Last week the market set another all-time high before declining slightly on Friday. Economic data, the passing of the American Rescue Plan stimulus bill, and reopening of businesses and schools as pandemic case loads drop are all positive signs for an ongoing bull market.
The other market we’re seeing action in currently is in college acceptances and financial aid offers. If you have young children or grandchildren, we typically recommend looking at your state’s 529 plan. Many states offer a tax deduction for contributions, and some offer matching funds. Here in Maryland, the state plan is run by T Rowe Price, has no commissions, offers a state tax deduction, and has an income-based match of up to $500 per account.
If you have older children and you are looking at colleges, now is the time to have an open and honest conversation with your child about what you can afford. While we all want the best for our children, and make huge sacrifices for them, a college education should not be something that imperils your retirement. There are many ways to get through college without serious debt.
Some easy ways to save include taking Advanced Placement courses that will translate into college credit, or even dual-enrolling in community college during high school. Attending a community college for two years and then transferring to a four-year institution is another option. Many college counselors will tell you that the graduation rate for students who take this option is lower than that for students who start at a four-year school, but for kids who don’t know what they want to do, this can be a great option. Living at home while commuting to school can also provide substantial savings.
The military pays for college in three ways. You can enlist directly from high school. There are opportunities to earn college credit while you are serving, and then use your GI Bill benefits to attend college at no cost. The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays for tuition at the highest in-state public school rate, and many private schools waive the remaining tuition. It also provides an annual stipend for books and a monthly housing allowance. For someone who wants to go straight to college, an ROTC scholarship is another option. The service academies are highly selective but provide a free college education. If you are considering medical school or law school, joining the military is an option there as well.
If you are evaluating the aid packages that are coming in the mail over the next few weeks, I encourage you to have a frank conversation with your student. Have them look up annual salaries for their career field, then rent where they are hoping to live. Factor in taxes, health insurance, and other monthly expenses like gas, groceries, and haircuts. Then add student loan payments on top of that. Is the dream school really worth it, or can you get the same education at a lower price somewhere else?
Students can also contribute to the cost of college by working during high school and over the summer. Depending on your student, working while they are at college may be possible. Some financial aid packages include work-study programs, jobs on campus that are flexible and might offer time to study while at work staffing an information or check-in desk somewhere. Finally, many civic groups offer small scholarships for various things. It takes time to research and apply to these, but the small amounts can add up to substantial savings. And if you are having to take out loans, a few thousand dollars a year can add up quickly once you start adding interest to things.
Your action to take this week is to check your auto insurance liability coverage. We recommend you have at least $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident in coverage, with uninsured motorist coverage to match. Some of the biggest claims we see are due to uninsured motorists, and you want to make sure you’re protected if you have to file a claim.
We’re hosting a webinar this week on getting into college, aimed at parents of high school students. You can find more information on our website at covingtonalsina.com. And for the month of March, we’re donating $5 for everyone new who likes our Facebook page to The Summit School, an independent school for children with dyslexia and other learning differences, up to $500.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Great Valley Advisor Group, a Registered Investment Advisor. CovingtonAlsina and Great Valley Advisor Group are separate entities from LPL Financial.
All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.
The opinions voiced in this show are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which strategies or investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult with your attorney, accountant, and financial advisor or tax advisor prior to investing.