5 Tips for Getting More Financial Aid for College

golden piggy bankThere aren’t a ton of people who can pay for all of their college education in cash. Especially being that the average costs of attending a public institution is around $14,000 each year and a private one is about $30,000. So, being that most students rely on some kind of financial aid, it’s always a good idea to know how you can get as much of it for school as you possibly can.

If you are preparing to go to college (or you know someone who is) and you would like some tips on how to make financial aid a truly beneficial experience for you, we have five suggestions that can help you to get the kind of results, from financial aid, that you would like.

Know what forms to fill out and make sure to do it thoroughly. Although there seems to be an assumption that if you apply for financial aid, you will automatically get it, that’s not exactly the case. Based on the amount of money that your parent’s make (and a few other factors), there is a possibility that you could apply and be denied. That’s why it’s imperative that you make sure to fill out the appropriate forms and that you do it thoroughly so. The first form is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Also, some private schools will request that you fill out the College Board’s PROFILE form as well. Just make sure to be as honest as possible, but to only answer the questions that are asked. (You don’t want to end up getting less money by volunteering more details than are needed.)

Do some research regarding your Expected Family Contribution. If you’re not familiar with how your Expected Family Contribution information factors in, basically the government looks at things like your family’s taxes, social security benefits, home equity and other things in order to come to a decision of how much financial aid you should be entitled to. That’s why it’s a good idea to figure out what these estimates will be beforehand so that you can know what causes you to have the results that you do. You can come up with your own estimates by going to AidCalc.com/efc.aspx.

Figure out ways to lower your Expected Family Contribution. If after you do your calculations, you discover that your totals are fairly high, it’s then time to figure out how to get them lower (so that you can get some more financial assistance). One way to do that is by being cautious about how much you, as the student’s money factors in (being that it usually counts toward around 20 percent). For this reason, if people want to give you large cash gifts, savings bonds or stock options, it might be best to hand them over to your parents instead. That way, your student total will be lower which could end up making you eligible for more financial assistance.

Set up a college savings plan. Something that a lot of people do in order to have more money for college is to set up a college savings plan. Whether it’s a 529 Savings Plan or a Coverdell Educational Savings Account, not only is it a smart way to save money for college, but there are some great tax benefits that come with setting these kinds of plans up too.

Pay attention to the deadlines. Whether you need money as an incoming freshman or in order to get your online EMBA, it is imperative that you fill out your FAFSA form as close to January 1 as possible. That’s because most colleges have a cap on the amount of financial aid that they can offer and deadlines usually close around February or March. The sooner you get your information in, the better chance you have of getting the financial aid that you need.