Preparing for the FAFSA & CSS Profile
Fall of a student’s junior year in high school is considered to be your last best chance to increase your financial aid eligibility. The FAFSA and CSS PROFILE may be a year away, but there is still plenty to be done.
Students have to focus on tasks at hand
- Students need to prepare for their SAT/ACT tests and focus on their grades to enhance their chances of receiving college scholarships.
- Students should participate in career profiles and college searches to expand their frame of reference.
- Students need to practice writing admission essays and begin familiarizing themselves with the various college applications.
- Students proper preparation will enhance the strength and number of strategies a parent may be able to exercise.
Parents Need A Well Formulated Game Plan.
Parents need to approach paying for college like a family business and develop a business plan. A college funding road map or game plan is your best bet to successfully traverse the college-funding frontier. Familiarize yourself with how to fill out the CSS PROFILE or FAFSA properly. If you don’t put together a game plan you’re going to leave money on the table. This is extremely important, as a large % of the submitted FAFSA forms are filled out improperly.
Important Financial Aid Strategies You Can’t Afford To Overlook
- Identify schools where the student is in the top 20% of the admitting class. We always encourage our clients to apply to schools where the student is in the top 20% of the admitting class. If financial aid is important to you and you want to increase your chances of receiving free college scholarships find schools where you are in the top 20%. Students in the top 20% of the admitting class tend to receive more free college scholarships and need less federal student loan money.
- You should apply to colleges that meet 75% to 100% of “your need” as defined by both federal and institutional methodologies. Once you’ve identified schools where you’re in the top 20% of the admitting class your homework gets more interesting and more challenging. Next you need to determine your schools historical tendency to meeting a families Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Next you need to determine how the school meets that percentage of need. Then determine how is the need met, that is what percentage of need met is in the form of self-help or gift aid?
- You need to move your includable assets into none includable accounts immediately. This strategy is key to receiving more financial aid than you may have thought possible. If your assets are exposed to either the federal or institutional methodology you can reduce the amount you have to pay by altering the title or sheltering those assets into non-includable accounts. Be careful to properly and legally implement the available strategies. If you err here it could be very costly. At this point you should consider whether you want to navigate the financial aid process on your own or work with a competent college financial aid consultant.
- You need to develop cash flow scenarios. Convert short-term debt into long-term debt and take full advantage of low interest student loans. Take full advantage strategies to tax deduct the cost of college. There are some creative strategies for tax deducting college cost that work for nearly everyone over and above the Lifetime Learning Credit, Hope Scholarship Credit and student loan interest deduction.
- You should seek help from a college funding advisor and assess the implications and ramifications paying for college may have on your ability to retire or pay off your house. If you have more than one child, game plan how you’ll be able to send more than one child to college without going broke.
- Learn the rules and regulations that govern financial aid. Learn how to use them to your advantage. Discover how to obtain more free college scholarships for high school juniors and college grants so you’ll have fewer student loans to pay back. Become a student of the process and you’ll be rewarded.
Remember; fall of the student’s junior year in high school is considered to be your last best chance to increase your financial aid eligibility! The sooner you start doing your homework and educating yourself or the sooner you decide to register with the Financial Aid FastTrack Program the more cost saving strategies you’ll have at your disposable. It’s a lot easier and a lot less expensive to start planning right now. If you have any questions about the Financial Aid FastTrack financial aid services, feel free to contact us.Tags: financial aid advice