How to get the most financial aid possible

Posted on March 4th, 2016

There are many factors that determine financial aid eligibility, and it can be difficult to know how much aid you’ll get before you apply.

With college being such a large investment, it’s important to do research and understand how financial aid is determined before applying to colleges in order to maximize your financial aid package.

In a recent segment on Time Money, Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, author of College Secrets: How to Save Money, Cut College Costs and Graduate Debt Free, explains how to maximize your financial aid, the difference between merit and need-based aid, and why you should fill out the FAFSA even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for aid.

Apply to colleges that offer merit-based financial aid

When applying to colleges, Khalfani-Cox explains that targeting colleges that offer both merit- and need-based scholarship aid is a good idea, particularly for higher-income families who may not qualify for need-based aid.

Even if the sticker price of the college seems high, it could end up being much more affordable once financial aid, including grants and scholarships, is taken into account.

Regardless of your income, it’s worth applying to expensive colleges to find out how much financial aid you’ll get so you can compare offers after you’ve received your financial aid package.

Khalfani-Cox also stresses that families should important to apply for financial aid regardless of their income, since some colleges will only award merit-based scholarships to students who have completed the FAFSA.

In addition, due to certain factors, such as having another child in college, even high-income families may qualify for need-based financial aid. Even if you don’t think you’ll qualify, you should fill out the FAFSA every year.

Put assets in parents’ name to maximize financial aid

In order to maximize your financial aid package, Khalfani-Cox also cautions parents against putting assets in the student’s name, since these can lower your financial aid eligibility more than assets in the parents’ name.

She recommends parents save for college with a 529 Plan.

With 529 Plans, even though the funds are for the benefit of the student, the money is still in the parents’ name, which means they won’t lower the student’s eligibility as much as if they were in the student’s name.

Help getting financial aid

Applying for financial aid can be a confusing process. If you’ve never done it before, it can be difficult to know what different terms mean, how financial aid eligibility is determined and how to fill out the FAFSA.

As financial aid experts, we get a lot of questions about these topics and more and help parents and families navigate the financial aid process.

If you’re interested in learning how we can help you make college more affordable and get the most financial aid possible, call us at 1-888-234-3907 or contact us using this form.

Category: Financial Aid

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