Financial Aid: Money Monster

It’s out there and it may be headed your way. The Money Monster.
Every year, parents all over this land hear the beating of its wings, usually in August and December. Then, on what was until then a normal trip to get the mail, it’s spotted, perched menacingly atop the mailbox, waiting to be fed with your money!

The sadistically interesting thing about college tuition bills is the due date. Full payment is usually required within two-to-three weeks. Denial doesn’t work. No payment equals no class registration. Quite a simple arrangement. And when the “Amount Due” figure looms in the thousands, the term “money monster” is more easily understood.

Folk wisdom tells us that knowledge is power. In the case of paying for college, knowledge can be dollars. That’s why you need to read The Princeton Review Paying for College Without Going Broke, by Kalman A. Chany with Geoff Martz (Random House/Princeton Review Books, $18.00). It’s eminently readable, and it’s filled from cover to cover with the very latest policy changes and stratagems.

Without doubt, the single biggest higher-education concern today is how to pay for it. We’ve all heard the incredible projections about what future college costs will be. Current costs are scary enough!

What’s a parent to do? Well, reading this book is an excellent first step toward fiscal sanity. In David-Letterman fashion, Chany and Martz offer a list of top, college financial-aid ploys:

– Assume you’re eligible.
– Don’t wait to be accepted to a college to apply for aid.
– Get application forms as soon as possible.
– Deadlines vary: be prepared to meet each one!
– Do the math: figure out your “expected family contribution.”
– Before December 31, maximize your aid eligibility.
– Plan to do your income tax forms early.
– Follow instructions carefully on application forms.
– Don’t depend on outside scholarships.

You’ll have to read the book to get the details on these key points. And there’s so much more.

Paying for College can help you chase away The Money Monster.