Tag Archives: endowment money

Don’t Pay for Your Kids’ College, Wealth Manager Urges Boomers

My Comments: By now you know that I spend time every week talking about the cost of a college education for your student and for any student in high school who has expectations of getting a college education. I’ve asked help from you in the past as to how to get this message across to members of your family, your neighbor, anyone facing the prospect of paying for a child’s college education. I still need your help.

For what I have in mind, simply run your cursor over the attache image and click. You’ll find yourself at the start of a short web video which I hope you will review and give me your comments and criticisms. Thanks.

By Danielle Andrus, AdvisorOne August 30, 2012

While boomers may feel a sense of desire or obligation to pay for their children’s higher education, they do so at their own risk, says Cathy Pareto, founder of Cathy Pareto and Associates in Miami.

“A lot of parents feel like they owe some level of education to their children,” Pareto told AdvisorOne on Wednesday. Unfortunately, she says, several factors have arisen that force boomers to choose between their children’s education and their own retirements.

“Education has gotten so expensive in the last decade or so,” Pareto said, that paying college expenses puts a “direct negative damper on retirement.” Furthermore, the market climate has impacted portfolios in a negative way, and boomers can’t look forward to the kinds of returns they may have become accustomed to in the past.

“Those factors make it difficult to sustain the mindset or commitment to supporting their children’s education,” Pareto said.

An Ameriprise Financial report in April said more than 70% of boomers help their kids pay for college, while 93% said they’ve provided some kind of financial support to their adult children. Boomers who insist on helping their children have to accept the consequences, Pareto said, whether that means they have to continue working or change their lifestyle in retirement.

Pareto (left) noted, though, that just because they shouldn’t pay for college, doesn’t mean boomers can’t help their kids in an emergency.
“A medical emergency is a different situation,” Pareto said. “They don’t have a lot of choice.” When their kids are hit with unemployment, however, boomers should be selective in how they support them.

“They need to lay down rules and create expectations,” Pareto said. Boomers should talk to their kids about a time line for when they should be back on their feet. Parents should also discuss opportunities that they can help their children take through their own professional connections. “Parents need to be allies for their kids,” Pareto said.

“The bottom line is one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is a sense of self-reliance. We have to teach them the skill sets to survive in the future.”

While some boomers may find themselves in the comfortable position of being able to afford college and retirement, Pareto said it doesn’t happen often. “Some boomers who are more than adequately funded for retirement and have a minimal possibility of failure can afford to help their children. I would argue many more are not in that category,” she said.

“2008 and 2009 were quite sobering for advisors and their clients,” Pareto said. Now, boomers’ feelings that they should help their children finish school with no debt are unrealistic. “They’re far behind in their own plans, and have to figure out how to make the puzzle work with everyone.”

That includes sitting down and having an honest discussion with their children about money and what is expected of them, Pareto said. In some cases, that means children will have to support themselves, either by beginning their education at a community college, working a part-time job or taking on some student loans, she suggested.

“I hate to see people sabotage their own security because of this obligation,” she said.

In her own practice, Pareto has seen boomers thinking about these issues. “I started getting random calls from prospective clients,” she said. Her own clients started asking about supporting their children in other ventures like starting a business.

“It’s hard for parents, especially boomers, to say no to their kids,” she said. “The next generation, many of them have a sense of entitlement, and it’s the parents’ fault.”

For advisors who are working with clients intent on providing for their adult children’s education, “It boils down to crunching the numbers and showing the impact on their retirement,” Pareto suggested. “If they’re willing to accept it, so be it.”

An important fact that is often overlooked is that “there are options for students,” Pareto said. There aren’t always options for retirees.”
And even if boomers’ kids do have to put themselves through school, Pareto wonders if that’s a bad thing. “I see a lot of value in struggle,” she said

We Need Your Help!

My Comments: If you follow my writings, you know that I spend time and energy on an idea to help parents of high school age children find free money for their college education. Free money in this sense is money that schools are willing to spend to encourage an applicant they want, to enroll in their school. But they almost never offer any money unless they know the student is being recruited by other schools.

I need your help because I can’t seem to get anyone to pay attention to this. A year ago, the foundation behind the effort I’m promoting arranged for awards that exceeded $12 million. Local parents, instead, prefer to use their own money first and then when that runs out, cause their students to get loans.

The following article came to me from someone who has extensive knowledge about student loans. Loans in my judgement are a last resort for a student. So I need your help to figure out why parents in Gainesville believe loans are better than free money.

What Every Student Must Know About Student Loans

By the early 2010s, about 12 million students were borrowing money to attend American higher education every year, with around 37 million active borrowers in the system.

Estimates for student loan debt went as high as $1 trillion by 2011. By the beginning of 2012, the average student loan balance had risen to $24,301. For the most expensive types of education and training, loan balances rose to above $100,000.

There is no doubt costs are rising – and that graduate wages are not. Thanks to a mixture of education, oversaturation, and recession conditions, about 15 percent of students have late payments and loans in default. More than half of recent graduates in 2012 were underemployed or unemployed entirely, leaving them struggling to make payments. Since the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Act, both federal and private student loans have been immune from outright forgiveness, which means that bankruptcy cannot remove the debt burden (although legislation may change this in the future).

In the modern business world a degree is vital for opening doors, and with the broad variety of bachelors and masters programs and the unparalleled access to online degree programs, American students have excellent educational opportunities. However, most students forget to consider their loans until they have already graduated and reached the “trouble” stage of payment. The government provides options for managing debt at this point, but dealing with student debt begins when students choose the right loans at the right terms. Instead of jumping at the first offered loan, students should examine the different options available and choose the right packages for them.

Subsidized Loans
If you have done any research on student loans, you have probably come across options for both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Although it can look confusing on the outset, the differences are simple. Take Stafford loans as a typical example. When you qualify for a subsidized Stafford loan, the federal government will cover interest costs while you are in school and for several months after you finish school. In 2012, interest rates for these loans were set at 3.4 percent thanks to an extension of low rate regulations, but are expected to eventually double to 6.8 percent in coming years.
Continue Reading HERE...

Financial Aid Letter Would Provide College Cost Comparison

My Comments: I continue to be puzzled why parents are not interested in the free money available from college admissions offices as they prepare their children for high school graduation and preparations for college. There are billions of dollars out there that don’t have to be paid back. The only catch is knowing how to ask for it. Click on this image to watch a short overview of how to get your hands on some of these dollars.

By Liz Skinner July 29, 2012 6:01 am ET InvestmentNews.com

President Barack Obama’s administration has asked colleges to begin using a new standard financial aid offer letter in the 2013-14 academic year to help families compare how much each institution costs.

The voluntary Financial Aid Shopping Sheet will outline the total estimate of tuition, fees and other costs, the institution’s rates of completion and default, and a student’s potential monthly loan payment after graduation.

About 10 universities have agreed to provide this information to incoming students, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

“Families choosing a college should have clear and comparable information in a common format to guide their choice,” he wrote in a letter to college presidents last Tuesday.

The finalized proposal, released by the White House last Tuesday after a draft was posted in April, is an attempt to help educate students and their parents about the differences between grants and loans. It is also intended to provide specific information about the overall debt burden that a graduate would face — and how the tab would differ among schools.

$1T IN STUDENT DEBT
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates outstanding student loan debt for U.S. households at about $1 trillion, more than what is owed on credit cards or cars. In a report last week based on data from lenders and other sources, the agency estimated that students owe $864 billion in federal loans and about $150 billion to private lenders.

Financial advisers typically recommend that clients consider federal loans before private student loans. Federal loans are advantageous because the government pays the interest while the student is still in school, borrowers can receive income-based repayment options, and loans are canceled in the case of death.

Default rates of private student loans spiked following the 2008 financial crisis, and students are in default on more than $8.1 billion, representing 850,000 distinct loans, according to the report.

A Senate Banking subcommittee held a hearing last Tuesday at which the report’s assertion that private student loans often lack repayment flexibility was discussed. The administration argues that debt from private student loans should be easier to dispel in bankruptcy.

Many borrowers who are making monthly payments can’t get their private lenders to agree to better repayment terms, even though interest rates are historically low, Rohit Chopra, student loan ombudsman for the CFPB, said in written testimony.

“Policymakers have paid significant attention to the refinancing and modification conditions in the mortgage market,” he said. “But given the potential impact of student debt on the broader economy, the situation is rapidly demonstrating the need for attention to determine whether action is needed.”

Parents Struggling To Cover College Costs, Survey Says

My Comments: I have a solution to this problem. But try as I will, very few parents of high school age children have expressed a willingness to talk with me about it.

As a financial planner, I’ve very aware of the financial pressure that comes from wanting your children to go to college and earn a degree. It’s one of the last steps we take as parents to move our children into an adult world.

Colleges and universities are also aware of the problem, and each admissions office is interested in attracting the best high school students they can for their next freshman class. And each of them has money at their disposal to help attract the students they want.

But you have to know how to ask for it. You can’t just show up, raise your hand, and expect them to give you thousands of dollars of discounted tuition. You have to come prepared. Click on the image that is part of this post and watch a short video. Then tell your friends and neighbors to call me.

by Jim McConville

More and more American households are struggling to help pay for their children’s college education costs, according to a recently released study.

Parents surveyed say they plan to pay for only about half of their children’s college costs and currently are on track to meet less than one-third of their goal, according to Fidelity Investments 6th Annual College Savings Indicator study, which was released today.

Parents on average this year plan to pay for only 57 percent of their children’s college costs, according to the survey. The typical family is currently on track to cover just 30 percent. To make up the difference, families will look to additional funding options such as loans, grants and scholarships, either through financial aid programs or other sources.

Although more than 75 percent of parents don’t want to burden their children with student loans, in many cases it may be unavoidable; recent reports find graduates leave school with an average of $25,250 in student loan debt, according to the survey.

Among families addressing college costs, about two thirds are making changes to better manage potential post-graduation debt. Thirty-eight percent of families, for example, are opting for less expensive colleges. Twenty-eight percent are planning to rely more heavily on financial aid and 16 percent are asking their children to change majors to secure better salaries after graduation.

While many families are still behind in reaching their college savings goals, the percentage of families saving for college—66 percent, according to the survey—has held steady over the past three years.

Fifty-four percent of the households surveyed said they’re familiar with 529 college savings plans, compared to 51 percent in 2011 and 40 percent in 2009. Roughly 34 percent of families that use these accounts have increased their monthly contributions, up from 25 percent last year.

Thirty-three percent of parents said they work with financial advisors to help guide their college savings strategies and are increasingly asking for advice related to school selection, financial aid, the grant process, and how college costs should be divided between parents and children. Sixty-eight percent who work with advisors feel they are closer to achieving their college savings goals than they would be if working on their own.

The online survey was conducted by Research Data Technology, which received responses from more than 2,300 parents nationwide with children aged 18 and younger who are expected to attend college. Respondents had household incomes of $30,000 a year or more and were the financial decision makers in their household.

Realistic Planning: There’s More to Life Than Retirement

My Comments: This article is about someone who put all three of his children through college and saw them graduate with no debt. As he says, “Woo-Hoo!”

Many of you with children in high school, or perhaps already in college, are doing your best to help your kids get into or through college with money you’ve accumulated, either just for this purpose, or for your own retirement. The writer below clearly doesn’t know there is a third alternative, and it’s one you need to know about too.

It comes from a foundation in Tucson called the Neighbors Foundation. Watch the short video that comes up if you click on the image above and to the right. There is so much money out there for the taking, I’m always amazed that people are reluctant to take advantage of it.

By Bob Seawright May 24, 2012

On the day I write this column, I made my last payment towards the education of my children. Had I paid via actual paper draft rather than electronic transfer, I would have waited to receive the cancelled check back and framed it. All three of my kids have now graduated with honors from fine universities and have done so without any debt. All of them have gotten good and fulfilling jobs. None of them has moved back home.

Woo-hoo!

Providing college for them was a key goal for my wife and me and I am (obviously) proud that we have accomplished it and even prouder of the accomplishments of our children. My wife and I have plenty of reasons to be proud. We might even throw a party to celebrate. But achieving this goal came at a cost. Our retirement planning is not where we would like it to be, and we are not alone in that.

The Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) from the private, nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute has gathered opinion data from workers and retirees as to what they believe their financial status to be for over 20 years. The most recent survey results, published in March, once again show that worker confidence in having enough money to live comfortably throughout retirement is not very high.

Only 14% of people are “very confident” about their retirement prospects (compared with 27% as recently as 2007) while 23% say they are not at all confident about having a comfortable retirement.

People recognize the trouble they are in, and with good reason.

According to the EBRI Survey, 35% of all workers think they need to accumulate at least $500,000 by the time they retire to live comfortably in retirement. Another 18% feel they need between $250,000 and $499,999, while 34% think they need to save less than $250,000 for a comfortable retirement. At current rates, $500,000 purchases roughly $2,750 per month in guaranteed income for a 65 year-old male. Accordingly, there is very good reason to believe that people greatly underestimate the amount of money they will need to retire comfortably. This is yet another unintended consequence of the Fed’s zero interest rate policy and the “war on savers” it has produced.

But even with these misplaced expectations (again according to EBRI data), only two-thirds of workers report that they have saved for retirement, down from 75% in 2009, and only 58% (down from 65% in 2009) are currently saving for retirement. Fully 60% of workers report less than $25,000 in total savings and investments, and 34% had to dip into savings this past year to make ends meet. Even for those who are focused upon retirement planning, life sometimes “gets in the way.”

Much retirement planning advice focuses on saving more and saving earlier. It’s terrific advice. Not nearly enough of us save and not nearly enough of us save enough. But this advice isn’t always realistic and often comes couched in unjustified criticism.

The first major financial goal my wife and I set after we were married was to buy a house. We wanted our own home near good schools before we had children. Interest rates were high, unlike now, so there were relatively safe, liquid and convenient ways to save that provided excellent returns. But real estate values were climbing rapidly and mortgage rates were high. After a couple of years of very diligent saving — and nothing to retirement savings above the level needed for the 401(k) employer match — we were able to save enough to make a down payment and buy our first house.

One might quibble with that choice, and fewer young couples would likely make a similar choice today given the current real estate market, but it was a reasonable choice under the circumstances. The house offered us a place to raise our children in a good environment near family and other support systems. It was the right decision for us.

Obviously, young families are expensive, and ours was no exception. Retirement planning continued to mean little more than the company match until later, after college planning was more firmly grounded. Providing for our children — including college — was simply a more urgent concern for us. Many retirement planning advisors insist that college assistance should only come after maxing out the 401(k) each and every year, but we were not willing to go that route to the expense of our children’s prospective education. Our priorities were (and are) different. Again, one may disagree with that choice, but it was an entirely plausible one, especially since I do not ask anyone to feel sorry for me or to prop me up financially on account of it.

I do not fall into this camp, but many workers are also incredibly discouraged about the prospect of saving and investing generally, including for retirement. According to the EBRI Survey, just 16% of workers are very confident that their investments will grow in value going forward. The secular bear market for stocks we have seen since the turn of the century and, much more recently, exceedingly low yields on bonds have resulted in some very disillusioned investors. That is a perfectly understandable reaction, especially given the findings of behavioral finance and the biases that so frequently beset us.

Many alleged experts in retirement planning — and I include myself in this group — are far too willing to offer advice without seeming to recognize the competing interests faced by those hoping to plan well. Much of what is called advice is really hectoring about the need to save more and to save more sooner and does not seem to recognize that alternative choices are not necessarily or entirely wrong.

A more realistic approach to retirement planning will not be all that different substantively — in general, people should save more and start saving sooner. But a better approach will meet the people who need good advice “where they live” without judgment or condescension, while remaining forthright about the challenges that await.

Not everyone with a less than perfect retirement plan gets into that situation on account of foolish decisions. My wife and I made some difficult choices. We remain convinced that, for us and for our family, they were the right choices. We are now ready to give retirement planning a much higher priority. It would have been better for our retirement plan had we done more and done it sooner, but thankfully we are in a position where we can still be cautiously optimistic about our retirement prospects.

Not everyone can give retirement planning the kind of focus and attention that they might otherwise like to. Per EBRI, 42% of workers identify job uncertainty as their most pressing financial concern, 20% report that their debt levels are a major problem and an additional 42% describe debt as a minor problem. Others have faced real economic, familial or health-related hardship. Some of us had what to us were more pressing priorities. We knew the risks we were taking and accepted them.

More realistic retirement planning will seek to offer the best and most creative approaches to the vexing problems we face without presuming that we have been irresponsible because our planning is not yet as advanced as it might be.

Bob Seawright is chief investment and information officer for Madison Avenue Securities in San Diego.

Seeking Creative Ways to Pay High College Costs

My Comments: I’m very involved with a foundation out of Tucson, AZ that has the ability to help parents find endowment money to pay for college. A typical result when you engage with the foundation is $60,000, spread over four years, that does not have to be paid back. In spite of this record, many parents are suspicious and unwilling to explore new ideas. The cost is there and it’s going up and no one disputes the value of a four year degree. Click on this image of watch a short video that explains what I have in mind. Then call me and I’ll give you the details.

By Liz Skinner July 22, 2012 InvestmentNews.com

Parents are fed up with the escalating cost of college, and even some who can afford to pay are balking at the price tag.

“I have clients who went to Ivy League schools themselves who believe it’s just not worth it to make the financial trade-offs it would take to send their kids to $50,000-a-year schools,” said Thomas Conway, a financial adviser at Connemara Fee Only Planning LLC.

The average amount that families spent on college fell 5% in the 2011-12 school year from the previous year, according to a survey released last week by Sallie Mae. That fall followed a 9% drop in college spending during the 2010-11 academic year.

The share of families who decided against a certain school because of cost rose to 69% this year, the highest level since the Sallie Mae survey began five years ago.

Additionally, nearly all families — 97% — took cost-saving measures this year. The most common savings strategy was for students to live at home, the survey of 1,601 college undergraduates and parents showed.

OFFERING INCENTIVES

Beyond those common-sense suggestions — another is for students to pitch in by holding down a job while going to college — savvy advisers have found Section 529 college savings plans and other college tuition programs that offer incentives to help reduce college costs for clients of any income level.

In addition to the federal tax benefits of 529 college plans, accounts in certain states offer other benefits.

For instance, New Hampshire’s plan offers a credit card that pays 2% back on purchases. That sum is contributed to the college savings plan as long as the account holder makes minimum monthly contributions.

Adviser Wayne Zussman of Triton Wealth Management LLC has a client who owns a delivery business and provides each of his drivers with a credit card linked to his daughter’s 529 plan.

“They use the cards to fill up the company trucks with gasoline every day,” he said. “His daughter’s college will most likely be fully paid for just from receiving the 2% rebates.”

Other 529 plans offer different features, including five that give their residents a state tax deduction for contributions that they make to any of the nation’s 529 plans.

About a dozen states offer matching contributions, though the matches mostly are limited to lower-income families. Maine, however, is especially generous with its matches.

That state offers a match when an account is opened, another after the first two years and another one-time grant for choosing automated funding. In addition, Maine families that start an account before their child’s first birthday can get a $500 one-time grant, regardless of family income.

Indiana offers residents a 20% tax credit on up to $5,000 a year in contributions to one of Indiana’s three college savings plans. The credit can be claimed against the state’s income tax, up to $1,000 per year.

Another way to save on a degree from a public college is to move to Washington, D.C.

The District of Columbia pays for the children of residents to attend any public college in the country at the in-state tuition rate — usually half the out-of-state rate — as long as the child moves into the district before their senior year of high school. The city caps the difference that it will pay between in-state and out-of-state tuition at $10,000.

The capital also offers its residents a $2,500-a-year break if the student chooses a private school in the Washington, D.C., metro area or if he or she attends one of the nation’s historically black colleges, according to Laurent Ross, college savings plan manager at Calvert Investment Distributors Inc., which manages the district’s 529 plan.

IN-STATE RATES

Clients who live in one of 15 states included in the Academic Common Market can get in-state tuition rates for certain academic programs if their own state college system doesn’t offer such a program of study. Nothing is stopping the student from switching majors later.

“If the student later changes to a different major, most institutions do not require you to pay back the tuition,” said Brock Jolly, a financial adviser at Capitol Financial Partners and a college-funding specialist.

Of course, one of the best ways to save money on college is to get students into the right school and out of that school with a degree in four years, according to college consultants. That doesn’t always happen.

The four-year graduation rate for public colleges is just 31.3%, and at private schools, it is just 52.5%, according to Shelley Levine, an educational consultant.

After six years, the rate rises to 56% for public schools and about 65% for private schools, she said.

“The key is to find the right match so students can stay there four years and get a degree,” Ms. Levine said.

Top 15 Best Paying College Degrees

My Comments: The most compelling argument in favor of a college education is that it leads to economic advantages. In simple terms, more money. Yes, there are probably other reasons to be properly educated, among them those who are committed at an early age to follow a path of service to humanity.

But for most of us, its an effort to advance ourselves into a better life as a result of being able to earn a higher income. As a planner, I have a compelling argument to make about how you should pay for this education. Take a few minutes and click on the image and you’ll find yourself watching a short video I created to help you better understand how an education paid for with other peoples money is possible.

By Dan Berman, AdvisorOne

The skyrocketing price of going to college is enough to make one wonder if it’s worth the cost. The National Bureau of Economic Research has attempted to answer that question by looking at factors that affect the pay that graduates in different disciplines can expect to earn. They used information from the Census Bureau to illustrate average wages.

First to those rising costs. According to the College Board, the average in-state tuition at a public university was $8,244 (more than double that if you include room and board and other fees) for the 2011-’12 academic year. For those who come from out of state, the figure rises to $20,770 ($29,657 total). For private, not-for-profit colleges the average was $28,500 ($38,589 total).

With those costs in mind, the Economic Research Bureau’s study, authored by Joseph G. Altonji, Erica Blom and Costas Meghir, could be seen as a guide for college students when choosing a career. Of course, there are more prosaic reasons for choosing a line of work, such as finding something you love to do. With the report, at the least, students will know what to expect once they hit the job market.

One interesting highlight of the report is the monetary benefit gained by earning an advanced degree. In some fields the benefit of extra course week is huge. Biological science majors, for instance, earn 51% more than those with a four-year degree. On the other end of the spectrum, communications majors earn just a 4% premium for a higher degree. AdvisorOne also looked at the study for earnings of those in the top 10% in that degree’s field, which is not necessarily related to holding an advanced degree.

Rich People Pay This Woman $42,000 To Get Their Kids Into College

My Comments: This headline got my attention. Here I am, down in Gainesville, Florida, trying to get parents to turn $100 into $2,000 to help pay for their students college education. This woman is charging $42,000 to help similar students gain admission to the same schools and appears to have no trouble getting 25 families each year to commit to this idea.

I can’t guarantee admission to any school; that’s beyond my ability. But I can help families find $20,000 or more to help pay for that college education. Click on the image with the diploma to find out how.

Meredith Galante | Jun. 20, 2012,

Despite the naysayers, more people than ever are applying to college—just look at last year’s record low acceptance rates.

If you want to find a way to use the system to your advantage, college consultant Michele Hernandez can help.

“Everything about admissions has stayed the same,” said Hernandez, a college consultant based in Vermont. “But it’s become much more competitive, with more students from more high schools and more international students applying for the same number of spots.”

Hernandez has run Hernandez College Consulting for 11 years, helping a select number of students from around the world improve their weaknesses to make them ideal candidates for the colleges of their choice.

After graduating from Dartmouth College, Hernandez worked in the admissions office of her alma mater, where she grew frustrated that school administrations wouldn’t tell parents the formula and scale used to decide which students would and would not be admitted.

“Parents ask me all the time what sets me apart from other college consultants,” said Hernandez. “It’s my hands-on experience in the admissions office that helps me understand what schools are actually in range for my clients.”

Hernandez’s consulting program includes a rigorous reading list and her unlimited time spent improving a student’s writing, grammar, math skills, and more. For all of that, she charges $42,000 for students who start with her in eighth grade. For ninth graders the cost is $40,000, and for tenth graders it’s $38,000.

“When you’re looking at schools that cost $200,000, $42,000 is an investment,” Hernandez said. “Most of the time, if I help the student get into an early action program the fee parents pay me is repaid in financial aid, if not more.”

In this competitive era, high school guidance counselors just don’t cut it. They are overtaxed and work with too many students to provide the individual attention necessary for a great application, Hernandez said.

Hernandez’s stats may be proof that a college consultant is worth if, if you can afford one. According to her website, 92 percent of her clients are admitted into the top college of their choice, and 24 of the 29 Class of 2016 students she worked with were admitted to an Ivy League school.

For students who don’t want to embark on the full package but need a last-minute boost for their college applications, Hernandez holds a four-day summer boot camp to teach applicants how to best showcase their passions and strengths. Application Boot Camp’s rate runs $14,000 a student.

Colleges want to admit students who will pioneer new organizations, lead clubs, and contribute to life on campus, Hernandez explained.

“I show kids how to take a scholarly focus with their applications,” Hernandez said. “We take four to five years to improve their writing, grammar, and math skills to make them better big-picture, not just market their application. Schools don’t want to be marketed to.”

She mostly helps students over email or by phone, answering questions, giving advice, and editing papers. In general, she only meets students a handful of times over the course of the years she works with them.

“I just don’t want any students to have regrets once the admittance letters start rolling in,” Hernandez said. “I never want them to think ‘If only I worked harder, studied harder, or applied earlier.'”

Educating College Students About Debt

My Comments: I’m doing my best to stress that going into debt to pay for a college education is a last resort. When you realize there are millions of dollars available in the form of endowment scholarships from virtually every school, then it becomes a question of knowing how to access that money.

The answer is NOT on the internet. You have to know how to speak the language of college admissions offices, how to position yourself favorably with the school you want to attend, and then know how to negotiate with several schools to have them extend financial offers that are favorable to you. It takes time and it takes an effort on the part of the student, but there is real money available if you know how to play the game.

Call me and I’ll share with you how to get started on solving this problem.

Jim Pavia March 4, 2012

College students are drowning in credit card debt. Study after study confirms the dismal state of undergraduates’ financial affairs, yet students continue to spend, remaining in denial or in a weird state of suspended reality about their precarious financial circumstances.

Away from home and experiencing independence for the first time, many students really let loose and spend — not cash, which typically is limited to the balance in a checking or savings account, but with a swipe of a credit card that is easy to obtain and often attached to a credit line in the thousands of dollars.

Although parents worry about the dangers of teenage experimentation with drugs, alcohol and sex, the kids are digging themselves and/or their parents into a financial mess that can be just as damaging in the long run as any of the consequences of the more familiar vices.

Students Pay Rates as High as Credit Cards on Student Loans

My Comments: Last week on Tuesday my blog reflected the comments of a financial advisor recommended by the editor of InvestmentNews. This person, identified as Betty, suggested Stafford loans as a legitimate source of money to pay for college. Her point was that anything was better than invading your pre-tax retirement funds.

My comment was that student loans are an insidious trap to be avoided at all costs and that finding endowment money, available from virtually every college or university, is the best of all worlds. Lots of money, none of which has to be paid back. But you have to know how to get it; its not offered unless and until you have negotiated a process that is not found on the internet.

This article reinforces my position that every parent of every college bound student has to explore and maximize their understanding of the endowment scholarship process. Click on the image above to watch a short web video on this topic.

(Bloomberg News) — JPMorgan Chase & Co. charges Mirella Tovar as much as 10.25 percent annual interest on her student loans — a rate as high as a credit card.

The 24-year-old aspiring graphic designer, the first in her family to go to college, is among millions of former students paying off high-interest loans to private lenders, among them JPMorgan, SLM Corp. and Discover Financial Services. In a good month, Tovar earns $730 as a part-time hostess in a pizza parlor, and most of that money goes toward her debt of $98,000.

Unlike the federal student-loan program, which lets consumers borrow at fixed rates directly from the government, these loans from at least 30 banks and other private lenders feature mostly variable rates that can be more than twice what some people pay in the U.S. program. With college costs spiraling, the marketing and interest rates of these loans are drawing increasing complaints from borrowers and regulators, who say teenage consumers often don’t understand their terms.

“It was like signing up for iTunes,” said Austin Bousley, 25, who applied on the Internet for a private loan from SLM, known as Sallie Mae, as a student at Suffolk University in Boston. Some of his loans, which he began taking out in 2006, carried rates as high as 9.25 percent. “The interest is accruing and accruing. I have a feeling I’ll be making payments forever.”