Helping understand the ins and outs of financial aid
In his recent book, Howard Freedman, DMSB’69, helps students and their parents understand some of the tricks to getting the most out of financial aid opportunities.
Simple is best, especially when it comes to navigating the often turbulent seas of financial aid.
So says Howard Freedman, DMSB’69, who founded Financial Aid Consulting more than a decade ago and whose recent book, “Making College Happen: The Realities of Coping With College Costs,” provides important guidelines on how to make the right financial – and emotional – decisions.
“You have to that many things into consideration,” said Freedman, of Stoughton, Massachusetts. “You have to understand what you can afford, what kind of schools make the most sense, and, perhaps most importantly, what are you going to get out of it and how much will you owe.
“It’s a situation where you have to be careful. It’s like dominoes – every decision you make will affect the next one.”
Freedman said planning for college should begin as early as freshman year in high school to provide for as much preparation as possible.
“You can never have too much time,” Freedman said. “If you wait until your junior or senior years, you’ve let a lot of opportunity for preparation go by.
“Parents look forward to their kids graduating from high school but there is a lot of anxiety about what lies ahead.”
Freedman said it’s important for students and parents to know what they can afford. You might be smart enough to get into some of the more elite colleges, but does it make fiscal sense? In his book, Freedman has included some “horror stories,” in an effort to prevent others from making similar mistakes.
“You really need to establish criteria to evaluate the colleges that make sense for the student,” Freedman said. “You need to talk to the right people and make the right decisions. And you can’t base those decisions on feelings, you must base it on facts. That way you know you are making correct decisions.”
For Freedman, providing the tools to make such an important decision comes naturally. He began his career in finance and payroll, but admits, “As I got older, opportunities were not as plentiful so I kept reinventing myself.”
Freedman spent a decade doing consulting work for software companies before he met someone struggling to fill out financial aid forms.
“I feel like I have a driving need and the analytical skills to help people understand this,” Freedman said. “Because it isn’t easy to understand.”
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published March 2016