Dear College Made Simple Reader,
When it comes time to apply for financial aid, there are two basic numbers that go into the equation.
Number one is the cost of schooling – that includes tuition, room, board, textbooks, and other supplies.
The second is your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) – that’s the amount of money a college or university concludes that you have available to pay for your child’s education.
So, in simplified terms, your financial aid eligibility comes down to this: the cost of school minus your EFC.
Remember, the cost of the school is outside of your control – which means it’s up to you to find (legal) ways to lower your expected family contribution.
Today let’s review a number of acceptable, legitimate ways to do exactly that… so you can keep more money in your pocket.
How To Reduce Your Expected Family Contribution – the Right Way
- Honesty is the best policy. Fudging the numbers is the worst. That’s because – if you get caught, you could get hit with some serious fines… and up to 5 years of jail time. Moreover, you could be required to pay back monies received – and, worst of all, you may be declared ineligible for any financial aid going forward.
- Time your application carefully. Be entirely truthful – but be smart. Everything you enter on your FAFSA form has to be accurate for the date you submit. That means, if you’ve got a raise coming up or a financial windfall in your future, make sure you get the application in beforehand. If your child is planning to get a job to help pay for education – be sure to get your FAFSA form in first.
- Spend your child’s money first. What that means is… your student is expected to pay the highest percentage of income and assets – so you’ll want to reduce these first. Then come parents, and finally any other sources (like grandparents). Spend down assets accordingly.
- Delay gifts. For example, if a grandparent is planning to help contribute – hold off. Make it a graduation gift.Pay off debts. Credit card debts, auto loans – these things don’t count against your assets when calculating the EFC. If you spend the money to pay them off, though, then you’ve erased that from your assets.
- Minimize withdrawals. While 401(k) assets don’t count against you, if you withdraw from them to help pay for college, they do. Plus, you’ll be paying hefty penalties.
- Accelerate any necessary purchases. If your family needs a new computer – get it before you submit your FAFSA. The same is true for a new car, or any other major expenses. The smaller you can make your assets, the better. In short, move purchases up.
- Will you have more than one child in college? If so, by maximizing your expected college costs, you will receive more financial aid for each.
What I’ve just shared with you are all entirely legal ways to help maximize the financial aid you get.
Practice them all, and you’ve got a much better shot at receiving adequate financial aid.
To your college funding & admissions success,
Co-founder, College Planning Network, LLC
Publisher, College Made Simple – The Free Educational Resource of College Planning Network, LLC