Payson High School veteran counselor Don Heizer is well versed in developing college-funding strategies.
His expertise comes from years of helping students plan their post-secondary educations and from developing financial blue prints that allowed his two daughters, Whitney and Lyndsey, to earn university degrees.
"Getting a degree costs about $60,000, depending on the student's lifestyle," Heizer said. "It's a big investment, and finding that money can't begin too soon."
He also warns that parents can risk their own financial future if they don't learn the best ways to send their children to college.
The biggest mistakes parents and students make in preparing to pay for a college education is not understanding how the college financing process works, how to plan and manage for all college costs, and the different types of financial aids and grants that are available, Heizer said.
In an effort to help make parents aware of all financial options, Heizer and fellow PHS counselor Judy Michel have scheduled the "Making College Financial Planning Count" program for parents of students in high school.
The free 1-1/2 hour presentation is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2 in the PHS auditorium.
The first hour will be presented in conjunction with the Bank of America, one of the many banks in the nation that help provide financial solutions for students and parents.
"The last 30 minutes, I will cover local issues, what financial help is available in Payson and the best ways to apply for help," Heizer said. "This isn't just for college-bound students, it's also for those going on to vocational and technical schools."
Heizer is hoping for a better turnout of parents than in the past.
"Participation in school workshops like this has been extremely poor," he said. "Maybe some parents are really affluent and don't need this.
"But any kind of information on how to be a better provider is helpful."
J.R. Cifani, vice president of the company that created "Making College Financial Planning Count," believes high school graduates bound for a post-secondary education need plenty of guidance, especially financial.
"A student's entry into higher education is a key transitional period for both students and parents," he said. "Our goal is to assist the parent by providing sound financial options and solutions for the major investment that a college education demands."
In hosting the seminar, Payson High is one of more than 500 schools around the country that held the free events last year.
According to "Making College Financial Planning Count" spokesperson Tabatha Riegler, parents who have participated, on average, rate the value of the program a nine on a 10-point scale.