It's a College Planning Buffet!

Fall is in the air…seriously, it is. Somewhere out there is the weather we’re all looking forward to. You know what I’m talking about – fall weather! As in, the type of weather that isn’t 90+ degrees every day.

The first day of fall is this weekend, so at least the calendar is telling us what time of year it’s supposed to be. The kids are back in school and the football season, both NCAA and NFL*, has begun in earnest.

*Editor’s Note – the Denver Broncos are undefeated. Just sayin’.

Another big right of passage for fall revolves around kids that are getting ready to go to college. If you have a senior in high school or know someone that does, make sure they’re prepared for the upcoming FAFSA registration, which is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The FAFSA opens up on October 1st, 2018 and is available to be completed until June 30th, 2019. But the earlier you register, the better chance you have to qualify for the most aid. Get it done by November 1st, 2018.

“Each year, the FAFSA opens on Oct. 1. File your FAFSA as close to Oct. 1 as possible to improve your chances of qualifying for the most grant, scholarship and work-study aid. For 2018-19 aid, the start date was Oct. 1, 2017. For the 2019-20 school year, the start date is Oct. 1, 2018.” ~ Teddy Nykiel & Anna Holhoski, NerdWallet

This week, we’re running a buffet of articles on the art and science of college planning.

Let’s start with a piece that my good friend and business partner, Grant Glenn, was recently quoted in by Taylor Sienkiewicz for Peterson’s.

Did You Know: Roth IRAs Can Be Used for College Savings Plans

by Taylor Sienkiewicz

I believe this may be one of the best kept secrets in the world of college savings. The Roth IRA, lauded for its tax benefits that it provides to retirement savers, can also serve double-duty as a college savings plan.

Pulling money out of a Roth IRA early (before age 59 ½) typically comes with a penalty, but there are certain qualified expenses that allow for a premature distribution.

“Qualified expenses usually refer to retirement, which the plan considers age 59 and a half. However, there are a few other expenses that are qualified as exceptions to Roth IRA early withdrawal penalty. That leads us to college expenses. Other than retirement, qualifying reasons for withdrawal from a Roth IRA includes a first-time home purchase, disability, or death (as in the account can be inherited), college expenses, tax levies, and certain military, medical, or health insurance expenses.” ~Taylor Sienkiewicz

The next two articles for our buffet center around the FAFSA process, which can be very confusing. I highly suggest you read the next two, in order, especially if you have a junior or senior in high school.

All You Need to Know About the FSA ID

by Joe Messinger

Before you can fill out the FAFSA, which we recommend students do every year starting when they are seniors in high school, you need to have an FSA ID.

“FSA ID stands for Federal Student Aid ID and is used by the U.S. Department of Education as your client’s students username and password combination. It provides a secure way to complete the FAFSA and access the form later. It also provides access to these websites:,, and” ~Joe Messinger

Once you have your FSA ID, keep the information on secure lockdown. If this ID ends up in someone else’s hands, they would have the ability to sign binding agreements on your student’s behalf. Make sure you read this whole article to have a good understanding of it how it works.

There is no need to wait to start the process on getting an FSA ID as there is with the FAFSA. Seniors in high school and their parents should start this process right now.

Quirks of the Financial Aid Application: Answers to Some FAFSA FAQ

by Joe Messinger

Now you have the FSA ID, what do you need to know about the FAFSA process when the calendar flips to October 1st? Joe helps us again with an article he put together last year on some Frequently Asked Questions.

“Just do it! We know it’s not fun, but $2.3 billion in free federal grant money went unclaimed in 2017 because students simply did not file the FAFSA (or did not finish filing it). The FAFSA goes “live” every October 1. Try to have it finished and filed by November 1 to have the best chance at financial aid. Be sure to file the FAFSA every year.” ~Joe Messinger

That’s it for this week, folks…lots to be thinking about in the world of getting your kiddos ready for college. If you need some help, that’s what we’re here for. Schedule a time with me with the link below.

Have a great weekend, go and be great next week, and be kind to someone who needs it most.