Education &amp; Training http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12010/all en-US 8 Money Moves Students Should Make During a Gap Year http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-students-should-make-during-a-gap-year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-money-moves-students-should-make-during-a-gap-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_travel_selfie_58375086.jpg" alt="Man making money moves during his gap year" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Parents and soon-to-be college students are giving the gap year a second look after the White House announced that Malia Obama will be taking one <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/02/us/politics/malia-obama-to-attend-harvard-but-not-until-2017.html?_r=1">before attending Harvard in 2017</a>. Also popularized by England's Prince Harry, who famously took time out for ranching in Australia and volunteer work in Africa in 2004, the gap year is a break between high school and the start of a person's higher education (or between college and graduate school).</p> <p>Most often, the gap year is used by young people as an opportunity to see the world, explore new cultures, immerse themselves in a nonacademic pursuit, work a job or internship, or volunteer for a cause. The goal is to gain valuable life experience before delving deeper into academics, trade school, military service &mdash; wherever your next step in life takes you.</p> <p>Of course, a year of self-exploration doesn't come free. Read on for our student guide to prepping finances for a gap year.</p> <h2>1. Start Saving a Year Out</h2> <p>How much a gap year will cost depends on how you plan to use it. So, map out your yearlong plan, estimating how much money you'll need. Of course, plans change. And that's okay. All you really need is a good estimate to get you motivated to start saving.</p> <h2>2. Open a Gap Year Bank Account</h2> <p>Now that you've got a savings goal, open up a separate bank account to house your gap year fund drive. To make your big funding goal seem more achievable, break it down into smaller, more manageable monthly and weekly goals. This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. Next, devise a plan for reaching these mini-fundraising goals. Will you cut down on weekend spending? Will you get a part-time job or pick up extra hours at your existing gig? Whatever you decide, be sure to hold yourself accountable.</p> <h2>3. Apply for a Grant or Scholarship</h2> <p>There are plenty of grants and scholarships out there created specifically to ease the financial burden of enrichment programming and travel during the gap year. If you have interest in visiting the Middle East, for example, a grant from Unofficial Ambassadors' <a href="http://unofficialambassadors.com/our-programs/aua-mosaic-scholarship/">Mosaic Grants Program</a> can make the experience more affordable. If you have demonstrated leadership in tackling issues aimed at protecting the environment, the <a href="http://www.broweryouthawards.org/">Brower Youth Awards</a>, which is an initiative by Earth Island Institute, divvies out $3,000 scholarships to young people each year.</p> <p>Be sure to also check out any opportunities offered by your prospective university or college as well as local organizations in your area. In Humboldt County, California, for example, there's a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.americangap.org/humboldtscholarship.php">generous annual scholarship</a> that offers up to $6,000 to gap year students who are seeking participation in a program accredited by the American Gap Association. Schools including Tufts University and the University of North Carolina have financial aid programs for gap year students, as well.</p> <h2>4. Give Creative Fundraising a Shot</h2> <p>There are so many ways to rake in extra cash. Just ask the twin teens from England who used their gap year to cultivate a loyal following on a YouTube channel that has earned them <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/9544479/YouTube-videos-funded-our-gap-year-travels.html">tons of money in advertising</a>, which funded their year of travel. Other ideas: Launch a crowdfunding campaign or host an event &mdash; battle of the bands, pool party, theatrical performance &mdash; to which you sell tickets that will cover your expenses.</p> <h2>5. Invest in Traveler's Insurance</h2> <p>If you plan to travel abroad during your gap year, organizations such as <a href="https://www.internationalsos.com/">International SOS</a> offer top-notch insurance policies that can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars should something go wrong. Let's hope you never need it. Truth be told, most of the time traveler's insurance does end up being a waste of money. But should you ever need to cover the cost of inconveniences such as a last-minute trip cancellation, emergency medical evacuation, or lost luggage, you'll be more than glad that you have it.</p> <p>Of all the expenses to skimp on while traveling abroad, don't let insurance be one of them. After you choose a plan, be sure to do your research so that you know exactly what it covers &mdash; and what it doesn't.</p> <h2>6. Learn the Ins and Outs of Your Bank's ATM Fees</h2> <p>Commit to memory the occasions on which your bank will hit you with an ATM fee. Then be sure to avoid them. While a few dollars here and there might not seem like much, over time they can really add up. Just as there's no reason to throw money out the window, there's no reason to not educate yourself on your bank's ATM fee policies.</p> <h2>7. Devise a Strategy for Accessing Day-to-Day Funds Abroad</h2> <p>Despite fees, ATMs are still the best bet for accessing money abroad. If your travels are set to land you in a major international airport, you'll likely get the best rate by withdrawing cash in the local currency from an ATM upon arrival to your destination city. While it can be comforting to travel with some local currency already in your pocket, having that convenience will cost you. You'll have to fork over a commission fee to exchange money at a bank or ATM in the U.S.</p> <p>However, if you'll be flying into a smaller airport, there may not be any ATMs &mdash; or at least not any properly functioning ones &mdash; when you get there. In this case, it's best to travel with about $100 in the local currency so that you can pay for immediate expenses, such as food and transportation, without hassle. Once you journey outside the airport, you can find an ATM and withdraw more local money at a better rate.</p> <h2>8. Reapply for FAFSA</h2> <p>Students who qualify for federal financial aid before deferring college for a year must reapply the next year by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. So long as the finances of the student's family don't change in a major way, the student will likely receive the same financial aid package. Also, students who have secured a scholarship from their university can sometimes negotiate to have the aid held for them until their delayed matriculation. So if you have a university or college-funded scholarship, be sure to inquire about how you can go about receiving the award after your gap year.</p> <p><em>Did you &mdash; or will you &mdash; take a gap year? What'd you do? How did you prepare your finances before you left?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-students-should-make-during-a-gap-year">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-most-common-financial-aid-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them">The 10 Most Common Financial Aid Mistakes — And How To Avoid Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students">Don&#039;t Skip These 8 Tax Breaks for Students</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-college-students-can-save-money-before-class-starts">8 Ways College Students Can Save Money Before Class Starts</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college">College Guide</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Travel atm fees bank accounts college financial aid gap year scholarships self exploration students traveling abroad Tue, 21 Jun 2016 10:00:10 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1735468 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_grad_broke_53019460.jpg" alt="Woman learning how student loans affect taxes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Tax time can make many feel anxious, especially if they're already burdened by student loan debt. Many people might not even think about their student loans when it comes time to file, and that would be a huge mistake.</p> <p>Here are three big tax issues &mdash; and one <em>huge</em> tax benefit &mdash; you should be aware of if you have student loan debt.</p> <h2>You Can Deduct Loan Interest</h2> <p>Yes, you can deduct your <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch04.html">student loan interest</a>, reducing your income by up to $2,500. But to qualify for this deduction, you must earn less than $80,000 if single or $160,000 if you are filing jointly.</p> <p>If you paid more than $600 in interest on your student loan, you should automatically receive a Form 1098-E in the mail. However, if you do not receive this, you can still claim the interest you paid. Just request this form from your lender in January. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-pay-back-student-loans-faster?ref=seealso">15 Ways to Pay Back Student Loans Faster</a>)</p> <h2>Defaulting on Your Loan Could Cost You Your Tax Refund</h2> <p>If you default on your federal student loan, your tax refund could go straight to your lender. They are legally allowed to take 100% of your tax refund. For most federal loans, you will be considered in default if you have not made a payment in 270 days.</p> <h2>Filing Jointly Can Cost You More in Student Loans</h2> <p>Many couples will file jointly to save money on their taxes and have easier access to tax credits, like the child tax credit and the dependent care credit. However, filing jointly can also make you pay more in student loan repayment throughout the year.</p> <p>Many individuals pay for their student loans on an income-driven repayment plan, which calculates monthly payments based off earnings. Since your joint income will be significantly higher than your individual incomes, your loan payments are likely to be higher. To make smaller monthly payments on your loans, you should probably file separately.</p> <p>You want to understand how much money it will cost to file your taxes separately versus how much you'll make in additional monthly student loan payments if you file jointly. MagnifyMoney.com put together a simple example scenario of a married couple without children. In their example, the couple would have saved over $1,100 in federal taxes if they filed jointly, but they would have saved $6,816 on their student loan payments by filing separately.</p> <h2>Student Loan Forgiveness/Cancellation Could Mean More Taxes</h2> <p>Student loan forgiveness programs are a great way to offset some of your student loan debt. However, some student loan forgiveness programs also come with a hefty tax bill in the end.</p> <p>Student loan forgiveness programs such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and other plans for teachers, health professionals, lawyers, or volunteers are all tax-free. If you follow the programs' rules for loan forgiveness, your loan will be forgiven without tax repercussions.</p> <p>Certain student loan forgiveness programs offered through individual states can be subjected to taxes. Many are not, but it is a good idea to do your research.</p> <p>If your student loan is cancelled or discharged, it can be considered taxable income. It might be cancelled or discharged for one of the following reasons:</p> <ul> <li>Cancellation for closed school;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cancellation for False Certification of the loan;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Cancellation for unpaid refund of the loan;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Discharge for death or disability.</li> </ul> <p>Finally, if you sign up for repayment programs that offer loan forgiveness after a certain number of years, any unpaid amount which is forgiven is considered taxable income. This usually happens with the income-based repayment (IBR) plans and the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) repayment plan. (See also:<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt?ref=seealso"> 5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan Debt</a>)</p> <p>Talk with a financial adviser that specializes in student loan debt for more help.</p> <p><em>Do you write off your student loan interest on taxes? </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">8 Tax Tricks to Try if You&#039;re Stuck With Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-most-common-tax-mistakes-made-by-college-grads">5 Most Common Tax Mistakes Made by College Grads</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-mistakes-millennials-make">8 Tax Mistakes Millennials Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students">Don&#039;t Skip These 8 Tax Breaks for Students</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Taxes deductions filing jointly filing single interest loan forgiveness refunds repayment student loans Thu, 09 Jun 2016 09:30:21 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1725704 at http://www.wisebread.com What to Do If You Didn't Save for Your Child's College http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-didnt-save-for-your-childs-college <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-to-do-if-you-didnt-save-for-your-childs-college" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/girls_happy_books_66007785.jpg" alt="Learning what to do if you didn&#039;t save for college" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>They say children grow up fast, but that couldn't be any truer for parents who suddenly find themselves looking at college applications and admission costs.</p> <p>Perhaps you always meant to save money for your child to go to college, but with all the other bills and expenses, you were never able to. Here are some tips on how to approach college costs now.</p> <h2>Start With the FAFSA</h2> <p>The first place to start is to complete the&nbsp;<a href="https://fafsa.ed.gov/">Free Application for Federal Student Aid</a> (FAFSA) application. Even if you believe that your household income is too high for student aid, you will still need to complete the FAFSA to qualify for federal loans. The FAFSA will give eligible students access to free grant money for college, as well as federal loans. The FAFSA can even connect eligible students to work-study programs for another way to help fund schooling.</p> <p>The FAFSA must be completed every year, Also, it is best to apply as early as possible, since some colleges award aid on a first come, first serve basis.</p> <h2>Start With Junior or Community College</h2> <p>If your child has their hopes set on a fancy university on the other side of the country, then they will probably not like the idea of attending a local junior or community college first. Still, community colleges are significantly cheaper, and children can further save by living at home. And most general education credits can transfer to your child's university of choice.</p> <p>A community college will shave up to two years off the expensive price tag of a university. Plus, if your college-bound child is not 100% sure of their career path, a community college can buy them time to figure it out, without paying the full sticker price of a university. A lot of maturing and life-changing events can happen after high school, and your future potential lawyer might decide they would rather teach in underprivileged areas, instead. Changing your major can be a huge money waste when you do it at a costly university.</p> <p>To be certain of community college credit transferability, visit <a href="http://www.assist.org/">ASSIST</a>, which shows which credits transfer between California community colleges and California State Universities. Check with your local community colleges if they use a similar website or conversion chart, to make sure your child is taking the right classes. It is also a good idea to talk with your child's top university choices about transferring from a community college to see what they require. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-part-time-jobs-that-offer-college-benefits?ref=seealso">8 Part-Time Jobs That Offer College Benefits</a>)</p> <h2>Scholarships Are a Viable Option</h2> <p>Scholarships can certainly help reduce the cost of your child's college admission. However, it is best to have a healthy expectation when you first approach your scholarship search. First of all, it is very unlikely that your child will get offered a full ride, unless they have a very unique profile that makes them especially appealing to schools. A school's top soccer player who has excellent grades is obviously more likely to earn scholarship offers than a non-athletic student with average grades.</p> <p>Look for smaller, local scholarships, which have a less competitive edge. Also, if your child has a part-time job, there might be scholarship options available through that company. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-increase-your-childs-odds-of-winning-a-scholarship?ref=seealso">How to Increase Your Child's Odds of Winning a Scholarship</a>)</p> <h2>Just Say No to the Parent PLUS Loan</h2> <p>We know you want the best for your child and would do anything to grant them success, but tying your name to costly student loan debt can put your retirement at risk. This goes mostly for Parent PLUS loans, though it is a good idea not to co-sign loans for anybody, in general.</p> <p>Trying to pay off a child's student loan debt when you are so close to retirement can derail you financially. Also, PLUS loans are not eligible for any loan forgiveness programs.</p> <h2>Know About Loans and Loan Forgiveness Programs</h2> <p>Before your child signs up for the first loan they are offered, do some research on specific loans and loan forgiveness programs. For example, if your college-aged child wants to pursue teaching, then getting a Perkins Loan can offer the best loan cancellation program. The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.tcli.ed.gov/CBSWebApp/tcli/TCLIPubSchoolSearch.jsp">Federal Teacher Cancellation for Perkins Loans</a> offers 15% loan cancellation after one year of teaching in a low-income area, and teaching five years will qualify for full loan forgiveness.</p> <p>Know that private loans will also be easier to secure, but these loans do not qualify for loan forgiveness programs or income-based repayment plans after graduation. You might need to get some private loan funding, but make sure to use federal loans first, since these have the most benefits. Before signing up with a private lender, thoroughly investigate their repayment policies and rules on loan deferment (which allows the borrower to momentarily pause payments if they continue their education or serve in the military or Peace Corps).</p> <p><em>How are you handling the college costs of your children?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-didnt-save-for-your-childs-college">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-most-common-financial-aid-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them">The 10 Most Common Financial Aid Mistakes — And How To Avoid Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-graduate">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Graduate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-trapped-by-these-higher-education-scams">Don&#039;t Get Trapped by These Higher Education Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/student-loans-how-to-make-post-college-decisions">Student Loans: How to Make Post-College Decisions</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training college community college FAFSA loan forgiveness parent plus loans student loans Mon, 06 Jun 2016 09:30:30 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1723967 at http://www.wisebread.com You Missed a Student Loan Payment. Now What? http://www.wisebread.com/you-missed-a-student-loan-payment-now-what <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/you-missed-a-student-loan-payment-now-what" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_stressed_bills_000084978003.jpg" alt="Woman missed a student loan payment, so now what?" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Imagine the scenario. You wake up one morning without a worry on your mind. Then you look at your calendar and realize you did not pay your student loan payment, and it was due three days ago. Or perhaps you didn't catch your mistake quickly enough, and you are getting notices in the mail.</p> <p><em>Don't panic!</em></p> <p>While your first reaction might be to overreact and hyperventilate, know that it is not the end of the world. As long as you can restore your student loan account from delinquency to repayment status quickly, you will be fine.</p> <p>Here's what you need to know and what you should do when you miss a student loan payment.</p> <h2>Call Your Lender Right Away</h2> <p>First things first, call your lender. You do not need to come up with an elaborate story or excuse. Just explain what happened. Many lenders have generous grace periods, and some private lenders might not have a grace period at all.</p> <p>Once you have your lender on the phone, you can ask them if your late payment has subjected you to any late fees or has been reported to your credit union. Arrange to make payments over the phone, even if you have to pay a small fee to do so. You want to make sure that the lender gets their payment immediately.</p> <p>If your late payment has been reported to the credit bureaus, it can put a ding on your credit score for several years. You can attempt to have the report taken off by writing a request to your lender. In your request, you can mention that you are trying to improve your credit for an upcoming home or vehicle purchase and that the late payment was a rare case due to certain circumstances. There is no guarantee that this will work, but it is worth attempting. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans?ref=seealso">8 Tax Tricks to Try if You're Stuck With Student Loans</a>)</p> <h2>How to Avoid Missing Another Student Loan Payment</h2> <p>If you missed your student loan payment because you just forgot or because you have too many student loans to keep track of, here are two solutions that will help.</p> <h3>1. Consolidate or Refinance Your Loans</h3> <p>If you have several different student loans, and you are not going to apply for loan forgiveness, consider consolidating your loans to have all of your debt in one loan. Consolidating your loans might even lower your interest rate and monthly payments.</p> <h3>2. Schedule Automatic Payments</h3> <p>Another sure way to never miss your student loan payment again is to schedule monthly automatic payments. Some lenders will even offer you a discount APR if you sign up for automatic payments through their site.</p> <h2>What If You Can't Afford Your Student Loan?</h2> <p>If you are having difficulties adhering to the monthly payment deadline because you are short on cash, then you need to get help immediately. The last thing you want is for your loan to default. Attorney Daniel Gamez says, &quot;Once a federal student loan goes into default, borrowers face potential wage garnishments of up to 15% of their wages. That can be crippling if you are already on a tight budget.&quot;</p> <p>Review your payment options with your lender. You might qualify for deferment or forbearance, depending on your current situation. If you have federal loans, look into options for repayment, such as:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Extended Payment Plan</strong>, which lowers your monthly costs by extending your loan up to 25 years.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Revised Pay as You Earn Plan (REPAYE)</strong>, which makes your monthly payments 10% of your discretionary income.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Income-Based Repayment</strong>, which calculates your monthly payments each year based on your income and family size, not to exceed 15% of your discretionary income.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Income-Sensitive Plan</strong>, which bases your monthly payment on your annual income and can extend your loan up to 15 years.</li> </ul> <p><em> Have you run into problems with your student loans? What did you do?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/you-missed-a-student-loan-payment-now-what">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/youve-defaulted-on-your-loan-now-what">You&#039;ve Defaulted on Your Loan. Now What?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-why-you-shouldnt-freak-out-if-you-miss-a-payment-due-date">Here&#039;s Why You Shouldn&#039;t Freak Out If You Miss a Payment Due Date</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-late-payments-affect-your-credit">How Late Payments Affect Your Credit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-didnt-save-for-your-childs-college">What to Do If You Didn&#039;t Save for Your Child&#039;s College</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-graduate">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Graduate</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training autopay credit score late payments lenders loan consolidation student loans Wed, 01 Jun 2016 09:30:21 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1721634 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Graduate http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-graduate <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-graduate" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/college_grads_diplomas_000059226250.jpg" alt="College grads making money moves after graduation" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You've thrown your mortar board and ditched that gown. Now the real work begins: It's time to develop the good financial habits that you'll need to follow all the way through retirement.</p> <p>Yes, you've just graduated from college and full-fledged adulthood seems a long, long way off. But you'll be surprised once you enter the working world how fast time can move.</p> <p>Here are five money moves you should make the moment you graduate from college. They'll help you save for a home, build an emergency fund and, yes, amass a nice nest egg for your retirement years.</p> <h2>Develop a Strategy for Paying Off Your Student Loan Debt</h2> <p>You'll graduate with a degree. But the odds are high that you'll graduate with plenty of student loan debt, too. The federal government says that nearly 70% of college graduates with bachelor's degrees leave college with student loan debt. Edvisors adds that the graduating class of 2015 graduated with an average of $35,051 in debt, the largest amount ever.</p> <p>Most graduates will have to begin paying off their student loans six months after they leave college. Don't miss your first payment. That will hurt your credit score, and that number determines if you'll qualify for car and home loans and at what interest rate. Make sure, though, that you repay your loans in the best way for you. You can choose a standard repayment plan of 10 years with a fixed monthly payment. If you are struggling to make a solid income after you graduate, you can also choose an income-based repayment plan. Under these plans, your monthly payment is based on your income, rising (or falling) as your pay changes.</p> <p>The best choice, of course, is to pay off your loans as quickly as possible, which means taking the 10-year term. You'll pay far less in interest with this approach. But you'll have to take a close look at your finances first. If you can't afford the bigger monthly payment, it's better to stretch your loan out over more years than it is to miss a payment because you didn't have enough money to cover the bill. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-surprising-ways-to-pay-off-your-student-loans?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">8 Surprising Ways to Pay Off Your Student Loans</a>)</p> <h2>Create a Budget</h2> <p>Drafting a budget isn't much fun. But it's important; without one, you run the risk of spending more money than you bring in each month. That could lead to credit card debts as you turn to the plastic to cover your living expenses.</p> <p>Fortunately, drafting a budget isn't that challenging. First, calculate how much money you bring home each month. Then, calculate your fixed expenses: your student loan payment, rent, car payment, and anything else you pay the same for each month. Finally, determine your variable expenses. These are expenses that you have each month but that fluctuate. This could include your utility bill, grocery bill, and the money you spend on entertainment.</p> <p>The difference between your expenses and income is the extra money you have each month. You now know how much you can save each month. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/build-your-first-budget-in-5-easy-steps?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">Build Your First Budget in 5 Easy Steps</a>)</p> <h2>Start Building an Emergency Fund</h2> <p>You'll learn quickly after graduation that financial emergencies pop up all too often. You might suddenly need to pay for a new transmission for your car. Or maybe your laptop dies and you need a quick replacement. The worst thing is to pay for these emergencies with your credit card. The best approach: To steadily build an emergency fund that you can dip into when emergencies arise.</p> <p>You can start small: Even $50 or $100 a month will add up over time. Deposit this money in a savings account and only withdraw from it for emergencies. An emergency fund is a great way to build financial peace of mind. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-step-by-step-guide-to-creating-your-emergency-fund?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">A Step by Step Guide to Creating Your Emergency Fund</a>)</p> <h2>Eliminate That Credit Card Debt</h2> <p>Some debt is worse than others, but no debt is worse than credit card debt. That's because credit card debt comes with interest rates that can be as high as 24%. If you don't pay your credit card bill in full each month, that debt has a bad habit of growing out of control.</p> <p>The smart move, then, is to always pay more than your required minimum monthly payment. It's best to pay off your credit card debt in full every month so that you aren't carrying a balance. But if that's not possible, always pay a bit extra each month until you whittle away that high-interest-rate debt. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-college-students?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=seealso&amp;utm_campaign=article">Best Credit Cards for College Students</a>)</p> <h2>Open a Retirement Account</h2> <p>Again, retirement is a long way away. But the sooner you start saving, the easier it is to build the financial cushion you'll need after you leave the working world.</p> <p>If your employer offers a 401K plan, <em>be sure to enroll in it!</em> And be sure, too, to contribute the maximum amount from every paycheck. This is a great, and surprisingly painless, way to build retirement dollars. If you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-for-retirement-without-a-401k?utm_source=wisebread&amp;utm_medium=internal&amp;utm_campaign=article">don't have access to a 401K plan</a>, open an IRA or a Roth IRA, and make regular contributions. As with building an emergency fund, you don't have to make huge investments in your retirement accounts right now. Simply contributing small amounts now &mdash; whatever you can afford within your budget &mdash; will pay off big in the future.</p> <p><em>What smart money moves do you think recent grads should make?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dan-rafter">Dan Rafter</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-graduate">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-didnt-save-for-your-childs-college">What to Do If You Didn&#039;t Save for Your Child&#039;s College</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-most-common-financial-aid-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them">The 10 Most Common Financial Aid Mistakes — And How To Avoid Them</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-trapped-by-these-higher-education-scams">Don&#039;t Get Trapped by These Higher Education Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-12-month-get-richer-plan">The 12-Month Get-Richer Plan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training college graduates money moves post-graduate retirement savings student loans young adults Tue, 24 May 2016 09:00:09 +0000 Dan Rafter 1716261 at http://www.wisebread.com The 10 Most Common Financial Aid Mistakes — And How To Avoid Them http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-most-common-financial-aid-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-10-most-common-financial-aid-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/student_loan_debt_000080203665.jpg" alt="Learning how to avoid common financial aid mistakes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For many students, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is crucial to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-avoid-student-loan-debt">making college affordable</a>. While the application process can be greatly rewarding, that doesn't mean it's easy. FAFSA is riddled with confusing acronyms and financial lingo. And getting any money out of it is contingent on meeting deadlines and reporting dollar amounts precisely. Errors can greatly reduce or eliminate your financial aid award. Read on for our roundup of the most common FAFSA flubs &mdash; and our tips for avoiding them.</p> <h2>1. Missing Deadlines</h2> <p>The price of missing the FAFSA application deadline can be steep. So don't fall victim to this time management failure. Stay on top of deadlines by creating a due date calendar. Vow to review it daily. For each deadline item, create a list of tasks you'll need to complete to meet the due date. Estimate how much time each of these tasks will take you to finish. Add this information to your deadline calendar and hold yourself accountable.</p> <h2>2. Procrastinating</h2> <p>This year the FAFSA form will be made available on October 1. That's a full <em>three months earlier than usual</em>. Despite the early bird form availability, it will serve you best to fill out the FAFSA and submit it as soon as possible. Many folks wait until after they file their taxes to fill out and submit the FAFSA, and in some cases that can be too late. At least nine states award financial aid on a <a href="https://www.edvisors.com/blog/switch-to-prior-prior-tax-data-for-fafsa-09-2015/">first come, first served</a> basis &mdash; until the money runs out. Even if you beat the official deadline, waiting to file could potentially cost you everything.</p> <h2>3. Messing Up Numbers</h2> <p>While it's important to fill out the FAFSA in a timely manner, it's equally important that you fill it out correctly. Double-check to make sure the numbers you enter onto the FAFSA form are correct and in the right field. One faulty keyboard stroke could cost you thousands of dollars.</p> <h2>3. Leaving a Field Blank</h2> <p>If the answer is zero, write zero. Leaving a field blank can prompt the processor of your application to assume that you failed to answer the question. It can also lead to grave miscalculations and processing delays. So before you submit your application, double-check that all fields are filled in.</p> <h2>4. Not Including Stepparents</h2> <p>The FAFSA can be filed by just one parent. But if this parent is remarried, the financial information for that spouse &mdash; the student's stepparent &mdash; must also be reported. Depending on that stepparent's income and assets, a student's eligibility for need-based financial aid can fluctuate greatly.</p> <h2>5. Not Including Stepchildren on an Application</h2> <p>To soften the blow of a well-off stepparent, stepchildren may be included on the FAFSA application, as well. By including stepchildren, you'll make adjustments to the household size and expected family contribution portions of the form, thereby creating opportunity for greater need-based aid.</p> <h2>6. Filing the Wrong Form</h2> <p>At any given time, there are two versions of the FAFSA that could be filed: The FAFSA for the <em>current </em>academic year, and the FAFSA for the <em>upcoming </em>academic year. The majority of applicants &mdash; those seeking to attend school in the upcoming school year &mdash; will want to file the latter. Be sure that you've got the right form for your desired college enrollment date.</p> <h2>7. Not Using the Right Website</h2> <p>The FAFSA is free to fill out and submit on <a href="https://fafsa.ed.gov/">fafsa.ed.gov</a>. But beware: There are imposter sites out there. If you are asked for your credit card information, you're not on the official government site.</p> <h2>8. Including Retirement Info</h2> <p>Retirement info, such as your 401K or IRA assets, should never be included on the FAFSA. Only non-retirement financial data is required. Mistakenly including retirement funds on the form could reduce your chances of winning need-based aid, so be sure to avoid this mistake.</p> <h2>9. Entering the Wrong SSN</h2> <p>Most of us are rarely called upon to state our Social Security numbers, which could be why so many folks misstate these numbers on the FAFSA. Double-check SSN numbers before submitting the form, and make sure you have the correct number matched to the right family member.</p> <h2>10. Failing to Seek Help</h2> <p>Successful completion of the FAFSA form is no easy task. If you're flustered, seek help. There's a <a href="https://studentaidhelp.ed.gov/app/home/site/fafsa">FAFSA hotline</a> available to help you navigate the process as well as free online resources, such as the <a href="https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/estimate">FAFSA calculator</a>.</p> <p><em>Did you find the FAFSA process confusing?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-most-common-financial-aid-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-if-you-didnt-save-for-your-childs-college">What to Do If You Didn&#039;t Save for Your Child&#039;s College</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-money-moves-to-make-the-moment-you-graduate">5 Money Moves to Make the Moment You Graduate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-get-trapped-by-these-higher-education-scams">Don&#039;t Get Trapped by These Higher Education Scams</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-better-way-to-rank-americas-colleges">A Better Way to Rank America&#039;s Colleges</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Education & Training applications college FAFSA federal student aid financial aid Mistakes student loans Mon, 23 May 2016 09:30:26 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1714480 at http://www.wisebread.com My 2016 Budget Challenge: Affording Education http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-affording-education <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/my-2016-budget-challenge-affording-education" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000069492263.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>[Editor's Note: This is the another episode in Max Wong's journey to find an extra $31,000 this year. Read the whole series </em><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/max-wongs-budget-0"><em>here</em></a><em>.]</em></p> <p>I am on the cusp of transitioning into a new dream career. Actually, two new dream careers. People keep approaching me for work as a documentary filmmaker and as an architectural photographer, so I have decided to take the leap and try to do both full-time for money. This is tremendously exciting and mind-numbingly scary for two reasons:</p> <p>First, I am old. Well, not old-old. I am 46. So, I am certainly young enough to start a second career. However, at 46, I am too old for a long educational track and too poor to get training for a career that leaves me saddled with student loan debt that then leaves me unable to save for retirement.</p> <p>Second, I will just say it: I am a luddite. In order to succeed as a documentary filmmaker and as a professional photographer, I have to learn how to use my motion picture camera and sound system, a film editing program, Lightroom and/or Photoshop, and a new digital camera system. And that's just what I have to learn <em>this year</em>. I basically have to go back to film school, but cram four years of learning into the next nine months.</p> <p>So how am I going to acquire all these new-fangled skills without breaking the bank or, more importantly, breaking my brain? Here's how I am cobbling together some quality learning on the cheap.</p> <h2>Finding a Mentor</h2> <p>If there is such a thing as a professional <em>meet cute </em>story, I have it. Last year, one of my favorite photographers started following me on Instagram and subsequently hired me to work as his sometime assistant.</p> <p>It is incredibly gratifying to have an artist, who I greatly admire, support me creatively, even if it comes in the form of terse texts such as, &quot;If you take that photograph now, I don't want to hear any whining from you about how sucky it is later.&quot; And, &quot;Do better.&quot; Because I know he is rooting for me to figure things out, it is easy to stay motivated and learn the technical side of photography, a process that involves failing repeatedly. To quote Henri Cartier-Bresson: &quot;Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.&quot; With thousands of my worst photographs still untaken, I am glad that I have professional supervision and a safe space to crash and burn.</p> <p>In addition to the self-esteem boost, a good mentor just makes everything easier. For example, after reading through approximately 556,373 camera equipment reviews, I still could not parse out what gear to buy, so my mentor wrote me up a custom shopping list based on what he thought would work best for me creatively, financially, and physically. Not only did this take some of the stress out of buying $2,288.94 worth of photography equipment, but he ended up saving me hundreds of dollars.</p> <p>For example, the Arca Swiss Cube gear head is the industry standard for architectural photography. One of the reasons why my <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-why-i-need-to-find-31k-this-year">original gear budget</a> is $10,000 is because the Arca Swiss costs $1,600. My mentor owns several different gear heads. The one he recommended to me is the one he uses the most: a $300 model that was not mentioned in any of the reviews that I read. Because I have seen what he can do with a $300 gear head, I feel confident that I can do professional work with the same model and save $1,300.</p> <p>While mentors are always presented as white-haired, lions of industry (or Morgan Freeman) in films, I should point out that my photography mentor is actually younger than I am. Good teachers can be any age.</p> <h2>Interning</h2> <p>I am extremely pro-interning because it has worked well for me. I was hired as a film executive before I even graduated from film school. I never had to be an assistant or work in the mailroom, which are both standard entry-level film gigs. I graduated from college and the next day I went to work at my fancy production company job. I managed this feat by interning for a full year at the company that hired me. For them, it was just an internal promotion. I was already working 60 hours a week for them, so why not just pay me so I could afford better work clothes?</p> <p>Interning while you are in college has become a huge drag. You either have to find a paying internship, which really don't exist anymore in a lot of fields, or you have to work an internship for college credit, which means you have to pay tuition for a job your school probably didn't even get you. It's tough. However, interning as an adult post-graduation is way easier. Plenty of companies have rules against hiring unpaid students, but very few companies care if a &quot;grown up&quot; volunteers to work for free. Interning is a great way to learn the industry culture, network, and discover the skills you actually need for a specific job.</p> <p>I don't think of internships as just office jobs. In fact, I could probably <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-job-creation">invent an internship</a> in almost any industry that does not require safety certification or security clearance. In addition to interning for my photography mentor, I am currently interning with a master beekeeper. I help him schlep heavy equipment around a farm once a week, and in exchange he helps me level up on my beekeeping skills. I am currently learning queen rearing, so I can breed and raise my own queen bees to sell to other local beekeepers.</p> <p>For the record, I generally don't refer to my beekeeping arrangement as an internship. I am <a href="https://wwoofusa.org/about/">WWOOFing</a>, which sounds endlessly more &quot;authentic,&quot; &quot;artisanal,&quot; and fancy. Kinfolk Magazine should just interview me right now.</p> <h2>Hiring an Intern</h2> <p>I bought my parents their first Apple computer in 1999. When they crashed it the first time, they called me in a panic. Since this was before Apple stores were in every big city, they had no idea who could fix their computer. &quot;Pay the 12-year-old who lives down the street $40 to come over and show you how to fix your computer,&quot; I told them. &quot;Which 12-year-old?&quot; they asked. &quot;Any 12-year-old,&quot; I said.</p> <p>Like my parents, I am a digital immigrant, not a digital native. To this day, I am still more comfortable with analog technology than I am with the digital world. Just ask my editors at Wise Bread who are all half my age. I am clueless.</p> <p>Right this second I'm trying to learn how to use iMovie to edit my documentary. It is going very slowly. It is not as intuitive as I had hoped. Or, maybe I am just extra dumb at this.</p> <p>As luck would have it, my friend Cheryl called me the other day. She's trying to get a summer internship for her daughter who is applying to film schools in the fall. Could I use an intern on my current documentary? &quot;Does your kid know how to use iMovie?&quot; I asked. &quot;Oh, sure. But she mainly uses Premiere to edit at home and she uses Avid at school.&quot;</p> <p>Boom.</p> <p>I now have a 17-year-old summer intern who is going to sit with me and walk me through the editing process.</p> <p>See? Good teachers. Any age.</p> <h2>Visiting the Public Library</h2> <p>My friend Fareed is superhuman when it comes to Photoshop. Where did he pick up his mad skills? The Los Angeles Public Library. Apparently, you can access <a href="http://petapixel.com/2015/07/09/heads-up-you-can-access-lynda-lessons-for-free-at-some-public-libraries/">Lynda Lessons for free</a> at some public libraries. This is how I am going to learn Lightroom and Photoshop.</p> <h2>RTFM (Reading the Fricking Manual)</h2> <p>My new tripod has an instruction manual. I am reading it. My new gear head has an instruction manual. I am reading it. My new tilt-shift lens has an instruction manual. I am reading it. My borrowed camera body has an instruction manual. I am reading it, even though it is 260 pages long and in Spanish because my photography mentor misplaced the English instructions. Not that I am complaining as the photographs are in English and I am learning a lot of good vocabulary words in Spanish for free. So, bonus?</p> <p>I know. Reading the manual to learn how to use a machine seems like, well, obvi. But, apparently I am in the minority. According to a survey, 24% of women who call tech support hotlines in the United Kingdom have <a href="http://www.geek.com/news/study-says-64-of-men-dont-even-read-the-manual-before-calling-tech-support-969371/">never bothered to read the manual</a> before calling for help. And lest anyone believe that this is just a problem for women because we are mechanical simpletons who can't understand technology, that exact same survey found that 64% of men don't read the manual before demanding IT help.</p> <p>Of course, Americans are even stupider, or maybe just more stubborn than British tech consumers: <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2008/06/03/95-percent-of-all-returned-gadgets-still-work-americans-dont-r/">95% of gadgets</a> returned in the United States actually work.</p> <h2>Watching YouTube</h2> <p>Even though I am muscling my way through all the camera gear manuals, I am hating the experience. The diagrams leave a lot to be desired. Also, while paper manuals are very good at explaining how to use the various buttons and levers, text-based manuals are not good at explaining how to use the various buttons and levers to get the desired photographic image. Thank God for YouTube. Now I understand how to use my tilt-shift lens! Concepts that take 13 pages of explanation in the book, can be explained in one five-second close-up shot.</p> <p>While many YouTube instructional videos leave a lot to be desired in terms of production value, the sheer number of subjects covered make YouTube my first stop when I am trying to learn new, random skills. Do I have a Small Hive Beetle infestation in my beehive? Found a video on how to make a no-poison Hive Beetle death trap from an old CD case and vegetable oil. Did I make the disastrous decision to cut my own bangs without watching a YouTube bang-cutting video first? (Yes). Found a video on how to hide my bangs inside retro hair-dos while I grow them back out.</p> <h2>Reading the Comments</h2> <p>Fact: Reading Internet comments can be as pleasant as self-surgery. However, I often learn more from the comments on how-to blog posts than I do from the original article!</p> <p>Are you an autodidact? What tools do you use to learn new skills quickly? Please share in the comments section! I can use all the help I can get.</p> <h2>Progress Report</h2> <p>My husband managed to save $1,500 this month from his regular paycheck. (At this rate, I am going to have to change his nickname for this series from Mr. Spendypants to Mr. Saveypants). He also earned an additional $1,100 for creating all the original artwork for <a href="https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gorillagames/desert-island-0">Desert Island</a>, a Kickstarter-funded card game.</p> <p>I am so relieved that the start date for my professional architectural photography job has been pushed back to May. After much discussion and contemplation, we decided that it would be better for me to purchase all the equipment I need for the job, with the exception of the camera body, so I could have a month to practice using all these tools. Also, although this is a big expense, it is cheaper to buy the basic tools needed for this job rather than rent. The total cost of camera equipment purchased this month: $2,288.94</p> <p><strong>Goal:</strong> $31,000.00</p> <p><strong>Amount Raised:</strong> $16,078.00</p> <p><strong>Amount Spent:</strong> $7,592.66</p> <p><strong>Amount Left to Go:</strong> $22,514.66</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-affording-education">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-everything-breaks">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Everything Breaks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-job-creation">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Job Creation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-why-i-need-to-find-31k-this-year">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Why I Need to Find $31K This Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-how-to-turn-your-spouse-into-a-money-saver">My 2016 Budget Challenge: How to Turn Your Spouse Into a Money Saver</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-2016-budget-challenge-does-taking-a-regular-day-job-mean-giving-up">My 2016 Budget Challenge: Does Taking a Regular Day Job Mean Giving Up?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Education & Training budget challenge education max wong max wongs budget personal stories saving money Fri, 29 Apr 2016 10:00:09 +0000 Max Wong 1693275 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Cheap Ways to Increase Your Knowledge and Earning Potential http://www.wisebread.com/9-cheap-ways-to-increase-your-knowledge-and-earning-potential <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-cheap-ways-to-increase-your-knowledge-and-earning-potential" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000072007369_Large.jpg" alt="increasing his knowledge with free online resources" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The more knowledge you have, the more chances you will get to score different and better jobs. Knowledge is power, and with continuing education, power and ultimately, success, are yours for the taking. Here are nine free or inexpensive ways to learn more and increase your earning potential. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-free-ways-to-learn-something-new?ref=seealso">15 Free Ways to Learn Something New</a>)</p> <h2>MOOCs and Academies</h2> <p>Massively Open Online Courses are the inexpensive alternative to debt-creating colleges. An option for learning that &mdash; in my opinion &mdash; should have been there since the inception of the Internet. There are plenty to choose from, but these are your best places to start.</p> <h3>1. Khan Academy</h3> <p>&quot;Your brain is like a muscle,&quot; says <a href="https://www.khanacademy.org/">Khan Academy</a>. &quot;The more you use it and struggle, the more it grows.&quot; Here, you can grow your muscle with classes in math, science, economics and finance, and arts and humanities. For adults, this is a refresher. For kids, it's a prepper. The college admissions section offers information for high school students or graduates preparing for higher education. The site's content includes plenty of practice exercises, video lessons, and a personalized dashboard that helps you track your progress.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: Free</p> <h3>2. Udemy</h3> <p><a href="http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=g519OIyP0is&amp;offerid=323085.81&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0">Udemy</a> has an incredibly broad focus &mdash; the site's mission is to &quot;help anyone learn anything.&quot; Boasting over 35,000 MOOCs and over 8 million minutes of educational video content, it's something of an education supermarket. Web development? Check. Guitar? Check. Yoga? Check. You can download courses onto your device and view them offline, view them at your own pace, and take them in over 80 languages.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: $0-$24 (If it's not already free, first course is $24.)</p> <h3>3. Coursera</h3> <p>While Udemy's courses are created by individual instructors, <a href="http://click.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/click?id=g519OIyP0is&amp;offerid=388822.5&amp;type=3&amp;subid=0">Coursera</a> partners with universities and organizations. Here's how Coursera works: You enroll in a course &mdash; anything from Arts and Humanities to Data Science to Social Sciences &mdash; choose the free option to access videos, discussions, practice assignments, and view-only graded assignments. Then choose to earn a course certificate, pay a fee, and get access to graded assignments. You need to submit the assignments to earn the certificate. Now, Coursera offers specializations in subjects ranging from business, tech, data, and general interest. You have to earn certificates to specialize.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: Free</p> <p><strong>Cost for certificate</strong>: $30-$100</p> <h3>4. Udacity</h3> <p>Founded by former VP of Google Simon Thrun, <a href="https://www.udacity.com/">Udacity</a> was the first MOOC. According to Udacity, &quot;Education is no longer a one-time event, but a lifelong experience.&quot; The site's course emphasis is on tech, science, and math. Google, Facebook, and AT&amp;T are just some of the companies who have developed courses for Udacity. Learn how to develop your own app, or learn about robotics. You can take free courses, or opt to pay for a &quot;nanodegree.&quot; Now, Udacity is offering to refund half the cost of the nanodegree if you graduate within 12 months. They also guarantee you'll get a job.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: Free</p> <p><strong>Cost for nanodegree</strong>: $200/month</p> <h3>5. EdX</h3> <p>EdX offers courses ranging from computer science, languages, engineering, psychology, writing, electronics, biology, all the way to marketing. The only non-profit, open source MOOC platform, EdX was founded in 2012 by Harvard and MIT. <a href="http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2013/10/2/edx-id-verified-certificates/">In 2013</a>, EdX debuted its three-tiered certification system. You can take any course for free as an audit, choose to earn a certificate based on performance, or pay and earn an &quot;ID-verified&quot; certificate &mdash; a credit for doing well and being who you say you are. You can also choose to pay more than the required price for certification in case you're feeling generous. Some courses may not have the verified certificate option.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: Free</p> <p><strong>Cost for ID-verified certificate:</strong> Varies per course</p> <h3>6. FutureLearn</h3> <p>Owned by the UK's massive The Open University (one of only three foreign universities accredited in America), <a href="https://www.futurelearn.com/">FutureLearn</a> partners with 82 organizations worldwide. This global emphasis means a different perspective than US-based MOOCs (but as an editorial note, American universities take pride in their borderless perspectives).</p> <p>Future Learn is onboard with the rest in charging for certification, which they call a &quot;Statement of Participation.&quot; Like EdX, Coursera, and Udemy, you merely have to ask yourself what you want to learn. Chances are Future Learn's got it. As a side note, now you can take a course from Sheffield University on &quot;How to Write Your First Song.&quot; No guarantees you'll be able to write more.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: Free</p> <p><strong>Cost for Statement of Participation</strong>: Varies per course</p> <h2>Specializations</h2> <p>Simply put, if you know what you want to learn, MOOCs aren't your only option. And diversity in sources for education is important. Here are three online courses in some of the most money-relevant modern subjects. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-get-a-legit-business-education-online?ref=seealso">3 Ways to Get a Legit Business Education Online</a>)</p> <h3>7. Excel University</h3> <p>No wonder being an accountant is certain to fetch you a reliable income. Accountants can use <a href="http://store.excel-university.com/">Excel University</a> to learn shortcuts and tricks and continue their required professional education. But the program is more than an accounting tool. It's in offices everywhere. If you want to learn how to use the ubiquitous Excel program more efficiently and proficiently, you can take the &quot;lite&quot; version of Excel University's course. Also, the site provides a free evaluation course, so you can sample before you buy.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: $0-$499.00</p> <h3>8. American Graphics Institute UX Training</h3> <p>Learning website and app design will make you indispensable in today's connected world. <a href="https://www.agitraining.com/ux/classes">AGI's User Experience Design Training</a> lets you ask your teacher a question in real-time and receive the answer as soon as they know it. The instructors are the articulate, knowledgeable authors of the <em>Dummies</em> and <em>Digital Classroom</em> books. AGI puts a premium on usability. You can request a headset to communicate with your instructor, or simply use your computer's microphone. Just be aware that this course is not self-paced.</p> <p><strong>Cost: $495.00-$795.00, depending on course </strong></p> <h3>9. Edureka Big Data and Hadoop</h3> <p>Edureka is an alternative learning program offering a course in the field of big data. Specifically, this course will enable you to use <a href="https://www.appnovation.com/blog/hadoop-kids-cartoon">Hadoop</a>. Hadoop is an open source software project that lets you sort through and use the reams of data we generate on the web.</p> <p>For example, Facebook uses Hadoop to process user information and pinpoint how to improve algorithms. Credit card companies use it to identify and prevent fraud. Big Data and Hadoop are virtually everywhere in tech-savvy business, and data scientists are in high demand. Through Edureka's online program, you'll begin to get a handle on this huge field through live, interactive courses with 24/7 support.</p> <p><strong>Cost</strong>: $389</p> <p><em>Any other frugal online tools that provide additional education? Share with us in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/daniel-matthews">Daniel Matthews</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-cheap-ways-to-increase-your-knowledge-and-earning-potential">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-to-get-paid-to-learn">6 Ways to Get Paid to Learn</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-use-a-computer-more-efficiently">How to Use a Computer More Efficiently</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-free-ways-to-learn-something-new">15 Free Ways to Learn Something New</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-invest-in-yourself">Great Ways to Invest in Yourself</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/download-a-yale-lecture-more-universities-offer-courses-to-the-public">Download A Yale Lecture: More Universities Offer Courses To The Public</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Extra Income continuing education free classes free online classes low cost classes online tools skills Mon, 18 Apr 2016 09:00:10 +0000 Daniel Matthews 1691406 at http://www.wisebread.com 12 Easy Ways to Avoid Student Loan Debt http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-avoid-student-loan-debt <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/12-easy-ways-to-avoid-student-loan-debt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000070282971_Large.jpg" alt="avoiding student loan debt" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="126" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>College awaits, but the shared dilemma all students face is agonizing. Should you go to college and let loans pick up the tab for the ever-rising cost of tuition? Or, join the workforce directly out of high school and risk earning far less than a college graduate? Decisions, decisions.</p> <p>According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), with a bachelor's degree, <a href="https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=77">you'll make 62% more</a> than you will with a high school diploma. Or, with a bachelor's you'll make $48,500 a year, versus $30,000 a year with a high school diploma.</p> <p>The high school grad who doesn't have a big chunk of change must weigh the cost of incurring debt against their projected earnings, and many have opted to risk the debt. Nationwide, <a href="http://www.marketwatch.com/story/every-second-americans-get-buried-under-another-3055-in-student-loan-debt-2015-06-10">student loan debt is rising</a> at the rate of $2,726 per second, with a cumulative tab at about $1.3 trillion.</p> <p>But why does debt have to be the theme of a post-graduate life? You <em>can </em>go to college and avoid debt. Here's how.</p> <h2>1. Grants</h2> <p>Unlike scholarships, grants are based on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and financial need. Fill out your free application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as you can. Grants from schools go to those who need them the most and those who apply for aid the earliest.</p> <p>You may be eligible for the Pell Grant, which the federal government awards to 10 million students a year. You may also be eligible for state grants: the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant, as well as grants based on your ethnicity.</p> <h2>2. Consider Crowd-Sourcing</h2> <p>There are now websites specifically set up to facilitate crowd-sourced funding for students to avoid loans, or to pay off loans. You'll do volunteer work in exchange for crowd-sourced funds, for example. Several options here are <a href="http://www.zerobound.com/">zerobound</a> and <a href="http://www.sponsorchange.org/">SponsorChange</a>.</p> <h2>3. Score Scholarships</h2> <p>Have you been a good student? Have you done extracurricular activities, excelled in sports, or are you willing to prove you're worthy of a scholarship? There are so many of these available that you can bet there's something for you &mdash; whether it's a $500 <a href="http://www.excel-university.com/scholarship/">accounting scholarship</a> or a $1,000 <a href="http://www.bulkofficesupply.com/scholarships-in-new-york">teaching, art, or entrepreneurial scholarship</a>. Sites such as <a href="http://www.fastweb.com/">Fastweb</a> and <a href="https://www.scholarships.com/">Scholarships.com</a> offer scholarship databases and information. The key here is to look into as many as you can and work hard at getting them.</p> <h2>4. Check Out Work-Study Options</h2> <p>If you qualify for federal financial aid, you may qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program. Work-study will gain you experience in your field of choice and will pay you to go to school, whether you're a part-time or full-time student. These positions get snatched up quickly, so check with your school's financial aid office as soon as your enrollment application is accepted.</p> <h2>5. Work a Part-Time Gig</h2> <p>Although this is likely to prolong the amount of time you spend in college, it will also lessen your debt. Consider looking into what the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/find-a-side-gig-at-these-4-best-micro-jobs-sites">gig economy</a> has to offer. You could <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-earn-extra-money-driving-for-uber-or-lyft">drive for Uber or Lyft</a>, you could do freelance writing, accounting, clean houses, or you could be a virtual assistant through <a href="https://www.zirtual.com/">Zirtual</a>. Gigs offer flexibility, options, and a safety cushion. There are cons, such as lack of benefits, but at least you can make your own schedule. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/100-ways-to-make-more-money-this-year?ref=seealso">100+ Ways to Make More Money This Year</a>)</p> <h2>6. Talk to Your Employer About Education Benefits</h2> <p>If you're employed, your employer may be able to pay for your college education. Talk to your employer, because the IRS allows them to write off any reimbursement they make to you for tuition, no matter how much it is. They will be especially inclined to do so if your field of study is directly related to your job. If you're unemployed, or your employer doesn't offer reimbursement, apply for a job that does. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-pay-back-student-loans-faster?ref=seealso">15 Ways to Pay Back Student Loans Faster</a>)</p> <h2>7. Consider Community College</h2> <p>You'll be earning experience you can later apply toward your bachelor's at a community college. And on average, tuition and fees for <a href="http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/tuition-and-fees-and-room-and-board-over-time-2005-06-2015-16">community college are $3,435</a>, while they're $32,405 for university. According to the NCES, an associate's degree only earns you an average of about $11,500 less per year than a bachelor's.</p> <p>If you choose to go for a bachelor's degree, you'll be in school longer, but by the time you're done with community college, you'll be prepared for university. You may also be able to apply some of your community college credits toward earning your bachelor's. You may also have more money saved up for university tuition than you did when you got out of high school.</p> <p>There are also <a href="http://www.communitycollegereview.com/blog/community-college-scholarships">community college scholarships</a>. They can be merit-based, need-based, or entirely unique. Some schools, such as Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, offer an automatic, merit-based scholarship for the student with a high GPA seeking to transfer to a university.</p> <h2>8. Live at Home During College</h2> <p>Are you a high school graduate considering a college near your hometown? Most likely, your parents would be happy to let you to live with them if you're paying your way through college. If they are willing to put you up rent-free, you're good to go. You could work a side job at the same time. College isn't about partying and living in a dorm. Sure, it happens, but it's not a requirement. Living at home will help you concentrate on studying and saving money.</p> <h2>9. Forgo College Until You're Financially Ready</h2> <p>Be committed for the long-term when it comes to your career, and your life. The staggering <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">facts about student loan debt</a> put it into perspective. If you end up with debt, you could end up living with your parents after graduating, as 27% of graduates do. You could end up falling behind on your loan repayments, as 35% did in 2012. On average, it could end up taking you 20 years to pay off your loan.</p> <p>Commit to going to college after you've saved enough money, and your life will be a lot easier once you graduate &mdash; you'll be free to pursue what you want, instead of taking a low-paying job right out of college because you just need the money.</p> <h2>10. Talk to an Academic Advisor</h2> <p>Graduate as fast as you can by planning out your degree. This will minimize money you spend. In other words, decide what you want to major in before jumping into general classes, and find the fastest path to graduation.</p> <h2>11. Pay in Installments</h2> <p>Speak with the financial aid office at the college you want to attend about tuition installment plans. You have to be certain you can pay, but this will make it more like paying rent, which is easier than forking over lump sums. If you're budgeting wisely, living at home, and working part-time, meeting installments shouldn't be a problem.</p> <h2>12. Stick With Federal Loans Only</h2> <p>The Federal Direct Loan offers the most options for income-based repayment, including <a href="https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/about/announcements/repaye">REPAYE</a>, which fixes your payment at 10% of your discretionary income and forgives your debt after 20 years. The Direct Loan also offers debt forgiveness if you're working in a public service field and have made 120 payments without defaulting. Your interest rate will be fixed, unlike a private loan, which sticks you with a variable rate. Pay on the loan as you go through school, and make the biggest payments so you can to avoid paying too much on interest. When doing your taxes, write off interest payments. And be sure to use tax returns and other windfalls to make large payments.</p> <p><em>Any other easy ways to avoid student loan debt? Share with us in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/daniel-matthews">Daniel Matthews</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-easy-ways-to-avoid-student-loan-debt">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/student-loans-how-to-make-post-college-decisions">Student Loans: How to Make Post-College Decisions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-to-get-student-loan-debt-forgiveness">8 Ways to Get Student Loan Debt Forgiveness</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/share-your-thoughts-consolidating-student-loans">Share Your Thoughts: Consolidating Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">8 Tax Tricks to Try if You&#039;re Stuck With Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Debt Management Education & Training college college debt debt management saving for college student loan debt student loans Tue, 12 Apr 2016 09:30:33 +0000 Daniel Matthews 1688980 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Most Common Tax Mistakes Made by College Grads http://www.wisebread.com/5-most-common-tax-mistakes-made-by-college-grads <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-most-common-tax-mistakes-made-by-college-grads" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/000059339990.jpg" alt="College grads making common tax mistakes" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Attention grads: While you may be done with college, you aren't off the hook from major assignments. One of those major assignments is filing your tax return, and this is one assignment deadline that you don't want to miss.</p> <p>This year, Monday April 18th is the deadline to file your federal taxes. (Residents of Maine and Massachusetts get an extra day!) With time running out, it&rsquo;s important to file your return correctly the first time around. Be on the lookout for the five most common tax mistakes made by college grads.</p> <h2>1. Not Claiming Education Credits</h2> <p>According to a 2014 study from H&amp;R Block, only two-thirds of Americans eligible for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students">tax breaks for students</a> actually claim them! Within those tax breaks, the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit stand out because they can reduce your tax bill by up to $2,500 and $2,000, respectively.</p> <p>Unlike other tax deductions, the American Opportunity Credit can still get you a refund even when you don't owe any federal income tax. If the American Opportunity Tax Credit brings the amount you owe to zero, you can have 40% of the remaining amount of the credit (<a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/AOTC">up to $1,000</a>) refunded to you.</p> <p>While the American Opportunity Tax Credit requires you to not have finished the first four years of higher education at the beginning of the tax year, the Lifetime Learning Credit doesn't require students to be working toward a degree. You're eligible to claim this credit as long as you're taking at least one class.</p> <p>Bonus: If you're taking a sabbatical from your recent graduation and are eligible to be claimed as a dependent by your parents, they can claim these credits in their own return.</p> <p>File <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8863.pdf">Form 8863</a> with your federal return to claim the American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits.</p> <h2>2. Not Filing Taxes When Abroad</h2> <p>Talking about sabbaticals, you still need to check with Uncle Sam every year during tax season even when you're abroad. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, no matter where you live.</p> <p>The good news is that when you expect to get a refund or not to owe any federal taxes, you can take advantage of the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/U.S.-Citizens-and-Resident-Aliens-Abroad---Automatic-2-Month-Extension-of-Time-to-File">automatic two-month extension</a> to file your return. However, if you believe that you will owe federal taxes, then file by the regular deadline (April 15 most years) to avoid paying applicable interest charges or penalties.</p> <h2>3. Forgetting About Moving Expenses</h2> <p>Chances are that your first job after graduation will require you to move. No matter whether you move away from your college dorm, parent's home, or own rental, double check how far away your new job location is from your old residence. If the distance is <a href="https://www.irs.gov/uac/Moving-Expense-Deduction">at least 50 miles</a>, then the IRS allows you itemize several moving expenses, including:</p> <ul> <li>Transportation and storage of household goods and personal effects within any period of 30 days in a rows after date of move;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Insurance for those household goods and personal effects before delivered to your new home;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Out-of-pocket expenses for gas and oil or mileage at 23 cents a mile, in case you drive for the move; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Parking fees and tolls.</li> </ul> <p>Use <a href="https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f3903.pdf">Form 3903</a> to figure out whether or not you can deduct your moving expenses and what is your allowable moving expense deduction.</p> <h2>4. Withholding Too Much in Taxes</h2> <p>Whether you graduate in the spring, summer, or fall, you would expect to be employed fewer than 245 days (about eight months) during the current calendar year. In that case, you can ask your employer to use the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p505/ch01.html#en_US_2016_publink1000194430">part-year withholding method</a> so that less tax is withheld from each of your paychecks.</p> <p>IRS Publication 505 states that you must ask your employer in writing to use this method. In your letter, make sure to include these three items:</p> <ul> <li>Date of your last day of work for any prior employer during the current calendar year;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Statement that you don't expect to be employed more than 245 days during the current calendar year; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Statement that you're using the calendar year as your tax year.</li> </ul> <p>If your employer approves your request, the HR department will use the regular percentage method tables from Publication 15 with adjustments for your part-year employment. This is the best way to maximize those first-year checks. Remember that you don't earn interest on refunds!</p> <h2>5. Miscalculating Student Loan Interest</h2> <p>Mom and Dad are always willing to lend you a helping hand and may have footed your student loan payments until you landed your first post-graduation job. In that case, and as long as you're not claimed as a dependent by your parents, you can deduct up to $2,500 of interest paid on qualifying student loans by them from your income subject to tax every year. Just make sure to let your parents know that they won't be able to deduct those interest payments from their own return.</p> <p>Even when you're making student loan payments yourself, you can still deduct up to $2,500 of the interest payments. To be eligible to claim this deduction in 2016, your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) must be less than $80,000 if single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er), or $160,000 if married filing a joint return.</p> <p>To figure out your student loan interest deduction, check Form 1098-E from the institution that receives interest payments made on your behalf or paid by you. Your interest deduction is gradually reduced when your MAGI is between $65,000 and $80,000 ($130,000 and $160,000 if you file a joint return).</p> <p>Let's imagine that you paid $2,600 on interest for a qualified student loan throughout 2015. Assuming you file your return as single, here's how much you could deduct based on your 2015's MAGI:</p> <ul> <li><strong>MAGI is $50,000</strong>: You can deduct the full $2,500.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>MAGI is $70,000:</strong> You need to phase out your student loan interest deduction using rules from <a href="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch04.html">IRS Publication 970</a>: $2,500 x ($70,00-$65,000)/$15,000 = $833.33. Your eligible student loan interest deduction would be $2,500 - $833.33 = $1,666.67.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>MAGI is $85,000</strong>: You can't deduct any student loan interest payments.</li> </ul> <p><em>Have you made any of these tax mistakes?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-most-common-tax-mistakes-made-by-college-grads">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes">4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students">Don&#039;t Skip These 8 Tax Breaks for Students</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">8 Tax Tricks to Try if You&#039;re Stuck With Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-easiest-way-to-avoid-a-tax-audit">The Easiest Way to Avoid a Tax Audit</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-important-tax-changes-for-2016">5 Important Tax Changes for 2016</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Taxes abroad college grads deductions IRS moving expenses student loans students Tue, 12 Apr 2016 09:00:13 +0000 Damian Davila 1687443 at http://www.wisebread.com When Should You Start Saving for Your Child’s Education? http://www.wisebread.com/when-should-you-start-saving-for-your-child-s-education <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/when-should-you-start-saving-for-your-child-s-education" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/boy_school_books_000053329704.jpg" alt="Determining when to start saving for your child&#039;s education" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>College is expensive, and it's only going to get more expensive. Tuition costs continue to climb at a rate significantly <a href="http://www.finaid.org/savings/tuition-inflation.phtml">higher than the inflation rate</a>. In fact, on average, the cost of college doubles about every nine years. This means that for a child born today, once they enter college, the college costs will be nearly four times what they are now. You can help your child pay for college by saving (and saving early!), but before you open any accounts, be sure your understand your situation, and your options.</p> <h2>Is It Better to Save for <em>Your </em>Retirement or <em>Their </em>Education?</h2> <p>In a perfect world, you should be saving both for your retirement and your child's education. It's also important to have a sizable savings account in case of an emergency. However, if you can't save for everything, the first priority is to save for your own future retirement.</p> <p>If your child doesn't have enough money for their education, they can always take out educational loans and apply for scholarships. You won't be able to take out loans for your retirement, so it's important that you save for retirement first.</p> <p>If you can afford to save for your child's education, here's what to expect.</p> <h2>Compound Interest Is Your Friend</h2> <p>The best time to start planning for your child's education is from the day they are born. If you begin saving from day one, a good estimate is to save $250 a month for an in-state public college, $400 a month for an out-of-state public college, and $500 a month for a private college.</p> <p>As is the case when saving early for retirement, saving early for your child's education can be huge. Compound interest can be your best friend because the interest that you earn early on will also earn interest from then on, which can spell huge gains if you start investing early. On the other hand, the longer you wait to save, the less interest you will accumulate, and the more you will need to save later on.</p> <p>For instance, if you start saving $250 per month at a 6% return from the time your child is born, you'll earn approximately $97,330 by the time they enter college. If you wait until they are 10 years old to begin saving, you'll have approximately $30,862 accumulated by the time they enter college. This is the beauty of compound interest.</p> <h2>How to Invest</h2> <p>In most cases, if you start saving early, it is best to use an age-based allocation for your investment. This means that it will start with more aggressive investments to earn more interest early on. The allocation will then become more conservative as your child gets older and closer to entering college.</p> <h3>529 Savings Plans</h3> <p>A 529 college savings plan, also known as a Qualified Tuition Program, will allow you to save for your child's education in a tax-free manner. Each 529 plan has its own associated annual fees and operating costs, so you will want to carefully compare these to get the best deal. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-best-state-529-college-savings-plans?ref=seealso">The 9 Best State 529 College Savings Plans</a>)</p> <p>The plan works similarly to a 401K or IRA, so the contributions will be taxed, but the earnings will not be. You can contribute to this tax-free account until your child is 18. The money from the account must be used by the time they are 30. If your child decides that they don't want to go to college, you can change the beneficiary.</p> <h3>Coverdell ESA</h3> <p>A Coverdell Education Savings Account is a custodial account that can be used to cover any educational expenses, at any time, so you won't need to wait until your child enters college. While they function similarly to a 529 savings plan, the contribution amounts are much lower. While a 529 account allows lifetime contributions of $200,000&ndash;$400,000, a Coverdell ESA only allows contributions of $2,000 per year. The money from the account must be used by the time they are 30.</p> <h3>Prepaid Tuition Plans</h3> <p>A prepaid tuition plan will allow you to purchase tuition credit in advance at a predetermined price from an in-state public school, though many will also cover out-of-state schools. This means that you can pre-purchase tuition at today's price, so you won't need to worry about inflation or the increasing cost of education. These plans have the same tax and financial aid restrictions as 529 savings plans. The major downside to the plan is that if your child decides to go to another school, you'll get a return of your money, but inflation can still affect you.</p> <p>For instance, say you invest $10,000 for a year of tuition and the cost per-year increases to $20,000. You would still get a full year's worth of tuition. If your child decides to go to another school, your original investment of $10,000 (plus a very small amount of interest) will be returned to you. However, now that the tuition per year is higher, your investment won't go as far.</p> <h3>UGMA and UTMA Accounts</h3> <p>UGMA (Uniform Gift to Minors Act) and UTMA (Uniform Transfer to Minors Act) accounts are custodial accounts, which will allow you to reserve cash and assets for your children. According to the IRS, the initial $1,000 in gains is tax-free, the next $1,000 is taxed at the child's income tax rate, and the remainder is taxed at the parent's income tax rate. The downside to these accounts is you have less control over how your child spends the money because there are no restrictions on how the funds are used as long as they directly benefit your child. Once your child comes of age (between age 18&ndash;21, depending on the state), they can use the money however they choose.</p> <h2>Using Your IRA to Pay for Your Child's Education</h2> <p>The IRS allows you to <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch09.html">withdraw IRA funds tax-free</a> and penalty-free to pay for qualifying educational expenses. This will allow you to save for their education, while having the peace of mind that if your child decides not to go to college, you can still use the funds for retirement.</p> <h2>Avoid the Savings Account Trap</h2> <p>Opening a savings account in your child's name may seem like a good idea, but it may end up costing you in the end. Financial aid is based on assets from the year prior to applying for aid. When determining how much financial aid to award your child, they will consider your child's savings accounts as well as any funds in any custodial accounts. This means that if your child has a large amount of savings in their name, they may end up losing out on financial aid.</p> <h2>Getting a Late Start</h2> <p>If you haven't begun saving for your child's education as they approach college, it's never too late to start. If you have less than five years to save before they enter college, it may be a good idea to work with a financial planner or advisor so that they can help you get the most from this time. They can help you determine what your risk tolerance is so that you don't invest too aggressively and take on too much risk in an effort to catch-up.</p> <h2>Get Your Child to Help</h2> <p>Once your teenager lands their first job, be sure to to make it into a learning opportunity for them. This can be a good time for them to begin saving and breaking their paychecks up into three portions: weekly expenses, short-term goals, and long-term expenses (such as saving for college). This will help to relieve some of the burden, and it will prepare your child for the real world and teach the importance of saving.</p> <p><em>Did you start saving early for your child's education? Please share your thoughts in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-cannon">Andrea Cannon</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-should-you-start-saving-for-your-child-s-education">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-best-state-529-college-savings-plans">The 9 Best State 529 College Savings Plans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">8 Tax Tricks to Try if You&#039;re Stuck With Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/21-things-that-young-adults-absolutely-need-to-know-about-money">21 Things That Young Adults Absolutely Need to Know About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-score-free-or-almost-free-college-textbooks">How to Score Free (or Almost Free) College Textbooks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students">Don&#039;t Skip These 8 Tax Breaks for Students</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Family 529 plans college compound interest Coverdell ESA investing saving tuition UGMA UTMA Fri, 08 Apr 2016 09:30:31 +0000 Andrea Cannon 1682911 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Tax Tricks to Try if You're Stuck With Student Loans http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/college_grad_cash_000049202136.jpg" alt="New grad stuck with student loans trying tax tricks " title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you're buried in student loan debt, it doesn't seem fair to be paying taxes. That's why it's important to get as much as you can back with your tax returns. Take advantage of deductions and credits, and if you're fortunate enough to be able to do so, use your returns to pay down a big chunk of your debt. Here's what you should be looking for while filling out your return.</p> <h2>1. Deduct Interest Paid</h2> <p>You can deduct the interest you pay on your debt. At least this way you recoup some of what you spent.</p> <p>You'll file the deduction as an adjustment to income. The maximum amount you can deduct is $2,500. If you've paid more than $600 in interest in the past year, you should receive form 1098-E from your lender. Box #1 will tell you how much interest you paid.</p> <p>If you paid less than $600, you'll have to check records to see how much to deduct. There's an income ceiling &mdash; after you make $80,000 a year, you're exempt. See the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc456.html">IRS page</a> on this topic.</p> <p>Are you still in school? I recommend not deferring your interest payment. If you do defer, your lender simply tacks that interest onto the principal of your loan. Then, you end up paying interest on the interest.</p> <h2>2. Deduct Tuition and Fees</h2> <p>This deduction adjusts the amount of income on which you're taxed. It's good for up to $4,000 per year. If you're a dependent on someone else's tax return or you are married and filing separately, you don't qualify. Like the interest deduction, if you earn a certain amount, you're exempt. Also, if you want to claim either of the education tax credits (see &quot;Stay in School&quot; below), you can't claim the <a href="https://www.taxslayer.com/support/knowledgebasearticle187.aspx">Tuition and Fees Deduction</a>.</p> <h2>3. Get the Earned Income Tax Credit</h2> <p>If you qualify for it, get it. The EITC, or EIC, is for those of us with low income. Surprisingly, only about 80% of workers who qualify for the credit claim it. If you're married, don't file separately &mdash; this will disqualify you. If you're single, to get this credit you have to make less than $14,820 in a year. If you're married and/or have kids the <a href="http://www.efile.com/what-is-the-earned-income-tax-credit-eitc-eic-eligibility-schedule-calculator/">qualification ceiling goes up</a>.</p> <h2>4. Take on Freelance Work</h2> <p>Not only will freelancing earn you more money towards paying off your debt, you'll also be able to write off a number of expenses. These deductions include work materials, such as a laptop or tablet you use exclusively for freelance writing. You can write off meals and snacks you eat in the course of your workday. You can also write off expenses related directly and indirectly to the space you use for work. Yes it's a hassle, but make sure to document your expenses if you want to qualify for deductions.</p> <h2>5. Stay in School</h2> <p>Is graduation in sight but you're nervous about your post-graduate plans? You may want to stay in school. Here's the logic behind this: College students can be eligible for some great <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/four-major-student-tax-breaks-2013-1">tax breaks</a>:</p> <ul> <li><em>American Opportunity Credit</em> &mdash; Up to $2,500 for tuition, fees, books, and other equipment<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><em>Lifetime Learning Credit</em> &mdash; Up to $2,000 for education-related expenses</li> </ul> <p>You can only claim one of these credits. To get the American Opportunity Credit, you have to be at least a part-time student, and you can only claim it for the first four years of college. It's refundable by up to $1,000, meaning you could see that money go right back into your pocket.</p> <p>The Lifetime Learning Credit applies to the student who wants to continue for more than four years, or go to graduate school.</p> <p>Combined with the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students" target="_blank">student loan interest deduction</a>, tax credits can save you a nice chunk of change to apply towards paying off your loans. Work a freelance job at the same time, get the freelancer deductions, and now you're talking tax strategy. But know you can't make more than $80,000 a year to get the American Opportunity Credit, and no more than $60,000 to get the Lifetime Learning Credit.</p> <h2>6. Look Into the Business Deduction for Work-Related Education</h2> <p>Here's a scenario. You're a writer and you're going to school to get a degree in English with some sort of writing emphasis. On the side, you do freelance writing to make a little extra cash. You can deduct your education expenses.</p> <p>Or, your employer can pay for your education and write it off on their taxes. Your degree has to go toward continuing in your employment field, and it can't be a degree toward meeting your employer's minimum educational requirements.</p> <p>Even if you're on a leave of absence from work, you can <a href="https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc513.html">still deduct educational expenses</a>.</p> <h2>7. Paying for Child Care? The Child and Dependent Care Credit</h2> <p>You can get a credit of up to $3,000 for one child/dependent, or $6,000 for two children/dependents, per year. You have to be employed or seeking employment. If you're a full-time student, you qualify as being employed. Your income will determine your credit amount, but the nice thing is there is no income ceiling. You must provide your child care provider's information, as they must be a qualifying provider (not your spouse or one of your older kids). The <a href="http://www.taxcreditsforworkingfamilies.org/child-and-dependent-care-tax-credit/">Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit</a> is a nice boost, and combined with the other credits listed here, will definitely help you out come tax time.</p> <h2>8. Get Free Tax Prep</h2> <p>All of this is a lot to take in, and doing your own taxes can be frustrating, especially if you're pressed for resources. Is there a community college in your area? Under the IRS VITA program, low to moderate-income Americans can get tax help from volunteers at community colleges and other locations. Of course there are qualifications you have to meet, and materials you have to bring. You qualify if:</p> <ul> <li>You make $54,000 a year or less<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You're elderly or incapable of preparing on your own taxes due to disability<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>You speak limited English</li> </ul> <p>The IRS page on this topic will provide you with a tool for finding the <a href="https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers">closest VITA tax-preparer</a>, and info on <a href="https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Checklist-for-Free-Tax-Return-Preparation">what to bring</a>.</p> <p>Happy tax prep!</p> <p><em>Have you taken advantage of these tax breaks for students?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/daniel-matthews">Daniel Matthews</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes">4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-better-way-to-rank-americas-colleges">A Better Way to Rank America&#039;s Colleges</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">5 Sobering Facts About Student Loan Debt</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/student-loans-how-to-make-post-college-decisions">Student Loans: How to Make Post-College Decisions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-best-state-529-college-savings-plans">The 9 Best State 529 College Savings Plans</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Taxes college dependents interest student loans tax breaks tax deductions tuition Mon, 04 Apr 2016 09:30:34 +0000 Daniel Matthews 1683568 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Places to Find Cheap (or Free!) Education http://www.wisebread.com/6-places-to-find-cheap-or-free-education <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-places-to-find-cheap-or-free-education" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000081164455_Large.jpg" alt="looking for free or cheap education" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You have no skills, and no experience. Nightmares of a life cooking fries at a fast food chain weave in and out of your dreams. But don't give up yet. There is an escape from your fry-littered nightmares. Education can be the golden ticket that jumpstarts a lucrative and fulfilling career as a corporate manager, editor, or web developer.</p> <p>Let's stop for a moment before you rush headlong into a student loan nightmare. While college can equip you with useful skills and certifications, the high cost of education has led to a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-sobering-facts-about-student-loan-debt">student loan crisis</a>. For those who choose to enter public service careers, student loan debts can be forgiven. For everyone else, you might want to consider that some high-paying companies&nbsp;<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/18/penguin-ditches-the-need-for-job-seekers-to-have-university-degrees">no longer require a college degree</a> as an application requirement.</p> <p>Here are other ways to continue your education without spending much &mdash; or any &mdash; of your hard-earned money.</p> <h2>1. Podcasts</h2> <p>Seek out educational podcasts on topics that could potentially help you find a job down the line. Colleges like Stanford, Oxford, and Yale create recordings of their professor's lectures and post them online for free. You can find a large collection of free podcasts in the iTunes U portion of the iTunes store.</p> <h2>2. Free Educational Videos and Lectures</h2> <p>Not fond of just hearing a voice drone on about this war or that economic concept? Rather than listening to podcasts, you might want to try to locate educational videos. These are excellent for the more visual learners out there.</p> <p>Recently, I started listening to lectures by famous fantasy novelist and Professor&nbsp;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2FCD81A6FE4280AC">Brandon Sanderson on YouTube</a>. It's a great alternative to taking a formal writing class.</p> <p>Informative webinars like TedTalks can also be found on a variety of educational topics. You might also find webinars with professor guest speakers on the resources pages of university websites. In fact, Pepperdine University has some&nbsp;<a href="http://mbaonline.pepperdine.edu/resources/videos-webinars/">great webinars</a> presented by their professors on business topics like company culture and big data.</p> <h2>3. Training and Learning Websites</h2> <p>Web development, freelance writing, and a variety of careers require the individual to develop specific skills. In order to help individuals acquire those skills, free educational websites have been created.</p> <p>Codecademy offers free interactive HTML and web development courses. With determination, hard work, and access to a computer, you can quickly acquire the skills to land a job in tech.</p> <p>Freelance and writing blogs offer informative guides to help you learn to write high quality articles for various news outlets and websites. They also tend to write guides on how to find freelance gigs, how to approach editors, and how to utilize marketing to find success.</p> <h2>4. Audit or Sit In on College Courses</h2> <p>Want to take a class, but lack the funds? Auditing or sitting in on a course might be a good alternative.</p> <p>With auditing, students are required to attend class, do non-graded work, and the course audit goes into a student's official transcript. Some universities do charge a fee for the ability to audit a class, so make sure to check that before showing up.</p> <p>Sitting in on a class allows a student to attend the class without paying a fee. The student will probably need to attend regularly and complete all non-graded work. You will need to check with the college and professor first about a sit-in possibility.</p> <h2>5. The Global Freshman Academy</h2> <p>Recently, Arizona State University created a series of online courses called&nbsp;<a href="http://asuonline.asu.edu/about-us/newsroom/asu-and-cerego-partner-power-personalized-learning-environments-global-freshman">The Global Freshman Academy</a>. The academy allows individuals to take their freshman courses with only a $45 processing fee. It's essentially a way to audit educational courses. If at the end of the semester, the student passes the course and they wish to earn the credits, the student can choose to pay for the credits. Whether or not you plan to attend college, it's a cost-effective way to gain knowledge and dip your toes into higher education.</p> <h2>6. Tuition Assistance Programs</h2> <p>If you dream of a profession that requires a college degree, your best bet might be to apply for a job that has a tuition assistance program. In order to retain employees for a longer period of time, many businesses offer to pay for a portion of a student's educational fees. If you have to work at a retail or food service job, you might as well make it one that will help you acquire an education.</p> <p><em>Have you scored any cheap or free education? Share with us in the comments! </em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/samantha-stauf">Samantha Stauf</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-places-to-find-cheap-or-free-education">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college/college-resources">40+ College Resources for Parents and Students</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/heres-how-spending-3-on-you-will-advance-your-career">Here&#039;s How Spending 3% On You Will Advance Your Career</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-didn-t-learn-in-college-but-you-should-have">10 Things You Didn’t Learn in College (but You Should Have)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/united-world-college-study-abroad-for-way-less-than-you-think">United World College: Study Abroad For Way Less Than You Think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-creative-uses-for-a-529-plan">5 Creative Uses for a 529 Plan</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Education & Training cheap classes college education free education training videos Mon, 14 Mar 2016 10:30:11 +0000 Samantha Stauf 1671107 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Skip These 8 Tax Breaks for Students http://www.wisebread.com/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/female_student_000051988928.jpg" alt="Female student finding helpful tax deductions and breaks" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Dear students, I'm sure that you have heard the news: Every single year the average student loan debt per borrower is increasing. For example, the average class of 2015 graduate with student loan debt will owe a <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/05/08/congratulations-class-of-2015-youre-the-most-indebted-ever-for-now/">little more than $35,000</a>.</p> <p>Still, there is a silver lining: College students and grads often qualify for significant tax breaks and deductions. To minimize your tax bill and increase your chances of a refund, here are eight tax deductions and breaks worth knowing about.</p> <h2>1. 529 Plans</h2> <p>If your parents or other donor started a 529 plan for you, you're in luck. Also known as qualified tuition programs, 529 plans allow individuals to save for education expenses on a tax-deferred basis and allow a designated beneficiary (ideally, that's you) to use those funds, including interest gains, for qualified expenses free of taxes or penalties.</p> <p>But few people know that you can also start a 529 plan for yourself. Yes, if you anticipate returning to school for any reason, you can save for related expenses in your own 529 plan &mdash; at any age. The list of qualified education expenses goes beyond tuition and academic fees, including expenses for room and board, transportation, equipment, and accommodations for individuals with special needs, so adults can benefit, too. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-best-state-529-college-savings-plans?ref=seealso">The 9 Best State 529 College Savings Plans</a>)</p> <h2>2. Qualified IRA Distributions</h2> <p>Qualified distributions taken from a traditional IRA for use in qualified higher education expenses create no tax burden or penalty for you, assuming you only withdraw contributions, and not any earnings on the contributions. (Note: If your spouse, parent, or grandparent takes distributions from their own plans to fund your educational expenses, they would have to pay applicable income taxes on those funds, but don't have to pay the early distribution penalty which applies if under age 59 1/2.)</p> <h2>3. American Opportunity Credit</h2> <p>Replacing the Hope Scholarship credit, the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/AOTC">American Opportunity Credit</a> allows you to cover up to $2,500 of undergraduate college costs, including:</p> <ul> <li>100% of your first $2,000 qualified education expenses; and<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>25% of next $2,000 qualified education expenses.</li> </ul> <p>Keep in mind that you can claim the American Opportunity tax credit on your own academic expenses or on those of your spouse and kids. This means that you can claim up to $2,500 per student living in your household. However, to be eligible for the full credit, your modified adjusted gross income must be $80,000 or less (those making more receive a reduced amount of the credit).</p> <p>Another advantage of this tax credit is that 40% of it is refundable, meaning that the IRS will issue a refund for that amount even if you don't owe any federal income tax.</p> <h2>4. Lifetime Learning Credit</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/LLC">Lifetime Learning Credit</a> allows you to deduct up to 20% of your first $10,000 in qualified education expenses, up to $2,000 per taxpayer.</p> <p>Unlike the American Opportunity Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit isn't refundable. You can use it to reduce any tax that you owe, but won't receive a refund for the unused portion when your tax bill is already zero.</p> <p>However, the Lifetime Learning Credit doesn't require you to be working towards a degree like the American Opportunity Credits does. A single class makes you eligible for this tax credit.</p> <p>To claim the American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits, file <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8863.pdf">Form 8863</a> with your federal return.</p> <h2>5. Business Deduction for Work-Related Education</h2> <p>The IRS allows you to deduct the costs of <a href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch12.html#en_US_2015_publink1000178645">qualifying work-related education</a> as business expenses as long as the education is:</p> <ul> <li>Required by employer of by law;</li> <li>Necessary to maintain or improve skills; or</li> <li>Indispensable to meet minimum requirements.</li> </ul> <p>You can also deduct qualifying transportation and travel expenses necessary for completing the education. For example, you can deduct 57.5 cents per mile driven and 50% of meals when traveling overnight for education purposes throughout 2015.</p> <p>Make sure to keep all records, such as transcripts and catalogs of coursework, and receipts from all of your education expenses to provide sufficient support, especially in case of an IRS audit. A best practice is to obtain a statement from your employer providing details about your required education and reimbursements.</p> <p>For more details, consult Chapter 12 from <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf">IRS Publication 970</a>.</p> <h2>6. Coverdell Education Savings Account</h2> <p>Students under age 18, or of any age with special needs, don't pay any tax on distributions from <a href="http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc310.html">Coverdell Education Saving Accounts</a> for qualified education expenses at eligible institutions.</p> <p>While there is no limit on the number of Coverdell Education Savings Accounts that can be opened for the same beneficiary, the total cash contribution to all accounts on behalf of the beneficiary cannot exceed a total of $2,000 per year. Contributions can only be made in cash.</p> <h2>7. Education Savings Bond Program</h2> <p>Series EE bonds issued after 1989 and Series I bonds qualify for the <a href="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch10.html">Education Savings Bond Program</a>, allowing you to not pay tax on the interest earned on those U.S. savings bonds. While you can take the tax deduction for your own education, you must be at least 24 years old before the bond's issue date.</p> <p>For additional eligibility criteria, such as modified adjusted gross income tiers, consult Chapter 10 from IRS Publication 970.</p> <h2>8. Scholarship and Fellowship Grants</h2> <p>Last but not least, the IRS exempts students from any taxes on funds from scholarship or fellowship grants that don't exceed qualified education expenses or represent payment for teaching, research, or other services.</p> <p>To increase the combined value of educational credits and other types of educational assistance, the IRS recommends to coordinate Pell grants and other scholarships by including some or all of the additional assistance in income in the years it's received.</p> <p><em>What are other tax deductions and breaks available for students?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-skip-these-8-tax-breaks-for-students">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-most-common-tax-mistakes-made-by-college-grads">5 Most Common Tax Mistakes Made by College Grads</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-money-moves-students-should-make-during-a-gap-year">8 Money Moves Students Should Make During a Gap Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-9-best-state-529-college-savings-plans">The 9 Best State 529 College Savings Plans</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes">4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tax-tricks-to-try-if-youre-stuck-with-student-loans">8 Tax Tricks to Try if You&#039;re Stuck With Student Loans</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Education & Training Taxes 529 plans college credits deductions savings programs students Wed, 09 Mar 2016 10:30:27 +0000 Damian Davila 1668045 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Part-Time Jobs That Offer College Benefits http://www.wisebread.com/8-part-time-jobs-that-offer-college-benefits <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-part-time-jobs-that-offer-college-benefits" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000058811630_Large.jpg" alt="this part time job offers college benefits" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Good news, college students. You don't have to wait until you graduate to take full advantage of employee benefits. In fact, many employers offer their part-time employees college benefits, such as tuition reimbursement and scholarships. Picking the right part-time position in your college years could provide you with more than just work experience &mdash; it can lead you to lower college debt, too. Here are eight great part-time gigs to check out that offer college benefits.</p> <p>See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/college-without-loans-where-to-find-scholarships?ref=seealso">College Without Loans: Where to Find Scholarships</a></p> <h2>1. UPS</h2> <p>UPS offers one of the best <a href="https://ups.managehr.com/earn-and-learn-program.htm">college tuition reimbursement programs</a> to part-time employees. The company allows employees to earn $5,250 per calendar year towards education costs with its Education Assistance program. Employees can earn up to $25,000 max in college reimbursements. The best part is that eligibility begins on day one, and if you are hired mid-semester, your benefits will be prorated.</p> <h2>2. Starbucks</h2> <p>As if free coffee wasn't a good enough perk, Starbucks has a partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) that provides Starbucks' partners partial tuition reimbursement. The amount of tuition reimbursed varies based on the partner's unique financial situation and needs. The <a href="http://globalassets.starbucks.com/assets/BFD254FF83424CCC855AAF9855DC84C7.pdf">Starbucks College Achievement Plan</a> is open to any Starbucks-owned company employee, regardless of the position title. Partners must also not have a bachelor's degree already.</p> <h2>3. Publix</h2> <p>Publix allows employees to earn up to $3,200 per calendar year (and $12,800 lifetime) for <a href="http://corporate.publix.com/careers/why-publix/tuition-reimbursement">college reimbursement</a>. The company allows $3,400 to be applied towards individual courses, technical college, or community college. Employees must have six months vested in the company and work at least 10 hours per week to qualify.</p> <h2>4. Chick-Fil-A</h2> <p>Chick-Fil-A offers its employees the chance to win a <a href="http://www.chick-fil-a.com/Media/PDF/2012-Scholarship-Fact-Sheet.pdf">$1,000 Leadership scholarship</a>. Employees are required to have a high school diploma to be eligible. Employees must have also applied for college and show that they have a great work ethic and are active in their communities.</p> <h2>5. Home Depot</h2> <p>For part-time employees, Home Depot allows up to <a href="https://secure.livethehealthyorangelife.com/files/14_Tuition-reimbursement_flyer_updatev1_web.pdf">$1,500 in tuition reimbursement</a> per calendar year. Tuition reimbursement is applicable to degrees related to the business of Home Depot, but individuals can use the reimbursement towards an undergraduate degree, graduate degree, or technical degree.</p> <h2>6. Bank of America</h2> <p>As long as your course is job-related, Bank of America will <a href="https://www.acclarisbenefits.com/common/3_FT-H-456B_113_Tuition_Reimbursement_Form_FINAL.pdf">reimburse part-time employees</a> up to $5,250 per calendar year. Certificate and professional development programs do not count for reimbursement. Part-time employees must be with Bank of America for six months and work at least 20 hours per week in order to be considered.</p> <h2>7. McDonald's</h2> <p>Often McDonald's gets a bad rap as a part-time job. However, the educational benefits the company provides crew members and restaurant managers is impressive. McDonald's program, <a href="http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/careers/training_education.html">Archways to Opportunity</a>, provides employees with free English as a Second Language (ESL) courses and will cover the complete costs for employees to earn their high school diploma. The company also provides tuition reimbursement for eligible courses and is partnered with select colleges to offer employees a bigger discount on tuition.</p> <p>Furthermore, McDonald's offers scholarships and management curriculum. The company started Hamburger University in 1961, which allows graduate employees to earn essential management skills and even earn college credit.</p> <h2>8. Walmart and Sam's Club</h2> <p>Part-time associates at either Walmart or Sam's Club can <a href="https://www.apus.edu/walmart">earn a tuition grant</a> that saves them 15% of the cost of college courses. The only catch is that associates must get their degree through American Public University (APU). All degree-seeking undergraduate associates are also eligible for an undergraduate book grant that covers almost all of textbook expenses. This grant can be earned, regardless of the degree being pursued. Though the company does not make it clear if this grant is only for APU students, too. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-college-students-can-save-money-before-class-starts?ref=seealso">8 Ways College Students Can Save Money Before Class Starts</a>)</p> <p>These are just a sample of great part-time employers that offer college benefits. If you currently work for a smaller or private company, it doesn't hurt to ask if the employer would consider partial tuition reimbursement. Make your case by showing how certain courses or a specific degree would help you become a more valuable asset to the company.</p> <p><em>Would you take a part-time position just for the college benefits? Share with us in the comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-part-time-jobs-that-offer-college-benefits">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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