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Is the College Illinois Prepaid 529 Plan a Safe Investment?

  Is the College Illinois Prepaid 529 plan a smart college savings program? There is a big advertising campaign going on right now promoting the newly reborn College Illinois Prepaid Tuition Plan.  The campaign seems to be working well as evidenced by the increasing number of families I meet who are investing in it. With tuition increasing at Illinois universities an average of 8% per year,  the College Illinois Prepaid Tuition Plan is certainly an attractive  investment. But is it also…

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Why I Got Into the Business of Helping Families Save on the Cost of College

I have spent my entire adult life taking on the challenge of building businesses. It’s part of my genetic code going way back to my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. After building my last business--a very fast-moving commercial barter exchange--for over 25 years, I thought I was finally ready to retire. I had put in more than my share of time at work and it was now time to lay back and enjoy the fruits of my labor. My barter business…

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Understanding the True Cost of Mutual Fund Ownership

Let me ask you this: How much does it cost to own a mutual fund? I’ll give you hint: It’s safe to say probably more than you think… Did you answer “1% to 1.5%”? When discussing mutual fund expenses, too often professionals and laypeople alike resort to rules of thumb like “1% - 1.5%.”  This rule of thumb is seriously flawed, and it could actually be costing you a lot more money! There are four major costs of mutual fund…

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The Role of Financial Advisors on My College Planning Team

A client recently asked me if MCPT has any special requirements that determine the types of financial products that are offered to our clients and if our financial advisors are required to sign-off on a particular code of ethics. He also asked how I decide on which financial advisors to recommend to a client. These are all excellent questions. Financial Products/Financial Planning Let me begin by saying that I or others on my college funding strategies team do not recommend…

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Addressing the Spiritual Side of Student Development

Although our focus at My College Planning Team has been to build highly competent financial and academic teams, we have recently concluded that there is a very real and pressing need to also address the spiritual side of student development— especially in their transition from high school to college. Keeping the Faith in College As my partner Stephanie Kennedy mentioned in her recent blog, effective student development counseling must address the whole person--the intellectual, the emotional, and the spiritual.  She also noted…

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That Campus Job Can Help Launch Your Student’s Career

I think parents make a big mistake when they fail to encourage their students to get a part-time campus job during college. Think about it. One student goes to college and works on campus 15 hours a week in the campus bookstore and, during the summer, at the local supermarket. Another student goes to college, studies hard and even takes a few extra classes during the summer but doesn’t pursue a job. If both students graduated from the same school…

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A Reason to Call Your State Representative!

Ten years ago, Florida became the first state to allow its community colleges to offer four-year bachelors degrees. Today almost half of Florida’s community colleges offer degrees in a wide variety of subjects. Florida’s success caused other states to follow suit and now 22 states allow their community colleges to offer four-year degrees. Because of pushback from our four-year private and public universities, Illinois has been unable to make it happen--despite the lobbying efforts of our community colleges over the…

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Outside Scholarships That Fill Unmet Need

A lot of families have been discouraged from pursuing private scholarships for reasons I have already discussed in a previous blog--that the colleges will not use them to fill unmet need. Spending hours pursuing scholarships that are only going to reduce the financial aid you would have gotten otherwise, is not the way you want to spend your time. A number of colleges across the country, however, have signed a pledge with  Scholarship America to provide real value from its…

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Looking For Your College in Europe

Three years ago, when I decided to build a business devoted to helping families reduce college costs, I quickly discovered the savings available to students who were willing to go abroad to get their degrees.  My interest piqued as I learned more about the subject. I even identified a couple of academic consultants who specialized in helping American students search out the best-fit schools in Europe. What About the Higher Cost of Living? Though I originally thought the higher cost…

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Newest Kickback Scheme: Campus Debit Cards

Last week, while catching up on my research on private student loan sources, I encountered this attention-getting headline on Huffington Post: “Proposal Would Prevent Kickbacks that Steer Students Into Campus Debit Cards.”  According to the article. there are now about 900 campuses loading their students’ financial aid money into prepaid debit cards and peddling them to students. Sound convenient? Convenience, however, is coming at a big price for students. It turns out that banks and colleges are splitting millions of…

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