What is College Planning?
Most financial professionals that touch on college planning focus in two areas:
- Exclusively discuss savings opportunities - like 529 accounts or other investments they can manage
- Exclusively focus on asset placement to help improve your financial aid picture - like purchasing insurance policies or annuities
Early Stage - For those of you with children up to age 13, I do focus on savings, but also on budgeting and cash flow strategies, ensuring your retirement is on track, and educating you on the college financial aid calculations and processes so you can make smart decisions now and tomorrow.
Late Stage - For those of you with children already in high school, I deeply educate you on the financial aid process and calculations, discuss budgeting and cash flow opportunities you may have available, and help you develop a plan on how you will fund your child's education - without making decisions that could derail the rest of your finances.
I don't sell insurance or annuities. I also don't sell 529 plans, manage investments, or benefit in any way from your decisions. I'm a fee-only financial planner who can help you assess your situation and recommend the best course of action for you. The one that's in your best interest. If you don't know why that's important, what fee-only means, or if someone is trying to tell you real college planning advice is free, please read this article.
There is so much junk out there in the college financial planning space. Seriously. Below are resources I've provided because of the accuracy and helpfulness of the information they provide. So many people will try to convince you that this topic is too complex for you to do it yourself, and they will scare you into believing you need to take actions that endanger your financial health.
You can do this yourself. You can also hire someone like me to help you. If you do decide to work individually with someone, make sure you understand how they are paid. As my old Economics professor said, "there is no such thing as a free lunch".
If you're a DIYer, start here. I've read all these books and they truly are the cream of the crop with regards to giving you a solid foundation to make good financial decisions concerning your child's education. Although some are a few years old (and therefore may not have the latest FAFSA information baked in), the money you can save by reading them will likely be in the thousands.
- The Financial Aid Handbook
Right College Right Price
- The College Solution
- Plan and Finance Your Family's College Dreams
- Paying For College Without Going Broke
- FAFSA 4Caster (Federal Methodology only)
- EFC Calculator (includes Federal and Institutional Methodologies)
Official Government Websites
- Federal Student Aid
- College Scorecard
- College Navigator
- College Affordability and Transparency Center (includes links to Net Price Calculators)
- Schools that require the CSS/Profile
- Schools that claim to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need
- State and Regional College Tuition Discounts
- State Financial Aid Programs
Inspiration Financial Planning provides college financial planning on a project basis for parents of students of all ages. To learn more about our services, please reach out and set up a free introductory conversation.