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Questions and Answers

Why should we hire an expert?

My child is not an academic or extracurricular superstar. Is aid still available?
Why should we hire your firm? Is it ethical to rearrange our family finances in order to qualify for more financial aid?
Why shouldn’t I just talk to my accountant? Do some high priced private schools really cost the same as a state school?
How about my financial planner? We are interested in Ivy League & Other Selective Schools. Can we afford them?
What about our high school guidance counselor? My child is a talented student athlete. Will this help?
When is the right time to hire your firm? Can you help Divorced Parents?
Do we make too much money to benefit from your services? Do you have an advisor in my area?
Will we qualify for aid if we own a home? Will you speak to the financial aid office on our behalf?

Why should we hire an expert?

It is wise to hire an expert when you are dealing with any highly complex process involving large amounts of money. Like buying a home, paying for college is likely be one the largest financial commitments of your lifetime.

Unfortunately it is difficult to evaluate the true cost of college since the variables that effect college prices are complex, ever changing and vary widely between schools.

As bona fide experts, we will identify options that help you reduce the cost of a college education. We will save you time and money. Our expert guidance will provide you with important knowledge, reduce your stress level and help you obtain better outcomes for your children and your family.


Why should we hire your firm?

As a leading college cost reduction firm, we have a combination of expertise and experience not found elsewhere in the college-planning marketplace. We are seasoned professionals who utilize sophisticated cost reduction strategies to truly make a difference for your family. Every cost reduction strategy we employ is designed to be consistent with the very highest ethical standards. Please read the Why us and About us pages for additional information about our qualifications. Let the experts at Reducing College Costs create a personalized plan to reduce the cost of sending your children to the best colleges. See how it works or contact us to begin.

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Why shouldn't I just talk to my accountant ?

You should talk to your accountant and we will encourage you to do so when we identify cost saving strategies that have tax implications. But to maximize your cost savings during the college planning process you will need more information than most accountants are able to provide. Since your accountant is typically not an expert in reducing college cost or the complex rules that govern admission and financial aid, we believe you should seek out an expert who is dedicated full-time to these issues.

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How about my financial planner?

As with your accountant, there is often a complimentary role for your financial planner in this process. Since we do not sell any financial products or manage assets, we will recommend that you speak to your financial planner to implement certain college cost reduction strategies.

Very few financial planners are experts in college cost reduction or financial aid - even if they have completed a course to become a “certified college planner.”

Furthermore, very few financial planners dedicate their full-time efforts to providing college-planning services and many earn commissions or fees by selling financial products and managing assets. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it is a good idea to build some checks and balances into your college planning activities by consulting an expert who has no financial interest in selling you any products or managing your assets.

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What about our high school guidance counselor?

Your high school guidance counselor will play a key role in the overall college application process and will help you identify colleges that are a good fit academically, socially and geographically. But most high school counselors will freely admit that they are not trained to deal with the complexities of financial aid and college cost reduction strategies. In addition, they are understandably reluctant to ask parents to disclose detailed information about family finances. So, by helping you determine which colleges are a good financial fit, we enhance the important services provided by your high school guidance counselor.

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When is the right time to hire your firm?

NOW. We can help any family at any time, but since some strategies are more difficult to implement later in the process it is best to get an early start.

If your children are very young, we will help you understand what financial aid you may qualify for down the road and the implications of the different college saving options that are available to you now.

If your children are in grades 7th thru 11th we will identify strategies for reducing college costs and help you understand your potential financial aid eligibility at different types of schools. We will also work with you to insure you receive any and all financial aid for which you can legitimally qualify.

If your child is a high school senior we identify last minute college-cost reduction strategies, assist with the timely and accurate submission of financial aid application materials and help you communicate effectively with the financial aid office before, during and after admission.

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Do we make too much money to benefit from your services?

NO. There are effective college cost reduction strategies available to families at all income and asset levels. First, there are many effective cost reduction strategies that are unrelated to qualifying for financial aid. Additionally, we have found that most families underestimate their eligibility for financial aid. Finally, most colleges award some financial aid without regard to family finances. Last year US colleges awarded more than $65 billion in grants and scholarships (money you do not repay) from institutional funds. Recent studies have determined that about 55% of this money is awarded to families who qualify for financial aid and about 45% is awarded using factors that are not related to financial need. This means that approximately $35 billion dollars of college and university funds were awarded last year to middle class and upper middle class families based on their actual financial need. Approximately $30 billion more is awarded each year to families who have no financial need. These grants and scholarships from the colleges are basically discounts awarded to families who have figured out how to apply to the right schools, at the right time, in the right way. Why not be one of those families?

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Will we qualify for aid if we own a home?

YES. Never assume that you won’t qualify for aid! The impact on financial aid eligibility of owning home with equity is but one example of the confusing and contradictory treatment of assets in the financial aid process. Many schools ignore your home equity entirely, while some count it all and others only count some of it. The good news is that, in general, your family assets play a relatively small role in the financial aid formulas. The bad news is that these formulas vary widely among schools. It’s confusing - sometimes it works in your favor and sometimes not. Sound planning will help ensure that you understand the quirks in the formulas and use your knowledge to maximize cost reduction opportunities and minimize mistakes.

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My child is not an academic or extracurricular superstar. Is aid still available?

Yes. Remember that more than $65 Billion in school based grants and scholarships is awarded each year and it is not possible for all schools to limit their awards to superstars. Importantly, there are any number of wonderful schools that could be a perfect match for your child’s abilities, interests and goals. You may well find that your child is a highly rated applicant at one of these institutions. The more informed you are about the process, the better your chances of receiving a discount will be.

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Is it ethical to rearrange our family finances in order to qualify for more financial aid?

Of course it is. Seeking the advice of a college cost reduction expert in order to increase your eligibility for financial aid is no different than seeking the advice of a tax accountant in order to reduce your income taxes.

Just like when you are trying to lower your taxes, there are many things can do to lower your college costs that are both legal and ethical.

We understand that there are a small number of planners out there advising parents to hide assets and fudge the financial aid forms. We even encountered a few of these types over the years when we were sitting on the other side of the financial aid desk. But you don’t need to do these things in order to increase your aid eligibility.

We will help you identify specific cost reduction options you can feel good about.

You would never voluntarily pay more federal and state income taxes than you are required by law to pay! Why pay more for a college education than you need to?

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Do some high priced private schools really cost the same as a state school?

YES. There has been much written about the additional financial aid being provided at many high-priced private schools. For many families these new more generous financial aid programs reduce the price of an elite private college education to a level that is the same or below that of a state institution. Unfortunately, the new policies are often complex and they do vary widely from school to school. We understand the financial aid policies at these high-priced schools and will help you determine which schools provide the best cost-savings opportunity for your family.

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We are interested in Selective Private Schools including the Ivy League. Can we afford them?

They are often more affordable then you realize. Families often overestimate the net cost (cost after financial aid) of attending a private college and therefore fail to consider many great schools that they might well be able to afford. The eight Ivy League schools and dozens of other prestigious schools such as MIT, Stanford, Duke, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Cal Tech, Amherst, Davidson etc (see full list) offer very generous grants and scholarships. These awards are most often based on financial need, but the qualification criteria vary widely from school to school. Many middle and upper middle class families with surprisingly high incomes will find that they qualify for significant amounts of aid at these institutions. As nationally recognized experts in the formulas used to award financial aid by these elite schools, we are particularly well positioned to help families estimate the actual cost of attending these schools.

Obviously everyone will not qualify for financial aid, despite the generous financial aid policies. But knowing early on in the college search process that you will not qualify for any aid at a particular school is often just as important as knowing that you will qualify for aid.

It would be a mistake to avoid applying to great colleges because you believe that they are too expensive when in fact they are quite affordable. But it would be an even worse mistake to find out at the last minute that your child has been admitted to a “dream school” that you cannot realistically afford. In these situations unprepared parents are forced to choose between breaking their child’s heart and committing family financial suicide.

Lets us help you avoid both of these mistakes.

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My child is a talented student athlete. Will this help?

It can definitely help, but you need to be careful and do your homework. A three part series on athletic scholarships published in spring 2008 in the New York Times exposed the fact that many parents of talented high school athletes greatly overestimate the amount of athletic aid awarded by colleges to student athletes. Understanding the wider admissions and financial aid landscape is particularly important for student athletes looking to maximize financial aid opportunities. Athletic talent can provide a definite plus factor in the college admissions process. But it is very important to gain a better understanding of your eligibility for all kinds of financial aid – athletic aid, need-based aid, and non-athletic merit aid – as early as possible in the high school in order to increase the likelihood of admission to a school that is not only a good athletic fit, but also a good financial fit.

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Can you help Divorced Parents?

Yes. We can help you evaluate the various policies at different schools to determine how parent marital status might impact aid eligibility.

Students whose parents are divorced or separated face a financial aid application process that is particularly confusing and complicated. Some schools require information from only the parent with whom the student lives (including the step-parent), while many other schools will require information from both the custodial and the non-custodial parent. In most cases schools will not be sympathetic to situations in which a step-parent or non-custodial parent is unwilling to provide their financial information to the school. Legal arrangements such as divorce decrees and prenuptial agreements are rarely taken into consideration when calculating financial aid. It is particularly important for parents who are divorced, separated or remarried to learn more about the financial aid process.

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Do you have an advisor in my area?

Since it is very easy to conduct reviews by telephone or videoconference, we can help you wherever you live. Evening and weekend timeslots are available for families unable to take time out of the busy workday.

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Will you speak to the financial aid office on our behalf?

No. It would be inappropriate for us to lobby our friends and colleagues on behalf of any individual student. It would also be ineffective since financial aid officers very much prefer to hear directly from parents and students rather than from third parties. That said, having spent many years on that side of the desk we know how to help you communicate effectively with the financial aid office at each stage of the process.

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