December 19, 2008

A Country-wide White Out

Posted in Misc at 9:46 AM by Joe From Boston

Up here in Boston we’re bracing for the blizzard that is going to hit in about 3 hours – the same storm that snowed on Las Vegas!

So, please drive safe everyone, good luck digging your self out and of course, enjoy the snowball fights!

December 17, 2008

New secretary of education announced

Posted in Misc at 12:18 PM by Joe From Boston

FYI: President-elect Barack Obama has nominated Arne Duncan, head of the Chicago public schools, to lead the Department of Education as Secretary of State.

December 16, 2008

Irony: Bailout application less than 1/2 length of FAFSA!

Posted in FAFSA, Misc, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process at 12:59 PM by Joe From Boston

In an ironic twist of fate that will have many investors gritting their teeth, the AP is reporting that the application banks must fill out is only 2 pages long!

“Ever need a college loan? You’ve probably pored through the notorious eight-page FAFSA application. A likely home buyer? Try the fivepage Uniform Residential Loan Application.

But what if you’re a bank looking for a few billion from the federal government’s new Capital Purchase Program?

Two pages.

That’s all the nation’s financial institutions had to fill out to request money from the government’s $700 billion Trouble Asset Relief Program. In fact, the first page only requires bank contact information.

For some lawmakers and watchdog groups, the simple request form has become a symbol of a government financial bailout plan in need of more accountability and oversight.

“When student lenders and mortgage companies ask more questions in lending thousands of dollars than the federal government does when it injects billions of dollars worth of capital, we should all be concerned,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee.”

December 10, 2008

Bill Gates to the Rescue

Posted in Misc at 2:31 PM by Joe From Boston

Bet you thought the above sentence would never apply to you, eh?

Well, if you’re a low-income student struggling to finish your higher education, then perhaps it does!

According to a recent New York Times article, “the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday announced nearly $70 million in grants as part of an ambitious initiative: to double the number of low-income students who earn a college degree or vocational credential by age 26”

Most of the money will not go directly to students, but to programs that help keep lower-income students in schools.

“And the lack of a higher education degree or credential is particularly debilitating in a recession, said Anthony Carnevale, the director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.

“The people who survive the [recession] have always been and continue to be the ones with postsecondary education,” Dr. Carnevale said, adding that the unemployment rate for people without a college education was generally four times as high as for those with a two- or four-year degree.”

December 1, 2008

Should private student lenders profit from the Bailout?

Posted in Misc at 9:39 AM by Joe From Boston

Not according to consumer advocacy groups.  According to the Washington Post, “Student advocacy groups are urging the Treasury Department to prevent a new $200 billion consumer-lending program from benefiting private student lenders, which they say are largely unregulated and prey on students with risky, high-interest loans.”

Remember, these are the loan programs that were the focus of the conflict-of-interest scandal last year.

While Federal loans offer wonderful consumer protections, private loans are largely unregulated and cannot be dissolved even in bankruptcy.

These advocacy groups are recommending that private student lenders not be bailed out, or if they are bailed out then force regulations upon them that protect consumers from predatory lending.

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Misc at 8:07 AM by Joe From Boston

To all my readers, it’s Thanksgiving today in the U.S., a day to be thankful for friends, family and all that we hold dear.

In honor of the day, I offer you my wishes for a bountiful harvest and the love of family and friends.

November 21, 2008

Want to save money? Take class(es) online

Posted in Misc at 12:54 PM by Joe From Boston

Online classes are experiencing quite a boom these days what with the economy and all.

You save on gas, many “books” are available online, and online classes are sometimes cheaper than their classroom  contemporaries as colleges and universities don’t have to pay to find that extra bit of space to hold yet another class.

Now, online classes aren’t for everyone.  They require A LOT of self-discipline.

If this sounds like a good option for you, start investigating what’s available!

November 19, 2008

Cuomo investigating links between colleges and health insurers

Posted in Misc at 8:45 AM by Joe From Boston

New York Attorney General is at it again – this time investigating links between the health care industry and colleges, rerports the New York Times.  Here’s an excerpt:

The investigation by the attorney general… appears to be focused on the adequacy of disclosure of policy terms and costs to students. Investigators also appear to be looking into whether colleges are receiving any improper payments in exchange for requiring students to use a particular insurer.

“We are primarily focused on whether insurance companies are paying schools to push students into health coverage they don’t really need and shouldn’t really want,” Benjamin M. Lawsky, special assistant to the attorney general, wrote in an e-mail message. “With students and their families being financially squeezed at every turn, colleges must ensure that they are looking out for students’ best interest first and foremost as opposed to their own financial bottom line.”

The request to State University of New York institutions, for example, asked for copies of colleges’ requests for proposals from insurers, contracts with insurers, statistics on premiums paid and information given to students about available policies, said Megan Galbraith, a spokeswoman for SUNY.

November 12, 2008

Federal student loans – tax deductable?

Posted in Misc at 8:29 AM by Joe From Boston

Yes!  In many cases you can deduct the interest you pay from your taxes.

The IRS publication 970, Tax Benefits for Higher Education explains these benefits in greater detail. You can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 with any additional questions you may have.

As with any other tax deduction, there are exemptions and qualifications, so read the form closely.  The relevant section begins at the bottom of the left column on page 25.

Please note – I am linking to the 2007 document as I can’t find the 2008 document yet (it may not have been released yet).  If you do want to claim this deduction, PLEASE CHECK FOR THE MOST CURRENT VERSION of this document before preparing taxes, as the rules change from year to year.

November 6, 2008

Don’t blame professor’s salaries for high tuition

Posted in Misc at 7:24 AM by Joe From Boston

Contrary to what the average person believes, most professors don’t earn a lot of money.  Enjoy this excerpt from the Chronicle of Higher Education – the truth is likely much different than you would expect.

“During a debate among the Democratic presidential candidates at Saint Anselm College in January,
Charles Gibson, the moderator, used what he thought was a realistic example of a two-career academic
couple at the small college in New Hampshire. Between them, he ventured during a discussion about tax
policies, they would earn about $200,000 a year.

The audience met Mr. Gibson’s statement with laughter and guffaws. Even some of the candidates told
him he was off base — and they were right. On average, tenured associate professors at Saint Anselm
earned around $65,000 last year. For young assistant professors, the pay was closer to $50,000.

The TV anchor apparently is not the only one who envisions professors as among the well-heeled. When
The Chronicle videotaped interviews with ordinary people on the streets in Washington this fall, asking
them what accounted for large increases in college tuition, many pointed at faculty salaries. “It’s the
rising costs of tenured faculty and all that stuff,” said one woman.

So, what is the truth about faculty pay?

First, it varies wildly according to discipline and by what kind of institution is cutting the paycheck:
public or private, two-year or four-year. Second, although some faculty members earn enough to qualify
as rich, the vast majority do not.

Professors in disciplines like finance do quite well, earning as much as $406,781 a year, according to a
2007 survey of 100 major public institutions by Oklahoma State University. But in that same survey,
English professors earned $67,931 on average.

Still, the association is well aware that the public — and some legislators — believe there is a direct
correlation between faculty salaries and rising college tuition. The AAUP spent time trying to punch
holes in that notion, without much success.

In a 2004 report called “Don’t Blame Faculty for High Tuition,” the association said that on average, tuition and fees at public colleges increased by more than double the rate of faculty-salary increases
between 1990 and 2003. Tuition rose 6.6 percent per year, on average, while faculty pay rose by only
3.2 percent per year.

“If tuition and fee increases had been held to the rate of average faculty-salary increases during this
period,” the AAUP report said, “average tuition and fees would be substantially lower today.”

Compared with average Americans, professors are well off. While the average full-time faculty member
earned about $75,000 last year, the median household income in the United States was just over
$50,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But compared with other professionals with advanced
degrees, faculty members don’t fare as well. Indeed, professors are fond of saying that no one else with
as much education earns as little as they do.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, the average person with a
professional graduate degree earned $123,141 last year. That is almost $50,000 more than the average
professor. “

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