Parents of high school seniors still have a few last-minute opportunities to maximize their college-bound student's chances at financial aid.
Families can file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is the form that determines your family's eligibility for financial aid, as early as October 1 this year, using income data from their 2015 tax return. (Previously, the start date was three months later, on Jan. 1, with families estimating income data for the tax return they would file that spring.)
If your aim is to file soon, experts say, there are still some (legal) strategies you can employ to essentially work the formula and make you appear less affluent on paper. Asset values are reported at the time you file the FAFSA, allowing more flexibility for last-minute moves.
A few caveats about FAFSA preplanning: Some colleges also ask applicants to file the College Scholarship Service Profile (CSS), which uses a different formula. There are also other considerations, including parental marital status, age and number of kids in college, that can shift the formula and affect the expected family contribution.