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FAFSA

What Year? 2021 Edition

Families who will file the FAFSA this fall should know what dates matter for which data inputs. Income is prior-prior year (meaning most recently filed tax return), assets are “day of” and then there’s the matter of education tax credits such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit. This chart shows what data is used each year: The 2020 tax year,…

What is “Income” on the FAFSA?

Many families– and also many financial professionals– believe that reducing their adjusted gross income by increasing 401k contributions will result in a lower Expected Family Contribution from the FAFSA. Unfortunately that’s not the case: the FAFSA uses total income, not adjusted gross income. What does that mean for non-finance nerds? The FAFSA calculates “Available Income”– the income you could spend…

Mythbusters: Merit Aid

Cozy Wittman of College Inside Track and I played Mythbusters about merit aid. Listen to my latest podcast episode to get the full scoop on who gets merit awards, where and why. Families just starting the college search process won’t want to miss Cozy’s detailed and engaging explanation of how merit works and how you can work the system to…

Changes to the FAFSA

About 170 pages of 2020’s year-end omnibus federal spending bill were devoted to FAFSA Simplification. Sounds almost ironic, doesn’t it? The changes aren’t all that simple, but here’s a summary. Most important, the changes come into effect for the FAFSA that will be available in the fall of 2022, for the 2023-2024 school year. That means that students who are…

What is Free College?

There’s been a great deal of chatter around the topic of free college recently. Because a lot of that chatter is along the lines of, “Why save for college? It’s going to be free!” I think it’s worth a quick review of the content of actual free college proposals. This week, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal introduced the…