Throughout this series, we teach you a significant amount about how you can properly position your assets to receive the maximum amount of financial aid legally possible. If you haven’t read the previous posts, we recommend you do so!
Hopefully, you now know to avoid putting too much money in the student’s name and how you can move your investments to the types of tools that avoid inclusion in the FAFSA calculation. But, is there anything else you can do to manage the amount of income and assets count against you when applying for financial aid? Yes! Try putting your family business to work.
Completing FAFSA with a Family Business
Prior to 2006, completing FAFSA and owning a family business wasn’t necessarily a great thing. It’s value used to be included as an asset that determined your ability to pay for college. Fortunately, section 8019(c) of the Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 (HERA 2005) changed this rule so that the assets that generated the income would not be counted against you. After all, aren’t these assets the same ones that generated the income that is included in the FAFSA?
Now before getting too jubilant and creating a work-at-home internet business to accept all your income, take some time to think this through. Discuss its impact with your accountant, planner, or financial team.
Rules to Follow
There are also some key rules to follow to make certain your business’ value is not included on FAFSA.
- Your family needs to primarily own (greater than 50%) the business.
- The business must have fewer than 100 employees.
- The family completely the FAFSA must control the business.
- FAFSA excludes family farms.
- If the business is real estate, the family must demonstrate that they’re materially participating in the management and solicitation of the holdings. Simply being a real estate agent does not qualify for exemption of FAFSA.
So how can having a family-owned business help you spend less on college? The main benefit is your ability to control your income and asset ownership. By working with your CPA and/or Financial Planner, you can better control your salary and expenses. The net result is a lower amount of income and assets subject to inclusion on your FAFSA and a reduced Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). This means, you will have a greater opportunity to take advantage of the multiple Federal, State, and college-specific aid programs available.
If you think you can leverage a family-owned business to maximize your college financial planning, then don’t hesitate. But, you will want to give yourself a couple of years in order to maximize the benefit of this provision.
Have questions? Please post them below.
Todd Rhine is the owner of Todd Rhine Planning (http://www.toddrhine.com). He sports an impressive roll of financial certifications (including CWC, CFP®, RFC®, CLU, ChFC, IAR), and we asked him to write a series of articles related to financing college after seeing some of his results.