Financial Aid Calculator: Do You Earn Too Much to Qualify?

mini graduation cap on rolled up cashWhen identifying affordable colleges, your first step should be to determine your Expected Family Contribution.       An EFC is a dollar amount that the widely-used federal financial aid formula says your family should be able to pay for one year of college. When deciding how much financial aid to award a student, colleges pay attention to the applicant’s EFC. For instance,...
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5 Ways Grandparents Can Avoid Hurting Financial Aid Chances

girl graduate with grandmotherIt’s always wonderful when grandparents can help with college costs, but they have to be careful to avoid hurting their grandchildren’s chances for financial aid. Here are five things that grandparents (or other relatives and friends) should be aware of when helping to pay for college. 1. If the student won't qualify for need-based aid, there’s no issue. If...
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Financial Planning at Fifty

“In fact, looking back, it seems to me that I was clueless until I was about 50 years old.” – Nora Ephron The Internet may abound with articles about “Top 40 professionals under 40” or even “Top 30 under 30”, but we still recognize that age can bring wisdom. There are many well-known scientists and artists whose major achievements occurred at age 50 or later. For example, at 50, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, which revolutionized biology. Likewise, Julia Child was 50 when her first cookbook came out and Betty White became famous when she joined The Mary Tyler Moore Show at...
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15 Ways to Cut Your Vacation Costs

piggy bank at the beachAre you ready for the summer vacation season? Part of preparing for a vacation is knowing how to save money on your travel. Here are 15 ideas to get you started: 1. Consider a travel-related credit card. If you need a credit card, consider airline cards that offer tens of thousands of miles as a sign-up bonus. You may also want to consider a reward credit card that lets you earn points that can be transferred to...
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Best Practices for Online Security

secure computerTechnology is always evolving, and keeping up with security advice can be confusing. The guidance on securing your digital world can appear complex and overwhelming. While the details of how to stay secure may change over time, there are fundamental things you can always do to protect yourself.  Secure You Keep in mind that technology alone will never fully protect you. Criminals know that the easiest way to...
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Don’t Overlook the Fees

money drainSticker prices aren’t always what they seem. Too often consumers end up paying more than the face value of items due to hidden costs. Here are some pesky fees that deserve extra scrutiny:  Telecommunications fees. These extra fees won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has tried to decipher a telephone bill. They include monthly access fees, upgrade fees, overage fees and more. The Consumer Federation of America recently published a...
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Tips for Buying a Home

number of U.S. house sales Are you planning to buy a home this year?  As shown in the chart below, the rate of home buying dropped during the Great Recession but has picked up pace in the last few years. Current mortgage interest rates are still low, so now may be a good time to purchase a home if you’re in the market. As the Federal Reserve increases benchmark interest rates in the coming months, it’s likely that mortgage...
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Resources for Navigating FAFSA Updates

graduatesFamilies that have tried completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) recently have discovered that it’s gotten harder. In March, a valuable IRS tool that parents use to file the application suddenly disappeared from the FAFSA website. The Data Retrieval Tool allows families to pre-populate the FAFSA with information from their tax returns stored at the Internal Revenue Service. When completing the FAFSA, a parent can...
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Smart Ways to Use Your Tax Refund

parachute of moneyAre you getting a tax refund this year? Through the first week of April, most American taxpayers were owed a refund. Of the nearly 101 million tax returns filed, 80.2 million were due a tax refund averaging $2,851. If you don’t yet have a plan for your refund, here are some suggestions: Contribute to an Individual Retirement Account. For most Americans, the Roth Individual Retirement Account will be the best IRA option....
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15 Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor

Questions to Ask Your Financial AdvisorThe federal regulation that was intended to protect retirement investors from dubious financial advice is in jeopardy. The April implementation of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) fiduciary rule that was six years in the making may be postponed. The purpose of the rule is to require financial professionals to act in the best interest of their clients. That might seem like something that isn’t...
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