02/29/12: With college tuition on the rise, no parent desires to throw away money on their child’s education. Here are three ideas you can implement to help pay for your child’s college tuition and also encourage them to be a responsible student. This is the same advice Greg Powell, CIMA, President/CEO, Wealth Consultant at fi-Plan Partners, gives to his clients.
In my years as a Financial Planning Consultant, I’ve worked with countless parents that are preparing financially for their “old chip off the block” to enter the world of higher education. Well, over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to put my years of advice to the test as I experience the process first hand. You see, my bundle of joy, has started the mind numbing process of college selections. For those of you who are currently or soon to be venturing down that rabbit hole, consider closely these five quick reference steps.
1. Visit the Campus
The campus visit may be one of the most important and informative steps in your search. Many students have experienced the college of their choice for sporting events, however; an official tour which involves meeting with admission officers, attending a class or two, and even spending a night or two in student housing will provide valuable insight into daily life on campus.
2. Get to Know the Admissions Officer
Getting to know the admissions officer that covers your child’s area and high school is a must. These individuals are there to assist the student in many ways. My son has found this resource to be particularly valuable in the proper wording to be used on his applications as well as having an insider that will proof read admission essays before they are formally submitted. It generally is also the admissions officer that make the recommendations for various scholarships. An officer told us that a student that has the maturity and drive to stay engaged with the admissions office will get preferential treatment when it comes to distributing university funds.
3. Apply Early
Get the application in as early as possible. Knowing the deadlines are paramount and no amount of begging will override a late application. Many colleges have embraced the Common Application. Your child will go to a central website, www.commonapp.org, complete the application and essentially click on the various colleges that he or she wishes to receive an application from. The common application site will also prompt the student as to the other items that a specific college requires for the process. High school transcripts are sent directly from the school with a request in the guidance office. Likewise, ACT and SAT scores have to be forwarded from the testing organization. It is advisable to limit your number of applications because a non-refundable fee of $25 to $75 is usually required for each application. If your student hopes to participate in one of the various sports during their college career, they must also register with the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse as a candidate before being admitted into the college of their choice.
4. Apply for FASFA
Certainly the most frequently asked question that I receive revolves around funding this multi-year adventure. Every parent hopes for some form of scholarship, but not every deserving child will benefit from these funds because of the volume of applicants and the limited funds available. Applying with FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) can open the door for many federal grants. It is also used as a tool by many higher education institutions for private funds available at the specific college. The application requires the submission of the parents’ current tax returns. The opening date for applications is January 1. This step takes some pre-planning because most Americans wait until the last minute to complete their taxes. When looking for grants, early applicants have the best chance to receive funding because when the money is gone, it is gone.
5. Consider Attending This Event
This Sunday, September 11,2001, the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex will be hosting the 2011 National College Fair from 1:00 to 4:00. This will provide a wonderful resource to gather information on colleges that you haven’t visited.
Keep in mind that a college education is an investment in the future. As wealth managers, we are available to assist our clients with the specific steps and needs that exist with your child in order to simplify the process and to avoid some of the pitfalls.
If you would like to discuss more about the financial side of your child’s college education, please contact me by phone or email.
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Every May I start receiving phone calls from the children and grandchildren of our clients who are graduating seniors in college still searching for their very first job. Needless to say, this year, with the economy recovering, the calls have increased. The outlook for finding a job isn’t that good if you are this close to graduation and still looking.
However, I fully believe that many students find it hard to get that first job because in their academic experience they may not have received the guidance they need on how to network or market their talents. I am also convinced that the students don’t take the initiative to learn how to do it, either through the use of the internet, blogs, books, discussions with professionals and business people… the list goes on. They just assume that they have a college degree and therefore they should be able to get into the job market. I have included in this blog two podcasts below that may be of benefit to both graduates and family members.
One is a discussion I had with a soon to be graduate about ways to interview for your first job. The second podcast is a commencement address speech that I gave to the graduating class of Samford University in 2008. In that commencement address, you will actually hear me extend to those graduates that if I could help them find a job, I would… that they might not remember my name, they might not remember what I said in that commencement address, but the one thing I wanted them to remember is that I would help them open up doors, create opportunities and find a job.
I’m sharing that with you, and I’m sharing these podcasts with you, because more than ever I think it’s important that we show leadership to the graduating classes throughout these universities, throughout our college system.
I like making a difference in people’s lives and yes, I am a president and CEO of a financial planning and wealth management firm and in many ways there we make a difference. And also the value of relationships and seeing the excitement of an individual graduating from college and finding that first job and knowing that they are on their way to building their future, their career and their life is very exciting to me.
We all need to take time out to make a difference and helping a college student is just one of the many ways in our society today, in these economic times, that we can do it.
Interview with a soon to be college graduate: