Pain-free ways to pay for college | AspenTimes.com

Pain-free ways to pay for college

John Colson

Got a kid headed for college, and worried about how you’re going to pay for it?Help, in the form of a college-financing specialist, is on the way.Norma Jordan-Backe, a financial advisor and consultant who has specialized in college-funding issues since 1999, will speak to parents, students and community members Tuesday, at 6 p.m., in the Aspen High School seminar room. The presentation is part of a series of events leading up to the Oct. 8 Western Slope College Fair, also at Aspen High School.”Because I’m not a financial expert, I am not allowed to give financial advice to families,” said AHS college counselor Kathy Klug, who is organizing the seminar series as well as the College Fair. “So I bring in three hired guns.” Jordan-Backe is the first speaker; Chuck Lewis, financial aid director for Colorado Mountain College, will speak during the College Fair; and in December, Kurt Martin, financial aid director for Mesa State College in Grand Junction, will speak.Jordan-Backe has worked in the Aspen area for several years and, despite Aspen’s reputation as an enclave of the ultrawealthy, “parental need is the same,” in terms of finding ways to minimize the financial pain of paying for the rising cost of a college education.”Escalating college costs coupled with dwindling or static returns on investments have combined to make paying for college a pressing and stressful concern for parents,” Jordan-Backe wrote in a statement about the seminar. “The question is often, ‘How do we pay for college and at the same time maintain our lifestyle and retirement savings?'”Among the topics on a flier advertising the presentation are: discovering other sources of money to help pay for college; little-known secrets about financial aid; and strategies for high-income/high-net-worth families.”Whether parents earn $40,000 or $400,000, they will gain insights and tips at this presentation that will help them now,” she promised.In a telephone interview, Jordan-Backe noted that many parents in upper-income brackets often “don’t even apply because they just make the assumption that they won’t qualify” for financial aid of any kind. But she said she knows ways that even families that may not qualify for need-based aid can still get help through merit scholarships, or take steps in their financial planning to minimize the impact of paying for college.Jordan-Backe will also offer parents a chance to chat with her for free, on a one-on-one basis, after the presentation. She will be staying for two days at the Aspen Square condominium complex downtown, accommodations Klug arranged in order to make the free consultations possible.For those who wish to contact Jordan-Backe directly, either before or after the presentation and consultations, her toll-free phone number at College Funding of the Rockies Inc. is (800) 440-5902.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com