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By Skyline On Monday, August 07 th, 2017 · In



Every year college-bound graduates pass up billions in federal grants. 1.4 million high school graduates failed to complete the FAFSA in 2014, missing out on $1,861 in funding per student. In consideration of the coming school year, we have compiled a list of FAFSA tips for both current and future collegiate parents.

2014-2015 FAFSA Completion by State


1. Start early:

Changes to the 2017-2018 FAFSA will allow students to begin filing their FAFSAs as early as October 1st of the preceding year. Filing early will allow students to be informed of their financial aid packages with ample time to make an informed college commitment.

2. Understand the EFC:

While 529 plans, taxable income, real estate investments, and brokerage accounts are used to calculate your estimated family contribution (EFC), retirement savings, home equity, and small business are not considered. To reduce your EFC, consider strategically shifting your assets a few years prior to college attendance.

3. Save smart:

Assets belonging to the student are assessed on the FAFSA at a higher contribution rate (20%) than assets belonging to the parent (5.65%). A $50,000 brokerage account belonging to a student would be expected to pay out 20%, or $10,000 per year of college attendance, while the same account titled to a parent would be expected to pay out $2,825. Contact your advisor to learn more about strategic asset placement.

Sources: NerdWallet, US Department of Education

Further Resources:

For a guide to completing the FAFSA, follow this link to NerdWallet, and be wary of these common FAFSA mistakes.

Estimate the total cost of college using this net price calculator and this expected family contribution calculator.

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