Financial Wellness @ Work

How to Make College More Affordable

We all know that education is a key element in achieving the financial hopes and dreams that we all have, but is it possible that college education is getting too expensive?  One of my colleagues calculated that when he started college at a public university in 1988, a student would have to work 34 hours a week at minimum wage to pay for a year of college.  At that same school today, a student would have to work 53 hours a week to pay their way. Read more

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A New Tool in the College Selection Game

With one daughter in college and two boys following her down that path over the next decade, the whole concept of “bang for your buck” regarding college costs hits rather close to home right now. Every parent would be pleased to learn that their child got accepted into Ivy League schools. Fewer would be pleased when the tuition payments came due!  And after graduation, when the total cost of the education was known and a child with a liberal arts degree went into a job market that isn’t currently rewarding, that type of degree from there would be even less joy.   Read more

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Is A Degree Worth It? How It Can Impact Your Career

With the cost of an education rising year after year, is it still worth it to get your college degree? Although it may not seem worth spending $50,000, there are real benefits to doing so. With all of the grants and financial aid available, the cost is often not as high as you would expect either. Here are some benefits to getting a college degree or going back to school for even more education: Read more

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Using Retirement Plan Assets for Education

As the school year winds down, many graduating high-school seniors are looking ahead to the promise of a new day come next fall, but for many parents, that day is fraught with mixed emotions—and a handful of college bills. To help pay for college, some parents will set aside money using more traditional ways to save for college expenses. Each has its own set of pros and cons and seldom are parents able to save enough to pay for their student’s entire education. As such, many students will require student loans in order to continue their education. The result is an average student loan debt of just under $30,000. Read more

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Celebrate 529 Day this Thursday, 5/29

This Thursday is 529 College Savings Day, a day to raise awareness about the value of planning ahead for college expenses with 529 plans. The general theme is: Don’t panic, plan. Any amount saved in advance can lower amounts that may need to be borrowed for college, trade or technical school down the road.  Read more

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Five Myths About Your 529 College Savings Plan

As the school year winds down and the invitations to high school graduations start pouring in, I can’t help but think about the day when my own little girl Rachel—who is finishing up her sophomore year—will be sending out her own invitations.  It all seems to be going by so fast but fortunately Susan and I have been preparing for that day by saving in a 529 college savings account.  For some of you moms and dads out there, you too have been using this savings vehicle to help pay for those oncoming college expenses but as Kathryn Flynn writes in a recent post called “Clearing up the confusion: Five popular 529 plan myths,” there are a number of myths floating around out there that could cause confusion when it comes time to using these accounts.  Understanding each one will help you and I when it comes time to funding our child’s higher education. Read more

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Common Myths About 529 Plans

For my grandson’s upcoming first birthday, I mentioned to my daughter-in-law that we might invest in a Pennsylvania 529 college savings plan as our gift. She was a bit concerned since my stepson and his family are Maryland residents, not Pennsylvanians, and would that mean that he’d have to go to a PA school? The reality is that the 529 funds can be used at any college across the country and even accredited schools abroad so her fear was unfounded. My grandson will have the ability to use the money for any college of his choosing and by opening the PA 529 plan, we get the benefit of up to a $14,000 state income tax deduction and the advantage of Vanguard investment options. Read more

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Say NO to Student Debt (Part II)

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed a call from a father who was trying to do the right thing by helping his daughter pay for her education through the use of parent loans, a.k.a. PLUS loans.  PLUS loans are often used to help pay for education when there is an insufficient amount available through regular student loans, savings, or other forms of borrowing. In many cases, PLUS loan repayments begin within 60 days of disbursement but in some cases, repayments can be deferred until 6 months after graduation. Read more

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Say NO to Student Loan Debt (Part I)

My colleague, Erik Carter, and I just recently finished our 2013 research report on generational financial issues. In this report, we looked at internal and external data to see what Millennials, Generation Xers, and Baby Boomers are dealing with in terms of financial planning. As I began to look further into the lives of Millennials, I was shocked to discover just how much college debt the average graduate carries these days—averaging $35,200 according to a recent Fidelity studyRead more

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