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education expenses

What to do with an extra 1,000 dollars

I occasionally get this question – especially around the time of tax refunds.  When someone comes up with an extra $1,000, they often want to know how to best use that money wisely to help out their overall financial condition. Of course this question has different answers for different situations.  I’ll run through several different sets of conditions that a person might find him or herself in, and some suggestions for how you might use an extra $1,000 to best improve your financial standing.  (It’s important to note that you don’t have to have an extra $1,000 lying around to use this advice – you could have an extra ten or twenty or fifty bucks a week and put it to work with the same principles.)  The point is to find money that isn’t being spent on something critical, and put it to work for you!  Even small steps amount to wonders. […]

Retirement vs College Saving in a Nutshell

Those of us who are parents know this conflict very well – should we put aside money for retirement, or for college saving? It may come as a surprise, but a general rule of thumb with regard to this conflict is to put money aside for retirement first, and college second. The reason behind this is that there are many ways to pay for college, such as grants, scholarships, work-study programs, student loans, parent loans, etc.. With this plethora of choices, it becomes clear that your student’s college funding needs can be met from quite a few angles, none of which should have a dramatic impact on your overall net worth (or your student’s). On the other hand, no one will give you a scholarship to retire. It is solely up to you and your savings (coupled with Social Security and any available pensions).

College Costs Increase for 2014/2015

Background Every year, the College Board releases  its Trends in College Pricing and Trends in Student Aid reports that highlight current college costs and trends in financial aid. While costs can vary significantly depending on the region and college, the College Board publishes average cost figures, which are based on its survey of nearly 4,000 colleges across the country. Following are cost highlights. Total cost figures include tuition and fees, room and board, and a sum for books, transportation, and personal expenses. Together, these expenditures are officially referred to as the “total cost of attendance.”

Education Tax Benefits

Going to college can be a stressful time for students and parents. Some of the costs of your education can be offset by tax credits and reductions to income.  These credits and reductions can be complicated, so it takes a bit of coordination to keep things straight.  More than one education tax benefit may be taken in one year, but generally the expenses must be segregated from one another in your reporting.  In other words, you couldn’t take two tax benefits based upon the exact same education expenses, with some exceptions.  For example, you can use most qualified expenses for the tax credits and apply the expense toward eliminating the 10% penalty on IRA distributions at the same time. Generally though, most tax benefits for education can only be applied once to each expense.  Only one of the following credits may be used per student in any given year: American […]

Avoid the Freshman 15

It’s that time of year again when students either embark on a new journey from high school to college or return to undergrad studies from their freshman, sophomore, or junior summer into a new year of college. It’s also the time when bad habits, if left unmonitored, can result in what’s called the Freshman 15 – debt and weight gain. Historically, the Freshman 15 meant that a student settled down in college and in the first few months gained weight due to poor eating habits, stress, and perhaps alcohol consumption after turning 21. Today, I’ve expanded the Freshman 15 to also mean 15% – of credit card debt. Like consuming food, consuming money and on credit can lead to bad habits and have negative consequences. I can remember when I was a freshman in college and the credit card offers came pouring in. What an amazing display of copywriting! It […]

Education Expense Tax Tips

One way to help ease the bite of the cost of a college education is to use all available tax rules to your advantage.  There are several items you can use, including 529 plans, Coverdell ESAs, and various credits for tuition and fee payments. The IRS recently released their Summertime Tax Tip 2013-19: Back-to-School Tax Tips for Students and Parents, providing a valuable overview of a couple of important credits and deductions.  The actual text of the Tip follows: Back-to-School Tax Tips for Students and Parents Going to college can be a stressful time for students and parents. The IRS offers these tips about education tax benefits that can help offset some college costs and maybe relieve some of that stress. American Opportunity Tax Credit.  This credit can be up to $2,500 per eligible student. The AOTC is available for the first four years of post secondary education. Forty percent of […]

Tax tips for college expenses

Most all college students are back on campus by this point but the benefits that you can receive from various tax credits will not become apparent until you pay your taxes next year. It’s important to know what tax credits you may be eligible for early on, so that you keep good records as you pay these college expenses. Recently the IRS published their Summertime Tax Tip 2012 – 25 which details tips for students and parents paying college expenses. The actual text of this tip is listed below.   Back-to-school tips for students and parents and college expenses Whether you’re a recent high school graduate going to college for the first time or a returning student, it will soon be time to head to campus, and payment deadlines for tuition and other fees are not far behind. The IRS over some tips about education tax benefits that can help […]

Tips for Summer Jobs From the IRS

With summer in full swing, many young folks are working in temporary jobs for the summer.  There are a few things that you need to know about these temporary jobs that the IRS (and I!) would like you to know.  Recently the IRS produced their Summertime Tax Tip 2012-13, which provides important information for students working in summer jobs.  I have added an extra couple of tips after the original IRS text that may be useful to you as well. The original text of the Tip is below: A Lesson from the IRS for Students Starting a Summer Job School’s out, but the IRS has another lesson for students who will be starting summer jobs.  Summer jobs represent an opportunity for students to learn about the tax system. Not all of the money they earn will be included in their paychecks because their employer must withhold taxes. Here are six […]

IRS Helps You Out When Your Boss Doesn’t Pay You Back For Expenses Related to Your Job

Employee Transfer (Photo credit: Wikipedia) When you have to pay for certain expenses in order to do your job, sometimes (if you’ve got a good employer!) your company will reimburse you for those expenses.  On the other hand, sometimes they don’t reimburse you for those expenses.  Did you know that you can deduct those expenses (to a certain extent) from your income when you file your tax return?  And in some cases, when your employer reimburses you, you still need to fill out additional tax forms in order to keep from being taxed on the reimbursements. The IRS recently published their Tax Tip 2012-54, which details how to go about deducting these expenses, and what expenses are qualified for deduction.  Below is the text of the Tax Tip in its entirety. Employee Business Expenses Some employees may be able to deduct certain work-related expenses.  The following facts from the IRS […]

Tax Benefits For Parents

As parents, we spend a lot of money raising our children – from basic needs such as food, housing, doctor bills, and clothing, to education, daycare, soccer teams and lessons on the clarinet – it seems like the list is endless. Since the kids don’t generally pay you back (at least in dollars), the IRS steps in to help out.  There are several tax benefits that you may be eligible for just because the little urchins are in your care… and here’s a list of ten tax benefits that the IRS has put together (taken from IRS Tax Tip 2011-18): Dependents In most cases, a child can be claimed as a dependent in the year they were born.  For more information see IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information. Child Tax Credit You may be able to take this credit on your tax return for each of your […]

Tax Benefits for College

When faced with the high cost of college, you want to find and take advantage of every opportunity that you can to cut down on your out-of-pocket expenses, before you give in and take out loans.  So after you’ve applied for all of the grants, scholarships, and other non-loan financial aid that you can, it’s time to consider what sorts of tax benefits may help out with your situation. Credits There are two different kinds of tax credits currently available in tax year 2010 and 2011: American Opportunity Credit – This credit is available for students (and parents of students) that are in their first four years in a degree program at college.  The credit is a maximum of $2,500, and is calculated as:  100% of the first $2,000, and 25% of the next $2,000 of Qualified Higher Education Expenses (QHEE) paid for that student.  QHEE is limited to tuition, […]

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