Federal Student Loan Limits 2107 & What You Need To Know

In this interview with Student Loan Hero our founder Ronald Ramsdell discusses Federal student loan limits 2017 and what you need to know. In the article with Elyssa Kirkham, Ronald covers the three most important points parents and students need to know are, families need to plan ahead regarding paying for college resulting in less college debt and more importantly loan debt. Second, the Federal parent PLUS Loan should be the very last option. And third, parents should defiantly shop around at local community banks, major banks and credit unions.

Over the last couple of years we have learned from some of our clients that they have secured private education loans at better terms compared to Federal student loans. If you would like more information regarding loans, FAFSA, CSS Profile or an expert help to better afford a college education, please contact us for a complementary consultation.

Read the article Federal Student Loan Limits on Student Loan Hero now.

Disparity In College Financial Aid Offers

Good news! Financial aid awards are starting to arrive in student’s in boxes. The bad news, unfortunately there is a lot of disparity in college financial aid offers due to the fact that the format of awards are dictated by each school so many factors and questions come into play when reviewing and comparing offers.

First the family needs to know if the initial offer(s) is a fair one. That’s tough because generally parents doing this for the first time don’t have anything to compare to.

Second, what methodology is the college is using? There are three possible formulas. There is the Federal Methodology (FAFSA), the Institutional Methodology (CSS Profile), and the Consensus Methodology (CSS Profile). If the CSS Profile is required, the college will calculate a EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) which many times will not appear on the award. So it would be difficult for a family to know how much of the true need was met. If the college requires only the FAFSA, the family will see their EFC (Expected Family Contribution) on their Student Aid Report (SAR). In this scenario, they will have a good idea if the award is fair and will be less difficult to compare with other offers.

Third, the family needs to know what is the college including or not including in their total college cost or comprehensive fee. Every college is different in what they include or don’t include which can make an offer look good on the surface when it is not.

In conclusion some good news. Our staff with 26 years of experience are here to advise you accordingly. If you would like us to confirm and clarify if your child’s award is appropriate, please contact our office.

College Financial Aid Awards Are Starting To Arrive

Financial Aid Awards Are Starting To Arrive

College financial aid awards are starting to arrive earlier this year due to the FAFSA  timeline change. Don’t worry about this because it’s a good thing!  Immediately you should be asking yourself are these award(s) fair for my college student? The answer is unless you are awarded 100% of the total college cost you wouldn’t know.  If you filled out the FAFSA and CSS Profile you might have interpreted the question incorrectly.

The reality is that many families will simply take what is originally offered therefore will spend more for college than they need to, sometimes into the thousands of dollars more.

If you are reading this you must have questions and be looking for the best answers.  Just like a good tax accountant it pays to have a professional who knows how to accurately interpret the questions and provide the best answer based on your situation to receive more financial aid. College Aid Consulting Services brings 26 years of experience, our clients are assured, in the end, that they will receive the best aid package possible. Since we have worked with the majority of 4 year state schools and private colleges in the U.S., we know what to expect from a given college. If you would like one of our staff to review your awards letters and information that was submitted, please contact our office.

7 Tips On Lowering College Costs

7 Tips On Lowering College Costs

We all know that the cost of a college education is off the charts and for many families affording a college education can be a real challenge. Here are 12 tips that families can use to save money in the process:

  1. Compare housing options
  2. Don’t buy new textbooks
  3. Consider dual enrollment
  4. Get a tuition discount
  5. Attend a college with fixed-price tuition
  6. Utilize a work study program
  7. Graduate on time

Two bonus tips…

  1. Consider a community college in the first year or two
  2. Consider being a resident advisor. Many colleges will offer free or reduce room and board

Explore all of your aid options. With that said, parents need to be savvy when it comes to the financial aid process. The more they know about the process, the more likely they will retain more gift-aid. The more gift-aid, the less loans needed. Regarding loans, never turn down a subsidized loan(s) if offered and more importantly if needed.

Parents should consider retaining professional guidance. A trained expert will assure the family will retain the most financial aid possible. Also students should always pursue outside scholarships which will help to lower their out of pocket cost for a four education. Once on campus, the student should walk into the financial aid office to ask if there are any “in house” scholarships that they can apply for. Parents should set up a 529 plan early on.

If you wish more tips or information on how to lower college costs, please contact our office.

Amazon Prime Student Loans. What You Need To Know.

Amazon is stepping into the student-loan marketplace with Wells Fargo to offer discounts to customers of the online retailer as Amazon Prime Student Loans.  A student-loan discount will be offered to Amazon Prime Student members. The online retailer has entered into a partnership with San Francisco lender Wells Fargo& Co. in which the bank’s student-lending arm will offer interest-rate discounts to select Amazon shoppers.

Before considering private loans for college, families should always utilize all  Subsidize Federal Loans (Stafford and Perkins) offered. With that said, if a family still needs additional educational loan assistance, they should shop around at various lending institutions large and small  for the best terms.  Over 70% of families borrow less when their financial aid forms are filled out correctly. Unfortunately the majority of families who do not retain professional guidance will make mistakes. Please contact our office to lower your out of pocket cost for your child’s education.

Amazon Tiptoes Into Banking Business Through Student Loans
News Source: Wall Street Journal

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.

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.

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

Parents Continue To Be Misled By High School Guidance Counselors

Tired student worried about paying for college

It continues and unfortunately will not stop. Parents are being told the wrong information regarding financial aid topics. I just talked with a new client and she stated that her daughter’s high school counselor informed her that their 2015 taxes need to be completed before they can file the FAFSA and that the deadline for FAFSA for their colleges is June 30th 2016. Not true in both cases.

First of all, parents and or students can file their FAFSA with estimated figures. Second, each college will have their own specific deadline for FAFSA and more importantly the CSS Profile if required. It is true that the Federal deadline for FAFSA is June 30th 2016 for the academic year 2016-17. However, if one goes by that deadline, the student will miss out on good aid and that is what happened to this family. The deadline for three of their colleges was in January.

Two points here. Parents need to realize that the high school guidance counselor is not a trained expert in the financial aid process and it is the parent(s) responsibility to confirm the actual deadline with the college(s) preferably by a phone call. Recently I was informed that a college had an incorrect deadline for FAFSA and the CSS Profile on their website. If you would like appropriate advice in the financial aid process, please contact our office.

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