With One Year to Go

Look for free money and line up loans.

With five years to go before your final tuition bill is due, you can keep up to a fourth of your college account in conservative stock funds, but shift about half your money into a bond fund or "laddered" CDs so a portion matures each year. Move the money you need for next year's bill into a money-market fund. Repeat each year.

Calculate your expected family contribution again. If it looks as if you'll qualify for financial aid, try to lower the income included in the calculations -- by, say increasing your pre-tax contributions to a flexible spending account, if your employer offers it.

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