As the end of the summer rapidly approaches, many families are getting ready to send their kids back to school. For the younger ones, that preparation is as simple as new backpacks filled with school supplies and reinstating a bedtime. For the young adults heading off to college, however, it’s a bit more complicated and a bit more expensive.
Many parents, with children of all ages, may be anxious about how to tackle the financials of higher education. As an advisor, you have the opportunity to help ease these worries by discussing the costs of higher education, presenting them with options, and helping your clients create a plan, regardless of how old their kids are.
1. Your clients who just had or are thinking of having kids are well ahead of the curve for planning and saving for their children’s future, and are positioning themselves to be able to handle the rising costs of higher education. These preliminary conversations can revolve around the importance of investing early and often, as well as specific investment solutions beneficial for saving, such as 529 plans, after tax acts, or other investment vehicles.
2. For those with young teens who are getting a late start on saving for college, you should have a financial aid counselor from a local school on speed dial. An expert on college costs can help you better understand funding possibilities like scholarships or private and federal loans, as well as learn about the most cost-effective way for students to attend college. Some suggestions may include spending the first two years at a community college to save money, or living at home to offset the costs of dorms. You can present these different options to your clients, but also connect them directly to the counselor if they have more specific questions.
3. It’s not too late to talk to your clients with young adults just about to head off to college, either. You can work with the parents to create a specific plan for who is going to fund what during college. Is the student going to work while they are in school, receive a monthly stipend from their parents, or participate in a work-study program offered by their school? Between actually getting their kid out the door, picking out dorm room décor, and making sure they have everything they need, your clients could use a guiding hand on the financial side.
There is a conversation to be had with every client about how to handle sending a kid off to college. Watching their kids grow up and enter the world can be an emotional time, and as an advisor you can ensure they have the logistics squared away so they can focus on the sentimental.
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Michael Lynch is a registered representative of Hartford Funds Distributors, LLC.
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