college

College Award Letters are Confusing and Misleading

College Award Letters are Confusing and Misleading

The amount of outstanding student loans has more than doubled over the past decade. Part of that explosion has to do with tuition, fees and costs growing faster than the rate of inflation. But it’s clear that another factor is that many families had no way of discerning exactly what they were signing up for in the first place.

How to Fund College

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We’re kicking things off this week with John from North Carolina who is trying to figure out the best way to fund college for his two kids.

His financial advisor is currently pitching him a product that will make your head spin. When the head is spinning, it’s usually not a good sign, so I’m glad John picked up the phone and gave us a call.

More emails in hour two as we near the end of March. Progress is being made! Only to be derailed by the summer vacation schedule :)

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Retirement Planning and Talking College with Beth Kobliner

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We kicked things off on the latest radio show with Barbara from New York. Barbara is in the interesting position of having two financial advisors currently looking over her assets. So she’s getting different opinions from two well informed advisors. Which one should she go with? Do you really think it’s going to be that easy! Tune in to hear the outcome.

October marked the beginning of the college financial aid application season. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA, became available for the 2018-2019 school year on October 1.

Having the college talk with your kids can certainly be a tricky and complicated situation. To help you guys out, we’re joined by bestselling author and financial literacy advocate, Beth Kobliner.

Beth’s latest project, We Need To Talk College, focuses on choosing the right college and figuring out how to pay for it.

The project focuses on four main areas:

  • Starting the conversation: Here’s where the journey begins. Starting to talk about your worries and excitement when your kid is in 9th grade gives your family time to prepare for big changes ahead. So gather around the kitchen table, or cozy up on the couch, and start talking.

  • Shopping for schools: It can be overwhelming—trying to separate higher ed hype from the truth, navigating the application process, and figuring out what your kid will actually get for all that money. Here’s how to become a super smart college shopper and create a shortlist of schools that fit your kid’s needs and your budget.

  • Paying for college: College costs have soared—but a degree is more valuable than ever. Here you’ll find all the resources you need to understand financial aid, talk to your kid about the money side of higher ed, and keep track of your progress toward paying for college.

  • Making the final choice: You’ve come a long way from that first college conversation. Now that the acceptance and award letters are in, it’s time for you and your kid to make a final decision. It can feel like a leap of faith, but never fear: Here’s where you learn how to choose a college that checks all the boxes, without losing your mind.

When you complete these four steps, it’s time to celebrate, because you did it! You have a kid on the way to college!

Have a money question? Email me here.

Connect with me at these places for all my content:

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"Jill on Money" theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.

We Need To Talk College with Beth Kobliner

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October marks the beginning of the college financial aid application season. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA, became available for the 2018-2019 school year on October 1.

Having the college talk with your kids can certainly be a tricky and complicated situation. To help you guys out, we’re joined by bestselling author and financial literacy advocate, Beth Kobliner.

Beth’s latest project, We Need To Talk College, focuses on choosing the right college and figuring out how to pay for it.

The project focuses on four main areas:

  • Starting the conversation: Here’s where the journey begins. Starting to talk about your worries and excitement when your kid is in 9th grade gives your family time to prepare for big changes ahead. So gather around the kitchen table, or cozy up on the couch, and start talking.

  • Shopping for schools: It can be overwhelming—trying to separate higher ed hype from the truth, navigating the application process, and figuring out what your kid will actually get for all that money. Here’s how to become a super smart college shopper and create a shortlist of schools that fit your kid’s needs and your budget.

  • Paying for college: College costs have soared—but a degree is more valuable than ever. Here you’ll find all the resources you need to understand financial aid, talk to your kid about the money side of higher ed, and keep track of your progress toward paying for college.

  • Making the final choice: You’ve come a long way from that first college conversation. Now that the acceptance and award letters are in, it’s time for you and your kid to make a final decision. It can feel like a leap of faith, but never fear: Here’s where you learn how to choose a college that checks all the boxes, without losing your mind.

When you complete these four steps, it’s time to celebrate, because you did it! You have a kid on the way to college!

“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

Have a money question? Email us here or call 855-411-JILL.

We love feedback so please subscribe and leave us a rating or review in Apple Podcasts!

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Timing the Market + 529 Plans and College Savings

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Buying a home can seem like a daunting task, especially when you're doing it in a city like New York, where prices always seem to go up and never down. That's how we kicked off the show this week with Chris, a recent transplant from Chicago looking to find a new home in the Big Apple. 

Next up was Jeff from Georgia who has the bright idea of timing the market. You know, buying low and selling high, and knowing exactly when it's going to happen! 

Hour two was a deep dive into 529 plans and college savings in general with one of the foremost authorities on 529 plans, Andrea Feirstein, founder and Managing Director at AKF Consulting Group, a leading strategic advisor to public administrators of state investment programs.

Andrea was extremely knowledgeable and we touched on several topics, including:

What is a 529? A tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future education costs. 529 plans are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.

What’s the tax benefit of a 529 plan? Withdrawals for qualified higher education expenses and earnings in the account are not subject to federal income tax and, in most cases, state income tax. Additionally, some states offer residents of the state specific incentives, like the ability to deduct contributions from state income tax or a matching grant.

What does a 529 plan cost? Fees and expenses vary widely from plan to plan and can include start-up fees, maintenance fees, or sales charges. In general, advisor-sold plans cost more than direct-sold plans. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has developed a tool to help you compare how these fees and expenses can reduce returns.

What happens if my kid doesn’t go to college? Most states allow you to tap the accounts for other children in the family or even for the parents. Those withdrawals that are not used for qualified higher education expenses will be subject to state and federal income taxes and an additional 10 percent federal tax penalty on earnings.

What has changed with the 2018 tax law? Americans can now withdraw funds tax-free from 529 plans to pay for K-12 tuition and other eligible expenses at private and religious schools, up to $10,000 per year. But there’s a caveat: Not all states will conform to the new federal rules. That means before you pull money, be sure to double check with your state.

Have a money question? Email me here.

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"Jill on Money" theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.

Classes Every College Student Should Take

Classes Every College Student Should Take

As millions of college students return to school, they will be confronted with the dizzying prospect of selecting classes. For some, the choices will be limited, but there are always a couple of electives. Instead of telling you what I would recommend, I contacted some of my go-to resources, to learn what they thought every college student should take. All of them are seasoned professionals from diverse backgrounds and are ages 40-70.