What is College Financial Planning?

College Financial Planning is a planning specialty that focuses on helping families pay for college in the most efficient way possible. At SMART College Funding, we are experts on saving money for college costs. Better than that, we are experts on saving money ON college costs!

With a thorough understanding of the college admission process, the financial aid process, and the tax benefits of paying for the college, we put money back in the pockets of families of college bound students!

Very few professionals specialize in college financial planning and even fewer work in a truly a fiduciary capacity.

What is a Fiduciary?

A fiduciary is someone charged with placing the client’s interest ahead of their own.

At SMART College Funding, we adhere to the fiduciary standard as a matter of principle. We don’t accept clients that won’t benefit from our services. We don’t sell products to line our pockets. In the rare case that a conflict of interest may arise, it is promptly and clearly disclosed to the client.

In short: We put the client first, above all else, in all cases, even if it does not benefit us monetarily.

Fiduciary Duty as defined by Cornell University Law School

When is the right time to start planning for college?

Yesterday! The earlier you start planning, the easier (and cheaper) the process will be. For families in need of Late-stage planning: The ideal time to start is the oldest student’s freshman year in high school.

Young families can start saving for college even before they have children! If you don’t have a plan in place, don’t let inaction make things worse! It’s not too late until they graduate.

Contact us now to determine the best course of action for your family today.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. ~ Mark Twain

Can you guarantee financial aid or scholarships?

In general; No.

Federal Pell Grants and some scholarships like the Florida Bright Future Scholarship are awarded based on very simple criteria and can be determined with 100% accuracy.

However, most aid is awarded by colleges on an individual basis. With exceptions like the $125,000 no-tuition-income-threshold from Stanford,we cannot make promises for what a school may offer your student. Likewise, many scholarships are offered on a first come first serve basis and criteria may change from year to year.

WARNING!!! There are many scholarships services out there offering or promising guaranteed scholarships. THESE ARE A SCAM AND SHOULD BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS! At best, you’ll pay money for information that is easily attained for free. At worst, you may be passing sensitive personal information to parties with criminal intentions!

For the most comprehensive and FREE source of information on the web regarding scholarships click here.

I make too much money for financial aid, can you still help me?

Yes!

Colleges offer two types of financial aid (Need & Merit) and the IRS offers a third (Tax).

Need-based Aid is awarded to families based on their ability to "pay". We will determine if your family will qualify for need-based at any of the colleges you are considering. We will also determine if there are steps than will help you qualify for additional need-based aid.

Merit-based Aid is awarded to students based on their ability to "play" and is awarded regardless of a family’s income or net worth. Merit-based aid may be offered to students for athletic, academic or even “attraction” purposes. We help position students to increase merit-based aid whenever possible.

At SMART College Funding, we specialize in a third type of aid, that we call Tax Aid.

Tax Aid: Our proprietary tax planning strategies dig deep into IRS code to make sure your family qualifies for the maximum allowable deductions and credits; reducing your family tax liability and therefore the overall cost of college.

The best part about Tax Aid: The more you pay (in taxes), the more you’ll save! Families in the highest tax brackets, will have the greatest the savings!

I have a Financial Adviser/Planner, why do I need you?

The term "financial planner" is vague and unregulated. It seems that anyone from insurance agents to stock brokers to local bankers refer to themselves as financial planners.

True financial planning is holistic in nature and because of this very few advisers have in-depth of knowledge in all the intricacies of the college funding process.

While most financial planners focus on saving money for college, they don’t have the necessary experience in the admission process, the financial aid process, the various tax strategies and how each area impacts the others.

We bring together all the pieces of the college funding puzzle to develop a college SPENDING plan. By reducing out of pockets costs, we minimize the impact that paying for college has on your lifestyle both today and in the future. We will coordinate with your existing adviser(s) as needed to implement your individual plan.

Many advisers/planners refer their clients to us to make sure a proper plan is in place as the children approach college. In addition, many have become clients themselves!

Can’t my CPA do this?

Believe it or not, the tax code and the financial aid system are often in direct conflict with one another. While many accountants focus on reducing tax liability, those moves can often lead to higher overall costs when paying for college.

Furthermore, for high income and high net worth families it’s often advantageous to forego certain deductions or credits in order to lower overall tax liability and college costs.

We will coordinate with your accountant to make sure your college spending plan encompasses all areas of the college funding process and makes the most efficient use of your family’s dollars.

Can you provide references?

Unfortunately we could not, even if we wanted to!

We love referrals and are thankful that many clients choose to share openly with other parents, friends and families about their experiences with SMART College Funding.

However, we respect and honor the privacy of each of our client families. We will never share a family’s name or circumstances unless the family specifically requests us to do so by written request.

To top it off, some of the licenses we hold prohibit client testimonials, so we couldn’t legally share them anyway.

What are your planning fees?

Our fees vary based on the complexity of a family’s situation, needs and timeline. Most families engage with us on an on-going basis but in certain situations, an hourly arrangement may be more appropriate.

We will not engage with a family unless the services we provide will be many times more valuable than our fee and feel confident that the family is able to follow through with the recommendations in their plan.

We offer a FREE 30 minute discovery meeting for parents to engage with us, get their questions answered and determine if working together is the right fit.Schedule your meeting today!

Frequently Asked Questions



Contact us at 561.922.0440