54. Getting Grandma to Help

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.

—Alex Haley, actor

With college costs defying any and all gravitational pulls, plenty of financially able grandparents are helping with the bills. While generous grandparents should be applauded, sometimes their largess can backfire. If they want to help, they need to understand the right ways to do just that.

Here’s what grandparents need to know before they write any checks:

Reevaluate paying the tab directly. Some grandparents assume that the best way to help their grandkids is to send a check directly to the college. But here’s where the generosity can backfire: Many universities will ...

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