Frequently Asked Questions
Why do families hire college planners?
Why do you hire a math tutor? You typically do so because your student needs help in math. It’s the same reason someone would hire a private college planner. We go beyond what’s offered at the school, online, or at home. We take the lead to manage the application process, strategize for college admissions, advise on financial aid forms, council on college funding options, and critique interviews and essays. We make a long, complicated process easier by “tutoring” a family towards success. We’ll give you the push you need to be successful in college admissions and in financial aid/ funding.
Why should I use College Planning Experts?
The #1 Answer: our experience. We are the largest, longest standing college planning firm in the Greater Los Angeles area. We have presented free workshops to over 25,000 families, and we have worked privately with well over 2,500 families. We are the trusted provided of financial aid seminars at over 75 high schools and multiple community colleges, and we have several awards from government leaders and local communities. We also have thousands of hours in research time invested in the rules and regulations of the U.S. Department of Education, college admissions trends, financial aid updates, tax laws, and financial aid policies at individual schools
Can’t I do this all myself?
Yes, you absolutely can do this on you own. You can do a lot of things for yourself. You can practice law yourself, you can make your own wills, you can be your own plumber, and you can even be your own doctor. The reason you work with us is to use our time and expertise, thus avoiding becoming an expert in a field that is not your own. If you’re thinking along these lines, let me ask you another question: when was the last time you did something really good the first time you tried it? Do you remember when you were trying to ride a bike? How many times did you fall? Well, how much will it cost you if you miss just one of the many colleges’ deadlines? These errors can carry a heavy cost because we’re talking about a decision (college) that will carry a price tag of $80,000 to $320,000. You have to decide if it is worth it to hire someone with expertise who can work on this for you, so you don’t run the risk of messing it up yourself.
My school said they can help me with all of this for free. Why should we pay for your service?
It is true that school guidance counselors and college advisors can also be helpful in the college planning process, but consider this: your school counselor probably has a caseload of 100 to 300 to 600 students. Will he/she have enough time to give you the personalized attention you need when making such a big life decision? Furthermore, does your school counselor have the training and ability to advise on your financial situations and ways to strategically afford the cost of college? It’s not enough to know what forms need to be completed and their deadlines; you need to have a detailed plan to strategically get financial aid. We recommend hiring a college planner if you are serious, if you see the value in individualized attention, and if you want to pay for college wholesale rather than retail. If you’re not serious about those things, then we’re probably not right for you.
But, can’t college financial aid departments help me with this?
As far as the college financial aid officers helping you themselves, keep in mind that they work for the school. They are not motivated or trained to help you cut your costs to beat the high price tag for college. Their only interest is getting your money. Another example: Would you go to the IRS to ask for help on lowering your taxes? Well, that is the same as going to the financial aid office to ask them with help for lowering your college expenses.
FAFSA.ed.gov says you shouldn’t pay anyone to help fill out your financial aid forms. How can you charge for this?
Have you heard of FAFSA.com? Well, they are the real reason for this warning. FAFSA.com is a company that got lucky with a URL. They bought the domain before the government could do so, and they won’t sell. They charge anywhere from $75 to $150 to submit your FAFSA for you. You’ll go in and think you’re completing the real FAFSA, but at the end they ask you to pay. If you pay will your form be sent to the government? Yes. Do you have to pay? No. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and you do not have to pay to submit it. We don’t just charge you to complete you forms; we charge you to counsel you on how to complete them, how to save, and how to strategically afford college. Form submissions are just a perk!
How much can you really help a family save on college?
We honestly and ethically can’t give you an average on savings because every family’s financial situation is so different. A family making $75,000 per year may have a different financial goal and plan than one making $250,000 per year. What we can tell you is we will not take you on as a client if we can’t help you save more than our cost. We are an investment, but we make back our fees in the savings rewards you’ll make. It’s our promise.
What are your fees?
Our fees vary by the service program in which you enroll. We equate it to going to the doctor. If you go to the doctor and say, “My arm hurts. How much will it cost to fix it?” then the doctor would probably laugh. He will need to run tests to see if you need ex-rays, if it is neurological, if it is a symptom of a bigger issue, or if you just need a band aid. Our service is similar in that we’ll run tests (also known as a consultation) and we’ll recommend the right treatment (also known as the program). The costs will vary, and we admit we are probably more expensive than most… but we’re worth it. We’ll serve you with a team of experts whose sole goal is to get your child into his/her dream school and to make college affordable. Plus, we won’t take you on as a client if you won’t make back our fees (and then some) in your college savings. When you work with us you’ll probably be spending anywhere from $1,500 to $ 5,000.
Man, I’ve got to be honest; your program sure costs a lot!
Well, you’re right, it does! I believe that we have one of the most expensive college planning firms in Los Angeles County; however, we also offer the most comprehensive service when comparing to all of our competitors. Nobody else does the extent of planning that we offer; career searches, private student interviews, unlimited phone access, unlimited financial aid form submissions, client events, etc. Another way of looking at it is like this: the cost of our service, if you finance it, breaks down to about $3.80 a day. For most people, that’s less than what they spend at lunch. In fact, I would say 90% of our clients reveal to us that it is one of the wisest investments they have ever made.
What if my student doesn’t know what they want to do or doesn’t know where they want to go? Wouldn’t it be a waste of time for the service?
No, in fact, that is the exact reason to hire us in the first place. Remember, our service includes private meetings with your student to create a career profile, pick the right schools, and focus on the right majors. We will be working on these important decisions every step of the way and holding your hand all the way through the process.
I’d feel better if I’d talk with some of your clients first, can you arrange that for me?
We cannot do this, and here is why: We take our client’s privacy and confidentiality very seriously. In many cases you would be discussing personal financial matters with them. What you can do is go to view the testimonials on our website. You can also go to Google and read our Google Reviews, along with the checking us out on Better Business Bureau website. We have 5 star reviews on both sites.
Can’t I put this off? Now is not a good time for me. I really don’t want to make a decision! Can’t this wait?
Here’s the deal: every year, around September, we get several panicked phone calls from perfectly nice parents with whom we really would have enjoyed working. They always “meant to get back to us six months ago” when they were originally in our office. Every year three things happen. First, we have to turn several families away. Why? Because we are full! Remember, we strictly limit the number of clients that we take each year and once we have filled up for that year, we do not have the capacity to take on additional families. Second, we may still have space left, but by the time that we get started, we quickly realize that even though we are helping them, we would have saved them thousands more by getting started earlier. Procrastination costs thousands of dollars. Remember, the program includes not just college advice, picking schools, etc., but it also includes tax advice and planning strategies on how to pay for your share of the college costs. Last, the longer you wait, the more likely the student will become fixated with one school or another. That means it will be harder to get them to take a broad look at the total amount of schools including schools that are more financially viable than other schools.
So, what exactly will you do for us if we decide to hire you?
We’ll make your college dreams a reality.
For many of our clients they hire us for the peace of mind knowing that, not only have we taken care of all of the paperwork well before the deadlines, but also that they do not have to nag their child.
We will take care of all questions regarding college and the financial aid process. This makes being our client well worth the investment.