Welcome to Capstone - The Home of College Pre-Approval

Capstone is a comprehensive fee only financial planning firm based in Columbus, OH. We work with families to build a well-thought and integrated college, retirement, and investment plan.

Our specialization in college funding lead us to create this "College Pre Approval™ Know Before You Go Video Library", weekly college news blast, webinars, and live workshops. We provide parents with practical tools, tips, tricks and advice on how to be a savvy consumer of college.

College Pre-Approval™  – A Simple 3 Step Process to Graduate with Less Debt

Our simple 3-step process will help you figure out a reasonable college budget for your family. Following these 3 steps will give you the best chance to graduate on time with manageable student loan debt without robbing retirement.

4 Components of College Funding

In this video we will give a brief overview of the four components of a comprehensive college funding plan – College Selection, Financial Aid, Tax Aid, and Personal Resource Planning. Knowing how to best position yourself in each of these four areas can save you thousands off the sticker price of college.

College Selection

Finding the “right fit” college is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. So what constitutes a good fit? What do you need to know before you go?

At The Core – How to Decide What to Do After High School

Our great friend Beth Probst, CEO and Founder of At The Core LLC, shares information on a unique process they call Guided Self Assessment and all of their programs for college bound families.

Due to changes in the financial aid system, our "Financial Aid Demystified" video is being revised. Please click here for the latest information.

Financial Aid Demystified

Need based aid, Merit aid, scholarships, EFC, FAFSA, CSS Profile, and the list goes on. So much you need to “Know before you go!”. In this video we demystify the financial aid process and give you tips and tricks to maximize your financial aid package.

FAFSA vs CSS Profile – Differences You Need to “Know Before You Go!”

A select group of our most prestigious colleges and universities use an Institutional Method to determine your financial need with the CSS Profile Application. Typically, “Profile” colleges are very selective private colleges, including the Ivies. Learn the key differences in the financial aid systems.

Scholarships for the Financially Successful

Congratulations, you don’t qualify for need based financial aid. Don't be upset by this, just shift your focus to schools with a track record of awarding scholarships based on the merit of your student. This video explains what to look for and what resources to use to find schools wanting your student and willing to pay for them!

Financial Aid Policy that May Shock You

The financial aid policies at different universities are shockingly different. This video explains the vastly different financial aid policies of different institutions and a shocking example of how a student went to a private university for less than a state school.

Don’t Get in Over Your Head with Student Loans

How much loan is too much? In this video we walk through how to create a comprehensive 4 year college funding plan to graduate with manageable student loan debt.

What’s Next?

Hopefully you found value in this video series. Learn how to connect with us and how we may be able to help your family create a college funding plan to graduate on time with manageable student loan debt, without robbing your retirement.

Ever wonder how Capstone became focused on college planning? What was that light bulb moment? Recently, Joe was interviewed by XYPN Radio, a specialty broadcast for financial planners. They came to Joe wanting to hear about his expertise to best serve families in a new way. Give it a listen! (You may be surprised by Joe's major in college!)

Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) YouTube Page

"Federal Student Aid, an Office of the U.S. Dept. of Education, helps make a college education possible for every dedicated mind by providing more than $150 billion each year in grants, loans, & work-study funds." The Federal Student Aid YouTube page is PACKED with helpful videos covering a wide range of topics from what is federal financial aid, what is the process like, what is the FAFSA, what is the FSA ID, what is work study, and more. Take a moment to explore their page here.

OSCPA College Planning Video Series

This 5-part video series was originally produced in conjunction with the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants (OSCPA). Hosted by the their Communications Director, Gary Hunt, the videos cover college planning with two local college planning experts, Joe Messinger, CFP® (co-founder here at CWP) and Susan Kannenwischer (Director of Financial Aid at Capital University), in an interview style format.

"It's Never Too Early to Act" - Joe and Susan discuss the initial conversations a family should have around college affordability.

"Start With The FAFSA" - Joe and Susan discuss the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), including timeline, financial inputs from the family, and best practices.

"Determining The Bottom Line" - Joe and Susan further discuss the financial inputs on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), as well as a few quick examples.

"Consider an Innovative Path to College" - Joe and Susan discuss some alternative thinking when it comes to considering the (net) college cost, especially if it seems like it's just too much for you.

"Savings strategies and the 529 plan" - Joe discusses how the 529 college savings plan is most effective when it’s part of an overall savings strategy.


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