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Who Can Qualify for a Pell Grant?

Posted on Sep 29, 2012 with No comments

Sep 29, 2012

There are government grants called Pell grants which are used to help pay for the tuition and other education-related needs of college students. According to the U.S. Department of Education, largest award amounts reach as high as $5,550 for the 2012-2013 school year, the amount awarded per student varies on financial need.

Not all financially disadvantaged applicants qualify for a government pell grant, however, as they are typically awarded to students who are undergraduates who have not previously completed a four-year bachelor’s degree program. Pell grant funding is only available for up to 18 semesters of college for students who first qualified for a pell grant after the summer of 2008

If you want to apply for a Pell grant, plan to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA) as soon as possible after filing your federal and state income taxes for the tax year prior to yours or your student’s college enrollment. Based on the information you provide about your household and its finances, you will be assigned an estimated family contribution amount, or EFC. The amount of your Pell grant award — if any — will depend on your EFC.

If you do not qualify for a Pell grant, or you find that the amount of your award is less that anticipated, there are options for supplementary funding for yours or your child’s college education. For example, during childhood, you can open and contribute to a Coverdell Education Savings Account, or you may want to consider opening a Qualified Tuition Section 529 Plan. Each have tax benefits and drawbacks, so carefully research each to determine which savings plan is right for your family.

If, on the other hand, yours or your child’s college years are fast approaching, you may want to rely on government loans to finance your tuition. Government loans typically require no collateral, no credit check and often come with very low interest rates. Furthermore, loan repayments do not begin until after graduation.

Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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Hiring of the Class of 2013 Expected to Increase - Which Degrees will be in Demand?

Posted on Sep 28, 2012 with No comments

Sep 28, 2012

A new report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) says hiring will be up for new college graduates.In NACE's , "Job Outlook 2013", the survey reveals there will be an increase of 13 percent increase of employers hiring college graduates. The industry survey shows the largest increase will be in the business sector. Businesses will be going directly to college campuses to find these graduates to fill necessary job positions. Who will be in the most demand?


Top 10 Bachelor's Degrees for the College Class of 2013





Specific industries looking to hire these graduates will be employers in chemical, pharmaceutical manufacturing, computer and electronics manufacturing, retail trade, finance, insurance, and real estate, management consulting, and professional services. The 13 percent projected increase in hiring of recent college graduates comes on top of the 9.5 increase seen in 2012.


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Most Frequently Asked Questions About College 529 Plans

Posted on Sep 25, 2012 with No comments

Sep 25, 2012

As the price of higher education continues to rise, many people are looking for a good way to pay for it. Many families have started to seriously look at 529 college savings plans. Before blindly putting money into one of these accounts, however, it is important to know a few important facts about 529 accounts. The following are the most frequently asked 529 questions.

1. Do I have to pay taxes on the money I put in the account? The short answer is yes, but you do not have to pay taxes on the growth the money has in the account nor do you pay any taxes when it is deposited. Sometimes, states will waive state income tax on 529 plan deposits, but you will have to look at the rules on your own state to find out if you are eligible.

2. What can I use the money for? Funds in a 529 account can only be used for IRS-specified educational expenses or you will have to pay a penalty. These expenses include tuition, room and board, and class fees at any accredited university, college, or vocational training program. These accounts cannot be used to pay for transportation expenses, extracurricular activities, or general living expenses.

3. Who can contribute to the account? Saving in a 529 can be done by any relatives or friends of the student. There does not have to be a direct family relationship in order to set up a 529 account for someone. Furthermore, multiple people are allowed to contribute to the same account, and a student can have multiple 529 accounts. Having multiple contributors to the same account, however, will require every contributor to have all of the account information.

4. What kind of investments can I have in the account? A 529 account can hold investments such as stocks, corporate bonds, government bonds, CDs, or even cash. Most plans cannot accommodate investments such as real estate and commodities.

5. What happens if the beneficiary gets a scholarship? In the event that you or your child has some or all of his higher education paid for through a scholarship, the owner of the account is allowed to withdraw money that is the equal to the amount of the scholarship without paying a penalty. For example, if a child gets a $5000 a year scholarship, the owner of the 529 account can withdraw $5000 a year from the account penalty-free.

These accounts can be a great way to save for someone’s college education. Like any investment, however, make sure that you understand it completely before signing up.

Author:
Kelsey is the editor in chief for www.findananny.net/. She loves to write article and ideas that parents & nannies would be interested in hearing. She helps society on giving information about nannies through nanny services. She is a professional writer & loves writing on anything.

Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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Pennsylvania 529 Plan Waives $50 Enrollment Fee In September

Posted on Sep 24, 2012 with No comments

Sep 24, 2012

If you open a Pennsylvania college savings account for your children this month, you can save money on the enrollment fees. All you have to do is use state Sen. Lisa Boscola’s name.

To open or contribute to a PA 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan account, visit www.PA529.com or call 1-800-440-4000. Local families may use the code “Boscola” when they enroll online to have the $50 enrollment fee waived.

“This savings program, administered by the state Treasurer’s office, helps families afford a college education by spreading out costs over a longer period of time,” said Boscola, a Democrat who represents the 18th state Senate District, which includes all of Bethlehem.

The lawmaker said the contributions made to PA 529 plans are tax deductible and state and federal tax exempt when used for qualified education expenses.

“With the rising costs of a college education, the PA 529 plan can be a great asset for families to plan ahead and manage college costs,” Boscola said. “These savings plan accounts also enable other family members and friends to contribute to a student’s education.”

PA 529 contributions grow at the rate of tuition inflation. Boscola said that if a family saves enough for a semester at a state system university today, there will be enough to pay for another semester at the school in the future – regardless of tuition increases in the future.



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Best Car Insurance For College Students

Posted on Sep 19, 2012 with No comments

Sep 19, 2012

Listen, being a college student is hard enough without having to juggle finding a good car insurance policy along with your class and social responsibilities. Plus, scraping together beer money isn’t as easy as it used to be. Still, there are plenty of ways to make your college fund budget go farther without eating all of your food and party money along the way. Here’s how:

Raise your credit score


Young drivers are generally new to the credit game and may have no or lower credit scores than older drivers. If your credit score is bad, then your premiums will most likely be higher.

Get covered under your parents’ policy


You can be covered as a driver under your parent’s policy if they own the car and if your primary address is at your parent’s house.

Raise your deductible


It’s not out of the realm of possibilities that you will have a few minor dings and scrapes while trying to find parking on campus and having a low deductible can hurt your chances of getting a lower premium if you have to file a bunch of small claims, even if they are no-fault. Raise your deductible to between $500 and $1,000 if your insurance company will allow.

Choose a low-mileage policy


If you don’t commute a long way to class each day, then you may qualify for a low-mileage policy. If you’re yearly mileage is under 12,000, then you could be able to lower your premium.

Take out the full collision comprehensive coverage if your car is worth under $1,000 or so.


Since my college car was a 1989 Crown Victoria, it was worth much less than what we would have had to pay each year in comprehensive premiums. If my car were to get totaled, it wouldn’t really break the bank to get another one out of pocket.

Get a safe car


Yes, it may not be the chick (or dude) magnet that you’ve always wanted, but getting a safe car will absolutely lower your premiums. Hey, the more money you save, the more you can spend on dates, and that’s always attractive.

Drive a green car, aka a hybrid or biodiesel car


If you’re going to school in Massachusetts, California, or New York, you could be eligible for a 10 to 15 percent discount on your premiums. Not everybody in the US can qualify, but it’s definitely worth checking out. If you’re already saving money on gas, you might as well save on insurance too.

Be a good student


This may be the hardest (or easiest) way to save some extra money on your car insurance policy, depending on how you look at it. Well worth the effort, though.

Take a defensive driver or safe driver course


Many insurance companies will give you a break on your premiums is you can prove that you’ve completed continued driver’s education course. Hey, you’re going to school full-time anyway, what’s one more class going to hurt? Hey, look on the bright side: If you ace this course then you can sock away more party money! I wish I could say the same for my intro to Macroeconomics class back in the day.

 

Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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5 Ways to Build Retirement and College Savings

Posted on Sep 18, 2012 with No comments

Sep 18, 2012

Wouldn't it be great if you could finance your retirement just like you could a college education. You could apply for scholarships, grants, and loans. But this is just a pipe dream and it's not going to happen this way. No matter which way you look at it retirement and college savings will put a nice dent in your wallet. Saving for both of these goals are in competition for your hard earned cash. Striking a balance between the two is going to be tough.

The cost of a college education continues to rise faster than inflation, at roughly 5 percent per year. The average sticker-price for four years at a private college is now more than $150,000 — including $38,589 for the 2011-12 school year. Even going to your state's university runs close to half that total at an average $17,131 a year, according to the College Board.

At least with college you can come pretty close with estimating how much money you will need. With retirement it is possible to outlive your savings. If it were college you could just borrow your way to the finish line.

How do you balance those important objectives? Here are five considerations to keep top-of-mind as you juggle both:

1. PUT RETIREMENT FIRST.


Student loan debt has risen above $1 trillion and the average student's debt at graduation now exceeds $25,000, according to the Project on Student Debt. Hoping to keep their own kids from being overly burdened, parents often unwisely sink thousands of dollars into their children's education that otherwise would have gone toward their own retirement.

The latest evidence of this largesse came in recent survey results by Ameriprise Financial that showed that only 24 percent of baby boomers were putting away money for their future, down from 44 percent at the end of 2007. Yet the level of support they were providing their children and other family members had not changed.

Paying for college has to take a back seat to retirement, says Kalman Chany, a New York financial aid consultant and author of "Paying for College Without Going Broke."

"The real dilemma is whether you'll have enough money left for retirement after repaying your debt.", Chany says.

Don't give in to the temptation to pitch in heavily for college without making sure your retirement savings are on track. You may well leave yourself short in the future, especially with retirements now often spanning three decades.

2. START EARLY ON COLLEGE SAVINGS.


It's critical to start saving early for college, especially as tuition costs continue to accelerate.

"People who can save even $25 or $50 a month can amass a decent-sized college account," says Lynn O'Shaughnessy, a college consultant and author of "The College Solution."

Set up a 529 college savings plan to take advantage of the tax-free withdrawals for education costs.

Parents of a baby born today would have to save $385 a month in order to afford housing and tuition at the average state school, according to Kent Smetters, professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. If you don't start saving until the child is in middle school, the required monthly savings amount jumps to $780.

3. SET ASIDE 11 TO 15 PERCENT OF PAY FOR RETIREMENT.


There isn't a consensus on exactly how much savings you should have for retirement. It's generally thought you'll need to make anywhere from 70 percent to 85 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain a similar standard of living in retirement.

To reach that level of financial security, many financial planners say a good general rule of thumb is to focus on saving 11 percent to 15 percent of pay over a 40-year career.

That can sound overwhelming for parents who have house payments and perhaps college debts of their own. But reaching that proportion can come gradually.

A good way for young parents to start is by contributing 3 percent to 401(k) accounts if their employers offer them. Or up to 6 percent if that's what's needed to qualify for the company's free "match" money.

Then whenever you get a raise, put all but 1 percent toward your retirement account, advises Cheryl Krueger, an actuary with Growing Fortunes Financial Partners in Schaumburg, Ill. So if you get a 3 percent raise, bump up your 401(k) contribution by 2 percent.

4. INVOLVE YOUR CHILD IN THE COLLEGE PLANNING PROCESS.


Convey the importance of college to your child early even if you don't tell her about the financial aspects until later.

Carving off part of each allowance for college savings makes clear that the responsibility will be shared. Krueger, for example, requires that 20 percent of her 11-year-old son's allowance go to savings — half of that for college.

Then in high school you can get into the numbers. Lay out the parameters for a decision, such as telling your son or daughter that you'll pay for the equivalent of four years at a state school but can afford no more. Be aware that it's common for a student to take five or even six years to graduate.

5. WORK AT REDUCING THE COST OF COLLEGE.


Several strategies can enable you to avoid paying full price.

One is to encourage your child to graduate a semester or two early. Taking as many Advanced Placement courses as possible in high school, and perhaps a community college class or two in the summer, could give a student a full year's worth of college credit.

Another is to spend the first year or two at a local community college, an increasingly popular option, before transferring to a four-year college. The average two-year program costs just $2,713 a year.

Applying strategically to colleges also can yield big savings.

Parents typically assume that their state university is the least expensive option, but that's often not the case. Many private colleges offer extremely generous merit aid to students with strong grades and standardized test scores, even if they weren't at the top of their class.
And some states offer reciprocity for students from neighboring states to attend without paying out-of-state tuition costs, which can be triple the price of in-state.

Be careful when prioritizing saving, especially if they want to have a comfortable retirement.

Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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5 Mistakes I Made in College and Wish I Could Do Over

Posted on Sep 17, 2012 with No comments

Sep 17, 2012

College is a special time of your life. You have relationships and experiences you will never have again. Those experiences are specific to only the college experience and when they are over they will never come again. It's to bad you don't realize those once in a lifetime experiences were occurring, because you always will regret them later.

Life is full of many choices. The hundreds of choices we make everyday guides our lives to places we may think are impossible to go to. In college we're also faced with many choices. Not choices like what classes to take. They are mainly laided out for you once you choose your major. I am talking about choices that forms the person and adult you will someday become.

I hope some college students and pre-college students will take my heed and think while they are in their college years to experience the great times you will have for 4 years of you life. Here is my list of thing I wished i would of done better:

Made more lasting friends.


When you reach your senior year in high school you are at the ultimate in the social and group world. You know everyone, whether it's your fellow students or teachers. Add to that you are master of your city or town. It's a comfortable place to be in.

When you make the move to the college campus, you are at the bottom of the social ladder. The campus is huge and you probably don't know anyone there. It's intimidating and it can restrain you from making new friends. It's hard to be sociable, but this needs to be overcome if you want to experience college fully.

The best way to overcome this is to go out of your way to meet people. Opportunities will occur to make new friends and socialize. Look for clubs to join that reflect your interests. Clubs and organizations that are related to your major are especially good because you will be able to meet people that are focusing on like career choices. Sports are also a good way to interact with others. There are many ways to get out and meet new people and maybe make that lifetime friend.

Got to know my Professors better.


Students sometimes keep an uncomfortable distance from their professors. They fear rejection or are intimidated by their stature. This is wrong thinking because professors can be your friend and later in life help you with graduate work or job selection. Make your professor a friend by visiting during office hours and introducing yourself. Share your life and experiences, offer to help in some way. Getting to be friends with professors who teach in your particular major is always a benefit. You can ask them for help in other concerns and having a college professor as your friend and also as a reference will put you ahead of your other classmates. Many students treasure their friendship with their professors for the rest of their lives and are very happy they did.

Participated in an Internship.


College students almost always fail to take advantage of college internships. These are great opportunities to get your foot in the door of major companies. Landing an internship allows you to network and make connections for the future. Internships allow you to see what on the job life is all about. It can help you focus and make better career decisions. Think about how an internship at a major company in your field will look on your resume.

Too much in student loans.


Student loans are easy to get and very hard to get rid of. Racking up student loans over a 4 year college program is a no brainer and you have to have no brains to accumulate them. It's very easy to rack up $50,000 to $100,000 over your short college life. Ask a doctor or lawyer about student loans and the payments involved. Ask a liberal arts graduate with $50,000 in loans with no job apparent and ask them how they sleep at night.
A typical student loan payment on $50,000 is $600/month for ten years. How can a person just starting out afford that payment? It makes more sense to work your way through college. Scrimp and save before to save money. Work during your college years and only take the minimum needed for tuition and boarding.
Student loans do not care if you have a job or not. They don't care if you major is in philosophy and you can't get a job in that field. They want their money paid back. Student loans are serious business but are given out like candy to a baby. Don't let this happen to you, find other forms of tuition payments like work and scholarships.

Picked a major with more job potential


When picking your major it's important to also research your the job market. You can find majors with an abundance of jobs and a major with a poor to non-existent job inventory. Your major may be impressive but if their are very little jobs in it then it's useless. You are wasting your tuition if you can't market your degree to a potential employer.


Sadly, many students don't think along these lines and end up with useless degrees. Your only hope is to take the credits and classes you already have and add others to complete another degree in a more marketable field.

Your college years can be a time in your life of great life experiences. Don't let this part of your life go by without experiencing it to the fullest.


Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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10 Tips on How to Get College Scholarships

Posted on Sep 16, 2012 with No comments

Sep 16, 2012

Here at Whatisa529plan.com you will find lots of information concerning your best options for saving money for college. In today's world of rising college costs, you may not be able to save the amount of money necessary to meet all your goals. Finding other ways to pay for college is becoming a necessity. One way to supplement your tuition costs is by applying for college scholarships.

College scholarships give you access to money for college that you do not have to pay back. There are many types of college scholarships Academic Scholarships, Need-Based (Financial) Scholarships, Sports Scholarships, clubs or member-based scholarships, and more.

Getting college scholarships are hard to get but not impossible. The amount of work you have to do to apply puts many people off. This is not an uncommon opinion but because it the number of people applying is less so it may be a benefit to those who work hard and apply to as many as possible.

I have listed 10 tips to help you make the most of your pursuit of college scholarships:

  1. Start ASAP and Apply Early - Many scholarships have early application deadlines, so don't miss out on these opportunities. 
  2. Search Locally - A local scholarship is probably your best chance for getting a college scholarship. There are special scholarships just for locals, meaning it will be less competitive, as there are usually less applicants. Local banks, grocery stores, clubs, businesses, organizations, and churches are all potential sources for community scholarships. Also check State-funded scholarships. States have lots of money to disperse when it comes to providing education. 
  3. Read the Requirements - Make sure you are eligible right from the start, so you’re not wasting your time. Also, never pay to apply for a scholarship, these are usually scams. 
  4. Follow Instructions Carefully - Any errors right off the bat can get your scholarship application easily denied. Proofread it. Have someone else proofread it. 
  5. Neatly Presentable, Neatly Packaged - Send the scholarship application via certified mail or better yet, FedEx, making your application look professional and stand out from others. 
  6. Communicate - Make sure the application is right. If you are not sure about something in the scholarship application, don't hesitate to ask. 
  7. Check School Specific Scholarships - Check with the college you would like to attend. Usually there are many school-specific scholarships available. This alone may be able to help you in your school decision making. 
  8. Visit a financial counselor at your School - A financial counselor may be able to lead you to scholarships you don't know about, or that aren't listed on the web. Find scholarships that aren't very competitive by applying for ones that are not heavily advertised. 
  9. Be Active, Stay Active - Being in a sports team, club or some type of community service will always better your chances at receiving a college scholarship. 
  10. Maintain your GPA - Keep your grades up. A higher GPA will make you eligible for more scholarships, on top of increasing your chances of receiving funds. 


Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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Can Adults Use 529 College Savings Plans?

Posted on Sep 15, 2012 with No comments

Sep 15, 2012

With the economy still in a rut many adult workers are having a hard time finding work. While waiting for job prospects to get better many have decided to go back to school for more education. The thinking here is why not make yourself more in demand by retraining and adding another degree to your resume. Regardless of your age, you can set up a Section 529 plan for yourself to fund educational expenses now or in the future.

You can use the 529 plan money to add new skills, degrees, and certifications. The 529 plan funds can be used for tuition, books, fees and even a computer, as long as it is used to further your studies.

Even if you decide not to use the 529 plan money on your own education you can later change the beneficiary of the plan to your child or grandchild, nothing is lost.

Many people fail to use 529 plans because they feel they are not getting any direct tax benefit on the annual income tax. But when they withdraw the funds for qualified education expenses they do not have to pay income tax on any growth the investment incurs.

It's time to start your 529 plan.


Starting a 529 plan for yourself or your child is easy to do. The first thing you do is choose which state plan you want to use.

Many states give a tax deduction for state residents contributions. It makes sense to use your states tax relief instead of choosing another states 529 plan when you can save money on your state income tax. You can open an account for as little $50 to $100.

Choosing the investment option in your plan takes a little thought. Under normal circumstances when using a 529 plan for a child you normally have a span of 18 years to save and watch your money grow. The investment options carry some risk but over time they average out and you have reasonable growth. But when it is for the use of an adult you do not want to have any risk of principle so it would be wise to little or no risk on the investment.

What if I need the money right away?


If you need the money right away for education expenses it still is a good idea to deposit funds in a 529 plan account. In some states the money only has to be in the account a minimum of 10 days before withdrawing it and it count toward your tax deduction. You need to check the details of your states tax code to see if just parking the money in the account a specific number of days will count toward a good tax deduction. An example would be Missouri which gives a tax deduction of 6 percent when investing in the states 529 plan. The money only has to stay in the account for 10 days before counting toward your tax deduction.

Before using this strategy be sure to check carefully the rules and regulations concerning the 529 plan and your states tax code. So even if your still in school and your state has these kinds of benefits it would be smart to try this plan. Even if you over fund the plan or change your mind about an eduction you can always hold on to the 529 plan and put it int he name of your children at some later date. All you have to do is change the designated beneficiary to your child when they are born.

Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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Is Working Your Way Through College A Good Idea?

Posted on Sep 13, 2012 with No comments

Sep 13, 2012

Paying for college can be a definitive challenge, and some students feel compelled to get a job or maintain their employment while they are going to school. Is this a good idea? Or, should people do everything in their power to take a break from going to work while they pursue a degree?

Covering costs


The reality of life is that some people do not have a choice when it comes to work. Saving for college is a great idea, but some individuals and families simply do not have the assets to save very much. If some students are going to afford tuition, books and supplies, they will need to make some money while going to school. What students have to assess is whether they are working out of pure necessity, or whether the work funds a particular lifestyle. In some cases, it may be better to cut back on expenses while in school, rather than adding stress to the education process by working.

Juggling schedules


Perhaps the biggest challenge associated with working during school is the problem of scheduling. Classes occur at particular times, and depending on the school the student may need to take what they can get during the registration process. Some supervisors understand about people going to school, but others are not as flexible when it comes to scheduling shifts. If work inhibits the ability to stay on track at school, it may become a barrier to finishing school in a reasonable period of time.

Fatigue


There are only so many hours in the day and people have a limited amount of energy. When class time and homework are combined with working hours and commuting, the fatigue can start to take a toll and stress can start to mount. If people get too tired, both work and school may suffer to the point where there is a desire to drop something. Going to school and working is supposed to be tiring, but everyone has his or her limits when it comes to capacity.

Getting distracted


Work can be a necessary means to paying the bills, but it can also become a distraction. What happens when the workplace starts to make more demands? The challenge with working while in school is that more income can become a growing temptation. If people are not careful, they may take on more shifts and start working towards a higher position. There is nothing particularly wrong with this, particularly if a job turns out to be a viable career path. However, if the goal is to go to school and get a degree, it has to be prioritized.

Staying focused on school


The bottom line is that work during school should be a means to an end, and the desire to get a degree has to stay in the forefront. Granted, goals can sometimes change over time. It is good to be optimistic, but students that work should not underestimate the general difficulty of staying focused on their schooling. It takes perseverance to finish a degree and part-time students are always at risk of dropping out due to other issues in their lives.


Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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Americans Put Vacation Saving Before College Saving

Posted on Sep 12, 2012 with No comments

Sep 12, 2012

Saving for college in a 529 college savings plan comes third behind a new car and a vacation in most American families. This comes from a survey released by America's financial planners. Even though the country is still experiencing much anxiety about their economic security your neighbors who rarely save for anything are putting their vacations and cars before their children's college savings plan.

The survey, from the Certified Financial Planners Board of Standards and the Consumer Federation of America, compared attitudes about household finances today with sentiments in 1997, when the United States was enjoying an extended stock-market boom.

Specifically, 60 percent of respondents are saving for a major purchase today, compared with 52 percent in 1997.

Despite the soaring cost of a college education, “fewer of those in families with a college-bound child have started to save for college education,” the survey noted, by 48 percent today, versus 56 percent in 1997.

The survey and interviews reveal when people go through an extended time of economic fear they want to reward themselves by doing some selfish spending on themselves. These feelings come from going through an extended period of time of feeling hopeless.

This diverting of cash from college savings to cars and vacations shows that a families access to credit has been blocked. They need real cash to get anything purchased. The one bright side to the entire affair is that people are saving again.

Other mitigating factors are the earning power of families has been diminished by lower paying jobs and not having a job. This overall economic decline in the families income is also coupled with feelings of neglect and failure in the producing proper financial resources that the family needs.

People who are in this situation are usually under water in their home and living paycheck to paycheck.

The effects of are current economic slow down not only effect families today but the repercussion may even be felt for the next generation.

Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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10 Top Smartphone Apps for the College Student

Posted on Sep 9, 2012 with 3 comments

Sep 9, 2012

College students have it easy today with all the great gadgets they get to use. They have iPhones, iPads, and all those apps to put on them. They are not only a great convenience but have become a necessity. Many high schools and colleges are now making them required. Schools are starting to put their text books on them and requiring homework and term papers to be submitted completely digitally.

College student have been finding the best apps to get work done because they save them a lot of time. Today you can throw away your notebooks, word processors, and textbooks. Here's a list of a recent survey by college students of the best apps for college life.

1. Chegg - Created by the textbook peddlers at Chegg.com, the Chegg iPhone app is a free tool for renting textbooks. Students can find and order textbooks on the go by searching by name or number, or by scanning the book’s barcode with the iPhone’s camera.

2. EZ Read - EZ Read brings the entire collection of SparkNotes.com to the iPhone. Read book summaries, take quizzes, and explore the world of Huckleberry Finn in less than the time than it takes to walk to class. While your teachers might not approve of EZ Read, your social life will.

3. Wi-Fi Finder - As its name suggests, Wi-Fi Finder uses your GPS-monitored location to find open Wi-Fi networks nearby. Wi-Fi access points can be filtered by location type, and the app helpfully provides contact information and directions to the nearest coffee shop providing open internet access.

4. Wikipanion - Wikipedia remains the number one research stop for every student researching a paper. To enable that access on the fly, Wikipanion is a free app that enables you to remotely search and explore Wikipedia’s seemingly endless database of entries.

5. Instapaper - Instapaper for iPhone is a fantastically simple app that saves web pages for viewing later. They are then optimized for the iPhone or iPod Touch’s screen and can be viewed offline without requiring internet access.

6. iPhone Casino Games - Whether your waiting for the next class to start or in line for a taco, you can take some time off and relax with a little casino fun.

7. Quizlet - 10 million free sets of digital flashcards, Quizlet offers students a variety of ways to study course materials. After choosing a flashcard set or creating a new set, students have the option of four study styles, along with two varieties of flashcard games that strive to bring an entertainment factor to studying.

8. Outliner - Students can organize notes, tasks, and projects, and create and edit outlines with Outliner. Available on the iPhone and iPad, the app includes an editor tool, which enables users to make quick changes to documents created in Outliner. Outliner uses the cloud service Dropbox, so students can easily share their outlines, task lists, and projects from any computer or Web-enabled device.

9. inClass - This free iPhone and iPad app provides students with the tools to keep up with material in the classroom without missing out on their professors' lectures. Using inClass, students can record audio, take text or video notes, and create images of slides or handouts. Students can also use the app to share materials.

10. iProcrastinate - This app allows college students to make to-do lists and tasks by listing the steps it will take to finish them. Students can set levels of importance for each task, and iProcrastinate tells students to break them down into sections—making projects simpler. For class projects, lists can be shared and managed by multiple students.

There are plenty of other apps that you would find useful as they help you manage your college timetable and assignments. A simple search through the app market would result in thousands of great apps that every student would love.
Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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September is National College Savings Month

Posted on Sep 7, 2012 with No comments

Sep 7, 2012

This month is National College Savings Month and it has been so declared to raise awareness of the need to save for your children's college education. Paying for college is more expensive every year. Over the last few years, undergraduate in-state tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities rose at a 6.6% average annual rate above the rate of general inflation.

For the 2011–12 academic year, the average cost of tuition, fees, room, and board reached $16,313.2 Private institutions are even more expensive, although their costs are rising at a somewhat slower pace. For the 2011–12 academic year, the average cost for tuition, fees, room, and board was $37,698 at nonprofit four-year colleges and universities.

A Tax-Savings College Savings Plan


Just like saving for retirement, the key to saving for a college education is to make regular contributions. One helpful savings vehicle is a Section 529 plan, which is a state-sponsored or college-sponsored program designed to help families save for future higher-education costs. Each plan has its own rules and restrictions, which can change at any time. The money in a 529 savings plan accumulates on a tax-deferred basis and can be withdrawn free of federal income tax as long as it is used for qualified education expenses at accredited post-secondary schools, such as colleges, universities, community colleges, and certain technical schools. Qualified expenses include tuition, fees, room and board, books, and other supplies. Section 529 plans feature high contribution limits (set by each state), and there are no income restrictions for donors.

As with other investments, there are generally fees and expenses associated with participation in a 529 savings plan. Most states offer their own 529 programs, which may provide advantages and benefits exclusively for their residents and taxpayers.


Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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Some States Match 529 Plan Contributions

Posted on Sep 6, 2012 with No comments

Sep 6, 2012

If you are using a 529 college savings plan to save for college you know the importance of starting early to meet the financial need of a child or loved one. Every dollar you invest in a 529 plan grows tax free. Wouldn't be great to have your contributions to a 529 plan matched just like your 401(k) is matched at work.

Currently there are 10 states that offer matching grant programs. If you are a low to middle income parent, you may qualify for this match. the states that have matching grants are:

  • Arkansas 
  • Colorado 
  • Kansas 
  • Louisiana 
  • Maine 
  • Minnesota 
  • North Dakota 
  • Rhode Island 
  • Utah 
  • Nevada 

Each 529 matching grant program is different in each state. They each have eligibility requirements and limitations. Family's that have income levels that fall within a certain level will have money matched dollar for dollar or even two or three dollars for dollar. According to the college savings website Savingforcollege.com, states like Kansas provide a dollar for dollar match up to $600 for family's that have incomes below 200 percent the poverty level. Other states like Arkansas have tiered system on their matching.

Louisiana has a sliding scale and matches 2 percent to 14 percent of annual contributions on incomes up to $100,000 or less.

No matter what the match is it still is free money for your child's education. The biggest restriction on the plan is you have to be a citizen of the state that provides the plan.

Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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5 Ways Your College Student Can Help Pay

Posted on Sep 5, 2012 with No comments

Sep 5, 2012

Nowhere does it say in the ‘My Kid Goes To College, Now What?’ rule book that parents have to pay for their education. Is it helpful and beneficial for your child? Yes. But not every parent is the position to help or some parents have different views on education expenses. Here are 5 ways that your child can help pay for college:

Start saving early: The earlier you start having your child save the better. Whether you pay them allowance or if they have a part time job during high school, have them put away a portion for college. This will not only help cushion their expenses once they get to school but it will teach them about saving.

Get a part time job: A typical college student takes anywhere from 12-15 credit hours a semester. For each class it is expected to study about 3 hours, so there is time in the evenings or on the weekends for your child to get a part time job. Suggest they find an on campus job to help them stay close to school and on campus jobs tend to be more lenient when it comes to needing time to study.

Grants: There are many different grants that your child can apply for. Start local and head to nationwide grants that are offered. Speak with an admissions counselor or the financial department of the expected colleges that your child plans on attending to find more information on grants.

Scholarships: Scholarships are given out very often for just about anything. Whether your child is athletic, maintaining a good GPA or involved in some sort of special community organization there are plenty of scholarships that are given.

Work-Study: Many different colleges have a program that they call work-study. This means that your child works on campus and that job helps pays college costs and expenses. For example if your child is an English major, the college’s English department may have an opening in their office for a student worker. Your child works and the pay check is wholly or partially put towards their tuition bill.

The important facts to remember are to start your child on saving early and have them apply to grants and scholarships as soon as possible. They can look into a part time job where they pocket the money or a work-study job that will go directly to their tuition. Consult your child’s college financial department for more help!

Author Bio
Nancy Parker was a professional nanny and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, nanny, www.enannysource.com/ etc. You can reach her @ nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com

Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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Careers in Accounting

Posted on Sep 1, 2012 with No comments

Sep 1, 2012

Jobs for students with an accounting degree can range from accountant, bookkeeper, payroll administrator, auditor and financial analyst. If you like to work with numbers, prefer things organized, and want to work in the business world then a career in accounting can satisfy all these requirements.

What is a Bachelor of Accounting?


A Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting prepares you for a career as an accountant or auditor. Accountants and auditors work with financial documents that they prepare or examine. The job of an accountant is to see if the documents are accurate and represent accurately the financial situation of a business entity. The records and documents that the accountant produces is critical to the decision making and operation of a company.

What are the education requirements?


Education for an accountant or auditor requires at least a bachelors degree in accounting. It is possible to also go further in your education and work toward a masters degree in accounting. Some employers require the higher degree when specialize accounting jobs are needed.

What are the wages for an accountant?


The median salary for accountants was $61,690 in 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The pay range starts at $38,940 and the top 10 percent earned more than $106,880. Accountant jobs are full 40 hour work weeks and during certain time of the year, like tax time and end of year accounting, there can be longer hours.

What are the job outlooks for accountants?


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, accountant jobs are expected to grow 16 percent from 2010 to 2020. Because the recent financial problems in the country, the need for accountants will be increasing because of stricter laws and regulations in the financial sector. In the banking sector, more accountants will be needed to also help in new tighter rules for lending and credit.

Accountants who have earned certification as Certified Public Accountants (CPA) will have the best prospects of employment. Also applicants who have achieved master's degrees in accounting will have an advantage.


Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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6 College Savings Mistakes Parents Make

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Saving for your child’s future college education is a great idea, but sadly, some parents make mistakes when it comes to throwing money in an account. While it’s awesome that you’re saving early, you have to remember that there is little time to make up for your mistakes. With that being said, here are common mistakes that most parents make when saving for the future.

1. Avoid Higher Risk


Unlike your retirement account, your child is going to be attend college is less than 18 years. When you think about that, it really isn’t that long! Instead of gambling on the high risk investments, it’s best to plop your money in investments that are save such as CDs or stocks with a great track record. Even if your return is a measly 3%, it’s a lot better than 20%.

2. Take Advantage of Tax Breaks


Throwing money in a money market is a great idea, but did you know that you can get tax breaks with plans such as 529 plans? Using these plans, you will be able to help save for your child’s future and get tax benefits min return. Not only that, you can potentially save thousands in taxes! It’s nice to know that the money would go to your child’s college rather than your government, right?

3. Avoiding Student Loans


If you don’t have enough money saved for your child when they head off, don’t ignore student loans! In fact, there are some great loans available that have very low interest rates. If your family meets certain income requirements, you may also be eligible for financial aid. It’s there for a reason, so take advantage!

4. Don’t Ignore Inflation


While your local college today could be $8,000 for the year, it won’t stay that way 18 years from now. Factoring in 3% inflation, that college education could easily double. Let’s not forget that most colleges are raising rates faster than inflation! When saving for your child, it’s best to factor in inflation so that money is there when the time comes.

5. Using your 401k


While it’s great to help your child in any way, it’s often silly to dip into your retirement accounts. With so many early fees that you may have to pay, it may be better to grab out a loan. Not only is dipping into your retirement account going to hurt you in the future, you’re going to lose out on all the compounding interest that it has to offer in the future.

6. Waiting too Long


Don’t wait until your child turns 16 when saving for their education. You’re going to want to start as early as possible! If you can, start saving right now. Even if you don’t have a child just yet, if you plan on having one, save! Like retirement, the earlier that you save, the more you will have readily available when college time comes. To help you understand what you need to save, there are many great calculators online that can help guide you.

This was a post written by Hannah M. She runs the website Howmuchisit.org a website that has over 2,000 cost helping guides. Here, you will be able to find the price on anything!


Got further questions? Catch me on twitter and DM me @529SavingsPlans or e-mail me at 529CollegePlans at Gmail.comWant to be heard? Leave a reader comment below.
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