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Application Process

EFC vs Net Cost

Families of college-bound students are always looking for strategies to manage their Expected Family Contribution, and I’m happy to oblige. However, lowering your EFC is no guarantee of getting financial aid. And that’s why net cost is important. Your EFC is what the federal needs analysis methodology says is the amount you can spend on college. You can estimate it…

Podcast: All About the FAFSA

I had a great time talking college applications, financial aid and scholarships on the 52 Pearls Weekly Money Wisdom podcast. Listen and learn here. Want to put this to work for you? Sign up for The College Financial Plan Masterclass. You’ll develop a detailed financial plan for college, learn strategies to maximize financial aid and merit scholarships, find out how to…

Unemployment on the FAFSA

Generally the FAFSA does not count untaxed social benefits as income. Untaxed Social Security, SSI, foster care benefits and welfare payments are excluded from income for the FAFSA, although disability payments and worker’s comp– which are insurance benefits– are added back. Normally unemployment income is taxable so this exclusion would not apply. However, the American Rescue Plan made 2020 unemployment…

The CSS Profile

The FAFSA isn’t the only financial aid form; many students and families also need to complete the CSS Profile. The Profile is used by about 400 mostly private colleges and universities. There are a few key differences between the FAFSA and the Profile, and most families will find that the Profile calculates a higher EFC than does the FAFSA. The…

College Rankings

The college rankings are here! Right in time for students to apply to the best colleges! But wait, which college is best? US News & World Report says Princeton is the best university but Forbes says UC Berkeley is best. The Wall Street Journal says Harvard is best and Niche says MIT. (Forbes is right, of course.) What are you…

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