Must Read!! -- Which Category Do You Fit In?
The problem at hand is that people assume that the high school guidance counselors and the college financial aid offices will help them get the best financial aid package possible. This really couldn't be farther from the truth!
And this doesn't make them bad people by any means. It just means that guidance counselors are primarily concerned with trying to find a career path that they think your child will enjoy and prosper from and to get them into a school that they'll enjoy. They aren't skilled to show you how you are going to actually pay for school or how you can position your financial affairs to possibly get more need-based aid and lower your out-of-pocket college costs. A lot of people also think that they can go to the college financial aid office for help. While you can go and do this, you must remember -- going to the financial aid office and asking for aid is basically like going to the IRS to do your taxes. You are pretty much guaranteeing yourself that you will not get as much aid as you may be eligible for; nor will you learn how to negotiate for a better offer. And they're definitely not going to perform a thorough analysis of your finances to try and determine the least painful & most affordable way to pay for college! So, the real question at hand is...
Which Category Do You Fit In?
Whether you are Donald Trump or making minimum wage, you will fall into one of three categories while going through the financial aid & college funding process.
1. Those who will definitely qualify for need-based financial aid no matter what school they choose.
This group has a low enough income and asset level that they will qualify for need-based aid regardless of which school(s) they apply to.
How We Can Help?
We help this category by navigating them through the entire financial-aid process. According to the Department of Education, almost 75% of parents submit their financial aid paperwork incorrectly and have their forms "bumped" in the process - typically adding 4-6 weeks of processing time. Since most financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, even a tiny error on the forms can drastically affect the amount of aid you get. Also, it's not just filling out the form correctly that matters - it's making sure the right information goes in the right place and that you do not disclose information that you don't have to. We also help this category by negotiating with the colleges to get a better financial aid package with the maximum amount of FREE money possible.
2. Those who will qualify for need-based financial aid depending on the school they choose
This group is the middle to middle-upper class who make a nice living but definitely don’t feel rich by any means.
How We Can Help?
We help this category by once again, completing all forms correctly so that they get submitted on time without errors. For this category of people, the amount of aid may be less so getting these forms completed correctly and on time can save them thousands of dollars. If you aren't awarded what we deem as a fair aid package, we will also help negotiate with the college for a better offer. For this group, we want to take advantage of every strategy out there to make sure your Expected Family Contribution is as low as possible by legally arranging your financial affairs to qualify for more aid & to lower your out-of-pocket costs. We also want to make sure you get as much FREE money as possible, while minimizing the SELF-HELP money (i.e. loans, work-study, etc...)
3. Those who, no matter what, will not qualify for any need-based aid
This group is the middle-upper to upper income who make a very nice living but after taxes and lifestyle, coming up with a $35,000+ annual after-tax Family Contribution doesn’t seem very likely without cutting back drastically on things they may not want, or be able, to cut back on.
How We Can Help?
We will also help this group by navigating them through the financial aid process; however, that is not where we really bring value to this group. Our goal for this category is to make it so ALL of your children get sent to college COMFORTABLY without neglecting all of the other financial goals you have set (paying off the mortgage, supplementing your retirement, purchasing a second house somewhere warm, etc...)
Must Read!!--Which Category Do You Fit In?
What this really comes down to is a cash flow and retirement problem…not just a college funding problem. If college costs you $100,000 after tax - you may have to earn $150,000 to pay for it. By using certain tax scholarships, tax deductions & tax credits, we can drastically lower your net out-of-pocket costs - while still preserving your assets.
(The strategies we discuss in this category may also fit into the profiles of many Category 2 type families)