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Browse Expert Financial Aid Advice Articles

  • +5

    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 1 year ago | Rated: +5
  • +6

    When Grandma Moves In, Does It Help or Hurt Financial Aid Eligibility?

    Grandma is moving in with her Social Security check. Does this help or hurt my FAFSA results? Does her Social Security check count towards my parents' income on the FAFSA? — Doreen Y. The answer is complicated and depends on whether Grandma receives the Social Security benefits in her own name or whether they are received by your parents on her ...
    Published over 4 years ago | Rated: +6
  • +3

    Quick Answers to Common Questions about Financial Aid

    Financial aid is an inherently complicated topic. Sometimes students and parents have questions that may seem obvious to people who have more experience with financial aid. But they can't find the answers they need. This week's Ask Kantro column addresses several such questions. Hi. I was wondering how or where you can apply for the federal supplemental educational opportunity grant. I ...
    Published over 1 year ago | Rated: +3
  • +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
  • +12

    Is a Student Who is Enrolled Simultaneously in High School and College Eligible for Federal Student Financial Aid?

    My 16-year-old son has passed an ability-to-benefit (ATB) test at a community college. He has been accepted has a regular student in a qualifying program but has not graduated from high school. The college is denying him the Federal Pell Grant because they are stating that he is enrolled in high school. My position is that in Florida he has passed ...
    Published about 3 years ago | Rated: +12
  • +9

    Questions about Maintaining and Regaining Eligibility for Federal Education Loans

    I have a sophomore in college right now and will have another child starting her freshman year in college next year. We were approved for a Stafford Loan and a Parent PLUS loan for our son this year. We will need to have student loans to finance the entire amount of both kids' education. Will we be able to continue to ...
    Published over 4 years ago | Rated: +9
  • +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 almost 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +8

    When must a Non-Custodial Parent Count a Child in Household Size?

    I am remarried and my husband pays child support for his two children that live with their mother. They pass the support test. Do we include his children in our household size as well as report the amount he pays for child support for them? If it's only one or the other, which is more financial beneficial from a FAFSA standpoint? ...
    Published over 1 year ago | Rated: +8
  • +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 almost 2 years ago | Rated: +7
  • +5

    What Happens When Retirement Money isn't in a Qualified Retirement Plan?

    I am a single parent, age 56 and my daughter will be applying for college next year. I make less than $60,000, but have just over $100,000 in savings and mutual funds that I have saved towards retirement as I am self employed. (I just recently found out about other self employed retirement options.) Will my daughter receive less financial aid ...
    Published over 1 year 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 2 years ago | Rated: +4
  • +21

    Finding Funding on Campus

    Finding Funding on Campus
    By now, you’re probably fully geared up for second semester. But, are you fully prepared to pay for this – not to mention future semesters – as well? Probably not. In fact, most students shudder at hearing “financial aid” and why wouldn't you? It’s confusing, intimidating and, as a result, you likely avoid the topic at all costs. However, avoiding the ...
    Published 6 months ago | Rated: +21
  • +7

    Time to panic about prepaid tuition plans?

    Time to panic about prepaid tuition plans?
    The New York Times reported on October 5, 2009 that 16 of the 18 state prepaid tuition plans are facing funding shortfalls because of a combination of stock market losses and increases in tuition at public colleges. Only five state plans are backed by the full faith and credit of the state. While the other states will be under political pressure ...
    Published almost 5 years ago | Rated: +7
  • +1

    Cost of Raising Children from Birth to High School Graduation Up 0.5% to $222,360

    The US Department of Agriculture estimates that middle-income two-parent families will spend $222,360 in 2009 dollars to raise a child born in 2009 from birth to high school graduation. The cost per child for low income families (earning less than $56,670) is $160,410 and the cost per child for upper income families (earning more than $98,120) is $369,360. These estimates do ...
    Published about 4 years ago | Rated: +1
  • +22

    Have You Considered Consolidating?

    Have You Considered Consolidating?
    No matter what type of loan you take out, it comes with its own interest rate. It can seem like a riddle when trying to keep track of your loans and payments. When it comes to loans, consolidation can be a great option. In consolidating your loans, it can become easier to handle because, essentially, your multiple loans will become one ...
    Published 10 months ago | Rated: +22
  • +5

    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 about 3 years ago | Rated: +5
  • +7

    Student Debt Guide: Credit Scores

    Student Debt Guide: Credit Scores
    Good credit, bad credit, credit score reports, sites and don’t even mention credit cards! It’s all too easy to get jumbled in the mix. Luckily, our financial expert Mark Kantrowitz breaks down the basic questions, like what a credit score is and why should you care.[gate] How is my credit score calculated? Lenders report whether you pay your bills on time ...
    Published over 1 year ago | Rated: +7
  • +6

    New Husband Refuses to Help with College Costs

    I have been a single mother raising twin daughters pretty much all their life but recently (2 years ago) remarried a fairly successful man who has from day one said he will not contribute to their education. He provides absolutely NO support for the girls, I pay their tuition and everything else they need all on my own. My daughters are ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +6
  • +5

    Questions about Net Assets and Changes in Marital Status

    On the asset section of the FAFSA form if you have $100,000 in stocks but also have a $75,000 margin loan balance would you net this out and put down $25,000 in stock assets? — Rob A. Yes. You report the net asset value, namely the current market value of the assets minus any debts secured by the assets. Since a ...
    Published over 4 years ago | Rated: +5
  • +3

    Why Do We Owe the College Money After the Student Dropped Out?

    My son was awarded an amount from FAFSA and also money from the LIFE and Pell grants. We paid the remainder of his tuition out of pocket. He started his freshman year and started having some medical issues. He withdrew from school during the second drop period. The university sent us a letter explaining how this money was sent back to ...
    Published over 2 years ago | Rated: +3
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