SSS PFS Shock?

<p>Estimated Family contribution came back almost full pay although living by paycheck. Anyone in the same boat?</p>

<p>If you don't have a lot of assets - or a lot of equity in your house, I suspect there might have been an error (like an extra zero or stray digit) somewhere on the form. Are all the numbers correct on your statement?</p>

<p>You saw my post in the "A few more PFS questions..." thread. I'm pretty much wallowing in despair right now. Nothing we can do 'till the schools' verdicts come back M10.</p>

<p>I was in the same boat, until my dad lost his job today :(</p>

<p>ballerina22, I am so sorry to hear about your dad losing his job. It is definitely hard out there.</p>

<p>Yeah, and we're more fortunate than most because my mom is still working full time. But still, it's rough.</p>

<p>That's good to hear. You'll make it through- see if you don't. :)</p>

<p>I suspect our PFS will come out the same way. We have equity in our house, but at this time I consider real estate a liability not an asset. I think the extra note, for context, is important for the school.</p>

<p>I got my family contribution report. It shows 105% of the tuition. What? I don't understand this. Do they even consider expenses such as mortgage, other debt? To me they seem to look at income and that is it. If schools go strictly by what SSS says, then we might as well forget prep school.</p>

<p>I suspect that SSS takes mortgage payment into account. They may use it to calculate your net equity (house value-mortgage). Same may be true for car loan etc. (Just my guess, not very sure).</p>

<p>^^yes this data is publicly available and I'm sure school FA officers are astute enough to factor home value to debt ratio into the equation.</p>

<p>So, they look at equity in the house? Do they expect us to sell the house in this market and use proceeds to contribute? In our case the boarding tuition is 62,532. Their report says we can contribute 62,770. We have a large mortgage, HELOC, Credit card debts, etc that pretty much eat all of our take home pay. The take home pay is large due to gross income of 200K+ plus, but we have no way to save a penny each month. This is my first experience with SSS and it is a head scratcher. I just have to explain to schools what the real facts are and hope that they don't blindly follow SSS.</p>

<p>It is shocking, but it's good practice for the future when you fill out the Profile for colleges. As far as I can tell, they don't care about debt except for medical bills.</p>

<p>Do they look at 401k as well while calculating this number? I am guessing that they look at home equity, 401k, W2s and think we are rich. We aren't in the 1%.</p>

<p>Retirement money is not seen as an asset that you're expected to use for tuition. </p>

<p>Credit card debt is not a good thing, unless there was a medical emergency or loss of job kind of situation, in which case you should explain this on the PFS and in a letter directly to the school's financial aid committee. Otherwise it looks as if you are asking the schools to underwrite your lifestyle choices. The same may be said of a large mortgage.</p>

<p>Is this a two parent income? Schools usually expect both parents to contribute, barring unusual circumstances.</p>

<p>For us it isn't about lifestyle choices,etc. It is simple math. We max out 401ks at work and we use everything we bring home to pay bills. Looks like SSS thinks we should sell our home in this market and pay the tuition. I can do it if I can sell the house. That would eliminate the mortgage, etc. Selling the house and getting estimated sale price is the trick. It is two income family.</p>

<p>Credit card debt indicates you spent more than you had at some point. That's a lifestyle choice unless you were charging basics due to a situation like a medical crisis or loss of job, like I mentioned before. I do think SSS gives too much significance to equity, but many schools will adjust offers to offset this. It does look skewed to have a large mortgage payment and request aid though. Remember the people making the financial aid decisions are not rich people and few, if any, have your household income.</p>

<p>It's great to max out 401Ks, but schools want to see that contributing to tuition is a top priority of the family as well. </p>

<p>The world of aid is nuanced, and the PFS suggested family contribution is often not the last word on what a family receives.</p>

<p>Are most of the people that have been shocked at their EFC in the $200K+ salary range? Or are families below $100K getting sticker shock too??</p>

<p>Based on the financial aid profiler on the Exeter site, she would attend there for free (if she got in). My husband works but I do not because we have 2 boys with Autism and they are my full-time job! We have minimal equity in our home due to its value dropping horribly in the recession. </p>

<p>Since we are just starting this process with DC, would it be worth it to do the PFS to see what our EFC will be, just so we don't get her hopes up for something impossible??</p>

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Since we are just starting this process with DC, would it be worth it to do the PFS to see what our EFC will be, just so we don't get her hopes up for something impossible?

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</p>

<p>I wouldn't bother. There's a charge for doing it and the result you get won't be determinative anyway. As already noted, what the schools actually award is often vastly different from what the PFS suggests. And it really does vary from school to school.</p>

<p>Several of the school websites have their own financial aid calculator. (I believe St. Paul's is one of them.) Start with that. Then wait until May, when the dust from the current admissions cycle has ended, and contact the financial aid directors at the schools you're interested in directly and ask them what they think about your eligibility for aid. The individual schools should also be able to tell you whether they (1) always, (2) sometimes, or (3) never following the PFS recommendation.</p>

<p>And, yes, the suggested contribution for families with incomes below $100k is often unrealistic, as well. But that doesn't mean that that's the figure the schools end up expecting you to pay.</p>

<p>When we first entered the world of private school FA in 2007 we were shocked by what was expected of us. We had to give up vacations, brand name clothes, home repairs, IRA investments, and virtually all non-necessities (massage, hair color, most sporting events, etc.). It was and is hard to do, particularly since being in private school forces you to rub elbows with designer jackets, etc. Fast forward to 2012 and we still have credit card debt from air fares, technology, and clothing for growing kids but we have adjusted to doing without a lot. The adjustment was gradual and we no longer even think about things like IRAs and vacations (and massages? HA!! Maybe when I'm gone!). But it has been a HUGE lifestyle shift. I recently spoke to someone who said they could never afford boarding school, yet she was driving a Lexus and had just come back from a Hawaiian vacation...</p>

<p>Someone here mentioned it -- the people making these decisions often make far less than most of us here. What some of us may have come to expect is far beyond what the faculty at boarding schools expect. I do still often feel very stressed at how stretched we are financially, but then I think about the commitment that school personnel make to our kids (often three or more roles such as advisor, teacher, coach) and the salaries they get (less than you probably expect) and I realize that I can choose to compare myself to the 1% or the 99% and it IS my choice.</p>