Student Loan Payoff Plan

Student Loan Payoff Plan

Student Loan Payoff Plan

 

Your federal Student Loan Payoff Plan got a little help from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). While there is no debt forgiveness, the CARES Act will give you a break from payments and the accrual of interest for certain Federal student loans until September 30, 2020. Read on for the details on how the Coronavirus Stimulus package will affect your Student Loan Payoff Plan.

Student Loan Payoff Plan

Your student loan payoff plan may be changed by the new Corona Virus Stimulus CARES Act. I have listed the main parts of the act below that will affect you and your loans.

 

THE CARES ACT ONLY APPLIES TO FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS

The first thing to understand is that the CARES Act's provisions only apply to Federal Student Loans. Some older federal loans are excluded, including Perkins Loans and commercially held Federal Family Education Loans. If any of your loans are private, you must maintain your normal payment schedules for those loans. Private lenders are under no obligation to delay payments of the accrual of interest.

No Payments Until after September 30, 2020

The CARES Act allows you to stop making payments on your federal student loans until after September 30, 2020. If you are able to continue making payments, if may be a good idea to continue so that you will pay off your debt as you had previously planned. If, however, you are experiencing a financial hardship, you will be able to temporarily stop making payments without penalty.

Interest will stop accruing until after September 30, 2020

No interest will accrue on your loans until after September 30, 2020. So, if you stop making payments, your balance will be exactly the same on October 1, 2020 as it is today. If you are able to make payments at your regular rate, this is also good news, because all of your payments will go to principal, which will help reduce your balance faster and pay off your loan sooner.

Skipped Payments still count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you are pursuing public service loan forgiveness, the skipped payments will count as part of your required 120 monthly student loan payments.

Employer Loan Payments

Your employer can now pay up to $5250 of your student loans as an employee benefit tax-free.

No Collection of Student Loan Debt

The CARES Act stops garnishment of wages and the reduction of tax refunds and Social Security benefits for the repayment of defaulted federal student loans.

Your Automatic Payments will Cease

You do not need to contact your lender to stop your automatic payments. They will stop them for you. If you wish to continue to make payments, contact your lender and find out the best way to continue making payments.

 

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act has some great news for those facing economic hardship including the repayment of federal student loans. Be sure to contact your lender if there is any doubt that your loans qualify – some may and some may not. You may still owe payments on some loans and not on others. Absolutely DO NOT STOP MAKING YOUR PAYMENTS unless you are certain that your loan qualifies. If you are not facing financial hardship, use this time to make some ground on your student loan payoff plan. Every dollar you pay will go straight to the principal of the loan.

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What if My Child Wants to Pursue a “Top 10 Worst” College Major

What if My Child Wants to Pursue a “Top 10 Worst” College Major

What If My Child Wants to Pursue a Top 10 Worst College Major?

 

 

What are the Top 10 worst college majors and What should you do if your child want to pursue a worst college major?

Our middle son has a passion for filmmaking. His passion began around age 7 with a film created on his “Digital Blue” camera about his imaginary land of “Telbonia.” Since his first film, he has become an award-winning and money-making high school film maker and video producer. I love to share his adventures with friends and family, who invariably ask if he plans to pursue film as a career. As a parent, this is a scary question because from everything we read film is one of the Top 10 Worst College Majors.

Top 10 Worst College Majors

 

 

The graphic below shows a 12.9% unemployment rate for recent film and video majors. My husband and I talk about this topic frequently. As two left-brainers with accounting and science degrees, we have no idea what a career in film entails or if it is even a possibility.

So, what should you do if your child wants a degree in film, creative writing, British literature or another major that is not necessarily going to yield a job offer at graduation?

We are forming a plan of action as we wrestle with these questions:

Plan of Action for Top 10 Worst College Majors

  • RESEARCH

We’ve talked and speculated, but now it is time for actual research. Our questions include: What are the top film schools? Are their graduates employed and where? What are the types of film degrees? Is one better than another? Is there a way to double major in film and business or film and something else? Are there business degrees with an emphasis in the film industry? I do not know the answer to any of these questions!

As you visit schools take these 30 Must Ask College Visit Questions with you and check out the College Preparation Template that includes an app to record the answers to all of your questions as you tour.

  •  

 

  • PAYING FOR IT

 What do these places cost???? Do they give academic scholarships or is a film degree only for the super wealthy and connected?

  • WHO IS THIS JOURNEY ABOUT?

 We all want our children to be happy and self-sufficient. What if he puts his all into a career in film and it does not work out? What then? Would we feel like failures as parents because we “let” him do this? Would we feel that because we paid for his education, that we are entitled to a return on our investment that includes pride in his accomplishments?

The journey will ultimately be his. He will have to weigh the risk vs. reward of this pursuit. He knows we are not the kind of parents who will allow him to move back into his childhood room as a college graduate. He will be expected to figure out how to support himself with whatever degree he chooses.

Helping a child plan his future can be scary. We are approaching our anxiety with research, research, and more research, including the big question of how to pay for his pursuit. We will help him pursue all scholarship and financial aid opportunities and provide a budget of  our contribution to his college funding. In the end the decision about a college major will be his with the understanding that we will cheer for him the whole way, but expect him to mature into an independent job-holding member of society.

(Update: February 19, 2020)

 

  • Results of our Research

We visited several schools with well-regarded film degrees. At 3 of the schools to which he applied, he was required to not only apply to the school, but also to the department. While it makes it much more competitive to be accepted to the school, it is encouraging as a parent that the number of students from the top film schools looking for employment in 4 years will be limited.

Our son is now a junior film major at the University of Texas in Austin. At UT a film degree is called “RTF” or “Radio, TV, Film.” It is in the Communications department. He double-majoring in Advertising, which is also in the Communications department. While we want him to pursue his dreams of film making, we came to an agreement with him that he would also major in a more employable field. Looking at the graph, it appears that there are many jobs in advertising, so we are pleased with this decision.

 

  • Paying for It

None of the schools we looked at and that he was accepted to are cheap. His choices came down to private colleges in California or out-of-state tuition in Texas. Yay for departmental scholarship money!!!

 

  • Who Is This Journey About?

The journey is still about our son. We are very proud of his high school accomplishments and the way he has responsibly pursued college. We are excited to see what the future holds for him.

 

Do you have any experiences (positive or negative) with Top 10 Worst College Majors? If so, I would love for you to comment below with your experiences or share your child's journey so far.

 

 

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Tax Credits and Deductions for Parents of College Students

Tax Credits and Deductions for Parents of College Students

Tax Credits and Deductions for Parents of College Students

 

No one likes paying for college and no one likes doing their taxes. Fortunately there are a few ways to make the process more pleasant during tax time with tax credits and deductions for parents of college students. These college student tax credits can give you a few of your tuition dollars back from the government when you file your taxes each year.

For more posts about Paying for College:

How to Complete Your FAFSA

The Complete Guide to Paying for College

 

 

Tax Credits and Deductions for Parents of College Students

 

There are 2 tax credits and one tax deduction available to parents of college students. They are the American Opportunity Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the Student Loan Interest Deduction.

 

The American Opportunity Credit

The American Opportunity Credit is a credit available to parents of college students who claim their student as a dependent on their taxes. College students who are not dependents on anyone else's return may also claim the credit.

If your adjusted gross income is below $90,000 for single filers and $180,000 for joint filers, you can take up to a $2500 credit per eligible student on your return. The cool thing about credits (as opposed to deductions) is that they come straight off your tax bill.

Your college student must be pursuing a degree or other recognized credential, be at least a half-time student, and have a social security number to claim this credit.

The other cool thing about this credit is that you could potentially receive CASH BACK. 40% of the credit is refundable for most taxpayers.

 

Lifetime Learning Credit

The Lifetime Learning Credit is another credit available to parents of college students. You cannot take both the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit on the same return. Usually the AOC is better, but you can only take the AOC for 4 years per eligible student. The Lifetime Learning Credit can be taken for an unlimited number of years. So, if you are still paying for expenses after 4 years, you can switch to the LLC.

Although the Lifetime Learning Credit has a lower income threshold ($68,000 for single filers and $136,000 for joint filers), its eligibility requirements are not as strict. It does not require that the student be pursuing a degree and includes courses to acquire or improve job skills and it can be claimed for one or more courses.

The LLC will not result in a refund on your return. It can only reduce the amount you owe.

 

Student Loan Interest Deduction

The student loan interest deduction is not a credit. It is a deduction, meaning it reduces your income, not your tax liability. The maximum deduction is $2,500.

This deduction can be taken by the person who is claiming the student as a dependent AND is legally obligated to pay the student loan interest.

The person who is legally obligated on the loan will receive a 1098-E from each institution to whom $600 or more in interest was paid during the tax year.

The income threshold for this deduction is $85,000 for single taxpayers and $170,000 for joint taxpayers.

 

Tax Credits and Deductions for Parents of College Students Cheat Sheet

I created a cheat sheet to summarize the information in this post. It is available in The Printables Library. You can access it below. These college student tax credits and student loan interest deduction are complicated in their eligibility, so I encourage you to consult a tax professional. I have done my best to report accurate information, which I obtained from IRS Publication 970.  

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College Visit Checklist: 30 Must Ask College Visit Questions

College Visit Checklist: 30 Must Ask College Visit Questions

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College Visit Checklist: 30 Must Ask College Visit Questions

 

College visits are fun. College visits are stressful. College visits run together. Which school said they had a minor in Medical Spanish? Which cafeteria had those awesome cookies? Did the guide say you rush in the fall or spring? Taking notes with a College Visit Checklist during or right after the tours will help keep these details straight and eliminate hours of hunting through college websites for the answers to your questions.

These questions are available in worksheet form as part of the Planning for College Planner. 

Or as part of the College Preparation Template and Take Along App.

For a List of Items to Bring on Your College Visits: What to Bring on a College Tour

 

College Visit Checklist: Over 30 Must Ask College Visit Questions

 

Below are over 30 must ask questions and details to make note of during your college tours.

 

 

  • What is the mode of transportation to the school?
  • Travel time?
  • Am I ok with the travel time?
  • Major and department desired at this school?
  • How up-to-date is that department's facilities?
  • What will be the class size for your major classes?
  • How academically rigorous is the school?
  • Does the school lean a particular way politically or religiously?
  • How do I feel about these leanings?
  • Greek life and would I participate if active?
  • What are the dorms like?
  • What is the car policy?
  • How will I get around off campus and to travel home?
  • When do students move off campus?
  • What is off campus housing like?
  • Can my family afford this school?
  • How much financial aid and scholarships do I need to attend this school?
  • Do I like the weather in this area of the country?
  • What are the social and recreational activities available at the school?
  • Which social and recreational activities interest me most?
  • Do I feel comfortable and safe on this campus?
  • Do I feel comfortable and safe in the surrounding off campus area?
  • What is the dining situation and required meal plan?
  • Is there an accessible grocery store?
  • What do the students do for fun?
  • What is the school spirit like?
  • Do the people I see walking around campus look like people I want to hang out with?
  • What do I think of the tour guide?
  • Final impressions?
  • What surprised me about the school, positive and/or negative?
  • How does this school compare with what I have dreamed about as my ideal college?
  • Do I want to apply?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how much do I want to attend this school?

 

The above are a LOT OF QUESTIONS, but they are the things that will make your college experience the best it can be? Really imagine yourself living on the campus and taking part in the activities and culture of the school. If you are confused about what you want after so many sales pitches, go back to what you have always imagined you wanted college to be and think about if this school fits that image.

Using a College Visit Checklist may seem silly at first, but after about the third tour, when everything is running together in your mind, you will be grateful for the detailed notes. And don't forget to….

Check out the College Preparation Planner and College Preparation Template that syncs to an app on your phone, so you are never without your college preparation information.
Answer the 30 Must Ask College Visit Questions while you are on the Tour!!

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How to Complete Your FAFSA

How to Complete Your FAFSA

How to Complete Your FAFSA

As if filling out college applications and waiting on decisions were not stressful enough, the federal government has one more computer form for you to complete if you would like to be eligible for any federal aid or federal loans. And, many colleges require that you complete a FAFSA for any of their aid as well. Read How to Complete Your FAFSA for a guide to collecting the information you will need before you begin. You will also find a List of Terms and their definitions and other helpful hints.

The FAFSA checklist is part of the Planning for College Checklists. To receive your FREE DOWNLOAD, sign up below.

 

How to Complete Your FAFSA

 

The general rule is to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) whether you believe you will qualify for financial aid or not. The ONLY website you will need to complete the FAFSA is: https://fafsa.ed.gov. Do NOT be tricked by other websites that may charge you for assisting with filing your FAFSA. Filing the FAFSA is free through the .gov website. The form becomes available every year on October 1.

 

Before you begin the FAFSA form, you will need the following information:

  • The social security number of the student
  • The social security numbers of the parents
  • The driver's license of the student
  • Prior year's W-2s and income records for both student and parents. To file a 2020-2021 form, you will need your records from 2018.
  • The federal tax returns for both the parents and the student
  • Records of ALL assets – cash, real estate, and investments. You do NOT have to include the home you live in or any retirement funds, such as IRAs and 401Ks.
  • Records of any untaxed income – child support, veteran's benefits, etc. for both parent and student

 

When you are ready to begin the FAFSA form, you will see terms (and their acronyms) that you may not be familiar with.

  • IRS DRT (Data Retrieval Tool): The IRS DRT will retrieve tax data and automatically fill in that information on the FAFSA form.
  • SAR (Student Aid Report) :The SAR is a paper or electronic document that gives you some basic information about your eligibility for federal student aid and lists your answers to the questions on your FAFSA.
  • EFC (Expected Family Contribution): The EFC is how much money your family is expected to contribute to your education. The FAFSA will compute this amount based on your answers. Schools use the EFC to determine your federal student aid eligibility and financial aid award. It is not necessarily the amount you will end up paying, but is used by schools to determine your aid.
  • COA (Cost of Attendance): The entire cost to attend school including tuition, fees, room and board, books, travel, and personal expenses
  • Renewal FAFSA: The form you will fill out for subsequent school years after your initial filing. It will carry forward information from your previous FAFSA forms.

For more terms and their definitions, see the Federal Student Aid Glossary.

 

Other information to help you complete your FAFSA:

 

  • The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will focus primarily on: assets and income of parents and student, family size, and number of dependent children enrolled in college in a given year
  •  Assets you DO NOT HAVE TO LIST:  family owned small business assets (if fewer than 100 employees), your home equity, retirement accounts, and personal assets (cars, clothing, household items)
  • Assets you DO HAVE TO LIST:  529 accounts, assets not in retirement accounts, prepaid college plans, trust funds, collectibles, rental property not held in an LLC
  • The Federal Deadline  for the FAFSA is June 30. However, states and institutions that use the FAFSA to calculate aid may have different deadlines. See 2019-2020 FAFSA Deadlines more information.

 

Filing out a FAFSA is not the most fun experience in the world. I know because I have filled out the darn thing. Knowing How to Complete Your FAFSA and preparing ahead of time will save frustration later while you are in the midst of trying to file it. To receive a copy of the printable with a list of information to collect before you begin, subscribe below. You will also receive the College Preparation Checklist for High School Juniors and the College Preparation Checklist for High School Seniors.

 

 

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What To Bring On A College Tour

What To Bring On A College Tour

What to Bring on a College Tour

 

Are you headed out for college tours? Between our two oldest sons, I have walked through a lot of college campuses. I have listened to counselor presentations, sampled the food, and bought the t-shirts for more colleges that I can remember. These tours give rise to both dreams and head-shaking. They can also try your patience and your feet. Read on for a survival list of What to Bring on a College Tour.

 

What to Bring on a College Tour

 

Don't leave home without:

 

Sensible, non-brand-new shoes and/or BAND-AIDS:

You will see a variety of clothing and footwear options on college tours. Do not follow the example of most of these people. In every group, there will be at least one prospective female student dressed in an adorable outfit and heels. She is usually with her mother, who is also well dressed, but in slightly more sensible footwear. Others seemed dressed in what is appropriate for their home state. I once saw a mother from New York was wearing corduroy pants and boots on a 78-degree day in California. I started sweating looking at her.

Leave fashion aside and wear comfortable, walking shoes.

 

Your camera or smartphone camera

Most campuses have at least one location that makes it truly unique and photo-worthy.

Views of the Pacific Ocean from the Pepperdine campus in Malibu make great backdrops for Christmas card-worthy family photos and the University of Southern California is the only place you will be able to get a picture of your kids touching OJ Simpson’s Heisman Trophy. Baylor University has real live bears.

In addition to sight-seeing pictures, a few pictures of the campus and the sample dorm room will help you remember the specifics of each tour after all the campuses start running together in your head.

 

A working writing utensil and a List of Questions to Ask

Those counselor lectures fly by and contain a huge amount of detail. Jotting a few notes can save hours searching through the website later for the information. Check out College Visit Checklist: 30 Must Ask College Visit Questions.

 

Your Planning for College Planner

After going through not only the college tour process, but also the entire journey from the freshman year of high school to the freshman year of college, I created a Planning for College planner to help high school students and their parents navigate college admissions. The planner contains pages to take notes and evaluate each visit while you can still remember what the tour guide said.

I also now have a College Preparation Template with an app, so you can fill out the answers to the 30 Must Ask College Visit Questions while touring!!

 

 

 

A sense of humor and adventure

The search for the “perfect” school for each kiddo can be stressful. On our Southern California tour, my husband and I successfully navigated through Los Angeles without completely losing our minds, but getting to USC required about 6 trips around the block to get into the correct turn-lane for the college entrance and my husband and son had to jump as I briefly slowed the car in a construction zone on the UCLA campus to be on time for that tour. Even if it is your alma mater, the streets and parking will not be exactly like they were 25 years ago when you attended school there.

Yes, it's really happening. Your child is going to attend one of the schools you traipse through following a college student walking backwards. You may as well get on board, have fun along the way, and don't forget What to Bring on a College Tour.

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