Paycheck Chronicles

Kate is Clueless: College Financial Aid

With a sophomore in high school (and three more in the following four years), I am suddenly obsessed with the issue of college and how to pay for it.  It seems like the more research I do, the more complicated it gets.  And it also seems like our military lifestyle might have made things more complicated than it is for some of our non-military peers.

My primary concern is the financial aid form.  In the last twenty-some years, we've picked up two houses that used-to-be-ours but are now rentals.  It seems like these will count against us significantly in the financial aid process, as we have to claim the net value (potential sales price minus mortgages.)  The good news is that you can use a low, sell-this-house-now price, and so we honestly don't have a ton of money in these houses.  But still...

I've asked around, and friends have other questions:  How will it affect our aid if we're living somewhere that has terrible public schools and we therefore think that private schools are necessary?  What happens if the service member separates from the military while our child is in school, and our finances change dramatically?  Will a bonus payment ruin the chances that my child will get any need-based financial aid that year?

And then there is the whole GI Bill thing:  because of the way it works, it can be tricky to know when or if it makes sense for your child to use the GI Bill benefits.  And if you have more than one child, or Mom or Dad could also benefit from the GI Bill, how do you choose which person gets the most from it?

And so, I ask my readers to contribute to the conversation.  Anything you know about the military and the financial aid/college money situation, please share.  We all appreciate your insights, experience, and even additional questions!

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