Paying for College

Education is the key that turns every lock.

How do I pay for college without robbing my retirement?


College Money Report

Many of our clients list their children’s and grandchildren’s education near the top of their financial goals. This shared family value is passed from one generation to the next through humorous stories, poignant memories, stated expectations … and college savings.

At the same time, new challenges continue to spring up. From creating a college list to navigating need-and merit-based aid, not to mention athletic scholarships and your student’s list of dream schools, it’s a bumpy path from here to a four-year (or graduate) degree. Many families wonder whether their current savings strategy is sufficient. And, is it efficient? Perhaps most importantly, they ask us, “How do I pay for college without robbing retirement?”

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Paying for college financial planning


For new clients, we first assess the family’s retirement readiness. This allows us to get a basic idea of whether current assets and income can be diverted to paying for college, or if retirement savings should be the focus. Next, we look at the five sources of college funding for each family:

  • Parent resources
  • Parent loans
  • Student resources
  • Student loans
  • Other

That last category may include financial support from extended family members, local and employer scholarships – even your state!

We’ll sum these resources to arrive at a four-year budget. Similar to a home-buyer getting pre-approved for a mortgage, this four-year spending target for college keeps your student safe from a debt burden out of line with his or her earnings potential. Without ruling out any undergraduate institution, we can act as a buffer between the business side of American universities and your family. This saves relationships and minimizes heartache for parents and students alike.


College Money Report

Get your free College Money Report™ Find the answers your family needs to get the most free money for college.

In under 5 minutes get a fully customized report that demystifies your student’s college financial aid outlook.

Your College Money Report™ gives you answers to 3 critical things every family needs to know before entering the college funding maze.

  1. How much colleges think you can afford.
  2. If you will qualify for grants and/or scholarships.
  3. How much you will be expected to pay out of pocket.


$0.5 Trillion
Increase In Tuition Cost
Average Cost
Takes 6 Years
  • $1.5 Trillion in student loans outstanding
  • 63% increase in tuition costs from 2008 to 2019
  • $199,500 Average cost of 4 years of tuition at a private college
  • 60% of undergraduate students take 6 years to complete a 4-year degree

Client Stories

Client stories included on this website reflect hypothetical client situations that represent
those commonly encountered by AIWM representatives, they do not reflect actual client relationships.
Parents with a Plan

Mike and Kate came to us having just turned 50. They had enrolled both of their sons in a local private high school that aligned with their values and goals for their sons. However, high school tuition cost more than they’d expected; their sensible money habits left them ineligible for much aid there. Now the money they’d set aside from the sale of a rental property was being depleted, and the boys hadn’t even started college yet!

Fortunately, Mike and his employers had been contributing to his 401k plans for three decades, and it showed. The couple realized they could ease up on their retirement savings for the next six to eight years without jeopardizing their financial security. They navigated the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), then started adjusting their family balance sheet in tax-efficient and aid-favorable ways. We helped them establish accounts in alignment with their goals.  We also encouraged the family to keep an open mind about the schools on their son’s list, once he’d been accepted.

They were able to appeal the financial award from their son’s dream school, which came back with a better offer. Initially dismissed as ‘too expensive,’ that school’s additional financial awards brought it within their family’s four-year college budget. Off he goes … We’re almost as excited as Mike and Kate!

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Request your College Money Report

Think aid is out of reach for high earners? Think again. With this report, you’ll see three schools that may financially incentivize your student to consider attending their institution. The College Money Report is your first step to identifying universities you may not have considered yet.

Request Now

Schedule a Meeting

We frame college funding within a larger retirement-readiness perspective. In this complimentary 90-minute meeting, you and your student will identify resources and nail down a four-year college budget.

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View Events

We teach parents ways to save on the cost of college … not just for the cost of college. Learn about our upcoming events.

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How can we help?

Chat in-person during regular business hours or fill out the form!

    Paying for college advice

    Our financial advisors can meet with you at our Lone Tree office or any location in the greater Denver area including Greenwood Village, Littleton, Centennial or Englewood.

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