Monthly Features

Can We Use 2016 tax information On The 2017-2018 FAFSA?

Absolutely not! But you can ask a financial aid director to make a “professional judgment” and base your financial aid on 2016 income or projected 2017 income.

The Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) doesn’t have a place where families can explain special circumstances affecting their ability to pay for a college education, but Congress has given discretionary power to chief financial aid officers (FAO) to consider extenuating circumstances on a case-by-case basis. The FAO can’t change the federal needs analysis formula or make changes to the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), but the FAO can change the inputs to the formula with proper documentation.

So we recommend that you write a letter to the FAO after admission to the college and the filing of the FAFSA have occurred. No one will consider your letter until those two things have happened. Keep it short and to the point. Include the documentation of the family’s special circumstances. Some suggest that the letter is better coming from the student who really wants to attend the university involved; having said that, parents often are in a better position to be clear about the special circumstances and financial details.

Chances for success? A recent FinAid newsletter mentions an unpublished survey of 1,492 colleges done by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Officers and the College Board that found that 5% of public colleges and 10% of private colleges adjusted financial aid offers in response to families’ requests. Sounds about right to us.

Publication Date: December 2016

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