Parents face pitfalls on path to college aid
Families can fiddle with finances, but all assets must be disclosed
By Kim Carney / www.MSNBC.com
AUG. 2, 2006 (www.msnbc.msn.com) - With the cost of a year of college now topping $40,000 a year at many private four-year schools, the impact on family budgets has never been greater. And neither has the desire of families to find sources of financial aid to help cover that cost.
As a result, more families are trying to manage their personal finances to maximize their chances of getting aid — in some cases by shifting assets so they are not counted in financial aid formulas.
“Parents are very interested in this,” said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, a Web site devoted to financial aid. Each week some 50,000 visitors check out the site’s section on maximizing aid eligibility, he said.
But sorting out the best moves is not easy: In general, there are no hard and fast rules. And while there is nothing wrong with rearranging your finances to increase the chances of getting aid, parents who try too hard to game the system risk being charged with a crime.