087: Ann Garcia – How to Pay for College: Helping Families Choose the Right School


Ann Garcia is a certified financial planner (CFP) who’s helped thousands of families save millions of dollars on college. As a partner and independent progressive advisor, she’s known as ‘The College Financial Lady.’ Ann has been featured in The New York Times , Washington Journal, Money, U.S. News & World Report, and countless other publications and is the author of How to Pay for College .

Today, Ann joins the show to discuss if college is really still worth it, what to consider and what to ignore during the admissions process, and creative ways to utilize merit scholarships and other aid to help parents and students pay for college.

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Key Takeaways

00:50 – Jonathan introduces today’s guest, Ann Garcia, who joins the show to share early lessons she learned in entrepreneurship and how college planning became the core of her practice

07:16 – Is college worth it?

11:51 – Ignoring the competition that comes from college admissions

14:11 – Choosing the degree that makes sense for you

15:52 – Financial planning and parenting

23:32 – Why does the cost of college keep rising and ways to afford it

28:47 – Tools for figuring out what scholarships schools offer 31:36 – Direct Student Loans vs. other loans

33:38 – Counseling families to find the right schools

36:39 – One thing a family can do today to lead to better college options and one thing to stop doing

38:38 – The last thing Ann changed her mind about and one place Ann has visited that had a profound impact on her

40:24 – Jonathan thanks Ann for joining the show and lets listeners know where to connect with her

Tweetable Quotes

“I learned one really important money lesson. And that was that trying to evaluate my success in life based on how much money I had, and comparing that to other people, was a fool’s errand. And it was a road to not having a happy adulthood and life.” (02:23) (Ann)

“I think college is one hundred percent worth it. What’s not worth it is overextending yourself to pay for college. And so those are two different things. I would say on the ‘Worth It’ side is that a college graduate will earn, on average, one million dollars more over their lifetime than someone without a degree. And typically the unemployment rate for college graduates is about half of what it is for those without degrees.” (07:27) (Ann)

“Having a successful college experience is much more about how you go to college than where you go to college. Such things like, as a student do you feel like professors care about you? Do you have opportunities to apply classroom learning outside the classroom? Are you engaging in extracurriculars? Do you find mentors? Those are really the drivers of a successful college experience, not which college did you choose to go to.” (09:37) (Ann)

“All of the other things we do in our lives that require big sums of money, there is some consideration of affordability and return on investment. And, when it comes to college, too often those two components get thrown out the window.” (15:32) (Ann)

“I do think that there’s tremendous value in Liberal Arts degrees. There are enough of us out here in the world doing good things with Liberal Arts degrees that I think that may not be something to shy away from.” (21:38) (Ann)

“Successful college careers are about the relationships that you form. And so, to me I think more important than what’s the name on your diploma is how do students on this campus engage and make friends?” (34:40) (Ann)

Guest Resources

Ann’s Website

Ann’s LinkedIn

Ann’s Book

Ann’s Facebook

Ann’s YouTube

Mindful Money Resources



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