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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Good, as well as Alarming, Changes to Financial Aid Eligibility for the HS Classes of 2023 and beyond


Recent Changes have BIG Impacts for families with younger children!

At the very end of 2020, as part of the COVID 19 relief bill, a number of changes to the FAFSA form and the formula used to calculate need based financial aid eligibility were made. These will go into effect in 2022, when families start to file the FAFSA for the 2023/2024 school year. All current sophomores/10th grade students and younger will be affected.

Some of these are quite beneficial. The number of questions was cut from 108 to 40. A smaller amount of both parent and student income will be assessed as part of the family's resources to pay for college. The COA or cost of attendance for one year of college will be required to be posted on each college's website. That has not been the case so finding the total costs at most colleges has been quite difficult if not impossible.Veterans' education benefits and workers' compensation will no longer be counted as income.

Additionally, the elusive and confusing EFC (expected family contribution) will be renamed and called the Student Aid Index (SAI). Since the actual out of pocket cost of college is typically more than the EFC, changing this misleading name should help end that confusion. Unfortunately, because of the many factors each college considers when creating aid packages, the SAI will not give a family clarity about their expected out of pocket costs any more than the EFC did.

The portion of a student's income which will not be assessed will be increased to $9,410 for dependent students and $14,630 for independent students. This significant increase is designed to encourage students to work both during the school year as well as the summer and semester breaks. The qualification to be considered an independent student is also being slightly expanded to include students who are legitimately unable to contact a parent and/or those for whom contacting a parent would pose a risk.

Financial aid officers, starting with the 2023/2024 school year will be able to make adjustments related to costs incurred because of natural disasters, national emergencies, recession, economic downturn, and significant business losses. This should bring some extra assistance to families who need it. They are also going to be unable to have a policy of denying all aid appeals.

Unfortunately, not all the changes are good. At the moment, and until these changes take effect, the parent portion of a family's EFC is divided between the college student children in the family (parents in college aren't included). That means that a family with two kids in college would have the parent contribution split 50/50 between the two children. If the parent contribution is $20,000, $10,000 would be included for student one and $10,000 for student two. The student contribution of each student would make up the rest of their EFC. Once the changes are implemented in 2022, that will no longer happen. The parent portion will NOT be divided. In this example, it would look like this:

NOW: Parent contribution $20,000

Student 1's EFC = 1/2($20,000) + student 1's contribution (as calculated by the formula)

Student 2's EFC = 1/2($20,000) + student 2's contribution (as calculated by the formula)

AFTER October 1, 2022: Parent contribution $20,000

Student 1's EFC = $20,000 + student 1's contribution (as calculated by the formula)

Student 2's EFC = $20,000 + student 2's contribution (as calculated by the formula)

This means that the family's out of pocket costs will literally double and the eligibility for need based aid will not be increased, despite the fact that two of the children will be concurrently in college.

This is a HUGE problem that seriously adversely impacts families with multiple children in college. PLEASE reach out to your senators and representative and ASK FOR A CORRECTION! 

While you're at it, as that the APA, the Asset Protection Allowance be restored. In 2011, a two parent family with the older parent at age 50 would have had $48,800 of their assessed assets not considered in the EFC calculation. This allowance has been steadily decreasing. At the moment, this same couple only has a $7,000 allowance. 

Barring a legislative change, this change will make college financially out of reach for many families, forcing them to choose which of their children to send to college. Strategically, students will need to use AP and CLEP and dual enrollment strategies to lower their college costs and apply to colleges where they will receive massive scholarships. Students should also plan to work, since their income allowance was increased. Those three strategies, well applied, will help families make college educations possible for multiple children.

For more information on Katherine's College Success Program, please visit Celtic College Consultants' website. To schedule a consultation with Katherine to explore how to best implement her College Success Program strategies in your family, click here. Her 2015 - 2020 College Success Program graduates were offered, on average, over $235,000 each in merit scholarships and were accepted by multiple great fit colleges and universities.

83 Ways to Save Money While in College

Some college costs are fixed, like tuition. In other areas, however, there's a lot of room to save quite a bit of money. Here are 83 ways you and your college student can save. 


1. Shop around for books.

2. Rent books for non-major courses.

3. Return rented books on time!

4. Use the library's resources.

5. Do NOT buy your supplies at the college bookstore where the prices are high!

6. Get what you need ahead of time.

7. Re-use whatever you can.

8. Use a 3 ring binder, rather than spiral notebooks. Avoid throwing away half used spirals. Only use the notebook paper you actually need.

9. Use campus printers to save on buying one and expensive ink.

10. Take care of your supplies to make them last as long as possible.

11. Sell your notes at the end of the semester.


11. Live at home, rather than on campus.

12. Buy a rental property and have your student be the property manager.

13. If renting, have one or more roommates. Share the rent, utilities, and the chores.

14. Turn off unneeded lights and appliances, etc. to keep the utility bills down.

15. Limit eating out and ordering in!

16. Batch cook. Make dinner for four or eight then store individual portions for grab and go or quick microwavable meals.

17. Buy in bulk when possible.

18. Eat what is on sale.

19. Consider being an RA to cover your room and board expenses.

20. Get used furniture for your space. Only acquire what you can't live without.

21. Check yard and garage sales as well as swap meets for good furniture for pennies on the dollar.

22. Check Freecycle and Craigslists' free section regularly.

23. Use student discounts every chance you can.


24. Don't have a car. Save the expense, insurance, gas, parking fees.

25. Use public transportation as your first choice. Uber, etc. is much more expensive.

26. Get a bike and a good lock.

27. Walk wherever you can. Good shoes and a good backpack is much cheaper than a car.

28. Carpool to and from the airport or train station for term breaks.

29. Organize carpools for a small fee.

30. Consider carpooling or taking the bus or train home for break. Use what's cheapest.

31. Ask for and use student discounts every trip.

32. Volunteer rather than go to the beach for Spring break.

33. Use air bnb and youth hostels rather than hotels when traveling.


34. Take advantage of on campus entertainment covered by your activities fee.

35. Have a movie night with friends rather than heading to the cinema.

36. Use a prepaid phone plan.

37. Avoid overage fees. Set alerts to help you stay under your plan limits.  

38. Use the college's wifi as much as possible.

39. Use Amazon Prime for students to get free shipping and free entertainment!

40. Ask for and use student discounts everywhere you go. 

41. Don't buy drinks with dinner; the mark up is huge, especially for alcohol.

42. Sign up for local library and parks department event notices and attend the excellent free programs they offer.


43. Write a thoughtful letter (not email) rather than giving a gift. These are even more rare than homemade gifts.

44. Make homemade gifts. Knit or crochet something. Draw a picture. Write a poem. Build something.

45. Give gifts of service. Offer to paint your old bedroom, vacuum your parents' cars, fix, build, or assemble something.

46. Suggest a system that limits how many people you are expected to give gifts to.

47. Bake a cake, muffins, or other special dessert. It is cheaper and tastier than buying one. 

48. Have potluck meal gatherings. Everyone brings something, rather than the host providing everything.

49. Ask for practical items for birthday, Christmas, and holiday gifts.


50. Upcycle! Buy good quality used clothing. Wear it as is or modify it a little to breathe new life into it.

51. Hang your clothes, rather than drying them. Save on utilities as well as wear and tear on your clothing.

52. Shop clearance. Watch for seasonal sales and take advantage of them. Buy off season.

53. Have a core wardrobe of classic, durable items. 

54. Organize periodic clothing swaps with your friends.


55. Find a free checking account. If taking student loans, see if that bank or credit union will give you one.

56. Take the free checks offered with new accounts - even if you do "everything" online.

57. Track spending. Stay within your budget AND avoid expensive overdraft fees. is a free budgeting and spending tracking program.

58. Avoid credit cards with annual fees. (Your bank or credit union may offer credit cards with favorable terms since you bank with them.)

59. Pay credit card balances on time and in full every month. Interest and late charges quickly make purchase prices double.

60. Start a change jar. Dump your lose change in every night. At the end of the term, cash it in an buy something special.


61. Ask about student discounts when buying a computer.

62. Ask about student discounts on software, too.

63. Get antivirus software to protect your computer and phone.

64. Keep your laptop secure.  Only used closed beverage cups near your computer.

65. Buy a computer that meets your needs. Unneeded features are quite costly. 

66. If you can't use the campus printers and must get your own. Get a basic printer that prints slowly. You don't need glossy photo capabilities for term papers...

67. Upgrade offers on your phone are just enticements to get you to spend more. Don't upgrade your phone until you need to.

68. In states charging sales tax, take advantage of tax free shopping weeks.

69. Comparison shop whenever possible. 

70. Yard and garage sales are great opportunities to socialize with friends and pick up clothing, supplies, and decor very inexpensively.

Check freecyle and the free section of Craigslist regularly. 


71. Use the student clinic for basic medical needs.

72. Use the college's gym for exercise classes and equipment.

73. Run or walk in the neighborhood or campus gym. Skip the pricey gym membership fees.

74. Don't forget to ask for student discounts for all services.

75. Choose hairstyles that grow out well in order to avoid many upkeep haricuts.

76. Use the local beauty school for discounted haircuts and services.

77. Use groupon for discounted services around campus.

78. Do at-home mani-pedis and skip the expensive salon.

79. Consider a low cost shave club for cheaper razors. 


80. Form study groups with your classmates. Go over each other's lecture and text notes. Meet to go through problem sets for STEM classes, too. Tutor each other on the ones you miss.

81. Use the writing center on campus.

82. Use campus provided tutors, as well as TA and professor office hours.

83. If you need to hire a tutor, hire an upperclassman. S/he has a limited budget, too! Barter, if possible. They tutor, you cook, cut hair, help them move, or decorate or clean their apartment, etc.