Category Archives: College Money Now!

Access to free money for college

To College or Not to College

I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years trying to help parents and their college bound students realize there is a source of money to help pay for college that does not have to be paid back. Every college and university has funds they can use to support and encourage the students they want in their student body to enroll and eventually graduate. But it’s not like there is someone on the street corner with a sign saying “come on in, we have free money for you.”

What follows is an infographic that talks about how so many students graduating from high school are not prepared for college. I guess it doesn’t matter about the cost and where the money is coming from if, as this article says, “…a recent study found that one in four freshman in the U.S. do not complete their first year of school, despite giving college a try.”

The group behind this infographic is promoting the idea that you can live at home and work toward a college degree. I’m not endorsing this idea; just that having a college degree is an economically viable outcome for almost everyone. How you get it is up to you. Follow this image below to see all the statistics a college bound student is facing. It was created by: “>


The Impact of College Debt

My Comments: You’ve read my posts before where I push to help parents and their students find the money to pay for college. Far and away the best source is money that belongs to someone else. No, you don’t steal it, but you do set yourself up in such a way that colleges and universities give it to you so you’ll attend their school.

This article came to me the other day from a group that works to help students and their parents get out from under debilitating debt. This is when the family either never knew about the free money or couldn’t be bothered to find out. And ended up with college loans that are incredibly difficult to get out from under unless you have the money to simply pay them off.

I’ll say it again: the best way to pay for college is with someone else’s money. You just have to know how to ask for it. Let me show you how. In the meantime, if you’re up to your eyeballs in debt, read what these people have to say:

Whether they graduate or not, after leaving college most people end up facing a large student loan debt. Although this is an unpleasant fact of life, it`s virtually inevitable if you pursue higher education. With the stress of repayment added to the stress of starting a career, did you ever stop to consider that your college debt might be detrimental to your health?

Even before graduating or leaving college, students are impacted negatively by the student loan facing them. In a number of recent studies, students describe their student loan as a dark cloud hanging over them or a recurring nightmare that frightens them and even keeps them awake and prevents them from studying. After leaving school, many of these former students say that the stress from their college debt adversely affects their job performance or ability to get a good job and even affects their dating and relationships.

With today`s rising costs, the average student loan for a bachelor`s degree in the U.S. totals just under $25,000. For those who are in specialized careers such as law or medicine and for those who pursue master`s degrees and doctorates, this loan amount can total more than $100,000. Whether the loan is for $25,000 or $150,000, it`s a heavy debt for anyone who is just starting out in life.

It`s no wonder that a growing number of young, college-age people are under a physician`s treatment for stress. Moreover, it`s highly probable that most physicians are well aware of the cause of this stress. Physicians are no strangers to college debt. In fact, it`s a safe bet that the vast majority of practicing physicians have had to pay off, or are still paying, a large student loan debt.

Physicians are particularly vulnerable to the stress of college debt, because after graduation many of them go into stressful residency positions in hospitals and emergency rooms. These residencies and internships are difficult, often nerve-wracking and usually don`t pay well. After coming home from a 12-hour shift in the emergency room, no one wants to face a mountain of debt or have to worry about affording the rent after making the monthly loan payment.

If your student loan debt is affecting your health and making your life spiral out of control, here are some ways you can take charge of it and get your life back:

Apply for Debt Forbearance

You may not realize it, but student loans are structured to make allowances for health and personal problems. If you have a health condition or any other extenuating circumstances, you can apply for debt forbearance.

With debt forbearance, you can postpone your payment plan for an indefinite time period. Although forbearance is typically given for as much as a year at a time, you can apply for a longer postponement if your circumstances demand it.

The downside of this is that you`ll still be charged interest and this interest will continue to accrue during the postponement of the loan payment, so the sooner you can get back to making your regular monthly payments the better off you`ll be.

Consider a Direct Consolidation Loan

A Direct Consolidation Loan will allow you to consolidate all of your college debts into a loan package that you can pay off in one single payment each month. Direct Consolidation Loans not only offer convenience by consolidating your debts, but they also provide you with a lower interest rate and an extended period in which to pay. Direct Consolidation Loans have a fixed interest lasting for the entire life of the loan. This fixed interest varies depending on when you sign your agreement, but the rate will never be higher than 8.25 percent.

Best of all, a Direct Consolidation Loan will protect you from garnishments and threats if you`re currently receiving them from creditors. It gives you the breathing room to pay off your loan at a monthly payment that you can comfortably afford.

Apply for a Deferment

If you`re in graduate school or the military, or if you`re undergoing economic hardship and unemployment, you can apply for a deferment on your subsidized loan. A deferment differs from debt forbearance in that it prohibits interest from accruing during the length of the deferment.

Whether you research National Debt Relief or talk to a student loan representative, you can get the help you need to manage your student loan debt. By finding out your options, you`ll not only protect your finances, but you`ll also protect your health.

Top 15 Best Paying College Degrees

NBER study looks at what college grads can expect to earn in their chosen fields

My Comments: If you are a parent of a high school child, paying for the college education of your student has got to be discussed and resolved at home long before the decision is made about which school to attend. There are simply too many implications, not just for your student, but for you as well.

If you have more money than God, then it really doesn’t matter. But if you are similar to the rest of us, and committed to helping your student become a self-sustaining adult, you have to at least spend a few minutes and watch the video that accompanies this blog post. Click on the dollars and mortar board above and see what I mean.

By Dan Berman, AdvisorOne | May 29, 2012

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.

Source URL HERE…

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.
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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.


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

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.


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.


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.