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Paying for College is the Biggest Expense Families Face After Buying a Home…
Help Them Save Thousands on Tuition and Protect Their Retirement Savings from Bad College Funding Decisions…
Start by Sending Them Key College Funding Data, 2023-2024
More than 60 critical data points for college-bound families
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Over the next few years, some of your clients will make damaging and ill-considered decisions about how they will fund their children's college education.
When they do that, they'll lose tens of thousands of hard-earned dollars overpaying for college and blowing up their retirement nest eggs. (It happens a lot, sadly.)
Don't let that happen to them.
You can be the hero by opening their eyes to key issues about late-stage college funding that they never read about or hear from other parents.
Start by educating parents about the realities of paying for college—it's not about 529 savings plans—by sharing with them your custom copy of Horsesmouth's new Key College Funding Data card.
The card includes more than 60 helpful data points organized in 11 topic areas.
The problem in a nutshell
As we emphasize in our client education program, Savvy College Planning, the problem advisors are overlooking with their clients is this:
Families often overpay for college and hurt their savings and retirement plans because they tumbled unprepared into the late-stage college-funding pressure cooker.
First step solution
Parents must LEAD the college selection process (with their child as “co-pilot”) because they have the most to lose in terms of overpaying, picking the wrong school, and the child taking more than four years to earn a degree.
We've designed the Key College Funding Data card as a handy resource you can share with clients and prospects.
Families don't know where to turn for useful information about the process they are going preparing to enter. All they get is media hype about burgeoning college price tags and rising rejection rates.
That's where the Key College Funding Data comes in, available for all advisors. Families will appreciate your thoughtfulness in providing solid truth along the murky path of figuring out how to pay for college.
Clients, prospects, and COIs will love Key College Funding Data because it's jam-packed with information in a clear, easy-to-comprehend format. It lays out a general timeline for going through the college planning process, and includes key statistics about how families pay for education. Topics addressed on the card include:
Roadmap to Affording College
The first step in accomplishing any goal is to have a plan. The college admissions process is especially complicated because you have to balance researching schools, keeping up with academics and tests, and getting finances ready. A checklist can be helpful. Our roadmap portion of the card includes 13 separate items.
FAFSA and EFC
Completing the FAFSA, as well as the CSS Profile for many private colleges, is the only way to qualify for need-based financial aid.
Families need to know that filing early increases the chance of getting aid since it is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Since 2016, the FAFSA uses prior-prior tax returns.
This section includes five key items to guide families.
Applying for Financial Aid
This card reassures stressed parents that the majority of students receive some sort of aid, most of it from the institution itself.
College is a buyer's market. It's only the truly elite schools that boast single-digit acceptance rates. The majority of colleges are looking to fill seats.
Give students a boost by pointing them to the biggest admission factors, according to the schools themselves, which are grades in college preparatory classes, the strength of the high school curriculum, and SAT/ACT test scores. Increasingly, "showing demonstrated interest" is also important. Schools want to know that the student truly wants to attend.
Award Letter Confusion
This card teaches parents and students the facts about what they should be looking for.
Definitions are important. Grants and scholarships are "free" money, the best possible award. Loans must be repaid, although in some cases interest is subsidized or deferred. Federal work-study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. To qualify, you must complete the FAFSA and check the work-study box.
Many families don't know that college is a buyer's market, and you can appeal financial aid and merit awards, even after the official deposit deadline of May 1. However, you must have a solid case for appealing your award—and don't use the word "negotiate."
Tuition, Expenses, and Graduation Rates
College prices are like cars on a lot. Don't let your clients get distracted by the sticker price on the windshield! In reality, most students at private schools get an institutional price cut.
Borrowing and Loans
Many students graduate with debt, yet many families don't know the facts. Help your clients and their children be smart borrowers.
Scholarships and Grants
Most scholarships are merit-based—awarded for proven academic, athletic, or other ability—not need-based. However, many require maintaining a certain GPA to continue receiving aid. Depending on the requirement and the student's major, this may be something to take into consideration. Also think about what would happen if an athletic scholarship were lost due to injury.
Grants, on the other hand, are often awarded based on the family's financial situation. Like scholarships, they do not need to be repaid.
An often-overlooked way to pay for college expenses, tax credits can provide up to $2,500 a year. They'll love that you point this out to them.
For eligible parents, the best federal tax credit is the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). They can claim a $2,500 tax credit annually for each child in college, with the possibility of a refund if they do not owe taxes. However, there are income limitations and parents can use this credit for no more than four years of college for each child.
With the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, taxpayers can claim up to a $2,000 tax credit on their federal income tax return. The credit is per taxpayer, not per child, but it can be claimed for any number of years.
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How to Use Key College Funding Data with Clients
Whether you want to simply be an “information provider” or a full-blown “college funding advisor” (a great niche), the Key College Funding Data card is an excellent resource to share with clients, prospects, and strategic allies. Here's what you would do with your custom version:
1. Send or hand out to all your clients, especially grandparents.
2. Share on your website, allowing people to download a PDF copy.
3. Include the whole card with an e-newsletter or choose portions to share on a monthly basis.
4. Send copies to CPAs and other strategic allies who've got clients with questions about funding college, too.
5. Send copies to the local high school counselors and librarians as part of your outreach marketing.
6 Reasons to Give Clients Key College Funding Data
Because you're the trusted professional. People are looking for authoritative information about college planning, not just media hype and PTA gossip. This shows you know what you're talking about.
Because this differentiate you from competitors. Very few financial advisors address late-stage college funding. Parents are desperate for advice, but don't know where to turn. You are demonstrating that your ability to handle their concerns.
Because each person's case is different. This handout gives clients the basics to begin thinking about college planning and funding, but reinforces the idea that they need to come to you to thoroughly review their situations.
Because it's a good “marketing touch.” Pop a copy of the card in the mail, along with a cover letter, to let your clients know you are thinking of them. They'll be impressed with your thoughtfulness.
Because it's a perfect handout. Share with clients and prospects at meetings, workshops, and other events where you need or want helpful material to share with others. They'll pass it to friends, too.
Because it demonstrates your commitment to caring about your clients and the milestones in their lives. And when people know you're committed to them and to your profession, it promotes loyalty and referrals.
So, go ahead now and take your first, easy step to including Key College Funding Data as part of your client communication program throughout the year.
The Key College Funding Data fee will be charged directly to your credit card. Our online process is secure, and you can safely provide your credit card information in the form below.
Since 1997, Horsesmouth has been helping financial advisors succeed by providing timely guidance on key topics such as business development, practice management, financial planning and investment strategies.
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