Nearly 70% of Families Worry about Paying for College

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With nearly all Americans suffering some form of financial strain, families of college-bound students suffer even greater stress…

How will they now pay for school?

Due to consequences arising out of the Pandemic of 2020, almost 70% of families now worry about covering their portion of the cost-of-attendance.

According to a survey by Discover, 53% of those surveyed stated their child’s education plans changed.  Students are moving to schools closer to home (reduced cost), delaying enrollment (financial pressures), and choosing a “less expensive” school (sticker price).

More than half (55%) of parents stated concern that their children weren’t receiving enough financial aid (a 14% jump).  Likewise, more than half (54%) will use retirement savings to help pay for the education (an 18% jump).  And, nearly 40% of families tapped their education funds to cover everyday living expenses.

There is no better time than now to contact us to help you determine the best way to move your college planning campaign forward financially.  We are here to assist you.

College Plans Change Due to Covid-19

Life is decidedly different these days…as is the foreseeable future. 

According to a survey by Junior Achievement and the PMI Educational Foundation, 49% of the Class of 2020 have changed their plans.  Of the 49%, 36% say they will now work, 32% will delay enrollment, and 16% have changed prospective career paths.

Plan changes likely are due to drastically different financial circumstances.  The market downturn not only impacted college savings, it also forced many families to use college savings for survival purposes.

Not only did family and student circumstances change, schools’ plans changed as well.

More than 65% of higher-education institutions plan on an on-campus experience, 8% plan on an online experience, and 12% are considering a hybrid model.  The remaining institutions are in limbo.

Everything for everybody resides in a state of chaos and confusion.

We can help you and your students sort this out and develop a college planning campaign for the foreseeable future.

Financial Advisors Rarely Address College Savings

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Research by Morningstar earlier this year suggests that many financial advisors overlook saving for college for a variety of reasons.  The research further suggests, as a result of this failure to address saving for college, clients with school-aged children likely are making decisions with highly negative ramifications.

When queried, a sample of 379 clients of California financial advisors suggested that many clients aren’t working with their advisors on this subject.  Results showed that proper guidance is needed:

·         44% keep college savings in a taxable account, paying avoidable taxes.

·         39% plan on using retirement savings, thereby limiting potential for financial aid.

·         31% lose sleep, worrying about how to pay.

These same clients indicate their advisor is not helping them rise to the challenge:

·         70% say their advisor is not doing a great job on college savings.

·         76% aren’t counting on their advisor to help them reach their savings goals.

·         65% don’t consult with their advisor about college savings.

If you have a financial advisor and your circumstances square with those in the small California sample above, why haven’t you looked for guidance elsewhere?  Why haven’t you searched for a professional college planner?

The financial coaches at Vivensure with a focus on college planning can help you with finding the proper financial vehicle for college savings, a vehicle that shelters the funds from taxation, that does not reduce eligibility for financial aid, and that allows you to reduce/eliminate worry and catch up on the missed sleep.

Why are you hesitating?  Contact Vivensure now!

10 Conventional Ways to Pay for College…

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What follows are ten conventional ideas about paying for school.

These ideas are propagated by Wall Street, financial advisors, and the media day-in-and-day-out until you are conditioned to believe they are your only options.

Following those ideas, I’ll mention the one that truly works, the one we use for the benefit of our client families.  We know it works because we embrace the idea ourselves.

The ten conventional ideas that don’t necessarily serve the family:

1.      Grants.  Free money available from the federal government, the state, even the schools themselves.  Often, you must meet eligibility requirements and apply.  The application is considered and you will be notified, if awarded.  The grant may not cover the full cost, as the awarding body may have evaluated your family’s financial circumstances.

2.      Ask the school for money.  Following your award letter, if it isn’t a fair offer, it may be possible to negotiate for a better award.  We utilize this strategy with our clients who have applied to our recommended 6-8 comparable schools and who may not have received a fair award. 

3.      Part-time employment.  An offer of work-study aid will be included in the award letter, if the family has the requisite financial need.  If not included, part-time employment off-campus is an option, as is starting a side business.  Of course, this may take valuable time away from studies. 

4.      Private Scholarships.  Companies, non-profit organizations, and community groups may offer these scholarships.  However, they may be highly competitive.  In fact, such scholarships are roughly 3.1% of available financial aid each year.  Placing a high percentage of your efforts in this arena could prove to be a waste of valuable time and energy. 

5.      Loans.  Loans likely will be part of every college planning campaign.  Conventional scenarios will result in a long, expensive repayment process.  Our non-conventional scenario, perhaps half or less of that repayment period.  It may be a good idea to contact our financial coaches for assistance. 

6.      Claim tax credits.  While not really an idea on how to pay for school, this should be done every year you have a child in an undergraduate institution.  Your accountant, or your tax software, should have covered this option automatically. 

7.      Live off-campus.  Perhaps as an upper-classman.  But, doing so as a freshman or sophomore can have a negative effect on developing the relationships that will benefit you long after you’ve graduated.  For our clients, the cost-benefit analysis favors on-campus living the first few years. 

8.      Enroll in community college.  Always an option due to lower fees and off-campus living arrangements (e.g., stay at home), it may be the best option for the family.  However, this also can have a negative effect on developing those beneficial relationships. 

9.      Complete the FAFSA.  This is a no-brainer for ALL families, regardless of assets and incomes, as most schools will not award money from their coffers until they know for certain a family will not qualify for federal or state aid.  This includes merit-based scholarships, grants, and awards. 

10.  Start a 529 plan.  Typically a long-term option, there are tax advantages to this account.  However, there are many more negative impacts of which a family should be aware.  While a 529 may be right for a certain family, it is not the right option for most families. 

While everyone should have the opportunity to obtain a college education, most people have no idea how to cover the cost of one.  While we may help families implement one or more of the above ideas, we favor the unconventional means of funding an education that guarantees a return on the savings, that guarantees against loss, that leaves the family in control of the funds, that provides immediate access to the funds, that has no restriction on how the funds may be used, and that has no negative impact of eligibility for financial aid.

Contact our professional college planner for a free analysis of your college planning campaign.

We await your call…

Unleash a Better Life!!!

The Burgeoning Financial Aid Gap

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Parents, students, families suffered economically during the Covid-19 worldwide freak-out.  Not only did they suffer from the downturn, so did colleges and universities.

Financial aid gaps that existed before the Pandemic of 2020 will be even greater now and for the foreseeable future.

Schools with small endowments, schools that offer lesser amounts of free money (scholarships, awards, and grants), schools overly dependent on foreign students who may not return, and schools heavily reliant on tuition to cover expenses, will find themselves in highly precarious financial situations.

Accordingly, the aid offered by these schools will be lower.  Lower aid offers result in even higher need on the part of families and students.

The traditional options to cover the gap will be the same as they were before the pandemic.  And those options typically will result in an even higher student debt load.

Let’s face facts – the traditional, conventional ways to pay for an education don’t serve the needs of the family and they haven’t for quite some time.  Traditional and conventional just doesn’t work any longer.

The financial coaches at Vivensure deal in the non-traditional and unconventional.  A college planning campaign designed and implemented with a Vivensure coach:

 ·         helps the family find the best school at the lowest possible out-of-pocket expense;

 ·         shows the family where to shelter their college savings so that it has no impact on financial aid;

 ·         establishes the process for repaying student debt in the shortest possible time; and,

 ·         much, much more…

We await your call…

A Vivensure Preferred Partner
Unleash a Better Life!!

The Parent Portion of the College Education Expense

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The expense of a college education rivals, and often surpasses, that of a residential mortgage, especially if the cost involves more than one child.  Yes, costs are steep, and with 43% or more of the cost covered by the family (according to Sallie Mae), parents tend to be the principal source of college funds.

According to a February 11, 2019, article in Credible, the average annual: in-state cost-of-attendance on campus at a public university was $25,980; on campus at an out-of-state public university was $41,950; and, on campus at a private non-profit college was $52,500.  Thus, the average 4-year cost-of-attendance for one child, assuming no increases (yeah, right!), ranged from $103,920 to $210,000.

Conventional thinking suggests parents have several options available to them.  Technically, they do.  But, none of the options actually benefit the family.  Four conventional means of savings include the following:

1.       Start a savings account early. 

While it’s never too late to start a savings account, the earlier the better.  Suggested accounts include those at a bank or credit union, as they are insured and safe.  However, the return on your money is negligible.  Even were you to begin an account at conception, the likelihood of having the money needed to cover your portion of the expense is low.

Another suggested option is the 529 College “Savings” Plan.  The drawback that most parents and grandparents overlook is that these are investment accounts, not savings accounts.  Even though there may be some tax benefits, the money can be lost, it’s outside your control, and subject to access and use restrictions.  And, if used for non-qualified expenses, taxes and penalties are imposed.

2.       Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). 

A critical step with respect to federal student aid, it provides access to “free” money (i.e., grants, scholarships, and awards) and qualifies the student for federal student loans.  Be sure to submit the FAFSA, as it may make available aid of which you were unaware.

3.       Take Out a Parent Loan.

Both Parent PLUS loans and private student loans typically are available to parents.  Parent PLUS loans come with one of the highest rates for federal loans, as well as an origination fee exceeding 4%.  Repayment begins within 60 days following distribution of the loan and, as you must apply for a new loan each academic year, you may have four or more loan payments for the better part of a decade.

4.       Take Out a Private Student Loan. 

Private student loans for parents are in the student’s name, but cosigned by a parent.  Typically, they have lower interest rates than the Parent PLUS loans and multiple repayment plans.  And, they can assist in establishing good credit for your child.

Do not withdraw retirement funds from your retirement savings account(s).  Likewise, do not take out a Home Equity Line of Credit or refinance your residence for the cash.  Doing either can have a variety of negative impacts, not only on your retirement plans, but on the amount of financial aid for which your child may qualify.

While many of our clients do utilize one or more of the above options, not one of those options address the financial vehicle we recommend for college savings purposes.  The vehicle we recommend: leaves you with access to and control of your money; is protected from market downturns; has a guaranteed return, compounded annually; and, will not have a negative impact of eligibility for financial aid.

If you’re interested in learning more about the vehicle we recommend, please contact us to schedule your no-obligation evaluation.  We are here to help!