Investing Advice

Help from your college's financial aid office

Your child is interested in college. You don't have savings earmarked for education. Sure, the local community college is affordable, but your child wants to go to a better school. Where will the money come from?

The college financial aid office will give you an application called the Free Application for Student Aid. A determination will be made of what portion you and your child must contribute, called the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). You should apply for aid before March of the year prior to the next school year, applying for aid at all the schools your child is interested in.

By April or May you will receive award letters detailing grants and loans that your child qualifies for. The best are federal Pell grants or Supplemental Education grants, since they don't have to be repaid. Stafford loans and Perkins loans will help, but loans should be avoided if possible. Sallie Mae, which funds student loans, has a website ( with a calculator that will analyze financial aid packages. This calculator will also estimate what the loan payment will be after your child graduates.

Look for scholarships at FINAID.ORG

There are also PLUS loans available to cover all expenses not covered by other aid, available from Academic Management Services (800-635-0120 and However, parents are responsible for repayment of a PLUS loan, not the child. These loans are not based on the family's economic need.

Other Financing a College Education Topics:

  1. Financing a College Education
  2. Coverdell Education Savings Account
  3. Section 529 Plans
  4. Scholarships
  5. Help from your college's financial aid office

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