Tips and Techniques to Make the College Search Easier, Less Expensive

At JNBA, we focus on helping our clients navigate through life’s biggest moments. And there are few moments bigger – or more complicated – for families than the college-prep journey. Helping your high schooler find, get into, and pay for the right college can be frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive. But it doesn’t have to be.

According to Cozy Wittman from College Inside Track, the college-search process used to be fairly simple, and parents and students could do most of it themselves with readily available information. But she says today it’s much more complicated. “The lack of transparency in everything from the acceptance process to pricing leaves parents without the tools they need,” she says.

To give our clients with high-school-age children and grandchildren some insight on the latest college search strategies, JNBA recently brought in Wittman for an online discussion. If you weren’t able to join us for the presentation, here are a few of the highlights:

  • When looking at colleges, most parents focus on giving their children a positive college experience, Wittman says, but they often overlook the most important element: colleges are businesses. If you keep that in mind as you embark on your family’s college search, you’re much more likely to understand the process from the school’s perspective, sidestep some of the
    most common pitfalls, and save money along the way.
  • Transferring from one college to another can add a significant amount to the cost of a degree, so it’s more important than ever to find the right fit the first time.
  • Some colleges are open to negotiating the amount of aid they provide, although many public schools and big-name universities – and especially the most competitive, with a less-than-15-percent acceptance rate – are much less flexible with pricing.
  • Assuming in-state schools provide the best value is an outdated assumption. While 50 percent of kids attend college within 100 miles of home, schools outside your immediate region are looking for students who are “demographically interesting” and could provide additional aid for out-of-state students.
  • Other factors schools take into consideration when they put together their non-income-based aid package include not only obvious ones like grades, test scores, and extra-curricular activities, but also excellent letters of recommendation and persuasive, well-written essays.
  • Even parents with a high net worth should fill out the often-dreaded FAFSA form. Some colleges provide merit-based aid just for completing the form, and it also facilitates the federal student loan process, regardless of net worth. But one word of caution, Wittman warns: 40 percent of parents overreport their income and assets on the form.

 

As you head down the college-search path, be sure to talk with your JNBA Advisory Team who is always happy to help develop a strategy, budget, and plan that work for both you and your child. College Inside Track also offers a complimentary consultation for JNBA clients.

 

Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from JNBA Financial Advisors, LLC.

Please see important disclosures information at www.jnba.com/disclosure

Please note: All services provided by College Inside Track are separate and independent of JNBA Financial Advisors, LLC. JNBA providing a professional referral could present a conflict of interest because the professional may, on occasion, make a referral to JNBA which could result in an economic benefit despite the lack of any revenue sharing agreement in place. You are not obligated to engage the services of any such JNBA recommended professional, and the firm’s Chief Compliance Officer, Kimberlee M. Brown, remains available to answer any questions that you may have.

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