Monthly Archives: August 2014

The CSS Profile – It’s important, but Yikes!!

The CSS Profile. Hard to live with, and harder still to live without.

Having just dropped off our daughter at her wonderful out-of-state college reminds me that soon it will be time again to fill out the dreaded CSS Profile form brought to us by the College Board folks. Without this form, about 250 mostly private colleges and universities would have a much harder time deciding how to use their endowments to attract the best students. And without this form, many of those students wouldn’t have a chance in the world of affording a school outside their own state’s public universities. For this we are grateful. But it doesn’t make the process any less difficult. The College Board does sincerely try to make understanding their CSS Profile possible, as my video will show. But some things still elude the comprehension of reasonably well-educated people. Even our accountant was confused by the meaning of some of the questions. So I can’t help but think that this should spawn an industry specializing in filling out the CSS Profile form. As far as I can tell, this hasn’t happened. At least not to any great extent. And, those who do offer the service are pretty expensive for those of us who actually need the financial aid. So, I (and others in the same boat) will slug it out with the CSS Profile for yet another year.

FAFSA News Sparks Snark

In a google search for FAFSA news, one of the recently published search items is a story from a New Jersey newspaper’s website titled “FAFSA confusion: College students lose financial aid due to decimal point error on application”.

Apparently, at least 165,000 college students stumbled over a quirk in the on-line FAFSA application which caused them to declare that their family’s income was WAY bigger than it actually was.

The little “.00” outside the blanks where a student fills in the family’s income is a hint that you need to round off the income total to the nearest dollar, rather than enter the small change in the blank space allowed. For example, a student declaring a family income of $22,852.19 would actually be telling the government that the family raked in $2,285,219 that year! OOPS!

That student would find herself excluded from most, if not all, federal financial aid. This would include federal grants like the Pell Grant, federal student loans with favorable rates and terms, and federal work-study funds set aside for students with lower family incomes.

According to this article, Federal officials say they will correct the aid awards if/when the errors are found. So nice, so civilized.

It’s when the reader scrolls down to the comments that the fun begins.

The vitriol rolls out thusly:

“If they can’t follow simple instructions, maybe they aren’t college material.”

“Apparently millions of college students can read…and apparently 165,000 others cannot.”

“I would think due to the importance of this form, one would check it over before actually filing it.”

“Hope the applicants were not math, science or engineering majors!”

And it goes downhill, rapidly, from there.

I love the comment sections of news stories. Without them there would be a whole lot more pent-up anger in America than there already is!

To read this for yourself (or even to add your own snark ration) click this link:

http://www.nj.com/education/2014/07/fafsa_confusion_college_students_lose_financial_aid_due_to_decimal_point_error_on_application.html

To get ready for the FAFSA rush starting January 1st of each year, watch my video on the subject:

 

Low Carb Broccoli-Cauliflower Salad!

Low Carb Broccoli-Cauliflower Salad

Chopping a Low Carb Broccoli-Cauliflower salad and pounding the keyboard!

I’m writing another script, getting my daughter packed up for college, and making a traditional treat for tonight’s dinner. This salad has been a favorite in our family for many years. It just “says” summertime, with it’s crunchy elements and sweet-tangy dressing. Years ago we made the dressing for this salad with sugar.  We didn’t have a clue about low carb eating.  In recent times, we started using splenda as the sweetener and, with that one change, the Low Carb Broccoli-Cauliflower salad was born. This recipe makes enough to serve a whole bunch of people, or to use as a light dinner by adding some fish or chicken.
Here’s the recipe:
Chop up these ingredients and put in a large bowl:
1 Cauliflower (cut in small pieces)
A matching amount of Broccoli (cut in small pieces)
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms (can be chopped a bit)
1 small purple onion (chopped)
1-2 stalks celery (sliced and chopped)
2-3 Tablespoons golden raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Make this dressing:
1 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup Splenda
1 T. Italian seasoning
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
Pour dressing on salad and toss to coat the pieces.
Chill for 3 hours.
Enjoy!

Understanding 529 Plans

529 Plan…will undoubtably be my new grand-baby’s first words.

My new two week old granddaughter has a Dad with 529 Plans on his mind. Never mind the frilly dresses, let her Mom take care of those. It’s time to talk college, or more specifically, paying for college. No time like the present to start a savings plan. Good thing we have the awesomely tax advantaged college savings vehicle that is the 529 College Savings Plan available to us right here in the good ol’ USA. And it’s not just one plan but a host of plans across all the states of the Union, and now in multiples to serve every need. Some of these 529 plans are better than others, so parents will have the fun task of finding websites that have already done the heavy lifting. Allow me to recommend one that is ultra-dedicated to the task at hand: http://www.savingforcollege.com . I must meet the guy who started this effort about 10 years ago. I sense a story. Something about the nexus of shitake mushrooms and 529 Plans grabs my attention.