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Browse Expert Financial Aid Advice Articles

  • +5

    Should Parents Pay Off Credit Cards Before Applying for College Loans and Other Aid?

    Why is it better for parents to pay off credit cards (if one can) before obtaining loans for a child for college? — Diane H. Most forms of consumer debt, such as credit cards and auto loans, are ignored on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even education loans are ignored. The only exception to this rule occurs when ...
    Published about 3 years ago | Rated: +5
  • +5

    When should you apply for scholarships and financial aid?

    My son will be applying to colleges this fall since he is a high school senior. Should he wait until he is accepted into a college before applying for scholarships? — Bryan R. Your son should start searching for scholarships as soon as possible. There are scholarships with deadlines in every month of the year (more in the fall and spring ...
    Published almost 5 years ago | Rated: +5
  • +5

    Is There Any Way to Shelter Retirement Plan Distributions on the FAFSA?

    My question is simple: is there a way to withdraw money from my 401(K), at age 59 1/2, that will not be counted as income for FAFSA purposes? Although I receive an annual pension of $34,500, I fall short by about $20,000 to meet my annual expenses. Should I withdraw what I need for next year this year, so it doesn't ...
    Published about 2 years ago | Rated: +5
  • +5

    Can the FAFSA be Completed with Information from the Previous Year's Tax Returns?

    My daughter got accepted to her first-choice school, a private university, as an early-decision candidate. The school won't be able to tell us the amount of financial aid she will be offered until March. I am eager to file the FAFSA and CSS Financial Aid PROFILE forms as soon as possible, as I've heard this helps maximize the amount of aid ...
    Published over 1 year ago | Rated: +5
  • +4

    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 through the FAFSA. She is in a community college and is 20 years old. She recently moved out of our home but we are paying her college tuition. She has ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    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 super committee was charged with cutting the budget deficit at least $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years. One side was unwilling to increase revenues while the other side was ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    Will a Parent PLUS Loan be Denied When Applying for Two Loans for Two Children?

    I am applying for two Parent PLUS loans because I have twins going to school at the same time. Is it possible one loan will be denied because we are applying for two at the same time? What can I do if one of the applications is denied? We have good credit 730 and 780 for each of us. — Michelle ...
    Published almost 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    Is the Pell Grant Reduced When the Student Wins a Private Scholarship?

    My daughter has been approved for a Pell Grant. She recently received notification that she has won a $1,000 scholarship. Will the scholarship reduce her Pell Grant? — Virginia M. The Pell Grant is never reduced when the recipient wins a private scholarship. Some forms of need-based financial aid are reduced when a student wins a scholarship. These include federal campus-based ...
    Published almost 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    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 consideration? We have a gross income of about $100,000 and no debt. They have some merit scholarships, but we have not qualified for need on the FAFSA. — Carolyn W. ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    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 our child's college education. We plan to use the extra income to pay down our debt and to have money available to help with college costs. But will this one ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    Summary of President Obama's Budget Blueprint for Federal Student Aid

    This article summarizes President Obama's FY2013 budget proposals for the federal student aid programs. Most of these proposals will require Congressional approval before they can be implemented. The combined cost of the President's proposals are in excess of $10 billion per year. Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect the education appendix to the FY2013 budget, as released on ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    Is There a Better Option for Financing a College Education than a Parent PLUS Loan?

    I have a simple question: Is there currently a better option to help finance my sophomore daughter's college education than a 7.9% PLUS loan? That just seems a bit high given the current economic environment? — Alan S. When considering how to finance a college education, there are many options, including federal education loans, private student loans and non-education loans. It ...
    Published over 1 year ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    How to Minimize the Impact of a Student's Brokerage Account on Financial Aid

    We have an UTMA mutual fund for our son who is a senior in high school (17 years old). It is approximately $19,000 and was intended to help pay for college costs. When we opened it we weren't aware of the impact it could have on financial aid. I realize it's too late to fix anything for his freshman year next ...
    Published over 1 year ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    Should a Family Sell Student-Owned Stocks to Get More Financial Aid?

    I have two daughters. One is a junior in college. The other is a senior in high school who will be going to college this fall. They both have stocks given to them by my parents years ago, from which they get quarterly dividends of around $140 each. Every year on the FAFSA I have to put the current value of ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    Treatment of Grandparent Assets Held by a Parent on the FAFSA

    I am completing the FAFSA for my son and daughter. My Mom is elderly and has put my name as secondary on her accounts. Do I have to report the money in those accounts as my assets on the FAFSA? It doesn't seem fair if I do, because the money is not mine to use. — Chris S. Grandparents sometimes transfer ...
    Published over 4 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    Will Filing Income Tax Returns as Married Filing Separately Affect Eligibility for Student Financial Aid?

    My husband and I separated last year and are living at separate addresses. We have not filed for divorce yet or a formal separation. We are considering filing our taxes as married filing separately. I am currently a student at an online university and will need to fill out my FAFSA soon. Although my soon to be ex-husband makes about $75,000 ...
    Published almost 3 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    How does bankruptcy affect PLUS loan eligibility?

    I applied for a Parent PLUS loan for my son's education starting this fall. I was turned down due to filing chapter 7 four years ago this October. They said I would not be able to get funds until October of 2010. My lawyer, who helped me file chapter 7 said that he believed this was discrimination and not allowed. Is ...
    Published almost 5 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    Are UGMA and UTMA Accounts Reported as Investments on the FAFSA?

    Tuesday, May 29 is National College Savings Day (i.e., May 29 is 5/29, a cute reference to 529 college savings plans). To commemorate the occasion, Mark Kantrowitz answers a question about saving for college. After submitting our FAFSA for my son, we got back an EFC of 23207 on the SAR. I have been told by admissions that that is extremely ...
    Published about 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    Student Debt Guide: Budgeting and Credit Cards

    Student Debt Guide: Budgeting and Credit Cards
    By now, we’re all aware that managing money can be quite difficult. Here are some surefire ways, straight from nationally recognized financial expert Mark Kantrowitz, on how to help stay on track when it comes to pinching pennies. [gate] First, exercise control over your money by increasing awareness of your spending habits. Start by preparing a descriptive budget, where you track ...
    Published over 1 year ago | Rated: +4
  • +4

    Which Parents are Responsible for Completing the Financial Aid Application Forms?

    Both of my daughters' parents have re-married. Whose income is counted for financial aid? Just biological parents or their spouses too? Does primary parent fill out the paperwork or the parent with the lowest (or highest) income? — M.J. When a student's biological/adoptive parents are divorced, only one of the two parents is responsible for completing the Free Application for Federal ...
    Published about 2 years ago | Rated: +4
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