How Rich is Too Rich for College Aid?


February 17, 2015



You may be doing pretty well financially, but that doesn’t mean paying for college is not a concern, or that you don’t want the most bang for your education buck. If you’re like me, you also don’t want to see your son or daughter graduate up to their eyeballs in debt.


The good news is that the office of Federal Student Aid, part of the U.S. Department of Education, provides $150 billion per year to over 13 million students. The funds come as grants, loans and part-time “work-study” jobs. Your son or daughter can apply by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


The bad news is that the more your household earns, the lower the need-based aid that your son or daughter will qualify for. Other variables come into play, such as family assets, how many kids in the household are attending college, and the expense of the school in question. So it is hard to predict whether a specific income level will or will not qualify for aid. A family making well over $100,000 per year might qualify for need-based aid at an expensive school. On the other hand, someone I know whose single parent made only about $80,000 per year did not qualify for any aid at all in her situation.


Whether your student qualifies for aid or not, the great news is that there is a lot of innovation happening in the field of education. If you want to go a less traditional, more customized route, one that incorporates online options, then you can gain much more control over the “bottom line” of college expenses. Affordable Colleges Online is a great information resource. It lets you search for accredited public and private schools based on your desired field of study, degree, and location. It also has a plethora of rankings based on affordability and other criteria.


“Finding higher educational opportunities that hit the cost and quality sweet spot,” the site says, “shouldn’t be harder than getting Bigfoot on film.”


Amen to that. But financing the kids’ higher education is still a complicated topic for most families. The nuances go well beyond what we can cover in this newsletter. If you’d like to discuss your family’s higher education needs, and how best to provide for them, contact PARTNERSINWEALTH. We are an unbiased sounding board for all of your financial questions and concerns, converting chaos into control and worry into peace of mind. To learn more about us, please contact Jim Waters, CFP®, at 713.964.4028 or