Book Review: Paying For College Without Going Broke

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When the opportunity came up for me to review “Paying For College Without Going Broke,” I immediately jumped at the chance. After all, at SayCampusLife.com we’re here to share tips and stories about college life, something that wouldn’t matter to you if you weren’t a college student or planning to attend in the first place.

college aidKalman A. Chany’s reference book isn’t new, having been published and updated for several years. I got a hold of the 2009 edition, thus what I’ll share with you here is the latest “insider tips” on how to cover college costs. At least the highlights therein.

Skim The Contents Page First

Because it is a reference book, you’ll want to turn to the Contents page to find a topic of interest to you My children are a number of years away from attending college, therefore I paid minimal attention to what I would need to do as a parent if they were going to school beginning this fall.

But, what I did note that Chany included a number of helpful forms and strategies which can take the mystery out of the financial aid application process, empowering families to make the right decisions on education funding. Something as simple as filling out the right form can make all of the difference for applicants including the famous FAFSA (free application for student aid) form which is color-coded for the year submitted (2009-2010 forms are green and purple).

Beating Deadlines Will Make All The Difference

Chany places a huge emphasis on deadlines noting that “missing a financial aid deadline is worse than missing a mortgage payment.” In short, don’t expect your college to give you a second chance whereas your mortgage company may.

Once acceptance letters have been received, families need to sit down and decide which schools they can afford to send their children to. That decision is usually based on a combination of what the student wants and what the family’s contribution will be in covering college costs.

What To Do If The Aid Isn’t Enough

Chany breaks down the “Notification of Financial Aid” notice that families receive from their college which outlines exactly what the parents and students contribution is (in addition to other resources such as scholarships) and how much the costs will be for the coming academic year. Based on tax information previously submitted, the financial aid package shows what the college will cover for the year ahead.

While many families are transfixed by how much aid one school is offering versus the next, Chany emphasizes that the “real measure of an aid package is how much YOU will have to end up paying, and how much debt the student will have to take on.” Also, Chany shares critical tips on how to negotiate with the Financial Aid Officer (FAO) at a school if the package isn’t as generous as expected. I won’t go into those tips here, but it could dramatically alter a family’s college costs if the FAO can be persuaded to sweeten the aid package.

“Paying For College Without Going Broke” is an excellent reference for families particularly helpful during these trying economic times. Published by Random House, this Princeton Review book is available wherever books are sold including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders books.

Adv. — Don’t let the recession get you down! SayRecession.com offers the tools you need to keep your head above water during difficult economic times. Be proactive and check out our tools on how you can pay off your mortgage early and to build up emergency funds to help see you through a crisis.

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