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Old 04-19-2015, 08:06 AM   #21
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Welcome zerogravity, I too am planning retirement savings around college education costs for our kids. I used a pre-paid option our state provides for undergraduate degrees leaving cash to cover room and board. Graduate school is covered with cash as no programs are available. My choice is leaving the kids to graduate without debt so that they can start out working and saving for their future. In fact I expect to leave Roth accounts to their children someday that could provide them the same benefit. I value education very highly and don't want to be critical of those who graduate with debt as given a marketable field the data supports it's a big positive in lifetime earnings, but I see peers in my child's grad school graduating with undergrad and graduate debt of $500k and that scares me. We work and save money for a purpose, to me this ranks high, I applaud your effort, congrats on planning.

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Old 04-19-2015, 08:16 AM   #22
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Parents planning for college need to be aware of the most important aspect of the FAFSA calculation: it shows your "need" as defined by the government, but VERY few schools provide that much aid to your child. You need to understand that the EFC they calculate is the minimum amount you will be on the hook for, and not the maximum. Few students actually pay as little as their EFC.

The pricier privates use a different form (and the most exclusive privates do meet your need as they define it - but they are very hard to be admitted into). State schools are cash strapped and much of the "aid" they award is in the form of loans.

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Old 04-19-2015, 09:21 AM   #23
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I saw an app on Shark Tank called Scholly, which helps students find scholarships for college. It's only $0.99 in the App Store, so not a huge outlay and definitely worth the money if it makes finding scholarship opportunities easier. I think if I were a student, I'd apply for as many as possible. Every little bit helps!

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Old 04-19-2015, 10:10 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by zerogravity View Post
Awesome information, do you have a link that I could refer to help explain this further? Your explanation is great and makes me want to know more. I would like to understand the fafsa calculations better so that I could a) plan and b) shift $$ around if beneficial. ( what is IIRC?)
IIRC=If I Recall Correctly (it's a CYA for people who don't want to validate a "fact" but they still want to spew it, hehe!)

The problem you might have is that you must move assets into the retirement accounts before the first FAFSA filing, or they'll see you're suddenly poorer. Since the FAFSA calculation is a guideline, the financial aid officer can change the offer based on this other information.

The calculation for the federal methodology is public ( Some schools use that as well as the institutional methodology (that's from The institutional methodology's calculations are now not public information. Last time they were public was 2010 IIRC There's a book called Paying for College Without Going Broke, and the old books had the institutional methodology calculations. You might be able to find an old one on or something.

Looking at the forms in the PDF, above, it's not obvious how it's working, so I built a spreadsheet that did the calculations (for both IM and FM). The numbers in the sheet are outdated now, but I'll see if I can find that sheet.

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