Do Families Need to Hire College Consultants? Really?

The dad sitting by you in the soccer bleachers tells you that he’s not worried about his kids’ college planning—because he’s hired a $5,000 college consultant to engineer the whole thing for him. You wonder, “Is this what parents have to do nowadays? Hire college consultants that cost as much as used cars? If parents don’t hire college consultants, do they shortchange their kids?”

It’s not necessary to hire college consultants—but it can be helpful in some cases.

Here are 10 things parents need to know before they hire college consultants.

hire college consultants

1. College consultants vary wildly in quality.

Some are fantastic, and some are terrible. Many high buck college consultants you see on the internet are simply moms or dads who went through the college application process with their own kids last year, and now they see themselves as experts on college planning and financing.

2. Ask a ton of questions before you pay a dime.

Ask lots of exploratory questions about how long they’ve been in business, and how much of their service includes walking you through strategies that really work to get kids through college debt-free. Ask what career planning tools they use to make sure your kid ends up being employable after college.

3. Be sure to ask your prospective college consultant this critically important question.

Ask him or her to explain to you the two huge changes Barack Obama made to the US college financing system on September 13th, 2015—and how those changes will dramatically affect your kid when he or she is a sophomore in college. If your prospective college consultant can’t answer this question, run away and don’t look back.

4. Look for this very good sign.

If a college consultant hands you a copy of the book LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward and says, “We’re going to be walking through the steps in this book together,” consider that a very good sign. It means you’ll have excellent one-on-one support for the journey, and you won’t miss a single debt-free college or career planning strategy along the way.

(College consultants, financial planners, and wealth managers who do this can be found on the “Approved Consultants” tab on this website.)

5. Don’t hire college consultants who tell you this:

Don’t hire college consultants who say, “Oh, we don’t worry about career goal at this point. We’ll just get your son into a good college, and then he can take random college classes to see what he’s interested in. We’ll hope it’ll all come together into some kind of career five years from now.”

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Manage All Your Kids’ College Planning—Mostly By Yourself

If you’re concerned that you’re currently LATE to college planning, read this article now.

college planning

College planning can feel like being lost in a jungle. And sadly, your kid’s high school guidance counselor (nowadays more properly called a “school counselor,”) can’t help much with hacking through the underbrush. Oh, he or she would love to, but budget cuts have slashed the amount of time counselors get to spend with college bound students, in some cases down to just eight minutes per year.

And your child, smart as he is, isn’t in any position to handle the complexity of college planning either. The stakes are high, both financially and career wise, and his brain won’t be fully developed until age 24.

And the internet? You sure don’t want to depend on the internet for college planning advice.

Don’t rely on the internet for college planning advice.

It’ll take you years to sift through everything the internet has to say about college planning. The bits and pieces of info and conflicting messages you hear from online resources will drive you insane. Plus, a huge percentage of what’s currently on the internet regarding college planning is sorely out of date, since President Barack Obama drastically changed US college financing on September 13th, 2015, and most of the world has not yet caught up.

You need a resource that will give you fast, accurate, specific instructions that the internet can’t provide. (I’ll provide a resource for you, below.)

7 things to do when you feel lost in the jungle of college planning

1. Don’t put off college planning because you feel overwhelmed.

I understand that you feel overwhelmed by the college planning process. Every parent does. But if you wait until your kid’s sophomore or junior year of high school to get started on college planning, 75% of the strategies you could have used to get your kid through college debt-free will be gone. Starting early is the best strategy, even if you can’t save a penny.

(If you’re worried that you’re currently late to college planning, read this article now.)

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The 5 Love Languages, Explained with Burritos

By this time nearly everyone’s heard of Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages. It’s sold over 11 million copies, it’s the 12th most popular book on Amazon (where it has more than 13,000 5-star reviews), and it’s been a New York Times Bestseller 8 years running.

Want a super fast explanation of The 5 Love Languages?

This funny explanation by @Alonzo_Creed has been retweeted 52,000 times on Twitter:

1. Words of Affirmation: “This is a good burrito.”

2. Acts of Service: “I made you a burrito.”

3. Receiving Gifts: “Here’s a burrito.”

4. Quality time: “Let’s go get some burritos together.”

5. Physical touch: Arms around a person wrapped in a warm hug, like a burrito.

Are you wondering which one or two of The 5 Love Languages your teen, spouse, or other loved one is most wired to receive? Use the quick free 5 Love Languages assessment that author Gary Chapman offers on his website. You might also love Gary’s other book: The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively.

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8 Reasons Google’s Managers Are Wildly Successful

Back in 2009, researchers in Google’s People Innovation Lab spent an entire year finding the answer to one question: “What makes managers wildly successful?”

Managers

According to this Inc. article, Google put all the resources at its disposal into data-mining “performance appraisals, employee surveys, and nominations for top manager awards.” In the end, Google statisticians had gathered more than 10,000 observations about managers—across 100 different variables.

Interestingly, Google’s research on managers is 100% applicable to parenting.

Whether you manage employees during your work day—or a house full of teenagers at home, the answers Google uncovered are applicable, inspiring, and encouraging.

Here they are. Google’s 8 qualities of great managers, listed in order of importance:

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Want More College Money? Avoid These Costly FAFSA Mistakes

Fill Out FAFSA as Early as Possible For Best Results

This article originally appeared on this blog on September 25th, 2017. It was updated and reposted here on August 30th, 2018.

If you’ll have one or more kids in college next fall—please plan to get your family first in line for financial aid money by filling out the FAFSA financial aid form as close to this coming October 1st as you possibly can. You read that right—11 months in advance. Are you tempted to skip filling out FAFSA because you assume you make too much to qualify for aid for college? Quick—right now—read my article 7 Reasons to Fill Out FAFSA Even If You’re Rich. Then use the instructions below to get every penny of the college money your kids have coming.

Tell everyone you know—avoid these common FAFSA mistakes.

Today I’m featuring a list of 30+ mistakes that parents make when filling out the FAFSA form. These mistakes cost U.S. families millions in lost college financial aid money each year.

To make sure your kids get every penny they have coming to them, download and print my list of common FAFSA mistakes here: 30+ Common FAFSA Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. (This link won’t open on some phones. If that happens to you, please open it on your desktop computer.)

Share this post with everyone you know who cares about kids who’ll be in college next year, and then have the printout handy on your desk when you’re filling out your own FAFSA form.

FAFSA mistakes

You’ll get instant answers to questions such as: 

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Divorced? Perhaps Do This by Sept 30 and Save a Bundle on College

This article was originally published here on July 31st, 2017. It was updated and reposted here on May 22nd, 2018.

Are you divorced from your child’s other parent?

If so, there are specialized strategies you can use to reduce your kids’ future college costs.divorced

Here’s just one.

1. Figure out which of your child’s parents has the lower household income.

Is it you, or is it your ex-spouse? (Be sure to include the income of any new spouses when you calculate this income amount.)

2. Ask yourself, “Could my daughter possibly go to live with her lower-income parent, starting on September 30th of her 11th grade year?”

Think, would it be safe and healthy for your daughter to sleep 183 nights (or more) at her lower-income parent’s house between September 30th of her 11th grade year and September 30th of her 12th grade year?

Could she keep up this living arrangement until she goes away to college?

There are dramatic financial aid benefits for divorced parents who do this.

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Buy LAUNCH Before 1/11/17 — Get Bonuses Worth $248

Today I’m announcing the extra bonuses your family will receive if you purchase LAUNCH by January 11, 2017.

LAUNCH

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How Divorced Parents Can Get More Financial Aid For College

This article was originally posted on this site on August 8th, 2016. It was updated and reposted here on January 10th, 2018.

Ben and Amy have been divorced for years. Finally, though, they’ve found something they both agree on: they want their teenage daughter, Sophie, to get through college as close to debt-free as possible—and directly into a job she loves afterward. Millions of other divorced parents feel the same way.

What’s the key to making that happen?

divorced parents

Divorced parents can take 7 specific steps that can help their kids get through college debt-free.

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What Does ROMANCE Have To Do With Financial Aid?

It Turns Out, a LOT.

This article was originally posted here on February 15th, 2016. It was updated and re-posted here on February 1st, 2018.

In just a matter of days or hours, Valentine’s Day will be over for another year. Tissue paper from wrapped gifts will litter the bedroom floor, chocolates will have been devoured, and pink and red greeting cards will have been set up in display mode on the kitchen counter.

And then, in the days and weeks after Valentine’s Day—romance will pull on work boots and get back into the trenches.

If you’re married, you probably understand well that though Valentine’s Day is nice, real romance is actually lived out every day, 365 days a year, in the normal course of every day, up-and-down, regular life.

Today, moms and dads, I’m going to talk about that regular old “365-day-a-year-romance” you have with your spouse, and what that has to do with your kid getting financial aid for college.

romance

Here’s the special message I have for you for today, parents: Your marriage matters when it comes to your kid eventually getting financial aid for college.

“Seriously? How does my marriage affect how much money my kid gets in financial aid for college?”

Because of idiosyncrasies with the CSS/Profile financial aid form, if you at some point decide to divorce your child’s other parent and marry someone else, your child will be disadvantaged in the financial aid process at the most competitive colleges in the country.

“Disadvantaged! How so?”

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