The “Parents” page on finaid.org covers everything from college savings plans, to maximizing your financial aid eligibility (legally), to negotiating financial aid offers from colleges. And all of the information is free.
The financial aid process can be confusing and frustrating with so much unfamiliar terminology and so much riding on the process. But finaid.org does just about the best job out there of breaking it down.
So here’s my suggested assignment for parents. Unless you are confident that you can painlessly write checks for four year’s worth of college costs for each of your kids (some people can, but most can’t), spend an afternoon studying the “Parents” page and learning about the financial aid process. Don’t be intimidated by it, and more importantly, don’t feel ashamed. A lot of parents feel embarrassed about needing financial aid but I promise you that with the cost of a four-year college education now exeeding $150,000 at some schools, you have absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about in asking for help paying for it.