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7 Common 529 PLAN Questions and Their Answers

Posted by Manuel Fabriquer on Mon, Nov 7, 2011 @ 9:25 AM

Many times at my workshops people will come up and ask me questions about 529 plans. I totally understand that there are many questions especially due to the amount of misunderstandings out there about this program.  So, below is a list of the most common questions I get and the answers. 

1. Do I have to use the money at a state school?
  Not necessarily. Your 529 Plan account assets can be applied at virtually all accredited
colleges and universities in the United States as well as to other eligible foreign institutions.

2. What expenses can I use the money for?
  You can use the funds for qualified higher education expenses like tuition, books, etc.

3. How and when can I take distributions from the account?
  Anytime you need it for your school related expenses. Now, please take note, distributions for non-qualified expenses may incur federal income tax and a 10% federal penalty tax. Qualified distributions include money for tuition, books, etc.

4. What about room and board?                                                                                             Good question. Here’s an answer that could help according to IRS Publication 970, it is written there that qualified education expenses are fees that are paid to the institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance.  So, a lot will depend on what the institution has noted as a condition of enrollment.

5. How do I withdraw funds from my 529 Account, and can I take loans against my 529 Account?                                                                 

 All you need to do is simply fill out the College Investing Plan Distribution in PDF form. Indicate the recipient or who is going to receive the money. You could be a parent who wants to send it to your child or you can be the student yourself requesting that you directly receive it. Now, please note, you cannot take a loan out against the 529 account.

TIP:

Always keep a record of your payments so you won’t have a hard time filing for your tax returns.

6. How about if my child earns a scholarship?
The amount of the scholarship award from your 529 Plan can always be withdrawn without worrying about the penalty; but remember that other taxes may still apply.

7. Will investing in 529 Plan affect eligibility for financial aid?
Based on the Expected Family Contribution calculator (EFC), 529 assets may have a relatively small affect on Federal financial aid eligibility as they are considered assets of the parent (Participant). Moreover, accounts can be considered assets of the child (Beneficiary), such as a UGMA/UTMA account, are most likely to have a greater effect on the Federal financial aid eligibility in the EFC calculation.  This is something that I always check and advise on for my clients.

This was just a brief overview and by no ways everything you need to know about a529 plans.  For more information on how you can use this tool, and other financial vehicles to pay for college, contact me, Manuel Fabriquer, at (408) 918 3068 and let me save you thousands on the cost of college!

 

Tags: scholarships, Blog, College Funding, money for college, College Admissions, college scholarships, secure financial aid

Updates on College Costs

Posted by Manuel Fabriquer on Tue, Nov 1, 2011 @ 7:24 PM

There is now a federal law that will increase the chance of getting college financial aid for families who will qualify upon application. This law will also help in offering grants to students who have plans of taking education as a course at the same time helping graduates to repay their student loans.

For Need-based Aid category also known as Pell grants, the news is that it will move up to a maximum of $ 5,400 annually for the next five years from its current maximum of $ 4,310. On the other hand, Stafford loans interest rates will drop by 3.4 % for the next for 4 years, which is half of the current rate.

For Loan Repayment category-

President Obama announced on Oct. 18 at the University of Colorado in Denver that college graduates would have an easier way to pay off student loans through the new “Pay as You Earn” plan.

The Pay as You Earn Plan, which was supposed to go into effect in 2014, will now go into effect in 2012 due to congress’s push by Obama. The plan will allow college graduates’ loans to not exceed 10 percent of the graduate’s discretionary income. After 20 years, any remaining debt will be forgiven, said Georgia Southern University’s Director of Financial Aid Division of Student Affairs- Connie Murphey

“Last year graduates (that) took out loans left college owing an average of $24,000. Student loan debt has now surpassed credit card dept. for the first time ever” said Obama in his speech addressing college students in Denver.

The old policy was that graduates had up to 10 years after they graduate, or leave school, to repay their student loans. College graduates also had to make payments of 15 percent, said Murphey.

The smaller payments will mean the payment time lasts longer, said GSU economics professor Anthony Barilla, Ph.D in economics.

“To the actual college graduate, if you kept their payments at 10 percent, that means they get to make smaller payments of their student loans and that also goes on for a longer duration, so there’s a plus and a minus to it,” said Barilla. “To the college graduate itself, it’s a longer duration of having to pay that loan.”

The college graduates that will not be affected are the students who received loans through private lenders such as banks and individuals, said Murphey.

“The ones that will not be affected is if students have a private loan through a lender, and a lot of students do. They go directly to a lender, they borrow money, it never comes through the school, it’s called a private loan,” said Murphey.

Moving on, the Public Service incentives category will help students in teacher-prep programs who are also committed to educate for four years after they graduate in the application for annual grants of $4,000 to cover the costs of going to college. Grants must be repaid in case they have decided to not pursue teaching.

Student borrowers can also have an incentive to go into a public position. This means that if they decide to work for a decade as a qualifying civil servant, the government shall then waive the loan balance of students to whose loan was provided directly by the government.

For more information on how your student can get money for college despite your income level, call me, Manuel Fabriquer, at (408) 918-3068.  College Planning Abc, is dedicated to helping students find and get into the best colleges in the nation while saving you the most amount of money.  Call today!

 

Tags: scholarships, college consulting, Blog, College Funding, College Planning News, money for college, college scholarships

Parents Are Not Saving for Kids College

Posted by Manuel Fabriquer on Wed, Aug 10, 2011 @ 7:25 AM

I wanted to share this article with you on research of what was discovered about parents saving for college.

http://www.accountingtoday.com/news/Parents-Not-Saving-Childrens-College-Education-59511-1.html&hl=en&geo=us

I understand that it’s tough to save for both retirement and college for the average American family. I have kids myself and it’s really a discipline of saving something every month. Things are tough right now with what is happening in the economy and the stock market.

The article mentions that parents plan to do the best they can to pay for college but are hoping that they are going to fund college on scholarships, academic, and sports scholarships.

In my opinion, I think that parents really need to get help with this process. I think that parents are naive about this whole process and how much parents can actually afford for college. I also believe that parents do not understand how much the cost of higher education is going to cost the family. In California, the cost for a UC College is roughly $30,000 per year and the average family will spend at least $120,000 per student. Most families that I see have 2- 3 children, some savings but only enough for one child. Most families have enough for the first child coming into college, but when the next child comes into college there is a massive problem. The problem lies with cash flow and being able to fund college on a monthly basis. Many families have a budget to pay for a portion of college, but the budget definitely is off when the next student enters college. The trick to college funding is how to keep funding retirement without sacrificing and minimizing education for their children.

What to do? Come to one of my upcoming Free College Planning Workshops or attend a conference call. Check out www.collegeplanningabc.com for events .

Tags: scholarships, Blog, College Funding, money for college, Saving for college

Is a College Planner worth the investment?

Posted by Manuel Fabriquer on Tue, Aug 9, 2011 @ 7:22 AM

I got this question today from a family that was considering my services.

A family comes into my office today for their free consult with me. I went through my general questions about the family and about the families needs. I quickly discovered that they have a major problem with funding the full amount of college. I realized that they have 2 children and only half of the amount for college. I mentioned that something was better than nothing. The bad news is that they would have to sell all of their investments to pay for their children’s educational needs.

I went through my analysis and made the discovery that I can show them how to deduct over $150,000 of educational costs, therefore saving them well over $50,000 in taxes. I also discovered that the student was less than 50 points away from being qualified for a $39,000 scholarship at a private college. The total potential savings for college could be close to $200,000 over the next 8 years of paying for college.

I know I showed them that a small investment in getting expert guidance through this college admissions, and college financial maze is going to be well worth it.

Tags: college consulting, Blog, College Funding, College Admissions, college scholarships

# 1 Biggest Mistake that parents make when planning for college

Posted by Manuel Fabriquer on Wed, Sep 29, 2010 @ 6:15 AM

# 1  Biggest Mistake that parents make when planning for college

The biggest mistake that parents make is that they start late in the process of planning. Many parents do not understand the timing and preparation it takes to get their student ready to maximize their academic s for merit awards and preparing their finances properly. Having dealt with hundreds of families of over the past years, many parents attempt to cram everything into 3 months.  I see students taking 3-4 exams between the SAT, ACT, and subject testing.  This is too much stress and pressure for the students, is it doable? Sure, your student just needs to study for all of these exams on top of a full load of classes with their 2-3 or more AP/IB classes. On top of all of this testing, they will be doing college applications and essays. The average student if they are applying to 8-10 colleges could be writing at least 5-7 different essays between the UC colleges, Private colleges, and the supplements.

Tip:  Start your college planning early in the Jr. Year, at least to spread out all of the testing.  This will help keep your students sanity and keep the stress level between you and your student lower.

One of the last things that you want to deal with the last year your baby is going to be in your home is fighting and arguing over college applications and essays. Life is already stressful for them the first few months of their senior year. I know that as a parent, it’s much easier having a coach telling them what to do and when to do it. I’m sure you’re tired of getting on their case about college applications and essays.

Cost of Applying

When it comes to the cost of applying for college, be prepared to spend around $600-$800 on application fees to the colleges. Some colleges will also require you to pay a fee for filing some of the financial aid forms to receive their scholarships; this is generally paid through collegeboard.com

Make sure you know the dates and deadlines

Missing a deadline for an application could really mean a rejection. I see this happen every year to families.  Do not assume that all of the colleges are the same and all have the same deadlines for applications, financial aid, and scholarships. You can use a simple excel spreadsheet or your own calendar to keep track of everything.  Make sure you go to the college’s website and view all of the important dates.


Do Not apply to all of the same type of colleges

One of the other biggest mistakes is that I see parents and students apply to only one type of college i.e. UC System. I love the UC colleges, but what if your student does not get into these colleges.  What if your student gets into the UC school system, but it’s not “The One”. Well, then you have problem.

Here is the proper mix; large, small, public, private, in-state, out of state.

  Total of 10 colleges, also try to have some of these colleges, “like-like colleges”. For example, try to find colleges that are equivalent in academic, prestige, and in the same athletic circle. This will give you some competition with the colleges that they may sweeten the pot a little bit more for you once they discover you applied to their rival school across the way.

That’s it for now, best wishes in your college application season. If you would like to attend a free college workshop or a free conference call check the website at www.collegeplanningabc.com or email me at Manuel@collegeplanningabc.com

Tags: Blog