Financial Aid Facts

Smiling teenage student outdoors with a girl at the backgroundFor many families it’s not uncommon to use both college savings and financial aid to pay for higher education. However, even if you started saving the day your child was born, it’s easy to feel unprepared and overwhelmed when the time comes.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:
  • Plan ahead and Start early – Applying for financial aid can be stressful. One way to lessen that stress is to know what documentation will be needed, as well as keeping in mind important deadlines.
    • To get started, you can go online to get the Free Application for Financial Student Aid (FAFSA). Your local high school, community college or library will also have this information.
    • Most financial aid programs have a limited amount of funds each year and funding can be first come first serve. As such, it’s important to file early. Deadlines vary by state and school, which is why it’s important to do your research and make note of key filing dates.


  • Eligibility and 529 Plans
    • All non-retirement investments, including those in a 529 account, may affect your student’s eligibility for financial aid. However, so long as the account owner is mom or dad and not the student, the funds are treated as belonging to the parent, not the child, minimizing the impact on financial aid.
    • The FASFA is the starting point for financial aid assessment. Even if you think you may not qualify, it is still a good idea to have the FAFSA, as it is the gateway document for financial assistance, including loans, work-study and scholarships.
    • To learn more about eligibility, visit


  • Overwhelmed? Don’t be, there’s help! – In addition to school counselors and admissions officers, many resources are available to help guide you through the financial aid process. Here are a few places to start:
    • College Goal Wisconsin – A national event that provides free information and assistance to families who need to complete the FAFSA.
      • In Wisconsin, College Goal Wisconsin will take place on Saturday February 13, 20, 27, and on Wednesday evenings February 10, 17, and 24, 2016. For more information and locations, visit
    • FinAid – The SmartStudent™ Guide to Financial Aid
    • S. Department of Education – Federal Student Aid Information



For more info or to open an account, visit