Whether you are sending your first child off to college or your fourth child, everyone can use a little help in getting the most education for the least amount of your own money.
1. Apply. You can't get financial aid if you don't apply. File out of your FAFSA and encourage your child to apply for as many scholarships as they qualify for.
2. If your child's grandparents have been saving money for college, it should be paid directly to the school. This will eliminate gift tax liability.
3. Pay early. Check with your child's school, some schools may offer discounts of up to 10% for early payment.
4. See what your employer has to offer, your child may be eligible for assistance through your job. Many employers will invest in their employee's dependents.
5. Learn as much about the financial aid process as you can, the more you know the more you'll save.
6. Estimate your EFC early, this way you will have an idea of what you will be expected to pay, you can find schools in your price range, and apply early for other forms of aid and scholarships.
7. If you have special circumstances, make your child's college aware. For example, a job loss that occurred after you submitted a FAFSA form.
8. Twenty percent of your child's money is expected to be contributed to college. Reduce your child's assets. However, encourage your child to save money and place any money saved for college in a custodial account.
9. Pay attention to deadlines. The quicker you act the greater your chances of receiving need-based aid.
10. When visiting campuses with your child, pay a visit to the financial aid office. You may make yourself aware of campus-based awards along with developing a greater understanding of the financial aid process.