Financial Well-Being Eludes Young Adults

More than two decades ago, financial planner and author Venita Van Caspel wrote:

“Our educational system continues to send forth our young with so little information about financial matters that they are like time bombs about to destroy their own and their families’ economic futures.  We equip them to earn good incomes and to live the good life, but we fail miserably as a nation to prepare them to know what to do with the money they earn.” (more…)

Nurturing Financial Capability

Financial capability is defined as the capacity—based on knowledge, skills, and access—to manage financial resources effectively.

All parents, of course, hope their children will grow up to be financially responsible, savvy, and confident adults.  However, because financial education has rarely been taught at home or in schools, most parents themselves feel ill-equipped to train and guide their children in matters of money.

To respond to this need, the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability (PACFC) recommended the development of a program and resources designed to support families and promote financial literacy among our youth. (more…)

Massive Open Online Courses – MOOCs

Huh? “What the heck is MOOCs?” you are asking, I’m sure. Good question.

“A massive open online course (MOOC) is an online course aimed at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for the students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs). MOOCs are a recent development in distance education.” ~ From Wikipedia. (more…)

Kids Need Money Mentors

Money MentorWith the level of consumer debt skyrocketing and the cost of housing, education, and health care increasing at double digit rates, younger generations are facing unprecedented challenges to achieving economic security and financial independence.  Therefore, helping our youth to learn effective money management skills, and to adopt good financial habits and attitudes, is more important than ever.

So what can you do if you are worried about the financial future of your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews?  The place to start is by considering the positive influence you can have in shaping their financial well-being.  Next, think about and choose specific ways that you can be a proactive Money Mentor in their lives.  Here are suggestions and resources to get you started: (more…)

Good News for College Saving Post-Fiscal Cliff

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 created some good news for families paying for, or saving for, college.

Congress and the White House agreed that higher education should remain a priority for American families and have decided to leave in place the tax benefits that have eased the pain of college spending for students and their families over the past several years. To make sure you are taking maximum advantage of the tax benefits available for funding a college education, you may wish to consult with a Certified Financial Planner to ensure that you receive every possible benefit from the recent agreement to extend these benefits to American families.

Education tax breaks extended or made permanent

  • The American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps defray undergraduate college education expenses by allowing borrowers to deduct up to $2,500 was scheduled to expire last year, but has been extended for five years, through the end of 2017.
  • The Tuition and Fees Deduction, which allows taxpayers to claim up to $4,000 in tuition expenses, has also been extended. The deduction, which expired at the end of 2011, was retroactively revived for 2012 and will continue through the end of 2013.
  • Some changes to the Coverdell Education Savings Accounts have been made permanent. The annual contribution limit continues to be $2,000 and that the account may be used for elementary and secondary school expenses. Higher income phase-outs have also been made permanent.
  • The deal permanently repeals a five-year limit for deducting up to $2,500 via the Student Loan Interest Deduction.
  • Tax-advantaged education savings accounts – Coverdell Education Savings Accounts and 529 College Savings Plans – have now become even more attractive with higher income tax rates, deduction phase-outs, and the new Medicare tax on investment earnings.

While this news is relatively good however, it wouldn’t be DC if the news was all good. Higher income earners will not benefit from some of these programs, so financial planning for college should remain a priority in 2013 – along with tax planning strategies to shift income and tax benefits to your college student (when parent income is too high). In addition, a decision on funding levels for federal financial aid has been pushed out to March 1, 2013 so we could see reductions in some aid programs.

As part of your comprehensive financial planning, with a certified finance planner, you financial planning for college can be greatly simplified. Tamarind Financial Planning is here for you, with individual financial planning strategies and personal investment management techniques to help you set, meet, and exceed your financial – and life – goals.

College Financial Aid: 7 Things You Need to Know

Financial aid is money that can help you pay for college. Some aid needs to be paid back or earned, and some aid is a gift. This money is available to all kinds of people. Here are seven important things you should know about financial aid.

1. Financial aid can help you go to college. Getting financial aid can make it possible for you to go to college. Or it might enable you to attend a college you thought you couldn’t afford.

2. More than $207 billion in aid is available. There are four main sources:

  • Federal government (the largest source)
  • State governments
  • Colleges and universities
  • Private organizations

3. You have to apply for aid. One thing is for sure: If you don’t fill out financial aid forms, you won’t get any aid. Even if you think you may not qualify, you should still submit the forms.

4. The FAFSA is the place to start — and it’s free. To qualify for many types of aid, you’ll need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application gives you access to these types of aid:

  • Scholarships and grants: money you don’t have to pay back
  • Work-study jobs: paid, part-time work that’s generally on campus
  • Loans: money you need to pay back, usually after you graduate

5. The FAFSA isn’t only for federal aid. The FAFSA qualifies you for federal aid, but many state governments and colleges also use this application to award their own aid.

6. Completing the FAFSA is convenient. Complete the form online at www.fafsa.ed.gov or download paper forms there. You can even import your family’s tax information directly from the IRS website.

7. More aid is out there. Once you have completed the FAFSA, you should apply for these types of aid:

  • Financial aid at the colleges you are applying to;
  • Private scholarships you are eligible for.

Jodi Okun

Jodi Okun
President and CEO
College Financial Aid Advisors