Mark Kantrowitz Shares Financial Aid Tips with Kaplan Test Prep

on March 2, 2017

Cappex Publisher and Vice President Mark Kantrowitz spoke with Kaplan Test Prep about best practices for college admissions and financial aid. Kantrowitz, an expert on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), shared the following tips for navigating the financial aid process and college admissions.


A video of all of Kantrowitz’s advice is posted below.

  • Start saving for college as soon as possible
  • File the FAFSA in the fall of your senior year of high school. You can file beginning Oct.1
  • Search for scholarships on free websites like Cappex. Never pay to apply for a scholarship. If you have to pay money to get money, it’s probably a scam
  • Spend down student assets early on in college so they don’t hinder eligibility for need-based financial aid in the junior and senior years
  • Carve out up to $4,000 in tuition and textbook expenses to be paid with cash or loans, so you can qualify for the American Opportunity Tax Credit
  • You might qualify for more financial aid if you apply early for financial aid. The longer you wait to apply for college aid, the less financial aid you may be eligible for
  • You should apply to a mix of match, reach and safety colleges. A match college is one that is likely to admit you based on your grades and test scores. A reach college is one where you might fall below the admissions standards, and a safety school is one where you exceed admissions criteria
  • You should apply to five or six colleges for admission. Most students do not need to apply to more than that
  • You should save in the parent’s name, not that of a child. Child assets have a bigger impact on the amount of financial aid than parent assets. A 529 college savings account is a good way to save for college, since it is treated as a parent asset
  • The FAFSA is affecting the college admissions and financial aid timeline this year, because of the switch to an earlier start date. Early admissions applicants will receive an actual financial aid award letter when admitted early, instead of an estimate. Regular admissions applicants might find out about college admissions before spring break instead of afterward
  • A college visit is valuable. Seeing a campus in person, as well as tasting the cafeteria food, is a great way to know if the college is the right fit for you



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