Well, this will probably be the only Financial Aid blog which ties together my occupation and the work of singer-songwriter Tom Waits, whose intriguing song ‘What’s He Building in There?” provides a good insight into human nature. In his work, the reclusive object of the song is presumed by his neighbors to be doing something untoward simply because he keeps to himself. Some of you may have had the same reaction to the mountain of Quality Assurance forms that we have requested …what exactly are we “building in there” with them? Let me assure you that we are not using routers and table saws (read the lyrics!) to make our calculations. We are trying to accomplish two goals:
- History corrections- From your 1040s and W2s, we are updating the FAFSA information. Many of you filed before 1040 completion and had to use estimated figures. You may also have made a common reporting error such as listing taxes withheld rather than your actual tax liability. In these situations, we correct the data with the federal processor, which will then send you a corrected family contribution figure.
- Professional judgments- These are a lot more complicated. The FAFSA only gives us a small glimpse into your situation. It does not tell us where you work, your monthly expenses, unusual medical costs, where the applicant’s siblings are attending college, and possible loss of employment. All these are factors which can greatly affect your family contribution. We make PJ changes in in one of two different ways. The FAFSA is always initially based on the prior year family income, 2009 for the 2010-11 school year. However, if we decide that a job loss make using estimated 2010 income more practical, we will substitute the estimated 2010 for the actual 2009. On the other hand, we may make no FAFSA changes, but decide that your reported family income, while correct for IRS purposes, may underestimate your true ability to pay. As a result, we may offer less aid than the family contribution might indicate.
So, what we’re “building in there” is a financial offer that we hope measures your complete financial circumstances and ability to pay. We will be in touch soon.
See you next time.