Frequently Asked Questions
Why should we consider working with a College Planner?
Working with a Certified College Planning Specialist can make you aware of planning tips and strategies most people don't even know exist. Utilizing a combination of these little-known strategies can tremendously benefit your family and your pocket-book. The services that we provide are set up to relieve you from the stress and anxiety that is typically associated with the thought of paying for college. It is extremely valuable to have an advisor working on your behalf throughout this process.
College is the second highest expenditure for many families, next to the purchase of their home. Have you ever purchased real estate without seeking the advice of a professional? Of course you didn't. Paying for college shouldn't be any different. There is crucial information you need to know about the college funding process before you begin.
Contact us if you have questions or would like to set up a free consultation with one of our consultants.
What is a Certified College Planning Specialist?
A financial planner focuses on showing you ways to grow your income and to create wealth. As Certified College Planning Specialists, our objective is to show you how to pay for college, and potentially make it a financial "non-event" for your family.
We make too much money and won't qualify for financial aid. What type of planning can you do for us?
Most of the families we assist qualify for little to no "need-based" financial aid. We help these families by creating a plan that involves a combination of academic student positioning along with financial and tax planning strategies. Many of six figure income clients are surprised to learn that after strategic planning, they too can qualify for financial aid.
Do you give out loans or scholarships?
No, we are not a lending institution or a scholarship fund. However, depending on your needs, we will identify and recommend the best college financial tools for your situation.
Do you help find grants and scholarships for our child?
Yes, we do help your student find grants and scholarships. First you should know there are three types of grants or scholarships. There are those awarded by the federal and state government (which are mostly need-based), there are those offered by the colleges and universities, and there are private scholarships that are offered by clubs, foundations, corporations, etc. We attempt to help a student qualify for as many as possible. This involves employing a combination of academic and financial aid strategies. (However, we are NOT a "scholarship search" company.)
I already work with a financial advisor (or CPA.) Can�t my advisor do this type of planning for me?
Typically the answer to this is no. There are a small percentage of financial advisors or CPAs trained in the late stage college funding niche. For instance, a physician who is a general practitioner would not think of trying to perform heart surgery on a patient. That procedure would be referred to a specialist. It is similar in our specialty. Most financial advisors and CPAs are unfamiliar with this type of planning. We receive regular referrals from other financial advisors and CPAs who appreciate our specialization and client services in college funding planning. They believe our services add a lot of value to the services they are providing to their clients.
It is said that colleges will negotiate or discount tuition. Is this true? What degree of success are parents experiencing in this area?
Colleges will deny that they "negotiate" with parents, but the fact is that if the school wants the child, they may sweeten their initial aid offer during the "Appeals Process." Your odds are improved if the school really wants the student because of a special skill, talent or scholastic achievement.
Often times there are "Special Circumstances" that the family is experiencing that should be presented directly to the financial aid director or officer at the college. In effect, you are asking the college to use "Professional Judgment" based on this information to reconsider its initial offer. "Special Circumstances" may be another reason for the Financial Aid Award to be "negotiated" through the appeals process. How he or she views your specific situation and what action is taken is at the discretion of the individual financial aid director.
My son has a full scholarship from a public college in our state. I called to ask you about how to file his taxes, but I lost my notes on the answer you gave me. He had all tuition, room and board paid by the scholarship and two checks totaling $1096 were sent to the house. He paid approximately $300 for books out of the money sent home. Your organization told me his tuition was not taxable but the rest is, and he has to declare it. I need to know what forms are now required.
Have him complete IRS Form 1040. On line 7 (Wages, Tips, Salary, etc) have him include the taxable scholarships with his other income at the far right column. On the doted line (after the word W-2) on line 7, write in SCH and the amount of the taxable scholarships, i.e., SCH $2,000. There are no other forms that are needed.
Can my daughter claim independent status now; she will be having a child in July. She plans to go back to college in September full time. Can she fill out the FAFSA now claiming independence? Does her permanent address matter? Can I still claim her as a dependent for tax purposes? (She would get no need-based aid if she were a dependent on the FAFSA).
Call the college she will be attending and tell them of your daughter's situation, they may tell her to complete the FAFSA out now. If not wait until she has the child before signing the FAFSA. She will be considered Independent if she will provide over half of the support for the child. The address should not matter. As for your taxes, you can claim your daughter (and grandchild) if you provide more than half of their support and you meet the other tests. However, it may be difficult to show that you provide more than half support for your daughter while she provides over half support for her child. It is best to consult your tax adviser.
What do you charge for your services?
There is no charge for the initial consultation. We do ask that you bring our data form with you. All consultations will be held in the strictest of confidence. At this meeting we are interviewing you just as much as you are interviewing us. We want to make sure you are a good fit for our practice before a relationship is established.