Tag Archives: College money

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:

 

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.

 

Community Colleges can save you money!

Community colleges are starting to become a more important feature in the college affordability landscape, by teaming up with their state’s large public universities. I found out that rules have been made that allow for standardization of course requirements! Why did this happen? Public pressure. What else would make our elected officials take notice? Apparently, after making these new rules, naming them became a problem. Legislators had run out of really cool names for the new rules. So, after much deliberation and late night meetings, a secret code name for the legislation was seized upon, in an effort to make things perfectly clear to constituents everywhere! Watch my latest video to find out how to de-code and use this information to your greatest benefit.

College Co-op Programs Work!

College co-op programs have been around for nearly 100 years, originating (and still operating) at the University of Cincinnati. In this video, I talk about why co-op programs are valuable for students, colleges AND businesses. I also discuss why this program of alternating sessions of study and work might be a bit of a challenge for young people, even though the perks are substantial.

Your Student Loan Servicer…Stay in Touch!

Student Loan Servicers have the power to keep you out of trouble!

Seems like the payments on your college loans will never end, right?  Well, they will someday, due in no small part to your diligent efforts to stay in touch with your federal student loan servicer.  At least that’s what I hope you do, or what I hope you would tell your college-bound child to do! Check out my latest rant video on this issue !

 

Student Debt – We Crank Up the Time Machine!

The Student Debt in a Parallel Universe

Travel with me to the land of your younger, less-wise self, and live to teach others your new-found wisdom! That’s the offering in this week’s episode of The College Money Mom, as we explore the overwhelming mountain of student debt many of us racked up during college. It’s not too late to get repayment under control, as we will learn in the weeks to come. But for now, we owe it to our college-bound children to keep them from stepping blindly into the same financial pit.

The AP Program adds up to REALLY BIG BUCKS!

AP Program sends its love!

Who knew? Or, really, who bothered to sit down and do the math on this? Well, when an unexpected letter from the College Board’s AP Program arrived in the mail smelling suspiciously like MONEY, it was incumbent upon The College Money Mom to check it out!

 

A Low Carb Pasta moment!

This week I am writing a script about repaying your student loans. This is for a few weeks from now.  Needless to say, this is a stressful subject.  So much to explain in under 3 minutes!  It just makes me want to eat a giant bowl of PASTA! What’s a low carb College Money Mom to do?  Why, cut up a spaghetti squash, of course! Voila! Low Carb Pasta!

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You know you want some! Do this:

Cut a spaghetti squash in half. Scrape out the seeds and other goopy stuff,  leaving the rind intact.

Cut it in quarters and put it in a microwaveable cooking bowl. Put in an inch or two of water. Cover and nuke for 10-12 minutes on high.

It’s done when you can poke a fork through the rind material and it starts to shred easily. Drain and put the pieces aside to cool a bit. When you can hold them comfortably, remove all the shreds of cooked rind. Guess what it looks like? Yup, spaghetti! Yay!

You can eat it plain or with spaghetti sauce. I like to add melted butter (real butter please), salt , a little garlic powder, and a generous crank of my favorite black pepper.  Back to work now…see you on Youtube!

Are Private Scholarships Worth your Time?

Should I try for private scholarships? Well, yes and no.

Like with any goal, it may take a big effort to achieve a small reward. On the other hand going after private scholarships could pay off BIGTIME! Today’s video takes a look at the odds of winning. I also name some of the best private scholarship search engines and some of the special criteria demanded by many of the scholarship organizations.