Frequently Asked Questions

Does it help to take both the ACT and the SAT?

Some students do choose to take both the SAT and the ACT, and some test-takers do perform better on one than the other. Sometimes, however, scores on one aren’t much better or worse than the scores on the other. Talk to your counselor or an admissions officer at a college or university before deciding which test to take and whether to take them both. There really isn’t any way to know whether you will do better on one or the other until you take them.

When should I start thinking about college?

It is best to begin thinking about college no later than junior high or middle school. A student who decides to go to college before high school is able to use all four years to help reach his or her goals. Knowing what courses you need to take in high school to be accepted to the college of your choice will let you make certain that the courses you take as a freshman (and maybe even during 8th grade) will prepare you for the ones you need to take later on.

When is it too late to plan?

It’s never too late. Some people wait until they’ve been out of high school for years to decide that they want to go to college. Others know in elementary school. What’s important is to prepare when you do decide. If you’re already in high school and decide you want to go to college, develop a course plan then. List the courses you’ve taken already, fill in the courses you need to graduate, and use up the time slots that remain to take whatever courses you can to make sure you will be as prepared as possible for your future studies.

If you’ve already finished high school when you decide you want to go, speak to a college administrator about what you can do to make certain that you’re prepared for the classes you schedule. Some colleges offer special testing to figure out what a student must do before taking a particular course at a certain level. Some also offer tutoring sessions and even special classes designed to help people gain the knowledge they need to succeed in college-level courses.

What is a 529 college savings plan?

A Section 529 college savings plan is a tax-advantaged state-administered investment program that is authorized under Internal Revenue Code Section 529. These plans allow investors to save money in an account in which the earnings will grow free from federal income tax and, when used to pay for “qualified higher education expenses”, may be withdrawn federal income tax-free. In many states, a participant can receive special state incentives, including state tax treatment that mirrors the federal tax treatment, tax deductions/credits and/or other state tax benefits, based on participation in their state’s program(s).

Do I need to pay for a package all up-front?

Absolutely not! We offer monthly and quarterly payment arrangements for our multi-year packages.

When should we start the college planning process?

As with all planning, the earlier you start the better. The ideal time for most families is when your son or daughter is a sophomore or junior in high school, as we have more flexibility with the strategies. Even earlier is great, if you have the foresight, but for most families starting during their junior year is a fine time-frame. If you have a senior and you’re just finding our services, please don’t fret, as we can implement many of the strategies to help you, but our time-frame is more limited. If you have a student athlete that may be eligible to play sports at a college-level, then the earlier we meet the better.

If we saved money for college, can we still get financial aid?

Saving for college is always a good idea. Since most financial aid comes in the form of loans, the aid you are likely to receive will need to be repaid. Tucking away money could mean you have fewer loans to repay, and it won’t necessarily mean you’re not eligible for aid if you need it. A family’s share of college costs is calculated based mostly on income, not assets such as savings.

Frequently Asked Questions about the 2017–18 FAFSA®

Click here to learn more.

Are deadlines now earlier?

The federal deadline isn’t earlier, but some state and school deadlines are. Most state and school deadlines haven’t changed, but be aware of this: Several states’ deadlines have changed from “as soon as possible after Jan. 1” to “as soon as possible after Oct. 1.” Find state deadlines on the FAFSA and school deadlines on schools’ websites.

Do I have to apply for admission to a school before I list it on my FAFSA?

No. On your FAFSA, list all the schools to which you have applied or might apply.

Will my 2016–17 FAFSA information be carried over onto the 2017–18 FAFSA?

If you choose the Renewal FAFSA option when you start your application at fafsa.gov, some basic information from your 2016–17 FAFSA will be prepopulated in your 2017–18 FAFSA. However, your tax and income information will not. (Too much could have changed in your life since you filled out the 2016–17 FAFSA.)

Can I choose to report 2016 information if my family’s income has dropped significantly since we filed 2015 taxes?

No. You must report 2015 tax and income information, as the FAFSA requires. If your family’s financial situation has changed dramatically since then, you should complete the FAFSA questions as required, submit the FAFSA, then contact the school you plan to attend and discuss your situation with the financial aid office.

Do I report my 2015 tax and income information on the 2017–18 FAFSA now, and then update it once I’ve filed my 2016 taxes?

No. Do not update after filing your taxes. The 2017–18 FAFSA asks for 2015 tax information.

What if my parents’ (or my) marital status has changed since we filed 2015 taxes?

How do we supply tax and income information on the FAFSA? Here are some tips for this type of situation:

The FAFSA asks for marital status “as of today” (the day it’s filled out). So if the student or parent is married now, but wasn’t in 2015 (and therefore didn’t file taxes as married), the spouse’s income will need to be added to the FAFSA.

Similarly, if the student or parent filed 2015 taxes as married but is no longer married when filling out the FAFSA, the spouse’s income will need to be subtracted.

And if the student or parent was married when filing 2015 taxes, then got divorced and is now married to someone else, there’s a bit more math to do: Subtract the ex’s income, then add the new spouse’s income.

Will I receive aid offers from schools earlier if I apply earlier?

Not necessarily; some schools will make offers earlier, and others won’t. And keep in mind that an early offer might be an estimated offer, so read communications from schools carefully.