I was recently provided with a copy of the Princeton Review book, “Paying for College, Without Going Broke, 2009” by Kalman Chany. The people at Princeton Review asked that I read the book and if I found it helpful, to consider writing about the book.
I have glanced at past editions of this book but never really took the time to read the whole book. I have now finished the book and must say it is a wonderful resource for all families considering how to pay for college including those families that might not qualify for financial aid.
The book is divided into four broad parts including Understanding the Financial Aid Process, Taking Control of the Process, Filling out the Standardized Forms and Understanding the Finanical Aid Offer.
The book provides some very helpful information for families for whom college is many years away in the chapter on long term strategies. As you can imagine in a book that is 300 pages long, the author goes into some depth on many of these long term strategies. Furthermore, he gives specific recommendations for types of investments depending on whether college is more than 15 years away, more than 10 years away, more than 5 years away or just 2 years away. This is required reading if you have some years left to fund college.
The book gets even better when the author starts discussing short term strategies to improve a families ability to pay for college. The author does a very good job of describing both basic and sophisticated financial planning options. And no, that doesn’t mean that the book is only helpful for those with enough money to seek tax shelters. The advice provided is just as helpful for those with limited income and assets.
For instance, the author provides clear instructions on how the tax form you file can make a difference in how much financial aid your family might receive. Do you know when it is best to file a 1040 EZ or 1040 A instead of a regular 1040 form? If you don’t make a lot of money, this is something you must know.
The author literally takes you through a tax form line by line to explain how you complete the form can have an impact on your financial aid package. There is nothing illegal being suggested here but rather he is providing families the type of information that even many accountants don’t understand when financial aid is an issue.
The author also walks you through a FAFSA and PROFILE form line by line to make sure that you understand what is being asked for to maximum your ability to get financial aid. So, even if all you have left to do is fill out the financial aid forms, this book may still be of some help to you.
Kalman Chany has put together a great resource that all families should consider reading at some point before sending your child off to college. With a list price of $20 it will be the unusual family that doesn’t save much more than that by following the advice in the book .