No Idea How to Save for College?

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Is the thought of paying all, or a portion, of the cost of a college education stressing you out?

Are you paralyzed with fear because you have no idea how much to save, let alone how to save?

Did you know that parents underestimate the sticker price of a 4-year degree by an average of $70,000?

If any of the above applies, then you need to take action! Identify the projected cost and develop and implement a college planning campaign.

If you don’t, then enjoy the company of over 44 million Americans who are and may indefinitely be burdened with school debt.

Though the cost of a 4-year degree is beyond absurd, there are steps you can take to reduce the expected blow to your financial well-being.

Of course, you should save as much as you can as early as you can. But, be sure to save in the right vehicle – one you control, one where the money is easily accessible, one that can’t be affected by stock market fluctuations, and one that does not negatively impact eligibility for financial aid.

Yes…there is a financial vehicle that meets each of the criteria just mentioned.

No…it’s not a 529 Plan and it’s not a Roth IRA.

Ready to learn more?

Take the first step in developing and implementing a college planning campaign designed specifically for your family.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Ways to Pay Off School Loans Ahead of Schedule

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Of course, anyone with school debt would like to eliminate that burden at the earliest opportunity.

And, for many students, the battle to repay those school loans is akin to Sisyphus pushing his boulder.

Roughly 44.7 million Americans are servicing almost $1.5 trillion in school debt…an amount that seems to increase exponentially.

While the ability to repay depends on a variety of factors, there do exist ways to satisfy the debt early, thereby achieving “significant” savings.

The first way appears self-evident…borrow only what you need. Although the temptation to keep unneeded money as a safety cushion is real, interest will be paid on the amount borrowed. If it’s not needed, return it.

The second way smacks of common sense…choose the repayment plan carefully. Loans have repayment plans based on a variety of factors. The longer it takes, the more interest is paid.

The third way seems rather unrealistic…make payments while in school. If you could make payments while in school, it’s likely the loan may not have been needed. Even if needed, what money is available likely will be used on day-to-day expenses.

The fourth way is the conventional way of paying down debt…make extra payments when able. The option to pay more than the monthly amount required always exists, often without penalty. Be sure to inform the loan servicer that the extra should be applied immediately to the principal, not held for future payments.

The fifth way makes it easy to overlook the debt burden…enroll in automatic debit. Sure, there might be reduction on the monthly payment for the servicer’s right to automatically draft the payment, but you are granting access to your personal account.

There is a HUGE disadvantage to each of the above ways of paying off loans ahead of schedule. In each case, your dollar performs only one job – paying off debt.

We recommend that you give your dollar two jobs – growing at a compounded rate of interest while it is being used to pay off your debt.

When your dollar performs two jobs, not only is debt eliminated much quicker than thought possible, your savings increases to the point that funds are available for large future expenses and, quite often, a continuous, tax-preferred stream of income in retirement.

Let us show you how…

7 Great Reasons to Choose a School – – NOT!

Every year, schools are chosen or rejected for ridiculous reasons…

Beware of these “great” reasons to choose a school…

Romance. Choose the school that’s the right fit for you, not because of someone special. If you both end up at a particular school, it’s because it’s the right fit for you both.

My Friends are Going There / No One I know is Going There. Friendships change dramatically. It’s easier to make friends than you think. Challenge yourself. Learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Beautiful People (or Lack Thereof). Yes, social life is important; but, you don’t want your college life to be short-lived. Plus, you’re idea of “hot” may evolve as you mature.

College Rankings. Just because a school is highly ranked, it doesn’t mean it’s a great fit for you. Be sure to really identify the right fit for you, or you may find misery at that prestigious institution.

It’ll make my Parents Happy. While we want the family to be happy with the choice, what matters most is that you like the school.

My Visit wasn’t the Greatest. Don’t reject a school because the weather was bad or the tour guide was an idiot. If it seems to be a good fit in every way, visit again, then trust your gut!

It’s too Big or too Small. Don’t discount small schools, as they often have vibrant cultures. Likewise, don’t discount large schools, as they may have options that can give you a “small school experience” in a big campus setting.

Our professional college planners help families find the right schools at the right prices based on academics, size, location, culture, and finances. Please contact us for assistance with your college planning campaign.

Choosing the Right School for the Student and Family

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As high school seniors approach graduation, families face two critical decisions – choosing the right school and determining how to pay for it.

Some schools are chosen based on “sticker price;” however, that choice usually doesn’t result in the right school or the least expensive school.

Others are chosen based on location or family expectations; again, that may not result in the right or least expensive choice.

College planning should be based on professional planning and debt management, not cost, location, or expectations…

Families should begin their college planning campaigns much earlier than junior or senior year in high school.

In fact, proper planning should begin somewhere between 7th and 10th grade, as a student’s first year’s eligibility for financial aid can be locked into place starting January 1 of that student’s sophomore year in high school.

According to Christian Davis, University of Houston scholarship and financial aid adviser, “…it is not just about comparing schools… it is also about planning for the financial aspect…as soon as a child is born. If they didn’t start that early, I would recommend they start their freshman year of high school,” Davis said.

According to JoEllen Soucier, executive director of financial aid for Houston Community College, “…choosing a college should begin in ninth grade. The pupil’s parents should also be planning for the costs of college even before freshman year. Realistically, parents should start planning for college costs at the birth of a child. College costs are a lifetime planning process to reduce and eliminate debt as much as possible.”

If you’re starting to plan later than you should and could use some help, contact our professional college planners for assistance with your campaign.

Now that you’re in, how the heck do you pay for it?

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Once upon a time, the biggest worry a family faced was the arrival of the college acceptance letter…

That worry has been supplanted by an even bigger worry – – – paying for that college education!

Why the worry?

The ever-increasing cost-of-attendance engenders panic in even the calmest of families.

Private schools average $42,000 annually, while public schools average $26,000. Sticker shock, coupled with the nation’s collective school loan debt, seems quite frightening.

What can you do?

Rather than worry, a family should devise a plan designed to “attack” the cost-of-attendance and potential school debt.

Planning far in advance renders the expenses more manageable and allows a family to engage in planning options unavailable after sophomore year in high school.

It’s a wonderful thing to advise families to design a plan and to start early, but it doesn’t mean a thing if they have no idea where to start or what to do.

That’s why we’re here!

We help families design and implement their college planning campaigns, providing them with a structured process and peace of mind.

Contact our professional college planners for assistance with your college planning campaign. It’s never too early to begin!

Your Retirement or Your Child’s Education?

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The dream school for your child or an affordable, comfortable retirement for you?

Emotion wins out.

You won’t be the one spoiling a dream!

Your child heads off to school, chasing the dream of a college education and you’re left contemplating your retirement into the greeter’s position at a local retail establishment…

Financial planners these days warn parents to resist the urge to help their children because the parents are heading at record speed into a financial crisis.

Approaching their 60’s and an expected, impending retirement, they face crippling school debt. The school debt they face is not their school debt. Rather, it’s the debt they never expected, the debt they assumed when cosigning loans their children are unable to repay.

Combined with mortgages, car payments, credit cards, and medical bills, the addition of school debt can, and often does, delay saving for retirement for ten years or more. A looming financial disaster…

Address the issues of school funding, debt repayment, and retirement savings with a properly designed and implemented college planning campaign. Contact us to schedule a no-obligation evaluation.