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The College Financial Lady

The College Financial Lady

By Ann Garcia
Ann Garcia, CFP®, a financial advisor and author of the popular College Financial Lady blog, explores the world of preparing for college in a series of interviews with experts in areas from admissions and academic preparation to athletics, gap years and more.
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Merit Aid Myth Busters
The world of college merit aid is rife with myths and urban legends. Fortunately, Cozy Wittman of College Inside Track joined me to bust the myths and give you the straight scoop. Who gets merit aid, why, from which schools, what can you do to improve your chances of getting scholarships and so much more-- Cozy provides a wealth of information and strategies that any family can use to bring down the cost of college. 
June 15, 2021
Living with Student Loans: A High School Counselor's Story
As a high school guidance counselor, John McMichael has a lot of conversations with students about borrowing for college. That's in no small part because about two decades into his career, he's still paying off his own student loans. His experience with student loans is instructive: how not planning for college costs led to borrowing, graduate school's impact on his debt, the challenges of Public Service Loan Forgiveness, balancing his student loan obligations against saving for his own children's educations, and so much more. Fortunately for his students and for all of us, he's very generous in sharing his story. 
June 8, 2021
The College Application Process
Applying to colleges can be arduous and stressful, but also a great opportunity for students to learn about themselves and build their futures. Certified education consultant Terry Mady-Grove of Charted University Consultants outlines the key steps and decisions in the process including researching schools, writing essays, enjoying the high school years, and whether Early Decision makes sense. 
May 25, 2021
Emotional and Practical Realities of College Savings
Paying for college has emotional and practical components. As parents we want to provide opportunities for our kids, but the practical realities of college costs can make it seem like we're not doing enough even when we're doing all we can. Megan deBoer of Tended Wealth shared some strategies for both coming up with a practical savings plan that works for your family, and managing the emotions associated with this monumental financial undertaking. 
May 11, 2021
College Financial Literacy
Planning and paying for college is confusing and complicated. As coordinator of Student Financial Literacy and Advising at the University of Southern Connecticut, Lew de Luca helps families navigate the college funding process from financial aid and scholarships to payment plans and cost-saving strategies. Lew shares a wealth of information on managing college costs and making good financial decisions. 
May 4, 2021
What's Going on With Standardized Testing?
As test-optional admissions gain steam, many are questioning the place of standardized testing in the college admissions process and even whether or not to take the SAT or ACT. Scott Clyburn of North Avenue Education walked me through the ins and outs of test optional and test-taking in general. Should your student test? Listen and learn!
April 6, 2021
On Campus with COVID
What's it like to be a college student during the pandemic? A lot depends on where you're going to school. I caught up with three current college students-- from Gonzaga, the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan-- and heard three really different stories. Each student has a different perspective and experience. What do they have in common? They all feel good about what their schools have done to address the pandemic. 
January 19, 2021
Prepaid Tuition Plans and the Private College 529
Prepaid tuition plans are a slightly different take on 529s: rather than investing for growth that might outpace tuition inflation, these plans aim to match tuition increases. While there used to be many prepaid tuition plans, currently there are only a handful, with the Private College 529 being one of the leaders. Jonathan Sparling, Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Private College 529, joined me to discuss the ins and outs of prepaid tuition plans and how they might fit into a family's overall college planning strategy. 
December 1, 2020
Academic Success in College with Dr. Alan Shusterman
As a professor of organic chemistry at Reed College, Alan Shusterman teaches a hard class to smart students. Over the years, as both a professor and a parent, he's learned some valuable lessons about succeeding academically in college, and was gracious in sharing them with me. 
November 10, 2020
Paying off Student Loans with Bill Nelson, CFP®, CSLP
Student loan borrowers have a dizzying array of loan and repayment options. If you're borrowing for college, Bill's guidance on how to borrow and how to repay may well save you a bundle. Bill is a fee-only financial advisor who works with young professionals and specializes in student loan repayment strategies. 
October 27, 2020
How a Financial Advisor plans for his own children's educations with Rich Feight CFP®
As financial advisors, we often give clients guidance on college funding strategies. In this episode I talked with fellow NAPFA advisor Rich Feight about how he's planning and saving for his children's college. With his oldest in 8th grade now, it's starting to get real!
October 13, 2020
College Applications in the COVID Era with Julia Surtshin
Getting started on the college search? Admissions consultant Julia Surtshin has a wealth of tips for the Class of 2021. First and foremost: Don't stress out about things that are beyond your control. The founder of College Ahead shares insights on researching colleges, standardized testing, and the all-important "How many schools should I apply to?"
September 15, 2020
A First Generation Student's Story with Olivia Pura
Olivia Pura is a first-generation college student who just graduated with magna cum laude from Northwestern University and is now beginning a Ph.D. program in Biochemistry & Biophysics at the University of Chicago. She shares her journey through the college admissions process and undergraduate years: lessons learned, mentors who helped her out, and what she wants other high school students navigating this journey to know ahead of time. Olivia is also Miss Illinois USA, where she gives back by using her title to advocate for female equality in S.T.E.M. fields. 
September 8, 2020
Living with Student Loans with Dr. Sarah Dougherty
Sarah Dougherty attended college on partial athletic and merit scholarships, then pursued her dream of becoming a veterinarian. Now more than 10 years into her career as a vet, she owes more than three times her annual salary in student loans. Here she talks about how she got to this debt level and how it has impacted her career and adult life, from big picture items like home ownership and supporting her children's educations to everyday choices to getting into an income-driven loan repayment plan. 
September 1, 2020
Student Athletes with Kathy Connor
Is your student an athlete looking to pursue their sport in college? Don't miss Kathy's insights on the recruiting process, athletic scholarships, and finding a fit not just for sports but for academics and college life as well. Kathy has experienced the student athlete life from every perspective: she helps athletes through the recruiting and college selection process through Connor College Consulting, she's a parent of two student athletes, and she was one of the most highly recruited swimmers in the nation in 1982 before accepting a full scholarship to Stanford and spending four years as a D-1 student athlete. Kathy knows the life of a student athlete and has some fantastic insights to help frame a successful college search. 
August 25, 2020
College Possible with Emielle Nischik
College Possible makes college admission and success possible for low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support. Since its founding in 2000, College Possible has become a leading organization in the field of college access and success with a track record of best-in-class results, rigorous evaluation and innovation. Emielle discusses the College Possible approach and the barriers that low-income and first generation students face in the college admissions process-- and some potential solutions.  
August 18, 2020
529 College Savings Plans with Richard Ellis
Got questions about 529s? I went straight to the top and had Richard Ellis, Executive Director of Utah's my529, answer questions about how 529s work, how to get the most out of them, choosing a plan and investment options, and more. 529s can be the cornerstone of your college funding plan, and Richard's insights will help you get the most out of your college savings dollars. 
August 13, 2020
Gap Years with Ethan Knight
Interested in a gap year? Start here to learn how to make the most of a pre-college break. Whether service, travel or education, a gap year can enhance your college experience, increase your scholarship potential, and provide valuable life skills that will make the next four years even better. Trust me, I'm a gap year veteran. Ethan Knight is Executive Director of The Gap Year Association, a national nonprofit dedicated to the idea that a quality gap year will profoundly impact many more than just the student who takes one. Visit the Gap Year Association at And of course, come see me at
August 11, 2020