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Browse Expert Financial Aid Advice Articles

  • +5

    Can a Family on Fixed Income Afford to Pay Double for an Out-of-State Private College?

    My husband took early retirement so we are on a fixed income. We set aside enough money in various college funds for our daughter to attend any in-state public college. However, she is interested in an out-of-state private college that costs approximately double what we have saved. We are researching scholarship opportunities but wonder how the fact that we are retired ...
    Published over 4 years ago | Rated: +5
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    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 old student loan from the 1990's. Should I pay off the old balance before a certain date to make sure and qualify for the "pay as you earn plan"? Or ...
    Published over 3 years ago | Rated: +5
  • +5

    Questions about Qualifying for the Federal Parent PLUS Loan

    My son has been accepted to an expensive private non-profit college for the fall. We have been awarded a pretty generous financial aid package from the school (approximately $30,000) which leaves me with about $20,000/year left to finance. I make about $50,000/year. I will be applying for the Parent PLUS loan and have several questions. I'm in the process of refinancing ...
    Published about 2 years ago | Rated: +5
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    How Should Divorced Parents Split a Child's College Costs?

    I am the custodial parent for my daughter who will go to college this fall. It will be her first year. My income was reported on the FAFSA. This included child support, although my ex-husband has recently stopped paying child support. Now the ex-husband wants access to half of the funds available through the FAFSA to use toward his half of ...
    Published almost 4 years ago | Rated: +5
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    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 almost 4 years ago | Rated: +5
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    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 to apply for student financial aid from the federal and state governments and from most colleges and universities for the award year that runs from July 1 to June 30. ...
    Published over 3 years ago | Rated: +5
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    A Prospective Student is Ineligible for Financial Aid Because of a Student Loan Default

    I gave college a shot when I was 18 and dropped out due to major health problems. Student loans obviously did not disappear because of this and I have been struggling with them ever since. Now at age 24 I finally feel that I am healthy enough to give school a second try. I thought I had every detail worked out ...
    Published over 3 years ago | Rated: +5
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    How Do I Roll Over US Savings Bonds into a 529 College Savings Plan?

    I have several thousands of dollars in Series EE savings bonds (issued from 1988 through 1992). I know that you can use the bonds relatively tax free if cashed and used for qualified educational expenses, which includes contributions to a qualified tuition program such as a 529 college savings plan. If so, what is the process for doing this? — A.J.K. ...
    Published about 3 years ago | Rated: +5
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    Financial Aid Insider Secrets

    Financial aid is a complicated topic with an alphabet soup of acronyms like FAFSA and EFC, rolling deadlines and (seemingly) endless forms, rules and regulations. But with the state of the economy, you're most likely going to have to get some sort of outside help in your pursuit of higher education. Don't panic! This video will provide you with an ...
    Published over 5 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 over 5 years ago | Rated: +5
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    Impact of Capital Gains on Eligibility for Need-Based Financial Aid

    Families often sell investments such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds to pay college bills. If these investments are not held within a 529 college savings plan or other qualified tuition plan, however, the capital gains from selling the investments can hurt the student's eligibility for need-based financial aid. Capital gains occur when you sell an asset that has appreciated in ...
    Published over 3 years ago | Rated: +5
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    What Documentation can a College Financial Aid Administrator Request?

    I'm an independent student who filed a 1040A last year so I was not required to answer questions about assets on the FAFSA application. I had very little income last year and have a zero EFC. I reported taxes on capital gains and now my school is asking for information about my investment assets (which are about $40,000). Can they use ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +5
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    Why is Parental Information Required on the FAFSA for a Self-Sufficient Student?

    Why do we have to file the FAFSA when my daughter supports herself? My daughter has not lived with me or my husband for a year and a half while she’s been attending college. We do not support her financially, we do not pay for her education nor do we even send her money. She is completely self-sufficient, a fact of ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +5
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    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 almost 3 years ago | Rated: +5
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    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 2 years ago | Rated: +5
  • +5

    What Do You Do If Your Application for a FAFSA PIN is Rejected?

    What Do You Do If Your Application for a FAFSA PIN is Rejected?
    If you get an email message that says "Your request for a Federal Student Aid PIN cannot be processed because the Social Security Number (SSN), name, or date of birth that you provided on your PIN application does not match your information on file at the Social Security Administration (SSA)... If you are sure that the SSN, name, and date of ...
    Published 3 months ago | Rated: +5
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    How are Trust Funds Reported on the FAFSA?

    Each of my parents left me a trust. From each trust I am entitled to the interest income and $5,000 annually. The remainder of the principal stays in the trusts until I die. The trusts then terminate, and the remaining principal is distributed to my son. My son is the one going to college, by the way. This skews my EFC ...
    Published almost 5 years ago | Rated: +5
  • +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 3 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 about 5 years ago | Rated: +4
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    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 almost 3 years ago | Rated: +4
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