One of my favorite financial advice books is Kal Chany's
"Paying For College Without Going Broke
" (Random House) which is now out with
an updated, 2011 Edition. Here are some of his top tips.
Assume you're eligible.
Don't rule yourself out because of income or academics. And don't rule out a college because you
think it's too expensive. The higher the cost, the more aid you may receive.
Don't wait to be accepted to a college to apply for aid. The
coffers may be empty by spring.
Get application forms as soon as possible. You'll need the
2011-12 federal FAFSA form. (The online version is now available. For paper
versions, call 800-433-3243.) You may
also need to complete the College Board's 2011-2012 CSS / PROFILE application,
state aid forms, and forms provided by the colleges.
Know the deadlines and be sure to meet each one. Many
colleges have different deadlines for different forms. Some may be due in late
December, though most are due in January-March.
Figure out your "expected family contribution." Use
worksheets in financial aid guidebooks to calculate-before you apply-what the
colleges will estimate you can afford to pay. Be sure to get up-to-date
information as the rules and formulas change every year.
Maximize your aid eligibility. Freshman year aid awards are
based in part on income for the year ending Dec. 31 of the student's senior
year in high school. Consider also making appropriate adjustments to your
assets, debts, and retirement provisions before you apply.
Follow instructions carefully on the application forms.
Common mistakes that can disqualify your applications are: forgetting to sign
them, leaving lines blank, or using the wrong academic year's version of the
Do your income tax forms early. To meet early aid
application deadlines, you may need to do a draft version of your 2010 income
tax return with estimated numbers. Many schools will require a copy of your
actual return in the spring to verify your information.
See the Book Summaries section for more information on Chany's book "Paying For College Without Going Broke