I just finished work on a scholarship committee in which we had access to each applicant’s EFC: Expected Family Contribution, based on calculations from the FAFSA. I knew that this figure was often contested, but I had no idea how it was calculated.
This article was therefore timely, and the information that single parents are “dinged” in the outmoded calculations was new to me.
But I learned the most from the comments, in which parents who obviously have assets to help pay for their children’s education freely share their strategies for gaming the FAFSA to lower their expected contributions, from advice on exactly when to cash out your Roth IRA to detailed explanation of how to simply move money (that is earning a higher return elsewhere) in and out of college savings plans long enough to get the “nice” state tax deductions. Others speak of the strategy of paying down mortgages rather than saving for college.
All are talking about maximizing assets that few other parents have. Many have paid for professional advice on these strategies, as one proudly explains of a strategy that she uses:
To the formula it will look like we have less money to contribute to savings. Essentially this is a loophole to shield assets from the FAFSA formula.
Might we imagine the outrage if food stamp recipients similarly shared in a national newspaper how they cleverly shielded assets and gamed the system?