80 minutes | Oct 20th 2020

College financial aid tips and strategies, with Ann Garcia

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#53: No matter how you cut it, the cost of college these days is pretty crushing.

And getting into your top choice college is well and good and all, but it doesn’t matter much unless you can afford to attend!

How can parents and families afford college (potentially for multiple kids) without ravaging their retirement savings?

This week, I invited my friend Ann Garcia, aka the “College Financial Lady,” back to the podcast to explain the intricacies of how college financial aid works. She shares insights and wisdom on how to plan for the cost of college, the different types of aid available, and strategies for maximizing financial aid.

We discuss:

  • A big picture framework thinking about college financial aid
  • The overall financial aid process, timeline, and key dates
  • The role each type of aid (need-based, merit, government, and college aid) plays in a family’s financial aid strategy
  • How FAFSA works, the 4 buckets of money that must be reported, what money can be excluded
  • What federal EFC is, how it’s calculated, and how it’s used
  • What the CSS Profile is, key differences vs. FAFSA, and what money must be reported on it
  • How CSS Profile schools calculate EFC and differences vs. FAFSA methodology
  • When it might be useful to leverage a grandparent-funded 529 plan + tradeoffs
  • Student loan options and key types of loans available to students
  • Tips for negotiating / appealing your financial aid package
  • Financial strategies related to the “prior-prior” year once January of sophomore year arrives
  • Financial strategies in the years BEFORE your child applies for college financial aid to maximize aid

Check it out here:


Has your child (or children) attended college with financial aid? What surprised you about the financial aid process? What do you wish you had known that you know now? What other questions do you have about financial aid? Let me know by leaving a comment when you’re done.

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Links mentioned in this episode:

 Intro/Outro: Old Bossa by Twin Musicom.

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