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What impact will selling our house have on our son’s college financial aid?

Major financial changes like selling a home, going from self-employed to salaried, or receiving gifts or inheritances can have a dramatic impact on your financial aid, taxes and potential retirement income. One of our families sold their home and didn’t realize it would create capital gains which increased their AGI. The increase destroyed their aid for the year. Our advice is make no major financial changes during college years (including base year) without meeting with us FIRST!!

How can we make sure our son graduates in 4 years? That’s all we can afford.

To graduate college generally takes 120 units with 60 units in core classes. So PLAN AHEAD! Know what core courses are needed and when. Have your son see a counselor for a completion audit each quarter or semester. NOTE: 80% of students going to state colleges are taking 5+ years to graduate.

How important is it that I improve my SAT scores?

Do any and everything you can to improve your SAT scores. EFS also recommends taking the ACT. Some students do better on the ACT. Go to www.act.org for more info.

Don’t stress. There are lots of ways to prepare for the SAT and ACT — books, videos, software and prep courses. Start with free publications available at your high school. If you want more in-depth advice, you can buy practice manuals priced from $9.95 to $49.95. Most include a CD-ROM or tap into a website for updated information. There are private and group prep courses. You can also do it online at:


Is it true that colleges don’t take away aid for drug convictions anymore?

Under Federal rules, students with 1 drug-possession offense lose federal college aid (free & loans) for one year after conviction. A second conviction means ineligibility for two years, plus repayment begins immediately on any loans. Only four colleges out of the over 4,000 in the U.S. will reimburse students who lose aid because of drug convictions. It isn’t worth the risk to lose aid.

I’m a small business owner. Are there college tax strategies for me?

Small business owners have some major advantages when it comes to funding college. The new tax law enhances the benefits of the 10 percent tax bracket, which now covers income up to $12,300. Furthermore, the capital gains tax for anyone who was in the 10 and 15 percent tax bracket falls to 5 percent now and zero in 2008. This can prove to be quite a benefit to business owners who hire their own children.

There are many strategies that can help small business owners write off a considerable amount of their student’s college education. However, the parent/small business owner should consult their tax advisor prior to implementing any strategy.

If grandparents help pay for college will we lose our financial aid?

With today’s high cost of college, grandparents are playing a bigger role in paying for college. An AARP study of 1,000 grandparents shows that more than half currently contribute, or plan to contribute, to their grandchildren’s college education. Forty-three percent of the grandparents currently use bonds as an investment vehicle for these college savings goals, 40 percent use mutual funds, and 36 percent use stocks. More than half use cash to pay for some of the tuition. Only 2 percent of grandparents in the survey have invested in 529 Education Savings Plans, which we do not recommend. It is critical that if grandparents do contribute to college, WHEN they contribute and HOW MUCH they contribute is very important.

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