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Expert Financial Aid Advice Articles

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Student Debt Guide: Budgeting and Credit Cards

Student Debt Guide: Budgeting and Credit Cards

Managing money can be quite a challenge. Are you up for it?

Elizabeth Hoyt
Published January 8, 2013
Student Debt Guide: Credit Scores

Student Debt Guide: Credit Scores

What's a credit score and why should you care?

Elizabeth Hoyt
Published January 8, 2013
Can the FAFSA be Completed with Information from the Previous Year's Tax Returns?

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 ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published January 7, 2013
Congress Passes Fiscal Cliff Legislation, Extending American Opportunity Tax Credit

Congress Passes Fiscal Cliff Legislation, Extending American Opportunity Tax Credit

Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (H.R. 8) late on Tuesday, January 1, 2013. The measure passed with bipartisan support in the Senate by a vote of 89 ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published January 1, 2013
Confusion about Reporting Custodial 529 College Savings Plan Accounts on the FAFSA

Confusion about Reporting Custodial 529 College Savings Plan Accounts on the FAFSA

My daughter is a freshman (in college) and lives more than 50% of the time with her mother who is the custodial parent. Her mom and I have been divorced for ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 31, 2012
Why is Parental Information Required on the FAFSA for a Self-Sufficient Student?

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 ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 24, 2012
Year-End Financial Aid Moves

Year-End Financial Aid Moves

As the year draws to a close, there are several steps families can take to get more need-based and merit-based financial aid. Prepay Next Year's Tuition Taxpayers can claim one of ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 20, 2012
Does the Cash from a Cash-Out Refinance Count as an Asset on the FAFSA?

Does the Cash from a Cash-Out Refinance Count as an Asset on the FAFSA?

My daughter is a high school junior. I have just refinanced with cash out for a home remodel to accommodate my aging parents. However the remodel is delayed and the money ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 17, 2012
What Documentation can a College Financial Aid Administrator Request?

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 ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 10, 2012
How Can One Shelter Parent Assets on the FAFSA?

How Can One Shelter Parent Assets on the FAFSA?

My daughter is going to college next year. We have to file the FAFSA in January. We have money in our savings account that we saved for emergency reasons and some ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 3, 2012
How to Minimize the Impact of a Student's Brokerage Account on Financial Aid

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 ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 26, 2012
Is There a Better Option for Financing a College Education than a Parent PLUS Loan?

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 ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 19, 2012
What Income is Listed on the FAFSA when Separated Parents File a Joint Tax Return?

What Income is Listed on the FAFSA when Separated Parents File a Joint Tax Return?

I am praying that you may be able to advise me on the FAFSA application. I am a senior in high school and will file the FAFSA in January. I live ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 12, 2012
How Will the Election Results Affect Student Financial Aid?

How Will the Election Results Affect Student Financial Aid?

President Obama was reelected on November 6, 2012, but control of Congress remains split. Republicans retained control of the House and Democrats retained control of the Senate. The Democrats may have ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 8, 2012
Must the Student's Child Live with the Student for the Student to be Independent?

Must the Student's Child Live with the Student for the Student to be Independent?

I'm 23 and have a 4-year-old child. Last year I received independent status for my financial aid because I supported my child more than 51% of his needs. This year the ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 5, 2012
Should Married Borrowers File Joint or Separate Federal Income Tax Returns with Income-Based Repayment?

Should Married Borrowers File Joint or Separate Federal Income Tax Returns with Income-Based Repayment?

I have a question about a joint consolidation loan and income-based repayment (IBR). My wife and I consolidated our loans jointly about 10 years ago (when such things were allowed). My ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published October 29, 2012
What are the Downsides to Using Home Equity to Refinance Student Loan Debt?

What are the Downsides to Using Home Equity to Refinance Student Loan Debt?

I have almost $200K in student loan debt at interest rates from 6.5% to 8.5%. My parents are offering to take on $70K of my debt that's at 8.5% by way ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published October 22, 2012
Must a Trust Fund be Reported on the FAFSA Even If Access to the Trust is Restricted?

Must a Trust Fund be Reported on the FAFSA Even If Access to the Trust is Restricted?

I have a friend whose mother passed away two years ago, and left her some money from an insurance policy. The money is currently in trust for her with her grandmother ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published October 15, 2012
Financial Aid and Scholarships for Undocumented Students

Financial Aid and Scholarships for Undocumented Students

What advice would you give on financial aid to undocumented students? — T.T. Before discussing financial aid for undocumented students, it is best for students who believe that they are undocumented ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published October 8, 2012
Can a Student Receive a Pell Grant for a Second College Degree?

Can a Student Receive a Pell Grant for a Second College Degree?

I am a 25-year-old woman looking to go back to school for a second degree in a different field of study than my original degree. I am married to an enlisted ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published October 1, 2012