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Summary: Issue Alert: Updates to Wording for Worksheet C Implemented on 2007-2008 FAFSA on the Web (FOTW) Site to Reduce Incorrect Responses by Students and Parents

Publication Date: May 11, 2007

Author: William Leith, Acting General Manager, Application, Operations and Delivery Services, Federal Student Aid

Summary: Issue Alert: Updates to Wording for Worksheet C Implemented on 2007-2008 FAFSA on the Web (FOTW) Site to Reduce Incorrect Responses by Students and Parents

Posted on 05-11-2007

Federal Student Aid has received numerous inquiries from 2007-2008 applicants and schools recently regarding a misinterpretation of the text that corresponds to question WC4 on the student and parent versions of Worksheet C on the FAFSA on the Web (FOTW) site (located at http://fafsa.ed.gov).

We are posting this message to provide background information and guidance on this issue, and to announce that on April 27, 2007 we implemented revised text on FOTW for this Worksheet C question to eliminate misunderstandings applicants had about how to answer it correctly.

Issue Background

The student and parent versions of Worksheet C on FOTW collect information regarding offsets to 2006 income. In the 2007-2008 version of FOTW, we revised the instructions displayed for question WC4 on the student and parent versions of Worksheet C regarding grant and scholarship aid reported to the IRS as part of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) to reference specific line numbers on the IRS tax forms.

Unfortunately, some 2007-2008 FOTW applicants misunderstood the instructions and erroneously entered a total amount for Worksheet C equal to their AGI. Because amounts reported in Worksheet C are subtracted from income in the federal need analysis methodology, this error may have resulted in an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) that was lower than it should have been.

Entering a Worksheet C total equal to AGI triggers an edit in FOTW; however, if the applicant or the applicant's parent confirms the amount entered for Worksheet C, FOTW accepts the Worksheet C total, allows the application to be submitted, and sets Assumption Override Code 6 (for the student's income) and/or 5 (for the parent's income) on the processed Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR).

Issue Resolution

As noted above, we updated FOTW on April 27, 2007 to clarify the directions for completing question WC4 on the student and parent Worksheet C Web pages. We believe these revised instructions will eliminate applicant confusion regarding the appropriate amounts to report on Worksheet C, as well as reduce incidents where Assumption Override Code 5 or 6 is set on 2007-2008 ISIRs.

If a school has chosen as part of its verification procedures to verify Worksheet C information, the school will most likely have already identified students and parents whose Worksheet C information was reported inaccurately. For schools that have not chosen to verify Worksheet C information, however, Federal Student Aid strongly recommends that these schools pay particular attention to any 2007-2008 ISIRs with Assumption Override Code 5 or 6 set, and confirm whether student and/or parent Worksheet C information has been reported accurately on these transactions. If not, a correction to FAFSA data should be made, as necessary, to ensure the correct EFC has been calculated for the applicant.

Note that students and/or parents who misunderstood the former instructions on Worksheet C may have reported an amount in WC4 that was wrong, but the incorrect data was such that it did not trigger an edit in FOTW. In these instances, FOTW would have accepted the data and Assumption Override Code 5 or 6 would not have been set on the ISIR. Therefore, schools may also want to look at records for which the Worksheet C value appears to be unusually high relative to AGI.

If You Have Questions

If your school has any questions regarding this message, contact CPS/SAIG Technical Support at 800/330-5947 (TDD/TTY 800/511-5806) or by e-mail at CPSSAIG@ed.gov.

If your students have questions regarding using FOTW or completing the FAFSA, please ask them to call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800/4-FED-AID (800/433-3243) or 319/337-5665. Hearing-impaired students can contact the TTY line at 800/730-8913.

Last Modified: 05/10/2007