How to learn about college financial aid

Ask NJMoneyHelp

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Q. My grandson has been living with me since he was in 6th grade when my daughter passed away. He will graduate high school next year. How can I get grants for him? I asked the school counselor and she said just go on the internet, but I am not computer-savvy.
— Grandma

A. First, we tip our hats to you. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help, and in fact, that’s the first step to learning more about how you can help your grandson.

The first thing you’ll need to do to get aid is to fill out the FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, said Jerry Lynch, a certified financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton.

This form is what will be used to determine the amount and kind of aid your grandson may qualify for.

You can read more about the FAFSA, the kinds of aid that may be available and the deadlines for the form here.

Many schools also require the CSS Profile. Learn more about that form here.

It doesn’t sound like the guidance counselor was especially helpful, but persist. Ask if the school will run any seminars about college aid – most do – and see what printed materials the school can offer.

You can also find books on the topic if you don’t want to read about it online.

Next, talk to your grandson.

“If you are not good with the internet, I am pretty sure your grandson is,” Lynch said. “Get him involved in the process.”

Finally, Lynch said, there are less expensive ways to go to college, and it’s something to discuss with your grandson.

“Don’t discount two-year county colleges where you can get all the core courses taken care of and then move to a four-year school,” Lynch said. “The degree will be from the four-year college and this will save a tremendous amount of money long term.”

Email your questions to moc.p1508321597leHye1508321597noMJN1508321597@ksA1508321597.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.