Do You Know Your College Tuition Expected Family Contribution?

Do you know what your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is? Most families don’t. Did you know that there are three EFCs in the financial aid process? Most families don’t.

The EFC(s) represents the families’ ability to pay for a college education. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is calculated via The CSS Profile under one of two formulas. The Institutional Methodology or the Consensus Methodology depending on the college. Families need to know that the three EFCs could vary widely. Moreover, many families are not told what their EFC is under the Institutional and the Consensus Methodologies by the college(S).

If you would like our staff to calculate your true EFC(s) and learn how to increase your financial aid eligibility, please contact our office.

FAFSA Changes 2017-18

Starting with the high school graduating class of June 2017, the timetable and tax year associated with the FAFSA changes 2017-18. The high school class of 2017 will be eligible to file the FAFSA starting on October 1st, 2016, three months earlier than in previous years. They will use 2015 Federal income tax returns (known as Prior-Prior Year (PPY)).

Take special note there is some uncertainty for the high school class of 2017. For example, the deadlines for institutional aid may change at some colleges. Also, students may initially receive estimated financial aid packages because college costs for the coming year may not be finalized and/or because state grant data may not be available. If this is the case, the families will subsequently receive confirmed financial aid packages. In addition, financial aid is based in part on the family’s income, and if that changes during that two-year period, the family could either lose money or have to file an appeal and go through a lengthy process to retain it. Instead of streamlining it, for a small portion of people, it adds an extra step if their circumstances change. Many things can happen in a year.

One thing that parents need to know is that they have the option to utilize their 2016 tax information to file FAFSA and the CSS Profile and they should if there is less income reported compared to 2015.

If you would like more information on FAFSA Changes 2017-18 and information on how to increase your financial aid options, please contact our office.

12 Tips For Parents and Students On Paying Your Way Through College

12 tips parents students paying way college

These are our most basic tips for parents and students on paying your way through college. Every year we consult with many families, single parents and even students who want to make college more affordable. These are the things we believe without fail you need to do to reduce the cost of college.

  1. Students should always walk into the financial aid office the first day they are on campus and ask if there are any “in house” scholarships they can apply for. Many times there are and students are not aware that they exist.
  2. Pursue outside scholarships keeping in mind that they should never pay for a scholarship service.
  3. Set up a 529 plan.
  4. Whenever possible purchase used textbooks and sell them when they are finished with them.  You are never going to use them again.
  5. Utilize work study on campus whenever possible.
  6. Keep credit card debt at a minimum and always pay it down on time.
  7. Choose the right meal plan.
  8. Set up a student checking account. Most of them are free. Keep organized regarding their spending habits.
  9. Get the right cell phone plan.
  10. Utilize alternative transportation.
  11. Consider being a resident advisor. Many colleges will offer free or reduce room and board. If the college is close to family or relatives the student should consider living at home which is one of the most economical ways to get an education. If money is short in the beginning, the student should consider a community college. There are now many quality 2 year programs around the US that will allow a student to transfer their credits to a four year school.
  12. Retain a trained expert in the financial aid process. These people can save families thousands of dollars in their 4 year education.

If you wish to consult with one of our fine experts, please contact our office.  Just like a great accountant for 26 years we have been experts in financial aid. We would love to look at your FAFSA and CSS Profile and see if we can help reduce the out of pocket expense even more.

What Is A College Gap Year?

mind the college gap year

Recently the term college gap year has been getting a lot of attention since President Obama’s Daughter’s Malia decided to utilize one with Harvard University. Many colleges are encouraging the delayed entry to give students the opportunity to build upon life and work experiences with a volunteer work program, part-time work, or travel and internships in foreign countries. Students have found that they entered college more mature and focused.

I personally agree have been a proponent for students taking off a year or two before entering college for many reasons. However, student’s need to know the do’s and the don’ts when pursuing a college gap year(s). For more information, please contact our office.

How To Avoid Financial Aid Awards That Shrink Every Year

Financial Aid Awards

Many parents approach me after their son or daughter has started their private or public school education and ask how to avoid financial aid awards that shrink every year. Assuming the decrease in aid was not do to financial reasons, here are some suggestions for parents and students to avoid the trap:

  • After receiving your financial aid offer for the first year and before you commit to the college, ask them what you can expect from them in the following years
  • Keep your grades up. If the student retains a high GPA, it will be less likely the school will play money games with your financial aid awards
  • Like the GPA, get involved with school activities and be an asset to the college
  • If the college is still playing the game, the student may want to consider one of the college’s rival schools. Many colleges don’t want to lose students to their competitors due to only issues to financial aid awards
  • The family may want to consider retaining a trained and proven financial aid expert. This person will be able to negotiate with the college to better their award

If you are like most parents you are well-intentioned in attempting to maximize the financial aid for your family without help. College Aid Consulting Services has over 26 years of experience working with federal institutions, colleges, universities and others that decide how much money you will receive. If you are reading this we hope you take advantage of our complimentary consultation and contact us today.

When Financial Aid Offers Doesn’t Meet Expectations

College Financial Aid Offers

Since early March our students started to receive their initial financial aid offers from various colleges. Like previous years, many of the financial aid offers are not meeting the appropriate need for the student based on one of the three formulas that colleges utilize. We review all of our student’s awards and if we feel the college can do better, we will then initiate a proven approach of communication with the college(s) to increase the amount of gift-aid originally offered. Over the last two weeks our students have been receiving their amended awards that contain more financial aid.

Families who do not utilize professional guidance are more likely not receive a magnanimous award(s). If you would like our staff to review your award letters, please contact our office. The bottom line here is, the more families know about the true aspects of the financial aid process , the less money out of their pockets for a college education.

Contact Us For A Complimentary Consultation

Be Wary of Scholarship Services

Be Wary of Scholarship Services

We can’t stress enough… be wary of scholarship services promising money. This is the time, many high school seniors have finished their college applications and are waiting for results. Parents and prospective students are starting to look into options and plan how the family or individual (father/mother) are going to pay for it.

Every year I hear from students and or parents who has paid a service to find scholarships, only to discover they are getting nothing but empty promises.
Some financial aid is based on need, while other scholarships may be based on merit, a special skill or even an essay on a particular topic.

Companies may offer to assist in finding aid, but I advise students to be wary of websites, seminars or other schemes that promise to find scholarships, grants or financial aid packages for a fee. The companies may promise a money-back guarantee, but they set so many conditions that it’s almost impossible to get a refund. Others tell students they have been selected as finalists but that they have to pay a fee to be eligible for the award. Advance fees often are a sign that the award is not legitimate.

Legitimate companies can help students find aid, but they will never guarantee results. However, parents and students usually can find the same awards and others on their own by searching online or going to the library. However, this will mean that one will have to invest a lot of time in the process due to the many worthless sources out there. We at College Aid Consulting Services have tracked legitimate scholarships sources over the last 25 years that are worthy of one’s time. We have testimonials from happy parents to prove it.  If you would like more information regarding outside scholarship sources, please contact our office.

FAFSA Change For 2017-2018

This is just a quick reminder of a FAFSA change for 2017-2018.  Students who are college bound for 2016-2017 could only submit FAFSA today January 1st or thereafter. Any students that are college bound 2017-2018, families can submit FAFSA 3 months earlier in October 2016. The so-called experts claim that this will be beneficial for all families filing FAFSA. As I opined in the past, I don’t see a benefit here for many families.

If a family submits FAFSA early and gets an early offer from the college(s) and their financial situation changes in the upcoming months into the new year, they will have false expectations in the realities of what they can really afford in a college education at a specific school. I only see a benefit with this change for a small percentage who need to file FAFSA. Moreover, the FAFSA will not play a role for many that are seeking need-based grant money from the college if the CSS Profile is required.  To receive more information on this topic, financial aid advice how to avoid the headaches in the filing process, please contact our staff.

FAFSA Change For 2017-2018

Fund A MBA With Financial Aid

We get questions is it possible to fund a MBA with Financial Aid? The short answer is yes. Below are 5 of our best tips to understand your options for making that Masters In Business degree possible and more affordable.

  1. Research, research, and research. The more time a student invests into their search, the more options they will have to make an appropriate decision based on cost and other factors. Because financial aid availability will vary from school to school, they should not rule out an institution that has a higher cost. The good news, there are some decent inexpensive online programs available to fall back on due to lack of money.
  2. Schools will charge a higher price because they can. MBA degrees are more popular than other masters programs because of the downright demand for them and can quote the higher cost. Even though a lot of institutions offer the program, it’s still in high demand. Also, additional fees will vary from school to school.
  3. There are many good value colleges that are AACSB-accredited. Degrees from schools with AACSB-accredited programs offer graduates a return on their investment by providing them with the professional competencies required to compete and advance in their careers.
  4. The student needs to be proactive. Make ample time to search out scholarships. They are many out there to be had. Also check with the college for any “in-house” scholarships. Also check out Company scholarships. Regarding textbooks, check to see if you can borrow them for each semester or see if they can be downloaded. Check out to see if there are tax deductions they can utilize relating to higher education. A student should consider living with their parents which would be a great amount on rent. Regarding student loans, check with local banks first before utilizing Federal Loans. They may have better interest rates and terms which will save you in in the long run.
  5. Last tip and the big one, start saving early!

If you would like personalized help from Financial Aid experts please contact our office for a complimentary consultation.

Financial Assets & How They Affect Financial Aid

The article elaborates on assets and how financial assets affect financial aid eligibility. First of all, many who are completing the required financial aid forms do not know that certain assets do not have to be reported. Second, families with certain assets can implement appropriate strategies to increase their financial aid eligibility. If you desire valuable advice from a trained professional with over 25 years of experience, please contact our office.

5 Reasons Why You Won’t Get Free Money for College
Source: gobankingrates.com

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