When you come home from the hospital with your itty-bitty miracle, you think you have all the time in the world before that little bundle fly’s the coupe. One day you’re dropping them off for their first day of preschool (as they rip the flesh off your leg and beg you not to leave) and the next thing you know, you’re moving them into their college dorm (while miserably attempting to maintain composure). It’s the culmination of 18 years of parenting, and the independence you’ve been preparing them for.
In the past two years, I have successfully sent my two teenagers off to college, and I have to say, the experience has been nothing short of overwhelming.
As a Canadian girl growing up in the 80’s, the path to university was clear and easy. There was no SAT or ACT, no essays, no laundry list of minimum requirements. And I don’t remember my parents having any involvement in the college application process, with the exception of paying the application fees.
Today, our kids have a whole lot more to navigate- which in turn means WE have a whole lot more to navigate. Test prep, AP credits, GPAs, community service work, extracurricular activities, and essays consume your family’s days leading up to the college application process.
During those critical high school years, it is so important that available scholarships, grants, and financial aid become a part of the conversation- and the college funding strategy!
As an advisor for College Action Planning Solutions (CAPS), I was fortunate to have a firm understanding of just how much financial aid is available, where to look for it, and how to plan for eligibility. As a result, I was able to narrow the focus for my kids while aligning our college funding strategies to maximize our financial aid qualification.
As you can imagine, most parents are not as well versed and therefore, thousands and thousands of dollars are left on the table each year- hard earned dollars that could have gone towards other investments or retirement!
For some families, the impact on financial aid eligibility could lie in the vehicle chosen for college funding. For example, the 529 plan is a commonly used vehicle that impacts financial aid eligibility. While a 529 plan is always worth considering, it may not necessarily be the best option for your family. You can learn more about the impacts and benefits of the 529 plan here or by consulting with your advisor.
There are so many vehicles and strategies available to plan and fund your child’s education while taking full advantage of the financial aid resources available- many of which you’re likely not even aware of! As expenses continue to rise and budgets continue to stretch, the CAPS organization aims to bridge the gap between college funding and student aid for a more comprehensive approach to college planning.
Through our free workshops and consultation services, we are able to support families at all stages of the college planning process. If you’re interested in learning more, attending an upcoming workshop, or hosting one for your child’s class, club, or team, please reach out.
Whether you have toddlers or teenagers, it’s never too early or too late to get on the right track for your family!