7 Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor About College Planning
Today’s high cost of college makes it imperative that you understand as many strategies as possible for maximizing your financial aid and reducing your out-of-pocket cost. For most families, working with a knowledgeable college planning expert can be extremely helpful. However, there are thousands of families who simply assume that their current financial planner will tell them everything they need to know. This is a huge mistake that can cost you a lot!
Many financial advisors are excellent at helping you plan for retirement, but completely lost when it comes to college planning. Most don’t know much more about the topic than to tell you to stash money in a 529 plan. They aren’t trying to cost you money – they simply don’t know any better!
College planning is a very specialized niche in the financial planning world, so many traditional financial planners are not well-versed in the subject. This is why it’s so important to work with an advisor who specializes in the particular arena of helping families plan and pay for college.
Before choosing someone to help you through this process, here are 7 questions that you should ask any financial advisor that you are considering working with on college planning:
1.) Can you calculate our Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for us? (Many traditional financial advisors won’t even know what this is!)
2.) Which of the 3 categories of financial aid does our family fall into, and how will our category impact our college planning strategy?
3.) Can you help us create personalized strategies to maximize our financial aid potential?
4.) If we are not eligible for need-based financial aid, do you have alternative strategies to help us minimize our out-of-pocket cost and pay for college on a tax-favored basis?
5.) Can you help our student(s) prepare for a successful college experience through coaching and guidance on career choices, selecting a major, and building an appropriate school list?
6.) Do you have tools and resources available to help our student(s) find the right school for the right value?
7.) Lastly and most importantly, can you help us find ways to pay for college without significantly reducing our current lifestyle or retirement savings?
Immediately after asking these questions, you should have a pretty good idea of whether the advisor is experienced in college planning. If he or she looks at you like they have no idea what you’re talking about, you have your answer!
Working with an experienced college planner could potentially save you thousands of dollars on college costs. From increased financial aid opportunities, to reduced time in school and fewer wasted credit hours due to changing majors or schools, to potential tax savings and more efficient use of your college savings, there are numerous ways that a college planning specialist may be able to save you significant amounts of money on the cost of your child’s education.
Want help? Contact us today to schedule a FREE family consultation with one of our experienced college planning specialists! You can also attend one of our free local workshops to learn more about developing a solid college plan.