Will Stone, CFP® with McMullin Stone & Associates of Fayetteville understands the complexity of sending a child to college. The oldest of his four daughters, Katie, just graduated from Whitewater High School and will attend the University of Georgia this fall.
“Over the past few years we’ve been involved in the college selection process, from campus visits to the college application,” Stone says. “We also completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even if you’re not sure you’ll use financial aid, many of the schools award scholarships based on those scores.”
“In Georgia, many students qualify for the Hope or Zell Miller scholarships, however, that may only cover up to a third of the cost,” Stone says. “What’s the best way to combine scholarships, college savings, parents’ and students’ income? Lindsay McKay, a student at UGA, was an intern with us this summer, and we worked together on a plan for Katie’s next four years, just like I would do for a client.”
“After Katie, we have Courtney, Natalie, and Ivey, and we hope to see them all through to an undergraduate degree without any student loans,” Stone says. “That’s our goal, but other families may have different goals.”
If the parents’ objective is to fund any meaningful amount of their child’s education, Stone believes they need to think about it early — within the first year or two after the child’s birth.
“Begin setting aside money, no matter how much,” Stone advises. “In order for it to accumulate, the length of time it’s invested is important. Eighteen years sounds like a long time, but it goes quickly. For people who didn’t start early, it’s never too late to begin. Any amount is helpful.”
“But it’s also important for people to keep in mind other goals, such as their own retirement,” Stone says, “and to make sure there is a balance.”
“Scholarships, student loans, or a student’s job: There are many ways to pay for college,” Stone says. “There are fewer ways to pay for retirement. We recommend that parents set goals for their children, but not at the risk of compromising their own financial future.”
Some clients want their child to be able to afford any school, including the Ivies. Others plan to help with an in-state public school, while others are willing to pay tuition but expect the child to cover living expenses.
“People have different values,” Stone explains. “We don’t direct clients as to what those should be. We ask questions and listen to what their values are, what they want for their family, and help them understand the financial requirements to achieve those objectives.”
To have Will Stone speak to your group or to schedule a consultation for your child’s college education financial plan, call 770-471-6674 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at 101 Devant Street, Ste 903 Fayetteville GA 30214.
Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. McMullin Stone and Associates is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.