While it's typical for parents to worry about how they will finance their child's college education, even those with a secure job and good credit are experienceing heightened anxiety these days.
That said, here are 5 tips for financial aid during a financial crisis:
Tip #1 - Consider your ability to pay before looking at colleges. Many families set out across the country on extensive college tours before they calculate and understand their EFC. Click here to calculate your EFC (expected family contribution).
Tip #2 - Focus your efforts on direct college aid. Most aid comes directly from college endowments, and much of that is "merit money' that goes to high school students who excel academically and score well on the SATs and/or the ACTs. If you qualify for 'need-based' aid, then understanding which college(s) provide the best ratio's of gift aid vs self help is key.
Tip #3 - Don't assume you won't qualify for financial aid. Because the cost of attendance is ever-increasing, many families are qualifying for financial aid. That is why it's so important to file the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), CSS Profile, and Institutional Financial Aid Forms.
Tip #4 - Know your deadlines! Many parents wait too late to apply for financial aid. Take the time to understand which forms are required by your child's final college list, and their respective deadlines.
Tip #5 - Explore financing options. Many families finding themselves in a financial bind are looking at options that they may not have previously thought necessary. For some, refinancing a home, extending a line of credit or taking out loans may be viable choices.
When matching student's to their "best fit" colleges, we always focus on a student's academic abilities, interests, and strengths. It's equally important to have clarity around your financial position, examine the affordability of each college, and choose a school that is a good financial fit.