Financial Aid Limbo: Finding College Funding Solutions

college funding and financing strategies

There is one disquieting thought plaguing the minds of many of your employees this time of year: how to pay for college. College admissions and financial aid applications are in and families now sit in a college financing limbo, awaiting decisions from colleges. This time of year can be excruciating for parents: feeling overwhelmed, powerless, troubled about paying the potentially $60,000 (per year!) bill awaiting them in the not-too-distant future.

Working parents, in particular, can feel their work life balance fall out of equilibrium, as they spend workday hours scouring the vast and often untrustworthy internet for a magic bullet to bring this tremendous source of financial stress under control.

5 Strategies for College Funding

In order to help ease the strain upon these parents of high school seniors, I recently blogged about 5 Ways to Find Money for College After Submitting the FAFSA. This piece provides parents with 5 tangible and easy-to-implement strategies to take control of the college financing process.

Update the FAFSA with tax information

Now that you've received all of your W-2's and 1099's, it's time to get your taxes done. While you likely submitted your child's FAFSA with estimated 2014 income information in order to meet the college's aid application deadlines, once your 2014 tax returns are complete, you should log back into the FAFSA and update the numbers. Many colleges will eventually request copies of your tax returns in order to confirm or revise tentative financial aid offers that they may have sent you. If discrepancies exist between the estimated data you submitted and your actual tax information, aid adjustments may be required. Update your FAFSA with accurate income data as soon as possible, so your first financial aid offer will be accurate. This timeliness will avoid any unpleasant surprises (like reductions in financial aid) after you've already committed to a particular school.

Send special circumstance letters to the Financial Aid Offices

As you now know, the FAFSA asks you to report very limited financial datanot much more than your last year's adjusted gross income, wages, taxes paid, balances of bank accounts, and investment totals. For many families, this incomplete information paints an inaccurate picture of the family's true financial circumstances. Did you recently lose a job? Are you paying high medical expenses or the private high school tuition of a younger child? Are you supporting an elderly relative? Or was last year's income inflated by an unusual capital gain? These types of circumstances are not asked about on the FAFSA, but can be taken into consideration at the discretion of each financial aid office. If the FAFSA doesn't tell your whole story, it's up to you to do soin writing to the aid offices. Read all 5 tips for finding money after submitting the FAFSA here.
 

College Funding Solutions from Employers

College Coach understands that financing college can be an overwhelming prospect for working parentsone that can wreak havoc on employee productivity and overall employee wellness.

That's why we created After the Award: Understanding Your Offer and Asking for More. The program teaches employees how to interpret confusing or misleading financial aid offers, helps them understand the true cost of college, and provides practical strategies to access additional aid from the colleges. It provides straightforward college funding solutions from experienced college counselors to working parents who can feel otherwise helpless, and supports them in asserting the power that they truly hold over the college financing process.

Written by: Shannon Vasconcelos

About the Author

Shannon works with Bright Horizons Education & College Advising corporate clients to deliver college financing workshops and provide personalized counseling to employees. She has over 10 years of experience in student financial assistance, at Boston University and Tufts University, and has also served as an active member of MASFAA’s Early Awareness and Outreach Committee, as a trainer for DOE’s National Training for Counselors and Mentors, and as a volunteer for FAFSA Day Massachusetts.