3 Ways KIDS Can Get More Financial Aid For College

Part 2 of a 2-Part Series

Is your child a senior in high school, or older? This post is part 2 of a 2-part series on what to do each September to make sure the FAFSA form you fill out in early October will get your child maximum financial aid for college. To read part 1 of this very important series, click here.

You’d love to help your kid get maximum financial aid to help pay for college.

Why? Because financial aid is free money that need never be paid back.

The great news? You can get a lot of financial aid help – even if you have a relatively high income. This 2-part series will help.


Get your child all the free money he or she has coming.

To be sure your child gets all the free money he or she has coming, you as a parent will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every October that you’ll have a child in college the following fall. Fill this form out every October, even if you’re convinced “you won’t get anything.”

Every family of a 12th grader should fill out the FAFSA. Here’s why.

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URGENT: Will You Have a Kid In College Next Year? FAFSA Help Here

Part 1 of a 2-Part Series

This post is part 1 of a 2-part series.  To read part 2, which talks about what to do about the money your child has sitting around in his or her name before you fill out the FAFSA, click here.

If you’re parenting a 12th grader or a current college student, one of the most important days in your family financial life is coming up on October 1st, 2016.

Why is this date so important?

This is the first day you’ll be allowed to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Every family of a 12th grader or a current college student should fill out the FAFSA, even if you think that your son isn’t going to college, even if you believe that your income is far too high for you to get any aid to help you pay for college. Your son could change his mind in the next year, and as far as your income – did you know that you can make up to $200,000 per year and have substantial assets and still get free money financial aid to help pay for college? Besides that, if your child does end up needing any loans for college, the FAFSA form is the one and only gateway to the best, lowest interest federally subsidized student loans.

Don’t pass up free money that your daughter might have coming to her.

The only way to find out whether you might qualify for free money to pay for college is to fill out the FAFSA form.

The FAFSA form uses a confidential process to gather information about your family’s income and assets since January 1st of your child’s sophomore year of high school. It then uses that information to determine how much it is believed that your family can probably afford to pay for college.

Let me be blunt about what I’m about to say next. Parent, it will help if you can appear as poor and needy as possible on the day you fill out that FAFSA form.

This week, use these 7 last minute strategies to help tip the FAFSA equation in your favor.


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Want High Grades This Year? Ask Your Kid These 5 Questions

There’s one thing parents long for far more than straight A report cards.

Parents want kids to do their own homework in a quality manner without the parent needing to prod, nag, oversee, or push.

Want to increase the chances of having academically independent children and teens at your house? Ask each of your children these 5 questions. 

High Grades

First, be sure your teen has a calendar, planner, or special notebook for recording assignments and due dates. Second — keeping this particular student’s personality in mind — provide some individualized teaching on the subject of workflow process management.

5 Questions:

1. “So, Sarah, when the teacher gives you a printed sheet with math problems on it and tells you it’s due Friday, what’s the one place where you always automatically put that sheet?”

2. “Then what’s your plan for remembering to get it done by Friday?”

3. “What method are you going to use to remember to get it out during homework time at home without anyone asking you about it?”

4. “What are you planning to do to be sure it gets back to school and back to this particular teacher on the right day without anyone reminding you?”

5. “Would you like to hear some ideas that other kids have tried for this?”

Help your teen to design a workflow process that is likely to work well for her as an individual. Whatever the plan, though, it should boil down to: 1) Listen carefully to everything the teacher says. 2) Write down all assignments and due dates in an assignment notebook or calendar. 3) Put worksheets and other not-yet-done paper assignments in one safe place where you know right where they are and (whether at home or at school) can always find them in under 10 seconds. 4) Look at your assignment notebook or calendar every day after school and make a plan for how you will get your upcoming assignments done on time. 5) Do the work neatly in a quality manner, always trying to give the teacher more than he or she expects. 6) Immediately put finished assignments back in the one certain safe place where they are sure to make it back to the teacher on the right day without your having to think about it.

Parent, think of yourself as a business consultant.

Help your child think through: “What worked last year, and what processes might be tweaked or changed for this year?”

Clearly emphasize this very important point.

Emphasize that success in school and in life really has little to do with brains or luck, and everything to do with organization, process management, and continuing to try hard every day. Nobody’s stuck forever with a certain finite amount of brainpower. Brains are changeable. They grow exponentially with every hard thing you tackle. What feels hard now will not feel hard a year from now.

During the school year, parent, do this.

Let your teen manage the process of listening in class, recording due dates in a calendar, storing assignments in one certain spot, planning when to do homework, handing assignments in on time, and remembering to study for tests. Do, however, quietly keep a careful eye on your child’s progress by using the online assignment tracking that the school provides and checking in with teachers. You’ll want to intervene (maybe with reduced amounts of TV and video games?) if your child’s effort in school takes a downward turn.

Even when intervening, however, resist the urge to micromanage, helicopter, or control.

Consider this strategy, used by one wise father when his son suddenly stopped putting forth effort in school. The dad kindly and empathetically suggested to the boy that it must be because he didn’t have enough time at home to do homework. “We all know you’re capable of doing well,” the dad said to his son in a thoughtful voice, “so this has got to be a not-enough-time issue.” The dad then told the son that he’d arranged the family schedule so that the boy could simply sit at a table with his schoolwork, books, and pencils for a hour each evening, and either “do homework or think about it.” Completely the boy’s choice. It worked a miracle for this family, and it’s a strategy I highly, highly recommend.

Students must learn to manage their own schoolwork well before they enter high school.

If they don’t, they’re going to be academically ineligible for some of the greatest strategies there are for lowering future college costs during the high school years.

If none of this works for you and you find yourself parenting a perennial underachiever, get this great resource:

I highly recommend this award-winning book by Charles Fay of loveandlogic.com: From Bad Grades to a Great Life! Unlocking the Mystery of Achievement for Your Child. You can order it here. This book will help you put a decisive end to fretting and nagging about homework, and build into your child the character that will lead to a lifetime of achievement – whether he or she ever goes to college or not.

Would you like to know what to do first to get your kids through college debt free – even if you can’t save a penny?

Grab the free, full-color e-Book at the top of this site. You’ll quickly get ten great ideas you can use right now – whether your kids are in high school or in diapers.

Then, watch for my upcoming book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward (due out in 2016). This book will provide clear, step-by-step instructions on how to get your kids through college debt free and into a great job afterward — starting in middle school.

Do you have friends who are parenting kids ages 10 – 17? SHARE this post on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin right now.

What about you? What strategies do you have for helping kids have the most academic success possible during the school year? Comment below or LIKE Jeannie Burlowski, Author on Facebook, find this post on that page, and let’s talk about it there.

Who is Jeannie Burlowski?

 Jeannie is a full time author, academic consultant, and speaker. Her writing helps parents set their kids up to graduate college debt free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. She also helps students apply to medical school at her website GetIntoMedSchool.com. You can follow her on Twitter @JBurlowski.

WAIT! Don’t Throw Away the Receipt for the School Supplies!

Are you looking for the article “Want High Grades This Year? Ask Your Kid These 5 Questions”? Sorry; you were accidentally directed to the wrong place. To get to the article you’re looking for, click here.

To find out why you should always save the cash register receipt when buying school supplies, read on.

Save your cash register receipt when buying school supplies. Here’s why.

school supplies

Every notebook, pen, and graphing calculator you buy just might lower your eventual state tax bill — even if you have a very high income.

In some states, such as Minnesota, K-12 school supplies and other expenses qualify for an “education subtraction,” which can mean money in your pocket. An “educational subtraction” means that you get to subtract school-related expenses from your taxable income on your state income tax return. This can mean less tax for you, even if you’re from a very wealthy family.

But wait; look at at these other school expenses that may also reduce your taxable income!

Save all of your receipts and invoices from:

  • Music lessons
  • Purchase or rental of musical instruments
  • Fees paid for after-school classes and instruction such as science exploration, dance or art lessons, and study habits courses
  • Fees paid for academically oriented summer classes
  • One-on-one tutoring by a “qualified instructor”*
  • Expenses paid for field trips including entrance fees to exhibits
  • Tuition for academic summer camps such as language or fine arts camps
  • Fees paid for all-day public school kindergarten
  • Instructor fees for driver’s education courses
  • Text books, academic books, and materials purchased for use during the regular public, private or home school day as long as they are nonreligious in nature
  • Fees paid to others for transportation to/from school or for field trips during the normal school day
  • Private school tuition
  • Tuition for college courses that are used to satisfy high school graduation requirements
  • $200 worth of the home computer hardware you purchase in a given year including printer, monitor, CD-ROM drive, modem, additional hard drives, and memory upgrades as long as that computer is not also used for a trade or business
  • Educational software
  • Gym clothes required for gym class
  • Money paid for school supplies used either at home or at school including pens, pencils, highlighters, notebooks, folders, rulers, erasers, and calculators.

* A “qualified instructor” is a person with at least a baccalaureate degree who is not the student’s parent, grandparent, or sibling. The baccalaureate degree need not be in the field the instructor is teaching.

These expenses may reduce your taxable income — up to $2,500 per child per year. This can really add up.

The rules vary from state to state. Call your state’s department of revenue to find out what the rules are where you live.

The listed items definitely qualify for “subtraction” in Minnesota, where I live. (You can see the actual Minnesota Department of Revenue Fact Sheet on this subject here. It’s informative and easy to read.) If you’re from a different state, Google “department of revenue phone” and the name of your state. Ask: “Does our state have an ‘educational subtraction” or “education tax credit’ for K-12 school expenses? Can you help me find a fact sheet on that?”

Don’t bother carrying around messy paper receipts; use Evernote®.

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Parents of College Students, Time to Schedule a Special Celebratory Dinner!

Include These 6 Things in the Dessert Conversation

I post this article every year at this time, because every year there’s a whole new crop of students heading off to college. Here’s to giving your child and your family the best four years possible!

Your son’s about to leave for college, and there are a thousand things you want to talk to him about before he goes.

This month, take him out for a special celebratory dinner — and include these 6 things in the dessert conversation. You’ll make the next four years much, much easier on your family and on him.



1) “Let’s talk about how often you want us to call you while you’re away at college.”

Parent, you might want to say something like this: “We hear that a lot of college families schedule a specific once-a-week time for parents to call. How would Sundays at 1 pm work for you? We can always change the time later on if another time works out better.”

Of course, you can call or text us any time. We’ll always be happy to hear from you.”

2) “Let’s talk about how often you’d like us to visit you at college.”

“We’ll come for special performances or games, of course – and then maybe one time a semester besides that to take you out to dinner? Tell us what would feel good to you.”

3) “Son, let’s talk about what life will look like when you come home on college breaks.”

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Looking for Scholarships? Here are 1.5 Million of Them.

Two of These Scholarship Sources Have Never Been Mentioned on My Blog Before.

This week, a wonderful mother wrote me, asking how she could find scholarships for two kids who are both in community college right now.

My reply to her might help your family too.


First of all, congratulations on having your kids start out in community college. This is going to be a fantastic money saver for your family, and it won’t hurt your kids’ futures one bit. In addition you’re asking great questions, and your timing is perfect. Summer vacation is the perfect time for students to find and apply for college scholarships.

(I want students to apply for ten scholarships every year starting in 8th grade and going all the way through graduate school. 80 scholarships in total if possible!)

Here are 6 great ways I can think of to find scholarships to apply to. (Two of these options have never been mentioned on my blog before.)


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How Divorced Parents Can Get More Financial Aid For College

divorced parents

Ben and Amy have been divorced for years. Finally, though, they’ve found something they both agree on: they want their teenage daughter, Sophie, to get through college as close to debt free as possible — and directly into a job she loves afterward. Millions of other divorced parents feel the same way.

What’s the key to making that happen?

Divorced parents can take 7 specific steps that can help their kids get through college debt free.

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Students, Whatever You Do, DON’T “Follow Your Passion.”

This is one of the most important posts I've ever written.

follow your passionA girl recently contacted me on Twitter, asking me to explain to her how she could wrestle control of her 529 college savings plan away from her parents.

“They are unreliable and untrustworthy,” she told me.

“What!?” I thought. “Are they drug addicts or human traffickers? Are they embezzlers!? What’s going on?”

I invited the girl to direct message me on Twitter so I could get a fuller picture. I learned that her parents were against a rather harebrained idea she had to study what she vaguely described as “media” overseas — so they were refusing to fund it. (They are perfectly within their rights to do this.)

When I asked the girl why it was so important that she carry out this plan to study “media” overseas, she came out with this whopping piece of logic:

“It’s been my dream since forever to do so.”

My reply to her looked like this:

“I understand about dreams, but when it comes to college and career we need to get extremely practical. What you need is the shortest, fastest, least expensive route to get to a career that will support you financially. When you get to your career goal and you’re working and earning your own money, then you can get started on fulfilling your dreams. Then you can fall in love and travel the world and do whatever you want. College is not the time to fulfill your dreams. College is the time to get busy get practical get it done and get out. Can you tell me what your career goal is? What do you think you’ll be doing when you are finished with studying “media” overseas?”

Parents, tell your kids the truth: college is not actually about following  passion and dreams.

College is about qualifying oneself to do a job that will earn money in the real world.

To read my emphatic words to students age 12 -24 (and to see an inspiring short Mike Rowe video on this subject) read on.

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“A Consultant Told Us NOT to Apply For Scholarships…” ?!

Actual Email I Received From a Mom Recently

In June of 2016 I received this email from a mom:

“Jeannie, I’ve been to 3 of your classes and love hearing you as well as reading your information. I value your opinion.

We have recently met with a person who we could pay to help our daughter navigate sophomore through senior year with FAFSAs, scholarships, choosing schools, etc.

I asked many informed questions because of the information you have taught me. Overall, he agreed with your stance on many things. However, he did say that applying for many scholarships early (i.e. middle school and early high school) can hurt the student’s chance of getting money from the institute they wish to attend. (Jeannie’s emphasis.) He said that he finds schools for students based on their interests/skills/location, but also who will give them the most financial aid. His take was that trying early for scholarships uses up a lot of time with little success, (Jeannie’s emphasis) and any that are won must be reported, thus decreasing financial scholarships/offers from the school of their choice later. (Jeannie’s emphasis.)

I am curious about this since we have been gearing up for searching/writing scholarship applications before late high school. We have not hired this person as of yet and would love any comment/advice you can give in regards to this point of view.”

apply for scholarships

Here’s my reply to this mom:

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