Scottsdale, AZ -- (ReleaseWire) -- 10/22/2007 -- Janice Wheeler, of Scottsdale, enjoys telling friends about the $20,000 letter that enabled her son Kyle to attend New York University. College Planning Consultants of Arizona came up with the idea for the letter and wrote it. Like many parents, Wheeler and her husband had not saved enough for college. Their youngest son, Kyle, was accepted by both the University of California Berkeley and NYU. While his first choice was NYU, his parents simply couldn’t afford the school’s expenses. Ryan Blomster of College Planning Consultants suggested faxing a letter to NYU explaining Kyle’s dilemma and asking for funding assistance. NYU quickly responded with an offer of $5,000 for each of the four years. “I would never have known to ask, and I wouldn’t have known the right person to send the letter to, and I would have obsessed over the wording,” Wheeler said. “Parents have to do their homework,” Blomster said. “They can't leave it to a guidance counselor. Here
In the Valley, the ratio is one high school guidance counselor for every 400 to 500 students."
For the past 5 years, Blomster has been helping parents and their children with the college application and financing processes. “There’s always something getting in the way of saving for college,” Blomster said. “First, it’s the preschool, then it’s the parents trying to buy a house when the kids are little, and then it’s trying to save for retirement, and braces and sports and this and that. Our average client has saved less than $10,000 for the entire college experience." Blomster suggests a six-step process to help parents who have not saved enough. "The first thing we recommend is to take an accurate assessment of where their kid can realistically get into school,” he said. Step two is “to apply to schools noted for what the student wants to do,” Blomster said. “For instance, we see kids all the time who want to take business at the University of California at Santa Barbara, but it’s not business school.
You need to see that the school matches what the student is looking for. "The next step is to “look at the parent’s financial resources,” Blomster said. The federal government has a needs analysis formula that determines what is called the expected family contribution. "By understanding what weight is given to various financial aspects, with planning parents can lower what they are expected to pay for college” says Blomster. Step four is to complete all the paperwork to qualify for financial aid. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a form with 120 questions, and the results control how much federal aid is given. Many private schools require a form called the Financial Aid Profile. Unlike the federal form, it stipulates that home equity be included among listed investments. This form has about 200 questions. Some schools have additional forms that must be filled out. Step five is to “make sure, particularly at a private school, that if you don't get what you expect in financial aid, you go back to the school’s financial aid office,” Blomster said.
The last step is to figure out how to pay the parents’ portion of college expenses. In some cases, it makes sense to refinance the home rather than takeout a home equity loan, Blomster said. "College Planning Consultants did more than hold my hand, they did everything for me,” said Nick Dawson, of Scottsdale. “They filled out the applications and forms so that I could get the maximum money that was available to me. They made sure all the i’s were dotted and the t’s crossed. They kept me on schedule and did all the dirty work. “My daughter is going to a private university and it runs $41,000 a year.
My out of pocket expenses are less than $300 per month. I am very, very happy with what they did.”
College Planning Consultants of Arizona
Firm helps parents and students with the college application and Financing processes.