Want More College Money? Avoid These Costly FAFSA Mistakes

FAFSA Is Live as of October 1st

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.

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

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.

Here’s just one.divorced

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 6 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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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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“Can I Take a Full Load of College Classes in High School and Still Have a Full ‘High School Experience’?”

Yes.

A 10th grader contacted me recently and asked me this great question about taking college classes in high school.

“Jeannie, I know that you strongly recommend dual enrollment college classes in high school for kids who want to get through college debt-free. I want to do dual enrollment full time in 11th and 12th grades so that I’ll have two years of college done by the time I graduate from high school. But my parents are trying to steer me toward doing dual enrollment only just part time. They’re worried that if I take a full load of dual enrollment college classes in high school, I’ll miss out on ‘the full high school experience.’ What do you think?”

My answer is below. college classes in high school

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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.

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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URGENT Financial Aid Info For Parents of 10th Graders

Parents of Younger Kids, Read This So You Can Plan Ahead

Today I have urgent financial aid info for parents of 10th graders.

You need to know that on January 1, 2017, a team of photographers is going to show up at your house.

Not actual photographers, but that’s a good way to think of it.

Parents, they're about to take a photo of you.

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Perfect Grandparent Holiday Gift: COLLEGE SAVINGS

I post this article every year in December. This post contains one of the most brilliant ways there is to get kids through college debt-free, and grandparents love the idea. Be sure to share it with the grandparents you know!

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

What Grandma and Grandpa would really love to do is give a 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 teen you love this holiday season.

grandma

This ingenious idea will help you to take the $20 you were planning to spend on a holiday gift, put that money into the best possible kind of college savings account, and still have something meaningful and beautiful for the 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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