U of A bait and switch or do they really want to help families

February 25, 2011

Phoenix – The University of Arizona in Tucson has hastily made a switch to include the CSS Profile financial aid form in addition to the FAFSA for some of its incoming freshman class.

The website for the University of Arizona at https://financialaid.arizona.edu/IMpolicy has the details. However, the hasty decision to add this additional burdensome form has left some students scrambling at the last minute.

The decision to add this additional cumbersome financial aid form leaves much to be desired. Not only was the decision hasty but the proof lies on the website with grammatical and spelling errors. The first sentence on this web page reads “Thge University of Arizona (UA) remains committed to ensuring that every student who qualifies for institutional aid receives it.”

Spelling and grammar aside, this first sentence sounds like the college really wants to help out students; however that is far from the fact especially for divorced families.

The FAFSA form accounts financial numbers from ONE household. Meaning if the family is divorced or legally separated then only one household income is counted in determining financial aid.

According to U of A’s website, in addition to the CSS Profile the supplemental Non Custodial form must be included. Here is the actual text including errors “The PROFILE, inculding the Noncustodial PROFILE (NCP) for those students who have a noncustodial parent, must be submitted by 3/31/2011.”

This means that divorced families must now report both parents’ incomes in determining aid. To make matters worse, if the divorced parent marries, then the step parent(s) income and assets are included and will inflate costs resulting in lost financial aid eligibility.

Typically colleges that use the CSS Profile are highly selective and Ivy League colleges. Is the University of Arizona trying to position themselves as a highly selective or align themselves to be the next Ivy college or are they just out to suck the last nickel and dime from unsuspecting students and parents?

This is contrary to President Obama’s State of the Union speech in which he urged colleges to remain affordable.

Currently the single biggest accumulation of debt for families is in the consumer student loan market. Placing this unneeded burden of excessive student loan debt on new college graduates makes it difficult to climb out of this seemingly bottomless pit.

This is just one more blow to students as the cost of a college degree gets pushed into the stratosphere. The final straw that breaks the camel’s wallet is, there’s an additional fee to file the CSS Profile while the FAFSA remains free.

Parents and students need to be educated on these pitfalls and the bait and switch that some colleges are attempting as they look to extract as many dollars as possible resulting in increase their over bloated college endowment funds.

The questions on the CSS Profile dive much deeper into a families’ financial pocket. This form may ask for the value of a families’ primary home equity, the value of their 401k, IRA and other retirement accounts. Some colleges that use the CSS Profile ask about the families’ vehicles. Any funds in these accounts/assets will inflate the cost of college and cause the student to lose financial aid eligibility.

The FAFSA is a standardized form and cannot be modified. Yet the CSS Profile is a customizable form. If a college desires to ask any financial question all that is needed is to add it to the supplemental questions. This gives colleges the power to ask ANY question that they desire.

“Parents, students and families need to understand that college admission and college financial aid is a game. There are legal and ethical strategies that can dramatically reduce your cost of college” says J.D. Wyczalek, the founder of Arizona College Consulting, and AZCollegePlanning.com

Wyczalek goes on to state that he offers free community workshops that help families understand how the admission and financial aid system works so that they can monetize it to their best interest and not the interest of the college.

Join the fight to keep college affordable by telling the University of Arizona to stop using the CSS Profile and join the Facebook page ‘University of Arizona Stop the CSS Profile’.

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