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How do I know if I'm eligible for federal financial aid?

Question:

How do I know if I'm eligible for federal financial aid?

Answer:

The answer is you don't, until you apply. For most parents, even two-income parents, it's difficult to predict who will qualify for financial aid. Some families with incomes of $100,000 or more may qualify for financial aid, while those with lesser incomes may not.

Your current income is the main factor that determines whether your child will qualify for aid, but it's not the only factor. Other important considerations include your assets, the number of children you have in college at the same time, and how many years you have until retirement.

Regarding assets, a common misconception is that all your hard work saving for retirement will count against you come financial aid time. However, the federal government's formula for determining aid eligibility specifically excludes retirement assets from consideration. The federal formula also excludes home equity (in your primary residence only), cash value life insurance, and annuities. Be aware, however, that a college's own institutional aid application may include one or more of these assets.

The rule is "When in doubt, apply." The federal government's aid application, known as the FAFSA, is free, so all that you will lose if you discover your child is ineligible for aid is just a few hours of your time.

Please be advised that this material is not intended as legal or tax advice. Accordingly, any tax information provided in this material is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The tax information was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent advisor.

Information provided has been prepared from sources and data we believe to be accurate, but we make no representation as to its accuracy or completeness. Data and information is provided for informational purposes only, and is not intended for solicitation or trading purposes. Please consult your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation. Neither AXA Equitable nor any of the data provided by AXA Equitable or its content providers, such as Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., shall be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for the actions taken in reliance therein. By accessing the AXA Equitable website, a user agrees to abide by the terms and conditions of the site including not redistributing the information found therein.

AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company (NY, NY). Securities are offered through AXA Advisors, LLC, NY, NY 212-314-4600 (member FINRA / SIPC). AXA Equitable and AXA Advisors are affiliated companies, do not provide legal or tax advice and are not affiliated with Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc.

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GE 91363 (02/2014)