Researching Career Data Can Help Students Plan Academically

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Spring brings a time of big decisions, both for high school students looking to decide on which college to attend (College Decision Day is May 1) and those college students who are about to enter the job market armed with a degree. One question that might be prominent in the minds of both groups of students this time of year is likely one that’s been getting louder as graduation approaches: “What do I want to do for a career?”

Options abound for finding advice on determining a career path. Many (if not all) suggest that the way to find a direction for a career include learning more about what the day-to-day duties of a job in a given career entail, what type of knowledge and skills is required and what kind of starting salary new employees can look forward to in the career.

Rather than scramble from website to website to collect data, the U.S. Department of Labor offers an interest profiler as part of My Next Move, a career search tool for those looking to find work that reflect their goals. Answering a series of questions, gives users a breakdown not only of what to expect in a given career, but also uses the latest U.S. Department of Labor statistics to give an up-to-date forecast of that career path’s future demand.

Using tools like My Next Move will help give those students leaving college an idea of what type of job market their particular degree will place them in. For high school students, the information provided can help make decisions on whether or not to pursue one major over another.

College Admissions Assistance Company Required to Change Marketing, Make Refunds, Pay $25K Fine

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A Texas-based college admission company has been ordered to pay a fine of $25,000 and refund over $2,000 to an Iowa family who they misled into a forced contract for college-preparation services, according to the Iowa Attorney General.

College Admission Assistance LLC, a Delaware company headquartered in Arlington, Texas, has agreed to change how it markets its services to Iowa households with college-bound students following a complaint that the company misled and took advantage of a Haitian-born Iowa couple, pressuring them into a contract requiring payment of nearly $2,000 for private counseling and other services intended to prepare their teenage son for college, help select a school, and arrange financial aid.

According to the complaint, the couple had received an official-looking letter from the “Director of Student Services” at College Admission Assistance directing them to attend an upcoming meeting about their son’s college prospects at a local venue. The mother attended with the student, and once there a company representative allegedly pressured her to sign a contract for college-admission-related services that the couple later determined they did not need and could not afford.

The Attorney General’s said that the quality of the counseling and other services the company provides its customers was not the issue, and that consumer complaints filed with other state attorney general offices and the Better Business Bureau typically focus on the aggressive approach to marketing, not the underlying services themselves.

The agreement, called an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, provides that any Iowans who signed up for CAA’s services can obtain a refund for any unused portion of the contract term. The Attorney General’s office urged any Iowans currently paying on such a contract to contact the office.

Further details on the case can be found here.

Prepare For Financial Life (and Debt) After Graduation Now With These Tips

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Graduation means new opportunities for college graduates moving into their chosen career paths, but it can also be a time of increased stress as the reality of dealing with student loan payment and other financial issues stops being a far-off issue and becomes an immediate concern. While some programs help with loan repayment for those in certain careers, those students not qualifying for such programs can avoid sleepless nights and increased worry by following some of these tips of dealing with the early days of student loan repayment:

Know what’s coming

Students certainly should have reviewed the details of their loan when they signed up for them, but it never hurts to revisit that fine print again as it comes time to start repayment. What is the interest rate of the loan? Fixed rates might being a little more piece of mind knowing that interest rates won’t fluctuate like they do in variable rate loans. The more a student knows about their loan, the more they can plan for a type of payment plan, be it a standard repayment or income-driven plan. It also helps to know how interest accrues should a loan be put in deferment or forbearance.

Act on that knowledge

Once a student knows how their loan is set-up, they can make the best plan for attacking the balance. Setting up automatic payments helps make sure that loan repayment is never lost or adjusted based on changes in income. Establishing a set amount each month to automatically be deducted not only makes it easy to establish a monthly budget, but also help avoid late payment penalties. Many lenders give interest rate reductions for setting up automatic payments.

Keep debt in check

As with any budgeting, making sure to keep debt to a minimum is a large step in keeping stress out of life. Student loans can be a large portion of a student’s debt load for the first years after college. So before making large purchases (car, graduate school, etc.) students should make sure they have a strong budget plan that factors in additional debt while maintaining repayment of previous loan debt. Future debt can’t always be avoided unavoidable, but making smart decisions about money can help reduce the stress of new debt and make it more manageable.

Waitlisted For A Top-Choice School? Do More Than Just Wait

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May 1 looms large for colleges and prospective students, as National College Decision Day marks the deadline to accept college offers for the incoming Class of 2020. While many students may have their final college decisions locked down, others sit in limbo with an admission decision that can cause more confusion and stress than even a rejection from a top-choice college: a place on the waitlist. For these students deciding to hold out for acceptance from the waitlist of a top choice school or accepting a firm offer from another school isn’t an easy decision to make.

How likely are students to get in from their waitlists? The chances are increasingly slim, as top schools narrow the admissions process year after year, making for an efficient process. For many top schools, the Class of 2018 saw less than 10% of their waitlist admitted, with many top schools accepting less than 5%.

Hopefully by this time, waitlisted students have revisited their research on the colleges where they did gain admission and maybe attended an admitted students weekend or two. Since waitlisted students will need to accept an offer by May 1 regardless of whether or not they chose to stay on the waitlist, it’s important to first focus on the colleges where you did get in so that you can make an informed decision about where to enroll.

What many students don’t realize is that accepting a spot on the waitlist isn’t enough. Writing a waitlist letter, updating the colleges on their activities and life since their first admission essay, goes a long way to showing that a student is still very much interested, even if they are waitlisted. More than that, these essays also give colleges more context for making an informed decision when ranking those students who offered a spot off the waitlist.

That doesn’t mean that a good waitlist letter will rocket a student to the top spot on the waitlist. Waitlist admissions frequently depend on the college’s needs for the incoming class and which students are the most likely to accept a spot if admitted.

Students waiting to hear from a waitlisted school should still accept a spot on their next-choice college and send an enrollment deposit. It’s important to make sure that students ready to go to the school in the fall have a guaranteed spot. In the meantime, be patient. Students that haven’t heard from their waitlisted school by June should call the admissions office to find out if waitlist students are still being considered.

U.S. Department of Labor Offers Financial Literacy Webcast Event April 28

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Financial Literacy Month isn’t just for young people learning about how to make sound financial decisions. Students of all ages can gain valuable money tips during April thanks to events like the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Get Financially Fit Early In Your Career” webcast, taking place on Tuesday, April 28 at 2 p.m. EDT.

Joined by experts from the U.S. Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission, the event will feature information and tools on budgeting, paying off student loans, understanding and managing debt and saving for retirement.

No matter where they are in their life or career, webcast views will benefit from learning about the many user-friendly tools that the federal government has to help them face financial decisions that can have lasting consequences.

For more information and to register for the webcast, click here.

March Winner Announced In EverFi/ICSAC Financial Litearcy Blog Contest

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A winner has been selected from entries submitted in March to the Iowa Financial Literacy Project Blog Contest, sponsored by EverFi and Iowa College Student Aid Commission. This month’s winner will receive a gift card and have their blog post featured both here and on ICSAC’s Facebook page. Entries for the contest’s final month will be accepted until April 30. To submit an entry, visit http://info.everfi.com/IFLP_BlogContestSubmit.html.

Name: Krista Moellers

School: North Fayette Valley High School

Teacher: Molly Molthaus

Entry:

Upon graduating North Fayette Valley High School, it is in my greatest interest to attend college at Iowa State University. There I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. From then on, I wish to earn a job working with the mentally ill somewhere in great need of assistance. The Iowa Financial Literacy Program has helped me nail down these plans by organizing a life long savings goal. EverFi has most definitely prepared me for such things as the 401K, checks, balances, types of savings, mortgages, debts, financial literacy, and even ways to save for my greatest goal of all; traveling. After settling with a stable job for a number of years, I hope to travel around the world to experience life in other perspectives. This Financial Literacy Program has turned these future goals into arms reach of reality.

The Money-Saving Educational Tax Credits You May Not Know About

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April 15 looms near and families finishing their tax returns are looking for every deduction available to ease their annual tax responsibility. While many know that saving for education provides tax incentives, ongoing education also provides a way to deduct money from taxes as well. Here are some credits that students and families will want to use to their advantage when tax season rolls around.

Tax Credits for Higher Education Expenses

The IRS offers some tax relief to students at colleges or career training programs by providing two tax credits to help offset the costs of higher education (tuition, fees, books, supplies, equipment).

The American Opportunity Credit offers a deduction of up to $2,500 per student per year for the first four years of school as long as the student works toward a degree or similar credential.

Additionally, students can claim up to $2,000 per student per year with the Lifetime Learning Credit. This is an additional credit that can be used to deduct for college or career school tuition and fees, as well as books, equipment and class supplies.

Even if you normally wouldn’t file a tax return because of your income level, be sure to do so! If you don’t, you’ll miss out on tax credits that would put money in your pocket.

Protected Savings Accounts

Saving for higher education takes a little planning, but two types of accounts allow money to be set aside, tax-free, for the purpose of education.

Qualified Tuition Plans, known more commonly as 529 Plans, have been in the news lately as college educations and access have increased in importance. QTPs are established by a state or school so that a family can either prepay or save up to pay education-related expenses. When a student embarks on their higher education, they can withdraw money from the account for education expenses. The money withdrawn is not taxed.

Another savings account, the Coverdell Education Savings Account, also allows up to $2,000 a year to be put aside for a student’s education expenses (elementary, secondary, or college) without being taxed.