Securing Your Future: Tips for a Successful College Planning Journey

Securing Your Future: Tips for a Successful College Planning Journey

Education expenses represent a significant financial commitment that accompanies us throughout our lives. Whether you’re considering having children in the future or you have teens nearing college age, we are here to equip you with essential knowledge and guidance for success in education planning.

Plan Based on Career Development

Work with your children to create a plan based on career development. When it comes to selecting a college, it is crucial to consider schools with programs and styles that align with future goals and aspirations. While small details are important, keep your eyes on the big picture: future success! Research the schools your children are considering and be sure to explore the degree programs each school offers to ensure they are properly equipped to help develop the skills and knowledge needed. The right college can make all the difference! 

Private vs Public Universities

When selecting a school, it is important to understand the details of the school and program. Each college or university offers a different price level dependent on many factors including program length, region/state, and type of educational institution. 

One of the most significant differences will be whether the school is public or private. Public colleges are mainly government-funded. They tend to have a wider selection of programs, more research opportunities, and a larger student body. Private colleges rely heavily on tuition, fees, donations, and endowments for funding and can be either for-profit or non-profit organizations. They often have more money available for grants and scholarships in addition to federal financial aid. 

The following are the estimated average costs of a full year of college at private and public colleges (via LendingTree):

  • Community college (public, in-state): $4,864
  • Community college (public, out-of-state): $8,622
  • Private community college: $15,460
  • Public two-year (in-district): $17,580
  • Public four-year (in-state): $25,290
  • Public four-year (out-of-state): $40,940
  • Private four-year: $50,900

College Savings Plan

A college savings plan is a crucial piece of the college planning puzzle and the foundation of any successful college financing plan. Think of your savings as a down payment on the total cost of college, similar to a down payment on a large purchase like a car or a home. 

Only 33% of families use a college savings plan to save for their child’s education. Whether you’re a new parent or already have children nearing their college years, it’s never too early or late to start saving to give them the best opportunities for success. Setting aside money over a long period of time takes discipline and even sacrifice, but can yield surprisingly positive results when done regularly. Work with a trusted financial advisor to help you navigate the process and create a plan tailored to your own goals and budget.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is a broad term for money used to help pay for college. It can include loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study funds. Ideally, you want to get the most from grants and scholarships to therefore have the least amount of loans possible. 

Colleges are the largest source of grant aid, with annual awards based on both need and merit. The federal government has two central grants, the Pell Grant, and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which are reserved for those with high financial need. The federal government’s main contribution to financial aid is student loans, both Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized, which are available to all students regardless of their financial needs. 

Many colleges will have a net price calculator available on their website which can be used to estimate how much grant aid a student will receive from the school based on their financial and academic information. Use this to compare your estimated out-of-pocket cost at several schools and factor affordability into your college planning decisions. 

College is a significant investment, and understanding the financial aspects from college funding to school selection is crucial. The Blakely Financial team is here to help. Contact us today to get your college planning journey started.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals. Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM  to see what other financial tips we can provide towards your financial well-being.
Commonwealth Financial Network® or Blakely Financial does not provide legal or tax advice. You should consult a legal or tax professional regarding your individual situation.
Family Financial Wellness

Family Financial Wellness

Family Financial Wellness

Presented by Robert Blakely, CFP®

Summer is almost here! Children will be out of school, and that means more time together as a family. What will you spend your time doing? Do you already speak to your children about financial matters? Perhaps this summer, as a family, you can focus on your family’s financial wellness.

What is family financial wellness? Simply put, it is how you and your family, together, prepare for the future. 

Managing your finances can be stressful and take time. If you are not proactive and do not put a plan in place, your physical and mental health can be affected; you can lose sleep and lose focus. So it is imperative for a healthy family and your peace of mind that you follow some simple steps to ensure financial wellness for all. 

There are four components to becoming financially well as a family: savings, expenses, debt, and risk protection. These can be crucial to your family’s financial wellness and improving in each area should be a priority for you and your family. The following are some simple steps that can help as you start down the path of family financial wellness.

To begin:

Spend less than you earn.

Begin by creating a budget. Keep track of every dollar that comes in and every dollar that goes out. This will allow you to see where you are spending your money and where you might be able to cut back.

Set up an emergency fund.

Relatively small expenses can be devastating if you do not plan for them. Set up an automatic transfer each month and put a portion of each check into this emergency fund. Then make a promise to yourself and your family that you won’t spend it unless it is in a true emergency.

Pay down your debt.

List all of your debt, including the monthly minimum payments and interest rates. Decide which you will pay off first and commit to that. Just do it!

Protect your family.

Purchase life insurance which will give you peace of mind knowing your family is taken care of should the worst happen. 

Save for retirement.

The best way to do this is to participate in your employer’s offered retirement plan. Many employers offer a match, so make sure you contribute to the plan so you can get this ‘free money’ and maximum benefit. If your employer does not offer any type of plan, make sure to contact a financial advisor to set up an automatic transfer into a retirement account.


Taking these simple steps – and working together as a family – will help promote a healthy relationship with money for your children but also put you on the path to financial wellness as a family!

Engage with the entire Blakely Financial team at WWW.BLAKELYFINANCIAL.COM to see what other expert advice we can provide towards your financial well-being.

ROBERT BLAKELY, CFP® is a financial advisor with BLAKELY FINANCIAL, INC. located at 1022 Hutton Lane, Suite 109, High Point, NC 27262. He is the founder and president of Blakely Financial, Inc.

Blakely Financial, Inc. is an independent financial planning and investment management firm that provides clarity, insight, and guidance to help our clients attain their financial goals.

Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Fixed insurance products and services offered through CES Insurance Agency or Blakely Financial, Inc.