (with more than one child) financial aid offices are just as likely to mess something up that you did do correctly if it doesn’t fit with their assumptions.
The good news is that you can contest these changes and get them straightened out but it id frustrating.
Good luck!

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Was this a CSS school? FAFSA doesn’t include future income in the EFC formula. Did you request a special circumstances review to adjust income?

Honestly, as I originally said, I don’t completely remember. It was 2017. It was definitely the FAFSA though. The first group of 10 schools all said fine, we loaded the second group of schools to send more.FAFSAs and got the response someone had changed it. As I mentioned upthread, we just started calling financial aid offices to find which new school had changed it and then located the school (I think UVA but unsure) and had to do more documentation and fight it. We won, and it was corrected back.
That’s all the help I can be. In the end it didn’t matter as D17 took a full ride. I know our FAFSA this year is also a.mess since the form can’t understand complicated situations well (e.g. being in mid state move so housing is a mess) but at the schools where son was accepted, it won’t matter for a few different reasons so I’m letting it go.

Well…if it was UVA, they also had the Profile…and perhaps there was some inconsistency there. Especially since you mention moving…and primary residence isn’t on the FAFSA at all…so a correction to primary home location would not be on the FAFSA.

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We are moving this cycle. We were not moving in 2017.
Edit… And the problem with our moving is that we have bought a house that my husband is living in working in another state while we sell this one with low equity in this state while son finishes high school and so they count one house as a vacation home which is actually a primary residence as we move states. I also have a divorce situation and they don’t ask when you child support will end on the FAFSA but do count it as your income when they ask how much you got last year. We also have some self employment. Basically, our financial situation is not typical though our income is lower middle.

I don’t want to get off topic by analyzing my own situation or debatibg my opinions of how financial aid works or fails to work here. I was merely trying to help the OP by giving advice on how I figured out which school changed the FAFSA and successfully got it changed back in 2017.

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@sursumcorda your situation is complicated. Glad it got sorted out.

Thanks for everyone’s replies and experience. I am really confused and overwhelmed, but here’s what’s happened since I posted.

  • I called the federal student aid office, and they were really no help. As @sursumcorda experienced, the person I spoke with said they were absolutely unable to see which school had made the change and that I’d have to call each school to ask. This frankly blows my mind.

  • My child applied to 17 schools, so calling each one was a big and infuriating undertaking. I made it through half the schools; so far, each one says they did not make the change. However, FAOs at two schools told me that there was a “tax-deferred contributions to pension” amount that wasn’t reported on the FAFSA, and that caused at least some of the change. Neither my husband nor I have a traditional pension, so I’m struggling to understand what this amount is.

  • An FAO at one of the schools was able to log in and see that in addition to the pension amount, the “correction” nearly tripled the amount of our investments. Again, I’m not sure what triggered this or which kind of investments the correcting school was looking at. The SAR seems to lump all investments together into one sum.

  • In the meantime, this past Friday my child got into her top-choice school, and their aid package does not cover enough for us to make it work financially. So if there’s an error in this mysterious “correction,” I need to figure it out ASAP.

One thing I’m confused about (and I should say here, I find financial things confusing in general):
Is it possible that my FAFSA answers were accurate at the time I filled it out, and the correcting school made a change based on a different snapshot in time? If so, do I have some recourse based on that?

Our EFC going up by $10,000 is a major, stressful problem. I’m grateful for any insight or advice!

Brillig-- does the college your kid got into on Friday promise to meet need? If it does not, then the accuracy of your FAFSA isn’t going to make much of a difference in the aid package.

Forget the 17 for the moment, and focus on where your D has been admitted already- are any of them financially viable?

Do either of you have any amounts in Box 12 of your W-2s? See here: Federal Student Aid

If so, that number is added back to income, for purposes of calcuating FAFSA EFC (and on CSS profile).


Brillig-- does the college your kid got into on Friday promise to meet need? If it does not, then the accuracy of your FAFSA isn’t going to make much of a difference in the aid package.

Forget the 17 for the moment, and focus on where your D has been admitted already- are any of them financially viable?

They promise to meet need according to their institutional calculations (not necessarily the FAFSA’s EFC)—but the FAO there did say that their calculated family contribution went up as a result of this new information. So if that amount was in error, I believe it will help with our aid package at this school.

(FWIW, we are trying to avoid student loans, so even if a school nominally “meets need,” it doesn’t necessarily work for us if the 100% includes loans.)

And yes, some of my daughter’s accepted schools are more within reach for us. That’s part of what we’re trying to consider now as we look at the options. Very grateful that she has a range of choices, but it’s also agonizing.