college | Sharkey, Howes & Javer

Broadening Your Horizons with Non-traditional Higher Education

By | SH&J Blog, Tips | No Comments

college student near campus

Released by The College Board, the average price paid for tuition, fees, and room and board in 2015-2016 was $43,921 at private colleges and $19,548 at public institutions. Along with the rising tuition prices, the balance of outstanding student loans has risen over $1.2 trillion with 40 million borrowers and an average balance of $29,000 (source). With numbers like this, parents who are saving for their child’s higher education may start to wonder, what is the value of attending a 4-year public or private university? And, are there other options?

As technology improves and the definition of a “traditional student” evolves, community colleges are starting to gain traction. Community colleges benefit a wide range of learners varying in age, location and need. Many offer two year programs, some of which can be completed entirely online. These programs make degrees more accessible for individuals who are already in the workforce or need flexible class schedules. By attending a community college, individuals can take advantage of program variety and small class sizes without the price tag of a private or public university.

However, if your student wants the “traditional campus experience”, consider taking a few general classes at a community college close to home over the summer to help reduce overall costs.

Another option is to look internationally to broaden your experience and reduce your costs. Pursuing a degree abroad opens the door to once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities while acquiring marketable cultural skills that short term study abroad programs may not provide. You may also find studies more tailored to your interests or needs, perhaps art history in France or a culinary program in Italy.

Make an appointment with your Certified Financial Planner™ to further discuss your college planning options. If you have already started contributing to a 529 College Savings plan remember that these funds can be used for Community Colleges and 339 schools in foreign countries!

The 411 on 529 Plans: Taking Saving for College to the Next Level

By | Investing, SH&J Blog, Tips | No Comments

Having children creates a host of concerns, the least of which is how to save money for college. On top of paying for sports equipment, piano lessons and karate classes, parents’ thoughts soon turn to paying for tuition, books and housing. But a little early planning can help mitigate a lot of worrying down the road, and a lot of people find that a 529 College Savings Plan is a good solution.

What is a 529 Plan?

Developed in 1996, 529 plans were designed to help families save money for higher education without paying taxes on the investment. As such, 529 plans are exempt from federal taxes if the proceeds are used for qualified higher education purposes. Most states, including Colorado, will also allow you to deduct your contributions to the plan for state tax purposes.

Any adult can open a 529 plan account for themselves or for someone else, usually a child or grandchild. Another benefit of such a plan is that anyone, whether they own the account or not, can contribute to the account. So if you open an account for your child, anyone you know can make a contribution directly to the account.

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How much should I save for college?

By | Harold Kirschner, Planners, SH&J Blog, Tips, Videos | No Comments

Most of our clients are saving for college at some point during their time with SH&J. Some are saving for their children and others for their grandkids. As Harold highlights in the video, the number one rule when saving for college is:

Save for retirement first.

That said, when you are looking at how much you should save, consider the following factors:

  • Private or public college
  • In-state or out-of-state tuition

Working with a financial planner can help you look at these factors along with your retirement and other financial goals to decide on the best path for your college savings goals.

At SH&J, we usually start with 529 plans for college savings. 529 plans:

  • Receive federal & state tax breaks
  • Are low maintenance
  • Allow you to maintain control of the funds
  • Grow tax free as long as the money is used for college education

If you are looking at saving for college soon, we’d love to meet with you to hear more about your goals. Give us a ring at 303.639.5100 and let’s set up a time.