NYSFAAA Conference Charity Fundraiser

Dear Colleagues,

I want to talk a little about the NYSFAAA charity for this year’s conference – St. Peter’s Soup Kitchen. This organization provides hot lunches for anyone who shows up, Monday – Friday, including holidays. Numbers run anywhere from 100-250 hungry people who can count on at least one hot meal that day. My husband has been a volunteer cook there for a number of years and has been touched with how so little can help so many. They conduct a backpack drive filled with school supplies each year. They have a community garden where they grow fresh vegetables. They provide emergency assistance whenever possible. I hope you can find it in your hearts to support this worthwhile organization. A raffle is being held at the conference with a basket containing: an overnight stay at Turning Stone, breakfast for 2 at the Harvest Buffet, $200 cash, $50 Visa gift card, $25 Master Card gift card, $25 Starbuck’s gift card, and two bottles of wine going to some lucky winner – a $500 value! If you aren’t able to attend the conference, you will be missed, however you can still donate and get into the raffle by sending me your check this week – made out to either NYSFAAA or directly to St. Peter’s Soup Kitchen. I will fill out your raffle tickets and enter them in the drawing. Tickets are $5 or 3 for $10. Provide me with your email and I will respond that I have received your donation and send you scanned copies of your tickets. Let’s have NYSFAAA break all records for charity fundraising this year – I know we can do it.

Thanks to those of you who have already sent me your checks – I know I can always count on my NYSFAAA family to help those in need. Hope to see you at Turning Stone.

Anne Barton, Past President of NYSFAAA

anneb@inceptia.org

 

Mistakes (on the FAFSA)

At the 2016 NASFAA conference they discussed double digit “mistakes” in FAFSA applications where it was indicated a tax return was not filed while it really was.

I found “mistakes” coming from a different aspect of the FAFSA.

I have in the town next to mine a Financial Aid Consultant. I call him Z. His company has a web site and he goes on a “local seminar tour.” This consists of a local library tour where he offers a free 1 hour lecture on how to beat the high cost of college. Some high schools use him for their college night.

His company charges $1,195 for new clients and $495 for returning clients. For the FAFSA and CSS he charges $1,495. He charges $495 for loan consultations including loan forgiveness, disability, entrance counseling, etc.

At a USA funds meeting I noted that he had at least two other employees so business is booming.

Company Z has said in it’s brochure that they specialize in separated and divorced parents.

They cater to upper middle class parents.

I have written to Department of Education Inspector General. They told me unless I have proof of something they are unable to pursue it.

We have at my school very limited institutional funds. I had a slew of students who were eligible were divorced and or separated.

I added a requirement that said we require both parents income even if they are divorced and or separated.

First I began to find tax returns of (Divorced and separated parents) filed separate with the same address. I would get a standard separation agreement you can get on the internet notarized. I found the income of the parent not filed on the FAFSA or CSS was six figures and up in many cases. I would get tax returns with P.O. Boxes as address. I would ask for utility bills and one parent could not do it in many cases.

I was not heartless and if it was clear cut the parents were not together I used just one income. I would find parents of middle and lower incomes would be truthful in most cases. I found some of the upper middle class parents would often be questionable.

So I gather the consultant in the town next to mine does a nice business for the upper middle class parents.

I ask for both incomes ONLY for our limited institutional aid. I try and keep an open mind but let a committee make decisions. I sometimes tell the parents when I get them on the phone that by filling separate tax returns they are placed on a higher tax rate and pay often thousands more in taxes then they would have filling a married tax return.

I am not the FBI but want my limited funds to go to the right group of students and not just the parents that hire a consultant to manipulate their data to get more aid. This seems like another area where “mistakes” can occur.