Year End College Financial Aid Considerations

2014 is quickly coming to an end but financial moves you make in the next two weeks could make a difference in the financial aid your child may receive in the 2015/2016 academic year. Because college financial assistance is based primarily on the previous year’s income and assets, be certain of the financial impact before selling an investment, receiving gifts, spending on big ticket items or borrowing to make improvements to your home. Financial Aid Forms The amount of need-based financial aid a student may receive stems from information parents provide The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA and the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. The new FAFSA form will be available beginning January 1 at FAFSA.ed.gov and the CSS form is available now at collegeboard.org. The somewhat less familiar CSS form, typically used to seek financial assistance directly from the school, is often used for private universities to gather more information about your family. It uses much of the same information provided to FAFSA but goes further requesting data such as three years of income history. CSS also allows families Read on! →

How to Juggle College and Retirement Savings

How do you successfully negotiate the conflicting goals of saving for your children’s college educations, as well as saving for retirement? If you are like most people, these two goals are constantly competing for your savings dollars and it can be difficult to prioritize one over the other, especially since education seems a more pressing goal. If you are feeling stretched and maybe discouraged as you battle these opponents, there are a few key takeaways to consider: Prioritize Appropriately You cannot look at these two goals serially, thinking that if you just focus on the education piece and work your way through this, then you will be able to focus on retirement savings. Because the resources needed for retirement are so substantial, it is typically not an amount that can be accumulated in short order, but rather needs the advantage of years of compounding to accomplish. Current lifespans suggest we need to save for retirement at a level which could sustain us for upwards of 30 years. Therefore, retirement savings needs to be occurring early and often in order to Read on! →

Sending your child to college this fall? Read this first.

May 2014 Newsletter If you can identify with a May 1st deadline, you are likely dealing with a rising college student.  For those who are not aware, May 1st is the date by which decisions must be made to accept the “college of their choice.”  As we approach Memorial Day weekend, most families are deep in the throes of final exams, final concerts, graduations and the associated parties to celebrate the accomplishments of their graduates.  This is indeed a time for celebration. However, if you look a bit deeper, it is also likely a time of angst as parents worry they haven’t accomplished everything necessary before their child leaves for college.  There are the obvious things, like packing and paying the tuition when it comes due.  There are also some essentials you may not have thought about, which need to be discussed before your child leaves the nest.  Not only will it help make your life easier in the long-term, but it can go a long way toward clearly setting expectations and laying a good foundation for your young adult’s Read on! →

Cheryl Sherrard quoted in Charlotte Business Journal

February 27, 2014: Cheryl Sherrard quoted in Charlotte Business Journal’s January 10th edition of the Financial Planning Special Report, END OF STATE TAX CREDIT BRINGS COLLEGE SAVINGS INTO FOCUS. The Special Report focuses on North Carolina 529 Plans and the recent decision by the NC General Assembly to do away with the state tax deduction that families saving for college have enjoyed. You must be a Charlotte Business Journal online subscriber to read the full article. For those who are not subscribers, you can read an excerpt from the article below, containing Sherrard’s advice for college savings. Cheryl Sherrard, director of planning for Clearview Wealth Management, says college costs are so unpredictable, families should combine a 529 plan with other approaches to fund higher education. “Until the time your child makes a final decision about college, you don’t know what the costs are going to be, and that occurs the spring prior to fall semester,” Sherrard notes. She counsels clients to set up a 529 to build up a baseline of savings for education, but she also encourages them to Read on! →

College Savings Strategies

My colleague, Cheryl Sherrard, recently wrote a piece on what parents should consider before sending their children off to college for the first time.  A Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPOA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) waiver are critical for a child that is 18 or older yet still dependent on their parent(s) for assistance.  If you are not yet at the point of sending your child off to college, but rather are at the stage of considering how you will fund higher education for your young children, there are some basics you should consider now, before time gets away from you. Some Basics[1]: Projected tuition and fees at Public In-State university is $108,100 (4 years, enrolling 2030) Projected tuition and fees at Private college is $362,800 (4 years, enrolling 2030) Average annual increase in cost is between 4% and 5% These costs are substantial.  If you prepare early, the impact of these costs on your annual budget can be reduced.  The key is starting early and saving consistently.  There are many ways to save but this Read on! →