Student assets are generally assessed more heavily than parentsâ€™ assets in the financial aid formula, so itâ€™s better to have college savings plans in the parentâ€™s name than the studentâ€™s name, Chany says. Some people elect to open a 529 plan in a grandparentâ€™s name so the income wonâ€™t be reported as an asset on the FAFSA, but a distribution from the plan will count as untaxed income to the beneficiary, which will negatively impact the studentâ€™s aid eligibility the following year, Kantrowitz warns. Be sure to file your FAFSA every year even if you didnâ€™t qualify for aid the year before. â€śThere are enough changes from one year to the next that you might qualify.â€ť
Search for Outside Scholarships
Students can play a big part in the funding of their education by applying for scholarships that award money for anything from academics to community service. To increase the odds of winning scholarships, start early and apply even after entering college since some are designated for current students. There are even college scholarships for students in elementary and middle school, says Kantrowitz. Search sites such as FinAid.org, Fastweb.com, and Scholarships.com. When using free scholarship matching services answer all questions so you will be matched with more opportunities. Apply for every scholarship for which your child is eligible, including small ones since they can help win bigger ones.
Look for scholarships that apply to minority students, including the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering scholarships, and the Ron Brown Scholar Program, whose website also lists additional scholarship resources. Visit USScholarshipGuide.org, ED.gov (U.S. Department of Education), and CollegeScholarships.org.
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