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Weston College Planning Firm Debunks Dirty Little Secret About State-Sponsored Countdown to College Event

If you're a college-bound student in Florida looking for advice on how to fill out the FAFSA, think twice about your options presented at the College Countdown.


Weston, FL -- (ReleaseWire) -- 02/21/2008 -- A local college planning firm has issued a warning about the State of Florida-sponsored "Countdown to College," a series of college financial aid form assistance workshops throughout Florida. The promotion is designed to help parents of college-bound teens fill out the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA).

Although the event seems helpful on its face, http://CollegePlanningAdvice.com, a Weston, Florida-based college planning firm, advises attendees to scratch below the surface to learn the true incentive of the event sponsors.

"Check out who's sponsoring these events," said Andrew Lockwood, J.D., co-owner of the firm. "USA Funds - a lender! Citicorp - another lender!!!" added Lockwood.

"Correct me if I'm out of line - wouldn't it be nice for your student to go to college without borrowing money from high fee, high rate lenders? Wouldn't it be great if you didn't burden your student with deceptive, low "teaser" rate payments that, after they adjust, create late payments, non-payments, defaults and ruin your student's credit rating for the indeterminate future?" said Peter "College Pete" Ratzan, M.B.A., Lockwood's partner.

"I can predict exactly what will happen at these events," said Lockwood. "The parents will fill out their FAFSA. Then, they'll push a button and learn what their Expected Family Contribution is - in other words, the dollar amount that they will be expected to pay according to the FAFSA."

Lockwood continued, "It won't be pretty. This number will be several thousand dollars per year, per child. Parents will freak out. Then, I bet you dollars to donuts that these parents will rush to apply for high fee, high rate student loans, because they will not see any alternative to borrowing for college," said Lockwood. "And with the friendly student lenders lurking nearby, these parents are fish in a barrel."

If you are the parent of a sophomore, junior, or, in some cases, a senior, you still have time to prevent yourself from being coerced like the attendees of the "Countdown."

According to Ratzan, there are better, even free ways to pay for college, if you know the "rules of the game" about how federal grants are given, and to whom.

For more information, attend one of Lockwood and Ratzan's three, free workshops this month:

* Tuesday, February 26th, 6:15 pm - Southwest Regional Library, Pembroke Pines;
* Wednesday, February 27th, 6:15 pm: West Regional Libary, Plantation; and
* Thursday, February 28th, 8:00 pm: West Broward Family YMCA, Weston.

Details are available at:


The workshops are free and nothing will be sold or "pitched." (There will be no loan applications to fill out, either.) In fact, neither Ratzan or Lockwood don't even mention their services, because they give their workshops at public libraries, YMCA's and Community Centers and are not allowed to promote themselves.

"The secret to avoiding high fee, high rate and high payment student loans is to position yourself to qualify for maximum aid by Sophomore or Junior Year," said Ratzan. "But even if your child is a Senior, there are still alternatives to student loans," he added.

Lockwood and Ratzan co-host "The College Planning Power Hour" radio show, Sundays, 10:00-11:00 AM on ESPN Radio AM 400, starting March 2, 2008. Their firm, http://CollegePlanningAdvice.com is located in Weston, Florida and helps parents "Pay for College Without Going Broke."

For more information and/or an entertaining interview, please contact Andrew Lockwood, J.D. at 954.659.1234 or "http://info@collegeplanningadvice.com"