Two in college - financial aid

<p>My two oldest children are just a year apart in school. Last year when S1 was accepted to a private college that guarantees to meet 100% of demonstrated need, our parental + student contribution was "X." We talked to financial counselors at the colleges where he was accepted (which all had similar guarantees and similar packages, although some included loans in the aid packages) and they projected that the following year, with two in college, our expected contribution would be about "60% of X" - the parental contribution would be halved but the student contribution would be approximately equal. </p>

<p>When we did FAFSA this year, the EFC for each child was about "50% of last year's FAFSA EFC," so things were unfolding as expected.</p>

<p>S1 just talked to his financial aid department and they said next year's parental and student contributions will total "60% of X," so far so good.</p>

<p>However, S2 was accepted to several private colleges that guarantee to meet 100% of demonstrated need a few weeks ago, and the parental + student contributions for S2 across all those colleges was pretty close to "X!"</p>

<p>We are concerned, because we were tentatively budgeting "125% of X" for both boys, but not "2 times X."</p>

<p>I am getting ready to write a letter to my S2's potential colleges to ask them to review his aid. Perhaps we filled out some paperwork incorrectly and they don't realize that we have two in college next year. (He was accepted to 4 private colleges, and all parental + student contributions were within a $5K range, so they all appear to be acting on the same basic facts.)</p>

<p>In the letter to S2's potential colleges, I am planning to attach S1's aid letter from last year, and to point out in my letter that S1's aid for next year, while it's not final, is estimated at "60% of X," based on having two in college.</p>

<p>Do you have any other advice on what I should include in my appeal letter? Thanks so much in advance for your advice!!</p>

<p>First, yes, make sure you didn’t make a mistake in your applications to S2’s colleges and that they are assuming there will be 2 in college. After that, however, just because S1’s college makes it a 60% of X, doesn’t mean any other college is compelled to do it the same way. Private colleges can determine any family contribution they want, and publics rarely meet full need anyway… so you really just don’t know until you see the offers.</p>

<p>In any case, because of the policy at S1’s school, you at least won’t have 2 times X. At worst it should work out more like 1.6X.</p>

<p>Does S2 have any more affordable options?</p>

<p>I see that your second son was accepted off the waitlist at Columbia. Does anyone know if Columbia gives WL students as good of FA packages as those accepted during RD? </p>

<p>Does anyone know if Columbia is “need aware” when choosing from their WL? If so, that may be an issue here. They may have concluded that your S2 didn’t need aid, therefore he was selected from the WL. However, if THEY made a mistake in their computations (forgetting that there are 2 in college), then maybe they will adjust their aid.</p>

<p>I agree that you need to check and make sure that your son’s college is doing the calculations taking into account that there are two in college. If both schools are PROFILE schools, they can have some different ways of looking at need so that the definitions may not be the same as what comes from FAFSA, nor are they likely to be identical to each other, they should still not be that far off. You need to sit down and go over the entire thing with the financial aid counselor. I hope you do get this straightened out soon.</p>

<p>S1, is a returning student at Columbia.</p>

<p>Op wrote


<p>Again, I agree with cpt. in saying check your paperwork.</p>

<p>Has S2 been accepted to a profile school?</p>

<p>Keep in mind that the only thing the FAFSA does is qualify one for federal aid. Most schools that use the profile and the FAFSA simply use the FAFSA to determine federal entitlements (pell grants, federal workstudy, perkins/stafford loans). The school choses how it wishes to distribute their own institutional aid. </p>

<p>Rent2 has hit the nail on the head;After that, however, just because S1’s college (Columbia) makes it a 60% of X, doesn’t mean any other college is compelled to do it the same way.</p>

<p>The fact that Columbia calculated their financial aid one way will have little or no bearing on how S2’s school decides on giving out their money (especially if School 2 does not have deep pockets). </p>

<p>One thing you should look at is the amount of home equity that you have because some schools, do not consider home equity in their FA calculations, some cap home equity in proportion to salary while others feel all of the home equity is up for grabs when it comes to paying for college.</p>

<p>The reason I suspect some mistake is because S2 seems to be getting a consistent amount in aid from several colleges. Perhaps Columbia is more generous is defining need than other PROFILE schools. There are some other possible scenarios as well, but rather than guess, do call the school your son wants and find out what they define as your need and make sure that they are aware that you are going to have two in college this year.</p>

<p>Regarding S1, who was accepted off the waitlist at Columbia last year, the financial package Columbia offered was consistent with packages offered by other private colleges that had accepted him RD.</p>

<p>sdgirl66 - Just one more thing for you to consider…what will happen to S2s EFC/aid once S1 graduates? Any need based aid will take a big hit. This is somehting else to discuss with S2s school’s FA office. Most Profile school do not consider a graduate student (is S1 goes that route) as a college student. So, S2 will incur the full EFC - I guess similar to S1s first year of being in school alone.</p>

<p>My kids only have 2 years of overlap, so this was a hugh concern of mine for #2s aid.</p>

<p>I contacted each of the college FA offices that had admitted my second child, by phone.</p>

<p>Two of the FA offices were not willing to revisit my child’s aid package at all, but one made a phone appointment with me for the next day and was open to revisiting the aid package. I had to submit a detailed annual budget and the competing award letters from other prospective colleges (which happened to calculate slightly less family contributions). </p>

<p>This college’s FA office got back to me within a few days with a new award that reduced the family contribution by about a good fraction. They said they did not expect it would be a one-year adjustment, it should carry forward. </p>

<p>This college’s FA office also said their calculations apply ~60% “discount” when two are in college.</p>