Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Plan ahead when applying for college financial aid

While the cost of college tuition keeps rising, some analysts are predicting financial aid to students from cash-strapped states will show little or no growth in the coming years. If you or your college-bound child plan to apply for financial aid, here are a few things you should know.

Apply sooner instead of later. Although you can apply between January 1 and June 30, some schools have deadlines as early as January or February. So the sooner you file after January 1, the better.

What’s more, because school and states have limited financial aid to distribute, many types of financial aid are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Students who apply earlier and prove their need for assistance tend to receive more generous aid packages that include more state and college grants and work-study programs, as opposed to just loans.

Visit to learn more about federal financial aid or to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Consider appealing for more aid. If you receive an offer for financial aid, you don’t have to accept it. You can appeal for more aid. Financial aid officers will then review your application and financial situation more closely. This can lead to more aid, especially if someone has experienced a job loss or if your family has incurred significant medical expenses.

Keep in mind that money borrowed must be repaid to the government once the student finishes school. Grants do not have to be repaid.

What if you don’t qualify for financial aid?
Consult with a financial advisor for help identifying the best solutions and strategies based on your financial situation.

Renée A. Hanson, CFP®, CEP®, CDFA™, CFS, is a private wealth advisor with Hanson, Ayala & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Her passion is in helping women achieve their dreams and financial goals, regardless of life’s many obstacles. Renée is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of AZ, CA, CO, GA, IA, IL, MI, MN, MT, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, WI. Please visit: to learn more.

Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients.

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