Financial Preparation

  • 529
    • Opening and contributing to a college savings plan early is crucial with the cost of higher education steadily increasing. Operated by a educational institution or state, funds contributed to this plan will grow free of federal and state tax, and will not be taxed when they are withdrawn for college.
      • Anyone can set up one or multiple 529 plans and you can name anyone as the beneficiary. There are no income restrictions – however, total contributions generally cannot exceed the amount need to pay for the beneficiary’s school expenses.
      • Be mindful: If contributions per year exceed $14,000 (per beneficiary), the excess will have to be reported on Form 709 when you file your taxes.
      • Shop around for the best plan that’s right for you and your child! Each state offers their own plan – but each are open to residents of other areas and do not restrict where your child can attend school.
      • Sallie Mae’s UPromise program is just one of the great ways to start saving for college
  • FAFSA
    •  The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is necessary for all high school seniors who are planning to attend college. This form asks for a students high school, household income and tax information. FAFSA will determine to what degree you are eligible for Financial Aid and how much assistance you will receive.
      • For 2017 – 2018, you can submit the FAFSA as early as October 1st.
      • FAFSA determines need-based financial aid – meaning there are many other avenues through which you can receive scholarships to help fund your education.
      • You must re-submit the FAFSA every year with updated information so that your financial award can be updated.
  • CSS Profile
    • The College Scholarship Service Profile helps institutions identify which of their potential students really require their assistance to fund their higher education.
      • This profile is extremely important for divorced or separated parents. If both parents are contributing to their child’s education, the parent which does not claim the child as the dependent on their taxes – must fill out the non-custodial CSS profile by the deadline (specific to the institution.) If they do not, your child may not be eligible for Scholarship funding.
  • Scholarships
    • Merit Based Scholarships
      • Applicants can receive merit-based scholarships based on their academic performance. How much money they will be offered and what it takes to be considered for merit-based scholarships – is completely determined by a school’s admissions board and will be different for each institution.
    • Athletic Scholarships
      • Most commonly offered by Division 1 and 2 schools – if your child excels in a varsity sport, they could potentially be offered an athletic scholarship to help fund their education.
        • If you want to play for a D1 or D2 school, you need to register online at the NCAA Eligibility Center. 
        • Funds given, however, are often only partial scholarships.
        • While it is possible to be scouted and pursued by an institution, don’t wait! Talk to your coach, guidance counselor or do some research to find out who you need to make connections with in order to receive a athletic scholarship.
    • Renewal
      • Remember – receiving financial aid as a freshman does not guarantee it will continue for the entirety of your education. It needs to be renewed; this is based on FAFSA, academic performance and obeying your school’s code of conduct.
  • Speak with the College and Career Center at your child’s high school! They’ll have some great applications available and can talk to your student about which program might be the best fit based on their interests. You can also visit our page of Scholarship Resources.

For more information on all types of financial aid, please visit onlineschools.org