What You Will Learn

This interactive course guides you through the key steps of developing your plan:

  • Creating a framework for thinking about college

  • Developing your budget and discussing it with your student

  • Learning about merit aid and developing a scholarship strategy for your student

  • Developing an application strategy that gives you more leverage in the process

  • Creating a spending plan to maximize access to tax credits and other benefits

  • Understanding student loans and how to borrow without getting in over your head

  • Comparing financial aid awards and negotiating for bigger scholarships

  • See course curriculum below

What People Are Saying

“Ann was great in helping us navigate the maze of hard rules and rules of thumb. The explanations and materials were clear and easy to follow. Can’t thank her enough for helping my family pull together a college plan for our kids.”

Tom Fry, Colorado

"We came to know Ann via Ron Lieber's 'The Price You Pay for College' book that came out last summer. The book's insight to the overwhelming mind-blowing task of financing your child's/young adult's college education was and is illuminating. Mister Lieber's introduction of the financial planner Ann Garcia was to become for us the light being turned on in a dimly lit room full of 'where do we begin and self doubts,' we immediately found Ann's site and reached out to her. We signed up for her offered services and after completing the process we began to understand where we stood in it. Ann's expertise guided us and schooled us in money saving and timely decision making. Without thinking about it we will return to Ann this coming summer to work through year two's financial challenges because simply put: a peaceful mind is one that rests in sleep at night and that's a beautiful thing."

- William Durkin, New York

"As a parent with three in college at once, and a high school administrator overseeing the college counseling systems, I feel very knowledgeable about the application and financial aid process. But I knew there were some gaps in my knowledge that could cost me money and my kids opportunities. I learned so much from the course; I was able to strategize and save even more!"

Vicky Virnich, Colorado

Expert Advice Published in:

The New York Times
U.S. News & World Report
The Oregonian

Your Guide

Ann Garcia, CFP®

Ann has helped thousands of families—including her own—save millions of dollars on college. Ann is the managing partner of Independent Progressive Advisors, a fee-only financial advisor, and the author of The College Financial Lady blog. Ann and her husband, Bob, live in Portland, OR, with their golden retriever. Their twins are away from home attending (affordable) colleges.

Course Curriculum

  1. 1
    • 1.1 Welcome

    • 1.2 How to Use This Course

    • 1.3 Why Are You Doing This Anyway?

  2. 2
    • 2.1 Developing Your College Budget

    • 2.2 Workbook - College Savings Estimator & Affordability Worksheets

    • 2.3 Having "The Talk" with Your Student

  3. 3
    • 3.1 The Scholarship Landscape: Need and Merit

    • 3.2 How the FAFSA and CSS Profile Work

    • 3.3 Assets on the FAFSA

    • 3.4 Income on the FAFSA

    • Bonus 1 - Financial Aid Strategies for Business Owners

    • Bonus 2 - Special Assets: Investment Properties, Trusts, & Businesses

    • Bonus 3 - Special Assets: UTMAs

    • Bonus 4 - FAFSA Planning for Divorced Parents

  4. 4
    • 4.1 Merit Aid

    • 4.2 Outside Scholarships

    • 4.3 Student Athletes

  5. 5
    • 5.1 What Do You Need to Know About a College?

    • 5.2 Researching Colleges

    • 5.3 Application Strategies

    • 5.4 A Qualitative Approach to College Research

  6. 6
    • 6.1 Spending Plan Fundamentals

    • 6.2 Tax Credits

    • 6.3 Student Loans

    • 6.4 Parent PLUS Loans

    • 6.5 Using Your 529

    • Bonus - A Surplus in Your 529?

  7. 7
    • 7.1 Financial Aid Awards

    • 7.2 What's in a Financial Aid Award Letter

    • 7.3 Comparing Financial Aid Awards

    • 7.4 Appealing Your Aid Award

    • 7.5 End of Course Wrap Up

    • Course Feedback Survey

  8. 8
    • RESOURCES - Supporting Content Links

    • 1.1 College Experiences Worksheet

    • 2.2 College Financial Plan Workbook

    • 2.3 Conversation Prompts For a Money Discussion

    • 3.2 FAFSA Planning Worksheet

    • 3.2 The 2022-2023 FAFSA

    • 3 Bonus 1 Business Owner FAFSA Planning Worksheet

    • 4.1 Merit Aid Profile Worksheet

    • 5.1. College Selection Research Worksheet

    • FAFSA EFC Formula Guide 2022-23

    • FAFSA Net Worth of Investments