RUMSON, NJ - College Funding Associates takes the procrastination out of the college planning process.

"Many busy parents procrastinate the process," said Tom Murdock of College Funding Associates. "It is overwhelming to shepherd your child through the process -- SAT prep, career placement, essay writing, college choice, and trying to figure out the financial side. Inevitably, mistakes are made and deadlines missed. We make sure it doesn't happen."

College Funding Associates founded in 1999 by President Chuck Drawbaugh, with the goal of taking college planning assistance to the next level. Showing families how to more easily afford to send their children to college by virtually eliminating the administrative nightmare of the financial aid process, which is very time consuming and filled with countless opportunities for errors that can cause families to lose financial aid said Drawbaugh.

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Murdock recommends that the ideal time for the process to begin is spring semester of sophomore year. "It's a great time to get SAT prep work on track and also get the child starting to articulate what they might want to be looking for relative to a college experience. Particularly, looking at what career aspirations the student might have might drive decisions with their curriculum choices for junior year," said Murdock. "It's important to get the kids focused and empowered with the right resources as soon as possible. Taking some of the stress off of their junior years by allowing them to really dig in on some of the search parameters their sophomore year and that summer before their junior year will pay huge dividends."

CFA, and their affiliates, have an experienced team of specialists that offer all levels of assistance in the college planning process, inclusive of how to navigate the financial aid process and determine the best fit school. The staff includes admission consultants, coaches, and counselors that work on navigating the application process, assisting with essay development, and SAT/ACT prep among other important facets of the college process.  Additionally, College Funding Associates also help develop a financial plan of attack for the family. A huge challenge for most families is how they're going to pay for school.

Counselors work with the students and then meet with the parents separately. "We help evaluate the path the student is on, and make recommendations to ensure that they are as competitive as possible with the schools they are targeting," said Murdock  "The students tend to open up and articulate to counselors a lot differently than they do with their parents."

The counselor will discuss what schools fit the child as well as their own recommendations of schools that the student may want to consider.

"Then we come in and look at those schools comprehensively from a financial standpoint -- how much do they cost and what is the expected family contribution," said Murdock. "Is there anything we can potentially tweak or change in their financial make-up to drive the numbers lower to potentially get more aid.  At the same time, we're working with our families to develop a plan that won't jeopardize their retirement, yet complete college in an efficient manner as possible financially."

"And, we also help folks recognize when the schools have potentially under-awarded them from a financial aid standpoint. This happens more than you might think it does, and it's important to have an advocate that understands the process.  We have appealed hundreds of awards successfully for our clients over the years," said Murdock.

"People get turned off with finance and college funding," said Murdock. "Quite frankly, people get intimidated and they don't want to address it-- and I get that. There are a lot of people out there struggling and the last thing they want to think about it is how they are paying for college, but you have to take the time to figure it out. If you don't get out ahead of it, there is a real good chance you will overpay for college".

We sit with the parents and we help them evaluate what their objective is relative to paying for college,  said Murdock. "it's important that they be open and candid so we can figure out what we can do and recommend a good fit."

The investment parents are making for just one child's college education can be over $200,000. It's really like taking on an additional mortgage, Murdock said.  It makes sense to make sure that both the college search and the financial impact surrounding that decision get addressed  properly said Murdock.

The fees that CFA charge their clients are between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on what services are needed.

"We are really particular about whom we take on as clients," said Murdock. "We want to ensure that we provide significant value back to the family. The last thing we want to do is collect a fee and not make an impact.  We go through a pretty comprehensive process in order to ensure we're a good fit."

Visit College Funding Associates' website for a calendar of seminars and workshops or contact (732) 224-1496 to schedule a personal consultation or to schedule a workshop in your area.

Editor's Note: College Funding Associates is an advertiser with The Alternative Press. To learn more about becoming an advertiser, please call (908)279-0303 or email