More Financial Aid for College Students on the Way?

September 6, 2007

According to, President Bush plans on signing legislation that would increase college financial aid by about $20 billion over the next five years.

The new bill would reduce the interest rate on need-based student loans to 3.4% (currently 6.8%) over the next four years.

It would also increase the Pell grant maximum to $5,400 over the next five years.

Other provisions in the bill will help borrowers who are having trouble meeting payments due to economic hardships. 

For more details, click here.

New financial aid tool helps families determine whether they will qualify for federal financial aid

May 31, 2007

Last month, the federal government launched a new online tool to help families predict whether they’ll qualify for federal financial aid. Called the FAFSA4caster, it’s modeled on the government’s official aid application, the FAFSA (which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid).

The FAFSA4caster estimates a family’s expected family contribution to college costs and notes whether a family will qualify for the federal Pell grant program, allowing families to plan ahead for the cost of college. To use the tool, parents will need to enter their child’s Social Security number, as well as their own tax and financial information.

When you’re ready to apply for aid, you can easily transition from FAFSA4caster to FAFSA on the Web. Much of the information that you enter in the FAFSA4caster will populate your FAFSA on the Web application, making the experience of applying for federal student aid a lot easier.

To see the tool, visit the Department of Education’s website at

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Best Deals on Student Loans

April 27, 2007

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the FAFSA form lately, as well as the best student loans to get. has a great article on student loans right now.  Some tips shared include:

  1. Determine which type of school your family can afford
  2. Set a realistic limit on how much debt you can afford
  3. Stick with the Federal loan programs – Perkins, Stafford and PLUS loans
  4. After you’ve exhausted your options in Federal loans, get a list of lenders from the school, or from FinAid (

This is part of a series of articles on paying for college.  Click here to see the full text of this article, Best Deals on College Student LoansClick here for last weeks article, Smart Ways to Pay for College. Next weeks article will focus on the best loans for parents.

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Estimating College Costs

May 18, 2006

Much like saving for retirement, when you’re saving for college, you need to have a goal.  Where will your child go to college – public or private, in-state or out of state?  Wherever your scholar plans on attending, you can estimate the annual cost using this nifty calculator.

Once you’ve decided on how much you would like to contribute to Junior’s education, and how much it will cost, you need to decide the best saving vehicle to achieve your goals.  Watch future posts for a discussion on the different methods to save for college, and which type of account is right for your goals…


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Kristine McKinley, CFP®, CPA, is the founding principal of Beacon Financial Advisors, LLC, an independent, fee-only financial planning firm located in Lee’s Summit, Missouri and serving the greater Kansas City area.

Kristine focuses on providing fee-only financial planning, investment advice, and tax preparation to individuals and families from all income levels.  About Us

In the News

Investment News – Kristine McKinley discusses the 0% Social Security COLA (for 2016) in No Social Security cost-of-living adjustment in 2016.

Kiplinger Magazine/NAPFA – Kristine McKinley answered reader’s tax questions during the 2013 Jump Start Your Retirement Plan Days sponsored by Kiplinger magazine and the NAPFA Consumer Education Foundation.