"The hero of my work, in all of his naked unadorned glory, is truth."

- Tolstoy

Watch for my new website in February of 2014!
The new site will feature lots of free "just in time" advice.  As always there will be no spin, no fear and no guilt.  Just lots of facts, experiences and links to help you design your own college plans and to find the right path for your unique student and family situation.

If you'd like to receive a note when we are up and running click here.

3 Ways to plan for college

Over the past 25 years of speaking to over 40,000 parents and more than 10,000 financial planners I have seen families plan for college one of three ways.

1. Do nothing

It seems most people I meet are either really patient or they are overwhelmed. They ask very few questions and do very little to prepare for this significant expense. The cost of college is too high and the process is too valuable to ignore.

2. Do it yourself for free.

I am a huge believer in doing it yourself for free. I believe so strongly that college planning information should be free that I was once invited by Senator Paul Wellstone to testify at Congressional Field Hearings on why the application for financial aid should be free. In 2002, I created a tool for my financial planning practice that I called the Net Cost Calculator to help parents gather the information they needed to calculate their family's unique cost of college using free information. Today, by law all colleges use a similar tool to help create transparency as it relates to the costs of attending their college and the associated benefits. With a little time and effort you can create a world-class college plan yourself.

3. Hire a professional.

Sending your child to college can be a very expensive and emotional venture. I have trained thousands of financial planners, spoken to over 40,000 parents and have helped hundreds of families develop specific strategies to make sound financial decisions when planning and paying for college. If you have ever considered paying a professional for assistance this might be a good time. For the price of having a season of fertilizer applied to your lawn you can learn from an expert how to determine the best way for your family to pay for any college in the country. That leaves you the time and energy to focus on selecting and getting into the right school and managing the emotions that go along with it.



Professional Values-Based College Planning Advice

At College Planning University we have found that the key to a positive college funding experience is understanding your finances and running that data through your sieve of values. We call this values-based college planning.

What Mick will not do for a fee is:

  1. Promise increased financial aid.
  2. Negotiate financial aid with colleges
  3. Encourage illegal or unethical behavior
  4. Fill out your FAFSA
  5. Write college essays.


There are individuals that specialize in each of these areas. Some are very good at it. Do your homework and make a decision. At CPU we believe you should focus on what you can control first. Getting accepted is a small part of your student's path to financial independence.


How does CPU work?

College planning services range from very complex including college searches, letter writing, reference gathering and test prep to very basic. Prices run from $4,000 for complex to $150 per hour for basic college financial planning.


At CPU we charge a flat fee of $500 to help you understand all of your options related to paying for college. We don't dress up our package to offer services you don't need. Mick will analyze your situation, provide written recommendations and stick with you until your have the answers you need to effectively pay for the college of your choice.


Our best clients are those that want answers and peace of mind. We have seen all the business models, having been in the business since the concept was created, and we simply feel that our offer provides the best bang for the buck.


Many of our clients hire us even after they have engaged in planning with other firms because they find the clarity and simplicity to be what they are ultimately searching for.


Other College Planning Professionals

The following professionals are all bound by regulations or codes of ethics and can help you sort through college planning issues:

Financial Aid
 - Financial aid administrators are well-trained and paid to help you sort through your financial aid situation. Do some research then contact the financial aid office at each school you are considering.

 - Call the admissions office or develop a relationship with admissions visitors to your school's counseling office. You are the potential customer. Act like one.


- History has proven that one type of college saving plan is not better than another. A financial planner can help you understand your options. You decide.

Financial planning
 - Consider a relationship with a reputable financial planner. This is a heavily regulated industry thus you have to expect disclosures, sales literature and scripted materials. Many are restricted by the companies they work for from talking to you about financial aid.