College Money

4 Steps to Getting More Financial Aid Money

If you’re the parent of a high school senior, I’m betting that you’re a bundle of nerves right about now. Not only are you anxiously awaiting college acceptance letters, but also trying to figure out how you’re going to pay for everything. Although the economy is starting to show improvement, many of you are still recovering from several years of meager wages or loss of savings, which means you are probably counting on colleges to be very generous with their financial aid offers. In fact, how much or how little a college is willing to give you may ultimately decide where your child will be attending college this fall. Unfortunately, you may not realize that there are some steps you can take that will help increase your chances of getting the most financial aid possible. If you are concerned about how you are going to pay for your child’s education, consider following these four steps.

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Five Ways to Spend a Refund

5 Ways to Spend Your Financial Aid Refund

I can hear it now, ‘What refund? I can barely find enough money to pay for school!’  Yes, in a perfect world, we would all get a fat check each semester instead of a bill.  In fact, some lucky souls who actually earn enough through federal financial aid and scholarships to enjoy a little spending money every now and then. It happened to me during the last three semesters I was enrolled in college (thanks to several scholarships!), but being the serious student I was, I used my refund to pay down the student loan I needed to take out my first year in college. Looking back now, I wished I had used it for something a bit more fun and frivolous, but still within the realm of college necessities. If I had it to do over, here are a few things I might have purchased with my financial aid refund.

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Your Financial Aid Questions Answered – Part 1

Financial Aid Answers Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of helping many parents and students navigate through the world of college financial aid. It’s always a pleasure to steer people in the right direction. In fact, it’s what I love most about my job. Let’s face it; figuring out where to find financial aid and how to get it can seem like an impossible task sometimes. Who’s eligible? What makes one scholarship essay better than another? How much is available? These are all are great questions that repeatedly come up, but in the world of financial aid, there are no stupid questions. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be answering many of the questions I have received on Facebook, Twitter and other financial aid forums this year. I hope that sharing these responses will help make your experiences with financial aid a little easier and a lot less intimidating. Continue Reading…


10 Questions You Should Ask the Financial Aid Office

Financial Aid Help When I started the college planning process, I never thought about how I was going to pay for it all. Like some students, I assumed my stellar grades and extensive extracurricular activities would automatically have schools throwing money at me. Guess what? That never happened. I quickly found out that there are deadlines and applications involved, and that scoring scholarships can be just as competitive as getting into a college. I certainly wish someone would have given me some advice about what to ask the financial aid office, as it would have made the whole process so much easier. I was clueless about financial aid, how to get it, and how to keep it. To ensure you don’t follow in my footsteps, be sure to ask the financial aid office at each of your prospective colleges the following questions. Continue Reading…


Understanding Your Financial Aid Award Letter

Financial Aid Help You’ve filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), submitted your college applications, and have received your acceptance letters, so what comes next? Welcome to the confusing task of reviewing and understanding your financial aid award letter! If you’ve received your letter and are wondering what COA, EFC, Subsidized, and Unsubsidized mean, never fear, we are here to help!

First, it’s important to know how your college calculated your award package. When you completed the FAFSA, this information was sent to your prospective colleges and you were assigned an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Colleges use this number, along with the Cost of Attendance (COA), to determine the amount of financial aid you may be entitled to receive. Each college has different variables when determining their COA, with many including tuition, fees, books and housing in the calculation. Continue Reading…


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