The financial aid forms are similar to the IRS tax return process but more difficult in many cases. Depending on the colleges you are considering you may have to complete both the federal methodology called the FAFSA and an independent method. The most common independent method is the CSS profile.
As described on other pages within the website college financial aid offices can tell you how to complete the form but are limited on certain cost saving strategies. Knowing the impact of a financial decision and how it will impact your financial aid is important information you need.
As an example, at many financial aid presentations, the presenters will tell the attendees to take all of the money out of the student’s name. Depending on your personal situation this is not true based on the financial strength of the parents and the cost of the school that the child will be attending. In some cases this will increase the amount of taxes due and in some cases you may actually want to place assets into a child name. These are all strategies we cover in this analysis. Some of these are covered in our video library.
Another issue not often discussed is the proper timing of how the forms need to be completed. This is especially true for entering freshman. Many parents and guidance offices don’t realize that the tax years and school years do not match up. Understanding the timing of using estimates, meeting financial aid deadlines, updating information, and how the FAFSA process interfaces with the IRS system is confusing but critical to getting the best financial aid award. It is also critical when you need to compare financial awards in your decision process. If not done correctly your financial award could be rescinded after the schools do their FAFSA audits.
If your only concern is getting the forms completed and proper positioning than this program is the correct solution. As described in our other services such as our College Family Plan and Complete College Plan, we can help with more advanced college financial planning strategies. As part of the financial aid process these forms must be updated each year. We have a renewal program after we have completed your forms the first time.