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Fit College Planning With Your Client’s Other Priorities

Though people often know what they want, they don’t always know what they need. 

Our limited perspective is simply part of being human. 

As advisors, our job is to identify the gaps in our clients’ financial lives — to provide both what they want and what they need. 

To that end, we build strategies that promote their holistic financial health.

As you undoubtedly know, however, some plans are often met with resistance. When clients have particular goals in mind, other financial elements — however important they may be — can get totally overlooked.

I can’t worry about X until I get Y!” 

We see it all the time with education planning. Why is that? For one thing, college planning doesn’t get any of the mainstream attention it deserves.

While movies and TV shows glamorize the allure of buying a home, attending college is often treated as an afterthought. And where home buyers hire realtors to find the right home at the right price, most college-bounding families have no one in their corner providing the same level of attention.

That’s rather absurd because once you factor in out-of-pocket costs, loans, and mounting interest, a college education can easily cost as much as a house. 

Unfortunately, too many Americans have no idea what college costs. According to a recent Fidelity study, 25% of parents actually believe one year of college tuition costs less than $5,000. 

Not only are Americans under-informed about the costs of college, but they’re distracted by other priorities that can cause education planning to get entirely neglected.

Here are three quick ways to fit college planning with your client’s overall financial picture: 

1. Prioritize by Magnitude 

Times are tough, especially with raging inflation, a roiling jobs market, and an ever-evolving pandemic.

Chances are your clients have a list of immediate needs, like paying off credit card debt or refinancing a mortgage. If they have young kids, planning for college may seem ridiculous, so you (understandably) avoid the education conversation altogether.

While it may seem tempting to stay focused on short-term objectives, we encourage you to use these unsettling times to paint a picture of a more idyllic future. 

For starters, explain that advanced college planning can help avoid mountainous, long-term debt. While reviewing the key statistics about the student loan crisis — for example, that the average student graduates with $30,000 in debt that requires over 21 years to pay down — flip the script to something optimistic.

Show your clients that with advanced planning, their children will not only be able to attend college, but that they’ll be able to attend the program they really want. 

Prioritize by magnitude. After all, what could be more important to parents than giving their children the best future imaginable? 

2. Prioritize by Time 

College planning is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Unfortunately, countless American families wait until the eleventh hour to prepare for college. We euphemistically call it “late-stage planning,” which is the nice way of saying, “Oh man, you’re cutting it really close.” 

All good things take time. For example, buying or building a home is often a multistep, years-long endeavor. Why should college planning be any different?

For some reason, most of the population thinks a college education materializes on its own accord. The “we’ll figure it out” mentality runs rampant these days, convincing vulnerable families they can accept a bunch of loans without repercussions. 

Even if your clients’ children won’t graduate until 2040, remind them that the financial foundation of their college education begins today. Tomorrow will be here before you know it. 

3. Prioritize by Simplicity 

It doesn’t take much to boost someone’s confidence. Even on the worst days, a bit of hope goes a long way. 

As an advisor, you have a lot on your plate. Sometimes, even the small wins can feel pretty significant. 

Your clients are no different. They have an endless list of hopes, fears, and doubts. As their advisor, you can guide them through a maelstrom of emotion to a safe harbor.

Give them a glimpse of what their future might look like, especially when it comes to college planning. If you’re working with late-stage planning clients, you have a ready-made solution to help them. 

Show them the ropes with College Aid Pro™, wherein five minutes, you can identify — with dollar-specific accuracy — the schools that fit their financial profile best. 

Open the Scholarship search function, so they can see the over 5,000 individual pathways to “free money.” Then, review the Outcomes tab, so they can get a glimpse of what their child will earn one, five, and ten years after graduation.

With College Aid Pro™, all of these answers can be instantly provided.

Want to see for yourself? Click below to request a complimentary demo.

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