What to look for in a College Financial Aid Advisor?

With the increased cost of college, many families are looking for a college financial aid advisor or college funding advisor.  When you begin to plan for this investment in your child or children’s education, the college funding process can be overwhelming.  Outside of the cost, you need to consider financial aid, college saving plans, educational tax credits, and student loans, just to name a few.  Finding the right professional with this specific skill set can be difficult.

A financial aid advisor needs to be a personal financial planner with a unique financial knowledge.  Many personal financial planners cannot provide a comprehensive college funding solution.  They do not have the detailed knowledge of the entire financial aid process and educational funding strategies to maximize your financial resources.  A similar parallel is that of your primary doctor in medicine and the need for a specialist such as a cardiologist or orthopedic doctor to help with a specific issue.  The primary doctor has a general knowledge but not the detailed knowledge to solve the problem.

As you go through college funding and financial aid process, you will need to disclose your entire financial life.  This is a risk and part of the process that can be difficult.  We would recommend working with a college financial aid advisor who is a fiduciary.  A fiduciary must act in your best interest.

The full disclosure of your financial information is needed to calculate your financial aid position and your Expected Family Contribution or EFC.  Some financial aid advisors will use this opportunity to sell other financial products.  In our years of college financial planning, there have been only a few clients where life insurance or an annuity was an appropriate college funding solution.  You need to be careful and understand both the short and long term impact of purchasing these financial products as part of your college funding plan.

This short video will give you an insight of what should be in a college financial plan and the traits the financial aid advisor should have.

Listed below are the skills or knowledge that you should be looking for in a college financial aid advisor:

  • Detailed knowledge of the Expected Family Contribution or EFC, both the Federal (FAFSA) and Institutional Methodologies
  • Modeling tool that does a four-year cash flow by school based on the school financial aid gifting policy.
  • Expert in college planning solutions using the various educational saving plan options and educational tax credits
  • Can explain the different college financing options and there advantages based on your situation and financial goals
  • Develop a forecast of the financial outcome for each college and help with financial aid appeals
  • Provide advice on other personal financial planning issues and the impact it will have with your college financial plan
  • Authority in student loan repayment and loan forgiveness

Our process covers all of these traits listed above.  To help you with this process our free college funding roadmap and free EFC calculator are a great start.  This website is designed to provide free college financial aid advice.  Please visit the financial aid video and student loan video libraries for more information.  A list of professional college financial planning services is available, also.

If you are using college planners, they are a great resource on the college admission process and can help find the best college fit for your child.  Many college planners have a basic knowledge of the financial aid process but lack the personal financial expertise.  You need to know to maximize your financial resources.  The two best resources for college planning professionals are HECA and IECA.  The majority of these professionals are not licensed to give financial advice.

Good luck in this important family decision.  It is one of the most complicated you will face as a parent.