Your child has worked hard to achieve this opportunity and we want to see you make the best decision for them and your pocketbook.

While the thought of sending your child to a good college may seem to be the best investment you can make, too many families put themselves in a heap of debt trying to do so. Colleges are changing the way they accept students and how financial aid offers are awarded all the time. No wonder parents are confused with the entire process and ultimately make poor decisions.

Crystal Clear College Planning has put an end to that confusion. We begin with the student’s needs first then find out how to make their top-choice colleges affordable for the parent. This approach has opened the doors to a new way of planning for college. This is where our team of advisors becomes a family’s best friend as we help you pay for college without going broke!


Crystal Tate - CEO

Crystal Tate graduated from Western Washington University with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance. 

As someone who was entirely responsible for selecting a college to attend and then personally paying for her own education, she acutely understands the challenges facing students today.

Crystal spent her first two years out of college working for Harsin Wealth Management where she created financial plans and did performance analytics for a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Financial Planner.

During her time there she also became an in-house resource for all issues involving college planning. Crystal eventually left Harsin Wealth Management to start Crystal Clear College Planning, so she could devote herself full time to her passion: helping families and students plan and prepare for college.

She is associated with a nationwide network of college planners who for years have used strategies that help students attend schools particularly suited to them while simultaneously helping families maximize financial aid and scholarships. Crystal is also on the board of the National College Advocacy Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students, families, and other advisers on the issues surrounding college planning.

Cori Murphy

Cori has the unique ability to break down complex college planning and financial matters and translate both to parents and students in an easy to understand manner.

When Cori started in the college planning industry over 15 years ago, her children had yet to start elementary school. Now with her youngest just starting college, she knows exactly how overwhelming and stressful it all can be for parents. Her knowledge and expertise provide the calm within the storm.

Cori has worked in financial services since 2000, and is associated with a nationwide network of college planners who for years have used proven strategies to help students find and select colleges that fit, maximize financial aid and scholarships, and financially plan with parents to make college affordable.

Cori holds the Certified College Adviser designation and is a member of the National College Advocacy Group, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students, families, and other advisers on the issues surrounding college admissions and financial aid.

Karen Lynn Maher- Essay Coach

Karen is a writing coach with over twenty years of experience helping writers create engaging, well-crafted works.

She has a bachelor’s degree in English/Creative Writing from Seattle University and has taught a variety of classes and workshops on the craft of writing, primarily at Cascadia Community College, Seattle University and an array of private venues.

She is an expert at teaching the art of personal essay writing. Karen will guide you to complete six steps to writing your personal essay, a critical process towards achieving your goal of college admissions.

Abraham Garcia - English/Spanish Speaking

Abraham works directly with students on building their best college list

For almost 10 years, Abraham has served students through the college selection, major / area of study selection, and career path exploration process. Abraham’s aptitude for assessments helps students find the educational and career path that most fits their attributes, personality, values, and goals.
Abraham visits college campuses through the year, gaining valuable insights in the academic and social fit for our prospective students. Abraham also helps families undergo the financial aid process to help them understand and acquire a financial fit in their selection.


A financial planner focuses on showing you ways to grow your income and to create wealth. As college planning specialists, our objective is to show you how to pay for college and potentially make it a financial “non-event” for your family.
Most of the families we assist qualify for little to no “need-based” financial aid. We help these families by creating a plan that involves a combination of academic student positioning along with financial and tax planning strategies. Many six-figure income clients are surprised to learn that after strategic planning, they too can qualify for financial aid.
No, we are not a lending institution or a scholarship fund. However, depending on your needs, we will identify and recommend the best college financial tools for your situation.
Yes, we do help your students find grants and scholarships. First, you should know there are three types of grants or scholarships. There are those awarded by the federal and state government (which are mostly need-based); there are those offered by the colleges and universities; and there are private scholarships that are offered by clubs, foundations, corporations, and other organizations. We attempt to help a student qualify for as many as possible. This involves employing a combination of academic and financial aid strategies. (However, we are NOT a “scholarship search” company.)

Typically the answer to this is no. There is a small percentage of financial advisers or CPAs trained in the late-stage college funding niche.

For instance, a physician who is a general practitioner would not think of trying to perform heart surgery on a patient. That procedure would be referred to a specialist. It is similar in our specialty. Most financial advisers and CPAs are unfamiliar with this type of planning.

We receive regular referrals from other financial advisers and CPAs who appreciate our specialization and client services in college funding planning. They believe our services add a lot of value to the services they are providing to their clients.

Working with a college planning specialist can make you aware of planning tips and strategies most people don’t even know exist. Utilizing a combination of these little-known strategies can tremendously benefit your family and your pocketbook.

The services that we provide are set up to relieve you from the stress and anxiety that is typically associated with the thought of paying for college. It is extremely valuable to have an adviser working on your behalf throughout this process.
College is the second highest expenditure for many families, next to the purchase of their home.

Have you ever purchased real estate without seeking the advice of a professional? Of course you didn’t! Paying for college shouldn’t be any different. There is crucial information you need to know about the college funding process before you begin.

Colleges will deny that they “negotiate” with parents, but the fact is that if the school wants the child, they may sweeten their initial aid offer during the “appeals process.” Your odds are improved if the school really wants the student because of a special skill, talent or scholastic achievement.

Oftentimes there are “special circumstances” that the family is experiencing that should be presented directly to the financial aid director or officer at the college. In effect, you are asking the college to use “professional judgment” based on this information to reconsider its initial offer. “Special circumstances” may be another reason for the financial aid award to be “negotiated” through the appeals process. How he or she views your specific situation and what action is taken is at the discretion of the individual financial aid director.

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