Disrupting the Traditional College Path by Design with Thomas Leahy (Episode #58)

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A college coach who says college might not be for everyone?! If you’ve got high school aged kids, or you’re ready to go against the status quo in your industry – don’t miss this episode! Thomas is a retired Army officer and recovering financial advisor who has a passion for helping families navigate the debacle of higher education in this country. He became intrigued with the whole higher ed thing almost as soon as he got into financial management. One of the first couples that sat across the table from him asked two questions he couldn’t answer: Can you help us figure out how to pay for college, and do you know how to file for financial aid? That started a 23-year journey of becoming an expert on financial aid and developing a process to maximize the higher education experience. Now he coaches families and students on all facets of admissions and financial aid. But he takes a practical approach to college. Today it has to be a value proposition for families. Thomas is Managing Partner of OptimumEd, a Virginia-based higher education and financial aid consulting firm. His undergrad degree is from the University of Florida, and he earned his Master’s Degree from the University of Oklahoma. He is a graduate of the Army’s Command and General Staff College and the Defense Information School. He is also a member of the Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Higher Education Consultants Association, as well as a member of the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants. Currently, he is in the process of publishing the 4th addition of his book on Higher Education, “Plan for College, Prepare for Life. The No-Nonsense Guide to Higher Education.” He has also been published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and been featured in other local publications and on local radio and television as an expert on college and financial aid planning. He has delivered seminars for The Governor’s School for International Studies, Richmond Community High School for the Gifted and Talented, the Chesterfield County School System’s “”Very Informed Parents’ Program”” (VIP) as well as other schools, church, civic organizations, and corporations, such as Capital One. With his wife, Thomas also founded Beacon Tree Foundation, dedicated to assisting families with mentally ill children, by providing information, resources, and funding. He has served on the Community Advisory Board for Bon Secours Saint Francis Medical Center, the Virginia Treatment Center for Children’s Advisory Council and is a member of the Children’s Mental Health Resource Center’s program committee. He’s also member of the Kiwanis Club of Midlothian-Chesterfield and served as president of the Midlothian Youth Soccer league for the 6 years before their merger with the Richmond Kickers Youth Program. He and his wife, Diana, live in Midlothian, Virginia and have four children and two grandchildren.

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