Financial Aid Basics

Tuition hikes and stagnant growth in federal aid have pushed public and private college costs to new highs.

When planning for college costs, make sure your child understands the financial implications, and importance of maximizing their high school opportunities, so they’ll be eligible for the school of their choice and merit aid or other scholarships. State colleges used to be an affordable option, but with states also cutting college subsidies, fewer grants and scholarships are available.

On the other hand, private colleges may have grants or scholarships available for students they really want. If you do receive a financial aid package, look at which schools are giving you more free money (scholarships and grants) rather than simply looking at the bottom line.

Learn the financial aid process and know the requirements of each school. Some only require the FAFSA (put Free Application for Federal Student Aid on the screen), while some also require the CSS Profile. And each has different deadlines. For more information on financial aid, visit these websites and

Finally, don’t let college costs take away from your retirement. Have your financial planner take a holistic look at your finances early in your child’s high school career.