Is Your Income Too High To Qualify For Financial Aid?

Many families do not bother to complete the FAFSA and PROFILE college financial aid application forms because they assume they earn too much money. If you’re in this "boat", please continue to read.

The cost of a college education today can be astronomical:

Elite private colleges are well over $70,000 per year,

Most other private colleges are over $60,000 per year, and

Large public universities are over $30,000 (in-state) and over $50,000 (out-of-state) per year. Don't forget to ad in costs like room and board, books, labs, transportation costs and food!

As a result, well-to-do families end up with a $200,000 to $300,000 bill for each child’s college education. If you educate two children, this equates to almost $1,000,000 in lost retirement funds. That’s expensive regardless of your financial position.

Don’t get me wrong, colleges today love to recruit high income - high net worth families. That’s because those families often end up paying full tuition to offset the financial aid the college offers to other families. Colleges call these families, “full-pays.” Not to mention when the family student graduates, becomes successful and starts to donate to the schools endowment fund!

Colleges hire enrollment management specialists with revenue-driven mindsets to maximize the amount of money they get from each student. Don’t take my word for it - check out one of the best articles ever about enrollment management. It was written by Maggie McGrath of Forbes, called "The Invisible Force Behind College Admissions."

Colleges use these enrollment management strategies to determine your student’s preferences from the questionnaire he or she fills out before taking the SAT or ACTs.

Colleges can also get a good idea of your financial position using the FAFSA or CSS form you completed (and if it's correct), demographic information of your student’s high school, a Zillow analysis of your address, and financial data purchased from a credit-reporting agency such as Equifax.

Then all this information is eventually reduced to the seven or eight variables that best predict a student's (family) responsiveness to price. In other words, the odds are stacked against you. The more money you earn and invest, the more difficult it will be for your family to get a price break on your college tuition.

However, if you have a student with excellent academic credentials, there is a procedure called “professional judgment” that the financial aid officer uses to override the financial aid system. Here’s my favorite definition of professional judgment right from the University of Mississippi’s website:

"A financial aid professional may exercise professional judgment and award the family more money based on circumstances that he/she feels have not been adequately considered in the original FAFSA financial aid form."

Professional judgment is virtually the authority to negotiate the price of college, but there is a specific procedure you must go through to get results.

If you are a high-income family with a good student and need assistance in developing a tuition negotiation game plan for college, give us a call at 949-270-2779. We may be able to save you considerable money and help you avoid strategic mistakes when you file for financial aid.

The first thing you need to do is determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) It's not actually the amount you pay for college, sometimes it looks like the amount, but it's part of a larger formula. If you're working with us, it will be as low and manageable as possible - and done right the first time! Click Here to determine your EFC.

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