What Do Colleges Consider When Deciding Financial Aid Award For Students?

Financial aid awards have many factors that come into play at various colleges when determining how much a student will receive.

First, what is the true need of the student based on the formula(s)? There are one or two of three formulas that will come into play. You have the Federal Methodology, Institutional Methodology, and The Consensus Methodology that will determine the true need based on the information provided on the FAFSA, CSS Profile, and or the college’s own institutional form.

Second you have the academic side. Colleges will offer scholarships based on a GPA and or the ACT and SAT results. In addition, because the admission game has changed over the years, if a college appreciates the student’s abilities, talents, and background, they will be desirous for that student to be a part of their incoming freshman class and therefor will offer more gift-aid.

Then you have the leverage component. If a student was offered a magnanimous award from another school other than their first choice, they may have the opportunity (if done right) to negotiate for a better award.

If you would like more information on how to retain a better financial aid package, please contact one of our experts.

Do Not Make Mistakes On The CSS Profile

This time of the year I have the opportunity to review many CSS Profile forms for parents who learn of our firm and are seeking valuable advice. In 99% of the Profiles I review, I will find mistakes that the parent made resulting in less financial aid and more importantly less grant money. For example, I just reviewed a Profile for a parent that completed but did not submit it and found five mistakes that would of cost them around $12,000 in financial aid eligibility. Needless to say, this family is now our client.

As I have stated many times in the past, the Profile is an institutional form. So with that in mind, the college(s) can and will ask for more personal information on Profile compared to FAFSA and some of the information requested on the Profile does not need to be disclosed. Another point here in regards to completing Profile and all other financial aid forms correctly is the correct interpretation of the question(s). If you would likeus to review your Profile or any other financial aid form that is required, please contact our team.

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

FAFSA Deadline Is Decided By School Not January 1st 2016

FAFSA Financia Aid

Contrary to what you may hear, the FAFSA deadline for student financial aid is not January 1st 2016. I spoke with a new client earlier today and she stated that her daughter was told by the high school that the FAFSA needed to be filed on January 1st. Wrong!  

Each college will have their own specific deadline for FAFSA. More importantly, if the high school counselor wanted to share some valuable advice, he or she should have elaborated on the CSS Profile which is required for this student. For many families the FAFSA will not play a part in receiving need based gift-aid. If a college requires the CSS Profile, they will use that information to determine any grant money from the college’s endowments.

So with that in mind, the family needs to focus on the Profile deadline at each school. In addition, advice for parents and students, do not rely on the high school guidance counselor for the correct information regarding the financial aid process. They are not trained experts in this area. For more specific needed information on Profile and the FAFSA, please contact our office.  

Careful The Information You Provide On The CSS Profile & FAFSA?

The CSS Profile ( College Scholarship Service Profile) unlike FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aid) is an institutional form. So with that in mind, the article is right in that the Profile will ask for much more personal information than the FAFSA. However, the article also states you’ll have to report more information. Incorrect, you do not have to disclose certain information on Profile or any other Institutional form for that matter. I have been saying this for years, the Profile (FAF in previous years) was created by the system not to hand out financial aid. The more information one discloses to the college, the less financial aid. If you would like more valuable information regarding how to correctly complete financial aid forms, please contact us for a complimentary consultation.

What Is the CSS Profile and Will You Need It to Get Financial Aid?
News Source: Money Magazine Online

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

Five Tips On How To Transfer Colleges Effectively

We get a few questions every semester from students and parents interested in the details of transferring their financial aid to a new and different college or university.  Below are some of the most common pieces of advice we offer.  If you think your financial aid position might have changed please contact our offices for a complimentary consultation.

  1. Make sure that all of your credits will transfer or you may have to repeat the course(s) you have already taken
  2. After checking out course transfers, inquire about financial aid packages. Not all colleges will offer generous awards
  3. Ask about “in house” scholarships at your new school that you may qualify for
  4. Ask the admission office for an application fee waiver. FYI, many colleges will have earlier application deadlines
  5. Student loans do not transfer so resubmit your FAFSA immediately.

Multiple 529 Plans For College Financial Planning

I was recently ask a question regarding multiple 529 plans.

As a general rule, I don’t recommend parents should utilize multiple plans. However there are occasions that call for multiple 529 plans:

  • If your children are more than a couple of years apart in age, you will most likely have different investment objectives for their college savings. You may decide that one particular 529 plan has better equity-weighted investments (suitable for a young child) while a different 529 plan is more attractive for its conservative options (suitable for an older child).
  • If you have a sense of which particular schools, or types of school, your children are likely to attend, the choice of institution may influence your selection of a 529 plan. This is especially true if your state offers a prepaid tuition plan, or if you are considering the private-college Independent 529 Plan. A few of the 529 savings plans also offer extra benefits for students attending certain schools.
  • If you’re simply not sure about your choice of 529 plan, you can hedge your bets by spreading your contributions among two or more 529 plans. You might also achieve some more diversification in your investments by doing so, at least in regard to the fund managers handling your college savings.

When shopping for a 529 plan, you should always consider your own state’s 529 plan, even if you ultimately decide to go with an out-of-state 529 plan. Special tax or other benefits may be available for using your in-state plan.

In some states, you may be able to take full advantage of a state tax deduction by enrolling just one of your children in the state’s 529 plan, giving you more freedom to search outside your state for a 529 plan for your other child. In other states, however, the full state tax benefit is obtained only when both of your children are enrolled in the in-state 529 plan.

Contact us right now for a no obligation assessment to understand if we can increase your financial aid and reduce the stress of sending your child to college.

The Future Of FAFSA Financial Aid

Apparently there is a move to reduce the size of the FAFSA to a postcard. I do not see this happening. However, if it does, colleges who now require only the FAFSA will create their own financial aid form or utilize the CSS Profile which will ask for more personal information than the FAFSA which will go against the family. Regarding using “prior-prior” tax data, many families will not benefit by this. The proponents of this state that it will allow families an earlier insight of what to expect for financial aid. However, this will not work for families that will have fluctuations in their situation.

Instead Of Simplifying The FAFSA, Let’s Just Get Rid Of It
News Sources: Forbes.com

We Review Grant & Scholarships Offers

It’s that time of year. Over the last two weeks excited students have started to receive their financial aid offers from colleges that they may want to attend. Unfortunately, for many students the excitement is short-lived. The reason, many of the awards are not generous and are not meeting the majority of the need in gift-aid (grants & scholarships). Moreover, some of the awards only contain loans. For our clients in one of these situations, we initiate an appeal process resulting in an improved award consisting of more gift-aid. Let’s be clear here. I don’t expect the college to meet 100% of the need. However, I do expect certain things from various colleges. With over 24 years of assisting families, I know what an individual college can offer and what they cannot. Regarding appealing an award. Many parents do not know that they can negotiate for a better award and if they do know, don’t do it correctly. If you need a better financial aid offer, contact our office for a no fee evaluation.

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