What you need to know about financial aid

Consider the following key points as you move through the financial aid process:

  • Complete your FAFSA as soon as possible.  The form is now available on-line at www.FAFSA.gov.  Financial aid is often determined on a first come, first serve basis.  So apply early!
  • FAFSA now uses your previous year’s tax return.  There is no longer a need to wait until the current tax year is completed to do the FAFSA.  The FAFSA application now has the option of retrieving your tax data from the IRS directly into the form. 
  • Do not be afraid to apply to a costly private school if it is one of your top choices.  In 99% of all cases, the “sticker price” of a college is not what you will actually pay to attend.  After you receive your financial aid package, you may be surprised by what the cost will be.
  • If the cost of a college is too expensive, do not hesitate to contact the financial aid office to negotiate the price.  If the college knows you are serious about attending, they may be able to provide you with a bit more aid.
  • Fill out your FAFSA in a fashion that considers your finances on the day you fill out the form.  It may be wise to fill out the form on a day when your checking or savings account is lower (i.e. before a pay day, after a big purchase, etc.).
  • When it comes to financial aid, a student’s assets are assessed at a rate much higher than the parent’s assets.  Consequently, the less money the student has under his/her name, the better.  If you’re planning any big purchases (i.e. to buy a car), consider using money currently held in the student’s own name instead of the parents’ savings.  You can also place the money in a 529 plan, which do not cget counted in the calculation of the student’s expected contribution.