The Ugly Truth about College Financial Aid

One of the many myths we hear is that parents believe their income is too high. Granted, a high level of income will not help you qualify for a large sum of free financial aid, but you need to understand that income is only part of the equation. The overall formula used by the Department of Education is complex and confusing. Do not let a high level of income deter you from attempting to qualify.

Another often heard excuse is “my student’s grades are too low”. Unless your child is failing, aid has nothing to do with grades. The intricate government formula simply does not include grades. If your child is failing, would college be a wise pursuit anyway?

Sixty-five percent of American families own their own home. One of the myths is that this eliminates families from aid consideration. Again, this is baloney. On the federal aid form (FAFSA) you will not find a space to insert information about your home.

“Aid is only for special groups” is another popular argument. Again, the formula for qualifying does not ask about where you are in relation to society – the criteria are strictly based on certain financial numbers the Department of Education requires.

Probably the biggest misconception we hear is that guidance counselors and financial aid officers (or your accountant) can do all of this for you because it is an easy process. First of all, it is not an easy process. Secondly, if you think doing your taxes every year is complex and time consuming let me introduce you to another phase of government you will love to hate. The colleges pray that you will go through this entire process unarmed and will take advantage of your ignorance. Going to them for help is analogous to going to the IRS to complete your taxes. Yes, they will do them – but in whose interest are they working?

Those who know and understand the process win the financial aid game. To master this game you’ll have to maneuver the complex formulas, rules, and regulations the Department of Education has devised. This information is not readily accessible and provides no guidance as to the best way to ultimately pay for what is referred to as the “expected family contribution”.

Professional college planners offer parents the opportunity to tap into their expertise at a nominal cost. You’ll benefit by sending your student to college for a reasonable amount of money while fully complying with all forms and procedures. And, you can accomplish this without going broke. By employing professionals, you’ll achieve peace of mind knowing that everything that could possibly be done for your child is covered.