May 7, 2010Work At Home Business: College Funding and Financial Aid Counseling Practice
Work At Home Business: College Funding and Financial Aid Counseling Practice
Lori A. Warren is on her way to making over $70,000 this year with her college funding and financial aid consulting practice. Her husband, Wayne, works full time for an office services company, but plans to retire in 2002. Lori#146;s life took a dramatic turn in 1999 when her mother died and Lori was involved in a head on car crash. Between 1999 and 2000 Lori thought that she would have to close her financial planning practice and seek a full-time job working for someone else just to pay her exorbitant medical bills. She was first approached about the business when her mother was dying. She put the material by her bedside to read later and each time she went to clean her bedroom she would pick up the material with the intention of throwing it away. Every time, a small voice would tell her to keep it. Finally in June 2000, Lori forced herself to read the material and it changed her life! Depending upon how often you want to work you could turn this into a full-time company from your own home or maybe only help a few students each year and have a supplemental income. You can help students reach their goal to find the right college and help them through the financial aid jungle.
Here are ten simple steps Lori took to launch her highly successful business#151;and you can too.
STEP ONE #150; Identify the value your business, service or product offers
Most parents don#146;t realize that 90% of financial aid comes from our tax dollars! Parents don#146;t get the aid they should and they lose aid because they don#146;t understand the rules, forms, or how much the school is really willing to give #145;their#146; child. As I said in my guest essay for October in the Dr. Laura Perspective Magazine, you must understand the rules and follow them to the letter or you will loose money your child is entitled to. Each year 97% of the parents of college bound students loose between $3,000 - $24,0000 in aid they could have qualified for. Parents invest an initial fee and annual renewal fees for my services. I help students get the most financial aid possible and help their parents pay as little out of their pocket as possible.
STEP TWO #150; If at first you don#146;t succeed, try again
I thought I had a brilliant idea when I bought a mailing list of all the juniors and seniors in my area. After mailing hundreds of postcard that offered a free report on how to beat the high cost of college I quickly discovered that this wasn#146;t working. It didn#146;t take me long to come up with a new plan-- holding free financial aid workshops for parents.
STEP THREE #150; Freebies and give-aways attract customers to your business
My free seminar is designed to teach parents what they really need to know about college financial aid. The workshops are held at local schools or nearby public libraries. My flyers ask participants to reserve their seats in advance. I contact them and confirm and I#146;ll add their name to my database. I also have local television stations and newspapers include the workshop in their community calendar. Usually 15 #150; 25 sets of parents come to each seminar. At the end of the seminar I collect evaluations from those parents wanting a free consultation. Typically, 100% of my attendees want to take advantage of this freebie. I have a 75 #150; 80% success rate with parents who actually keep their initial appointment. I charge $695 to work with them the first year. That#146;s $7,654 from one workshop a month if 11 people sign up. I usually run two workshops a month. Also, my parents refer their friends and relatives to me.
STEP FOUR #150; Look professional
You don#146;t need an office but you will need a computer (or access to one) but it doesn#146;t have to be top of the line. Business cards and letterhead are a must in creating a professional bussiness image parents and schools can trust.
STEP FIVE #150; Don't break the bank
There are several books you will need to purchase which will cost about $200.00. After reading the books you#146;ll need a presentation to show your parents. My biggest expense is sending mailers to my parents. I usually send out 500 #150; 600 invitations to each workshop. When I add the cost for paper, envelopes, mailing labels and postage it comes to roughly $220.00 per workshop. However, using email can cut down on time and money. You need to plan on spending from $1,550 - $2,500 to get started but you won#146;t have to have the money all at one time.
STEP SIX #150; Provide an easy to follow plan for your clients
I work one-on-one with parents and provide a College Planning Calendar and a Checklist that#146;s updated monthly so they know what#146;s been done and what to do next. It takes 12 months for a high school senior to get into college. During that time, I do the research, paperwork, and phone calls that are required to get each student the most financial aid possible. I offer reminders and advice on admissions, but it is up to the parents and the student to complete the admissions paperwork.
STEP SEVEN #150; Find a mentor
For people who want to start a financial aid company like mine you can contact me. However, for other types of businesses, there are successful business people willing to help you. When approaching a potential mentor let them know what your goals are and how much of their time you will need. This way they#146;ll know in advance if they can provide the help and support you#146;re looking for.
STEP EIGHT #150; Look for multiple streams of income
Writing a short book that offers benefits to your customer is a great way to build your business. Though you may not make a lot of money on the book, it#146;s a terrific marketing tool and may help you get publicity on local TV and radio shows. My first book was #147;How To Give Your Child a 4-Year College Education Without Going Broke!#148; My husband and I are working on a second book that's more detailed. This book will be a valuable resource for parents and financial aid advisors. It maps out a game plan of what parents and schools need to do for students from 12 through 19 years old.
STEP NINE #150; Make sure your 'at-home' business creates value for you and your family
We#146;re having a ball. My family takes a week long vacation 4-times a year. I only work the days I want and the hours that are convenient for us. My office is usually open Monday through Thursday and Friday is by appointment only. However, from May to September we are closed on Fridays. This way my family and my staff#146;s family can enjoy 3-day weekends all summer long. We plan to have my husband retire and work at home by spring of next year. My kids are happier now that mom and dad make it to all their activities. All in all, this business has brought us closer as a family. I would be remiss if I didn#146;t mention how fulfilling it is to watch my students attend the college they had their hearts set on. Moms and dads hug me with tears in their eyes because I#146;ve helped send their children to college.
STEP TEN #150; Help others in your community
As a way of giving back to my community, I do pro-bono work for our local CASA volunteers with the children who are in the foster care system. Most of them didn#146;t realize the government would pay their way to attend college. This might be the only way these kids can get off the welfare rolls. I go to sleep at night knowing that I change lives EVERYDAY!
Lori Warren is owner of Smith-Warren Financial Services. Her website is,
. Please feel free to contact her at:
Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com
Posted by Staff at 1:43 AM