When applying the college financial aid……….

8 Questions Every Parent Should Ask Before Applying for Financial Aid

Question #1 – Does your school guarantee to meet 100% of my child’s financial need at your school, and if not, what percentage of need does your school meet for the average student?

Most schools do not meet 100% of a student’s financial need. It is important for you to know this information, in advance, before your child spends time and money applying to a particular school that will NEVER be able to give you the money you need to send your child to that college.

Question #2 – Does your school have a standard “unmet need” formula for students who apply for financial aid?

If a school says “Yes,” you want to know by how much they leave the average student short. For example, if your child has a need of $10,000 at a school and they have an average “unmet need” of 50%, they will probably only award you $5,000, and ask you to come up with the other $5,000 on your own.

Make sure you find this out before you apply; it could end up saving you a lot of time and money!

Question #3 – Does your school have a ceiling on the maximum amount of financial aid a student can qualify for?

Some schools have maximum ceilings of $5,000 per student. If this turns out to be the case, and you are eligible to receive $10,000 – you’re out of luck.

Question #4 – If my financial need remains the same for the next 4 years, will my child receive the same financial aid package in years 2, 3, and 4 at your school?

Some schools will award students a great package the first year to attract them to go to their school.

Then, in years 2, 3, and 4, they offer them a much lower package even though their financial need is the same, since the school knows there is a very slim likelihood that the student will transfer after they’ve already attended that college for 1 year.

Make sure you find out their policy on this beforehand…

Question #5 – If my family’s financial need increases in year 2 at your college, will your financial aid package be adjusted accordingly, or will it remain the same?

Some schools will not adjust a student’s financial aid package after the first year. This becomes a serious problem especially if the family’s income drops in the later years of college.

You must know this up front, so you won’t have to make a tough decision later.

Question #6 – If my child doesn’t apply for financial aid in his/her freshman year of college, can he/she apply for aid in future years?

In some cases, it may make sense for you not to apply for aid for the freshman year, especially if you haven’t done the proper planning and your financial assets are in the wrong places; i.e., spots where the schools will count them against your Expected Family Contribution.

However, some schools have policies of giving priority consideration to students at the school who are already receiving financial aid.

If this is the school’s policy, you may be shut out from getting financial aid for all 4 years.

Find this out before you apply!

Question #7 – Does your school have a “cut-off” date for guaranteeing that a student will receive financial aid?

If they do, make sure you get your financial aid forms in before their cut-off date, or there’s a good chance you won’t get any financial aid. Financial aid often times is first come – first serve. Plan ahead and get your application in early!

Question #8 – What is your school’s policy on packaging outside scholarships into a financial aid award package?

Some schools will replace the free money you found with free money they were going to award you. So, in effect, you gain nothing by finding an outside scholarship.

Other schools will allow the outside scholarship to replace the loan money they were going to give you. Obviously, it’s better if they replace loan money rather than FREE money.

Make sure you find out each school’s policy before you apply.

Ensuring you receive the maximum amount of financial aid possible for your student comes down to several key things – a timely application, a flexible school and a smart and effective management of your family’s finances.

Being late with your application, ending up stuck at a school with rigid rules on aid, or failing to bring your EFC down as low as legally possible for your specific situation can be mistakes that damage your financial well being for years.

In the meantime, remember to ask these 8 questions before applying to a college. They could end up saving you a ton of time, money, and frustration.

To your college funding & admissions success,

Scott Weingold
Co-founder, College Planning Network, LLC

Dec. 1st Deadline – AXA Achievement Scholarship for High School Seniors

AXA Achievement Scholarship

Scholarship Overview
This scholarship is for current high school seniors who plan to enroll full-time in an accredited two- or four-year college/university in the United States for the entire 2013-2014 school year. To qualify for this scholarship, applicants must demonstrate ambition and self-drive, as evidenced by outstanding achievement in school, community, or work activities. They must also be US citizens or legal residents living or claiming residency in one of the 50 US states, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico. Primary consideration will be given to applicants’ non-academic outstanding achievement, such as a long-term achievement, activity, or project that occurred in their school, community, or workplace. In order to receive consideration, applicants must be one of the first 10,000 people to submit an application. Employees, associates, financial professionals, or immediate family members of employees, associates or financial professionals of the AXA Group, U.S. News & World Report, or Scholarship America, or their affiliates, subsidiaries or advertising and promotion agencies are not eligible.

How easy is it to apply? – Not too bad.   This scholarship’s application process may have items such as essays that could take a couple hours.

How much competition is there? –  Average


Deadline: Dec 1
Award Range: $10,000 – $25,000
Awards Granted: 52

Contact Information

AXA Foundation

p. 800-537-4180


“Paying for College” — a preview and dialogue Office of Higher Ed & Minnesota’s Private Colleges Thursday, November 8, 2012 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM Saint Paul, MN

Please join us for the launch of “Paying for College,” a set of new resources aimed at helping families understand how they can finance a four-year college education.

“Paying for College: How Minnesota Families Make It Happen,” will premiere Sunday, Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. on tpt MN. This event will be an opportunity to preview the core program and see highlights of the videos, with plenty of time left for conversation among education and community leaders about just how we can put these tools to work to help Minnesota families.

Please register if you would like to attend and consider passing this on to friends and colleagues who may be interested, using the “Share this event” options above.


4-4:30 p.m. — Reception begins (beverages and appetizers served)
4:30-5:30 p.m. — Opening comments and preview screenings
5:30-6 p.m. — Group discussion
6 p.m. — Conclusion

Brief comments will be made by Larry Pogemiller, director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education; Marlene M. Ibsen, chief executive officer and president of Travelers Foundation and vice president, community relations for Travelers; and MaryAnn Baenninger, president of the College of Saint Benedict.

“Financing a college education is not rocket science and it is not unknowable. You can understand this…. It means you may have to have some conversations that may be a little uncomfortable. But there is no reason that financial aid and financing college has to feel like managing derivatives.”
—Carol Stack, co-author of The Financial Aid Handbook, principal at Hardwick-Day and expert interviewed for the Paying for College program

A lack of knowledge about the available resources for financing college discourages students from pursing this important goal. Given Minnesota’s need for a well-educated citizens and employees, these new resources can be part of our response, challenging myths and opening new doors to higher education.


The complete set of “Paying for College” video resources are listed below:

  • “Paying for College”  the core 27-minute program, with insights on how Minnesota families can make it happen;
  • “Paying for College: First in the family”  a 10-minute video for families with students who will be the first to go to college;
  • “Paying for Private College”  a 10-minute video on how families can afford private nonprofit colleges; and
  • “Paying for College in Hmong, Somali and Spanish”  three separate 10-minute videos of conversations in each language about affording college.

Co-sponsored by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the Minnesota Private College Fund, the program is a co-production with TPT’s Minnesota Productions & Partnerships.

The event is hosted by the Travelers Foundation, the charitable arm of Travelers, which has provided a grant that has helped make the project possible.

In addition to the grant from the Travelers Foundation, other critical funding was provided by:

  • The Saint Paul Foundation, an affiliate of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, and
  • The Council of Independent Colleges, through its Foundation for Independent Higher Education.