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Browse Expert Financial Aid Advice Articles

  • +4

    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 as the trustee. Does she need to claim this as an asset on her FAFSA? She is unable to touch it until she turns 21. — Karen A. In most ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +5

    Should Students and Parents Who are Close to Retirement Borrow to Pay for College?

    I am 47 and recently divorced single parent of two children, ages 7 and 8. I spent the last 9 years as a stay-at-home parent. As a result of the divorce, I am re-entering the job market. My last position, as a training and development specialist for a bank, earned roughly $45,000. It has been somewhat difficult obtaining full-time employment and ...
    Published almost 3 years ago | Rated: +5
  • +9

    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 $100,000. I am aware that we should pay off high interest debt with this money. However, we want to save enough to pay for the rest of his college education ...
    Published over 4 years ago | Rated: +9
  • +24

    College Choices in a Down Economy

    College Choices in a Down Economy
    Fastweb partnered with Maguire Associates, a firm that specializes in market research, analysis and predictive modeling for colleges and universities, to evaluate the impact of the economy on college choices by high school seniors and their parents. Initial surveys were sent in February and March 2009 to identify the initial selection of colleges. Follow-up surveys were sent in May 2009 to ...
    Published over 5 years ago | Rated: +24
  • +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 almost 3 years ago | Rated: +5
  • +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 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +11

    Pros and Cons of Using Retirement Funds to Pay for College Costs

    Why should one NOT use retirement funds to pay for a child's college costs? — Diane H. There are two main reasons why families shouldn't use retirement plan funds to pay for college. The first reason is the financial impact of taking a distribution from a retirement plan to pay for college. The financial impact includes both the tax liability and ...
    Published over 3 years ago | Rated: +11
  • +8

    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 support of over $1,600/month (they are with her slightly less than half the time). Do I report those child support payments on the FAFSA where it asks for "child support ...
    Published over 3 years ago | Rated: +8
  • +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 almost 3 years 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 almost 3 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +11

    Questions about the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

    Having grown up with depression era parents, I've never been someone that liked to have debt. I'm told that avoiding debt will not work in my favor when applying for financial aid for my son's education. What should I know and is there something I should do to improve my odds of getting what other typically debt-ridden families in our tax ...
    Published over 5 years ago | Rated: +11
  • +10

    Senator Al Franken Introduces Legislation to Standardize Financial Aid Award Letters

    Senator Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the Understanding the True Cost of College Act (S.3244) on Thursday, May 24, 2012 with bipartisan support. This legislation will standardize college financial aid award letters to help students and parents make informed decisions concerning the tradeoffs between college affordability and college quality. It will also help students and their families make smarter borrowing decisions. Students ...
    Published almost 3 years ago | Rated: +10
  • +7

    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 plan selection forms have a box to check that accepts responsibility for your spouse's loan. My student loan debt is considerably higher than my husband's and should I precede him ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +7
  • +5

    Wells Fargo Adds Death and Disability Discharges to Private Student Loans

    Wells Fargo announced on December 17, 2010 that it is adding death and disability discharges to its private student loan products. When the student borrower dies or becomes totally and permanently disabled, the remaining debt will be discharged. This new policy applies to all Wells Fargo private student loans, including loans with a cosigner. Total and permanent disability is defined as ...
    Published about 4 years ago | Rated: +5
  • +1

    Will Refusing Loans Increase College Grants in the Financial Aid Package?

    I filled out the FAFSA in March and recently received a letter that offered me a $3,500 unsubsidized Stafford loan. I did a little research and found out I would have to pay interest on interest. I'm thinking about declining it and mailing it back to the school I attend. Will I be offered any other financial aid or is this ...
    Published over 4 years ago | Rated: +1
  • +11

    Congress Passes One-Year Interest Rate Freeze

    Congress passed legislation on Friday, June 29, 2012 to prevent the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans to undergraduate students from doubling July 1, 2012. The last-minute legislation, which passed with strong bipartisan support, keeps the interest rate at 3.4 percent for new loans in 2012-13, instead of allowing it to revert to 6.8 percent. The Student Loan Interest Rate Extension ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +11
  • +9

    Answers to Common FAFSA Questions about PINs and Household Size

    Answers to Common FAFSA Questions about PINs and Household Size
    My sister is in college and she applied for financial aid so my dad already has a pin. Should I create a new pin or use the same one? — Perla C. A PIN is used to sign the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) electronically. Each person signing the form must have their own PIN. Your father can use ...
    Published about 1 month ago | Rated: +9
  • +6

    Which are Better, US Savings Bonds or 529 College Savings Plans?

    We have a son who is going to be in the 10th grade this year. We also have twins who are 3.5 years old. I am trying to understand where to park my savings for elder son and the little ones. I heard if we have 529 plans, they will be included in financial aid calculations and this is not a ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +6
  • +7

    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 two education tax credits based on amounts paid for qualified higher education expenses, such as tuition and fees. These are the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and the Lifetime Learning ...
    Published about 2 years ago | Rated: +7
  • +3

    Questions about retirement plan contributions and help for a student whose brother has cancer

    We are a family of 4 with gross income of about $58,000. With IRA and 401(k) contributions and pretax health care deductions our AGI is about $47,000. Would it benefit us as far as financial aid grants go to max out on our retirement accounts and knock our family AGI down to about $30,000 or less? Or do the aid people ...
    Published almost 5 years ago | Rated: +3
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