Navigating Your College Search
Kids are expensive. At least, that’s what I hear. I don’t have any children, nor am I planning on having any in the near future. But in the financial planning world, kids are a big part of the discussion from when they are born until the time comes to plan for possibly inheriting parents’ assets. Somewhere in between, planning for college becomes a focus of the discussion.
Recently, West Financial Services hosted a webinar, Navigating Your College Search, with guest speaker Cozy Wittman. We thought we would follow up on the event with some key takeaways from Cozy’s presentation.
COVID-19 has made it hard to get a sense of the college experience for new and prospective students. To this day there are still schools that are not holding on campus tours, electing to go the virtual route. There are pros and cons to this method, but at least it avoids the possibility of anyone becoming sick or spreading infection. Don’t expect virtual tours to go away permanently, as they have provided an easy and effective way for people to tour campuses from their living rooms. With that being said, if your student’s prospective school is offering in person tours, and you choose to take advantage of this experience, remember to be safe and stay vigilant while touring.
Another consideration when selecting a college is affordability. We recommend that clients file a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form, regardless of their income or assets. The FAFSA is the only way to be eligible for grants and aid at all income levels. FAFSA information also determines eligibility for federal student loans (both subsidized and unsubsidized) by calculating your expected family contribution (EFC). There are two different types of student aid, merit based and need based. Need based aid is awarded based on the EFC (expected family contribution) that is determined by the FAFSA form. Merit based aid is awarded based on some type of skillset, such as academic or athletic. So, even if a student does not receive assistance based on their financial circumstances, they always have the hope of receiving merit based aid. Note that some schools only offer needs-based aid (notably Ivy League schools), while others have more robust merit-based grants. Regardless of the type of aid, the earlier you file for scholarships, grants or FAFSA, the better your chances of receiving aid.
Campus tours? Student loans? Merit based aid? On the surface, all of these things put together can seem daunting. And at the end of the day, navigating your college search can be a confusing and at times overwhelming process. But, try to remember that even in these uncertain times this is still quite the milestone. For some, it may provide a sense of great pride and accomplishment that you were able to raise a college bound student. For others, it may represent freedom, and finally being able to reclaim a bedroom for your budding scrapbooking hobby.
Regardless, if you have questions, or just want to vent about high tuition costs, give us a call. We are always here to help. In addition, we are happy to facilitate an introduction to Cozy Wittman, who can help you schedule a one on one consultation.
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Certain information contained herein was derived from third party sources, as indicated, and has not been independently verified. While the information presented herein is believed to be reliable, no representation or warranty is made concerning the accuracy of any information presented. Where such sources include opinions and projections, such opinions and projections should be ascribed only to the applicable third party source and not to WFS.
This information is intended to be educational in nature, and not as a recommendation of any particular strategy, approach, product or concept. These materials are not intended as any form of substitute for individualized investment advice. The discussion is general in nature, and therefore not intended to recommend or endorse any asset class, security, or technical aspect of any security for the purpose of allowing a reader to use the approach on their own. You should not treat these materials as advice in relation to legal, taxation, or investment matters. Before participating in any investment program or making any investment, clients as well as all other readers are encouraged to consult with their own professional advisers, including investment advisers and tax advisers.