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FAFSA Time – Is Your Checklist Ready?

It’s FAFSA time again so is your checklist ready? Starting October 1st, 2018, new seniors in high school can file their FAFSA forms for the 2019-2020 college year using their 2017 IRS 1040 data. Although both the student’s and parents’ income reported on the FAFSA must be taken from tax forms from two years prior (2017), assets are still reported as of the time the FAFSA is filed, so there is still time to plan especially on how to position parent and student assets.

Every year, families go through the tedious process of filling out the FAFSA and CSS PROFILE in hopes of getting enough money to make college affordable for their children.  Use these FAFSA tips to get your checklist ready.

FINANCIAL AID TIME  CHECKLIST

  • Be aware of the deadlines for filing the various application forms required by each college. Missing a college’s financial aid deadline can result in a reduced or zero offer of financial aid from the college.
  • Know which application forms (FAFSA, PROFILE, etc.) are required by each college. FAFSA is used by most schools and follows the “federal method” while a select group of private schools and Ivies may require the Profile which uses the “institutional method”.
  • Know the application form deadlines for each college that the student is interested in attending.
  • Electronically file the application forms, if possible, to speed up the process and keep the student at the front of the line for first-come, first-serve financial aid. Electronic filing will also ensure that the application form is received.
  • Since some types of financial aid are first-come, first-serve, especially at private colleges, it’s important to submit the application forms as early as possible.
  • Estimate tax return numbers to meet college financial aid deadlines or file early to be in line for the first-come, first-serve sources of financial aid.
  • Apply for financial aid even though the client may not qualify because he must file to be eligible for a Federal PLUS loan and file an appeal. Also, some colleges will not consider the student for future financial aid if he/she did not file the application forms in previous years.
  • Know the application form deadlines for the student’s state of residency. To qualify for state financial aid programs, the student must meet the application filing date.

However, even if the student is awarded grant and scholarship money, many families still go into considerable debt or even raid their retirement funds to pay their college tuition bill.

There are many financial strategies which can help you cover college costs without interfering with your retirement fund. These strategies include:

  • Financial aid strategies – Minimize your EFC and maximize your financial aid eligibility
  • Loan strategies – Reduce your education debt to avoid jeopardizing your current budget, credit rating, and retirement; Create a plan about which loans to get and how to pay for them after graduation
  • Investment strategies – Uncover “hidden costs” that can be converted to real dollars to help fund college costs
  • Cash flow strategies – Find potential areas of cash flow improvement in your investments, health costs, insurance costs, mortgage costs, and current living expenses, all which can be used to help fund college costs
  • Tax Strategies – With the right planning you may qualify for some “tax scholarships” where Uncle Sam helps you pay for college. These options include various tax credits and strategies for self-employed or real estate landlord taxpayers.

REFERENCE GUIDE for COMPLETING FAFSA

Filling out the FAFSA can be tedious and confusing just like trying to do your own taxes. If you’re looking for some free help with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, you can download this 82-page reference guide that includes step-by-step instructions including helper text for each question.

Completing the FAFSA 2018 Reference Guide

If you need additional assistance of an experienced financial advisor to develop a college funding game plan for your family, call a Certified College Funding Specialist at CollegeCashPro at 617-398-7494 or 978-388-0020. We may be able to save your family considerable money on your college expenses.