Manage All Your Kids’ College Planning—Mostly By Yourself

If you’re concerned that you’re currently LATE to college planning, read this article now.

college planning

College planning can feel like being lost in a jungle. And sadly, your kid’s high school guidance counselor can’t help much with hacking through the underbrush. Oh, he or she would love to, but budget cuts have slashed the amount of time guidance counselors get to spend with college bound students, in some cases down to just eight minutes per year.

And your child, smart as he is, isn’t in any position to handle the complexity of college planning either. The stakes are high, both financially and career wise, and his brain won’t be fully developed until age 24.

And the internet? You sure don’t want to depend on the internet for college planning advice.

Don’t rely on the internet for college planning advice.

It’ll take you years to sift through everything the internet has to say about college planning. The bits and pieces of info and conflicting messages you hear from online resources will drive you insane. Plus, a huge percentage of what’s currently on the internet regarding college planning is sorely out of date, since President Barack Obama drastically changed US college financing on September 13th, 2015, and most of the world has not yet caught up.

You need a resource that will give you fast, accurate, specific instructions that the internet can’t provide. (I’ll provide a resource for you, below.)

7 things to do when you feel lost in the jungle of college planning

1. Don’t put off college planning because you feel overwhelmed.

I understand that you feel overwhelmed by the college planning process. Every parent does. But if you wait until your kid’s sophomore or junior year of high school to get started on college planning, 75% of the strategies you could have used to get your kid through college debt-free will be gone. Starting early is the best strategy, even if you can’t save a penny.

(If you’re worried that you’re currently late to college planning, read this article now.)

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What Happens to Student Loan Debt After You Die?

No parent wants to consider this — but what happens if one of your children runs up $80,000 in student loan debt, and then perishes in a car accident or dies of cancer? Will your grief be compounded by having to make years (decades!) of student loan payments, until the student loan obligation is paid in full? Every parent needs to be clear on the answer to this question: “What happens to student loan debt after you die?”

The answer is scary, but — there’s great hope for those who can plan ahead just a bit.

What happens to student loan debt after you die?

First, the good news, then the bad news.

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Can Parents Call the College Financial Aid Office?

If you’re parenting a teen, there’s a good chance that sometime during the winter of your child’s senior year of high school, you’re going to be flipping through documents called “financial aid award letters.”

You’ll have a “financial aid award letter” from every college that’s accepted your child—as long as you’ve filled out the FAFSA financial aid form (which you should absolutely do, even if you’re rich).

When you’re sifting through three or four financial aid award letters, how do you compare them?

financial aid

This article is going to help you with that important task. As a starting point, let’s look very briefly at what financial aid award letters are, and what the problem tends to be with them.

Financial aid award letters tell you how much money you’ll be expected to pay for the education at each college. 

Sounds great, right? This is the point where you get to know the actual price tag for each school. This is where you find out which college is offering your daughter the best deal.

The problem is that financial aid award letters are notoriously difficult to interpret and compare. 

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7 Reasons to Fill Out FAFSA — Even If You’re Rich

FAFSA Is Live as of October 1st

This article was originally posted here on October 2nd, 2017. It was updated and re-posted here on August 30th, 2018.

You’d love for your son to get loads of free money financial aid to help him pay for college, but you’re pretty sure he won’t qualify for much. Your family lives comfortably, after all. You aren’t poor.

You wonder if filling out financial aid forms is even worth your time.

Seven Reasons Filling Out the FAFSA Is Well Worth Your Time.

1. You can have a high income and still qualify for help.

You make over $200,000 per year and have significant assets? Your kid can still get free “gift aid” money to help pay for college. I’m talking about free money that need never be paid back.

Because this is true, plan to fill out the FAFSA form every October 1st that you’ll have a kid in college the following fall. Put this October date on your calendar now, so you can put your kid(s) first in line for all the financial aid money they have coming.

FAFSA

2. The FAFSA isn’t just about getting PELL grants. 

Filling out the FAFSA puts your child in line for nine separate federal student aid programs, over 600 state aid programs, and most of the college-based (institutional) aid available in the United States.

Every year, people who were sure they were too well-off to qualify for any kind of aid are stunned to see what kind of generous help they actually qualify for at some colleges.

3. The FAFSA considers many more factors than just your income.

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Want More College Money? Avoid These Costly FAFSA Mistakes

Fill Out FAFSA as Early as Possible For Best Results

This article originally appeared on this blog on September 25th, 2017. It was updated and reposted here on August 30th, 2018.

If you’ll have one or more kids in college next fall—please plan to get your family first in line for financial aid money by filling out the FAFSA financial aid form as close to this coming October 1st as you possibly can. You read that right—11 months in advance. Are you tempted to skip filling out FAFSA because you assume you make too much to qualify for aid for college? Quick—right now—read my article 7 Reasons to Fill Out FAFSA Even If You’re Rich. Then use the instructions below to get every penny of the college money your kids have coming.

Tell everyone you know—avoid these common FAFSA mistakes.

Today I’m featuring a list of 30+ mistakes that parents make when filling out the FAFSA form. These mistakes cost U.S. families millions in lost college financial aid money each year.

To make sure your kids get every penny they have coming to them, download and print my list of common FAFSA mistakes here: 30+ Common FAFSA Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. (This link won’t open on some phones. If that happens to you, please open it on your desktop computer.)

Share this post with everyone you know who cares about kids who’ll be in college next year, and then have the printout handy on your desk when you’re filling out your own FAFSA form.

FAFSA mistakes

You’ll get instant answers to questions such as: 

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Divorced? Perhaps Do This by Sept 30 and Save a Bundle on College

This article was originally published here on July 31st, 2017. It was updated and reposted here on May 22nd, 2018.

Are you divorced from your child’s other parent?

If so, there are specialized strategies you can use to reduce your kids’ future college costs.divorced

Here’s just one.

1. Figure out which of your child’s parents has the lower household income.

Is it you, or is it your ex-spouse? (Be sure to include the income of any new spouses when you calculate this income amount.)

2. Ask yourself, “Could my daughter possibly go to live with her lower-income parent, starting on September 30th of her 11th grade year?”

Think, would it be safe and healthy for your daughter to sleep 183 nights (or more) at her lower-income parent’s house between September 30th of her 11th grade year and September 30th of her 12th grade year?

Could she keep up this living arrangement until she goes away to college?

There are dramatic financial aid benefits for divorced parents who do this.

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Which Colleges Are Still Taking Applications?

5 Cautions For You If Your Child is Headed to College in 1-3 Months

Ben and his parents sat up late at their dining room table, combing through all of Ben’s college financial aid numbers one more time. Ben’s dad ran his fingers nervously through his hair. The problem? It was already summer, and every college that had accepted Ben for the coming fall was requiring him to commit to loads of student loan debt in order to attend.

Colleges are still taking applications

“Is it too late to just try to go to a different college?” Ben asked. “I don’t know,” Ben’s dad said. “Are there any other colleges still taking applications?”

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Urgent Financial Aid Info For Parents

Includes a Warning for Anyone Who's Filled Out a FAFSA Form Since 2011

Will your child will be headed to college (or technical school) in the fall of 2017? If so, I have important financial aid information for you.

financial aid

1. If you haven’t done so already, it’s important that you fill out the FAFSA financial aid form right now.

You can make $200,000 and still qualify for help paying for college, but you need to apply now.

2. An important tool that the government provides to help you fill out the FAFSA form is currently off-line.

For the past five years, the federal government has provided a nifty tool designed to help parents fill out the FAFSA form faster and more accurately. It’s called the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT for short). This tool allows those filling out the FAFSA form to click once and have all necessary financial information transferred from their tax returns to the appropriate spot on the FAFSA form — automatically.

Unfortunately, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool has been pulled off-line and will be unavailable for use until (we are told) October 1, 2017.

If you find an article online that says that the DRT will be back “in a couple of weeks,” that is outdated information. The current word is that it’ll be back on October 1, 2017.

3. This means that if you haven’t yet completed the FAFSA for your child who’ll be in college in the fall of 2017, you’ll have to enter your tax info in manually.

It’ll be a little more tedious, but please do it. Doing so now could save your child thousands of dollars in future college costs.

4. You’ll need your 2015 tax information in front of you when you do this. Here’s how to find that information:

A. You may have a printed copy of this tax information in your own personal files.

B. You may be able to get this information from the tax professional who filed your 2015 taxes for you, or from the tax software you used to prepare your 2015 taxes yourself.

C. You can view and download a summary of your 2015 tax form (properly called “a transcript”) at www.irs.gov/transcript. Just click on “Get Transcript Online.”

D. You can have the 2015 tax information you need mailed to you. Request it by going to www.irs.gov/transcript and clicking on “Get Transcript by Mail.”

D. You can also request that your 2015 tax information be mailed to you by calling the IRS during business hours at 1-800-908-9946.

5. Understand why the IRS Data Retrieval Tool was taken off-line.

According to NerdWallet and the New York Times, “The IRS…decided to temporarily suspend the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) as a precautionary step following concerns that information from the tool could potentially be misused by identity thieves.”

6. If you have a child who is currently 19-24 years of age, and you filled out a FAFSA form for him or her in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016, you need to know this:

According to what the Department of Education and the IRS are telling us, there is a small chance that you may be the victim of tax-related identity theft.

According to the IRS:

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Ordinary Students—Extraordinary Financial Aid

You’d love for your son to get loads of free money financial aid to help him pay for college, but you’re pretty sure he won’t qualify for much. Your family lives comfortably, after all. You aren’t poor.

You wonder if filling out financial aid forms is even worth your time.

Seven Reasons Filling Out Financial Aid Forms Is Well Worth Your Time.

1. You can have a high income and still qualify for help.

You make over $200,000 per year and have significant assets? Your kid can still get free “gift aid” money to help pay for college. I’m talking about free money that need never be paid back.

Because this is true, plan to fill out the FAFSA form every October 1st that you’ll have a kid in college the following fall. Put this October date on your calendar now, so you can put your kid(s) first in line for all the financial aid money they have coming.

financial aid

Subscribe to “email updates” on this site, and I’ll email you special strategies for getting the most possible money out of the FAFSA form, right when you need them.

(Use these instructions to “whitelist” me with your email provider, so I show up right in your primary email inbox once each week.)

2. The FAFSA isn’t just about getting PELL grants. 

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Buy LAUNCH Before 1/11/17 — Get Bonuses Worth $248

Today I’m announcing the extra bonuses your family will receive if you purchase LAUNCH by January 11, 2017.

LAUNCH

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