Decide If You Need a Private Financial Aid Consultant

"When Brad Lyons’ oldest son was a junior in high school, he decided to contact Fred Amrein, a college funding expert," according to U.S. News & World Report.

"Knowing that he was on the cusp of a whirlwind of college tours, applications, Free Application of Federal Student Aid forms and tuition bills – and with three more kids to get through college – Lyons wanted some advice on where to put his resources.

'He’s done this enough times with other families that he can advise us on what we should and shouldn’t do,' says Lyons, who lives outside Philadelphia in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

Given the complex college funding landscape, families can pay private financial aid consultants to help them through the process of navigating the FAFSA, figuring out which assets to put toward tuition, and weighing the pros and cons of different types of loans.

'I like to tell people you don’t need to hire anybody to assist you with your FAFSA, but you don’t need to hire someone to mow your lawn either,' says Karen McCarthy, senior policy analyst for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. 'But for some people that’s worth it.'

Consultants and advisers offer a range of services, McCarthy says. Some may offer a holistic college planning service that includes college selection advice, while others may have a more limited focus on finding scholarship money and maximizing financial aid eligibility.

The services aren’t free, and experts say no matter the price, make sure the adviser doesn't make unrealistic promises and that you know how he or she will be compensated.

'Don’t pay people who guarantee a certain type of return in terms of the financial aid that you would receive or who charge a fee based on the percentage of financial aid that you would receive,' McCarthy says."

NASFAA's "Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.

 

Publication Date: 7/6/2017

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