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College Planning in An Election Year

We’re getting closer to 2020, and you know what that means – that’s right, it’s a Presidential Election year. During this season, consumers are overloaded with information. Political candidates on both sides of the aisle will be talking about a wide range of financial topics. All of these topics directly impact your current and future clients.

Unfortunately, during primary election years, there tends to be a lot of turbulence when it comes to financial planning. Clients are afraid because they’re getting a lot of information and opinions about what may or may not change in the future. Questions about everything from Social Security to the stock market may start to come up in your meetings. College planning is no different. 2020 Presidential Candidates have all outlines their proposals for higher education, and clients might be feeling uncertain about what’s around the corner.

Having direct and honest conversations with your clients about their fears, or what they’ve heard about in the news, can help to solidify you as the expert they trust.

How to Navigate Confusion

Most advisors know that, even though a primary election is happening, that may or may not mean change is right around the corner. When it comes to finance, new legislation often takes a long time to pass. However, when information about the upcoming election is so prevalent, clients may be feeling uncertain about how different candidates’ ideas may impact them. This can cause some unusual conversations, or have clients making unwise financial decisions based on a candidate who hasn’t even been elected into office yet. If you’re running into this, here are a few steps to take:

Put the conversation in perspective.

Remind your clients of past higher education proposals. Some of these have come to fruition over the past several Presidential terms, but not all of them have. Just because there’s more coverage on education funding in the media currently doesn’t mean that these proposals will have an impact on your clients’ lives immediately. Sometimes being encouraged to stick to their plan is all your clients need to stay on track.

Stay informed.

The last thing your clients want is to come to you with a question about proposed plans for higher education – and for you to not know anything about it! Even if you know that most of the proposals floating around right now aren’t a perfect representation of what will actually happen after the election, you need to know your stuff. Jot down the ideas of different candidates. Be knowledgeable about how proposed changes may impact the lives of your clients. You don’t have to take a political stance to answer questions and help to guide them through this season of uncertainty.


Although not all proposals will be executed perfectly after the election, it’s wise to prepare. Think ahead and have a strategy for how you’ll adjust your college funding process if something should change in the landscape of college funding now or in the future.

Common Questions in an Election Year

Not sure what questions to expect from your clients about college funding in an election year? Here are a few of the three most popular that we see come up:

  1. How can my student qualify for debt relief or cancellation in the future?
  2. If a debt relief program comes to pass, do we still need to fund all or a large portion of my student’s education?
  3. Will free college in the future impact how much we/our student is currently paying for their education?

As soon as candidates start to talk about free college education, clients question the need to plan for the cost of college so aggressively.

Financial advisors are here to help keep clients on track to achieve their goals. While some higher education proposals this election cycle may spark funding changes in the future, it’s critical that clients continue to stay the course. As the old adage goes:

Expect the best, prepare for the worst.

This election season, if you have questions from clients that you’re struggling to answer, reach out. We’d love to talk you through proposed changes, and what they may mean for your clients.

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