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Tips for college students & parents to save money in 2014

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When it comes time to submit college applications and wait on the replies both high school seniors and their families are very busy. During this time FAFSA season is also in full motion. Families are hoping that they will be able to be approved for financial aid.

Therefore, since it is about that time we are discussing some of the ways that you can reduce your child’s student loan amount and get some great tax deductions and credits that will benefit your family. This is something that is going to take teamwork. Therefore, it is going to require both parties to put in some work.

Saving money on college expenses

There are plenty of families, who have been burdened with student loans. The good news is it is possible to avoid this trend. All it takes is maximizing your financial aid and utilizing the programs out there that assist you. You can submit your FAFSA on time and complete applications for scholarships. Students can pick up college credits affordably thanks to CLEP and AP exams. Additionally, they could go to a school in state too.

Never procrastinate during FAFSA time

The FAFSA deadline is not until June 30, 2014 yet you will want to make sure that you send it in as soon as possible. This is because the sooner you get it in, the sooner you will be able to have the financial aid approved since states have their own deadlines.

For example, March 1, 2014 is Rhode Island’s deadline. Other states like Washington and North Carolina will only award grants to the students that qualify until the funds have been depleted. So, the earlier the FAFSA has been submitted the more likely you are to get the financial aid that you need.

Search for scholarships

Regardless, as to whether or not you are getting state or federal financial aid, you are still able to lower or eliminate your education costs by applying for as many scholarships as you can find. The good news is you can go to websites, such as FastWeb and they will allow you to quickly search for scholarships.

The downside that comes along with finding scholarships so easily is that you are going to be in competition with other students. Therefore, it is important that you pay close attention to the guidelines. The panel will have to review hundreds, sometimes thousands, of applications, so those who break the rules will be thrown out.

If you have a college in mind that you want to go to, see if there are any scholarships and grants that you are eligible for. Do not just settle for online searching. Instead, talk to the department head or faculty member so you can find what you are really looking for.

Take advantage of educational credits

Once your child is in school, education tax credits can help your family save money. They help you by reducing the amount of taxes that you have to pay. Two of the most popular education credits are the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

The American Opportunity Credit

This tax credit covers enrollment fees, course material for the first four years of post-secondary education, and tuition. The maximum credit is $2,500 per student. 100 percent of the first $2000 of qualifying expenses and an additional 25 percent of the next $2,000 is how this tax credit is broken down.

The Lifetime Learning Credit

The Lifetime Learning Credit is for students who are not pursuing a degree or certification. The maximum amount you can claim is 20% of your expenses up to $10,000, which gives you a maximum credit of $2,000.

However, in order to get this credit you have to receive federal financial aid that covers educational expenses such as tuition and books. The good news is you can qualify even if you only go to one course in the year. For example, you just brush up your career skills without becoming a full time student.

Keep in mind only one of these credits can be claimed in a year. If you file with Turbo Tax, they will choose the proper education tax credit to insure that you get the largest refund possible.

Bottom line

Parents and students can save money on college expenses. However, it does take working together as we have outlined in this article.

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