How You Benefit from Working with a Certified College Planning Specialist

A Certified College Planning Specialist (CCPS) works with high school students and their parents to help them prepare for future college costs. Financial aid forms, knowing when to start saving, and how to maximize free aid can all be challenging to navigate. CCPSs answer questions and assist families with saving money and finding sources of financial aid.

What Are the Requirements to Become a CCPS?

Anyone who wishes to become a CCPS must already have some type of financial license such as an Enrolled Agent or Certified Public Accountant. The National Institute of Certified College Planners (NICCP) oversees the certification process and may accept a combination of experience and education in lieu of a financial license.

To earn the credential of CCPS, candidates must complete three self-study modules followed by three practice test modules. CCPS candidates then need to pass three exams before receiving their certificate. NICCP has offered this opportunity since 2002. Here is what candidates study in each of the three modules:

  • Module 1, Paying for College: This module introduces participants to the financial aid process, which includes helping students qualify for scholarships and grants. Other topics covered in this module include federal and state financial aid, private student loans, and the federal work-study program.
  • Module 2, Saving for College: Course participants learn about the various methods available to students and families to save for college. Examples include the 529 college savings plan, trust funds, Coverdell education savings accounts, life insurance, savings bonds, traditional and Roth IRAs (Individual Retirement Account), mutual funds, and stocks.
  • Module 3, Advanced College Funding Strategies: The last module presents information about qualifying for assistance based on academic performance, such as Lifetime Learning Credits and Hope Scholarships. Other topics in the third module include financial planning strategies for middle-class and high-income families, tax planning, estate planning, funding college and retirement at the same time, and how to coordinate investment contributions.

Each module takes up to 25 hours to complete. Candidates for the college planning certificate must earn a minimum score of 70 percent to obtain this credential.

Working with a CCPS Helps Families Better Prepare for College Financing

Sifting through the maze of paperwork and attempting to understand the language of college financing can seem overwhelming, especially for parents sending a student to college for the first time. CCPSs are available to work with families one-on-one to answer any questions they may have and assist them with completing paperwork correctly.

Joshua Bartlett is a financial advisor and Certified College Planning Specialist. He started Accolate Financial with his wife Bianca to assist families with financial planning for college. Joshua Bartlett brings 10 years of experience as an independent insurance broker and financial advisor to this role.

High school students and their parents are welcome to schedule an appointment with Accolade Financial. Clients work with Joshua Bartlett for financial planning and Greg MacDougal, our College Planning and Career Coaching Specialist, to help clarify their future plans.