Atlantic Capital Management

Atlantic Capital Management (88)

Thursday, 29 June 2017 18:15

The Real Cost of College

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It may not be what you think.

How much will your family end up paying for college? Your household’s income may have less influence than you think – and some private colleges may be cheaper than you assume.

Private schools sometimes extend the best aid offers. Yes – it is true that the more money you earn and the more assets you have in a tax-advantaged college savings plan, the harder it becomes to qualify for financial aid. Merit aid is another matter, however; most private colleges and universities that boast major endowment funds support healthy, merit-based aid packages.

These scholarships and institutional grants – awarded irrespective of a family’s financial need – can reduce the “sticker shock” of a college education. A study from the National Association of College and University Business Officers found that grant-based aid effectively cut tuition and fees by an average of 48.6% in the 2015-16 academic year. If your child can fit into the top quarter of a college’s student population in terms of grades or achievement, merit aid may be a possibility. A college that might be your student’s second or third choice might offer him or her more merit aid than the first choice.1

Relatively speaking, some universities demand more from poorer families. An analysis published in 2016 by New America noted 102 U.S. colleges with endowments of greater than $250 million that charged the poorest students more than $10,000 in tuition for the 2013-14 academic year. Out of more than 1,400 colleges and universities New America studied, hundreds expected households earning $30,000 or less per year to pay the equivalent of half or more of their earnings on higher ed.2

   

The state legislature of New York made a striking move this spring. It decided to waive tuition for many full-time undergraduate students at both 2-year and 4-year public colleges and universities within its borders. To qualify for this tuition break, households had to earn less than $100,000 annually – and students had to pledge to work and reside in New York state after they earned their degrees. (The annual earnings threshold will presently rise to $125,000.) Families and their students will still have to pay fees (and if needed, room and board).3

New York is not the only state making such an offer. Programs like the Tennessee Promise and the Oregon Promise have made community college tuition free in those states. Delaware and Minnesota have adopted similar plans, and Rhode Island and Arkansas also have like policies in the works. Any little tuition break helps, especially in these times. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, about 70% of college graduates in 2015 owed a great deal of money; their average education debt was $30,100.4

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.

1 - usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2016-07-07/strategies-for-students-too-rich-for-financial-aid-too-poor-for-college [7/7/16]

2 - washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/03/16/these-colleges-expect-poor-families-to-pay-more-than-half-their-earnings-to-cover-costs/ [3/16/16]

3 - nytimes.com/2017/04/28/your-money/paying-for-college/as-college-deadlines-near-families-wonder-what-they-can-pay.html [4/28/17]

4 - newsweek.com/free-college-tuition-new-york-bernie-sanders-582345 [4/11/17]

Keep an eye on where it goes, as some destinations may be better than others.

You can probably envision how most of your retirement money will be spent. Much of it will be used on living expenses, health care expenses, and, perhaps, debt reduction. Beyond the basics, you will unquestionably reserve some of those dollars for grand adventures and great experiences. If your financial situation permits, you may also contribute to charity.

You just have to remember that your retirement fund is not a bottomless well. If outflows begin to exceed inflows (that is, you repeatedly withdraw more than you make back), you will face a serious financial problem.

With that hazard in mind, be wary of these four spending sieves. Some retirees fall prey to them, and all four can potentially reduce a retirement fund at an alarming rate.

Spending some of your retirement money on your adult children. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the average indebted college graduate is shouldering $34,000 in student loans. No wonder some millennials live without a car, live with a couple of roommates, or live with their parents. It is easy to feel empathy for a son or daughter in this situation, but you need not bail them out.1

You may be tempted to pay off some bills for an adult child, even some education debt – but should your retirement dollars be used for that? Frankly, no. (If you face the prospect of retiring with outstanding student loans, attack yours instead of ones linked to your kids.)

Spending some of your retirement money on your home. Should the mortgage be paid off? Does the landscaping need work? Should you put in solar panels? In asking such questions, question whether you want to assign your retirement dollars to such expenses.

Making a big lump-sum payment to erase your mortgage balance can also erase that money right out of your retirement savings. Some retirees find it better just to carry their home loans a little longer, enjoying the associated mortgage interest tax break. Certain home improvements might raise the value of your residence; others might not be cost effective.

Spending some of your retirement money at casinos. It is amazing how many retirees flock to gaming establishments. As AARP noted last year, about half of visitors to U.S. casinos are aged 50 or older. Gambling addiction is, fortunately, rare, but even casual gamblers can have a hard time walking away due to the comfort and conditions of the casino experience. Would any retiree be able to defend such spending as purposeful?2

Spending too much of your retirement money at the start of your “second act.” Often, retiree households get a little too ambitious with their travel plans or live it up just a little too much in the first few years of retirement. Either on their own or through a talk with their retirement planner, they learn that they must reduce their spending – and fast.

Aim to spend your retirement money in a way that you will not regret. Recognize these potential traps, strive to steer clear of them, and consider options that may give your retirement fund the possibility of further growth.

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 - tinyurl.com/ldkz9yt [4/4/17]
2 - aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2016/casino-traps-older-patrons.html [2/16]

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