Dan Wansten knows that, and says his company can help – in more ways than one. In 1999, Wansten established Professional Education Services with the primary goal of assisting families in identifying ways to pay for college.
Little did he know then that the need would become as acute as it has in recent years, with the economy scuttling jobs and decimating savings, retirement accounts and home equity.
“Parents come to us stressed out and discouraged, not knowing how they will help their kids pay for college, but we always find a way to help them achieve their goals,” says Wansten.
An independent educational consulting firm, Professional Education Services puts on introductory seminars and workshops for families with teens who have college in their plans. During these free programs, Wansten and his staff outline the issues that families can expect to deal with and the key steps and deadlines they will face.
“Right from the sophomore year, there is just so much going on,” says Wansten, author of several books including “Cash for College” and “College Funding Strategies for CPAs and Financial Planners.” “It can get overwhelming.
“School guidance counselors are often burdened with other duties and can only do so much.”
Step by Step
Professional Education Services breaks it down to manageable parts and provides guidance through its College Dream Builder™ program. Describing it as “a reliable and proven college admissions and student preparation program,” Wansten says it’s a comprehensive approach with the ultimate aim of seeing that students get into the college of their choice with a solid financial aid package, regardless of family income.
“We do what no one else does and we do it under one roof,” Wansten says. “We help people succeed.”
That means Professional Education Services offers guidance with essays, resumes, applications and letters of recommendation. Wansten says his staff knows what specific colleges are looking for and can help position students for success in relation to the schools they want to attend.
Professional Education Services can also help with the all-important and often confusing FAFSA form that is used to determine financial aid. They work directly with students online, on the phone and in person. And they conduct family financial analyses to formulate what Wansten says is “a personal cash flow blueprint.”
A Financial Blueprint
In fact, a big piece of what Professional Education Services provides is financial guidance. Many families believe that if they make over a certain amount of money — say $100,000 — their child won’t qualify for any need-based financial aid. Wansten says that kind of thinking has led many students to lose out on thousands in grants and scholarships — a fact that traditional financial planners often don’t know.
“CPAs know the tax code, but they don’t know financial aid,” Wansten says. “We’ve seen families making $120,000 or more who forfeited need-based aid because they didn’t know it was even possible — they didn’t know the rules.
“Our students not only have better admission rates, they receive higher merit awards.”
Mary Stahl of Michigan, with four daughters who were all looking at going to college, is an example of that.
“We went to a seminar and it was like every question we ever had about how we were going to afford college was answered,” she says. “It was such a godsend to us.”
‘Burden Off Our Shoulders’
Since then, Stahl’s daughters have worked with a Professional Education Services life coach to narrow their focus and stay on track through the college testing and admissions processes. The family also had Professional Education Services provide financial guidance.
“With my daughter, Aquinas College told her we would be eligible for $10,000 of financial aid and they ended up offering her almost double because of all PES did for us,” Stahl says. “It’s a burden off our shoulders.”
With four daughters himself, Wansten understands how much that kind of support can mean.
“Sometimes people are skeptical, but once they see what we can do and how it will help them, they understand,”
“From student positioning, to the tax code, to financial aid, to the college admissions process, to knowing what it takes to open doors to admissions and financial aid in individual colleges, we make it easy to understand. We change lives every day.”
For more information on the free college funding workshops available in your area, contact Professional Education Services, by calling (616) 466-5500 or visit them online at www.CollegeDreamBuilder.com.
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