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Expert Financial Aid Advice Articles

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Ask for a Professional Judgment Review for One-Time Events

Ask for a Professional Judgment Review for One-Time Events

In our base year, my spouse will have a one-time job that will significantly raise our income for one year only. We have significant credit card debt and no savings for ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published January 16, 2012
Why Do We Owe the College Money After the Student Dropped Out?

Why Do We Owe the College Money After the Student Dropped Out?

My son was awarded an amount from FAFSA and also money from the LIFE and Pell grants. We paid the remainder of his tuition out of pocket. He started his freshman ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published January 9, 2012
Year in Review: Ups and Downs for Student Financial Aid in 2011

Year in Review: Ups and Downs for Student Financial Aid in 2011

2011 was an eventful year for student financial aid, student loans and scholarships. This article summarizes the major events, positive and negative, for student aid in 2011. It also provides a ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published January 5, 2012
Can a Dependent Student File the FAFSA as Independent if the Student's Parents Don't File Federal Income Tax Returns?

Can a Dependent Student File the FAFSA as Independent if the Student's Parents Don't File Federal Income Tax Returns?

The next several Ask Kantro columns will answer questions about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA may be filed starting on January 1. The FAFSA is used ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published January 2, 2012
Does a "Safety Net" Affect Eligibility for Student Financial Aid?

Does a "Safety Net" Affect Eligibility for Student Financial Aid?

We are parents of a high school junior looking to learn about the best places to put our money for when we fill out that first FAFSA in two years. My ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 26, 2011
Will Differences in Parent Assets Due to the Omission Sibling-Owned Custodial 529 Plan Accounts Cause Problems on the FAFSA?

Will Differences in Parent Assets Due to the Omission Sibling-Owned Custodial 529 Plan Accounts Cause Problems on the FAFSA?

Since siblings' UTMA 529s don't get reported on the FAFSA, but the student's UTMA 529 is counted as a parent asset, each of my kids would have a different amount listed ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 19, 2011
Aboriginal Art and College Cost Bubbles

Aboriginal Art and College Cost Bubbles

What does Australian aboriginal art have to do with college costs? Read on. When I was a research scientist at a software laboratory over a decade ago, I purchased a few ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 15, 2011
When A "Free" College Education Isn't Really Free

When A "Free" College Education Isn't Really Free

Some of the protesters at Occupy Wall Street are demanding that a college education be provided for free. But even if their request is granted, which is unlikely, it might not ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 13, 2011
Does Moving a 529 College Savings Plan into a Roth IRA Make Sense?

Does Moving a 529 College Savings Plan into a Roth IRA Make Sense?

Does it make sense to move our $40,000 529 college savings plan into a Roth IRA for our children who are both in college to shield the money from our asset ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 12, 2011
Should Borrowers Pay Off Old Student Loans to Qualify for the New 10% Version of Income-Based Repayment?

Should Borrowers Pay Off Old Student Loans to Qualify for the New 10% Version of Income-Based Repayment?

I want to qualify for the "pay as you earn plan" 10% income-based repayment plan. I have $80,000 in Direct Loans from 2010-2012. I have a balance of $2,800 on an ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 5, 2011
If a Student's Parents Are Not Married, How Does the Student Complete the FAFSA?

If a Student's Parents Are Not Married, How Does the Student Complete the FAFSA?

I live with my mother and my step-father but they are not married. They keep their finances separate and, other than helping my mom to pay for the house I live ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 28, 2011
Impact of the Super Committee Stalemate on Federal Student Financial Aid

Impact of the Super Committee Stalemate on Federal Student Financial Aid

On November 21, 2011 the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the super committee, announced that it had failed to reach an agreement to reduce the deficit. The ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 22, 2011
People Retiring with Student Loans May Save Money with Income-Based Repayment

People Retiring with Student Loans May Save Money with Income-Based Repayment

I'm 68 years old, have worked for the last thirteen years in a state psychiatric hospital and after consolidating all my loans, have never missed a payment to Direct Student Loan ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 21, 2011
That Free Financial Aid Seminar May be Just a Worthless Sales Pitch

That Free Financial Aid Seminar May be Just a Worthless Sales Pitch

From time to time I receive solicitations for free financial aid seminars that are really sales pitches for a product or service. I attend these seminars to monitor the information (and ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 18, 2011
Conflicting Information about Trends in Net College Costs

Conflicting Information about Trends in Net College Costs

A report released today by The Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP), discusses trends in net tuition and net price at US colleges and universities. Net Tuition and Net Price ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 17, 2011
Answers to Common Questions about Dependency Status and Financial Aid

Answers to Common Questions about Dependency Status and Financial Aid

Will my daughter's chances for receiving financial aid be higher if we don't claim her on our taxes? Household income is about $85,000 and she did not qualify for financial aid ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 14, 2011
New Husband Refuses to Help with College Costs

New Husband Refuses to Help with College Costs

I have been a single mother raising twin daughters pretty much all their life but recently (2 years ago) remarried a fairly successful man who has from day one said he ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 7, 2011
To Convert or Not To Convert; How Does a Roth IRA Conversion Affect Student Aid?

To Convert or Not To Convert; How Does a Roth IRA Conversion Affect Student Aid?

I am retired with no income from employment and a moderate amount of investment income, $20,000 to $30,000 a year. I am contemplating a partial conversion from my traditional IRA to ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published October 31, 2011
Trick or Treat: President Obama's Plan for Cutting Federal Student Loan Payments

Trick or Treat: President Obama's Plan for Cutting Federal Student Loan Payments

Income-based Repayment Who: 1.6 million borrowers since 2008 with at least one loan in 2012 or later, generally borrowers whose total federal student loans exceeds their annual income What: Reduces ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published October 26, 2011
Repayment Begins for Students Who Graduated in May and June

Repayment Begins for Students Who Graduated in May and June

Students who graduated in May or June are nearing the end of the six-month grace period. The first monthly loan payment is usually due in November or December. Don't Be Delinquent ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published October 26, 2011