In this article I’m going to talk about special topics or circumstances that may make your family situation stand out from the “norm.”
What I mean by the "norm" is married, average student, average grades, employed by a company (not your own), non-minority, etc.
Most families, in one way or another, don't fit into the statistical norm, and must be aware of how this will affect their chances of qualifying for financial aid.
If you are currently divorced or separated (or will be soon), and your child will be applying to colleges next year, there are a few key things you should be aware of:
Although most financial aid is based on "need", it is also important to remember that financial aid packages are based, to some extent, on how badly colleges desire your child.
There are three major areas that you should pay close attention to when applying for financial aid:
If you currently own your own business, or you are thinking of starting one, there are significant benefits when it comes to getting money for college.
To begin with, business assets are counted much less heavily than personal assets.
Also, you have the ability to control (or lower) your income during the years that your child is in college, thereby making you eligible for more financial aid.
All in all, owning or starting a business can be a big help in getting money for college.
If you were recently terminated, or have received notice that you will be terminated, or if you own your own business and cannot make a living due to current economic conditions, you must make the college financial aid officer aware of this.
There is something called "professional judgment" that a financial aid officer can use to help you out in this situation.
Most frequently, what they can do for you is use "expected income" rather than the previous year's income which is more reflective of your current financial state.
For those who plan to make their child appear to be "independent" in order to get more financial aid, they’re in for a shock!
There are 6 criteria that will be used to determine whether or not your child will be considered independent:
If your child doesn't fit into one of the above criteria, forget about trying to prove they are independent – it won't work!
If you plan to apply for financial aid, we have only one recommendation concerning applying for early decision... Don't Do It!
If your child gets accepted to a school for early decision, they must go to that school even if they offer you an unfair financial award. The school is also aware of this, which gives them an incentive to "under-award" you.
If you still decide to apply for early decision, just be forewarned.