There is a growing trend in college planning where families hire an Independent Education Counselor (IEC) to help plan, execute strategies for the ACT or SAT testing and assist in applying to college in hopes of being accepted. IECs start working with families as early as the eighth grade if the family is considering an ivy-league school or grooming the child for a scholarship academics or sports. The earlier the agreement with the IEC starts, the more expensive the college preplanning costs. Unfortunately, preplanning costs are not a qualified expense under a 529 plan as of today.
Most families choose to work with an IEC when the child is a high school junior or senior due to a lack of college counseling in high school. IECs help guide families through the process of determining which college is the best value for the profession the child is considering. For some professions graduating from an ivy-league school does lead to higher incomes, but for most graduating from an academically competitive school is what determines higher earnings.
A second benefit an IEC provides is that they get to know the child to help determine which colleges will help the young student succeed and graduate. For students paying for college on their own or using financial aid, the student loan process can be confusing. IECs provide counseling on loan options and assist with loan applications. Additionally, they work with the student on managing their personal spending and their loan money hoping to avoid the spending problems as many young students without financial counseling tend to do.
If you have a desire to discuss setting up a college savings plan for your child or grandchild we welcome your inquiry as it’s never too late to start saving.