Is Extra Income for Mom Worth a Higher EFC?

Question: My son has a decent financial aid package with a large grant, work-study, and subsidized Stafford and Perkins loans. (We're debating whether to take the unsubsidized loan for $2K because of the interest rate, which is at the moment worse than a home equity line would be.) We want to keep his loans to $5K or at most $5.5K a year, but to pay the remainder, I'm taking on a part-time job. (I'm self-employed and my income fluctuates by $1-2K a year; my husband works full-time and whatever raises he gets usually are offset by increases in our health insurance premiums.) I haven't received a straight answer from the Financial Aid Office about what percentage of my additional income would be subtracted from the grant, and they won't even say that it won't be subtracted dollar for dollar. Is there any formula for figuring this out, or does it depend on the college? (The college my son chose not to attend at least told me that it would be a percentage, not a dollar for dollar reduction.)

I'm trying to figure out whether the added stress is worth it, if the college ends up just subtracting the money I earn. Thank you!

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