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Competency-Based Education: Will it Reduce Costs?

« Learn more about paying for college President Obama wants more people to graduate from college.  In a speech to graduating high school students in D.C., he explained why: "...our country used to have the world’s highest proportion of young people with a college degree; we now rank 16th. I don’t like being 16th. I like being number one." -President Barak Obama That was five years ago, at his Back-to-School speech at Benjamin Banneker High School in Washington.  Although the President urged young people to turn…

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Savvy College Funding

It’s no secret that most Americans find college to be an expensive venture. Even with years of planning and saving, families who are able to pay the full cost of a four year education out-of-pocket are the minority. Since it’s unlikely that most people have hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around, there are some tried and true methods to pay for an education. The best options require diligence and foresight. However, you shouldn't overlook alternative and creative college funding options. « Learn…

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What the New Fiduciary Responsibility Law Means

When you meet with a financial advisor, you hope that you have found someone you can trust. There is a new fiduciary responsibility law on the table in Washington, because some advisors are, unfortunately, not trustworthy. They may not have your best interest in mind when recommending certain financial products and that may affect your family's college savings. Are you wondering what this new law means for you? It will affect how financial advisors recommend different investments and how they charge their…

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Balancing Your Tuition and Retirement Savings

If you’re working to pay your child’s tuition, retirement might be the last thing on your mind. With a six-digit tuition hanging over your head, it’s easy to put your savings on the back burner. But it would be a mistake to put off these contributions, because the power of compound interest is still working hard on your contributions. If you put off investments for just a few years, you’re potentially losing out on tens of thousands of dollars. « Learn more about paying…

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Why Mutual Funds are the Worst Way to Save for College

Saving for college in mutual funds that are not sheltered within a 529 or another non-assessable account can have a huge impact on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Here's what you need to know when using mutual funds for college savings. « Learn more about paying for college Mutual Funds Create a Double Assessment Mutual funds for college savings are not only assessed as an asset at 5.6% to determine your EFC but the internal capital gains, dividends, and interest income are also assessed…

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Paying For College Can Be A Partnership Between Middle-Income Parents and Students

In my generation, about half of the students in my incoming freshman class paid for the full cost of their own college education through work, student loans, and personal savings. On their own, they were financing their college education. It was very rare to find a student who wasn’t paying for at least half of their own college education. Though those days are long gone, occasionally I still meet with middle-income parents who fully expect their children to pay for…

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Why Net Price Calculators Are Hurting Middle-Income Families

Getting accurate Expected Family Contributions or EFC estimates are increasingly important to middle-income families trying to budget for college. Families, however, often ask me why the EFC estimates our office provides to them are coming in a lot higher than the estimates they are getting from their college net cost calculators. « Learn more about paying for college So why the discrepancy in net cost calculators? To increase transparency of the cost of college, in 2011, the Department of Education required…

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Calculating Your College Budget: Real-Time Answers

Calculating your college budget can be a mysterious process.  Families have a difficult time predicting the awards.  In reality, there are still the real-time answers that only the college can answer for you to help prepare for how to make a budget plan for college students. Stephanie Kennedy was showing me the proprietary software used by her academic team to help families with the college search process.  I was quite impressed with how the software enables her team to quickly optimize a student’s…

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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 a…

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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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