Figuring out the Maze of College Financial Aid

Sorting out the Maze of College Financial Aid

Figuring out the Maze of College Financial Aid

Sorting out the Maze of College Financial Aid

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Last week we talked about actual college costs and the equation that calculates the Family Need. Just as a refresher, here is the equation:
Cost of Attendance (COA) – (Effective Family Contribution (EFC) + Scholarships) = Need
We mentioned that not all COAs are created equal and to do your research to make sure you know what the final bottom line is. So, to clarify, the equation for the potential out of pocket to the family is:
                                    Out of Pocket = EFC + Need
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For lower income families, the perceived “need” can be covered by various government grants. PELL Grants come from the Federal Government and make up a fairly large portion of grants provided. Most of the PELL Grant dollars go to families with $50,000 of income or less. Information for the PELL grant program can be obtained on the Federal site. One other program is the Federal Supplement Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG). Information about the FSEOG dollars can be obtained on the Government site. These dollars are usually limited to families with EFCs of $0. They are used up very quickly so it is important to file the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form on Jan 1 as the dollars can be gone just that quick. The next source of “need” based aid comes from the states. Some states are more generous than others when dealing out aid to the financial needy. Again, it is important to file the FAFSA early as state dollars also run out quickly as well. Other programs that assist families are related to subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans. These loans, offer interest rates that are typically lower then convention student loans and have some other benefits as well. Do remember that we are talking about the “Need” part of the equation. The family is still responsible for the EFC part of the equation. Loans can fund the “Need” and the EFC.
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Action Time.

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Looking at these two financial aid equations, you can see that it is important to have the lowest possible EFC value. It becomes important to have your college education financial aid house in order to minimize your EFC. That is the first step in working through the process. I work with families to first estimate their current EFC and then, where ever possible, reposition resources to minimize the EFC during the four years of college. That’s right. You have to redo the EFC each year the student is in college. The first step to help me calculate your EFC is to go to my website http://lifeprepcollegeplanning.com and complete the Data Form from the tool bar at the top of the page. Know that I look forward to working with you in the maze of college financial aid.
Come over to our website specifically designed for college preparation.
www.lifeprepcollegeplanning.com
To Jump Starting Your College Life!
Coach Rossitto

 

 

 

 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Securities and Advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor.  Member FINRA/SIPC
The LPL Financial Registered Representative associated with this site may only discuss and/or transact securities business with residents of the following states: AZ, CA, MD, NY. TX
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college tuition

Figuring out Actual College Costs

college tuition

Figuring out Actual College Costs

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This is an exciting time for High School Seniors. The end is in sight. Many are going to be receiving their acceptance offers from the colleges they have applied to. For the next few weeks, lets focus on some math and cost of attendance examples that go along with acceptance letters.
First, it is important to know that not all acceptance letters are equal. Some colleges are in the habit of making their offers look, well, perhaps better then they are. So, lets go over the deal. First off, you should have completed and sent in the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). If you have all the correct financial information for the calculation, the government will send to you and the colleges you put on the form your Effective Family Contribution (EFC). That is the number the government says you can afford to pay for college. You may not agree with them but that is the number! So, what is the first equation?
            Cost of Attendance minus Effective Family Contribution equals Need
Short hand for all of this is:
                                                            COA – EFC = Need
So let’s pick this apart for a few sentences. What is the Cost of Attendance?
Well, that is a good question. Seems apparent but sometimes some things get left out and families face more expenses than the letters state.
Bottom line, Cost of Attendance should include:
                                                Tuition
                                                Room & Board
                                                Texts books
                                                Necessary travel
It would be nice to also have estimates of the following included in the cost of attending:
                                                Lab fees
                                                Personal Expenses
                                                Student Activities
If any of these expenses are left out of the equation, well, the actual cost of attending the school will be misquoted.

Action Time.

Having applied to the colleges of your choice, go to their sites and check out their estimates of their Cost of Attendance or their Net Price calculators. This will give you the ability to compare their Cost of Attendance and Net Price to the cost associated with their offer letters. The differences may be significant. All this takes time and effort but will keep you from having any surprises. We will be covering more about this throughout the month of March. I would be glad to work through the letters with you to help you fully understand the bottom line. Keep in mind that every person’s circumstance will vary and each school has its own format.

 

 

 

 

Come over to our website specifically designed for college preparation.
www.lifeprepcollegeplanning.com
To Jump Starting Your College Life!
Coach Rossitto

 

 

 

 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Securities and Advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor.  Member FINRA/SIPC
The LPL Financial Registered Representative associated with this site may only discuss and/or transact securities business with residents of the following states: AZ, CA, MD, NY. TX
Avoid this Mistake in your College Financial Planning

Avoid this Mistake in your College Financial Planning

Avoid this Mistake in your College Financial  Planning

Avoid this Mistake in your College Financial Planning

Every now and again, I respond to questions asked of another blog site. One of the recent questions posted came from the parent of a junior in High School. The just of the question was concern over costs of college and the impact of borrowing $10,000 from the equity of their home to give to a stock broker and in doing so the impact on the FAFSA form. Now, this blog is not one to give investment advice, so let’s put that on the table up front. And, the examples we talk about are specific, may be hypothetical and probably aren’t the same as what you personally might experience. Best of all, they aren’t a guarantee of future performance or your own success. Having said all that legal stuff, let’s consider some of the issues.

When you borrow money, you have to pay interest. Let’s assume the interest rate is 5%. So, just to break even, you have to make at least 5% plus the brokers fees for investing the money cause he ain’t gonna do it for nothing. Now, the stock has to go up for you to win, then he has to sell it for you to profit and he gets a fee for selling it. Then you pay taxes in the range of 0% to 35%, depending on your tax bracket and how long you own the stock. That’s if the stock goes up. What if it goes down? OOPs! Now you have to pay back the loan with dollars that you otherwise could have used to pay for college. So far, this is a risky expensive deal.

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Now, let’s look at the impact on the FAFSA form (Free Application for Student Aid). FASFA and is an estimate of the parent’s and/or student’s ability to pay for post secondary education. It generates something called the Effective Family Contribution, EFC, which is the U.S. government’s attempt to determine how much a family can afford for college and any eligibility for student aid from either the state or federal government or the schools themselves. Parents have to declare lots of assets. Home equity isn’t one of them. So, putting money into a brokerage account usually raises their Effective Family Contribution. It could be as high as 25% of the account value. That could raise their EFC by $2500. That means reducing their College Aid by $2500/year. Sounding worse as we go. Now, let’s say they are fortunate enough to make a profit and they sell it. The gain is considered income and causes the income part of the FAFSA to go up or as they make a profit but don’t sell it, the whole value of the account is causing their effective family contribution to go up $0.25 for every $1 they make. What that could mean is they have to make a 30% return each year to offset the cost of the interest and the impact on the FAFSA score. Do you know any place that can guarantee 30%/year without any risk? If so please let me know.

Action Time.

Planning for college is a complex progress. Sometimes we have the best of intentions but shoot ourselves in the foot. For this person, that appears to be the case. A couple of options are available. One would be to make use of some of the various cost calculators that various sites offer and input the data with and without the money in the brokerage account and see what the EFC turns out to be.   If there is an increase in the EFC, calculate that into the return you would have to make including the interest charge just to break even. That offers a reasonable picture as to the risk. If the return is pretty high, an alternative may be to use the equity to pay the college bill and pay the loan off over time. This doesn’t impact the FAFSA or any student aid and may offer some tax deductions, based on their personal situation. If your path is somewhat muddy, I would look forward to hearing about your circumstances and seeing how I might be of assistance.

Examples presented in material are meant for illustrative and or informational purposes only, and not indicative of any specific investment product. Individual circumstances will vary. Please see your investment and/or tax professional regarding education planning.

 

Come over to our website specifically designed for college preparation.
www.lifeprepcollegeplanning.com
To Jump Starting Your College Life!
Coach Rossitto
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The opinions voiced in this material are for general information and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Securities and Advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor.  Member FINRA/SIPC
The LPL Financial Registered Representative associated with this site may only discuss and/or transact securities business with residents of the following states: AZ, CA, MD, NY. TX