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  • Writer's pictureNeil Chacko, CFP®, CKA®

It's That Time Already?!

“How did it get so late so soon?

It’s night before it’s afternoon.

December is here before it’s June.

My goodness how the time has flewn.

How did it get so late so soon?”

-Dr. Seuss

Paying for college can be a daunting expense. According to the College Board, the average in-state tuition at four-year public institutions was $10,740 for the academic year 2021-2022. The average out-of-state tuition was more than $27,500 and private schools averaged a sticker price of just above $38,000. This doesn’t even include room and board and the other expenses associated with higher education (textbooks, fees, travel, etc.). Over four years this becomes a six-digit expense!

There is some good news here, though. Most families do not pay the sticker price for a bachelor's degree. Almost one-half of students receive institutional scholarships and/or grants at state universities. A higher percentage receive an institutional price break at private colleges.

This monthly blog is meant to provide some tips and insights on how a family that is getting ready for this expense in the next few years can cut that sticker price substantially. My own experience with my daughter in 2020 led me down the path to learn more about this. As part of my continuing education for my CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, I completed a multi-month program and comprehensive examination covering this topic. In addition, our firm uses software which contains a database of information on colleges and universities across the United States and the specific merit and need-based aid they offer to help develop a custom game plan for a client to break down the cost year by year and get a “pre-approval” in their quest to find the right school for their children.

One of the most common questions I receive when I speak with parents of high schoolers about this is “How rich is ‘too rich’ to qualify for financial aid?” There is no income cut-off figure that will automatically make you ineligible for aid. Currently, there are too many variables that can dramatically impact eligibility for aid. Below are just a few:

· Parents are divorced or separated

· Parents will have two or more children in college simultaneously.

· The students are aiming for high-end, highly expensive colleges and universities.

· Students apply only to state universities.

One of the services we provide is calculating a family’s Expected Family Contribution. This term will be changing in the 2023 school year to the Student Aid Index. This is a specific dollar figure that represents what a financial aid formula says a family should be able to pay, at a minimum, for one year of a child’s higher education. By knowing the EFC, it allows parents to start targeting the best sources of money for which their child will qualify.

In next month’s blog, we will look at the various sources of money beyond what you may have saved for higher education.

If you would like to discuss your specific situation and see if a tangible game-plan would make sense, please use the below link to schedule a call directly on my calendar:

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