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Given the astronomical cost of college, even well-off parents should consider applying for financial aid. It’s difficult to predict whether you’ll qualify for aid, so apply even if you think your net worth is too high. Most colleges and universities, and many states, require you to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for need-based aid. In addition, a number of institutions require the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®, and specific types of aid may have their own paperwork requirements. Some schools provide financial aid to eligible students on a first-come, first-served basis until funding runs out, so the earlier you apply, the better. The FAFSA allows you to designate up to 10 schools with which your application will be shared.

A single misstep, however, can harm your child’s eligibility. Keep in mind that, generally, the value of your principal residence or any qualified retirement assets isn’t included in your net worth for financial aid purposes. This may require you to complete your income tax return early. The order in which you list the schools doesn't matter when applying for federal student aid.

So another key date to be aware of is January 31 — the deadline for employers to issue 2017 W-2s to employees and, generally, for businesses to issue 1099s to recipients of any 2017 interest, dividend or reportable miscellaneous income payments.

So be sure to keep an eye on your mailbox or your employer’s internal website.

Let us help you navigate the process and explore other ways to finance college. To be deductible on your 2017 return, a charitable donation must be made by December 31, 2017. The date the financial institution pays the amount. The date you mail the properly endorsed stock certificate to the charity.But the value of your shares will immediately drop by the same amount, so you won’t be any better off.Plus, you’ll be liable for taxes on the distribution as if you had owned your shares all year.But if you're also applying for state aid, it's important to know that different rules may apply. If you’re divorced or separated, the FAFSA should be completed by the parent with whom your child lived for the majority of the 12-month period ending on the date the application is filed.For example, some states require you to list schools in a specified order. This is true regardless of which parent claims the child as a dependent on his or her tax return.

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