Last week, I was contacted by a financial advisor who was trying to help her clients make the best possible decisions about funding college. She realized that she did not know enough to help her clients make the best decision, so she contacted me for some professional advice.
This scenario is not uncommon, other than many advisors do not even know who to contact for help with funding college. Financial advisors who are very competent in helping clients plan for retirement and other milestones are often completely lost when it comes to college planning.
They know about 529 plans, but not much more than that. College planning is a very specialized area of personal finance, so many financial planners never invest the time and effort to learn a lot about it. That is why you want to work with a financial planner who specializes in helping families find funding for college.
Here are five questions you want to ask your financial advisor:
Do you know how to estimate our expected family contribution (EFC)? Do you even know what that is?
Which category of financial aid do we fall into (always, sometimes, never)? How will our category impact our choice of schools and planning priorities?
Can you help us create strategies for maximizing financial aid?
If we are not eligible for need-based aid, can you guide us in creating tax scholarships (paying for college with pre-tax dollars)?
And most importantly, can you help us find the money for college without significantly reducing our current lifestyle or retirement savings?
The difference between what a college savvy planner can help you save versus a standard financial planner can be significant.
Reading Never Pay Retail for College will provide you with more college specific knowledge than most financial advisors have. And even more importantly, figuring out how to fund college is only one aspect of a successful college experience. The others are about choosing the right college for your student and helping them transition successfully.
As the costs of college continue to increase, it is important that you get the right help to ensure that you Never Pay Retail for College. Let me know if you would like to schedule a free consultation. It can help you see where you need to focus your energy to make college affordable for your student and your family.