College Is Just Around The Corner; Here’s What You Need To Do

My last article discussed the First 5 Steps in College Planning. This article is more focused on parents whose kids are teenagers and/or entering high school. It is during these four years that you might be able to save just as much money in scholarships and grants as you might be short in your planning. Here are the steps:

1. Take the PSAT for practice – The PSAT is also the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.  Juniors who do well on the test may be Honorable Mention or Semi-Finalists.  Semi-Finalists then take the SAT to sort of verify the PSAT results.  Those who do well can be designated finalists.  Many schools have scholarships for finalists.

2. Talk to Your Guidance Counselor – The high school guidance counselor may have a lot of information on scholarships. They may know about miscellaneous scholarships other students have received in the past. They also have experience with the FAFSA.

3. Pick Your School – Don’t assume private schools will be more than public schools. Many private schools have more scholarships available

4. Work With Financial Aid Departments – Schools will review FAFSA to determine need.  They will determine which school scholarships are available as well as work study. Generally, if a school accepts you, they want to help you find the money to attend.

5. Pay Attention to Deadlines – The FAFSA has both a “Don’t apply before” and a traditional deadline. Early decision applications and regular applications have different deadlines for different schools. There are a myriad of other scholarships available and they each have their own deadlines. Some applications (school or scholarship) may require recommendations.  If so, make sure the people writing them get them in on time.

6. Talk With Your Advisor/Accountant – There are several tax breaks that you may qualify for if you pay for expenses out of pocket. If part of your savings is in a taxable account, you may qualify for these breaks.

With a little luck, and a lot of hard work on both the parents and the children, college can be affordable. Without any planning or preparation, college might be a nightmare.

About the author

Richard T. Feight, CFP®

Among independent financial advisors, Mr. Feight is one of the most well known and highly respected “Fee-Only” financial planners. Since 1997, Rich has dedicated his career to offering low cost “Fee-Only” comprehensive financial planning and investment advice. Rich assists his clients in organizing their finances so that they can retire on time.Rich is a graduate of Michigan State University where he received his degree in Finance. Rich has earned the Certificate of Financial Planning from The College for Financial Planning in Denver , Colorado that was comprised of intense graduate level classes grounding him in the various foundations of financial planning. He is a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner®) since 2001, meeting the experience, education requirements and passing the two-day, 10 hour exam, making him one of the few in the country who hold the designation. Since 2003, Rich has subscribed to the stringent and mandatory annual educational hours, experience, and code of ethics to meet the requirements to be a NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor. Out of the 800,000 individuals in the country who claim they are financial advisors/planners, fewer than 1,300 in the country qualify for the membership; Rich is one of them.

Rich is the President of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) of Michigan . The FPA of Michigan is one of largest and influential chapter in the country. Rich was recently named President for Transportation Toastmasters Club 4776 downtown Lansing . He has been quoted in both local and national media from Noise Magazine to CNBC, and Bloomberg, and industry news publications such as Investment News and Financial Advisor Magazine. Rich enjoys public speaking and has spoke at industry educational meeting, high schools, and executive investment clubs, AARP conferences, and business educational seminars for companies looking to educate their employees. Rich views his role as a Fiduciary for his clients as the single biggest key to any planning relationship and strives to provide the most competent, unbiased and objective advice in the financial planning profession today.

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