College Funding

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College Funding and PlanningCollege funding is not a clear cut topic.  It's a moving target that largely depends on the individual needs and circumstance of the family.  The strategies that are best for you will be different from your neighbors and other family members.  It's important to understand that much of the information out there is for the general public.  It's generic information that may or may not have anything to do with your situation.  It's our job to identify who you are quickly and direct you to the information that is relevant and applicable.

In a Wall Street Journal article that offers advice on using rational thinking in college planning, Sandy Baum and Michael McPherson give some clues why this process is often such an ordeal for families.

In the article, we come across phrases like “decisions about college are mind-numbingly complex”  and “Reliable information is hard to come by”.  At one point in the article they say that “Even a rational planner armed with all available information would have a tough time making smart choices”.

Navigating the secondary education system is not easy.  One of the biggest mistakes parents make is assuming the colleges have their best interest in mind.  They think that a college is simply there to educate their children.  But education is a business just like anything else you purchase, and colleges are looking to maximize their revenues wherever they can.   The truth is that the odds are not stack in your favor.  Most parents get frustrated with the system and give up.  What they lack is an experienced expert who can rebalance the scales in their favor!

One of our first objectives is to make sure you understand well in advance what your expected costs are for each school your student is considering.    Too many times parents either run out of money or jeopardize their retirement because they didn't plan ahead.  Using a program called College Advisor Pro, we are able to drill down into the numbers and let you know what kind of financial aid award you’ll receive, the amount of loans you can expect from each school, and the total out of pocket costs you’ll be expected to come up with.  We also take into consideration things like inflation and the 4-year-graduation rate.  In fact, 70% of students attending a state school will graduate in 5.6 years.  those extra semester can add a significant amount to the total costs of college and need to be accounted for.  Understanding where you’re at in applicant pool of students and presenting a family with an estimated payment schedule allows them to make an informed and calculated decision long before the first bill arrives in the mail. 

The kind of financial planning and detail we go into goes far above and beyond any traditional financial planning firm.  A well respected and industry leading CPA out of Virginia was quoted “I just tell all of my clients to buy a 529 plan. That’s all anybody really needs!”  The truth is, 529 plans are often one of the worst college savings vehicles to invest in.  But this one-size-fits all approach to college is what 95% of the financial industry is pushing and it’s costing their clients tens of thousands of dollars.  These "professionals" simply do not understand how the financial aid formula works and how they can improve a family’s award package.  This is a significant difference in the way we approach college funding and the way traditional planners approach college.

We hope the best for you and family.  Below are some essential articles that will help you get on the right track.  Please let us know if we can help in any way.  We encourage everyone to fill out the free online assessment and get an idea of where they stand in the college planning process..

We hope the best for you and family.  Below are some essential articles that will help you get on the right track.  Please let us know if we can help in any way.  We encourage everyone to fill out the free online assessment and get an idea of where they stand in the college planning process.

  1. College Planning Starts With The Student
  2. College Planning IS Retirement Planning: The True Cost of College
  3. How Financial Aid Works
  4. Public or Private: Which REALLY costs less?