Top 10 tips for college planning

While your kids are stressing about college, as in their essays and SAT scores, you're probably stressing about college planning, as in coming up with the money. Of course you want your kids to have the best education possible -- but have you seen what the best education costs these days? Don't worry -- with these top 10 tips for college planning, you may not have to spend the rest of your life paying for the next four years of your kid's life.

College Planning Tip #1: Negotiate your financial aid. You should start to receive financial aid packets from colleges about two weeks after receiving an acceptance letter, and these packets are crucial for college planning. In fact, it can help in your final college planning decision, as schools vary widely in what they'll offer, as they present what they can do to try to make up the difference between their fees and your expected contribution. They calculate this amount via several factors: your financial need, your kid's academic achievements and the aid they have available. This calculation often poses the biggest problem for middle-income families who are college planning -- they have too much to qualify but too little to pay.