But according to Orsolini, “You need more than ‘I need more money’ to appeal a financial aid award.” Orsolini says families need a legitimate reason for schools to re-examine students’ financial situations.

“To get an extra $2,500 is always a bonus for people,” says Joe Orsolini, president of College Aid Planners

Joseph Orsolini from College Aid Planners in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, says that “borrowers that may have difficulty making their payments again should get in contact with their loan servicer about options available to them.”

Credit Karma [November 4, 2020] Married Filing Separately: some things to know

“You generally give up a lot and pay a lot more in taxes to file separately,” says Joe Orsolini, president of College Aid Planners.

“While you may think your income is too high and you won’t qualify for any need-based aid, many colleges use the FAFSA to trigger merit aid which is not based on income,” said Joseph Orsolini, founder at College Aid Planners Inc, a college financial planning firm. “Still, complete the FAFSA.”

“The residency advantage gets wiped out when you consider the cost of living away from home, missed tax breaks and credits and the opportunity cost of being out of the work force that extra year,” Orsolini says.

US New & World Report [May 20, 2020] PAYE vs. REPAYE for Student Loan Repayment

Ultimately, Orsolini says, borrowers must be cautious about these plans and read the fine print. “It is best to consult your loan servicer for the program details specific to your loans,” he says. “I find that these folks are generally very helpful. Most borrowers that experience problems seem to stem from not contacting their servicers before heading down a repayment path.”

divorce, college, fafsa

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“Think of FAFSA rules, IRS regulations, and divorce laws as a Venn diagram — sometimes they intersect, other times they don’t,” Orsolini says.

“Parents returning to school need to be aware that if they already have a bachelor’s degree, they are not eligible for federal loans, grants, or the American opportunity [tax] credit,” says Joseph Orsolini of College Aid Planners.

College Planning

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“While not ideal, reducing the payment is preferable to missing a payment or paying late, which will impact your credit score,” Orsolini said.

US News & World Report [December 23, 2019] An Ultimate Guide to Understanding Financial Aid for College

“Only about 250 colleges require the CSS Profile. Generally, it’s more elite colleges that require the CSS Profile,” says Joseph Orsolini, a certified financial planner with College Aid Planners Inc. “Bear in mind, the CSS Profile will dig much deeper into your family’s finances than the FAFSA.”

“If you’re six figure income, the chances of getting need-based aid are pretty small unless you have multiple kids,” says Joseph Orsolini, financial aid expert at College Aid Planner, a college aid consulting service

Joe Orsolini, who serves as president of College Aid Planners, says many students and parents get hung up on college rankings or where a school lands on a best-of list. As a result, they make poor decisions regarding their undergraduate education. “The reality is that nobody cares where you got your undergraduate degree,” he said. “Do you know where your doctor earned their undergraduate degree?” Probably not.



US News & World Report [June 4, 2018] 10 Key Places to See on College Tours

Joe Orsolini, the president of College Aid Planners, a company that helps families save and pay for college, says that a college tour is not complete without a visit to the college’s career center. “It may not be the ‘sexy’ part of the college tour, but it is important to see what companies are interviewing on campus,” Orsolini wrote in an email. “This will give you an indication of your prospects for who is hiring that school’s graduates.”


Is the child in college, or just getting started in a career? It’s often best for parents to claim a child in college because parents are typically in a higher tax bracket and will receive a greater tax benefit, explains Joe Orsolini, a certified financial planner and founder of CollegeAidPlanners.com.

Wall Street Journal [November 29, 2017] Documents You Need When a Child Turns 18

“To a parent, a kid is always their kid,” Orsolini says, “so it is not immediately apparent to them how the rest of the world looks at that relationship.”

WGN Radio – John Williams Show [September 19, 2017] Listen Here

College Aid Planners President Joseph Orsolini: “You’ve got to get it right early on”


Joseph Orsolini, president of College Aid Planners, told U.S. News, “Ideally you want your student to be in the top 25% of a school’s student population. Those are the kids that get the money.”


U.S. News & World Report  [August 21, 2017] 10 Ways to Get a Tuition Discount

“I’m a big fan of legacy scholarships. Nothing like trading in your college stories for cold hard cash,”says Orsolini.


“I’ve seen parents spend $10,000 arguing over a $2,000 tuition bill,” says Joseph Orsolini, a certified financial planner with College Aid Planners, Inc. “It’s also unfair to the kids, by putting them in the middle of a money argument. The best strategy is having the cost issues ironed out before finalizing the divorce.”

WGN Radio – John Williams Show [April 24, 2017] Listen Here

Financial Expert Joe Orsolini: Acceptance into a top choice school doesn’t always make that school the right choice

“There’s nothing better than going back to that school and saying ‘Hey we really like you but school B offers $3,000 more,” Orsolini says.

The other significant challenge with this tax credit is that many colleges no longer mail out the 1098-T document, he adds. “College students are expected to know to log on to the college web portal, find and print the 1098-T, and give it to their parents,” he says. “As you can imagine, that doesn’t happen as often as it should.”

In fact, your ACT score may be an even better indicator of whether or not you’ll qualify for merit-based financial aid, says Joseph Orsolini, a college aid planning expert based in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Chicago Tribune [August 24, 2016] Before Charging that Tuition Bill, Check for Fees

Orsolini said charging tuition may make sense if a student needs to work around short-term cash flow issues or attends a fee-free school and can pay the credit card bill on time. But costs — from the service fee to interest if the cardholder fails to pay off the balance — can add up fast. If there’s a risk of carrying a balance, families would be better off with lower-interest, longer-term loans, he said.

“I am on the side that thinks college is a good investment, but like any investment, if you overpay for it, you will not be happy with the return from it. I think the high millennial response stems from the hope and promise that newly minted graduates have about their future,” says Joe Orsolini, a CFP professional with College Aid Planners in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

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“I am amazed at how many people get engaged and even married without ever having a conversation on student loan debt,” Orsolini says. “This is especially important if one of couple is on an income-based repayment plan. Adding a spouse’s income will impact eligibility for IBR and may cause their payment to increase.”


WGN Midday News [April 25, 2016] Your Money Matters: College Finance Tips


The Wall Street Journal [April 3. 2016] A Q&A on Paying for College

As for wholesale loan forgiveness, it is dangerous to assume that the government will stop requiring student loans to be repaid, Mr. Orsolini says, particularly since students pay so much in interest to the government on their loans that it is a major federal revenue source: “I would not base my college plan on that happening.”


Some private colleges even give “need based” aid to families earning as much as $200,000, says Joe Orsolini, a private financial aid counselor in Chicago.

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Orsolini wasn’t convinced. His sons had iPads and had used them responsibly and, “remarkably, not broken or lost them, so I wasn’t concerned about that issue. What concerned me was the cost of the service and purchasing a phone.”


“Too many grads commit their paycheck to fixed expenses during the grace period and are hard-pressed to fit in a student loan payment when the grace period ends,” Orsolini added.

Financial Advisor [September 1, 2015] Older Parents, Younger Children

“I have three families where parents over 60 have student debt from children; that makes planning tough,” says Joseph Orsolini, a certified college planning specialist and CFP at Glen Ellyn, Ill.-based College Aid Planners.

Certified financial planner Joe Orsolini of College Aid Planners in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, recommends that ownership always go to the noncustodial parent.

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“What happens in a student debt bubble is you get lifestyles re-setting,” says Joe Orsolini, a certified financial planner with Glen Ellyn’s College Aid Planners.


ABC7 News [February 13, 2013] Tips to Avoid a Mountain of College Debt


The Bill Moller Radio Program [September 26, 2009]