facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast blog external search brokercheck brokercheck

Welcome to your personal resource page for College Financial Aid Planning

This page is designed for College Bound Families of TMS. Here you will find relevant & reliable information on financial aid, financial planning, cost reductions strategies and links to outside resources to help you prepare for college and make informed decisions for your family when paying for college. Because college is one of the biggest expenses parents face on their way toward retirement, money saved on the cost of college can be redirected toward securing your retirement and other important family goals. 

Why Plan

First, its important to know the difference between the two types of financial aid: 

  1. Merit Aid is based on your child's academic profile, while 
  2. Financial Need Aid is based on your family's finances. 
Financial aid formulas that calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) - the amount your family will be expected to contribute towards college - is standardized among all fifty states and takes into account family assets and income. But they do not take into account your family's debt or cost of living. As a result, many Bay Area Families will not automatically qualify for financial "need" aid and will need to plan, thoughtfully, to lower their cost of college.

Where to Start

The financial aid process may feel overwhelming, confusing and complex at the beginning. But if you create a timeline, approaching this in bite sized pieces, you will make better decisions, with higher confidence and less stress.

  1. Start by establishing your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) based on your current financial situation;
  2. Build a college list where your student is likely to apply and get accepted;
  3. Compare your EFC against the total cost of attendance  (COA) for each school on your list.
  4. If your EFC is lower than the cost of attendance, you will have an opportunity to receive financial need based aid
To calculate your EFC, go to BigFuture.org or contact us.

What's next?

After you have established your EFC, it's important to know how it was calculated and whether you can lower it, thereby increasing your financial aid eligibility and reducing your out of pocket cost of college.

If you are a $0 EFC Family (high need):

  • If your EFC is close to $0, you should focus on "need based aid" and colleges that meet 100% of demonstrated need. Understand how your EFC is calculated using the three financial aid methodologies and focus your efforts on lowering your EFC. 

If you are mid EFC (some need):

Shift your focus to tax savings, merit aid colleges, and using personal resources in the most efficient manner to pay for college, without increasing your EFC. Ask your accountant about the American Opportunity Tax Credit

If you are high EFC family (no need):

If your EFC is higher than the cost of attendance (COA) focus your efforts entirely on merit aid and creating maximum tax savings for your family & student. Ask your accountant about having your student pass the "Support Test"

We will continue to update this page with new content so check back periodically. If you're looking for additional information or have specific questions email us college@pillar6.com or call  877.PILLAR6 (877.745.5276).

NOTE: We are creating new college planning services and courses for families at every stage of the college planning process. If you have specific questions or want to request a particular topic, please write to us. 

We love hearing your feedback: