facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog external search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause
Military Finances 201: Don't Pay Sticker Price for College Thumbnail

Military Finances 201: Don't Pay Sticker Price for College

College Planning

Have you ever felt like deciding which college your child will attend is like shopping for a used car?   Overwhelming, full of hidden information, different terms for the same thing, and never the same process at two different places!  Here is the good news - College prices much like cars are negotiable and much like buying a used car – those who are in the know often will get the best value for their money.

Let us lay out a roadmap to simplify the process for you and take the mystery out of the financial aid process.  The first step in the process is to fill out the FAFSA, and sometimes the CSS too.  It is scheduled to open by 31 Dec 2023.   After that you will wait to get your financial aid package, which normally arrives sometime between Feb and May.   You will want to think about this like the first offer on a car.  Let’s talk about what it is.  

How Much Will College Cost?

The financial aid package is what tells you how much it will cost to attend the college.  Much like cars, there is the advertised cost, the discounts, and the price you pay.  Also, like car dealerships no two colleges use the same format or even wording for all the costs.  There are also all types of colleges, those that negotiate prices and those who don’t negotiate on price and have a waiting list to attend. No matter which types it is I would recommend appealing (read that as negotiating) the offered aid to see if you can get a better price.

Here is How to Get a Lower Price for College

So how do you do it?   Well once you get a couple of financial aid packages in and start to target a specific school you will use the offers from the other schools as leverage to write letters of appeal for more financial aid.   That is great but you are probably like I don’t even know what to say, and who should write it, and do I just send it to one school?  Well, we have an example template we are happy to share with you that will help you with all these questions (Download the template here)!  But some general guidelines are:

  1. Appeal to every school your child is willing to attend.
  2. You may need to go through more than one round of appeals.
  3. There should be a letter from the student and the parent.
  4. Make sure you understand the financial aid and merit aid awards.
    • Are they one-year guaranteed money or four?
    • Do they increase each year with inflation?
    • What GPA do you have to maintain to renew the award each year?
    • What is the graduation rate in four years from the school? (Fifth and subsequent years are often full price.)

When Should You Start the Process of Appealing a Financial Aid Award?

You want to start this process as soon as possible because you cannot commit to the school until it is done.  If you do it is much like having signed the contract to buy a car and then negotiate the price – once they know they have you there is no incentive for them to negotiate anymore.  As always, we are here to walk with you through the process!

Military Finances are Different

There is a pretty good chance you have GI Bill and that can help with college expenses too. That is one of the many ways an Active or Retired Senior Military Officer or NCO needs financial advice that takes these differences into account. That is why we think you should work with a Financial Planner or Advisor that deals with the differences every day. If you'd like to find out how we do that, use the button below to schedule a free initial consultation.

Military Finances 101: What do You Need to Know About the FAFSA

Military Finances 101: College Funding Choices

Service Academy Cadets and the American Opportunity Credit

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by C.L. Sheldon & Company, LLC ), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. C.L. Sheldon & Company, LLC does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to C.L. Sheldon & Company, LLC website or incorporated herein, and C.L. Sheldon & Company, LLC takes no responsibility therefore. All such information is provided solely for convenience, educational, and informational purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from C.L. Sheldon & Company, LLC . To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. C.L. Sheldon & Company, LLC is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the C.L. Sheldon & Company, LLC ’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request. DISCLAIMER OF TAX ADVICE: Any discussion contained herein cannot be considered to be tax advice. Actual tax advice would require a detailed and careful analysis of the facts and applicable law, which we expect would be time consuming and costly. We have not made and have not been asked to make that type of analysis in connection with any advice given in this blog post. As a result, we are required to advise you that any Federal tax advice rendered in this blog is not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by the IRS. In the event you would like us to perform the type of analysis that is necessary for us to provide an opinion, that does not require the above disclaimer, as always, please feel free to contact us.