Local college planner conduct free college funding workshops to teach parents, even those who have been told they make too much money, how to pay for college without going broke or raiding what's left of their retirement savings.
Weston, FL -- (ReleaseWire) -- 12/19/2008 -- Andrew Lockwood and Peter “College Pete” Ratzan co-owner of Weston-based College Planning Specialists, promise that they can show parents, even upper middle class families earning more than $120,000 per year, how to save $5,000-$30,000 on college costs. Each month, Lockwood and Ratzan conduct between four to six free college funding workshops from Miami to Boca Raton. Lockwood estimates that four families per workshop retain his firm for college funding assistance. But that will change in 2009, according to Lockwood.
Unlike his more affable partner, Lockwood has been described as controversial, somewhat irritable and even the “bad boy” of college planning. So it was not a complete surprise when Lockwood abruptly announced a halt to his firm’s practice of accepting new clients from workshops.
“Pete and I were so (darn) busy this past year, trying to keep up, thanks to the recession, the drying up of the student lending market, changes in the Department of Education’s financial aid rules, budget cuts and tougher admissions standards for Florida state universities, that we could barely keep our heads above water,” Lockwood said. “This is the busiest year we’ve ever had, and our wives and children really suffered, barely seeing us for about one month after the holidays. Something had to give. So we’re no longer taking clients who come in ‘cold.’ Also, no-one can get me live on the phone any more –and all calls are by appointment only. I had no choice – I simply cannot keep up any more.”
“We’re not going to completely stop taking on new clients from our workshops,” Ratzan stressed. “We’re just going to dramatically reduce the number of families we work with that come from the outside world, as opposed to being referred by a current client, CPA or other source,” added Ratzan. “In other words, last year Andy and I told people that we took eight or nine new families per month. In 2009, that number is going to be more like four, since word about us has gotten around so quickly. We’ll still take clients, but almost exclusively by referral only.”
For the near future, Lockwood and Ratzan will continue to host community workshops that offer parents concrete strategies on how to cope with the skyrocketing costs of college (increasing at a rate approximately double the rate of inflation and as high as 15% in Florida) and so-called loopholes in the 1,100 plus pages of regulations behind the Department of Education’s financial aid rules.
“The stupid thing about the financial aid rules is that they penalize hard working families who earn a decent living and managed to stash a few bucks away. But the biggest shame is that, if they only knew how to play the game, these ‘forgotten middle class’ families could have saved tens of thousands of dollars, through the financial aid system or the tax code” said Lockwood.
“Of course these workshops promote our business, but even if everyone in the audience got down on their hands and knees and begged to hire me, I couldn’t let ‘em,” said Lockwood. The real reason I’m taking time away from my family, hosting these events nights and weekends, is because I myself finished undergrad and law school with almost $100,000 in debt – a staggering burden for a 20-something year old to start out life with. Now that I have four children of my own, my wife and I have sworn to each other that we will never allow them to go through what I went through. I wish my parents had a ‘me’ to go to back in the 80’s! I will continue to show parents how they can avoid getting screwed by the financial aid rules and the tax code until they drag me out in a box.”
“And that’s why Andy and I wrote our book, Never Pay Retail for College,” added Ratzan. “When I taught high school, I saw exactly what he is talking about – motivated kids working their tails off to get into the most competitive colleges in the country, but shocked to learn that they would not be able to attend their college of choice without taking on huge amounts of debt, or at all. College costs can be a real heart-breaker.”
Until further notice, Lockwood and Ratzan’s workshop will cover:
•How even millionaires can slash college costs by 20% instead of raiding what’s left of their hard-earned retirement savings;
•The “dirty little secret” about Florida’s Bright Futures scholarships;
•Why the advice of your CPA, money manager or college advisor may have actually cost you money, ruining your chances of receiving aid;
•The strange reason it may cost you less out of pocket to send your child to a “more expensive,” elite, private college or university compared to a “cheap” public university;
•The five biggest, most pervasive myths about how the Department of Education’s financial aid rules; and
•The “double-secret” financial aid formula that dictates how much money you’ll receive from each college.
For workshop schedule and seating availability, go to: