8 tools that can unearth college financial aid
How to Get College Financial Aid
by Kalman A. Chany
Video: Smart Ways to Reduce the Cost of College
5 Ways to Save on Student Loans
Finding Weird Scholarships
- Assume you're eligible. Don't rule yourself out because of income or academics. And don't rule out a college because you think it's too expensive. The higher the cost, the more aid you may receive.
- Don't wait to be accepted to a college to apply for aid. The coffers may be empty by spring.
- Get application forms as soon as possible. You'll need the current federal FAFSA form. You may also need to complete the College Board's CSS PROFILE application, state aid forms, and forms provided by the colleges.
- Know the deadlines and be sure to meet each one. Many colleges have different deadlines for different forms. Some may be due in early January, though most are due mid January-March.
- Figure out your "expected family contribution." Use worksheets in financial aid guidebooks to calculate (before you apply) what the colleges will estimate you can afford to pay. Be sure to get up-to-date information as the rules and formulas change every year.
- Maximize your aid eligibility. Freshman year aid awards are based in part on income for the tax year ending December 31 of the student's senior year in high school. Consider also making appropriate adjustments to your assets, debts, and retirement provisions before you apply.
- Follow instructions carefully on the application forms. Common mistakes that can disqualify your applications are forgetting to sign them, leaving lines blank, and using the wrong academic year's version of the forms.
- Do your income tax forms early. To meet early aid application deadlines, you may need to do a draft version of your income tax return with estimated numbers.
From Paying For College Without Going Broke: 2012 Edition
Kalman A. Chany is the author of Paying For College Without Going Broke: 2012 Edition (Random House / Princeton Review). .
Take the Next Step
- Find out if you are taking on too much student loan debt.
- It's tough raising kids today! You need every time and money saving idea you can find. That's why you'll want to get our free weekly Dollar Stretcher for Parents newsletter. You'll find great ideas designed just for parents that will help your family 'live better...for less'! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor.