Sending your family to college is a rewarding experience, but one that can present challenges. Navigating the terminology around the various types of financial aid, grants, loans, work-study, 529 plans, and prepaid tuition is challenging. Weaving them together to come up with the total amount needed to pay for everything is even more challenging.
Our clients come to us with a variety of goals and existing resources and ask us how to best meet the needs of their family. Sometimes we start building the plan and budgeting for it at the birth of the student. Other times, we build the plan as the acceptance letters are rolling in. Either way, there is always an answer on how to approach meeting the education needs in the easiest and most tax efficient manner.
Helping our clients understand the process of blending the various payment options is challenging. Everyone will end up filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) which helps determine how much will be available in Federal aid or need based aid at the school. Next comes examining the grant and scholarship options available through the financial aid office of the specific institution. Finally, examining work-study and student loan options rounds out the outside sources of money that are available. A final strategy for our clients blends these options together with the resources of the family in cash, investments, or college-specific savings accounts.