People ask me all the time “what does a college financial counselor do”?
My business involves helping families determine how they will pay for college. This begins with helping them prepare a college budget so they know the maximum amount they can afford to pay for college. Based on this, I tell them which colleges will fit within their budget (including community college) and explain the expected earnings and careers based on their choice of major. I help many families who have plenty of money to pay for college. I help them make sure they strategically use their resources to maximize their amount of financial aid while minimizing their income, gift, and estate taxes.
But based on my background as a C.P.A., I believe that most families cannot afford to send their children to their top choices of colleges. Many of my clients get accepted to elite colleges but cannot afford them. When I help my families prepare their CSS Profile financial aid form, I make sure we put the actual amount the family can afford to pay for one year of college. I am shocked that the colleges, knowing this information, continue to provide acceptance letters with high prices after grants and scholarships. I had a family yesterday, who put on their CSS that they could only pay $10,000 a year for college. An elite college sent them a package with the net annual cost of over $55,000. Where do they expect the family to get the other $45,000 each year? This is becoming more of the norm. Part of my job is to tell families what the long-term cost will be from taking on such large amounts of debt to pay for college.
I know that I am an anomaly, but I believe someone has to inform families of the consequences of their choices.
This is what I do.
College Finance Guy