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 Plus, a huge percentage of what’s currently on the internet regarding college planning is sorely out of date, since President Barack Obama drastically changed US college financing on September 13th, 2015, and most of the world has not yet caught up.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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That Local State University May NOT Be Your Bargain Option

Many parents have only one strategy for lowering college costs. Send the kid to the local state university.

But is your local state university actually your bargain option — considering all the factors involved?

state university

The hidden costs of state university nobody talks about

At many state universities, it can take even the most diligent students six years to earn a four-year bachelors degree.

Why? Because classes are full, so students struggle to get into the classes they need to graduate.

A state university education can be like buying a plane ticket, walking down to the gate, and then not being allowed to board — over and over and over again — because the plane is overbooked and every seat is taken.

Two extra years in state university can end up costing your kid a staggering amount.

Read the article I wrote here on how two extra years in college can end up costing students $300,000 in extra tuition, interest, lost full-time income, and stunted retirement savings. Plus, of course, a huge number of students get discouraged before the six years are up, and drop out — leaving college with a boatload of student loan debt and no college degree.

Yikes.

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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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Genius Strategy for Giving $20 in COLLEGE SAVINGS As Holiday Gifts

I post this important article every December. This year, it contains a brand new resource! A free downloadable bonus article with super helpful information for grandparents. To get straight to the free downloadable article, click here:

How to Give College Savings As Gifts and Get Happy Hugs in Response

Most grandparents love to dote on their beloved grandchildren, but let’s face it. Older kids and teens are notoriously hard to shop for.

How can grandparents give a relatively inexpensive holiday gift that will be remembered with tears and great appreciation for years down the line?

No matter your income level or budget, Grandma and Grandpa, here’s an ingenious idea for deeply impacting the kids you love this holiday season.

grandma

This idea will help you to take the $20 you were planning to spend on a holiday gift, easily put that money into the best possible kind of college savings account, and still have something meaningful and beautiful for the child or teen to unwrap at your family’s holiday gathering.

All without nicking your own finances or damaging the teen’s future financial aid eligibility in any way.

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One Call Can Increase Admissions Chances 40%

Weeks or months after your daughter has finished up all her college applications, you may find yourself wondering, “Is there anything else she can do to increase admissions chances — well after her applications have been submitted?”

Yes there is.

Research shows that one phone call can increase admissions chances 40% at many colleges.

increase admissions chances

How can a phone call increase admissions chances?

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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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Why You Should Never Cosign a Student Loan

And How to Save Yourself If You've Already Done It

Parent, I urge you: DO NOT cosign a student loan for your child.

Today I’m featuring information from an article by nationally syndicated radio host and author Clark Howard. I consider this to be must-read info for every parent. After you read below, you can find articles by Clark Howard, listen to his radio show, view his videos, and sign up to receive his money-saving advice right in your email inbox at ClarkHoward.com.

Are you considering cosigning a loan for an adult child who needs a car, a student loan, or a credit card?

Here are 7 deeply concerning things you need to be aware of before you pick up that pen.

cosign a student loan

1. If you cosign a student loan, you may unwittingly strain future family relationships.

Nobody likes to think about this, but there’s an almost four in 10 chance that when you cosign a student loan, you will be the one who has to pay off the balance. A CreditCards.com survey found that of the cosigners they surveyed, 38 percent had to pay some or all of the loan balance or credit card bill because the primary borrower did not, 28 percent experienced a drop in their credit score because the person they chose to cosign for paid late or not at all, and 26 percent said the cosigning experience damaged their relationship with the person they cosigned for.

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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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