Want More Money for College? Go Shopping.

Want More Money for College? Go Shopping.

By Brandon

Feeling guilty about the Black Friday shopping spree you just went on/are planning to go on as soon as you finish eating all the leftover cranberry sauce? Don't. Shopping is good. It'll help you with your FAFSA. Seriously.

In the wild world of the FAFSA formula, any assets (money, possessions, etc.) in your name count against you. These assets will lower the amount of need-based financial aid you’ll receive.

Here are a few ways you can avoid overstating your financial resources—and get more financial aid.

1. Pay your bills. When you complete the FAFSA, you'll need to say how much money you have in your checking and savings accounts. The more money you have, the less financial need you’ll demonstrate. Pay your bills before you complete the FAFSA.
2. Turn down cash gifts. If a relative has offered to give you cash to help you with school, thank her effusively, and say the most helpful thing she could do for you is invest in a college savings plan. Putting money in one of these plans won’t have such a negative impact on your financial need.
3. Don't get into credit card debt. The FAFSA doesn’t consider credit card debt when it estimates your financial need. (And those insanely high interest rates are a terrible burden for poor college students.)
4. Go shopping. You’re going to need tons of stuff for college, from clothes to computers to transportation and more. Purchase everything you need before you fill out the FAFSA. Doing so will deplete your savings, which is a good thing if you want to get as much financial aid as possible.

Got a question for Brandon? Reach him at advice@sparknotes.com.

Topics: financial aid, FAFSA

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