Life isn’t like the movies. Though we try to direct our lives as best we can, we’re seldom handed a script with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
While most of life is unexpected, there are a few momentous events that we know are coming down the line.
College planning is one of those rare areas of life that you can prepare for early and often.
Waiting to prepare is the most costly mistake, and at College Aid Pro™, we hear from regretful parents all the time. They tell us they wished they had started saving earlier, that they wished they understood the true net cost of college, and that they wished they had been shown how to build a strategy (and a budget) to manage this major investment.
These parents are ultimately saddled with mountains of student loan debt, a burden that can wreak havoc on their retirement goals.
But we’re not here to write a tragedy. We’re here to deliver the tools you need to offer value-driven college planning guidance with confidence and ease.
If you have clients behind on their college savings, here are three ways you can help them catch up:
1. Jumpstart The Conversation
A lack of preparation often stems from a lack of guided conversation.
This is the most reciprocal part of any advisor-client relationship. But let’s face it: you’re not a mind-reader, so your clients need to tell you about their college dreams and expectations before you can know how to help. Conversely, your clients won’t know how to plan until they get your expertise.
You cannot start the college conversation early enough. While it may seem absurd to have the “college chat” with the parents of a newborn (and future graduate of the class of 2043!), you’ll be doing them a favor that no amount of thanks can articulate.
Start with the basics:
- How much do you expect to pay for college?
- How much do you intend to borrow?
- Where did you go to undergrad? Grad school?
- Which schools are on your radar?
- What elements are most important to you (i.e. location, cost, prestige)?
These are a few of the fundamental questions that can turn a conversation into a clearly-defined college plan.
Have the chat early and review it often. Don’t let your college-bound families stall until the spring of their child’s junior year.
2. Open a 529 Savings Account
Last month, we celebrated National 529 Savings Plan Day. In reality, however, it should be talked about well beyond the month of May alone.
Ideally, families will open their 529 accounts as early as possible to maximize tax-free compounding. If your clients are behind in their college savings, however, late is still far better than never.
Even if the beneficiary is finishing middle school and your family decides to save $300/month over the next four years, they will accumulate over $15,000 in (tax-free) college savings.
Families have tremendous latitude in selecting both in-state and out-of-state plans, and they’ll rely on you to make the smartest investment choices.
Don’t give up on 529 plans, no matter how late in the day it seems.
3. Leverage College Aid Pro™ Tools
When college-bound families are behind on savings, that can put you and your firm in a difficult position. On the other hand, it also creates an opportunity for you to deliver much-needed leadership.
Beyond the 529 savings plans, you need tools that give you both a 30,000 foot view of your client’s financial life and a detailed, microscopic attention to each and every college on their list.
Here’s the catch: you don’t actually need to be a college-planning expert to deliver the highest level of expertise. At College Aid Pro™, our tools will do that for you.
So whether your client’s child is attending college in the next two years (or twenty), our state-of-the-art software will provide the access and insights to help them make the wisest decisions.
Our hallmark tools include:
- College Pre-Approval™: This groundbreaking process helps you identify your client’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and build a precise budget based on 529 Plan contributions, pledged assets, tax credits and more.
- Outcomes: Go beyond the name-brand appeal of colleges and get answers to questions like, “What is the actual value of attending this school? What’s my return on education?”
With our Outcomes feature, you can see both the expected monthly loan payments and the statistically-proven salaries of graduates (by major) on a one, five, and ten-year basis. You can then make apples-to-apples comparisons of these numbers across your shortlist of schools.
- Scholarships: Imagine giving clients access to over 5,000 unique scholarships that they can examine and apply to on their own. With College Aid Pro™, you can! It’s a great way to increase advisor-client collaboration while helping to reduce the overall cost of college.
And that’s just the beginning.
With College Aid Pro™, you’ll not only know what colleges really cost, but you’ll be able to see what each institution offers in return for their investment.
While you can’t rewind the clock, you can catch college-bound families up to speed by initiating the hard conversations, by opening the right investment accounts, and by leveraging advanced tools to streamline your expertise.
With College Aid Pro™, you can accomplish in minutes what used to take advisors hours and even days to achieve.
But don’t just take it from us. Hear what one of our clients has to say:
According to Robert J. Falcon, Founder of College Funding Systems,
“College Aid Pro™ (CAP) is an amazing timesaver! I’m able to serve more clients
more consistently, and I have the time to focus on specific strategies that save
clients money. College planning completely changes when you use CAP.”
Want to check out a free demo? Click here to give it a try.