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College Planning

College is a buyer's market and most students pay a different price for the same education.

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Customized College
Planning Program

Americans today have over 1.71 trillion dollars in student loan debt, affecting nearly 45 million borrowers. Our Customized College Planning Program is an eye opening experience that brings the maximum return for your family's education dollars.

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Come to the table prepared and ready to get the best value for you and your student with a college pre-approval. Similar to purchasing a home, we can evaluate the amount that fits your family's current financial situation. From there we can find a school that fits your budget and your child's future.

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Each year, 2.5 million students enroll in college, and as a result, families make $500 billion in college planning decisions.

It is unbelievable to us that 16, 17 and 18 year olds are supposed to choose a college and major with little to no help. As busy as kids are nowadays, there is a lack of time and knowledge to successfully prepare for college.

There is also a lack of financial literacy that has deepened the college debt crisis to the point that people spend most of their lives paying their dues.

THIS CAN BE AVOIDED. All you need is the knowledge and a plan.

The ability to create a detailed financial plan is a lost art, and everyone should have one given the college debt stats.

We do this by creating Customized College Pre-Approval plans so that you can avoid the pitfalls and approach this stage of life with confidence.

The process is similar to purchasing a home. You do not pull out a mortgage without a plan, and college planning is no different given the similar costs. Families should be choosing colleges with their financial futures in mind so that emotional buying decisions do not turn into a life full of debt.

Follow the 5 steps below in order to answer these difficult questions:

If you would like to learn more, you can download our free guide - Top 5 Secrets to Successful College Planning.

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Top 5 secrets to successful college planning

Recent College Planning Posts

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Step 1

EFC and Pre-Approval

According to CNBC, Higher education has seen a 25% increase in prices, and that figure continues to grow.

That means that while you may qualify for federal aid, it is likely that you will have an out of pocket cost.

This out of pocket cost is called your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and is based on a variety of factors including the sticker price of your school choices.

Your EFC is the amount that colleges think you can afford.

To calculate your EFC, we take a deep dive into your family’s financial overview. Then you will get an actual Pre-Approval amount very similar to the home buying process.

We do this because the cost of buying a home is similar to college. You do not buy a home without a plan so why would you not prepare for college the same way?

This Pre-Approval amount and process tells you how much you can actually afford.

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Step 2

Financial Aid 2021-2022

Financial Aid is a critical portion of the college planning process.

Many parents don’t believe, based on their income and financial status, that they would qualify for financial aid. This misconception costs families thousands of dollars each year.

This means that many schools that seem out of reach may very well be a possibility for your child.

Once we know your EFC and Pre-Approval amount, we then look at the specifics of your top schools:

Believe it or not, the majority of aid actually comes from the schools themselves.

With that being said, you need to take into account ALL of the expenses of college. This not only includes tuition, but also account fees, housing, food, books, educational materials, transportation and emergency funds.

Our college planning software tells parents the percentage of need met and scholarships offered by over 3000 schools as well as miscellaneous costs.

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Step 3

Apply to and Analyze
Your Top Schools

Once you know the specifics of each school, you can begin the application process.

If you receive your acceptance/award letters, you can then log them in our college planning software and see how they stack up to the average amount of aid awarded at that school.

This presents a unique opportunity for students and families to appeal their aid awards, making college a buyer’s market.

Appealing aid awards is applicable on a case by case basis.
Your students merit based opportunities as well as a school's grants will determine whether it is worth it.

One of the biggest factors in successfully appealing awards is making sure you meet a schools application deadline. This can be found easily on a schools website.

We provide materials to our college planning clients on how to appeal awards.

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Step 4

Compare Net Costs

Once you have appealed awards and arrive at your final offers, we can look at the net costs of each school on a one year and four year basis. This will tell us if student loans will be needed.

You can compare the total loan amount of each school within our college planning software. Our software calculates what a 10 year or 25 year repayment plan will look like by using your students Estimated Monthly Take Home as a reference.

If your students dream school is not affordable then we can create "what if" cases with updated information to see what another track and repayment plan may look like.

This can be an eye-opening journey for everyone.

Someone handing over a college diploma
Step 5

Create a College Business Plan

Thousands of dollars will be spent for your child’s degree, but what will they receive for that investment?

What will you as their parent and financial guardian receive for that investment?

In most cases, your students major has a much greater impact on their financial future than the institution they choose to attend.

Unfortunately, 65% of the 1.6 million people who graduate from college each year do not have a degree that is desirable to employers.

At PrairieFire, we believe that every family needs a post-graduation budget plan that helps them determine their return on investment for their education dollars.

Creating a post-graduation budget plan is a three part process:

Download Example Phase 3 Report

College Planning in the Era of COVID-19 Video Series

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Customized College
Planning Program (CCPP)

Our college planning program consists of two phases:

Phase 1: College Money Report

Phase 2: Reframing Education

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Registered Representative of Sanctuary Securities Inc. and Investment Advisor Representative of Sanctuary Advisors, LLC. Securities offered through Sanctuary Securities, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC. Advisory services offered through Sanctuary Advisors, LLC., a SEC Registered Investment Advisor. PrairieFire Wealth Planning is a DBA of Sanctuary Securities, Inc. and Sanctuary Advisors, LLC.