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Any advice on college aid with substantial assets?
Old 08-22-2016, 06:59 AM   #1
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Any advice on college aid with substantial assets?

Our twins are heading to college next year and so we have started looking @ financial aid options and FAFSA. Even though our income is modest for a family of five, we have the good fortune to have substantial assets outside of 401K/IRA that appear to put us out of range for aid.

We have most of the money needed 529's unless they go to the most expensive schools on their lists and we get no help. Public university isn't the idea option for one of them due to dyslexia and the other is very interested in a specific major offered at a limited number of schools.

Has anyone been through this and have advice on increasing one's chances for a bit of aid? I keep reading about colleges inflating their prices and then offering aid to most students so they feel like they are getting a great deal. I just want to understand how to play this game.




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Old 08-22-2016, 07:30 AM   #2
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In a similar situation with three that went to college (one still in). First one did quite well on his SAT and got a full tuition ride for 4 years in computer science, we used 529 for allowed other expenses and he worked summers, second one had a prepaid tuition program and went to a school that accepted it some room and board and she worked during school year, third one we moved to the State school was in (not primary reason but helped) and he was eligible for tuition program due to grades, as well as in-state tuition, he worked summers and some during school year.
We used many different buckets and feel we are coming out much better than we thought we would, which allowed me to RE .
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Old 08-22-2016, 07:57 AM   #3
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Like my father said, "Son, that state school is good enough." My mother was a stay at home mother, but she solely went to work to put my sister and I through a large city university. Thankfully no school loans would be required and we both got out in 4 years.

Today is a totally different time, with even state universities priced so high. If I was starting out, I'd be 2 years at a low cost community college with whatever scholarships I could get. Then I'd be going the last 2 years to the university. And I'd be working my way through school paying tuition as I went--even if it was on the 7 year plan.

My best friend's kids went to the finest of private high schools and one went to Washington and Lee with the other at a military university. He remains working until age 70 because of the $2 million gross income he's spent on their educations.
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Old 08-22-2016, 08:03 AM   #4
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My best friend's kids went to the finest of private high schools and one went to Washington and Lee with the other at a military university. He remains working until age 70 because of the $2 million gross income he's spent on their educations.
I always wondered why parents sent their kids to fancy private schools then when they went to college sent them to UT or A&M.

My dad really pushed the AFA and AFA really wanted me to play ball for them. Free education...sort of
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Old 08-22-2016, 08:10 AM   #5
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Community college is a great choice for the first 2 years. Out of state schools often want to diversify their student body. My son got a 1/2 scholarship from Drexel (he did not go there) which brought his tuition down to what the in state students would pay.
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Old 08-22-2016, 08:11 AM   #6
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You might consider hiring a private consultant. I have heard they are well worth the money since they know how to play all the college financial games.
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Old 08-22-2016, 08:33 AM   #7
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Also, don't discount state schools for your special ed student. My son has Aspergers (high functioning autisms) and many state schools have great special needs departments. they have to be professionally diagnosed which by the time they get to college usually is no problem.
My son went to Rowan, he had private tutors almost 20 hours a week included in the tuition, smaller classes, professors who specialized in adults with disabilities.

Our salaries have always put us out of the reach for any aid and my kids did well but definitely not free ride kids. My youngest had his up and downs grade wise.
basically we kind of guided them on picking a college. My youngest will graduate with about 8K in loans, not bad.
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Old 08-22-2016, 08:38 AM   #8
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So as to your comment about public schools and dyslexia ..why are you assuming a private school would be a better option. Consider a public school and put that extra money toward tutoring if your child struggles and needs help. In fact at our local CC, if you qualify as special needs you can get your own mentor/tutor free of charge.
If the dyslexia means your child needs more time and quiet to get things done a group living situation might not be ideal.
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Old 08-22-2016, 08:58 AM   #9
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Make a list of colleges/universities that are in play. Use the "net price calculator" at each individual school's website to estimate the cost to attend that school. These calculators typically consider your financial situation and the student's stats, so if you are likely to get any need-based or merit aid at that school it would be reflected in the estimate.

I wouldn't count on any need-based aid. Families that can RE are usually in very, very good financial shape compared to the type of families that get need-based grants. You may get offers of student loans, sometimes they are a good deal (especially if you get a subsidized loan = deferred interest) sometimes they are not.

Have each student apply to multiple schools so there will be options at decision time. With my oldest, she had three schools in the running after admittance decisions came in. We (her parents, who were footing the bill) took her favorite off the table because it was twice as expensive as the next-best option. She chose one of the other two and had a great college experience, earning her degree without needing any loans. She thanks us for that now, as she sees her peers working to pay off loans.

Just prepare yourself for sticker shock. Then think about it honestly: why should other people pay to send your kids to college (which is what federal need-based financial aid is)?
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Old 08-22-2016, 09:07 AM   #10
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You freely admit that you have the money to pay for college. The colleges will see that. You will pay full list price unless you have a lot of kids in college at the same time. There are no tricks that you can use.

Going to a cheap college is not a trick. Lots of students do that.

Having your kids get scholarships is not a trick. They have to work hard ahead of time to do that. Many kids won't do that.

My oldest saved some money by graduating early from college. That means getting AP credits in high school, taking extra classes each semester in college, and not goofing off in college. She worked during the summers and during college, too.

Full disclosure: We filled out the FAFSA once many years ago. We saw then that there was never ever going to be any aid for our kids.
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Old 08-22-2016, 09:32 AM   #11
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We had two in college at the same time, and they both graduated with ~$20K in college loans, the rest came from 529's we funded since their birth. They both paid them off in <5 years.

We still had to fill out the FAFSA for them to get the GSL's.

I agree with everything everyone said about public schools. Our kids would come home from "college days" in high school, and ask me which colleges they should be talking to. I'd reply that as long as it had the name of our state in the school's name, it was an option. Our youngest had ADHD, and that less expensive state school held his hand all the way through, as did his fraternity.

Don't cut yourselves short with a private university. JMHO, of course.
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Old 08-22-2016, 10:33 AM   #12
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I agree with everything everyone said about public schools. Our kids would come home from "college days" in high school, and ask me which colleges they should be talking to. I'd reply that as long as it had the name of our state in the school's name, it was an option.
I have similar response to any collage discussions with my daughter. I pay for in-state tuition as long as you get mostly A till and through collage. Anything else then you pay.... I honestly think that collage you graduate is far less important than the major you pick unless you go to ivy league collage.
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Old 08-22-2016, 10:50 AM   #13
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My son just went off to his first year of college...

IMO, there are no 'tricks'... they ask a bunch of questions and then you find out what you get... I was hoping to get subsidized loans, but alas we did not... we did get unsubsidized loans and he will be taking these as he is in a 5 year program and I said I would pay for 4 (really, I said I had a dollar limit... if you can save money then you can do whatever you want)....


Now, he did apply to Rice (expensive private uni) and we would have received aid of about $15K per year.... but, it was still more expensive than big State U and the program at State U is rated the same or higher than Rice....


Now, the 'trick' that we will be using (not about aid) is that there are courses that he needs to take that do nothing for his degree... he will be taking them during the summer at some CC....

Also, he has a flat rate for tuition... he can take 12 to 17 hours for the same price... he will be taking some extra courses that will apply to an engineering degree... so he will be graduating with 2 majors....
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Old 08-22-2016, 12:37 PM   #14
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I was still working when DD went to college. Since our income was high, our expected family contribution was higher than what the college costs would be. Essentially, I had the feeling that there was no benefit to playing their silly game so I decided not to play.

As a result I decided to just pay the freight rather than file a FAFSA and bare my financial soul to those who look at FAFSAs.... DD and DW were a bit unhappy with me because there were some merit scholarships that allegedly required that you had filed a FAFSA, but they got over it.

The colleges that accepted DD did offer her "scholarships" for all four years, but in essence the "scholarships" were substantively how much they were willing to discount their rack-rate tuition and other costs if she were to attend. I dunno for sure but I suspect that hardly anyone really pays the full rate.
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Old 08-22-2016, 01:12 PM   #15
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Yup, I remember going through the college aid search. Like everyone says, there are no aid loopholes for financial aid with assets. Sometimes there will be some help for minorities. Aside from that, the only options are balancing tuition with internship/co-op opportunities to save money. For some degrees, there isn't a really big gap between tuition fees, but there can be on how robust their work opportunities are, it depends on the degree though for how available such opportunities are out there, for engineering it would be very relevant, for liberal arts, a difficult struggle. Personally I went a relatively high tuition private with a 1/3 scholarship, 1/2 paid it through co-ops, remaining 25%+room+board was paid by parents, about 90% of the time co-oping I lived with my parents to save them room costs. It was cheaper than the state university in the middle of nowhere with a low scholarship and much poorer work options, tuition was much lower, but would have ended up being 30-40% more expensive overall, with a much sparser resume.
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Old 08-22-2016, 01:39 PM   #16
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Just another note... as some are mentioning scholarships and such...

At our main state U... being in the top of a class and getting good scores on the SAT means nothing... almost all the students that go there are made up of these type students... my son was in the top 2% of his class at a difficult HS... he did well on his SAT with an 800 in math... he won a national competition for his chosen program and still did not get anything.... I am hoping that he will get some merit scholarships while he is there...

We also learned that just because you child automatically is admitted, he/she might NOT get accepted to the program that they want... this was a shocker for me, but they said that some people in the state are not prepared for all coursework at some of the more challenging programs... so, they have to go and do coursework and show they can make it...


Now, other states might not be as harsh on their students... and there are other universities that DS could have gone to and gotten scholarships, but they were not ranked in his filed of study....

It is always a balancing act as to cost and which univ is best for your child...
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Old 08-22-2016, 01:47 PM   #17
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I dunno for sure but I suspect that hardly anyone really pays the full rate.
Many people pay full list price. They are the wealthy folks like lots of folks on this forum.

This gives only a hint: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...b12_story.html
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Old 08-22-2016, 03:59 PM   #18
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Many people pay full list price. They are the wealthy folks like lots of folks on this forum.

This gives only a hint: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...b12_story.html

WOW... just goes to show how inefficient these top tier schools are... they spent $100K per student...


I just looked up and The University of Texas at Austin is just over $21K....
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Old 08-22-2016, 07:20 PM   #19
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Contrary to some of the other advice you've gotten, I'd recommend keeping an open mind about public schools in other states.

Our daughter went to Rutgers with a scholarship that brought their out of state tuition down to about the same as we would have paid at a UC.

We weren't eligible for any Federal aid and were only offered loans at 8%, so didn't bother to fill out the FAFSA after the first year.
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Old 08-23-2016, 06:18 AM   #20
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We (I) never eligible for financial Federal aid.

Not sure I can remember all the specifics but at some point, I think I allowed my daughter to claim herself on her taxes. I gave up the tax deduction for her. This allowed her to deduct some items. I was unable to deduct it on my taxes. Of course, one must have earned income to do this. She worked during summers, on breaks and minimally during college semesters.

The FAFSA is an interesting exercise and one I wish I had more knowledge of BEFORE she went to college. After all, most are 18 so parents could elect to not be legally responsible for their college tuition. Ha!
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