Book Review: “The Rooster Bar”

By Paul Curley, CFA | | April 9, 2018

60% of 529 users report media coverage of student loan debt increased their demand for college financial planning, per Strategic Insight.

Strategic Insight 529 Conference 2017 Speaker Podium

As the Director of College Savings Research at Strategic Insight, I travel frequently across the nation to discuss trends in college financial planning and to present continuing education on 529 plans to a wide variety of audiences. While at the airports during my business trips, I study the book stores as they carry top sellers that can provide me with topical stories and references to incorporate into my presentations on the fundamentals of saving, paying and repaying the cost of education. In fact as shown in the photo for this 529 Insiders story, I even bring the years’ worth of top books, newspaper articles and white papers to the podium at the Strategic Insight 529 Conference where I use them in my opening presentation on the “State of the College Financial Planning Industry.” Additionally, the books stay there throughout the conference as references and reminders to those presenting throughout the event. Since the 529 Conference 2017, one book that I kept coming across was The Rooster Bar which made sense as the book was released in October 2017 by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of John Grisham.

One theme throughout the entire book is college financial planning. Additionally, the characters throughout the book discuss saving, paying and repaying the cost of higher education, including why the three main characters go into debt to pay for law school in Washington, D.C. The positive side of college financial planning is covered including their why with a focus on the hopes and dreams of the students and their families. Also, the negative side is covered such as the feeling of being trapped by their student loan debt burden, missed dreams and depression. Part of this side of the story is revealed in their interactions with student loan debt officers, which I think is an interesting and smart exchange to include as it is often overlooked and under covered in books. Given the prevalence and depth of the college financial planning discussion from the perspective of the students, this is a great book for 529 insiders seeking a fictional book to pause on over the weekend or during long business trips.

Bottom Line: Given the clout of both the book and the author, the book increases the awareness and prioritization of the need for college financial planning. This is important as 60% of 529 users report media coverage of student loan debt increased their demand for college financial planning per the Strategic Insight 529 Industry Analysis 2017, compared to 43% of those saving for higher education without a 529 plan and even less among those not saving for education. Therefore there is a direct correlation between media coverage of student loan debt and the level of preparation in college financial planning. Thank you John Grishman for writing the book, Random House for publishing the book and to you for reading this book review. Please email me your feedback, and to suggest other books that you think should be reviewed for our audience of 529 Insiders and 529 Dash readers.