College grad, back

The Financial Planning Association in partnership with Capstone College Partners has launched an eight-module course to help financial planners advise families on how to pay for college while also building a college planning specialization in their practice.

The Financial Planner’s Guide to College Funding Advice covers the student loan crisis, financial aid process, helpful tax strategies for college-bound families, scholarships and school options based on budgets, and availability of grants and loans.

Planners must complete the entire course, which includes quizzes in addition to the eight modules, to receive the 11 CFP continuing education credits, but they can sign up for one of two parts for no credit. Part 1 focuses on the foundation for college funding; Part 2 covers advanced strategies in college funding,

“College education can be one of the most important investments a family can make,” says FPA Executive Director and CEO Lauren M. Schadle in a statement. “FPA’s partnership with Capstone College Partners helps financial planners build their expertise in this area so they can provide families the advice they need to save and plan for the rising costs of higher education.”

Joe Messsinger, a certified financial planner and co-founder and director of college planning at Capstone Wealth Partners, is  the course planner and CEO of Capstone College Partners. His mission: “to end the student loan crisis one family at a time.”

“This partnership with FPA is a tremendous opportunity to empower more financial planners with our College Pre-Approval process and raise the bar in college funding advice across the country,” said Messinger in a statement, referring to a process that’s similar to a mortgage pre-approval. Based on income, assets and creditworthiness, the process determines what a family can afford to pay for college, including the total amount of loans that are needed.

Student loan debt soared to almost $1.5 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2018 and exceeds total credit card debt, according to the Federal Reserve bank of New York. More than 44 million college graduates and their parents owe student loan debt. The average college student graduates with roughly $30,000 in debt, and 14% of their parents owe an average $35,600 in federal Parent PLUS loans, according to Student Loan Hero, which provides debt consolidation and other services for student loan borrowers.

— Check out Best & Worst 529 College Savings Plans of 2018: Morningstar on ThinkAdvisor.