College is undoubtedly expensive. Depending on the school, tuition costs upwards of $30,000 annually! This price doesn’t even include the cost of room and board, transportation, or everyday living expenses.
Grants and financial aid options indeed make college more affordable for many students. However, navigating the maze of borrowing programs, scholarships, and other economic opportunities can quickly get complex.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the college financing process alone. Many financial advisors and resources can provide you with more helpful information.
This post will cover some things you should look for in financial advisors and reveal a couple of financial resources that can make the college funding process much smoother.
Let’s get right into it.
3 Things to Look for in a Financial Advisor
When hiring a financial advisor, you’ll want to ensure that the one you choose is the best fit for your family and has the necessary designations to help you make the best financial choices. Here are some qualifications to look for in potential college financial advisors.
“For families with the right needs, hiring a college funding specialist advisor is a straightforward decision, says Dean Lyman, a college funding advisor and founder of Your Financial Partnership.
“The cost of college can easily be one of a family’s largest expenditures. Given the magnitude of making a mistake or missing out on a possibility of savings, it only makes sense to seek out a second set of experienced eyes to look over your college funding plan. A knowledgeable advisor will be able to plan for and remove the roadblocks to understanding how the college funding process works. A partner that has walked this road before will be a valuable addition to help your student get to and through college.”
1. CCFC (Certified College Financial Consultant)
A CCFC (Certified College Financial Consultant) is typically a Certifed Public Accountant (CPA) or Certified Financial Planner (CFP) specializing in education funding. CCFCs understand the costs associated with post-secondary school, whether at a college, university, or trade school. They are also very well-versed in various topics on educational funding, including:
- Student loans
- Education credits
- Tax consequences
Many financial planners assist students after they have already incurred student loan debt, but CCFCs focus on supporting students before, during, and after the college planning process.
You should consider hiring someone with a CCFC designation if you need to design a plan for paying for college, better understand tax deductions and credits, or navigate the complex world of student loans.
2. CSLP (Certified Student Loan Professional)
Perhaps you’re not so interested in exploring various grants, financial aid, and scholarship options to assist with the college funding process. Maybe you want to focus on how to organize the best student loan schedule so that your child won’t be carrying the weight of debt for the rest of their life.
If that’s the case, you’ll want to seek out financial advisors with a CSLP (Certified Student Loan Professional) designation.
The CSLP program is the only professional training program that focuses exclusively on student loan management in financial planning. You can rest assured that you’re in good hands with a CSLP, as FINRA recognizes the designation.
Typically, CSLPs advise students out of school who are struggling to deal with their student loans as life events come up, but they can also provide excellent guidance on how to minimize student loans in the first place and get the best terms in place.
If you’re looking for more information on repayment strategies, student loan interest rates, and each bank’s different offerings, seeking a financial advisor with a CSLP designation is a good idea.
3. CFSLA (College Funding and Student Loan Advisor)
The student loan debt crisis is massive and only worsens over time. CFSLA-certified financial advisors understand this fact and are committed to helping all students develop a proper financial strategy to help them through college.
If you’re looking for a financial advisor with a more holistic approach to advising students for college, you’ll want to seek a CFSLA.
The CFSLA program teaches financial advisors about college funding and the process of financial assistance. Therefore, financial advisors with this designation know how to save for college and adequately develop a college funding strategy.
6 Financial Resources
Financial advisors can help you plan and work through some unique situations regarding college funding. Still, if you’re looking for self-guidance, some resources can also assist with that. These are the best financial resources to help you fund college, from educational websites to those that let you apply for government loans.
1. College Aid Pro
College Aid Pro’s mission is to end the student debt crisis once and for all. They created software that aims to demystify financial aid for college and helps students find the lowest costing college so they can graduate debt-free and lead better lives.
With College Aid Pro, you can compare various student loan programs, execute a student loan, and learn much more about putting your child through college at the lowest cost possible.
Some of the most remarkable features on College Aid Pro’s site are:
- A school comparison tool that lets you stack various schools you’re entertaining next to each other financially
- A financial aid optimization tool to make sure you’re getting the best deal
- An advanced college search that sorts through colleges based on which one will provide you with the most support
- A private scholarship search that can potentially yield thousands of dollars for you down the line
Additionally, College Aid Pro can connect you with a financial advisor who can speak more about your personal experiences and guide you toward making the right decisions.
Known initially as StudentLoan.gov, StudentAid.gov is a website that provides you with tons of helpful information regarding applying for financial aid.
Some valuable sections on the website are:
- Understand Aid – a section dedicated to helping you and your family understand how financial aid works, the different types of financial assistance, and financial aid eligibility
- Apply For Aid – a section that allows you to apply for government-funded financial aid and other valuable grants
- Manage Loans – a section that covers all the government’s loan forgiveness programs, payment lowering programs, and default/delinquency education
As an official office of the United States Office of Education, StudentAid.gov is legit.
You can trust that the information provided on the website is accurate and helpful to your financial aid process.
FinAid.org is another helpful website if you want to learn more about financial aid and the various ways to put your child through college without ruining your finances.
This website covers loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. Each of these categories can prove highly beneficial to helping you earn another dollar for your kid’s educational journey.
Additionally, FinAid.org also has calculators that let you quickly determine various things like:
- Loan payment
- Loan repayment
- Loan consolidation
- Expected family contribution
- College cost projector
Scholarships can be hugely beneficial to the college funding process. However, each scholarship often requires different things, and it can be tough to determine which ones your child can get.
If you’re a parent looking for an easy way to identify scholarships for which your child might qualify, look no further than Fastweb.
Fastweb is a scholarship search platform that lets you quickly identify scholarships and financial aid tools that suit your child specifically. They aim to connect you with these scholarships to try and make school more affordable.
All you have to do is create a profile for your child and start getting personalized scholarship information today.
5. Consumer Finance Protection Bureau
Suppose you’re worried about whether a bank or institution is taking advantage of you in the college funding process. In that case, you can always head to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau for help.
Here you’ll find answers to all sorts of money questions, including topics like:
- Credit cards
- Debt collection
- Credit reports
Additionally, there is a section on the website dedicated to helping you figure out how you will pay for your child’s college education. This section aims to help you understand your financial aid offer (if you received one) and also helps you learn your rights and responsibilities regarding repaying your student loans.
6. Financial Aid Officers
Some of the best financial resources are the financial aid officers at colleges and universities themselves.
These officers can provide a lot of support when it comes to paying for college and will be able to answer any questions you have regarding the college funding process. Not only can most of these officers provide advice on grants and scholarships, but they can usually also help with student loan debt.
Sitting down for a coffee chat with these officers will also give you a better sense of whether you want your child to attend the financial aid officer’s college.
All in all, if money is the primary concern regarding enrolling your child in a college, chatting with a financial aid officer can help guide you in the right direction around making this decision.
Financial Advisors and Resources to Help Send Your Kids to College
Nowadays, college is costly. Long gone are the days when almost everyone could afford to graduate from post-secondary education debt-free. Student loan debt is widespread these days, and the situation is not getting better soon.
The college funding process might seem scary, but hiring a financial advisor can help you. These advisors know a lot about scholarships, grants, and student loans. They also typically have many connections with schools and can personalize advice for your situation.
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealthtender.
Featured Image Credit: Pexels/Rodnae Productions.