Follow This Plan And
Pick Up The College Funds
Your Child Needs!

Week 8 of 12

Summers seem to be the busiest times for the parents that I work with. Even though there are more hours of daylight, there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get everything done. As the temperature starts to fall, and summer vacation is almost over, stress levels tend to rise. If your child is about to become a high school senior, this will be a very tense year. This is an important academic year for your child and how well he/she does will determine which school he/she will be accepted to, and what his or her career prospects will be in the future.

But this year won’t only be stressful for your child. It will also be hard for you. If your child studies well, gets good grades and is offered a place at a good school, you’ll have to find the funds to pay for it.

You don’t want to have to tell your child that he or she can’t go to the school of their choice because you can’t afford it. Doing your homework this year will give you the means to afford your child’s tuition bills — whichever school your child decides to attend.

We’ve prepared a Financial Aid Calendar to help you stay on track and meet your deadlines this year. Keep this calendar close at hand so that you always know exactly what you should be doing next.

SEPTEMBER

College might still seem an entire year away but that year will slip by very, very quickly. In no time at all, you’ll be helping your child to settle in at his or her new school… and signing your first tuition check. You need to start preparing now.

Pick up the brochures and application forms for at least six schools. You’ll need two “safe schools” — schools that you know will accept your child, and ones that you can afford. You should also have one or two “reach” schools in case your child has excellent results. You have to pay to file applications, but don’t skimp here: the more schools your child applies to, the more options you’ll have later — both for education and for costs.

Those costs will be determined by the state of your finances. The amount you will have to pay is called the “Expected Family Contribution” or EFC. This year, you’ll want to arrange your finances to make your EFC as low as possible.

In the same way that you ask an accountant to help you make your tax payments as low as possible, you need to ask a Certified College Funding Representative to help keep your college payments down. There are all sorts of perfectly legitimate techniques that you can use to do this. To make a FREE, no obligation diagnostic evaluation with a specialist call my office at (908) 857-4200 today.

OCTOBER

By the start of October, you should have already completed the research and be ready to take action. Check your application forms to make sure there are no mistakes and mail them as early as you can. The next step is your child’s: he or she has to take the ACT or SAT.

The SAT’s/ACT’s are important in two ways. First, high results lead to better schools for your child. Second, they lead to better aid packages for you. Schools always want the best and brightest kids, and they’re prepared to pay for them. You want to make sure that your child is studying hard this month as the exams approach.

This is also the time to start looking for private scholarships. It’s unlikely that you’ll find one to cover all your college costs, but you might pick up a little help here and there. The deadlines usually fall pretty early so if this is a route you want to take, you need to do the work now.

NOVEMBER

Your first deadline will be coming up shortly. Many private schools will have their own deadlines for filing for financial aid. It’s important that you know what these deadlines are and that you get your applications sent, in a timely manner. The CSS Profile is usually requested by private schools, and their deadlines can be as early as this month!

The new updated FASFA forms are being sent out to the high schools. Your child can pick up a FAFSA from his or her school’s guidance office. You will also want to ask the colleges that your child is applying to and see if they need any other information (some schools have their own institutional forms.) Again, it’s vital that you meet the deadlines.

DECEMBER

The end of this month is the end of your Base Financial Year. This is the period that the funding bodies will look at to decide how much they think you can afford to pay for your child’s education. All of your financial planning must be completed by the end of this month! If you miss this deadline or if you fail to position your assets in the best way possible, you could be paying thousands of dollars more than you should next year. You’ll get a chance to reduce those payments when you file again the following year but the money you waste this year will be gone.

Having a Certified College Funding Representative build a Customized College Funding Solution for your family could save you thousands of dollars. The Solution is risk-free, it has 100% money-back guarantee, so you can’t lose! To book your meeting, and to keep your family’s college bills manageable, call my office today at (908) 857-4200.

The second thing you need to do this month is get that FAFSA ready for filing. Even if you’re missing information, submit it as soon as you reach the earliest filing date. You can always update it later but for now, you want to take your place in the line (remember: financial aid is first come, first served).

JANUARY

Now you’ve reached the first deadline. January 1st is the “priority filing date” for the FAFSA. That’s not just the first day you can file the form. It’s the day you should file it.

One of the most common reasons that parents miss out on financial aid they deserve is that they don’t pay attention to deadlines and filing dates. College still seems far away and it feels as though there’s plenty of time before you really need to do anything. If you aren’t ready to file by the time the start of the year rolls around, it could cost you thousands.

If your child is about to enter his or her junior year, then this will be when you’ll want to start thinking about schools. Make a list of options and send off for the brochures so that you can start to focus.

FEBRUARY

With your FAFSA submitted, this is the month you’ll get your results. They should come about six to eight weeks after submission. So if you submitted the form on January 1st when you should have, you’ll hear by the end of this month. What you’ll receive is a Student Aid Report (SAR) that gives an initial estimate of your EFC. Read the document carefully, check that the figures are correct and update any changes to your income or tax details.

Some of the private scholarships will have their deadlines next month, so if you’re applying for those scholarships you’ll need to get those forms sent out now.

MARCH

Little happens this month so you can kick back and relax before the storm starts! If you’ve sent in corrections to your SAR, you’ll receive an updated version two to three weeks later. Again, check it carefully then mail a copy to each school that your child is applying to.

APRIL

Here come the results! After all those months of studying, worrying and waiting, you finally get the acceptance letters from the schools. Letters confirming your child’s place won’t just include an offer though, they’ll also reveal the cost of the tuition fees — and the amount the college will provide.

There’s a good chance that the fees will look enormous at this stage. Don’t worry. Accept all the schools that made an offer. You’re still under no obligation and there’s still room to negotiate before you finalize the decision.

MAY

The amount that the college says you should pay isn’t necessarily the final offer. In May, you can negotiate a lower price by persuading the school that your child will bring extra benefits — which he or she might take elsewhere. To learn the etiquette of negotiating with the financial aid officers, give us a call, we’ll be glad to set up an appointment and help you review all of your offers.

When the negotiations are over, your child will have to make a decision and apply for housing, if necessary. Juniors should begin the campus visits to the schools they are considering.

JUNE/JULY/AUGUST

By the end of the academic year, your child will have completed high school and be on his or her way to the college of his or her choice. You will have done everything you can to reduce your payments and make them as low as possible. But the chances are, you’ll still be looking at a big bill. Most parents find there’s a big gap between what they can afford and what colleges want.

The best method we’ve found to meet the payments is a special “tax-favored” college funding solution. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it might just give you the cash you need, lower your taxes and pay for your child’s college without harming your lifestyle. To find out whether it can work for you, please call my office at (908) 857-4200 for a FREE Diagnostic Evaluation.

Paying for college isn’t as painful as it sounds. With the right financial planning, advice and consultation, there’s no reason why money should be a factor in your child’s college choice.

Best wishes,

Ian Welham, CCPS
Certified College Planning Specialist
(908) 857-4200
Email: Ian@CompleteCollegePlanningSolutions.com

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Haven’t read earlier articles in the series?

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Ian R. Welham, Certified College Planning Advisor  -  Tel: 973.467.0101