“Off the Wall” Podcast

How to Save for Your Child’s College Without Sacrificing Your Retirement | Ann Garcia, The College Financial Lady

Feb 21, 2023 Planning for Retirement

Want to support your child’s education, but don’t know where to start? Worried that contributing to your child’s college fund may impact building your retirement account? Saving for college can be nerve-wracking, but we promise this episode will make it less scary and more empowering. 

In this episode of Off the Wall, hosts David Armstrong and Jessica Gibbs welcome Ann Garcia, aka The College Financial Lady. Ann is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Managing Partner of Independent Progressive Advisors, and a mother of twin college students. As The College Financial Lady, Ann has helped thousands of students save money on college education while protecting their parents’ financial futures. 

Tune in to learn Ann’s top tips and advice on saving money for college, the different ways you can use your 529 savings plan, and how to take advantage of scholarships and financial aid. Plus, she offers helpful advice on talking to your kids about money and college. 

“Planning for college is equal parts financial planning and parenting. You can’t separate the two.” – Ann Garcia

Are you looking for clarity, conviction and unfiltered advice about your wealth?

You’ve come to the right place.

Episode Timeline/Key Highlights:

[00:50] Introducing Ann Garcia & the topic of today’s episode.
[01:56] Is going to college a good investment?
[07:56] The dangers of pushing your child to be a high achiever.
[11:23] Explaining weighted vs. unweighted GPA & Which GPA do colleges look at?
[14:14] Two ways to answer: How much should I save for my kid’s college fund?
[19:44] How to set aside money for a college fund without compromising your retirement.
[22:02] Why you should use a college’s net price calculator.
[23:00] How to roll over surplus 529 money using the new provision in the SECURE 2.0 Act.
[26:52] Talking to your kids about money and college.
[29:40] What you need to know about college scholarships and financial aid.

“Students whose families have saved for college enroll and graduate at higher rates than those who don’t.” – Ann Garcia

Resources Mentioned:

Take Ann’s Masterclass – How to Pay for College: http://bit.ly/3YjwvLu
How to Pay for College by Ann Garcia, CFP®: http://bit.ly/3DZkTFs

About Ann Garcia:

Ann Garcia, CFP®, is the Owner of Independent Progressive Advisors, a fee-only Registered Investment Advisor in Portland OR, and author of The College Financial Lady blog (thecollegefinanciallady.com), which has over 15,000 subscribers. In addition, Ann is regularly cited in national media (New York Times, US News & World Report) on the subject of college planning. She earned a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and of NAPFA, the leading association of fee-only financial advisors. Ann is also a parent of twins who are attending their top-choice colleges.

Connect with Ann:

Transcript:

Jessica Gibbs (Co-Host):

And we’re back with another episode of Off the Wall. Hey, Dave.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

Hey there. How are you, Jessica? Good to see you.

Jessica Gibbs (Co-Host):

Yes. So today we’re talking about college, college funding particularly. I feel like whenever I’m working with a client whose parent like this is like tops, like every time they want to talk about college funding, how are we making progress? How is this doing? So, we have a great expert with us today, Ann Garcia, a.k.a. the college financial Lady. Ann has helped thousands of families save money on college. So that’s partly why we wanted to have her on here today, because she doesn’t like that. So she’s a certified financial planner and managing partner of Independent Progressive Advisors in Portland, Oregon. But she specializes in helping families balance their desire to support their children’s dreams with the reality of funding their own lives. And she also has an awesome book out. It’s called How to Pay for College. It’s available wherever you can buy books, and it also has a companion online course. So, Ann, welcome to the podcast.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Thank you so much for having me.

Jessica Gibbs (Co-Host):

So excited for you to be here.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

Yeah, it’s great to see you on. I mean, let’s just start with the big, high-level question. Is going to college even a good investment?

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Yes. And I know a lot of families wonder that because the cost has just spiraled out of relation to anything else that we pay for. And I would say, yes, absolutely, College is a great investment. You know, if you look at it just on the economic side, college graduates will earn an average of about $1,000,000 more over their lifetimes than do those without college degrees. The unemployment rate for college graduates is typically about half what it is for those without college degrees. If you look back to the financial crisis, 2008, 2009, where the overall unemployment rate was around 10%, there was a headline with the shocking news that the unemployment rate for those with college degrees had crossed 4%. So, a whole lot of economic security comes with a college degree, but there’s a lot more to it than that. And numerous studies have shown that college graduates live healthier and happier lives. So, there’s far less heart disease and type two diabetes among people with college degrees. College graduates are more likely to marry and less likely to divorce than those without degrees. So, all in, you’re right to want this for your child. You’re right to want your child to go to college. Now, one of the things you’ll notice is I said college is worth this. I did not say going to an Ivy League is worth this, or going to a private college is worth this. Because there’s also been a lot of research done on how much it matters where your student goes to college. And one of the really telling surveys in this area was a study called the Gallup Purdue Index, which was done a few years ago, and they surveyed adults who self-rated as successful in life. So, it wasn’t like you have to have this income or this job title or anything. It was, do you think you are successful and tried to tie that back to their college experiences, and what they found was that feeling of success had nothing to do with what college they went to, what type of college they went to, you know, public, private, large, small, urban, rural, any of those things. It really had nothing to do with that, and in fact, was all about having had a specific set of experiences while they were in college, things like having mentors on campus, feeling like professors cared about them and were helping them to be successful, having opportunities to apply what they learned in the classroom to an internship or job, doing a project that took a semester or longer to complete, engaging in extracurriculars. So, it was really all about the experiences that you have as a student, and the good news is those experiences are available on lots and lots of college campuses. I would say top, I’m a parent, I have two kids in college who are going to vastly different colleges. One is at a highly selective private school. The other is at a completely un-selective public school. But for them being in different majors this year when they graduate, they have each accepted practically identical jobs. So same starting salary, same corporate management training, career path at Fortune 500 companies. And so, you know, our focus group of two is bearing out all of the data as well.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

Right. I don’t know if you’re a fan of popular television right now, but there’s a television show on Paramount called The King of Tulsa, and it’s a television series with Sylvester Stallone, who I don’t normally equate with being somebody who would give great college advice. But he has this great line in the show where he’s talking to one of his employees and he says, “college is designed to test if you can show up on time and complete a set of tasks to standard for four straight years. And that’s really what college is all about.” And when I heard that, I thought that’s really true. And he kind of said it in a way that was supposed to be a little bit funny and a little bit downplaying of college. But I just sat there. I thought about it for a second, and he was right. And, you know, my military experience has proved that out, too, because a lot of times people say like, well, what makes an officer qualified to be an officer except he went to college? Yeah, because you showed up someplace for four straight years, did a set of tasks, did them on time and did them to a standard. And those are really great testing things. It is interesting about the Ivy League and the state school, because I went to the University of South Carolina, which is the next school that’s going to be elevated up into the Ivy Leagues. I mean, it’s like it’s right, it’s right there.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

It’s right there next to you.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

Right there. Right there. Right. I love the university, South Carolina. I went there twice for my masters and my undergraduate. I have a huge, huge place in my heart for the school, and it’s a fantastic institution. But when you talk about your two kids and how their definition of success, I mean, I look at and I say, jeez, I don’t know if, I mean, I’d probably be sitting in the same place doing the same thing if I’d gone to a really expensive Ivy League school.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Yeah. When I look at my son, for example, who was not at all an ambitious student in high school, didn’t have great grades, but because he did well on the A.C.T., got a great scholarship to his college and he was choosing between University of Arizona and University of Oregon, and we’re in Portland, so Oregon was kind of the default where all his friends were going and whatnot. And when he talked about that, too, you know, when he talked about Oregon, it was like, well, Kevin said we should live in this dorm. And Matyas and I are going to be roommates and, you know, kind of like that. And when he talked about Arizona, he said, you know, I’m not going to know anyone. So, I think I’m going to live in the pretty business academic residential community because that would be an opportunity to meet people and make some new friends, and I found out I can sign up for intramurals as a free agent, so I’ll play soccer and meet people that way. And so, he was really talking about all the ways that he was going to engage on that campus. And we said, you know what? We kind of like that version of him. And that’s, you know, like you said, it’s so much of what college is about, is showing up and getting the job done and learning how to navigate those pathways and learning how to do all that on your own to a standard that someone else has set.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

Yeah, there’s a huge social education that takes place in college has nothing to do with going to class.

Jessica Gibbs (Co-Host):

So Ann, I want to pick up on what you were saying before about, you know, you’re mentioning about Ivy League. I mean, we’ll get to the savings aspect in a minute, but I think when you’re a high achieving person, it’s kind of natural that you want your kids to also experience their own successes. But how can pushing a child to be high achieving backfire?

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Yeah, it’s such a good question. You know, this is something that we dealt with as parents. And I would say planning for college is equal parts financial planning and parenting. You know, you can’t separate the two. And so, I will share some parenting lessons while we’re here, as well as just financial ones. So, like I said, I have two kids, twins, who are college students, and they’re very, very different students. My daughter was all about, you know, our high school had an IB program, and she was all about IB. It was a great fit for her. She loved the rigor, she loved the expansiveness of the curriculum. She took every I.B. class that she possibly could. My son, on the other hand, while he was a smart kid, did not necessarily have the academic maturity to thrive or excel in higher level classes. Nonetheless, our high school, like most really strongly encourage kids to try that IB classes. He was also a good test taker, so he tended to test into those higher levels of classes.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

I’m sorry what I stand for International Baccalaureate.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

So, there’s too many versions of advanced classes that kids take in high school, either AP or IB, and schools tend to offer one or the other.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

Oh, see, I wasn’t familiar with that term because I was always in detention, so I wasn’t. Yeah, that was my curriculum. I didn’t have that in my high school. So, thanks for clarifying that.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

So most high schools offer some version of that and encourage kids to participate in those classes. And there’s loads of good stuff in those classes and they’re great fits for some kids, you know, for kids who want to apply to the Ivy Leagues, you know, the selective colleges, it’s kind of table stakes in the admissions game. What we found with my son, who took a lot of those classes and didn’t do particularly well in them, when the time came to apply to colleges, a lot of colleges use unweighted GPA to award merit scholarships. And so, because he didn’t have a very good unweighted GPA because he had taken these advanced classes and where he might have gotten an A in the regular version of the class, he got B’s and sometimes C’s in the advanced versions. He missed out on $12,000 a year in scholarships at the college of his choice. So that’s $48,000 over four years because we had encouraged him to take those higher-level classes. I’m not saying this at all to discourage people from pursuing challenge, but I think as a parent, you really need to be managing what’s an appropriate level of challenge for my child. Because while my son clearly had the intellectual chops in the form of test taking ability to get into these classes, he did not have, like I said, the academic maturity or the interest level in doing all the homework that was involved in taking these classes and didn’t do well and lost out on a lot of financial aid and spent a lot of his high school evenings in his bedroom crying over his homework or telling me that he was the dumbest person in all of his classes. On the flip side, now that he’s in college, he’s a straight-A college student, and he always says I think I must have gone to the hardest high school of anyone I know because I thought high school was hard, and I think college is easy. And my friends all think college is hard and I’m getting better grades than they are. So, there’s certainly a preparation value. But I think it’s worth balancing things, you know, doing your homework to see, especially if you’re applying to state schools, you know, what is their policy on what GPA they use to award merit scholarships.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

Can you just quickly explain, because I’m not familiar with that term weighted, unweighted. I mean, I know I know the definitions of the words, but so, for example, if you’re taking a regular English class and you get an A in it and you take an advanced English class and you get a B in it under a weighted scenario, they would wait that B like an A, they in other words, A plus it up because you’re in a harder course.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Correct. Yeah, It’s a four-point versus a five-point scale.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

Okay. So, in their unweighted you may not or it doesn’t sound like you get any benefit for taking those harder classes as it relates to them calculating what your GPA was.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Correct. And many colleges use that unweighted GPA. So, there’s different scales for grading. The standard scale is up to four where an A’s four, B’s three, C’s two, etc. etc. with AP and IB courses, typically those are on a five point scale and so an A is five points, a B is four points, a C is three points to reflect that the curriculum is more rigorous and more challenging and that more effort is required. So getting an A in one of those classes should be worth more than getting an A in a regular class. But they also, you know, while you were in detention, the guys in the AP classes were doing homework.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

Oh yeah. And I was getting a different education, right?

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Exactly. Exactly. You might have been at the electric guitar recital.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

Down at the gas station, work after school. So, for example, and I don’t want to belabor the point, I just want to make sure I understand it. If I was taking an AP class and then a regular class and I had all A’s all the way up until my last semester, and then my last semester, I had an A in my AP class and a B in my whatever class. I’d still graduate with a 4.0. I mean, kind of because the five becomes a four in the…

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Yeah. And so, I think one of the things for parents to think about when their kids are looking at what classes they should be taking is what’s an appropriate level of challenge. Where does my child have the passion, the interest level to pursue this topic to the degree that it’s required to get the same type of grade in this course as in a different course? Because, you know, for my son, he you know, he played soccer, he had a girlfriend, he had a job. He wanted to do lots of things other than just do homework. You know, for my daughter, it was a great fit. She loved the work. She loved the more intense discussions that they’d have in class. And likewise, feels like her high school prepared her very, very well for college.

Jessica Gibbs (Co-Host):

So, I want to switch gears to saving for college, because as a certified financial planner myself, I talk to clients all the time. I give them advice about saving for college, usually in a 529 account. But one of the most difficult things that I think when it comes to planning for college is the huge disparity in costs between a public university and a private university. You know, right now we’re looking at in the state of Virginia, a public university education is $37,000 a year versus a more expensive private university. It can be $70,000 a year. So how if you have a really young kid like I do, how do you know how much to save when you have no idea when they’re 18. Are they going to UVA or are they going to Georgetown? So, if your goal as a parent is to support your kids wherever they get accepted, how do you navigate how much to save, particularly if they’re nowhere close to enrolling in college?

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Yeah, that’s such a great question. And it’s one that we talk about with our clients all the time as well, because parents want to provide every possible opportunity for their kids. But as a financial advisor, in the same way that I don’t help my clients of limited means buy villas in Italy for their retirement, I don’t help clients who can’t afford it steer their children to colleges that they can’t afford. And so, I think there’s two ways of looking at that question. One is from the saving side and the other is from the college cost side. There’s a big misperception that if you want to go to private college, it’s $82,000 a year or $85,000 a year or whatever, and that the inflation rate of college tuition is 6%. There’s another statistic out there that isn’t as widely publicized, but that is the average net price of college and the average tuition discount rate. And currently, so, the net price, which is what people actually pay, net of scholarships and grants that they receive from the university, the net price of college has stayed pretty constant for the last couple of decades. So, we’re not actually paying more for college now on average than we were 10, 15, 20 years ago. And in fact, the average tuition discount rate last year, which is the average rate at which scholarships and grants reduced the cost of college, was over 50%. So that means that for every $1,000 of tuition that’s charged, only $500 is collected. Actually, less than $500 is collected. So, I don’t think when you’re talking about, I want to make every option available for my child. That doesn’t have to mean I want to make every price point available to my child because there has to just be some realistic approach to it. And the simple fact is, if we all decided we weren’t going to pay $82,000 a year for college, college wouldn’t cost $80,000 a year. But, you know, if you are in charge of setting tuition at Stanford and you say, well, gosh, last year we charged $82,000 and we turned away thousands and thousands of people who are willing to pay that, what do we charge this year? It’s not going to be 75. It’s going to be maybe 85, you know, maybe more. But at the same time, they need to fill those classes somehow and they use scholarships and other forms of tuition discounting to make up that difference. So that’s looking at it from the cost side. Your child will have lots and lots of great choices at whatever price point works for your family. My daughter attends the world’s most expensive university, the University of Chicago, and it was actually her second cheapest choice of all the colleges that she applied to because they’re very generous with scholarships and financial aid. So, if you limit your budget to what works for your family, you’re not necessarily limiting your child’s opportunities. You just need to go out and do the legwork to find the opportunities that are available to them. Now, like you, we tell all our clients to use 529 for college savings. There’s very few reasons why you wouldn’t choose that path between the tax efficiency and having a dedicated and earmarked account for savings. And I will say students who have college savings enroll and graduate at higher rates than those who don’t.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

Say that one more time.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Students whose families have saved for college enroll and graduate at higher rates than those who don’t. And even students with very minimal amounts of savings, say a couple hundred dollars. So, there’s probably some chicken and egg in there, right? Because if you’re saving for college, you’re probably talking about college and encouraging your child to apply to college. And that saying, well, if you want to go, you want to go. If not. So, getting back to, you know, how much should you save? I think for young families, it’s so easy to get really frustrated by this question because we as advisors have a tendency to say one of two things. One is don’t save for college, save for retirement, because you can take out loans for college but not for retirement. That’s wrong. You can’t cash flow college, for the most part, without making serious sacrifices. And again, students whose families have savings enroll and graduate at higher rates than those who don’t. The other thing we tell them is, well, if you want private college to be a possibility, it’s $80,000 a year, 6% tuition inflation rate, times four years times, you know, projecting out 15, 18 years to when they start.

Jessica Gibbs (Co-Host):

A horrifying number.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

That means you need to be saving $2,000 a month every month until they go to college, if you want them to have that opportunity. And at which point people just throw up their hands in despair and say, there’s no way I can do that. You know, I’m just working part time in my job because I’ve got these babies or I’m paying $2,000 a month for childcare. I don’t know where another $2,000 is going to come from.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

So how do you actually balance saving for retirement in college? Okay, I’ll put this another way. How can a parent set aside money for college fund without ruining their own retirement? Because I think that’s you know, that’s kind of what you’re getting at.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

And that’s really what it is. So, thank you for reining me in back to the answer.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

I didn’t want to skip over because it’s important.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Yeah. So, my rule of thumb is this emergency savings comes first. If you don’t have emergency savings, you know, college savings, then comes retirement savings. If you don’t have retirement savings, you also don’t have college savings. If you’re saving for retirement but not maxing out, then I think no more than 10% of what you’re putting towards retirement should go into college. And if you want to save more for college, you bring up your retirement savings rate in addition to that. Once you get to the point where you’re maxing out retirement, then is the time to look at your budget and say, Here’s what else I can afford to do for college. I do think the sooner you set up a 529 and start an automatic monthly contribution, even if it’s $10 a month, the better off you’re going to be in the long run because it’s much easier to just go in and adjust that number, then to go like, oh, I got to set up the account, whatnot. And the other thing that I do with all my clients is I show them how to use the gifting page of their 529 because people always say, please stop giving my kid toys. Well, if you mean that, give them access to your 529. Tell them here, put money in their college savings account. You know, a kid who gets a couple hundred dollars for their birthday every year, who gets that put into their 529, that’s a great way to start building up that savings, even when your cash flow is tight, because having little kids around is really, really expensive. You know, and if you are maxing out retirement and have free cash flow, by all means target your state’s deductible amount, which various tremendously by state and the value of it varies a lot by state, but that’s a good target for a young family to have, because when your kid is little, you may be saying, I want them to have the opportunity for private college, but you have no idea what kind of a student they are. For my kids, my daughter was definitely the private college type. We gave her a budget for private college, and she didn’t apply to colleges where the net price calculator said that it was going to cost more than that, and she still is attending her top choice school. So that’s a segway into every college has a tool on their website called a net price calculator. And what a net price calculator does, it allows you to punch in your family’s financial information, sometimes your students’ academic information. And it’ll give you an estimate of what that college will cost you. I think a great exercise for young parents, for parents of young children, is to go and do the net price calculator at their alma mater and see what it would cost them to send their child to that school. I know for us, my husband and I are raving fans of our respective colleges, and our kids have every item of Cal and Michigan gear up to about a size seven, at which point we realize we would never send them to those colleges just because they were never going to fit in our budget. And so, you know, we took those two options off the table and our kids are still having fantastic college experiences. I think if you asked either of them if they could do it all over again and have their choice of colleges in the world, I think each of them would say that they would choose their same college a second time.

Jessica Gibbs (Co-Host):

So, I want to go back to let’s just assume you have been diligently saving two a 529 and then going to an in-state school where they get a lot of scholarship money. Can you talk about the new provision in Secure 2.0 related to rolling 529 money because it’s just brand new and I want to make sure people are aware of it.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Yeah. So, this is a brand-new provision under the Secure 2.0 Act. Surplus money and that 529 can be rolled over tax and penalty free to a Roth IRA. It’s up to $35,000 per beneficiary over the course of their lifetime. So, if you have, you know, millions of dollars and a 529, that’s not one of the choices. There are a few rules about it. One is that the 529 has to have been open for 15 years, and the other is that contributions and growth within the last five years can’t be rolled over. So, there’s some delay and then in order to do the rollover, you do have to have earned income. There’s a little bit of unclarity around whether parents can change the beneficiary to themselves and use that for their own Roth IRA rollovers or whether that restarts that 15-year clock. The way it’s written is that if you make that change, it restarts the 15-year clock. The way all the communications around the provision have been written indicates that that was not the intention of the rule, that it is intended for parents to be able to do it. So, hopefully sometime between now and 2024, when that provision comes into play, there will be more clarity around that rule. I think if I were a young parent thinking about this and thinking about having 529 dollars available to convert to Roth, I might name myself as the beneficiary of one 529 account where I’m putting my surplus dollars in just to get around that provision. Because, you know, if you think of it, you know, if you have your kid’s late twenties, early thirties, then you’re in your fifties when they graduate from college, and many people are even older than that when they graduate from college. The rollover allows you to do rollovers up to the annual Roth IRA contribution limit. And again, you have to have earned income. So, if you think $7500 a year for someone who’s over 50, that means it’s going to take five years to roll $35,000 out. So do you have a five-year trajectory of continuing to have earned income to roll that over to your Roth IRA as well once your child finishes college or, once you know, at whatever point in their college trajectory, you know, that those funds are surplus that you can. So, it’s a great option for parents who are concerned about what happens to their 529 dollars. But there are some hiccups and some nuances to it that hopefully will be clarified to the benefit of parents who are actually trying to figure out how to balance college and retirement. The good news with 529’s is they have so many uses. You know, it’s not just college, it’s trade schools, it’s apprenticeship programs. There are a lot of gap year programs you can use your 529 for. And then, of course, students who get a lot of scholarships so that they don’t need the full balance of their 529’s, those distributions are not subject to the 10% penalty that otherwise comes into play when you take a non-qualified 529 distribution. And you know, with students being at pretty low tax rates, if that’s you and you just want to get the money out and use it for something else, you know, whether it’s nonqualified expenses like airfare to and from your college or the student needs a car, or they want to use it for a down payment for a house, you can be taking those distributions over the course of their college years to sort of manage the tax bill on the non-qualified distributions.

Jessica Gibbs (Co-Host):

Interesting. Last question I want to ask you. It’s just in general, how do you recommend parents talk to their kids about money and college?

Ann Garcia (Guest):

It’s such a great question. You know, and that’s really the crux of it. Like we as financial planners can come up with great plans and then the kid’s not on board because the parent hasn’t talked to them. And you can throw the whole thing out the window. I think it’s really important for parents to stay ahead of that conversation. And at any child’s age, there are appropriate college conversations to have. I think with young kids, just introducing the concept of college is something that’s enriched your life is a great thing to do. You know, maybe take them to a college sports event or talk in context about something you learned. Hey, there’s a thunderstorm. I never knew how thunder and lightning happened. And then I took a meteorology class in college, and I learned about fronts colliding. And I obviously didn’t take that meteorology class. I’m making it up. Or, you know, talk about a friends that you made in college. We have a friend we always used to go and visit when the kids were young. Kelly. And we always had a great time at Kelly’s house. And I always made a point of letting them know that Kelly was a college friend of mine, and that’s how we knew each other, and that’s how we’ve been part of each other’s lives. But when kids start getting older, then of course it’s appropriate to start bringing in the concept of the cost of college. And I encourage parents to start that conversation from the perspective of we’ve been saving a lot for your college, and we have money available for you to go to college. Maybe not every college in the universe, but you’re going to have great college choices because we’ve been saving and because this is important to us, and we want to work with you to make good choices. I think when your students’ in high school and when you’re having those conversations about what your budget looks like, it’s really important to be goal-oriented in those conversations. So not we’ve only saved enough for public schools, so you have to go to a public school, try this instead. We would like you to be able to graduate from college debt free. We think that’s really important for you in terms of launching into adulthood and having the most choices for your career and where you live and all the things that are part of adulthood. We have saved enough for you to graduate debt free from our in-state public college. You can probably find some other options within that same budget and we will absolutely support you in finding those. If you’d like to consider private colleges or out of state public colleges.

Jessica Gibbs (Co-Host):

That’s really great advice. I like that – goals oriented. It makes it feel very positive. I will say. Yeah, I think if you’re a high school student, you start to understand how much college costs. And then freshman year, when you’re thinking about, am I going to skip my 8 AM class, I think it does cross your mind to kind of like you’re like, you have these fleeting memories of like, yeah, when my parents talked about how much this costs for me to go to, and then if I break down how much this particular class is going to cost, does it make sense that you might be some extra motivation to get out of bed.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

So yeah. Now other thing I would point out along those lines is every college offers some kinds of scholarships, but not every college offers all kinds of scholarships. The two big kinds of scholarships that colleges offer are on the basis of financial need or on the basis of merit. Not all students are eligible for both at all colleges, but chances are that every student can find a college that has a scholarship for them. You’re eligible for financial aid on the basis of need if your family’s expected family contribution or student aid index, as calculated by the FAFSA or the CSS profile is less than the cost of attendance at the college. But not every college offers grant aid to fill that gap between cost of attendance and a family’s need. Other colleges offer merit scholarships, and those are scholarships that are targeted at the students that they’d like to attract. We always think of those as athletic scholarships, but really the mathletes are the ones who clean up in this area. You know, the vast majority of merit scholarships go to good students, and that’s on the basis of GPA and test scores.

Jessica Gibbs (Co-Host):

All right. Well, again, and Ann’s book is How to Pay for College. You can find her masterclass at howtopayforcollege.com. So. And thank you so much for joining us.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

Yeah thanks so much for coming on. This was great. You know it’s funny because I don’t have a whole lot of memory about college and how much it costs. When I was 18 years old and the only thing I remember about paying for college was I had ROTC scholarships. So my big thing was my parents didn’t get my report card anymore. And I thought that was great, right, because I wasn’t going to get in trouble with my parents and work for my grades. The thing that I didn’t calculate in there was Gunnery Sergeant Rakowski was getting my report card, and that was way worse than my parents getting my report card. So, but I just try to think back on what college cost. And you were talking before about that college calculator. As soon as we end this podcast, I’m getting University of South Carolina’s website and I’m going to see what it what it would have cost to go to college. So, thanks for that. I’m going to do that right now.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Excellent. I’m glad you have some takeaways from this.

David B. Armstrong (Co-Host):

I don’t even have kids. That’s great. Know, our clients will really appreciate that. And thank you so much, Amy. Anytime we can get somebody on who’s an expert who can help everybody who’s listening, just learn more about how to do all of this stuff. We feel like we’ve accomplished our goal of helping educate people about everything that has to do with financial and financial services and things like that. So thanks so much for being such great guests. Really appreciate your time.

Ann Garcia (Guest):

Thank you for having me.

About "Off The Wall"

OFF THE WALL is a podcast for business professionals and high-net-worth investors who want to build wealth with purpose. A little bit Wall Street, a little bit off-the-wall; it’s your go-to for straightforward, unfiltered wealth advice on topics that founders, business owners, and executives care about.

Related "Off the Wall" Podcasts

With the rising prevalence of cyber-attacks on both individuals and small businesses, it’s more important than ever to learn how to boost your cybersecurity and protect the wealth you’ve worked so hard to grow. In this episode of Off the Wall, you’ll meet Cathleen Phelps, a Client Experience Manager at Monument, and Bill Phelps, a Cybersecurity Expert and Strategist with over 26 years of experience.

Feb 16, 2024 FAQs

Adding onto our last episode for executives on navigating career growth and transitions, this time we’re talking about peak performance and finding purpose in your executive role, wealth, and beyond. Today on Off the Wall, hosts Jessica Gibbs and David Armstrong welcome Dr. Julie Gurner, a nationally recognized executive performance coach and psychologist who’s helping executives achieve world-class performance in fast-paced, high-pressure, and highly competitive environments.

Stay up to date!

Subscribe to our “Off the Wall” Blog for articles and videos on all things wealth management, by all members of our Team. Unlike Facebook, we will never share your data with anyone.