When researching money for college, most parents start to realize the undeniable truth: money is only given to low income families and the lower middle class. That’s about it. The upper class, the wealthy, don’t need the financial assistance. So what happens to those people in between?
Unfortunately, upper middle class families fall through the cracks, and the result is they are not able to afford college for their children.
Providing Income Tax Information for Student College Financial Aid
Here is the Catch-22 that the upper middle class is caught in. The parent or parents have saved for college since the child’s birth, contributing to 529 accounts or general savings accounts. Even though they saved well, parents could not predict the astronomical rise in cost for a college education.
The cost of sending a child to a private institution is as much as $50,000 to $70,000 per year, including tuition, room and board, books, fees and other expenses. For example, an education at Harvard for the 2009-2010 school year will cost a parent between $52,000 to $54,800 (and this figure doesn’t include books!).
When providing tax information on the FAFSA, there is no way around what a parent makes. The numbers are in plain sight for any determining financial aid officer to see. So what should a parent do?
Government Student Grants
An April 14, 2009 CNN Money article entitled “Ease the tuition squeeze” by Penelope Wang says: “With endowments down 25% to 30% in the past year, colleges have been slashing budgets, cutting everything from new construction to faculty. One program that top-tier schools haven’t cut: the more generous aid packages they began offering families last year in response to congressional criticism over their use of endowments.”
And this includes the upper middle class. Wang writes that over “50 elite schools from Pomona to Princeton” now have excellent financial aid programs for families that make well over $100,000 annually, in fact, making fancy private schools actually less than state schools. These programs focus on grants, not loans!
If the child fits into this elite caliber academically then the parent should immediately contact as many schools as possible to find out about these programs geared toward the upper middle class. The problem is that parents just assume they can’t afford a top-tier school when, in fact, it could be well within their reach.
When To Submit FAFSA
This article, FAFSA Deadline for Fall 2010, discusses the best deadline to submit the FAFSA to receive the most money possible. This is essential for upper middle class families.
This website, White PIcket College, discusses college funding specifically for the upper middle class.
For upper middle class parents trying to send a child to college, researching private schools can often be the best option. Contact financial aid offices, request information and submit the FAFSA at the best deadline to receive the most money possible.
College Financial Aid for the Upper Middle Class
Upper middle class families are in a financial aid bind. On paper, they look as if they’re making plenty of money to support their child through four years of school, but in reality, they are struggling to afford the staggering costs of college tuition. For example, private universities are now charging upwards of $50,000 a year. This figure includes tuition, fees and room and board, but does not include major expenses such as books and the personal expenses of the student.
How does the upper middle class afford college?
Student Loans and Grants
Most of the time upper middle class students qualify for federal student loans such as Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized loans. However, this is a lot down for parents hoping for grants and scholarships instead of loans.
If loans are the only option, remember to choose the subsidized option because the student is not charged interest on the loan while s/he is in school. The government pays for or subsidizes the interest on the loan while the student attends university. It is only after the grace period after the student graduates that s/he must start paying back the loan. For an unsubsidized loan, the student will be charged interest as soon as they receive the money. However, s/he does not have to start paying back the loan until after the graduation grace period.
Grants are harder to come by for the upper middle class. It is difficult to prove that parents cannot pay for a child’s college education when on paper they make a household income of $100,000 or more. However, there are grants out there for the upper middle class, it’s just a matter of where to look.
Websites for Financial Aid for Students
There are great resources on the web to find various grants and other types of scholarships for the upper middle class student. Three in particular help are great resources for the upper middle class.
White Picket College is a fairly new website dedicated solely to upper middle class college financial aid. Categories include a weekly updated list of scholarships and grants and informative articles with tips and advice geared toward upper middle class families struggling to pay for school.
FinAid is one the most reputable sources for college financial aid on the web. It is run by Mark Kantrowitz, a financial expert is who often interviewed by CNN, The New York Times, CNBC, etc.
FastWeb (fastweb.com) is also run by Mark Kantrowitz and provides the same information about college finances. FastWeb is an easy-to-use resource for parents and students who like searching by categories and topics (such as college scholarships by year).
However, remember to explore any resource that relates to college financial aid – scholarship opportunities are everywhere. Millions of scholarship dollars go wasted every year because families do not explore all the scholarship outlets. Even the upper middle class can benefit from these opportunities.
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