• Our son received $16,500 in grant money from a private college in California. Thanks!
     - Karen S. Waukesha,WI
  • Last spring we received $22,875 in grant money from the college my son wanted to attend. 
    - Sharon S. Pewaukee, WI
  • Thanks for explaining to me what my options were to pay for college... It sure beats my original plan of taking out Plus Loans.
    - Greg G. Hartland,WI
  • Great Job! We didn't have to spend our life savings to send our daughter to a private Wisconsin college. Are you ready to help us with our second daughter who is going off to college next fall?
    - Brad A. Mukwonago,WI

Wisconsin Financial Aid Blog

Our Wisconsin Financial Aid Blog allows us to keep you up to date on the ever changing Financial Aid System. It is also a place where we can answer your questions about Financial Aid. Click on the link below to submit your Financial Aid question. All chosen questions will be answered on our Financial Aid Blog. 

Here we answer YOUR questions. To submit a question,
please fill out the form to the right.

Read the complete Financial Aid Blog Archive Here


We had two great workshops last week! Here are some comments from people who attended:
Posted Monday, January 23, 2012

"I now have a hopefulness of having the ability to receive aid." - JG (Oconomowoc)

"We learned that there are ways to get more money to assist us. I wish I would have known this when I went to college!" - TC (Oconomowoc)

"It was great learning information about how colleges distribute their grants." - JN (Dousman)

"Learned about the appeal process - never heard you could do this before. Also learned about profile schools." - MM (Oconomowoc)

"Information was very honest and straightforward." - MJ (Dousman)

"Presentation was clear and very informative." - KB (New Berlin)




Our final two workshops of the year were incredibly successful! Here are some of the comments we received:
Posted Monday, November 14, 2011

"I liked the info on the ACT scoring and how that impacts financial aid." - KC (Grafton)

"I actually learned more that I had questions for!" - KG (Germantown)

"Good information. Great visuals." - MH (Whitefish Bay)

"Great advice on financial aid and college planning." - SH (Shorewood)

"Great presentation of information." - BC (Wauwatosa)

"I realize I need to know more. Thank you!" -AE (Wauwatosa)

" I liked the examples of tuition, grants and loans." - SF (Whitefish Bay)

"This is 100 times better than the financial aid night they provide at the high schools!" - MD (Wauwatosa)




We had a really successful workshop at WCTC last night! Here are a few comments we received:
Posted Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Confirmed we are starting at the correct time. We need all the help we can get." - CG (Pewaukee)

"Appreciated both the ACT/SAT info as well as options for financial aid." - AS (Hartland)

"I enjoyed the insight into the financial aid process and suggested do's and don'ts. Thank you!" - SK (Delafield)

"You explained everything really well! Thank you!" - VP (Waukesha)




We had a great workshop last night at WCTC! Here are some of the comments we received:
Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"It's good to know that I have options." - DB (Pewaukee)

"Financial aid is very confusing. But it is good to know that we can get some help. It's worth getting this information firsthand with someone who has knowledge." - DS (Pewaukee)

"It's good to understand the important of tax prep and early filing." - LJ (Brookfield)

"Straightforward answers from a knowledgeable person." - MM (New Berlin)

 




We had a great workshop last night at the New Berlin Public Library! Here are some comments we received from those who attended:
Posted Thursday, September 08, 2011

"Good basic info. I wish I would have done this a year ago!" - LP (Elm Grove)

"Clear and helpful presentation." - SJ (Waukesha)

"The thing I liked most about the workshop was the descriptions of the financial aid awards." - AF (Waukesha)

"I like the true cases and stories you presented the most." - BW (Hartland)

"There are many different avenues to go to. We need to make sure to plan ahead!" - MA (Cudahy)

"Very knowledgeable and informative." - CD (Brookfield)




We had a very successful workshop at the New Berlin Public Library last week! Hereís what some of our attendees had to say:
Posted Monday, August 22, 2011

"Thanks so much! You answered all of our questions." - AZ (New Berlin, WI)

"You touched on a lot of different areas to really get us thinking about what we need to be aware of going forward." - MR (Brookfield, WI)

"Good to see a list of colleges that give out a lot of financial aid." - NR (Wauwatosa, WI)

"What I liked most about the workshop was finding out the importance of the standardized test information and what we can do to plan for a strategy of obtaining financial aid." - GE (Elm Grove, WI)

"Thank you!! There was so much information I never knew, like the importance of the whole process." -CG (New Berlin)




How to negotiate the best deal on a college education for your child:
Posted Thursday, May 26, 2011

4. Make sure you position your child in colleges where they are a good academic fit (the top 25% of the entering freshman class).

5. When you receive your financial aid awards, you need to know whether to accept or appeal. However, appealing in the wrong circumstances could cost you money in lost financial aid.




We had two great workshops at WCTC this week! Here are some of the comments from the attendees:
Posted Thursday, May 12, 2011

"Something important I learned: It's not too early to start planning for college!" - AC (Hartland, WI)

"Gave me great insight into what is involved in planning strategies for financial aid." - DM (Sussex, WI)

"This workshop was direct and to the point and covered many avenues I hadn't considered before." - CS (Saukville, WI)

"Great ACT/SAT info!" - DB (Oconomowoc, WI)

"First experience with the subject matter. Very informative." - CD (Sussex, WI)

"Opened my eyes to many things I wasn't aware of before." - LP (Menomonee Falls, WI)

"It was extremely informative. I'm just beginning the process and it's good to understand more of the details." - RS (Dousman, WI)




How to negotiate the best deal on a college education for your child (cont):
Posted Monday, May 02, 2011

2. You need to know the financial aid formula:

Cost of Attendance - Expected Family Contribution = Need.

3. YOU NEED TO KNOW YOUR EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION!!!




How to negotiate the best deal on a college education for your child:
Posted Monday, April 18, 2011

1. Know historically what each college you are applying to have given out in financial aid. When it comes to financial aid, not all colleges are created equal. You don't want to find out in May that the colleges your child applied to covered most of your need in student loans.




We had a great workshop last night at the Whitefish Bay Public Library! Here are some comments we received from those who attended:
Posted Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"We now know where to start the process since we weren't sure we would qualify for financial aid." - RM (Cedarburg, WI)

"Great to learn information on the time lines and deadlines for filing forms." - PG (Milwaukee, WI)

"A lot of helpful information given that I didn't know before." - JH (Milwaukee, WI)

"Very clear and concise presentation." - PD (Wauwatosa, WI)

"You did a good job providing an overview of the process. We didn't realize this is how it worked!" - KS (Cedarburg, WI)




I received some financial aid awards. Now what should I do?
Posted Monday, March 21, 2011
You need to make sure they meet most or all of your financial needs. If they don't you need to call or write to the school to discuss why they left you short. Try to create subtle competition with other schools your child applied to.


Do all schools give out the same amount of money?
Posted Thursday, February 24, 2011

No. Some schools are well endowed and get a lot of money from alumni and corporations. These schools have more money to give out and are generally able to meet most or all of a student's financial need. Other schools, such a state universities, get no private funds and rely solely on state and Federal funds to help fill a student's need. In many cases, these schools leave students short and give them less money than they are eligible to receive. In the long run it can cost you more money to send your child to what looks to be a "cheaper" school if they don't have the money to meet your need. It is very important that you know each school's history of giving money before you apply. This way you're not blindsided when you don't get the financial aid package you were expecting from your child's top school choice.




Applying to the right colleges.
Posted Thursday, February 17, 2011

To increase your chances of getting the best possible financial aid packages, it is imperative that you pick schools where your child lies in the top 10% of the incoming freshman class with respect to GPA, ACT and SAT scores. Although schools give financial aid based on your calculation of "need," they will definitely give preferential packaging to those who lie in that top 10% of the incoming class. This means MORE grant money and LESS student loans. Use this to your advantage and only apply to those schools where your child would fit in the top 10%.




I thought only minority students, athletes and academically gifted students get financial aid. Is this true?
Posted Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Nothing could be further from the truth. "Need-based" financial aid is solely awarded on financial need, which is calculated by taking cost of attendance at a school and subtracting your EFC (Expected Family Contribution). Whatever is left over is your "financial need." This has nothing to do with a student's ethnicity, athletic ability or grades. It is based on this simple formula:

COA (Cost of Attendance) - EFC (Expected Family Contribution) = FN (Financial Need)


My child is focusing mainly on private scholarships. Is this a mistake?
Posted Thursday, February 03, 2011
Private scholarships make up only 3.2% of the money available to you. The other 96.8% comes from the Federal Government, the state you live in, and the colleges and universities your child is applying to. Therefore, you are much better off focusing on the types of scholarships that have more free money to give out.


If I make $40,000 a year is that too much to qualify for financial aid?
Posted Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No. Most families with incomes ranging from $40,000-$100,000 per year and who own a home are eligible for some form of financial aid. There is over $132 billion in financial aid available each year. You just need to know how to get what you deserve. Unfortunately, most parents give up before they even start because they assume they won't qualify. If you fall into this category, make sure you apply. You will most likely be eligible for some free money.




When should I start planning for college?
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011

We suggest you start planning for your child's college education in their junior year - if not earlier. Here are five little-known secrets why:

1) Have your child take a good ACT/SAT Prep class to ensure they attain the best score possible.

2) If you want to legally set up your income and assets so you can maximize your eligibility for financial aid, it is important to start working a year in advance.

3) You must know what your Expected Family Contribution will be so you can start saving for it now.

4) You want your child to pick schools that give out the best financial aid packages before you start visiting and applying to them.

5) You must start at least one year in advance if you want to apply for private scholarships.




7 Things you should be doing right now to get the maximum amount of money for your child's college education (PART 3).
Posted Monday, July 26, 2010

5. Find out each school's deadline for the financial aid applications - and DON'T miss the deadline!

  • The earliest date you can file the Federal Financial Aid Application (the FAFSA) is January 1st.
  • Many private schools will also ask you to fill out the Financial Aid Profile (the FAP). Each school has a different deadline; missing it could cost you!

6. Look for private sources of college funding.

  • Private scholarships only make up 3.4% of available aid. It is worth spending a little time looking for these resources, but make sure you are not spending too much time on them.
  • Focus on awards from local foundations, organizations and corporations. You can usually get more information on these awards form your child's high school guidance counselor.

7. Don't let high school guidance counselors or college financial aid officers give you a false sense of security.

  • Many counselors will tell you that filling out the forms is an easy process and that all you have to do is submit them and then sit back and wait for your award letter. Unfortunately, it's not that simple!
  • If you want to get the maximum amount of money from each school, you've got to set up your finances properly, fill out the forms accurately and on-time, and negotiate with schools to get the best possible financial aid package.
  • Financial aid officers will help you apply for financial aid - but going to them and asking them to help you get more money from their schools is like going to the IRS and asking them to help you save money on your taxes!
  • Think twice before you let a guidance counselor or financial aid officer "help" you apply for college funding - it may turn out to be a very expensive mistake.



7 Things you should be doing right now to get the maximum amount of money for your child's college education (PART 1).
Posted Monday, July 12, 2010

Over the next 3 weeks we'll discuss 7 things you should be doing right now to get the maximum amount of money for your child's college education.

1. Have your child apply to at least six to eight schools.

  • Pick an assortment of "safety schools", "competitive schools", and "reach schools".
  • Pick schools in which your child lies in the top 25% of the incoming freshman class to assure a better financial aid awards.
  • Even if your child is dead set on attending one specific school, you still want to apply to several. By applying to at least 6 to 8 schools, you will have several financial aid awards to use as negotiating tools against the school of your choice.

2. Figure out how to value your home properly.

  • Over-valuing your home, a mistake most parents make, could cost you thousands of dollars in lost college funding.
  • Familiarize yourself with "The Housing Index Multiplier", a formula used by schools, which is based on your home's original purchase price and the year it was purchased. Know what your "multiplier" is and use that value for your home.



How much can my child borrow in Stafford Loans during their freshman year in college? -Tim, Brookfield, WI
Posted Monday, June 28, 2010

Here are the Stafford Loan Limits:

Freshman: $5,500

Sophomore $6,500

Junior/Senior $7,500

In order to understand how the Stafford Loans will affect your out of pocket cost you need to know the financial aid formula. The financial aid Formula is Cost of Attendance - EFC = Need. Unfortunately, most of the time the Stafford Loans show up in the need side of the equation and typically will not help you lower your families EFC. 

There are several things you need to take into consideration before you file your financial aid forms. First you need to know whether you can lower your EFC through income and asset planning. Second, you need to position your student into the right colleges. Finally, you need to know historically what each college has given out in financial aid. Spend more time applying to colleges that have historically given out LOTS of money in grants and fewer loans. There are colleges in Wisconsin and all throughout the United States that have lots of college grants to give away. Remember, not all colleges are created equal when it comes to financial aid!




If parents are divorced, does aid depend only on the income and assets of the parent with whom the child lives most of the time or on both parents? -BL from Brookfield, WI
Posted Monday, June 07, 2010

Great question, I wish I had a simple answer for you. There are some colleges that will only look at the information of the parent the child lives with the majority of the time, and some colleges will look at ALL the financial information from both parents including the financial information from a new spouse.

As you plan to send your child off to college it's important to know what your EFC (Expected Family Contribution) is. If you're divorced you have to calculate your EFC using the information of the spouse who the child lives with the majority of the time and using the information from both parents and their spouses. Once you've determined your EFC you then can determine whether you should apply to a FAFSA or a Profile School. 

Once you've determined your EFC you will need to position your child into a college which they are in the top 25% of the entering freshman class and have given out more money in grants and less money in work-study and loans.




What you need to be thinking about in order to maximize your eligibility for financial aid!
Posted Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Summer is almost here! If you are like most families, you are ready for a break from school and all of the activities and responsibilities that come with it. Planning for college gets put on the back burner during the summer months. After all...we only have 12 weeks of good weather! Unfortunately, most families wait until the last minute to begin thinking about how they are going to fund their child's college for the next four years. Much to their surprise they realize

"We don't have enough money to pay for college!" Here are 5 things you can do to maximize your eligibility for financial aid:

1. Start your income and asset planning Early.
2. Have your child take an ACT/SAT Prep Class.
3. Have your child enroll in advanced placement classes.
4. Make sure your child is in the top 25% of the entering freshman class at the colleges they are applying.
5. Be sure to apply for financial aid even if you don't think you'll qualify for financial aid.

If you want to learn what you should be doing right now to get the most money possible for college sign up for a FREE Consultation today.

 




How much income can my child earn before they will begin losing financial aid?
Posted Monday, May 24, 2010

Your child can earn up to $3,750 before it will affect financial aid. If your child earns more than $3,750 they'll lose fifty cents on the dollar of financial aid. For example, if your child earned $6,750 they would lose $1,500 in financial aid ($6,750 - $3,750 = $3, 000 x .50 = $1,500). 

We recently ran into a college student who was attending a private Wisconsin College. She was earning $18,000 a year to help pay her way through college. She told us that she would like to spend more time studying in college and less time working. By earning $18,000 a year it was costing her $7,125 in financial aid. She cut back on the hours she was working and received and additional $6,500 in grants from the private Wisconsin College.




Do all colleges give the same amount of financial aid?
Posted Monday, May 17, 2010

The simple answer to that question is no, not all colleges give out the same amount in financial aid.  Some colleges (including colleges in Wisconsin) have lots of grant money to give away; others have very little. You don't want to find out in March or April that your son or daughter have applied to colleges that will meet most of your need in work study and student loans. 

Most of our clients begin working with us in their child's sophomore or junior year in high school, so we can begin positioning students into colleges that meet their academic requirement and have lots of grant money to give away. 

In order to get the most money for college you'll need to start your college planning early.


We Won't Qualify For Financial Aid!!
Posted Monday, May 10, 2010

A typical comment we hear from people at their FREE Consultation is, "We earn too much money and have too many assets to qualify for financial aid. We're not going to bother to fill out the financial aid forms."

What are you telling the colleges if you don't file the financial aid forms? You're telling the colleges that mom and dad are willing to write a check for their child's college education. We recommend that everybody go through the financial aid process regardless of their income or amount of their assets. 

We've had several high income clients this year receive $4,000 - $8,000 a year in grants from Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota colleges. Just remember if you don't ask for financial aid, you won't get it.




The Transfer Game!!
Posted Monday, May 03, 2010

Everyone is looking at ways to cut the cost of college. Especially when parents find out that a 4yr public college is around $15,000 and a private colleges range from $30,000 to $50,000 a year. One strategy that always comes up is having the child attend a 2 year college and then transfer to a 4yr college. The theory is that the 2yr college is less expensive so the family is saving money by sending their child to a 2yr college and only paying for 2 years at the more expensive school. 

Sounds like a good plan but theory is sometimes different than reality. We had a client who thought they would save money by having their child attend a 2yr college and then transfer to a 4yr private college. This client contacted us right before they were to graduate from the 2yr college and wanted to transfer to a 4yr private college that specialized in engineering. The parents were insistent that it would only take their son 2yrs to graduate from a 4yr Wisconsin private college. Our recommendation to this client was to take their son transcript to the college and ask "How many of my son do credits from his 2yr degree will count toward my son's Engineering Major?" When they took the transcript to the admissions office they were told that it would take their son 3.5 yrs to graduate from the 4yr Wisconsin private college. Only about 1 semester of his 2yr degree would count toward his major. So it was going to take 5.5 yrs for their son to graduate with a 4yr degree. The irony of this story was that their son had received $18,000 a year in grants from this Wisconsin private college. Had their son gone to the Wisconsin private college, he more than likely would have graduated in 4 years!




Be Aware of NON Accredited Colleges!
Posted Monday, April 26, 2010

Recently at a College Funding Workshop one of the attendees told a story about someone she knew who received a two year degree from a college and was planning on transferring to a 4 year college to complete their education. When the student went to transfer credits to the 4 year college, they were told that the 4 year college would not accept any of the credits from the 2 year college because it was not accredited.  Instead of it taking the student 2 more years it would now take 4 years. 

Just because the word college or university is in the school's title doesn't mean that it is an accredited school. We aren't saying that non accredited colleges are bad it really depends on the student's future education plans.




ACT Prep Classes
Posted Monday, April 19, 2010

Our clients frequently ask how their child's ACT score will impact their financial aid award. The answer: The better your child can score on the ACT may mean the difference between receiving lots of grant money and receiving very little. If your child is not satisfied with their ACT score an ACT Prep Class may help them improve their ACT score. Some colleges base the amount of grants your child will receive on how well your child scored on the ACT. Last year we had a client that re-took the ACT and scored one point higher on the ACT which meant she was eligible for $3,000 a year more in grants from a private Wisconsin college she was attending in the fall. That's $12,000 more in grants they'll receive over 4 years. 

Keep in mind that improving your child ACT score is only one small piece of the puzzle. There are a lot of other steps in the process to ensure you receive a favorable financial aid award.




"How does my child's GPA and SAT/ACT scores factor in to the financial aid award?"
Posted Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hi I'm Chad Harbeck from Integrated College Planning here with Ginger Ramos to answer your questions about the Financial Aid process. Log on to Integrated College Planning dot com to participate in our financial aid blog. If your question is chosen, you will win a gift certificate from Canyon City in Pewaukee. This week's winner is: Sue from Big Bend. Sue asks, "How does my child's GPA and SAT/ACT scores factor in to the financial aid award?"

Most colleges like to attract a certain percentage of academically gifted students and will give preferential awards to students who lie in the top 25% of the incoming freshman class. High GPAs and SAT/ACT scores increase your chances of getting the best possible financial aid award; therefore, it is imperative to search out and apply to schools where your child will fit into the top 25% of the incoming class.

To find out more information about this question and to view a list of our free college funding workshops, log on to Integrated College Planning dot com.




"Can my son receive college credits for any of his high school classes?"
Posted Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hi I'm Chad Harbeck from Integrated College Planning here with Ginger Ramos to answer your questions about the Wisconsin Financial Aid process. Log on to Integrated College Planning dot com to participate in our financial aid blog. If your question is chosen, you will win a gift certificate from Canyon City in Pewaukee. This week's winner is: Judi from Madison and her question is "Can my son receive college credits for any of his high school classes?"

Yes: many colleges will accept your child's advanced placement classes from high school. We recommend to our clients that their children take as many advanced placement classes as they can handle. Depending on how many AP classes your child takes, they could conceivably receive a semester or two of college credits...and that alone would save thousands of dollars on the cost of their education.

To find out more information about this question and to view a list of our free college funding workshops, visit the Integrated College Planning website.




Frank Mots College Scholarship Fund
Posted Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Integrated College Planning is excited to announce that we have teamed up with the Kite Society of Wisconsin and Illinois to establish the Frank Mots College Scholarship Fund, to provide financial assistance for all college bound high school Juniors and Seniors.

The Scholarship Fund will be awarding one individual $1000 scholarship to a qualifying student, graduating in 2010 or 2011. To see if your child qualifies, and to register for this scholarship, visit our booth at the Frank Mots Kite Festival Saturday and Sunday, September 12 and 13th at Veterans Park on Milwaukee’s Lakefront from 10:00a.m. to 5:00p.m.

We also want to remind you that our fall workshops are starting up next week; and we’ve added more locations.




"I recently heard somebody talking about CLEP credits; what are they?"
Posted Thursday, August 27, 2009
This week’s winner is: Fred from Pewaukee. He says, “I recently heard somebody talking about CLEP credits; what are they?”

CLEP stands for the College-Level Examination Program. Some colleges offer CLEP, giving students the opportunity to receive college credits for knowledge and experience they’ve already acquired through prior course work. Credits are earned simply by achieving qualifying scores on CLEP exams. This could save you thousands of dollars in tuition. In addition, your child could even graduate on time or ahead of schedule. Talk to your College Funding Specialist to see what schools participate in CLEP!


"Isnít it true that only athletes, academically gifted, and minority students get financial aid?"
Posted Thursday, August 27, 2009

This week’s winner is: Jodi from Delafield, WI. She writes, "Isn’t it true that only athletes, academically gifted, and minority students get financial aid?"

Actually Jodi, nothing could be further from the truth! There is a type of financial aid called “Need-Based” aid, and it is awarded solely on financial need. Your eligibility for this type of aid is calculated by subtracting your Family Contribution from the Cost of Attendance; the remaining balance is your Financial Need.

So if you haven’t noticed, this has nothing to do with ethnicity, athleticism, or academics; it’s purely based on a financial formula.

To find out more information about this question and to view a list of our free college funding workshops, log on to Integrated College Planning dot com.




"Why would I need a College Funding Specialist to go through the financial aid process, can't I just do it myself?"
Posted Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This week’s winner is: Richard from Elm Grove who writes, “Why would I need a College Funding Specialist to go through the financial aid process, can’t I just do it myself?”

Richard, I’ve heard from too many families who tried it on their own and were left confused, frustrated, and exhausted; not to mention the worst of it... out tens of thousands of dollars due to their own mistakes and lack of knowledge! A College Funding Specialist is an expert of the entire financial aid process and devotes himself to helping you get the maximum amount of free money in financial aid.




"Don't all schools give the same financial aid award?"
Posted Thursday, July 23, 2009

This week’s winner is: James from Shorewood. His question is, “Don’t all schools give the same financial aid award?”

Not all schools are created equal. You see, some schools receive generous amounts of private funding, which means they have more money to give out, and can generally meet most or all of your financial need. However, other schools have much smaller funding and often cannot even meet your need. It could actually cost less to attend the private school, which is why it’s important to know what schools have historically given out in aid.

To find out more information about this question and to view a list of our free college funding workshops, log on to Integrated College Planning dot com.




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