Ann Garcia: Helping Families Pay for College

Student loan forgiveness is a hot topic, but not a new one. Neither is the idea of free college. Many people with young kids think they don’t need to bother saving for college because it will be free by the time their kids go. That’s probably a mistake, says Ann Garcia, Partner with Independent Progressive Advisors – a fee-only registered investment advisor – and writer of The College Financial Lady blog.

“While I do hope it happens, free college is limited to tuition, to public colleges and will be based on income,” Ann says.

Ann started the blog, which has about 15,000 subscribers, to answer the questions she was fielding from clients. It has since earned her the title “trained assassin” in the area of paying for college from Ron Lieber, New York Times money columnist and author of The Price You Pay for College.

This summer, Harriman House will publish Ann’s first book, How to Pay for College, which pulls together the lessons and strategies from her popular blog.

In today’s episode, Ann talks to Ana and Jamie about how a failed garage sale taught her the importance of negotiation; her career trajectory from tech to the financial advisory space; and how a meeting with a lawyer with $300,000 worth of student loan debt crystalized her purpose: to help families make better decisions about how to fund college.

Key Takeaways

  • You can get a great college education at almost any price – you just have to do your homework.
  • Advanced degrees often don’t lead to big salaries that will allow you to quickly pay off student loans.
  • Saving for your children’s college education should not come at the expense of saving for retirement. Families need to plan for both – and prioritize retirement.


“Saving for college is the ultimate personal finance. Parents see not being able to send their child to the college they want as a personal failing. Don’t look at the sticker price – look at the best experience for your child, what’s achievable for your family and the choices that fit.” – Ann Garcia


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