The Financial Planning Association is making a commitment to help advisors tackle America’s massive student loan problem.

Student loan debt hit $1.52 trillion in 2018, showing an increase of more than 500% in the past 10 years, according to Joe Messinger, founder and CEO of Capstone College Partners, and seven out of 10 graduates will have student loans averaging $37,000. The reality is that more than 44 million people now have student loans, and many are having trouble paying them off.

That’s why Capstone College Partners is partnering with the Financial Planning Association to launch a self-study online course that helps financial planners advise college-bound families on how to pay for college as well as build a college planning niche in the advisors’ practice.

Capstone provides education, resources and software for financial advisors who want to improve their college funding advice.

The Financial Planners Guide to College Funding Advice is an eight-model course, which is part of the FPA Professional Development Learning Center.

“This comprehensive guide explains the scope and extent of the student loan crisis, demystifies financial aid, provides a repeatable end-to-end process, uncovers tax strategies for college-bound families, and more,” according to the press statement announcing the program.

Certified financial planners can earn up to 11 CFP CE credits for completing the course. It covers a variety of college strategies including:

• Providing an overview of why the cost of college continues to rise, the basics of financial aid policy and an introduction to the college preapproval process to help students avoid taking on unnecessary and inappropriate student loans.

• Educating planners on how to properly plan and pay college tuition bills and analyze financial aid policies at institutions.

• Describing the different types of student loans available for undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. It includes a discussion of loan-repayment options and loan-forgiveness programs, including options for military veterans and other populations.

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