College Planning

529 Plan Basics

By |2024-03-03T19:49:49-06:00December 14, 2023|College Planning|

Among the tools available to fund your child’s higher education, 529 plans, also known as ‘qualified tuition plans,’ are a highly effective and successful alternative. A 529 plan is an investment account that is used to pay for education expenses. The account can be used to pay for the following qualified expenses: - Tuition - Room and Board - Books and Supplies - School Fees and Other Requirements for Enrollment - Computer and Software One of the primary benefits of 529 plans is that the growth in the account from capital gains and dividends is tax-free if used for qualified expenses. Over the years this benefit can be extremely attractive. Many states also offer tax benefits based on contributions to their plan. Opening an account is available to many, including other family members. A parent, uncle, grandmother, or even a family friend can open an account and choose your [...]

5 Reasons Why You Need a 529 Account

By |2024-03-03T19:50:16-06:00December 14, 2023|College Planning, Featured|

A 529 plan is an investment account where the funds are designed to pay for your students’ education. As stated in Part 1 of this series, 529s can cover qualified education expenses. Here are 5 reasons you should consider opening a 529 account for your student. 1. Tax Benefits >Earnings within the account grow federally tax free and there is no tax penalty if the funds are used to pay for college expenses. >Earnings in the account do not have to be reported on your tax return. >The state of Iowa incentivizes owners of 529plans by granting them a state tax deduction when they invest. 2. Flexibility >Your 529 account can pay for more than just tuition. Other qualified expenses include room and board, books and supplies, fees, computers and software, and requirements for enrollment. The plans can now also fund graduate school, tech school, and up to $10,000 worth of student loans. >529s are [...]

Surviving the First Friday

By |2024-03-03T19:11:53-06:00December 14, 2023|College Planning|

“We all have a picture of what our lives may look like when our kids leave home.” – Empty Nest Full Pockets. We may conjure up different ways to cope - whether they be healthy or unhealthy for our mental or physical health. According to an article by Lynn Byars MD, MPH, FACP “Empty Nest Syndrome is a term that is used to describe the distressing responses that some parents experience when their adult child leaves home permanently. Reactions might include: sadness, depression, irritability, anger, resentment, anxiety, guilt, loneliness, and even some physical symptoms.”* That initial feeling of loss and disorientation set in for me personally, when my first son left for college. “Before his departure, I believed I would bein constant contact with him about classes, dorm issues, and his social comings and goings.” My apprehension came from the belief that this loss of contact would leave me feeling empty [...]

FAFSA Do’s and Don’ts

By |2024-03-03T19:10:18-06:00December 14, 2023|College Planning|

Filing the FAFSA and not sure what to do? We have been there too. Assisting four children through college means filing the FAFSA four times, so we would like to think we have gained some expertise in federal financial aid. We didn’t know what we didn’t know. We want to help your family avoid the missteps we took and hopefully save your family thousands of dollars in the process. Like many, I felt filling out the FAFSA was an exercise in futility. Many families, mine included, did not feel we would qualify for financial aid so why bother? The FAFSA is only the first step in this process. However, the future potential benefits of the financial aid process rely on this very important first step. We put together a few Do’s and Don'ts to help your family through the FAFSA filing process AND hopefully earn your student more financial [...]

FAFSA for Divorced Families

By |2024-03-03T19:10:31-06:00December 14, 2023|College Planning|

If you are a divorced or separated parent sending your child to college, the FAFSA can raise some common questions and complications for your family during the filing process. Having experienced a divorce personally, I can attest that an already confusing process (financial aid) is only made more complicated for divorced parents. Here are a few rules of thumb, guidelines, and advice for divorced and separated parents when filing the FAFSA for your student. What is considered “divorced or separated” on the FAFSA? Legally divorced parents and parents living in separate households are treated the same. A legal separation isn’t necessary to be considered separated by FAFSA, but it is required the parents reside in individual households. Separated parents who live together are treated as married by the FAFSA. Biological parents who were never married are treated as divorced parents. ‍ Who fills out their information on the FAFSA? [...]

3 Summer Tips for Families with High School Seniors

By |2024-05-16T22:02:05-05:00December 14, 2023|College Planning|

3 Tips to help your high school senior this Summer “I had no idea how expensive life is.” – My son a few weeks after he left for college If you have a high school senior there are a flurry of things happening in your home.  Assuming educational plans are in place then it is a mad dash to make sure your soon-to-launch young adult is ready.  Part 2 of this article will be to help pending empty nest parents get ready as well. Build an educational foundation around finances “High schoolers are generally not experienced handling their own finances.  When they leave the nest, they are going to be both financially semi-independent and resource poor.  They have observed how money works from movies, celebrities and their friends.  Many view money as an abstract concept that has no application to their life.  Up until now, if they needed money [...]

How the SECURE 2.0 Act Changed 529 Plans

By |2024-03-03T19:56:38-06:00December 14, 2023|College Planning|

Changes to 529 Plans in the SECURE 2.0 Act The SECURE Act was initially passed by Congress at the end of 2019 and was intended to improve retirement savings opportunities. It was a big deal at the time and the most significant piece of retirement legislation since the 2006 Pension Protection Act. Congress came together to pass SECURE 2.0 at the end of 2022 to build on this popular legislation and clarify some of its provisions. The SECURE 2.0 Act includes 92 new provisions designed to promote savings, add incentives for businesses to offer retirement plans to their employees, and provide more overall flexibility to those saving for retirement.1 While increasing the starting age for required minimum distributions to 73 made the headlines, another important change for those saving for college was the addition of an option to move the unused portion of a 529 plan to a Roth [...]

NEW Changes Coming to the FAFSA

By |2024-03-03T19:13:23-06:00December 14, 2023|College Planning|

The college planning process isn’t easy. Picking the right school, finding the perfect roommate, meeting scholarship application deadlines, and on top of all of that…..you have to fill out the FAFSA. Many families who think they are on the border or won’t receive any financial aid don’t bother tackling this daunting form because of the number of questions it prompts you to answer. Well, I have news for you! Change is coming in December 2023! The Department of Education has decided to do a redesign overhaul on the FAFSA that will affect over 17 million students. Let’s talk about the good, bad and the ugly: The Ugly: The new form is being released sometime in December, which forces schools to wait longer on acceptance decisions, or offer acceptance without any financial aid. This can cause more stress for students and their families. If you accept an offer without any [...]

Attention Parents and Grandparents of College-Bound Students: FAFSA Gets an Overhaul

By |2024-03-03T19:14:11-06:00December 14, 2023|College Planning, Featured|

Changes are coming to the complicated form that students must submit to qualify for college financial aid, known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Department of Education is calling it the “most ambitious and significant redesign of the federal student aid application in decades” and adds that it “includes unprecedented changes to how students and families apply for federal student aid and how we determine eligibility, giving students a better and simpler experience with the FAFSA form.”1,2 What Is FAFSA? A FAFSA form allows a college-bound student the opportunity to apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work–study funds, and student loans. Submitting the FAFSA form each year is free, and it gives students access to the largest source of aid to help pay for college or vocational school.3 In addition, many states and colleges use the student’s FAFSA information to determine [...]

Money Tips for Parents Sending Children Off to College

By |2024-03-03T19:14:31-06:00December 14, 2023|College Planning|

1 MoneyRates.com, June 6, 2023 2 CollegeData.com, 2023 3 MoneyGeek.com, December 21, 2022 4 Any companies mentioned are for illustrative purposes only. It should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of the securities. Any investment should be consistent with your objectives, timeframe, and risk tolerance.

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