Tuesday, November 22, 2011


A while back I said I'd post about what I found out from the online financial aid seminar that I attended.  Being totally honest, the main thing I figured out was that, even though I know it's important, I find finances and all the terminology of college aid bewildering and incredibly boring. I suppose your mind needs to be cut out for one type of task or another. My mind is good with quantitative stuff, but you add in business mumbo-jumbo and I start to tune out.

Nonetheless, I know I bear the responsibility for this part of the college application process. HSS really has had no experience with money, so although we will be talking about financial aid awards when they come through, I'm in charge of filling in these forms, finding scholarship info, and presenting it all in a form that HSS can understand in order to be able to compare different schools.

a straight-forward flowchart
I like this figure. It all seems pretty understandable with some icons, terminology and steps laid out as a simple flow chart. So far, all I've done is an estimated FAFSA and applied for a PIN to allow me to enter the real data once I get 2011's W2 form.

But all the terminology... take a look at all the terms on the right that go with the flowchart.

Some take-aways that were news to me:
  1. Loans programs are different if they are loans for the student vs. loans for the parent. I plan on supporting a lot (maybe most) of HSS's college expenses, but some part will be student loan and earnings from summer/co-op jobs.
  2. The relative book costs between two colleges has little to do with what the final EFC (if I'm going to learn new vocabulary, I need to start using it - look at the list to the right again). More expensive colleges might have more money for aid; less selective schools might be more motivated to draw in high performing students.
  3. The massive number of scholarships around take lots of research to find. Most are pretty small chunks of money, but taken as a whole they should help out a fair amount. This task might be something to start over winter break.
  4. Government college loans programs for parents are going to look at your credit rating. The advantage of borrowing against your savings (401K or home equity etc), is mainly qualification and ease. The advantage of the government loans is better rates, since they are subsidized.
I see work in my future, but I'm putting it off for a while.

Here are some links that I think might be helpful:

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