Well, sort of. Thank you to Ssgt Morse, who reminded me that I needed to make some more phone calls today. Determined to get an answer to our FAFSA/housing allowance question, I called two different college financial aid offices: one a local community college who advertises themselves as particularly military friendly, and then University of Maryland University College. While I'm still waiting for a call back to clear up some details, they both told me this information on our FAFSA questions:
It seems that there is a big change in the FAFSA and military allowances, beginning in the 2010-2011 school year. For 2009-2010, and all years before, housing allowances, and pretty much all other allowances, were to be included in the FAFSA calculations. For 2010-2011, and in the future, BAH or the value of on-base housing will not be included in the calculations. However, BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence) is to be included on the line for "housing, food and other living allowances." That seems pretty clear, but what about other allowances? Is the Family Separation Allowance a "living allowance?" What about Hardship Duty? Or any of the other allowances?
I'm waiting for a telephone call back on that question. In the meantime, if you are filling out the 2009-2010 form, you are supposed to include BAH or the equivalent value. If you are filling out the 2010-2o11 form, do not include BAH or the value of housing.
I also want to note, that when I went back to the FAFSA today, and clicked on the same "more>>>" link to learn more about the allowances line, it took me to a different page than it did a few days ago. The new page says,
"Enter the total cash value of housing, food, and any other living allowances you received in 2009. These allowances are often paid to military, clergy and others.
Do not include rent subsidies for low-income housing, the value of on-base military housing or the value of a basic military allowance for housing.
Round to the nearest dollar and do not include commas or decimal points."
I think this is more explanatory in some ways, and less explanatory in other ways, but it is still another clue in our quest to find out what is the right thing to do. I'll let you know when I get those detailed allowance questions answered.