Most students and families don’t go into the college process intending to graduate with debt in the high five figures. So how does it happen? Here is a great article explaining common mistakes families make in the college planning process that lead to increased borrowing and debt loads.
When it comes to negotiating and aid award, it’s helpful to understand both how the Professional Judgment (PJ) process works and how negotiating in general works.
With the PJ process, the school has a specific set of constraints and you must work within them. The Department of Education allows schools to make adjustments “on a case-by-case basis only to adjust the student’s cost of attendance or the data used to calculate her Continue reading Negotiating an Aid Award
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a nifty tool for comparing school costs or financial aid offers, here. As you get acceptance and financial aid offers, enter them into the site to get apples-to-apples comparisons of what you’ll pay and what you will owe upon graduation.
Those with some time left before college can use each school’s net price calculator or College Navigator to get estimates of schools’ financial aid offers. The calculator provides estimated costs for each school, and it allows you to enter your own resources including savings and cash flow, scholarships and work study. As you enter that data, it keeps a tab of how much you have left to pay (if the resources you’ve entered don’t cover the cost of attendance). When you add loans to meet that difference, it also calculates what you’ll owe upon graduation and your monthly payment on those loans.
Still haven’t filled out the FAFSA? There are plenty of reasons unrelated to your financial aid eligibility why you should. One of the big ones, from a parent perspective, is having some leverage over your student. I’ll call it the “Tattoo Rule” in honor of a friend and her college freshman daughter, who shall remain unnamed. Continue reading Tattoos and the FAFSA
The Higher Education Act, which oversees federal financial aid programs, is overdue for a reauthorization. The House education committee, led by Rep Virginia Foxx, R-NC, is about to release a draft proposal called the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act. According to Inside Higher Ed, the proposal includes significant changes in several key areas: Continue reading Higher Ed Act Reauthorization
You may have seen news this year about Operation Game of Loans, a crackdown by the Federal Trade Commission and 11 state attorneys general on student debt relief scams. Dozens of bad actors are accused of having collected close to $100 million in bogus fees that were marketed to student loan debtors as debt relief programs. In addition, they often falsely promised to help reduce or eliminate student loan debt and misrepresented themselves as affiliated with the Department of Education or other government agencies. Continue reading Operation “Game of Loans”
This article from Ron Lieber at the New York Times highlights some recent bipartisan efforts to help students and families better understand the cost of college. (As he points out towards the end, even if these come to no avail, the information is available to those who seek it.)
A short break from the FAFSA… In late September, the Fed released data from its most recent Survey of Consumer Finances. This survey is completed every 3 years with the goal of helping “the government and, ultimately, the public at large understand the financial condition of families in the United States and to study the effects of changes in the economy.” The survey covers a range of financial topics including savings, borrowing, business ownership, investment, use of financial institutions, pension coverage and more. Continue reading Fed Survey of Consumer Finances
Q: I won’t qualify for financial aid. Do I need to fill out the FAFSA?
A: Yes! Regardless of whether you think you’re eligible for aid, you should complete the FAFSA. You have to complete it if you (or your student) intends to take out federal student loans, which are available to anyone regardless of need. If you have any intention of borrowing, the Direct Student Loan should be your starting point. Plus, some Continue reading FAFSA FAQs 2
Here is an article I wrote for another advisor’s site on college affordability.