Mistake #9: Waiting until January or even worse after January of your child’s senior year of high school to start working on your college financial aid planning.
Reality: Since financial aid is based on your previous year’s income and assets, it is imperative to start your planning as soon as possible before January of your child’s senior year. If you want to legally set up your income and assets so you can maximize your eligibility for financial aid, you must start working on this, at least, one year in advance – preferably in the beginning of your child’s JUNIOR year of high school. The longer you wait and the closer it gets to your child’s senior year, the tougher it gets to set up your financial picture without creating a “red flag” for the colleges and universities in terms of financial aid.
It is also important for you to know what your “Expected Family Contribution” is so you can start saving for it. And, you should also know which schools can give you the best packages before you start visiting and applying to them. My advice is if you haven’t started planning, DO IT NOW!
Preparing for Financial Aid Early
So what should you be doing now, as the parent of a junior in high school to begin planning for college and obtaining the greatest possibility of receiving the most valuable financial aid packages? Below is a checklist of actions you should take now to better prepare when applying for financial aid when the time comes.
- Visit the campuses of the colleges and universities your child may want to attend. Most high school age kids make college choices based on recommendations from their friends. It is important they actually visit the campuses of those schools and get a feel for them.
- Prepare for the SAT! Attending a good test preparation course can help improve your child’s SAT score a great deal. The better the SAT score, the better the chance of acceptance at the college or university of your choice.
- Search for private scholarships. While private scholarships only make up about 3.1% of the money available for college, any source of free tuition money is welcome. However, to get a scholarship you must search them out and apply for them. The earlier the better.
- Start preparing your income, assets and personal finances. Understand your financial picture and how you can rearrange it to get the best possible financial aid packages from the schools you choose.
- Perhaps most importantly, DO IT NOW! Waiting until the last few months of your child’s senior year can significantly limit the financial aid money available to you. To get the best possible results, you must start early.
Learn More About Financial Aid to Avoid This Pitfall
Do you want to know how to pay for college without going broke? Grab a copy of my book, The Essential Guide to College Financial Planning – How to pay for college without going broke. Paperback or Kindle version is available at Amazon – www.amazon.com/Essential-Guide-College-Financial-Planning
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