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With the FAFSA issues, has anyone changed the application for finanical information?

As a Community Foundation with a Live scholarship application, I have received a couple of calls from frantic students. I have the FAFSA estimator in my application and am considering using that number for financial-based scholarships. We could change the due date to later, but I want that to be my last resort.

I am wondering if anyone is making live changes to your application.

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    MollyCerroniMollyCerroni Posts: 39 ✭✭✭
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    edited February 6 Answer ✓

    We ask for the EFC/SAI on every application, but leave it up to the donors and/or school reviewers to do with it what they will. They can ignore it, consider it, whatever they want. We have some donors who wanted to know more, so we have a financial question section on some of the apps that ask things like AGI, number of family members in college, and an open ended question asking if there are any financial issues they would like to share.

    We had so many kids clearly writing down the wrong number for EFC/SAI, that I considered asking for an upload of the SAR/FSS, until I heard of the delay in FAFSA this year. By the time I had the applications ready to be opened, it was clear we couldn't rely on FAFSA to have the FSS ready so the kids could upload.

    It's a good thing, because now, I have kids who have scholarship applications finished, submitted, and we've moved them to complete, and the SAI number is still subject to change. I am not sure what will happen after the FSA is finished uploading the new income protection tables. Will they rerun the SAI numbers of those who have already filled out the FAFSA? If so, I have hundreds of numbers that are incorrect. In the end, we are going to tell the evaluators to ignore all SAIs.

    I don't think it is useful information, anyway. I don't think it tells enough of the story. Just my 2 cents.

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    MollyCerroniMollyCerroni Posts: 39 ✭✭✭
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    edited February 6 Answer ✓

    We ask for the EFC/SAI on every application, but leave it up to the donors and/or school reviewers to do with it what they will. They can ignore it, consider it, whatever they want. We have some donors who wanted to know more, so we have a financial question section on some of the apps that ask things like AGI, number of family members in college, and an open ended question asking if there are any financial issues they would like to share.

    We had so many kids clearly writing down the wrong number for EFC/SAI, that I considered asking for an upload of the SAR/FSS, until I heard of the delay in FAFSA this year. By the time I had the applications ready to be opened, it was clear we couldn't rely on FAFSA to have the FSS ready so the kids could upload.

    It's a good thing, because now, I have kids who have scholarship applications finished, submitted, and we've moved them to complete, and the SAI number is still subject to change. I am not sure what will happen after the FSA is finished uploading the new income protection tables. Will they rerun the SAI numbers of those who have already filled out the FAFSA? If so, I have hundreds of numbers that are incorrect. In the end, we are going to tell the evaluators to ignore all SAIs.

    I don't think it is useful information, anyway. I don't think it tells enough of the story. Just my 2 cents.

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    SusanBarnesSusanBarnes Posts: 1
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    We have a live scholarship application that requires the FAFSA information - SAI. We are in the process of deciding what to do. Most applications are in draft with no FAFSA information. 4 have submitted. They have their SAI number. The current deadline to apply is 2/12/24. Any ideas would be appreciated.

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    MikedeHilsterMikedeHilster Posts: 15 ✭✭✭
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    edited February 6

    Hi everyone! Mike from the Foundant Success team here. This is an important and timely discussion - a lot of our SLM/UA clients are grappling with the fallout of repeated delays on FAFSA info. Making existing questions optional is certainly one way to go. For Univeral Applciation clients, you'll need to consider your rules in any changes you make to qualify students. If you're already live, and you go with making those FAFSA/SAI-realted questions optional, then for UA, the common or any opportunities that were held up in draft because the students didn't have - and therefore could not submit - the info for those questions can be emailed and told to just go in an submit.

    I hope that helps a little. If you would like to talk more with us about your specific situations, please reach out to the Success team at success@foundant.com.

    Mike deHilster

    Client Success Consultant | Community GLM/SLM | success@foundant.com | Foundant Technologies


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    SarahBurzyckiSarahBurzycki Posts: 14 ✭✭
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    Our applications are currently live with the application deadline this week. We incorporated some additional questions to help us assess need this year not knowing the potential impacts of the of FAFSA updates and how the SAI would look for evaluation purposes. I did make a change to some of our applications recently - as I was reviewing submitted applications I realized an additional piece of data would be helpful if we were not going to rely on the SAI this year. Since only a handful of applicants had already submitted their applications I made the change in the application and then sent an email requesting the additional information to students who had already submitted their applications. It probably isn't a best practice but it was necessary to ensure that we had enough information to as equally as possible evaluate financial need among our applicants this year. We are likely going to ignore any submitted SAI numbers this year due to recently announced changes in calculations.

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    DanaBerggrenDanaBerggren Posts: 35 ✭✭✭
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    @RebeccaHardenJones

    There are several recommendations here!

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    @SarahBurzycki May I ask what you added to your application to evaluate financial need and/or what data you felt to be helpful? I'm struggling to decide how to evaluate this without SAI. Thank you!

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    SarahBurzyckiSarahBurzycki Posts: 14 ✭✭
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    @RebeccaHardenJones

    We had some questions in our applications already. I looked at the updated FAFSA and added a few additional ones based on the information requested in the FAFSA since I knew the students would have that information available. In our financial aid section, we ask:

    • - Parents Adjusted Gross Income for 2022 (as reported on FAFSA) - new for us this year
    • - Household/family size - new for us this year
    • - Number of household dependents - new for us this year
    • - Number of household siblings in college next year and year they will be in the fall
    • - Who will share in contributing to higher education expenses
    • - Supplemental Financial Statement (where students can explain anything they feel we should know)

    We also ask if they completed the FAFSA and if they have their SAI to provide it.

    Having the AGI and household/family size we can make a comparison to the 2024 Poverty tables (https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/7240229f28375f54435c5b83a3764cd1/detailed-guidelines-2024.pdf) for a starting point in our evaluation and know everyone is being compared to the same standard. We can focus on the range we want to target and also take into account other factors like siblings in college, extenuating circumstances, etc. It also allows us to take into account the AGI that our state funding is using for awards to public schools and community colleges. I know it's not going to be perfect this year but our goal is to make ensure everyone is evaluated as equally as possible with regard to need given the circumstances this year.

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    @SarahBurzycki This is very helpful. Thank you so much!

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    KristenBertrandKristenBertrand Posts: 11 ✭✭✭
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    Thank you to everyone who answered my question.

    I have emailed some of the students who have submitted their applications with a FAFSA answer that was confusing. I reverted their UA application to draft status and asked them to change their answer accordingly or add their FSS to their application. Our application is due March 19, so I am hoping FAFSA figures this out soon. Students are waiting for their FAFSA Submission Summary and we have decided to use the FAFSA estimator number if they have a FAFSA waiver. So, the option for us is

    1. FAFSA waiver with the estimator number, or
    2. a reasonable answer to why they do not have a FAFSA Submission Summary with the estimator number
    3. a FAFSA Submission Summary.

    This is still tricky, but we are trying to be patient.

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    MeganDeHoogMeganDeHoog Posts: 3 ✭✭
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    Most of the FAFSA information comes into play during review for our scholarship cycle, but I'm doing many of the suggestions listed.

    We gave students three options:

    1) Try and complete the FAFSA and upload the summary/congratulations email that has the estimated SAI number.

    2) If that option doesn't work, complete the Federal Student Aid Estimator tool and upload that information.

    3) The least favorable option is that all FAFSA information was marked as optional on my end this year. However, if they submit nothing, then they will not receive a score for that area, which may impact their overall ranking for each scholarship opportunity.

    We are hoping these options still provide access to scholarships without causing a lot of stress. Even with this information though, we are still working on how to score and scale financial need with the SAI numbers. We are still working on that if others have suggestions.

    Good luck everyone!

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