Finding Financial Aid without Losing Your Mind
Don't lose your integrity! Are you wondering what I meant by not losing your integrity? Well this one reality really sticks in my craw, (and that is not my first choice of a euphemism). While there are financial aid planners out there that operate by the highest code of ethics, (like me), there are far more that make the whole lot of us seem suspect. This contrasting group of financial advisory professionals recommend things like hiding income and shifting assets to non interest bearing accounts, (which by no coincidence, pay a nice commission). These energy and time-consuming paper acrobatics rarely result in increased grant eligibility and by the way, lying on the FAFSA is a federal offense.
Don't lose your temper! If you did apply for financial aid, don't pick up the phone to rant about how impossible this situation is for your family and how the school will be the loser if your child can't afford to attend, (which of course is true). Financial aid offices are working under the deposit deadline with federal rules about money. The financial aid office cannot consider anything other than financial drivers like changes in asset values, losses of assets, loss of job, increases in non discretionary expenses like dependent or elder care, or dramatic changes in family status, (divorce or death). Consumer debt resulting from poor budgeting is not a basis for professional judgment to increase eligibility.
Don't lose your mind! Speaking of that word, budgeting, this is the time to do it, regardless of whether or not you applied for financial aid. How much of your monthly income are you utilizing for living expenses? The remainder, and there needs to be a remainder!, is what can be utilized for current college costs or repayment on supplemental loans for education. Keep in mind that any loan debt service is going to be increasing each year of college, for each of your children, and that interest only payments are not a long term strategy. If that made you feel like you might lose your mind, email firstname.lastname@example.org!