Financial Planning for College : A tip from Used College Textbooks Net

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Financial Planning For College: Part 3    Part 1 Part 2

Strategies for Funding College Tuition
Even if you invest wisely and defer the tax liability on savings for your child's college fund, you'll have to come up with the taxes when you liquidate those investments. Chances are you'll be faced with taxes at a time in the future when you are likely to be in a higher tax bracket and have other additional expenses. You'll need to be sure your investments earn enough to cover the anticipated taxes.

It's important to note, too, that tax laws are constantly changing. Consult your tax advisor before you begin investing, then check back regularly. If tax law changes negatively affect your college investments, you may want to move the money. How and when you move the funds also can affect taxes, so be sure to talk to your tax advisor first.

Here are just a few examples of tax considerations affecting college funds:

  • Loans. If you plan to take out a loan to help pay for your child's college expenses, the interest may now be deductible. Generally, if the taxpayer's adjusted gross income is below $60,000 for joint filers and below $40,000 for single filers the following interest may be deductible. The deduction is phased out ratably from $40,000 to $55,000 for single filers and from $60,000 to $75,000 for joint filers.
Year Offest Tax On
1998 $1,000
1999 $1,500
2000 $2,000
2001 and beyond $2,500

A deduction may be claimed only on interest paid during the first 60 months in which interest is owed. Students may claim this deduction only if they are not claimed as dependents on parent's returns.

  • UGMA accounts. You can put assets in a Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) custodial account for a child. However, if the child is under age 14, all income earned by these assets above a certain level (determined annually by the IRS) is taxed at the parents' income rate, whether or not the parent is the custodian. For children 14 years old and older, the income on assets in a UGMA account is generally taxed at the child's rate. You should keep in mind that putting assets in your child's name may reduce the amount of financial aid he or she is eligible to receive.

Other Avenues for Revenue

Even if you start early, it may be impossible to save enough for your child's college education. That doesn't mean, however, that college is out of the question. You have other cost-saving options available.

Student Strategies. While they may not be options you should rely on, there are some strategies students can follow to help reduce their expenses prior to entering college and once they're in college. For example, many college students, particularly those who commute to a local school, are able to work part-time and summer jobs to help subsidize their tuition or simply to earn spending money. Be aware, however, that money earned by the child prior to college may reduce his or her eligibility for financial aid. Some colleges offer cooperative education programs where students rotate study with periods of career-related work, allowing them to earn money and credits at the same time. However, it may take more than four years to complete a degree through a cooperative education program. Ask the college admissions office about the specifics of their program.

Depending on a child's scholastic ability, he or she may be able to earn college credits by taking college courses or advance placement exams while still in high school. First- and second-year college students can also take College Level Examination Program tests for course credit. These options can represent a significant savings over the cost of a full-semester course in the classroom. Check with your child's high school guidance counselor or with the college admissions office for eligibility requirements and program specifics.

Another cost-savings possibility is to attend a community college for the first year or two, then transfer to a four-year college to complete a degree. This can be a more affordable approach to receiving a degree from a prestigious institution that you may have been unable to afford for four years or which may have been more competitive to gain entrance as a freshman.

Financial Aid. Think of this in broad terms. You needn't be the sole source of funding for your child's higher education. For example, when your child receives a gift of money, put it into a college fund. When grandparents ask what to give for birthdays, suggest college fund contributions.

And don't forget the traditional sources of financial aid: scholarships, grants, work-study programs and government loans. Your child's scholastic record, course of study, athletic ability and choice of college are just a few of the variables that may affect the availability of these options.

If your family meets certain financial criteria, the federal government has a program of low-interest loans with extended payment terms. Relying too heavily on loans, however, is costly and can burden graduates with large debts just when they are working to establish their financial independence. Also, you should be aware that government financial aid programs are subject to change.

Here is one resource for combining student loans.

Home Equity. If you bought your home when your child was small, you're likely to have built up a significant amount of equity by the time college is in the picture. You can tap that resource for your child's education with a home-equity line of credit. Interest payments may be tax deductible. Part 1 Part 2

 
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