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Paying for College – A Practical Guide for Families


If you have a son or daughter who will soon be going to college you will likely find yourself awash in a sea of new terminology—the FAFSA form, Estimated Family Contribution, the CSS PROFILE, to name just a few—along with a dizzying array of financial aid vehicles, including grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and an assortment of federal loan programs. Each comes with its own unique terms and its own rules for eligibility.

This paper (PDF) is designed to be a short, succinct guide to help parents make informed decisions about when, where, and how to assemble a financial aid package that makes sense for their family. It is aimed not at the family trying to figure out how to save for college—although some of its information will be helpful on that front—but rather at the family knocking on college’s door and trying to figure out how to actually pay the bill. It seeks to help that family minimize the out-of-pocket expense of putting a student through college and reduce their reliance on student loans, which can have a damaging effect on their long-term financial well-being.

If the bad news about financing a college education is that it can be complex and time-consuming, the good news is that there are so many aid programs available that anyone willing to put in the time can almost certainly find what they need—without jeopardizing their financial future.

Download Paying for College – A Practical Guide for Families (PDF) to find out more.

Download Paying for College vs. Saving for Retirement (PDF) for a quick overview of the Paying for College paper.




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