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How to Evaluate Your Student Financial Aid Options

Can You Minimize Your Family Contribution?

by Tom Bottorf

FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a financial aid form put out by the Office of the U.S. Department of Education for you to use when you need to apply for federal loans, grants, or work-study funds. You might be in need of federal financial aid for college, career school, technical school, …

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Back to Basics: Stop Grade Inflation

by Tom Bottorf

Grade Inflation is hurting our kids. Call me old-fashioned, but my wish is that we can get back to some basics… like rewarding performance and not boosting grades beyond legitimate achievement. What a concept, eh? The following notice was recently sent to parents and students in our local school district: “Once again this year, the …

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Federal Student Aid and Understanding The FAFSA

Financial Aid Award Letters: Be Careful!

by Tom Bottorf

This is the time of year when college Financial Aid award letters are received by students. These are often provided via student portals (with a login required), although many are emailed, and some are still sent “snail mail”. You would think that an award letter would be easy to understand, right? WRONG! We witness mass …

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ZERO-Debt College? C’mon… Get REAL!

by Tom Bottorf

ZERO-Debt College? Is this possible? I’m here to tell you that the answer is a resounding YES! Now, is it EASY to accomplish? Absolutely NOT… especially with the peer pressure out there today, coupled with the ridiculous paradigm that student loan debt is normal, even a necessary part of the college equation. By the way, when I …

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Who Should and Should Not Submit a FAFSA Form?

Who Should… and Should NOT… Submit The FAFSA Form?

by Tom Bottorf

Most families should complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form.  This should be done initially in January of the student’s senior year of high school. Regardless of family income and assets, there is one federal entitlement program for every student, the Stafford loan.  The amount available to all freshman is $5500.  The …

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And The Winner Is…

by Tom Bottorf

Thank you to everyone who entered our first Facebook contest. This was so successful that we’ve decided to have another contest this month! Congratulations to Jodie Palumbo from California! She’s won a 1-year subscription to the best College List-Building software on the planet, “Virtual Counselor”, valued at $997. Be sure to check back on our Facebook …

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Heartbreak of Achievement

by Tom Bottorf

The March/April timeframe is always bittersweet for us as professional college planners. It’s during this season that we receive distress calls from families that are heartbroken rather than excited about their child getting into their dream school. The students have done everything they were told to do. They took all the right courses, they earned …

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Should Single Mom's Include Child Support on The FAFSA Form?

Did I Make a Mistake by Including Child Support on the FAFSA Form?

by Lawrene Bottorf

Question: I’m a single mom and my daughter will be a college freshman this fall at a private California university.  The income I claimed on our FAFSA included child support, but this ended last month when she turned 18.  The financial aid award we received was weak in grants and heavy in loans.  Did I …

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