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
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
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
- Promise increased financial aid.
- Negotiate financial aid with colleges
- Encourage illegal or unethical behavior
- Fill out your FAFSA
- 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
- 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.
- 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.