Financial Aid Advice & Workshops Provider Integrated College Planning on the Morning Blend
Integrated College Planning, the best Wisconsin college financial advisers, have been featured on Milwaukee’s “The Morning Blend” on TMJ4 with hosts Molly Fay and Tiffany Ogle on several different occasions. These Morning Blend interviews deliver important information on the benefits of college financial planning and how a professional, trained Wisconsin college grant specialist can lower your Expected Family Contribution, obtain extra tuition funds, and save you more money than you ever thought possible. Chad Harbeck, founder of Integrated College Planning, consistently provides excellent Wisconsin financial aid assistance and education for both parents and students determined to save money while obtaining the best possible education. After viewing our interview videos below, contact the Wisconsin college grants experts at Integrated College Planning for more money-saving, tuition boosting information.
It’s no shock to anyone, but the cost of Wisconsin colleges is climbing higher and higher every year. A new CNN Money report states most public universities will raise tuition by 6 percent this coming year for both in state and out of state students. So, how can anyone plan to pay for college AND retire comfortably? Today we have with us in the studio Wisconsin financial aid specialist Chad Harbeck from Integrated College Planning and Kreigh Knerr, college test prep specialists.
Wisconsin ACT and SAT tests are difficult. What do you do if your student isn’t the greatest test taker or to help them prepare for the ACT or SAT?
People usually freak out about the ACT or SAT and often end up with serious test anxiety. Many don’t explore their options or work to identify exactly why it is that they get test anxiety or don’t do well on these tests. Sometime the best way to solve these issues is to step back and examine your test taking practices or to simply find a different state offered test which Wisconsin colleges will count towards admission. Many people seem to think poor test performance is an inborn part of their personality and they’ll never be able to take a test effectively.
What if your prospective Wisconsin college student has already taken the ACT and did poorly?
Depends on what kind of a score they got. Each time you take the test, you get a score “Band”. Say you took the ACT and got a 22. This means colleges will evaluate you as a “20 to a 24”. Colleges always go two points higher and two points lower than what your actual score is so they can better categorize student applicants. Statistically, if a student takes the test 10 times they would score within a three point range every time. The best way to change your score is to figure out exactly what you need to do to improve your score. Roughly 55 percent of the population improves the next time they take the test, 20 percent will drop and the remaining 25 percent usually stay the same.
What about Wisconsin college prep courses or ACT prep courses in high school? Are those helpful?
Yes. The ACT is offered in September, October and December. Many colleges also accept February and even April ACT scores for Wisconsin financial aid evaluations.
As it relates to Wisconsin financial aid, does your score on the ACT or SAT matter?
ACT and SAT test scores are hugely important for obtaining financial aid. A lot of our clients have experienced the difference one point can make. We had one client who applied for a private Wisconsin college and, after increasing their ACT score from a 24 to a 25, giving them access to $4,000 more in Wisconsin college grants per year. That’s $16,000 per year for 4 years. Integrated College Planning examines schools and looks for Wisconsin college grant information based specifically on ACT and SAT scores. A one point difference in your ACT score can make a lot of difference.
Many parents are concerned with paying for their kid’s Wisconsin College education and still being able to retire in the future. Is Integrated College Planning a college test prep group?
Not really. Every year, Kreigh and I analyze our clients and look at what their outcome was in regard to how much financial aid they received and then look at our practice to see what tactics we can change to improve the help we can offer future clients. Kreigh tutors a lot of our clients on the ACT and SAT tests and he helps them bump their score up. If we can get their score from a 22 to a 24 and then position those students in the right school then they’ll receive more Wisconsin financial aid and college grants. We want our clients to receive as much help as is possible and not just squeak in with no Wisconsin college grants or state financial aid assistance.
So, if you do get a good score on the ACT or SAT, what is your first step when you’re looking at applying for Wisconsin financial aid?
Integrated College Planning works with our clients to identify the right schools for them and where they’re likely to receive the most financial aid. We look at what they want to study, the region of the country they want to attend, and whether it’s a big or small school. We use this information to position students in the schools which historically give the best Wisconsin college grants and state college financial aid awards while steering our clients away from schools who don’t give out much in the way of Wisconsin financial aid and grants. We’ll make a list of 7 to 8 schools, help our clients apply, and then we’ll usually receive a response from 4 or 5 schools with acceptable Wisconsin financial aid awards.
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Contact the Wisconsin financial aid consultants at Integrated College Planning today for help applying for Wisconsin college grants.
If you’re planning on buying your child a higher education, then you should consider a little education for yourself. There are many common and costly mistakes many families make and many Wisconsin college planning questions and today we’re going to help you try and avoid that. Chad Harbeck is a Wisconsin college funding specialists with Integrated College Planning and it’s so good to have him back here on the show.
This is good timing to have you back on the show because I really think parents are trying to figure out everything they should be doing for their high school aged children planning on going to college in Wisconsin and what they can be doing to now to ensure they can afford it and make it work.
It’s definitely a fun time of year. We’re primarily working with a lot of Wisconsin high school seniors this time of year. Remember, it’s not too late for the seniors to plan for their Wisconsin college education. We’ve been getting a lot of phone calls in the last week, all asking “Is it too late to do anything for the seniors?” and honestly, it isn’t.
What should people be doing right now if they have a high school senior wanting to attend a Wisconsin college?
Number one: they should be looking at their financial situation and making sure about where or not there are income or asset planning strategies they can implement to help lower their expected family contribution. Wisconsin families should seriously consider doing these sorts of things. Parents should also check and know historically what colleges give out the most financial aid before you apply. We just got a phone call yesterday from one of our clients who said “We’re in the application process and it’s kind of a daunting task to think about my son filling out and writing out all of these essays. We want to make sure we’re applying to the right colleges.”
So parents should be sure to do their research?
Right. It’s important to do as much research about Wisconsin state college grants and loans when you can.
When parents are looking at applying to college outside of that, is there anything else they should know before applying? Is it mainly just figuring out how much grants or loans Wisconsin state colleges have historically given out or are there other things or requirements to watch out for?
Deadlines are a huge. They have to make sure that they know what the deadlines are for Wisconsin college grants and loans.
What’s a typical college application deadline for Wisconsin high school seniors? When should you have applied by?
I’ve been telling my junior clients that are going to be senior in the fall that it’s the best to start applying for Wisconsin colleges in the summer, but nobody listens to that, so we have a lot of people that are applying now. Unlike April 15th, when everyone knows they have to have their taxes done and filed, each Wisconsin college and national college has their own application deadline. One might be at the end of October, while another could be all the way in to February.
You mentioned the expected family contribution. What does the average Wisconsin family need to know what that amount will be?
Because, if you don’t know what your expected family contribution will be in March or April of your student’s senior year, you’re going to start getting these financial aid awards and, if you don’t know the cost of attendance minus your expected family contribution, you will never know whether or not you got a fair Wisconsin financial aid award. So, you’re going to get a financial aid award in March or April and you’ll say “Well, I guess that looks like a fair award, so we’re going to accept it”.
So, when we’re looking at Wisconsin financial aid, what are some of the common mistakes Wisconsin college applicants make when they’re applying?
Number one: I hear a lot of “All we have to do is fill out the FAFSA form and we’re done”. Some schools are going to require the FAFSA while some will require a profile. The vast majority will have their own institutional forms that have to filled out, so we have a lot of people who will contact us and not know how the system works and they’ll say “We attended the workshop last year, we filed the FAFSA form, and we haven’t received any Wisconsin financial aid awards from any of the colleges we applied to”. I’ll respond to this by saying “Well, did you look in to all the additional Wisconsin college application institutional forms that need to be filed also?”
Why is it that some of the most common mistakes that Wisconsin and Illinois families make are also some of the most costly?
Because Wisconsin financial aid is given out on a First Come, First Serve basis. So, if we don’t pay attention to Wisconsin college application deadlines, Wisconsin financial aid deadlines, and get everything in as soon as we can in January, it’s going to end up costing parents more money. I get a lot of people calling me around March or April to say they’ve completed their income taxes and asking if they can now fill out the Wisconsin financial aid forms and that’s simply way too late in the process.
So people really need to know what to do then. That’s why I think it’s important that you have these free Wisconsin college funding workshops with Integrated College Planning.
We also provide free Wisconsin college planning consultations where we’ll help parents and college applicants with calculating their estimated EFC (estimated family contribution), whether or not your EFC can be lowered, and establishing and understanding the financial aid from your top three college choices.
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Contact the Wisconsin financial Aid planning experts at Integrated College Planning today for more information about Wisconsin College Grants and the best methods for your student.
Forget the exams and the term papers: One of the hardest things about attending college is paying for it. Joining us now are Chad Harbeck and Ginger Ramos of Integrated College Planning to help parents and kids make the right moves to avoid costly mistakes. It’s great to have you guys back on the show.
Is this a good time of year for us to be talking about Wisconsin college grants and financing?
Every part of the year is a good time to talk about this.
Good answer. We put out this Sound-Off question that we’ll talk about a little more later on, but we asked people “How did you put yourself through college?” A lot of people who responded said “Loans”, “Lots of Loans”, and one that said “Loans, Loans, Loans”. A lot of people seem to find that obtaining loans and grants are an important part of paying for college.
When people need to know what the process is for obtaining financial aid in Wisconsin, we find that if they don’t know what the process is or what you should be doing and when you should be doing it and you end up filing forms late or even miss filing some forms, that’s going to cost you the “free money” that everyone wants, which means grants.
I often say that the only way I was able to go to college was because I was able to get grants and loans as well as work. So, how did Integrated College Planning get started because that’s what you really do with people is help them figure out how they can put themselves through college.
I am a financial adviser by trade. What we saw in our practice, before we began focusing on financial planning for college, was that a lot of our clients were saving for retirement but very few people were saving money for college. Back in 2003 I had one of my clients come up to me and ask “What do you know about this Wisconsin financial aid process? What forms should I be filling out and when should I be doing it?” I responded by saying “We’ve helped you save appropriately for college, but I don’t really know what the full process is”. So, we helped him through the process and literally overnight we had tons of people calling and contacting us for help with Wisconsin college planning. We’ve seen people spend retirement assets, strain equity out of their homes to pay for college, and loans, loans, loans. So, we wanted to do was figure out how to position people so they could get more free money and grants for college so they would wind up with less college loan debt later on.
What types of Wisconsin families can benefit most from your college financial aid advisement services, Ginger?
Really, any family can, but the one thing we want to keep in mind is that families with higher incomes who think “I’m not even going to try to apply for financial aid because I make too much money” and that’s just not true. Regardless of what your income is, you definitely want to give us a try to see if we can help you out.
In some cases, when Wisconsin parents meet with you, you can calculate their EFC, which stands for “Expected Family Contribution” and sometime determine that it can actually be lower.
Absolutely. It just depends on what their financial situation is and, if we can lower your EFC rating, we will definitely let you know and see if we can work with you.
Chad, tell us about the workshops you have because this is an opportunity for people to come and really sit down and talk about these opportunities.
We do offer free college planning workshops throughout Milwaukee and the greater Milwaukee area. Our College Planning workshops are a great, great way for parents and students to learn about the initial steps of the Wisconsin financial aid process. We’re going to go through the financial aid formula and examples of actual financial awards and grants our clients have received which show that people are indeed getting a lot of grant money. We discuss how to get colleges to compete for your student and how that works.
That’s a great point because colleges can compete. I remember when I was applying to colleges I was able to go to a private school for less money than a public school simply because they were competing over who could offer the better grants. Sometimes those grants can really put you over the edge in to a place where college becomes much more affordable. These workshops are fantastic for getting your child in to the college of their choice because you’ll actually look at their top three choices and kind of compare for them.
In addition to the workshops, we also offer free Wisconsin college financial planning consultations at our office. A lot of people have really busy schedules and don’t necessarily have time to get to the workshops because they don’t fit in their schedules, so they can schedule an appointment at our office. We’ll go through everything and figure out what your estimated EFC would be and figure out whether or not we can lower it. We’ll also look at your child’s top three school choices and compare what sorts of grants they’ve given out in the past.
That’s great! So we assume you want to start the Wisconsin college application process when you’re a junior in high school? Or in your senior year?
Actually, the best time to start is when you’re a sophomore. Sophomore and Junior year really is the best time to start. If you’re a senior, you definitely want to see us in November of your child’s senior year. For example, those who are seniors now it’s going to be a little too late to get started but, for those who are going to be seniors next year, you definitely don’t want to put it off past November.
So getting started earlier rather than later will put you in the best financial position because college is expensive. How can parents sign up for a workshop or, if they’re busy, how can they sign up for a private consultation? I know you have workshops going on throughout the Milwaukee area during January, February, and March.
The best place to sign up for our services is on our website. There’s a link to our home page to sign up for a free Wisconsin college planning workshops . Visitors can use our interactive calendar and schedule their appointment right there on the website. People can also find us on the Integrated College Planning Facebook page.
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Contact the Wisconsin financial aid experts at Integrated College Planning today for more information on our Wisconsin college planning workshops and how we can help you obtain better grants and loans for your student.
Welcome back to The Morning Blend. Applying for college is one thing, but figuring out how to pay for it is a whole other animal. But the two are definitely connected. Joining us now with help for parents and students are Chad Harbeck and J.W. Hindman from Integrated College Planning. They offer free college funding workshops and in house consultations, too.
Gentleman, good morning. Just went to my first high school meeting recently. My oldest is going to start high school and we talked about not just colleges but course selection. You begin to realize, as a parent, that all of this stuff is important.
Chad Harbeck - Right! It is! And it’s hard to believe you have somebody in high school.
Haha, almost! Let’s talk about the biggest mistakes parents make. What are the biggest mistakes parents make, especially the ones that are costly, because that’s what we really want to crack.
Chad Harbeck - I would say that in the month of January the number of families that have come to talk to us that are school seniors.
That’s a problem.
Chad Harbeck - Yes! A lot of the application deadlines for colleges are in October, November and December. We’ve run in to people that haven’t even picked out schools yet or even looked at schools and everything like that sort of stuff. They’re kind of behind the 8 ball. Free money is given out on a first come first serve basis, so if we don’t get those financial aid forms turned in by January or early February all the free money is going to be gone by the time they’re ready to go to college
Ok, so, parents watching right now with a high school junior or a senior, maybe the’ve even got sophomores, which is even better. What should they be doing right now to ensure they get the best possible financial aid when it comes to college.
J.W. Hindman - Well, they should certainly be coming to one of our financial workshops or coming in to the office and really start to devise a plan on how to pay for college as well as making sure they’re positioning themselves in the right ways to get the most money for school.
If I have an 8th grader, is it too early to start visiting with you guys?
J.W. Hindman - Honestly, no! That would be perfect. I mean if we could get 8th graders or even 2nd graders would be great at this point just to make sure you’re doing the right thing.
I think that’s interesting that the earlier you start thinking about it the more course correcting you can do along the way. What do you think parents need to know about a college before they apply?
Chad Harbeck - They need to know, historically, what that college has given out in financial aid. So, a lot of families starting this process will look at a college and they think, from a financial aid standpoint, that all colleges are created equal when it comes to how much grant money they’re going to receive. And that’s not the case. Early in the process we can devise a list of 5 or 6 colleges which have historically given out lots of free money, which is what everybody wants, and we can steer away from those colleges that we know don’t have money to give away. Then, chances are, in March or April we’re going to get a favorable financial aid award and they’re going to have to make the really tough decision between accepting an award for 5 different schools.
What about people who have a college senior and they just heard you say it’s too late? Is it too late for them to consult with you guys?
Chad Harbeck - Senior year in college?
Senior year in high school.
Chad Harbeck - Um, at this point in time it is really too late for us to really get involved in that because we’re so far behind the 8 ball in financial aid.
What will parents learn if they visit one of your free workshops?
J.W. Hindman - First of all, what we do is we talk about how the colleges are really giving away free money if you go to a private college versus a state school. We do end up offering a complimentary consultation after the workshop where we will calculate the EFC of the clients who come in.
J.W. Hindman - Expected family contribution
Ok, so why is that important?
J.W. Hindman - Well, you want to know if it’s possible to lower that so college will be less expensive. So, what we would do would be to calculate the client’s EFC and tell them if they would do better at profile school or a FAFSA school. While all of that may sound like Latin, we really do take the time to describe what all of that means and how it affects you.
I think it’s complicated. The deadlines, knowing what to do, what’s important, understanding the financial process, I think it’s great to have someone to guide you through that and to help you make the right decisions. It really sounds like the earlier the better.
J.W. Hindman - Yeah. People go out there and they get an accountant to help them will all their taxes and we’re really the same thing for financial aid.
Well, that’s fantastic. We’re going to talk now about the free workshops because, really, you have them throughout the metro Milwaukee area. These workshops are located all over and they’ll address the hard hitting facts about the common and costly mistakes parents make. They believe, and I know you believe, that every parents needs to know how to get the most money possible to send their kids to college or the college of their choice without going broke. So, next week, you’ll have workshops in Whitefish Bay and Pewaukee and then in Wauwatosa, Hartford and Oak Creek. The website for more information or to find out about those and to register today is to visit integratedcollegeplanning.com. Their offices are located on Silvernail Drive in Pewaukee.
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