A recent Bloomberg.com report showing college tuition in the U.S. has increased 538 percent since 1985 while medical care rose 286 percent during the same time span may surprise some, but not Chris Ordway. As a college funding adviser for the Phoenix-based non-profit HEFAR Group — an acronym for Higher Education Financial Aid Resources — Ordway works daily with families trying to plan for the high cost of sending their children to college.
“Skyrocketing college costs have become a great burden to many families,” said Ordway. “Tuition and out-of-pocket costs are overwhelming, but our planning experts help from the qualifying process to loan repayment. Many parents and students are unaware of the valuable resources available to help fund an education.”
HEFAR, which offers its services at no cost, helps to both lower out-of-pocket costs and increase eligibility for financial aid by helping students qualify for grants, scholarships, endowments and other aid that is available. HEFAR also creates a plan to cover the other costs that families incur during the college admission process.
Over the last two weeks throughout the Valley HEFAR has participated in College Fair Week, a time when high school counselors and parents gather to plan for college. Ordway is conducting a seminar entitled, “Beat the High Cost of College” at Mesa’s Red Mountain High School on Tuesday, Oct. 22, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
“College Fair Week is time when I can really present cost-saving options for parents,” Ordway added. “We show how parents can double or even triple their student’s eligibility for financial aid.”
Ordway said that while families may assume that schools like Stanford or USC are not affordable, the truth is often just the opposite.
“Many of the more expensive private schools have enormous endowments to work with,” he said. “Our expertise is finding these funds that families would probably never know about if they are working on their own.”
JP Morgan Chase’s recent decision to no longer accept student loan applications means fewer options for parents faced with higher college costs. Ordway believes fewer alternatives to the federal government’s PLUS loans may force parents to take out loans that are not cost effective. “Freshmen students are capped at $5,500 in student loans in their name, but after that if there is still a gap between the cost of attendance and the financial aid package that the school is offering, many families have to take loans in addition to the student loans,” Ordway said. “The federal government offers PLUS loans to cover this gap. The terms are not always great and parents can often get a better deal looking at private loans or home equity loans. With banks getting out of the student loan market, parents are left with fewer alternatives to the PLUS loans and may be forced to take a loan that is not good for them.”
What: HEFAR’s “Beat the High Cost of College”
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22
Where: Red Mountain High School; 7301 E. Brown Road, Mesa