Within our business, we constantly hear concerns from families about their struggles to fund the cost of college. Unfortunately, given the yearly increases to these brutal college prices, this difficulty will not soon go away.
As in any difficult situation however, parents can ease their burden by understanding the value that comes from seeking the right kind of help.
Before determining where to get the proper help for your financial aid planning needs, it is first important to understand where to use caution when trying to get your questions answered.
The majority of families will view the cost of college as so expensive that they try to utilize every “free” resource available. This mainly means the resources that come from their student’s school, the college and the federal government.
Proper training is an issue that plagues all three options but we will get back to that. Let’s first take a look at these popular options for help one at a time.
Help from the High School
While teachers and guidance counselors deserve praise for their hard work in a society littered with distractions, time is their biggest enemy during the college process.
Setting up schedules, working with students on disciplinary issues, preparing students for school and state sponsored tests are all necessary but prevent these individuals from having the time to help.
Help from the College
Similarly to the high schools, help from the college is difficult from a timing perspective as well as due to the volume of families that need help being walked through every step of the process.
The other important point to consider is that colleges run like businesses in that they aspire to get not only the best students but to get each student to attend the school at the highest price possible.
Thus, it is difficult to go to the source for proper help.
Help from the Federal Government
As difficult as it is to get attention from ones own school or university, trying to call the Federal Government’s Help Desk is even more challenging.
With so many students from all across America trying to use one resource, over the phone mind you, it is nearly impossible to get individual attention.
Furthermore, the FAFSA is a 137 question document, so it is an added challenge trying to run through so many questions without personal contact.
So where should families seek proper help? The answer is trained, college financial advisors with an understanding of how financial aid is determined.
Many families reject this notion as they consider working with a college financial advisor to be an added expense. Consider however that with college costs well over 100-250K over four years, is a fee in the hundreds or thousands of dollars to save on the cost of college really an expense?
Certainly not all professionals are created equal and the college planning world is a small niche but these options are available.