by Douglas Schorpp
I am going to cover 7 strategies to help you get the maximum amount of money for your child's college education.
1. Have Your Child Apply To At Least 6 - 8 Colleges And Universities.
Pick an assortment of "safety schools" "competitive schools" and "reach schools"
Try to pick several schools where your child lies in the top 10% of the incoming freshman class.
Otherwise, there is a strong likelihood that the schools won't give you a good financial aid package since your child won't be a desirable candidate.
Also, make sure they apply to more than just 1 or 2 schools even if they're dead set on going to a particular school.
By applying to about 6 - 8 schools, you will greatly strengthen your ability to negotiate financial aid packages at the end of the year by leveraging one school against the other.
2. Figure Out How To Value Your Home Properly.
Most families end up over-valuing their homes for purposes of financial aid. Don't make this mistake - it could cost you thousands of dollars in lost college funding.
Instead, the schools use a special formula called "The Housing Index Multiplier" which is based on your home's original purchase price and the year you purchased it.
Find out what your "multiplier" is and use this value for your home.
3. Do Last-Minute Income And Asset Planning To Lower Your Out-Of-Pocket Costs.
You MUST set up your finances in a way that will maximize your eligibility for college financial aid.
Assets held in the wrong place will kill your chances of getting money.
Should a parent or sibling attend college part-time to increase your eligibility?
Are you properly valuing your real estate?
If you're not sure, you'd better find out the answers to these questions quickly before it's too late!
4. Don't Apply For Early Decision If You Want To Get The Maximum Amount Of Money From Each School.
If your child applies for early decision, they are locked into going to that school.
This is a huge mistake if you're trying to get the maximum amount of money for college.
The reality is that if a school knows you have to go to their school if they accept you, then they have no competition to offer you a lower financial aid package.
Therefore, it's a very bad idea to apply for early decision since you have no leverage to negotiate for a better financial aid package.
5. Find Out Each School's Deadline For The Financial Aid Applications - And Don't Miss A Deadline!
The earliest date you can file the Federal financial aid application (which is called the FAFSA) is October 1.
However, many private colleges and universities will also ask you to fill out the CSS Financial Aid Profile.
Different schools have different deadlines for this form.
Don't miss a deadline - it will cost you a lot of money in lost financial aid!
6. Look For Private Sources Of College Funding.
You don't want to waste too much time looking for private scholarships since they only make up approximately 2% of all the aid out there, but it's worth spending a little time looking for these sources.
Focus on local awards from foundations, organizations, and corporations. You can usually get more information on these awards from your child's high school guidance counselor.
7. Don't Let High School Guidance Counselors Or College Financial Aid Officers Give You A False Sense Of Security.
Most high school guidance counselors tell parents, "Don't worry about it - it's an easy process, just fill out the forms and sit back and wait for your award letter."
Unfortunately, it's not that simple!
If you want to get the maximum amount of money from each school, you've got to set up your finances properly, fill out the forms accurately and on-time, and negotiate with colleges and universities to get the best possible financial aid package.
Unfortunately, guidance counselors don't have the time or the training to do these things - so you can't rely on them to help you maximize your eligibility for college funding. They're normally great people but they are already very overworked and underpaid and are busy dealing with other issues such as teen pregnancies, alcohol, drugs, etc...
College aid officers may offer to help you apply for financial aid.
But going to a financial aid officer and asking them to help you get more money from their school is like going to the IRS and asking them to help you save money on your taxes!
It's not in a school's best interest to teach you how to get more money from their school. They have a limited number of funds to give out to a large number of people.
Think twice before you let a guidance counselor or college aid officer "help" you apply for college funding - it may turn out to be a very expensive mistake!