Parent of Two, Highly Knowledgeable in Financial Aid Matters - ASK ME ANYTHING!

I wondered that too.

These courses for applying to medical school if that is the goal…can be taken at just about any 4 year college…arts conservatories excluded.

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Any chance your family had a tax deferred account rollover in 2021?

This is a bit off-topic. An earlier post today mentioned household AGI. This made me wonder about if most posters are usually using their AGI or their total income on this site when they talk about qualifying (or not) for needs based aid. So thinking back to recent threads in which a poster might say something like they are not eligible for needs-based aid anywhere because their income of 100K is too high, do they really mean their adjusted gross income?

Or maybe a more direct way of asking this question… When a school like Princeton announces something like the following are they talking about a family’s adjusted gross income? “Most families earning up to $100,000 a year will pay nothing, and many families with income above $100,000 will receive additional aid, including those at higher income levels with multiple children in college. A majority of the additional scholarship funding will benefit families earning less than $150,000, and the University’s highest-need students will receive new and expanded forms of financial support”

Yes, I know Princeton and similar schools are outliers in the generosity of their aid, but I am just curious about what most posters actually mean when they say something like “our family makes 100K and our EFC is half our income.”

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Income typically refers to adjusted gross income in financial aid circles. I can’t speak to Princeton’s definition for its aid program, not can I say for sure that in general, people are referring to AGI, though.

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thumper1 - no rollover
also realized typo from prior post above
D did not submit SAT/ACT scores so that is why I think some merit awards were on the smaller side

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Mombbg23 - thanks! forgot about WCU (not originally from NC so slipped through cracks, and we don’t know anyone that goes there), its now 8K+, so yes very affordable, but she missed deadline

I think all 4 North Carolina ‘promise’ schools are still open for applications. There’s 3 other besides WCU. She may have missed the additional financial aid or merit deadlines, but the tuition and fees for an instate student is still just $5000 ($8000 is for OOS). And room and board is around $10,000, also a decent price. So total cost is around $15,000-$16,000 for 4 different NC schools which is great if money is an issue.

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Hello! New to CC here. Do Ivies care about full tuition merit awards from Vandy? Based on what I read so far, I am thinking no because 1) they don’t consider Vandy a peer school and 2) they don’t care about merit scholarships because they are needs based (although one could argue that the bottom line is how much the family will have to shell out at one school vs the other). So would an Ivy like Brown (tied with Vandy at #13 on US News) be willing to take another look at their FA offer if presented with the Vandy full tuition merit schollie? Thank you for your responses!

As far as I know, Brown doesn’t offer merit scholarships. They only offer need based aid. For this reason, they won’t adjust awards based on merit offered at another school.


No. The Ivies do not offer merit aid…only need based aid. So…if you didn’t qualify for need based aid…they aren’t going to give it to you just because some other school gives you merit aid.

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A student can fulfill premed requirements at pretty much any college the county. Certainly, LACs offer all the most common required courses in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and English.


@kelsmom We had a sizable 401k to IRA rollover in 2021. When D applied for the FAFSA (2023-24 freshman), the IRS Data Retrieval Tool pulled it in as income. Our EFC came in at 37,252 when it should have come in less than 200 so we knew we’d have to appeal. D has received generous merit from the privates she’s been accepted to, but none include any grants. And of course, none of the CSUs or UCs awards have any grants. We have appeals into three privates, but state schools won’t open appeals until after the deadline to commit. The NPCs for CA state schools show generous grants, but the idea of committing prior to appeal is scary. Do you have any info on what the CA state schools might offer on appeal?

Actually, if you had a rollover, you need to contact the college financial aid offices. They will want documentation of this…and will remove that from your income.

There have been reports here also that some folks were able to do this online. I don’t remember the details…

Call the FAFSA helpline and ask them.

You aren’t appealing…you are asking for an amount to be removed that shouldn’t have been included and was done in error.


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An appeal is not needed. There is no professional judgment involved. You WILL have the untaxed rollover amount removed, but as far as I know, it has to be done by contacting each school to find out what to send & where to send it. The school will fix it based on the documentation you submit. Do this right away, so that you’ll know “true” aid packages before committing.

There were a couple people this year on CC who were able to change the rollover amount by contacting FAFSA. I am not aware that this is a sanctioned update - they may have been lucky to be able to get it changed that way. Or maybe it did change (even though I haven’t seen anything official stating that it has) … but at this time, with aid packages either done or soon-to-be-done, I would worry that not directly contacting each school for the change could cause a delay in getting an updated aid package. You really want to make sure you get the ball rolling in this as soon as possible.

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and @thumper1 We called immediately after we submitted the FAFSA as we saw the prelim EFC number and were shocked. The rep said there was nothing they could/would do on their end. The rep said we would have to contact each school

We contacted all of the Fin Aid offices and all said it would have to be addressed in appeals except for one private that uses CSS who said they would remove the rollover $ from consideration. (They obviously have much more $$ data than just the SAR.)

I hope they didn’t ask you to wait until a certain date to appeal, because it’s not technically an appeal. It’s a request for assistance in making a change that is allowed but not possible on your end. The distinction is important if a school doesn’t open up their appeal process until a later date, because you shouldn’t have to wait until after initial packages are released to get this fixed. That’s just me on the warpath, though, because it bugs me when schools don’t distinguish between “fixes” and special circumstance reviews. As long as your aid package isn’t held up, it’s all the same, though.

The CSS school has a copy of your tax return, which I assume has “rollover” noted. That’s why they were able to make the fix.


I agree that it’s technically not an appeal, but yes, that’s exactly what some of them did. We submitted appeals to three privates (in progress), will submit appeals to two UCs if she gets admitted (should hear Friday). What’s ridiculous is that two CSUs replied back to her emails stating we need to wait until after May 1st. That’s after decision day! (One says on their website that parents need to be prepared to pay with the understanding that appeal may not be won. Wow. Just wow. She may just cross that one off her list.) I am going to call the other CSU again tomorrow.

I would call the CSU and ask to speak with a manager. That’s absolutely ridiculous! Wow.


My D and I called the two CSUs. Both understood the situation, but weren’t able to do much. The gal at the larger CSU said they do not have the manpower to handle appeals for their current students plus the admits. She did say that based on the numbers I gave her, D would be eligible for Pell Grant. But there was nothing she could do - D would have to commit then appeal. (I told her it sounded like throwing a Hail Mary.) Guy in the fin aid office at the smaller CSU basically said the same thing except he did say that D could send another email and request to ask to have her “file reviewed ahead of time.” The reality is that D is more likely to attend the smaller CSU based on major. We are hoping to get the fin aid appeals back from two of the three privates within the next few days. Based on what those say, we should have an idea what other schools might offer esp as it relates to public grants. It does suck that we won’t have a complete fin aid picture before she has to make a decision.

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@kelsmom do you remember the poster who was able to correct the rollover online? I’ve been searching and can’t find it. That poster actually helped another do the same.