12. Maximizing Financial Aid

Faced with backbreaking colleges costs, parents desperately try to appear impoverished for financial-aid purposes. But that is trickier than it seems.

—Jonathan Clements, former Wall Street Journal columnist

How do you qualify for more financial aid?

That’s a preoccupation of many parents. There are ways that families can increase their eligibility for more need-based aid, but frankly these ideas can only impact aid at the margins. Whether a family qualifies for need-based aid most often depends on their income. How much income you earn in a year is the biggest factor.

That said, it’s important to understand the basic rules that schools use to determine who qualifies for financial aid. Two families could enjoy the ...

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