Why doesn’t the CSS Profile give me my EFC after I complete it like the FAFSA?

After you submit your FAFSA, your EFC is calculated by the Department of Education based on a standardized federal methodology and sent out to each college you listed. Your EFC is the federal government’s recommendation to each college of what you can afford to pay for a year of college. Then each college uses that recommendation to determine the amount of aid to award. This calculation is published online each year, while complicated; it is possible to determine what your exact EFC will be.

The CSS Profile is submitted through College Board and the information you submit is sent to each college listed on the application. Then each college processes the information using their own calculation to determine what they think your family can afford to pay for a year of college. While the calculations of multiple colleges may be similar, College Board cannot give you one number, like the FAFSA, because they do not process the calculation. Each college has their own methodology; for example, some will use the equity in your home as a personal asset and another will not, some will use your business assets against you and another may not. Individual colleges do not publish their calculations so it is difficult to plan for financial aid at each college, but not impossible.

It is important to take all financial factors into consideration when planning if your student will apply to a college that requires the CSS Profile for financial aid. If you have questions about how your need will be calculated, if the CSS Profile will be required for your student or what financial factors to consider, call our office at 866-305-2321. We are happy to answer the questions you have.

Do you have a general question about financial aid? Send an email to admin@collegefc.com; you may see the answer in our Financial Aid Question of the Month series!

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Make too much for need based aid? There are other ways to save money…

It is true, some parents just make too much money to qualify for need based aid, but there are other strategies that can be used, such as knowing how to increase your tax credit dollars or decrease your income tax paid to the IRS during college years.

This brief video highlights tax saving tips for parents with high school and college aged students.

Maximizing financial aid is not always about saving money for college, but saving on the overall cost of college. Proper planning is key to ensuring your student gets the most aid possible at the college or university of their choice.  If you have questions about planning, contact us or schedule your free consultation today!

**Tips in this video should be discussed with your tax adviser prior to implementing them.

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Attn: High School Athletes- Want to Play in College?

If you want to play at the college level, there is more than just your athletic ability to consider.  First, you need to make sure you meet the NCAA* eligibility requirements and second, you need to know (and follow) the rules.

Eligibility requirements are fairly simple and straightforward:

1. You must meet minimum academic standards: Graduate from high school, earning a minimum GPA in core course requirements and earn a qualifying score on the SAT or ACT.

2. You must meet amateurism criteria: High school juniors are encouraged to register at the eligibility center, answering a series of questions to determine their amateur status.

There are also official rules involved with the recruiting process.  Things like when you can have contact with a college coach, what is contact, when you can make an official visit and even how many phone calls you can have with a recruiting coach.

These requirements and rules are put into place to protect student athletes and the integrity of college sports.  Ensuring your eligibility and following the rules are just as important as training and playing well in your sport and it is your responsibility to ensure you know and follow the rules.  If you do not, it doesn’t matter how good you are in your sport, you won’t see college playing time if you are excluded from recruitment.

*This blog entry focuses on NCAA rules and regulations, which governs a larger majority of college athletic teams.  If you plan to play at a smaller college, the NAIA may be the governing body over their sports teams and has its own rules and regulations.

Photo courtesy of: http://www.athleticscholarships.net

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Avoid Financial Aid Pitfalls – Don’t Make These Mistakes

Did you know that over 70% of student who submit their FAFSA, submit it incorrectly?  Even worse, more than 20% of college students don’t submit the FAFSA at all!  Most mistakes are contributed to not understanding the question or missing a deadlines.  Even a simple mistake could cost you thousands of dollars in financial aid.

Watch this video to learn how to avoid making the most common mistakes.

Do you have a question about financial aid not covered?  Contact us today by phone at 866-305-2321.

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Which Colleges Provide the Best Financial Aid Packages?

Through this video series we have discussed the difference between saving for college and saving on college.  The most important factor to saving on college is knowing which colleges will provide the best financial aid package for your family’s financial situation.  But you don’t know how much financial aid will be awarded to you until after you apply, are accepted and receive your aid package from the college in the early spring, right?

Wrong.

When planning for college you should know what your EFC will be calculated to be, how much your need will be at each college (remember: Your Need = Cost of College – Your EFC) and what percentage of need each college historically meets.  But you can’t just call up the college and ask how much need they meet, they won’t tell you.   This is a service that a financial planner can provide to help your family save money.  Watch this short video to see how it is done:

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Want to know what your EFC will be or how much need a college will meet for you?  Call us today at 866-305-2321 to schedule your Free 1 Hour Consultation or click here to request a meeting.  A college education is one of the biggest investments you will make in your life- make sure you’ve done the legwork to ensure it is a good investment.

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Get Out There and Do Something!

It is no secret that colleges prefer to accept well rounded applicants- it is not enough to just get good grades if you want to get into a competitive college.  Most students know the importance of being involved in extracurricular activities during the school year and are active in a number of clubs and/or sports, but so many take the summer off.

This is a HUGE mistake!

Summer should be no different than the school year, but it may be a little more difficult to get involved. You will not have the daily reminder and announcements of club meetings before and after school, there will be no open house or bulletin boards to walk by every day; you will need to seek out opportunities to get involved.  Check with your local community center, church, retirement home, food pantry or library.  Most will be looking for volunteers.  Even if you can only dedicate a couple hours each week, by the end of the summer you will have a valuable line item for college and scholarship applications.  Plus, you never know, you may find a new area of interest that could turn into a career path.

Image courtesy of: http://www.education.msu.edu

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When does a High Priced Private College cost less than a Public College?

The answer is- more often than you’d think!  The draw of a public state college is its low starting cost to its in-state residents, but it is not that starting cost you should consider. It is your ending (out of pocket) cost that should concern you.

Yes, public colleges start lower, but also have less financial aid to award because they rely on funding from state and federal governments.  If you watch the news you know, when budgets need balanced, higher education funding is usually in the first round of cuts.

Private colleges don’t have as heavy a reliance on government funding- they have private donors and long standing endowments (invested wisely) that fund their financial aid programs.  These colleges are more able to meet the financial need of students who attend their college.

With this in mind, it brings planning to pay for college to the forefront of this video.  Knowing what your EFC is and knowing how much need a college historically meets is just as important as saving for college.  There are some family’s that make too much money and no amount of planning is going to help them to qualify for need based financial aid, but most family’s can and will qualify for some financial aid, but only if they plan ahead.

Watch this week’s video to see why planning ahead is so important.

Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have question or to request a free consultation to find out if you’d done all you can to lower your out of pocket cost of college.

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Financial Aid Question of the Month


Question
:  I plan to pay for college without my parent’s support- can I fill out the FAFSA as an independent student?

It is great that you plan to pay for college on your own; we feel that all students should play an active role in paying for college.  Most student bear part of this burden by taking on student loans, participating in a work-study program and/or using their personal savings.  Unfortunately, the intention of paying for college on your own is not enough to qualify as an independent student for FAFSA purposes.  The Department of Education has very specific guidelines; to qualify as an independent student, you must be able to answer yes to one of the following questions:

  • Are you at least 23 years old before January 1st of the year you plan to attend college?  (example: for the 2012-2013 school year, were you born before 1/1/1989)?
  • As of the day you fill out the FAFSA, are you married?
  • Are you working on a master’s or doctorate program?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the US Armed Forces or are you a veteran of the US Armed Forces?
  • Do you have children or other dependents who will receive more than half of their support from you this year?
  • Are both your parents deceased, are you in foster care, in legal guardianship, a ward of the court, or emancipated minor?
  • Are you homeless or at risk of becoming homeless?

If you cannot answer yes to one of these questions, you will need to use your custodial parent’s information when filling out the FAFSA.  As with anything, there are exceptions to the rule, but you will need to appeal to the college(s) individual financial aid office where you plan to attend to be granted independent status.

Do you have a question about financial aid?  Submit a question in the comments below or click here to submit a question in private.  We will do our best to answer all questions within 2 business days.

Image courtesy of: http://www.brookhavencollege.edu

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Would You Let The IRS Fill Out Your Tax Forms?

Most would agree that having the IRS fill out your tax forms is not the best way to save money.  Yes, they will do it correctly, but they do not have your best interest in mind.

The same logic should be applied when filling out college financial aid forms, but so many families trust the college’s financial aid office to help them complete their financial aid forms.  Don’t fall prey to this trap! Watch this 15 minute video to find out how to protect yourself from the hazards of financial aid nights.

Be sure to check back next week for secret number 3 in this 7 part series: Why are Private Colleges Sometimes Less Expensive for Families than Public Colleges. 

Want a free consultation with one of our college financial advisors?  Click Here

 

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Don’t Wait to Ask for Letters of Recommendation

Attention high school juniors!  Want to know the single most important thing you should do BEFORE you start your summer vacation?

Ask your favorite teachers for letters of recommendation that you can use for college and scholarship applications. In the fall, teachers will be bombarded with requests from students. Asking for recommendations now will increase the likelihood that the teachers of your choice will not only write the letters for you, but that they will be able to take the time to write you a well thought out and carefully worded letter.

Has your school already let out for the summer? Don’t worry!  Most teachers will be available a couple weeks after classes end with grading and closing up their classrooms for the summer.  Call the administration office at your school and ask to make an appointment with your teachers of choice.

When asking for a letter of recommendation, be sure to provide each teacher with a copy of your academic and extracurricular activities.  This can simply be a bulleted list or put into a formal resume format.  Be sure to include all honors and awards you’ve won, volunteer and leadership positions held, and work history (if available).  Giving the teacher this information will allow them to make your letter more personal.

Once you finalize your list of colleges where you will apply in the fall, you will need to follow up with each teacher- providing instructions on how, when and where to send each letter.

Image courtesy of: http://www.scholastic.com

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