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1001 Ogden Ave.
Suite 204
Downers Grove, IL

Financial Consultants
1717 North Naper Blvd
Suite 200
Naperville, IL

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Student Loan Scams: Why Borrowers Are At Risk

Most families know that student loan debt has reached a crisis point. Families also know that an alarming number of students (especially those with graduate degrees) are carrying debt balances in excess of $100,000. Unable to find suitable employment, many are being forced to live with their parents as they struggle to meet their large monthly loan payments. This has created a growing industry of student loan scammers who are promising students that they can have their loans discharged, forgiven, or taken out of default.…

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Use Caution Before Using Insurance or Annuities to Reduce EFC

There are a lot of financial advisors out there who are anxious to sell you insurance, annuities, 529s or other financial products in the name of helping you lower your college costs. The advice I always give people is to do their homework before they act on any advisor’s recommendations. Not doing your homework can actually end up costing you much more, not much less for college. Annuities are usually not a good strategy for middle-income families to reduce college costs Last year a client came…

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Paying For College Can Be A Partnership Between Middle-Income Parents and Students

In my generation, about half of the students in my incoming freshman class paid for the full cost of their own college education through work, student loans, and personal savings.  It was very rare to find a student who wasn’t paying for at least half of their own college education. Though those days are long gone, occasionally I still meet with middle-income parents who fully expect their children to pay for the majority of their own college education. While this may not…

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The Student Loan Forgiveness Illusion

It took a long time for the very generous forgiveness provisions included in the president’s 2010 Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) student loan program to finally get noticed by the general public. A full three years after launching the program, there were still only a handful of American families who knew about its existence. It’s hard to imagine a program that allowed a $40,000-a-year social worker with a $100,000 student loan debt to pay less than $200 a month for ten years and then have the entire loan balance…

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FAFSA

How New FAFSA Rules May Benefit (or Hurt) Some Families

  Under the new rules just announced by the Obama administration, students entering or returning to college in 2017 and beyond will be able to submit their FAFSA as early as October 1st of the year before they enter college. What this means is that students will be reporting their family’s salary and tax information for 2015 if they are entering or returning to college in 2017/18.  It also means, however, that financial planning to lower college costs must begin even earlier. …

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How Subsidized Loan Usage Limit and Transferring Can Affect Your Eligibility

For many students from middle-income families, at least a portion of their student loans will be subsidized—i.e., interest-free during the school years and for the first six months after graduation. Recently, however, a new rule called the “Subsidized Usage Limit” (SULA) has been put in place to limit those loans.  This, of course, can affect what your students end up paying for their education. Here are the current limits on subsidized loans: Subsidized Loan Eligibility Limits (School Years): Bachelor’s Degree –…

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Fafsa

Common FAFSA Mistakes That Affect Eligibility

During my past 8 years in Financial Aid, I have seen many mistakes made by parents and students throughout the Financial Aid process.  Many of these mistakes could have been avoided and a lot of time saved if the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) was completed correctly. Submitting a FAFSA that is error free also will reduce your chances of being selected for verification. Here are 7 of the most common mistakes that I have seen. Indicating that…

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Why Net Price Calculators Are Hurting Middle-Income Families

Getting accurate Expected Family Contributions or EFC estimates are increasingly important to middle-income families trying to budget for college. Families, however, often ask me why the EFC estimates our office provides to them are coming in a lot higher than the estimates they are getting from their college net price calculators. So Why the Discrepancy? To increase transparency of the cost of college, in 2011, the Department of Education required that all colleges place Net Price Calculators on their websites so…

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Award Letter

Should You Appeal Your Award Letter?

Final award letters will soon be coming to your mail box.  You will  finally know the exact amount of money you have to come up with to pay for college.  What’s next? Do you simply accept the offer from your favorite school? Do you appeal your award?  Or, do you go back to the drawing board and think it over for another month? Here are some important questions to ask yourself before attempting an  appeal: Has there been a change in your circumstances since…

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Why I Got Into the Business of Helping Families Save on the Cost of College

I have spent my entire adult life taking on the challenge of building businesses. It’s part of my genetic code going way back to my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. After building my last business--a very fast-moving commercial barter exchange--for over 25 years, I thought I was finally ready to retire. I had put in more than my share of time at work and it was now time to lay back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. My barter business…

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