College Students

What’s so great about a college net price calculator?

 

What's so great about a college net price calculator?If you’re saving for a child’s college education, at some point you’ll want to familiarize yourself with a college net price calculator, which is an invaluable tool for estimating financial aid and measuring a college’s affordability. Available on every college website, a net price calculator gives families an estimate of how much grant aid a student might expect at a particular college based on his or her personal financial and academic profile and the college’s specific criteria for awarding grant aid. A college’s sticker price minus grant aid equals a family’s “net” price, hence the name.
 
 
The idea behind a net price calculator is to give families who are researching colleges a more accurate picture of what their out-of-pocket costs are likely to be, rather than having them rely on a college’s published sticker price. The figures quoted by a net price calculator aren’t guarantees of grant aid, but the estimates are meant to be close, so running the numbers is an excellent way for parents to see what their net price might be at different colleges.
 
 
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When should I submit college financial aid forms?

 

When should I submit college financial aid forms?For the 2019-2020 school year, the federal government’s financial aid form, the FAFSA, can be filed as early as October 1, 2018. It relies on current asset information and two-year-old income information from your 2017 tax return, which means you’ll have the income data you need when you sit down to complete the form. This is a relatively new process. A few years ago, parents had to wait until after January 1 to file the FAFSA and use tax data for the year that had just ended, which forced them to scramble to complete their tax return in order to complete the FAFSA.
 
 
If you have a new or returning college student, it’s a good idea to file the FAFSA as early as possible in the fall because some aid programs operate on a first-come, first-served basis. The deadline for filing the FAFSA is typically March or April and will vary by college. But don’t wait until then. It’s a good idea to submit any college aid forms as early as possible, too.
 
 
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How can families trim college costs?

 
How can families trim college costs?Trimming college costs up front can help families avoid excessive college borrowing and the burdensome student loan payments that come with it. Here are some ideas.

 
1. Pick a college with a lower net price. You can use a college’s net price calculator (available on every college’s website) to estimate what your net price (out-of-pocket cost) will be at individual colleges. A net price calculator does this by estimating how much grant aid a student is likely to receive based on a family’s financial and personal information. Colleges differ on their aid generosity, so after entering identical information in different calculators, you may find that College A’s net price is $35,000 per year while College B’s net price is $22,000. By establishing an ideal net price range, your child can target schools that hit your affordable zone.

 
2. Investigate in-state universities. Research in-state options and encourage your child to apply to at least one in-state school. In-state schools generally offer the lowest sticker price (though not necessarily the lowest netprice) and may offer scholarships to state residents.
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How much money should a family borrow for college?

 
How much money should a family borrow for college?There is no magic formula to determine how much you or your child should borrow to pay for college. But there is such a thing as borrowing too much. How much is too much? Well, one guideline for students is to borrow no more than their expected first-year starting salary after college, which, in turn, depends on a student’s particular major and job prospects.

 
But this guideline is simply that — a guideline. Just as many homeowners got burned by taking out larger mortgages than they could afford (even though lenders may have told them they were qualified for that amount), students can get burned by borrowing amounts that may have seemed reasonable at first glance but now, in reality, are not.
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Kickstart Your College Fund with a 529 Plan

 

Kickstart Your College Fund with a 529 PlanIf you’re looking to save money for college, one option to consider is a 529 college savings plan. Created over 20 years ago and named after the section of the tax code that governs them, 529 plans offer a unique combination of features that have made them the 401(k)s of the college savings world.

 

How do 529 plans work?

 

529 college savings plans are individual investment-type accounts specifically made for college savings. People at all income levels are eligible. Plans are offered by individual states (you can join any state’s plan) but managed by financial institutions designated by each state.

 

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