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Expert Financial Aid Advice Articles

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An Early Look at the New Income-Based Repayment Plan

An Early Look at the New Income-Based Repayment Plan

A new version of income-based repayment (IBR) was enacted by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, but will be effective only for new borrowers on or after July ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published May 3, 2012
Advice to Parents Whose Child will be the First in the Family to Go to College

Advice to Parents Whose Child will be the First in the Family to Go to College

My wife and I are looking for help in getting our son into college. He is a junior in high school. His mother and I are on disability. My wife is ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published March 26, 2012
Is There Any Way to Shelter Retirement Plan Distributions on the FAFSA?

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 ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published May 21, 2012
Who Completes the FAFSA When a Student Lives with his Grandparents?

Who Completes the FAFSA When a Student Lives with his Grandparents?

My grandson lives with his grandfather and me. His parents do not support him other than providing medical insurance. He will claim himself on his 2012 income tax and his parents ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published January 14, 2013
Should a custodial account held by a grandparent be reported on the grandchild's FAFSA?

Should a custodial account held by a grandparent be reported on the grandchild's FAFSA?

Does a parent need to disclose (on the FAFSA) funds in an UGMA or UTMA account in the student's name with a grandparent as custodian? If so, how does this affect ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 21, 2009
If the Financial Aid Package Does Not Fit, A Request for More Aid You Should Submit

If the Financial Aid Package Does Not Fit, A Request for More Aid You Should Submit

I'm 16 years old and I'm the valedictorian of my senior graduating class in New York City. This year was a very difficult one finding the right college to go; fortunately ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published July 5, 2010
Student Debt Guide: Saving and Investing Money

Student Debt Guide: Saving and Investing Money

Learn how to invest and save like a pro.

Elizabeth Hoyt
Published January 9, 2013
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
Paying for Tuition with a Credit Card or an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan

Paying for Tuition with a Credit Card or an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan

I am a graduate school student at a university where subsidized loans are no longer an option. Only unsubsidized. I am now faced with a decision: which would be a better ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published August 20, 2012
Questions about How to Handle an Inheritance and Scholarships for Cancer Survivors

Questions about How to Handle an Inheritance and Scholarships for Cancer Survivors

Our son is a sophomore in college. He receives both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. My husband and I have been paying the remaining balance for his education. I recently inherited approximately ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published November 1, 2010
Why Do Some Merit-Based Scholarships Require the FAFSA?

Why Do Some Merit-Based Scholarships Require the FAFSA?

I am a 38-year-old student who returned to junior college after being laid off and being unable to find a comparable job. Because I was a "good saver" in my 20's, ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published July 12, 2010
Which Parents are Responsible for Completing the Financial Aid Application Forms?

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 ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published June 4, 2012
Tips for Evaluating Financial Aid Award Letters

Tips for Evaluating Financial Aid Award Letters

Financial aid award letters provide college students with information about college costs and the types and amount of financial aid the student will receive. Families rely on the financial aid award ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 10, 2010
Does Joint Repayment Obligate Spouses for Each Other's Student Loans?

Does Joint Repayment Obligate Spouses for Each Other's Student Loans?

I applied to have both my husband's and my student loan debt considered in determining our payments under income-based repayment. This reduced our payments significantly. My concern is that the repayment ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published September 24, 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
Can a Parent Count a Child in Household Size and Also Report Amounts Paid in Child Support on the FAFSA?

Can a Parent Count a Child in Household Size and Also Report Amounts Paid in Child Support on the FAFSA?

I am the custodial parent for my son and college-bound daughter. It seems like the form assumes that only non-custodial parents pay child support! However, I still pay their mother child ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published October 10, 2011
Pay Down Mortgage or Contribute to Son's 529?

Pay Down Mortgage or Contribute to Son's 529?

I just sold my house and moved in with my new husband. We have three children between us (two are his) and are looking for a bigger house. Would it make ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published December 14, 2009
How is a Life Estate Treated on the FAFSA? Do the Restrictions Matter?

How is a Life Estate Treated on the FAFSA? Do the Restrictions Matter?

How is a life estate reflected on the FAFSA? A student's parent has a deed with student's grandparent having life use of the property through a life estate. Please be New ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published March 4, 2013
Financial Aid for Minority Students

Financial Aid for Minority Students

Check out financial aid opportunities for minority students.

Published August 24, 2015
Ask for a Professional Judgment Review for Job Loss or Other Changes in Income

Ask for a Professional Judgment Review for Job Loss or Other Changes in Income

I lost my teaching job last June and got a half year's salary instead of a full year. I did not get a job in the fall, so our household income ...

Mark Kantrowitz
Published January 17, 2011