Part 1. We don’t provide scholarship searches. The Financial AID Now™ Merit Max report will show you where 90% of the free money is and that is the colleges themselves. Most of the rest is from the government.
Part 2. Paying a fee for a scholarship search is probably not going to be worth it. In fact, most of the free scholarship search engines you’ll find aren’t really free. Your child will be asked for lots of personal information cleverly disguised as “scholarship matching” questions. But in reality, it’s just mining for data so the information they provide can be used to sell you stuff like private student loans because that’s where the real money for them is!
Short of buying a home, the investment many parents make towards their children’s college educations will be the largest they make in their lives. As long as you have a strategy to pay for college and control what you can control, you have a high probability of success. Financial AID Now™ can be instrumental in helping you in your effort to send your child to a college that is a great fit for the child and the family’s finances!
While in some instances parents may be able to obtain raw data for free, Financial AID Now™ gathers and presents information that can be more helpful and individualized for high school students than can be obtained from a library or raw statistical data without contexts. And there isn’t any free source to manage the entire financial aid process.
Many people are expecting the guidance office to do all of the things that Financial AID Now™ will do. However, before assuming they will ask your child’s guidance counselor if:
- They are going to find the best academic, social and financial fit
- They are going to advise you on how to present your financial information so you don’t lose out on possible financial aid
- They are going to help you gather, organize and complete the financial aid applications
- They are going to follow up on the FAFSA and make corrections and updates for you
- They are going to make sure your tax returns are submitted to the college (if required)
- They are going to evaluate each offer of admission’s merit and need-based financial aid awards for fairness
- They are going to be your advocate when something goes wrong (and often things go wrong)
- They are going to tell you whether or not your student received a fair financial award
- They are going to help you appeal a bad financial aid decision
- They are going to help negotiate to get a better aid package at the college your child really wants to attend
- They are going to explain to you how to use student and parent loans (if you need to take them)
Even though Financial AID Now™ has worked for many parents, it only worked for them because they actually used the program. Throwing money away on a program you won’t use is pointless.
No. We believe we have found the perfect balance between finding colleges that will award your child the most money which can be used to leverage better award packages, managing the financial aid process, affordability, and managing a frustrating and complex system. It all works together.
There are steps when taken in the proper order and at the right time, managing financial aid is actually quite easy. And don’t forget, we are sitting right alongside you as your Virtual Financial Aid Guru. Financial AID Now™ supports each family through the financial aid process through texts, emails, videos, and webinars throughout the year.
Parents who learn of us after their first child has gone to college usually say, “Where were you a year ago?” The knowledge, technology, and best practices that have gone into Financial AID Now™ have been developed, reimagined, and recreated many times since 2003. It’s had to.
College professionals, some with as many as 900 freshman students each year license and use our professional system, FAFSAsoft™ EZ File for their clients.
Theoretically, yes. In practice, no. Let’s start with the core issues: First, guidance counselors are completely overwhelmed. And all schools have guidance counselors but they can’t do the same things as a private counselor ESPECIALLY offer help with financial aid. Guidance counselors spend, on average only 35 minutes with a college-bound student. Second, time and confidentiality of private information and Student Aid rules say they can’t. The “fee” to enroll in Financial AID Now™ supports the self-service software to automatically file the financial aid forms and manage the entire process. And Financial AID Now™ is available 24/7 when guidance counselors are not.
Parents are not the best judges of whether they will qualify for free money. Many families with six-figure incomes are surprised to learn they too can qualify for financial aid. The financial aid office at EVERY COLLEGE in America will tell you that every family, regardless of income, should apply. In addition, merit-based scholarships and grants that are given out independent of financial status are sometimes contingent on filing financial aid forms. Likewise, with the Direct Stafford and PLUS loan programs which are often excellent loan strategies for the more affluent clients.
Colleges are a business, not charities. It makes more sense for them to offer $10,000 – 15,000 per year in a tuition discount to attract a student who can better afford college than to have to pay $30,000 per year to a student that due to a lack of money may never graduate. That’s bad for the college’s graduation statistics, too. True, it’s wrong. It’s a perversion of the system but its pure economics.
And students whose parents are affluent and that fill out the form demonstrate a true desire for their student to attend that institution which helps with getting admitted.
It also gives the advantage to affluent students when there are several other students who are on par with each other academically but not financially.
By doing everything right your child attends the right college for the right reasons and at the right price.
We would rather provide you the support and tools to manage the financial aid process on your own.
However, given the complex college funding landscape, families can pay private financial aid consultants to help them through the process of navigating the FAFSA and CSS Profile, figuring out which assets to put toward tuition, and weighing the pros and cons of different types of loans.
“I like to tell people you don’t need to hire anybody to assist you with your FAFSA, but you don’t need to hire someone to mow your lawn either,” says Karen McCarthy, senior policy analyst for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. “But for some people, that’s worth it.”
Consultants and advisers offer a range of services, McCarthy says. Some may offer a holistic college planning service that includes college selection advice, while others may have a more limited focus on finding scholarship money and maximizing financial aid eligibility.
The services aren’t free, and experts say no matter the price, make sure the adviser doesn’t make unrealistic promises and that you know how he or she will be compensated.
“Don’t pay people who guarantee a certain type of return in terms of the financial aid that you would receive or who charge a fee based on the percentage of financial aid that you would receive,” McCarthy says.
If your family does decide to hire someone, be clear on what you’re getting, she says. For instance, if a consultant offers to do a scholarship search, make sure it’s not a simple internet search that you could do on your own.
She adds that families should know that there are free resources, such as high school guidance counselors, local college financial aid offices or the Department of Education website.
But financial aid directors and loan servicers are often swamped and may not be able to give families the range of options for paying for college the way that a private consultant could.
As an example, a financial aid director wouldn’t be able to help a family weigh whether taking out a home equity loan makes more sense than a parent PLUS loan (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students). Likewise, he or she wouldn’t be able to help a family figure out how to disburse their assets based on whether their student is planning to attend graduate school or not.
“Everyone talks about free. Free is what it’s worth.”
If you are thinking about hiring a financial aid consultant, consider the following:
• The three most important questions to ask us are:
1. Do you sell financial instruments/products that you are paid a commission?
Financial AID Now™ is a fee-for-service entity that does not sell or recommend specific financial products of any kind. We used to until 2009. We came to believe we can only serve one master: Our clients.
A financial strategy that might include financial instrument recommendations is meant to be shared with the family’s trusted financial advisor, CPA or other qualified disinterested third party. To help the parents’ advisor understand the benefits and burdens of any financial recommendation, Financial AID Now™ is happy to communicate with that parents’ advisor.
All recommendations should be vetted by the client’s trusted advisor because that person may be privy to essential information that Financial AID Now™ does not have and that knowledge may render part or all of a strategy ineffective at best and damaging at worst.
2. Is your fee based on the percentage of aid that we receive?
Financial AID Now™ is a fee for service company. We are paid for the work we do.
3. Do you guarantee that our child will receive a grant or scholarship?
No one can guarantee that a student will receive any money from any institution other than perhaps an Unsubsidized Direct Student Loan. Financial AID Now™ recognizes that these decisions are up to the colleges, the state education authorities, the federal government, and independent scholarship bodies. If any company promises you will receive more than a loan, you should discontinue that relationship immediately.
It is unethical to promote these kinds of guarantees, as it is impossible to know what a college will offer a student. There are too many variables and your student is one of those variables; grades and test scores are used to award financial aid and those are measured against other student applicants. Also, not every college can meet the full financial eligibility of each family. The best we can offer is to use our many years of experience and expertise to ensure that Financial AID Now™ performs all the tasks within the limitations of the financial aid system.
Absolutely. That’s what Financial AID Now™ gives you the power to do. It’s a self service financial aid guru. Going it alone is fine just so long as you’re willing to become an expert on financial aid.
When has asking for free money, or borrowing money ever been easy? Ask any parent who has gone through the process of applying for financial aid and paying the rest with loans or out of income and assets will likely tell you that applying for free money is anything but easy.
But, if you are a low-income family and have few assets, and you can figure out how to apply – it’s kinda sorta true. It’s just good marketing. Lots of food products make all sorts of health claims on their packages; like how their snack cakes are low in fat or their yogurt promotes better digestion. But the ingredients aren’t healthy because they are loaded with sugar which contributes to Type II Diabetes.
There is no charge to file your own taxes. You can fill out the Federal 1040 for free. However, many taxpayers choose to purchase tax return software, hire a tax service or accountant/CPA. Why is that? Because the tax laws are confusing and it’s to your benefit to get professional help so you don’t pay a penny more in taxes than you have to. Same idea with financial aid. In that respect, Financial AID Now™ is a lot like TurboTax.
Parents today are really busy. FAFSAssist™ is a parents Virtual Personal Financial Aid Advisor, Coach, and Administrative Assistant
The current FAFSA has 202 entries, the CSS Profile varies with up to 400 questions while the federal 1040 has a mere 76 by comparison. However, FAFSAssist™ is not just about filling in forms. It’s about the entire financial aid process which includes some key elements: making sure the family’s financial data is presented in the best possible light, that all of their information is consistent so as not to draw questions that they may not be prepared to answer in a way that is not in their best interest, updating their tax information, evaluating their student’s financial aid awards for fairness and advising them what to do if the award is less than expected.
Like anything else, there can be problems and errors. Financial AID Now™ is intended to guide parents away from making those costly errors. And if the parent or student did enter incorrect information we will provide personalized attention to help to fix the problem.
Parents uncomfortable using the Internet and entering data will have a tough time on their own.
The Financial AID Now™ program is expert at dealing with the many issues and so parents don’t have to spend hours figuring out what went wrong.
Colleges will deny that they “negotiate” with parents, but the fact is that if the school wants your student, they may sweeten their offer.
The odds of receiving a preferential financial aid award are improved if the school really wants the student because of a special skill, talent, or scholastic achievement.
Colleges find it hard to resist comparing other offers to theirs and will improve their award package if you can show better awards from other schools.
FAFSAssist™ provides the language of negotiating for better aid packages.
Parents are provided their own secure, web-based interface. Parents also receive the software to take all of the information that will be used to complete your student’s aid forms is available to you 24/7.
Via our College Organization page, Financial AID Now™ advises you of all the required forms, deadline dates for each college, and more.
Financial AID Now™ will assist you through the process by monitoring what you have done and what you haven’t and prompt you forward each step of the way. Self-service doesn’t mean no one is there to help you. At Wal-Mart there is staff monitoring to help customers having difficulties. Financial AID Now™ is like that.
The service begins when the student enrolls Financial AID Now™ until the time they enter college. After that, the option to renew is up to the parent. Currently, the renewal fee is $97.00.
Even though applying for financial aid can be a high-risk endeavor, with our help parents can manage the process and get the results they want. With Financial AID Now™ it’s like you have your very own Financial Aid Guru sitting right beside you with videos, resources, online help, and webinars that will guide you through successfully. Learn More
And if you find that the process is overwhelming and intimidating or you just don’t have the time to deal with all the organization and requirements, you can always upgrade to Financial AID Now+™ at any time.