FAFSA Changes for College-Bound Students

If you are the parent of a high school junior who is preparing to attend college in the fall of 2017, the filing process for financial aid just got easier!  President Obama’s recently signed executive order changes the rules for completing and submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) beginning October 2016 for the 2017-2018 academic school year.  For this and subsequent academic school years, the FAFSA application process will start in October 1st of the year prior to the child starting college and it will rely on prior-prior year income. October Start Date Traditionally, the FAFSA opened on January 1st and utilized income figures from the previous year to determine how much aid a child or family might be eligible to receive at the start of the school year in September of the same year.  This may seem reasonable but colleges often want to provide student aid estimates by mid-March.  Since tax related documents are sometimes not available until mid-February, with K-1s from partnerships, LLC, S-Corporations or Trusts often not arriving until March, the window for completing Read on! →

Planning For College – Choices and Payment

Part 1 of this series addressed how parents and family members can sometimes influence a child’s choice of schools through words and actions. Part 2 focused on the myriad of choices and how to assist a child in narrowing the selection to those best suited to help achieve vocation goals. The final segment of this 3 part series will attempt to outline options to think about when paying for a college education. While it may be possible to cover the entire cost of a child and their siblings’ education, it might be worth considering other options that involve the child. If possible, shifting the responsibility of paying for college to a child and the accompanying debt burden should be avoided. However, requiring the child to share in paying for some of the cost by working or securing grants and loans may increase the student’s motivation to do well and finish on time or early. It might also improve their awareness of what an education costs and reinforce positive views on the responsibility that comes with participating in and repaying some Read on! →

Planning for College – Managing Wants and Desires

Children are often influenced in ways that are not always obvious.  As mentioned in part 1 of this 3 part series on planning for college, family conversations about fond college memories and experiences, likely occur long before a child narrows their choice about where to apply and enroll.  Children will also be influenced by friends and their ideas or maybe where a teacher encourages them to explore.  Ideally, they consider their intellectual and vocational gifts and settle on a few schools that align well with their longer term professional or vocational aspirations. All the while, parents may be trying to gauge how much feedback to give and wondering whether their financial preparations will be sufficient to cover the costs of their child’s choice.  Before leapfrogging to the subject of how the cost will be reconciled with resources, first let’s address how a parent can best approach helping a child explore options. While children may be influenced by similar factors, every child is unique and very likely to make decisions based on different objective and subjective criteria.  Add to this, a Read on! →

Planning For College Part 1 of 3 – Parent and Family Expectations

During May of this year, my son completed his sophomore year of high school.  Next year brings the task of visiting colleges and the beginnings of selecting where he would like to apply, preparing and submitting applications and eventually choosing a school for the next stage of learning.  This pending adventure serves as motivation to write a series of blogs about what I believe lies ahead and the possible challenges. Part 1 will address immediate and extended family dynamics that may influence children when they are young and impressionable.  Part 2 will focus attention on how children reconcile these family preferences and opinions with their own.  Part 3 will tackle the financial aspects of paying the costs of their choice. Some readers may have completed this journey but others may have yet to start. Regardless of where parents and children fall on this education continuum, hopefully some of what is written will resonate and be used to more successfully navigate what is to come. Planing for college can be a daunting task.  The primary focus tends to be setting aside money Read on! →

Student Loans Weighing you Down?

Over 40 million Americans currently carry student loan debt with average balances of $29,000. If medical school was part of the equation that number could easily triple or quadruple. If you find yourself grappling with hefty student loans and all the decisions that come along with them, make sure you fully understand the details of your loans and all of your options before devising a plan to deal with your debt. The details can be overwhelming, so we’ve done our best to break down some key points for you here. The Basics There are a number of different types of student loans available to borrowers. If you’re in the process of applying for a student loan, understand the details before accepting the loan. If you already have student loans, understand consolidation options and payback choices so you know how to properly deal with them. Federal Loans are loans offered by the federal government which offer benefits that are not available if taking a loan out from a private institution. These include flexible repayment options (see below), deferment (postponing payment for Read on! →