Admission Applications Submitted… Now What?

The past month we focused on college admissions applications.  Now that most of you have submitted your applications for admission (and those of you who have not will be submitting them very soon…right?) it is time to switch gears to focus on Financial Aid Applications (yes that is plural).  Did you know that while the FAFSA is the applications needed to apply for federal financial aid, your college could require one, two or even three additional applications for institutional financial aid?!?  How do you know which one(s) to submit? How do you find out the deadlines? Where in the world do you get all the information you’ll need to submit the forms? 

First off… Don’t Panic! The Experts at College Funding Connection are here to help!

Through the month of December, our weekly tips and blog posts will focus on the CSS Profile and other institutional financial aid applications- explanation of difficult questions, the different aspects of each form and answers to your questions every week!  In January we’ll switch to focus on the FAFSA, as you may or may not know already, the first day to submit the FAFSA is January 1st… hard to believe that the 2013 is right around the corner!

Get your questions in now (email to admin@collegefc.com), then check out our blog weekly for the answers to your questions and questions submitted by students and parents just like you!

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Have you Planned to Maximize Financial Aid?

Are you wondering how much financial aid your student will receive (and if it will be enough)?

Now sure how to pick the right colleges? 

Want to ensure you have done all you can to maximize the financial aid your family is eligible for? 

 If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you can’t afford to miss our 

Free 

College Financial Aid Night

We will show you how to calculate your EFC, how to find the right colleges, and how implementing certain financial planning strategies could lower your out of pocket cost of college by thousand of dollars.

 Space is limited so you must register for this free informational webinar right away! Click Here to register and ensure you have a seat at our Free College Financial Aid Night.

 

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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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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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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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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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Why do some Middle Class Parents Pay so Little for College?

Many families miss out on thousands in financial aid dollars each year while their children are in college because they believe they will not qualify for aid and do not bother applying.  This is the number one- biggest mistake– any parent could make when sending their student to college.

Yes, it is true that some parents do make too much to qualify for aid, but for many it is simply a matter of planning for college and ensuring your finances are in line before applying for financial aid.

This short video will unlock the secret of why some families pay so little for college, while others (who earn the same) may pay thousands more:

Be sure to check back next week for secret number 2 in this 7 part series: Why High School Financial Aid Nights can be Hazardous to your Wealth. 

 

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For-Profit Colleges… Are They All That Bad?

For-profit colleges have recently made the news as predators against military personnel, their spouses and low income students.  I went into writing this week’s blog with the intention of warning students against for-profit colleges, but the more I learned, the less convinced I became that for-profit colleges are bad for the American higher education system.

The major difference between for-profit and not-for-profit schools is in their mission. For-profit schools are backed by investors and operate like any other business in our capitalist society in that once expenses are paid, profits are disbursed to investors.  At not-for-profit schools, profits are put back into the school to pay for things such as athletic facilities, faculty research, scholarships and campus development.  Both for-profit and not-for-profit colleges offer a variety of programs and degrees, are able to apply for accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education and, if accredited, can award federal financial aid to their students.  Regardless of how profits are spent, both depend on a minimum number of students to attend, paying tuition, in order to stay in operation. All of this is reasonable, so why do for-profit colleges have such a bad rap?

The main critics of for-profit colleges look at them as preying on low income students- burying them in debt that they cannot possibly pay back. According to a Campus Progress report “For-profit schools currently serve 10 percent of U.S. students but account for 25 percent of federal student aid- and nearly half of student loan defaults”. This statement certainly raised concern for me at first, but if you look into the structure of many for-profit colleges, you will not find many liberal arts degrees that teach students to think, but instead career-focused programs designed to help students gain real-world skills and training.  Their programs are more flexible than those offered at traditional universities with many evening and weekend courses that allow students to work full-time as they earn their degree.

With this in mind, it is not hard to see why this type of school would appeal to person of lower income who does not have the luxury to take 4 years off work to attend a traditional university.  It may be that a for-profit college program is the only option for non-traditional students to receive the training or degree needed to advance their career.

Is it a risk to admit these students? Yes.  Working full time and going to school will be too much for some and they will drop out.  Without earning the degree they set out to earn, their income will not increase and they will likely default on their loan.

Should these students not be given the chance to earn their degree in the first place?  I don’t think so.  A student’s ability to pay, or risk of them defaulting on a loan in the future, should not lock them out of the chance to earn a degree.

I will admit that the concept of for-profit colleges is still relatively new and has grown significantly over the past decade with little oversight.  And as in any business there has been corruption in the race to share in profits, but in time these bad seeds will be weeded out.  But responsibility needs to also be put on the student to research the college they plan to attend (for-profit or not-for-profit) to ensure that it is the best fit for them before applying.

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

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