Graduation Rates

Recent statistics from 2013, among first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began seeking a bachelor's degree at a 4-year degree- granting institution in fall 2007, the 6-year graduation rate was 58 percent at public institutions, 65 percent at private nonprofit institutions, and 32 percent at private for-profit institutions.

This translates to approximately 6 out of 10 students will graduate from college overall.

Scholar Dollars will assist your student to choose the right college that best suits their personality and tendencies to become a graduate and not become a "40-percenter."

Financial Aid

A misnomer. Based on recent statistics- Student Loan Debt in the USA has continued to rise and the numbers are staggering:

Average student loan debt- $30,000!!!

Percent of college students who borrow annually to help cover costs- 60 % !!!

Scholar Dollars will help avoid, minimize and/or eliminate this challenge for your student and your budget.

The SMART Approach

At Scholar Dollars, we think that there is a better way to go about paying for college. A Smart Approach is as easy as A B C...D

FIRST- “A.” APPLY for financial aid (Not LOANS!)

NEXT- “B.” BECOME cash flow efficient.(529's & Coverdell Plans maybe working against you instead of for you).

THEN- “C” refers to CREDIT and borrowing.(Scholar Dollars' Mission is to help you avoid this altogether!)

LAST- "D". DEPLETE assets, which unfortunately, what many people do first!

It's like hiring a College CPA to maximize your student's chances of staying out of debt.

David Alvarado is a Certified College Planning Educator who specializes in making the FAFSA process “Friendlier” rather than “Frustrating.” The acronym for FAFSA is “Free Application for Student Aid”, but in actuality- it is more Frustrating than it is Free or Fair. We exist because our mission is to help as many families understand this unfair and frustrating FAFSA process so that students can be Free to enjoy their college careers without financial constraints and families don’t go broke in the process.

David is the Founder and Owner of Scholar Dollars Financial Group, LLC,a Relationship-based group of Financial Educators that have found ways to help families with college-bound students avoid, minimize and ultimately eliminate the need to obtain Student and/or Parent College Loan Debt. Located in the Phoenix Valley area, he brings together over 25 years of Financial Consulting experience along with his first-hand knowledge of the Education system- as he was also a Public School Teacher in California and Arizona- for over 25 years.

He is committed to helping parents and their students effectively prepare and pay for college without jeopardizing their life savings or going broke in the process. Understanding how to make college more affordable for parents represents a major gap in most financial plans because expertise in the subject has always been limited. With his background as a Teacher and Financial Consultant- a family will finally understand the pitfalls that leave many families either opting out of sending their student to a more expensive university or going broke doing so unnecessarily.

David is a graduate of Point Loma Nazarene University, located in sunny San Diego, CA, where he doubled majored in Education and Foreign Language and received a Bachelors in both Liberal Studies and Spanish. He has coached high school boys baseball and basketball, and girls basketball. He is a licensed Insurance Producer in both CA and AZ. He frequently is invited to speak to Charter, Private and Public Schools on what to look for and avoid when planning for college, especially regarding the frustrating FAFSA form process.

David lives with his wife in Glendale, AZ, where he enjoys volunteering as a Youth Coach for his church youth group, officiates high school and middle school basketball for the Charter Athletic Association and when he isn’t too busy, enjoys an occasional round of golf. Between he and his wife- they have 4 adult children, a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law along with their pride and joys- 4 grand-children under the age of 11.

Scholar Dollars College Planning was created to be a resource that families can utilize to make the FAFSA process FRIENDLIER and MISTAKE FREE. We realize that most families already understand that SAT’s, ACT's, GPA’s, and extracurricular activities are important requirements for getting into college. Furthermore, most people realize that income and assets are a key factor in determining who qualifies for financial aid.


We believe it is important when to help families and teach them what they may never hear from a counselor or college financial aid officer. In other words, we have discovered "the secret sauce" into what goes on BEHIND CLOSED DOORS OF THE ADMISSIONS AND FINANCIAL AID OFFICES. How do they make their decisions on who gets accepted and what will be your total out-of-pocket cost for any college you apply to? We help you build and implement a plan to pay for college with a mindset for financial aid by MINIMIZING, AVOIDING or ELIMINATING STUDENT or PARENT COLLEGE LOAN DEBT!

Let our Scholar Dollars College Planning Educators take that burden off your shoulders and walk you through the entire college financial aid process and make the FAFSA process “Friendly” instead of “Frustrating.


New Years Resolution
Purposes of Planning for Financial Aid for College

  • Structure a plan that allows for maximum financial aid availability regarding “Gift Aid” like:
    endowment grants from private universities,
    government grants (if qualified), private scholarship money, etc.
  • Eliminate paying less in taxes
  • Decreasing “lost aid eligibility”
    (ie. Out of pocket costs and EFC government would have required for family to pay)
  • Increasing Appreciation and Recovered Gift aid eligibility
    (keeping more money in your savings and pocket)
  • Having more money at retirement age for parents
  • Improving the student’s chances of graduating from a college or university
  • Staying away from traditional tax deferred vehicles
    that are used against the financial aid process
  • Not using any 401(k) money to pay for college
  • Not using equity in home to fund college tuition/costs

Knowing How to Do These things is what helps families graduate their student in less than 5 years
(average graduation rates indicate almost 5 years to obtain a BA Degree)
and with minimal or No College Student or Parent Loan Debt.

If you have a Senior in high school- TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!

If you haven't obtained a FAFSA PIN yet- do it TODAY! before waiting for Tax and Income information.
Then gather all pertinent financial info and have ready when you begin the FAFSA completion process.
HOWEVER, statistics show that at least over 40% of people who submit the FAFSA form-
submit it incorrectly, with unnecessary info and/or with errors.
Contact us and we will guide you into submitting the form with the correct and necessary info.
We offer a complimentary consultation to start the ball rolling in maximizing the potential for
Financial Gift Aid
and minimizing the need for Student Loan Debt.

FAFSA Season Winding Down

Be Careful When Submitting the FAFSA Form. Depending on some statistics-

between 40-70% of the forms submitted every year are submitted incorrectly!

Here are 10 Common Mistakes to avoid:

1. Failing to Submit Because of Income (High or Low)

Many times families will not complete or submit the FAFSA,
believing that they make too much money to qualify, or they make less
and think they will get everything covered because of income.
Income is one of seven factors used to determine aid eligibility;
always complete the FAFSA regardless of income.

2. Waiting Too Long to Submit

A mistake many make is to wait until they have all of their financial documents in place,
and taxes done, before submitting their FAFSA. Since some money is on a first-come,
first-served basis, it is imperative to submit as early in January or by mid-February as possible with
estimates of your finances (which the Department of Education fully expects).

3. Submitting Incorrect Info for Divorced Parents

In a divorce situation, whose financial information is used? It is the income and assets of the household
|(including step-parent info) in which the students spends the majority of their time and receives the majority of financial support.

4. Understating Income

If you contribute to a 401(k), 403(b), or any other pre-tax retirement account,
you must add back any contributions in the previous year to your income for FAFSA purposes.
This in effect produces a higher FAFSA income than what might be shown on your tax return.

5. Overstating Assets

Many families mistakenly include retirement assets as part of their investments or net worth,
when in fact retirement assets should not be included here.

6. Misquoting Real Estate Assets

Another common error is that families overstate their assets by including the equity
they have in their primary residence. For FAFSA purposes, primary residence home equity is not included.
However, equity in rental property and vacation homes can be included.

7. Misplacing Information

Always remember the FAFSA is written from a student perspective as if they are the one completing it.
When the FAFSA refers to “you” and “yours,” it is in fact referring to the student.

8. Choosing to File Paper Vs. Electronic

Online submission provides built-in edits to help prevent errors, is more time-efficient,
includes an online help feature, and offers a much simpler renewal process.

9. Failing to Consider Each Question Carefully

Give yourself time to think through the questions and what they are asking.
Answering questions a certain way can preclude you from receiving aid or valuable information.
The following two questions highlight this fact. When asked if you are interested in work-study,
always answer yes. It does not mean you will get it, nor does it mean you have to take it.
But what if the award is a great offer for the hours expected? When it asks for the student’s email address,
always put your email address. This ensures that all information communicated to you or your student comes to you for review.

10. Forgetting to Save as You Go

Every page or two, be sure to save your file as you go. You don’t want to get halfway through
just to find your computer or the government’s server has locked up.

Last, but not Least

And last but not least, I want to include the one mistake you definitely do not want to make.
Please be sure to complete the correct FAFSA application. Remember to complete the FAFSA
for the year your student will be in college for the upcoming fall school year,
NOT the school year they are currently in. This is a huge, but common mistake.
Make this one and your student will receive no aid in the following fall.

Quiz Answers to College Fair

1: What are the two different planning strategies for paying for college expenses? Need Advantage & Tax Advantage

2: How many factors are used to calculate EFC? 7: 1&2) Parent’s Assets & Income; 3&4) Student’s Assets & Income; 5) # of people in Household;
6) # of people in College; lastly 7) Age of the oldest Parent.

3: What is the equation for determining “financial need”? Cost of Attendance – Expected Family Contribution = Financial Need (COA – EFC = FN)

4: What are the two methodologies used by colleges to determine EFC? Federal & Institutional Methodologies.

5: What form is used for each methodology? FAFSA (FM) & CSS Profile (IM)

6: When is the earliest the FAFSA can be submitted? October 1st of every year (FAFSA form will ask for financial info 2 years in arrears- PLAN AHEAD!)

7: How often do the financial aid forms need to be completed? Every Year for Every Student in College

8: Whose income and assets are weighted more heavily when calculating the EFC? The Student’s

9: What is the largest piece of the “financial aid pie”? Federal Loans (if not careful- aid is disguised as LOANS!!!)

10: What type of financial aid does not need to be repaid? Gift Aid (FREE MONEY)

11: What assets are not considered on the FAFSA form? Retirement Plans, Home Equity, Insurance Cash Values, Annuity Values [but may be ASKED for by Private Universities on CSS Profile (IM)]

12: Whose income and assets are reported on the FAFSA form for the student’s parents (in a divorce situation)? Whichever parent the child spends more than 50% of their time.


The cost of college is increasing faster than the rate of inflation.TRUE

Financial need is the same for all students at a particular college. FALSE

Consumer debt will help when applying for financial aid. FALSE

The FAFSA and the IRS 1040 ask the same type of questions, therefore, they should be completed using the same figures. FALSE

Sticker price determines a family’s out-of-pocket expenses for college. FALSE

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