I have a fairly modest income (closer to the poverty line than median income), but because we live abroad, we're able to live comfortably and save responsibly. We max out our IRA contributions every year, and, sometimes because we can save extra, and sometimes because of gifts from family, we're able to have other investments as well (i.e., outside of retirement accounts).
We're not so well off, however, that we have any hope of paying for college for our three children, who are now elementary-aged: we'll have to depend on financial aid. (I suppose that all of our savings at that point might pay for college for one of them; or one-and-a-half.)
My concern is that by saving and investing now, I'm harming my (kids') chance for financial aid in the future. Will I just report these things on the FAFSA and have the government say, in effect, “Well, it looks like you can afford to pay for their college”.
So, is it counterproductive at this stage to save money outside of retirement accounts? Or, are there specific types of investments we can make that won't count against college financial aid?