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Paying for higher education can be an overwhelming endeavor. That’s where a Certified College Financial Consultant (CCFC) comes in. They have the knowledge and training necessary to help families fund education costs. Let’s take a closer look at what this designation is, what it takes to earn it and how you may benefit from working with a CCFC.
What is a Certified College Financial Consultant (CCFC)?
Certified College Financial Consultants are usually Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) or Chartered Financial Consultants (ChFCs) with a specialization in education funding. They’re well-versed in student loans, tax consequences, and education credits.
You can think of CCFCs as education finance experts who understand the challenges of covering the cost of college or trade school. In most cases, CCFCs work with high income and high net worth individuals and families, divorced and divorcing couples, business owners, grandparents and non-traditional families.
While other college planning designations focus on helping students who have already incurred a great deal of student loan debt, CCFCs support students before, during, and after the college planning process.
Should You Hire a CCFC?
A CCFC can benefit a variety of individuals and families. With a CCFC’s guidance, you can:
- Design a Plan to Pay for Higher Education: Paying for higher education and planning go hand in hand. Without a plan, it can be difficult to come up with the thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars that it typically costs to earn a degree. A CCFC can help you design a funding plan that aligns well with your budget and goals. Whether you’d like to pay for your child’s college in full or partially, their support can help you get there.
- Navigate the Complexity of Student Loans: There’s no denying that student loans can be complicated. With a CCFC, you may learn more about federal and private student loan opportunities and determine which ones make sense for your situation.
- Understand Tax Deductions and Credits: While education tax deductions and credits exist and can help make higher education more affordable, many people are unaware of them. You can trust a CCFC to educate you on the various deductions and credits at your disposal. They can also show you how to take advantage of them.
What Does it Take to Earn and Maintain the CCFC?
Those who hope to earn their CCFC designation must fulfill certain requirements set forth by the American Institute of Certified College Financial Consultants (AICCFC), an online learning organization based in Connecticut. Here’s a brief overview of the requirements:
To become a CCFC, candidates must meet one of the following requirements:
- Possess one of the following professional designations: Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), or Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC)
- Provide evidence of sufficient education and experience to be deemed satisfactory by the AICCFC.
CCFC Course Structure & Exam
CCFC applicants must complete a comprehensive interactive online course covering the following topics:
- Education Funding
- Financial Aid Planning
- Planning with Tax Deductions and Credits
- Student Loan Advising
- Practical Planning Strategies
Applicants must receive a passing score of at least 80% on all respective assessments (100 multiple choice questions in total) and pass the final proctored interview examination.
CCFC Code of Ethics
CCFC designation holders must adhere to a Code of Ethics founded on the principles of integrity, objectivity, competence, fair treatment, privacy, professionalism, and diligence in order to maintain their certification and remain in good standing with the AICCFC.
CCFC Continuing Education Requirements
- For designation holders who possess one of the prerequisite professional designations: 4 hours annually
- For designation holders who do not possess one of the prerequisite professional designations: 15 hours annually
What AICCFC Leadership Says About The Value Of CCFC Certification
We asked AICCFC founder Ross Riskin to offer his perspective on what distinguishes the CCFC certification from other professional designations.
Founder and Advisory Board Member
“When I set out to help found the AICCFC and build the CCFC designation and education program over four years ago, the mission was simple – provide a high quality interactive education experience and access to a community and resource center for qualified advisors and financial professionals who wish to fill a huge need in the marketplace by offering objective advice in the areas of education funding, financial aid planning, planning with education tax deductions and credits, and student loan advising. Similar designation programs have either focused too narrowly on one of these topics or have used college planning as a way to sell annuities and insurance products, while the CCFC program focuses on developing strategies that are efficient from cash flow, financial aid, and tax planning perspectives. Additionally, over 75% of CCFCs are either CPAs or CFPs and all must adhere to a Code of Ethics and meet continuing education requirements to remain in good standing.
A CCFC understands that different strategies will apply to different clients, especially those who are business owners, divorced and blended/non-traditional families, high income and high net worth individuals, and grandparents. A CCFC is well-versed on the ins and outs of the comprehensive education planning process and is prepared to provide guidance no matter where the client is on the timeline. Whether you are a young family who is looking to save for your children’s future college expenses, a family with children in high school who is working through the FASFA and other financial aid forms, or if you are a recent graduate who is trying to determine the best loan repayment program to enroll in and how to balance paying off student loans with saving for retirement, you can’t go wrong with starting a conversation with a CCFC.”
How To Find The Best CCFC For You
You’ll find a growing number of Certified College Financial Consultants featured on Wealthtender this year and you can also search the AICCFC website to find financial professionals who hold the CCFC designation.
How can I confirm the financial professional I’m working with holds the Certified College Financial Consultant designation?
Search the AICCFC website to find financial professionals who hold the CCFC designation.
What if I have a complaint about the Certified College Financial Consultant I’m working with?
Contact the AICCFC team by email at email@example.com.
Where can I learn more about other professional designations held by financial advisors and coaches?
Refer to this list of popular financial certifications prepared by Wealthtender to help you learn more about each designation. You’ll find a brief description of each certification, plus links to in-depth articles if you want to learn more about a particular designation.
About the Author
About the Author
Brian is CEO and founder of Wealthtender. He and his wife live in Texas, enjoying the diversity of Houston and the vibrancy of Austin.
With over 25 years in the financial services industry, Brian is applying his experience and passion at Wealthtender to help more people enjoy life with less money stress.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to encourage any lifestyle changes without careful consideration and consultation with a qualified professional. This article is for reference purposes only, is generic in nature, is not intended as individual advice and is not financial or legal advice.