Arnold: Financing a college education

Posted by: Victoria Klimczak  | Thursday, October 5, 2017 8:44 am

For students considering college and post-secondary education, the cost of schooling is often a major factor. Fortunately, there are various forms of assistance available and ways to save in order to prepare for the expense of college.

Establishing a CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings Plan is an excellent way to begin preparing for college costs early. Since the 529 program started, Hoosiers have invested nearly $3.6 billion across 317,000 accounts. These plans are used to save for a variety of expenses like tuition, room and board, computers, and books, and the funds can be applied to any school that accepts financial aid.

There are many benefits to saving for college through the 529 program. Contributions to an account can be made by its owner or family members, and the money accumulates tax-free as long as it is withdrawn to pay for qualified expenses. Funds in the account also have little effect on estimated family contribution when determining financial aid eligibility. Additionally, Indiana taxpayers can earn a state income tax credit based on their annual contributions. More information on CollegeChoice 529 Direct Savings Plans can be found online at www.collegechoicedirect.com.

In order to determine an individual’s financial aid eligibility and help them search for scholarships and loans, college students and those planning on attending need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid each year. The FAFSA can be filed easily and for free online at www.fafsa.gov. This year, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool will be available to help complete the form more simply and efficiently. The Data Retrieval Tool uses your tax data from the IRS to automatically fill in the information for parts of the FAFSA, often reducing the number of errors.

For assistance submitting the application, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center toll-free at 1-800-4FED-AID. Additionally, each year, schools across the state participate in College Goal Sunday and provide free assistance from financial aid experts. This event is coming up on Sunday, Nov. 5, and you can visit www.collegegoalsunday.org to find participating locations. The deadline for submitting the FAFSA for the 2018-2019 school year is March 10, 2018.

Learn more about the types of financial aid and how to apply at studentaid.ed.gov. Please continue to contact my office with any questions or comments at 317-232-9793 or h74@iga.in.gov. To stay informed on what’s happening at the Statehouse, you can also sign up for my email updates at www.in.gov/h74.

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State Rep. Lloyd Arnold (R-Leavenworth) represents House District 74,

which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.

A high-resolution photo of Arnold can be downloaded by clicking here.