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Donna and I have been working with Bay Area College Planning for over 5 years now and have never been disappointed.  Gerna Benz and his team have assisted both of our son's with the entire college application process, essays, and the very best financial aide packages available.  Having Bay Area College Planning on OURside brought this overwhelming process into a manageable solution.  Recently Gerna teamed up with Tom Delaney and has assisted us with all of our financial planning for the family.  We highly recommend Bay Area College Planning to all parents who are sending the children to college.  You don't have to plan alone, contact Gerna and his team TODAY.

Ken & Donna Weaver 


Hi Gerna, I am finally getting to an e-mail regarding Gio.  We would like to again thank you for your guidance regarding Giovanni and his choice of colleges.  He is SO happy at Oregon State!  We visited last weekend and he is truly where he should be.  He is doing well in his classes, he has a great roommate and is networking and getting to know people in the Athletic Training department.  He made an appointment a few weeks ago to take an exam through the AT department.  It was a 50 question exam.  He got them all correct!  They were shocked and asked him how he did it.  He replied that he came from an excellent program at his high school. He was trying to get a water boy job on the field for the big game between U of O and OSU which is coming up.  They do not allow freshmen on the field but at least he has made himself known in the department.

All in all, we are pleased thus far.  OSU has a wonderful sense of community for their students and families.  We hope he will get into the AT program.  He is focused and hopeful that he will succeed.

Thanks again, just wanted to give you an update on one of your students.  Have a nice Thanksgiving holiday.

Paolo and Sandra


Thank you for helping Hilary. I did hear through Rachael that her dad is going to pay for the first semester at Boston U. Just wanted to give you a heads up in case she hadn’t contacted you yet.


Looks like Rachael is going to study abroad in Rome in January with UCLA. She was able to get into the program as they had a couple spots left last week. I feel she would not be having these opportunities if it wasn’t for you and your team. Your company is miles above anyone else when it comes to caring for your clients. Rick and I are so very grateful.

Marilynn Band 
Acorn Newspaper 


 I wanted to reach out and say Thank You so much for you participation in the Pathways to College program at Mills College the other weekend!


I just finished reviewing the evaluations and reports of the program at Mills. I am satisfied with the day and it seems the program went so great and after reading the evaluations, our CTY families couldn’t agree more!


I’m glad the parents expressed such positive feedback to you. Many evaluations say how worthwhile the Financial Aid Workshop was and it answered so many of their questions! It sounds like your presentation went really well J


We are trying to get consist Pathways programs in the bay area so this is so great to have you and your team as contacts to continue to participate with this program.  


Again, thank you for your involvement with these Pathways programs. I look forward to future collaborations!



Thank you for making time to talk to Greg today. He was very happy to have a chance to talk things over and told me you called Whittier to get a feel for how gpa, etc influence acceptance. You are wonderful. Wishing you and the family a beautiful Thanksgiving



Thank you so much for the well-directed and closely-focused report.
That boy who doesn't express one's feeling much was happily excited
about having met with Sarat.

We are so appreciative to your great support that we can rest assured
about Hikaru's heading down the right path.

Akemi and Ichiro


Just like to share with you that Eric moved in to the school yesterday.
He was really overwhelmed...
Thanks for all your help to make his college application/financial aid "easier" for us, much appreciation!



When I was accepted to UC Berkeley, my family and I could not have been more excited. When we started looking at the price for four years at a University, the excitement came almost to a standstill. I was the first in my family to go to a University, so the entire experience, including affording it was quite a scary thing for us. That is until we met Gerna. After we attended one of Gerna’s financial planning seminars, we realized that UC Berkeley was actually an attainable, and affordable education for me.


From helping fill out the FAFSA form before my first year, to helping me receive my financial aid for studying abroad my third year, Gerna has been there. He helped my family save over $30,000. Without Gerna’s help, my family would be struggling tremendously to pay for the expensive yet excellent education that I received, and for that, we could not be more thankful. Gerna and his team can truly help anyone receive the education that every one of us deserves. With the rising prices of tuition in California schools, future students need the financial knowledge of someone like Gerna to help them gain access to all of the opportunities that a higher education has to offer. 

Tempest Hoover
University of California, Berkeley


Regarding Tori’s college decision, she has selected Vanderbilt University .  Jessica, I know you already know this, but I’m not sure that you knew of her decision, Gerna.  Jessica, you were amongst the first to find out as we were in Nashville touring the school when you emailed her this past Friday and she had just decided for sure that this university was right for her.  (Charlie and I told her she couldn’t accept until after she toured the school and felt like it was the right decision for her all the way around, not just from a financial standpoint – we want her to be happy based on all of her needs, not just the financial one and the amount of grants she was so generously offered by Vanderbilt).


So, in a nutshell, I truly believe that this school in the perfect fit for Tori.  Walking around the campus and talking to every student willing to talk to us (100% did by the way), made us realize how special this place really is.  From the students to the professors, everyone is just so relaxed, generous with their time, and willing to help. 


The campus is beautiful and the curriculum and belief about how to choose your life path while in college is refreshing.  They don’t allow you to choose a major until the middle of your sophomore year, and if you want to transfer to a different school within the university, no matter how impacted, there is no problem at all in doing so.  Research opportunities are more than plentiful and every student wants to genuinely help each other.  If Tori wants to apply to their medical school, she can at the end of her sophomore year, and she doesn’t have to even take the MCAT exam.  They do indeed take care of their own, and as such, there is a very high acceptance rate as the professor in charge of the undergrad pre-med program also serves on the decision committee for their med school.  On the plane, we met a med student at Vanderbilt who had received his bachelors from Princeton .  I asked him why Vanderbilt Medical School and he replied that it was simply the best. 


At the risk of me sounding like their college recruiter, the students at Vanderbilt truly work and play hard and balance seems to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  But, there are no slackers here, and the students are really smart…a bit intimidating for both Tori and me.  Every student we met that was touring the campus to see if Vanderbilt was right for them had also been accepted to not just one, but several other IVY league universities such as Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Rice, Notre Dame, etc.  We know this because of conversations that Tori had with other students and the fact the associate dean went around the room and asked each student what their other options were.  Tori was the only one not accepted to another Ivy League school, so when it became her turn to share, she proudly said that she was going to Vanderbilt! 


On several occasions, Tori and I struggled to hold back tears of joy for the opportunity she has been given.  This opportunity started because of all of you!  Gerna, Jessica and Karl, you were her cheerleaders and teachers, letting all of us know that Tori should reach for the stars.  Dan you were behind the scenes with your great emails that we did read.  We had no idea that private universities have more funding than public universities, nor did we know that it can take longer to get through a public school versus a private one.  All of you held our hands and coached us through every step to get to where we needed to go.  During a very hard time in our lives financially, you never passed judgment and simply treated us with respect and a strong willingness to help.    


We know how hard Tori has worked to get here, but she never would have even looked at Vanderbilt as an option without your coaching and guidance.  It doesn’t matter how much prep Tori did in high school, without your input, Tori would have never applied to Vanderbilt, and as much as we love our daughter, we didn’t have the tools or knowledge to guide her to this decision.  Charlie and I both have state university educations and we would have guided her in that direction.  You taught us to look differently at this situation and Tori did.  She reached for the stars and grabbed the moon.  She is going to Vanderbilt University because of all of you!  Thank you seems to be such a trivial word right now.  But, thank you!


Truthfully, the four of you have changed the life of our daughter and the course she will take forever.  The opportunities that will now be afforded to her are truly endless and it’s up to her to make the most of it.  But, it all started with all of you and the knowledge and belief in Tori you brought to our family.  And now, Tori is a Vandy student and a commodore…go Dores’!

Tori, Shelley and Charlie Ham


I am writing to thank you for your help with Becca.  Today, she got accepted into USF, and she has indicated that is where she plans to go.  I know the meeting with her was grueling, but I think she needed someone to really make her aware of her whole education goals.  She really took to heart what you said about Academy of Art selectivity, etc.  

Tim and I want to say thanks again.  We really value your expertise.  

On a side note, we are still waiting on the other schools for Christina.  We will keep you posted.



Gerna has saved my family tens of thousands of dollars in the last five years.   With one son in University and one in boarding school, Gerna helped us get through the financial aid process.  

More importantly, Gerna walked us through a number of appeals.  We were fortunate to meet Gerna when my oldest was entering high school so we could adjust the way our assets were held.   

I cannot thank Gerna enough.  My children are getting amazing private school educations because of his work and advice.  Thank you Gerna!

Anthony K.
San Francisco, CA


My family first heard of the Bay College Planners during a school presentation during my senior year of high school back in 2010. I am a first generation college student, so my parents and I had NO idea how to even begin approaching college applications, filing the FAFSA, and the overall financial aid process. They are not only knowledgeable about the financial process, but also about the strengths and weaknesses of each individual school. Gerna and his team also helped identify schools that were never on my radar, AND helped me to receive the maximum financial aid award possible from each school I applied to. (One school offered me a full-ride scholarship. I never would have known/applied to this school if it wasn't for Gerna!!) 

The team has been nothing short of thorough, patient, and immensely helpful through my undergraduate years in college. Whenever we had questions about a particular hold/fine/issue/anything on my account, I was able to call Gerna and he would call the school and resolve the issue immediately. I am currently back in school to obtain my Master's degree, and again, Gerna has been reliable in reminding me of what steps to take next to make sure everything is accurate, complete, and up to date with various changes (i.e. FAFSA pins changed to FSA IDs, processing periods, due dates, etc.).

My two younger sisters are now working with Gerna and the team in going through the financial aid process (one is currently a senior, and the other is a sophomore). Gerna has helped in providing advice of the steps they should be taking (how to best prepare for the SAT/ACT, extra-curricular activities they should be participating in, scholarship websites/opportunities, how to write the best personal statement, etc.) in order to get into the schools they want to get into, and how to obtain the best financial aid package for them. 

They are extremely prompt in returning emails and phone calls, and have been available through virtual online chats when we were unable to go to their office due to our tight schedules. 

I definitely would not be where I am in my educational career today if it wasn't for their help, and my family has been experiencing the same great quality years later with my sisters now in the process. I highly recommend Gerna and the Bay College Planner team!!A

Jessica R.
Hayward, CA


Bay Area College Planners are responsible for helping our daughter get into Harvard's master's program.  They helped us negotiate the FAFSA during the first 4 years of college, and find a great school with an excellent drama department.  This enabled her to have the confidence and faith to audition for Harvard and Brown and NYU in her search for a fantastic experience in a program that is connected to an innovative theater. 

We know getting into Harvard's Advanced Theater Training Program takes acting talent, but without Gerna's support and his faith in possibilities in which my husband and I had no experience, we wouldn't have known how to encourage our daughter's dreams.

Not only did Gerna patiently talk us through some extremely stressful times, as we worried that our family financial situation would impact our daughter's opportunities, he coached Katie to keep her dreams intact, and to pursue her interests.  

Our experience with Bay Area College Planners changed the trajectory of our daughter's life.  We will forever be grateful to Gerna and the staff.

Megan R.
Concord, CA


Bay Area College Planners far exceeded our expectations, and the results prove it !  Their expert team supported us(novices) every step of the way over the past 2 years, and guided us to great success beyond belief in areas of multiple college acceptances and the whole financial aid process.  We are absolutely thrilled about the outcome, and recommend that you look no further than the specialists at Bay Area College Planners.  They kept us on track and motivated, and skillfully helped us navigate the wilderness of the entire college application process.  They truly cared about our success, and worked diligently and professionally to help get us across the goal line.  Our student and the entire family feels like we won the lottery, and we couldn't have done it without BACP !  We wish you great success.

Brian O.
Walnut Creek, CA


Having worked with Gerna for more than two years now, I can truly say that he has been there to help me at every step of my journey to college. From the get go, he made me feel comfortable as I initially opened up to him about who I am as a person so that we could get to know each other better.


He also gave me resources to study for and improve upon my SAT score, showed me what I should be looking for in a college, helped me compile my college list, his associates assisted me with my personal statement throughout the college application process, and after having been accepted to my dream school UCLA, Gerna personally worked with my family to maximize our financial aid offer. This is the man!!!

Samuel S.
Walnut Creek, CA

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