CASE STUDY - "YOU ARE WRONG. MY CPA SAID THAT MY MONEY WON’T AFFECT MERIT AID.”

The Hughes Family vs. The Cruz Family

We met the Hughes Family in February 2015. Mom and Dad were successful and had accumulated considerable assets. However, they wanted to earmark all of that money for retirement. Their son, Patrick, was a talented student with great test scores. We presented an opportunity and plan to get Patrick an enormous amount of aid, but their CPA presented an alternative strategy. His reasoning was that Patrick was still going to get merit aid based on his grades and test scores and that their money was not a factor. This is a common misconception. Unfortunately, their CPA just did not have a lot of experience in this area. Sometimes, people just stop listening to the experts. Despite having the means, they picked the college based on price and Patrick is now attending the cheaper in-state college. Patrick had his sights set on Santa Clara University, but as you can see their merit award offering was disappointing at best and they missed-out on over $170,000 in scholarships and grants from this college.

In comparison, the Cruz Family also applied to Santa Clara University this year. Their student, Aaron, had similar test scores and grades. Like the Hughes family, they had the same number of students in the household. These families also had similar annual incomes. The Cruz family adopted our selection and financial strategy. As you can see, the award letter and dollar savings for this family were drastically different.


Patrick Hughes (2016 Grad) - 3.9 GPA / 32 ACT Score

Two parents and two students in the family.

$112,377 - Adjusted Gross Income

$577,000 - Savings / $1,300,000 - Bonds

$341,000 - Stocks

Final EFC - $160,088

Result

Santa Clara Univeristy

$63,648 - Cost of Attendance

$700 - Merit Award

$62,948 - True Cost


Aaron Cruz (2016 Grad) - 3.8 GPA / 31 ACT Score

Two parents and two students in the family.

$103,911 - Adjusted Gross Income

$1000 - Savings

Final EFC - $18,358

RESULT

Santa Clara Univeristy

$63,648 - Cost of Attendance

$47,112 - Grants / Scholarships

$11,059  - True Cost


Hughes College Savings

Cruz College Savings

*True cost reflects out-of-pocket cost without student loans.