At Wealth Dimensions, we understand that providing a secure future for your children and grandchildren is a top priority. We believe that education plays a crucial role in shaping that future.
In this comprehensive blog, we will guide you through four essential aspects of securing your loved ones’ educational journey:
- Funding Your Child’s College Education
- Navigating Student Loan Help
- Preparing Your Child Emotionally for College
- The Essential Documents Every 18-Year-Old Should Have
Together, we will explore how to invest wisely in your family’s educational future and ensure that they have all the tools they need to succeed, both financially and emotionally.
Funding Your Child’s College Education
Watch this video to hear Isla Carey, Client Ambassador, share a few different ways you can help fund your child or grandchild’s education.
Congratulations! Your child has been accepted to the college of their choice! Now comes the important task of figuring out how to finance their higher education journey. We understand that this can be a daunting process, but don’t worry; we’re here to guide you through it. In this section, we will discuss various ways you can fund your child’s college expenses.
Many parents and students mistakenly believe that scholarships are only awarded to those with perfect SAT or ACT scores. However, the reality is quite different. Scholarships come in all shapes and sizes, and they are often based on a wide range of criteria, not just academic performance. To explore scholarship opportunities, consider contacting the college’s admissions office and requesting an application. Remember, it’s essential to apply early, as some scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
Grants, like scholarships, offer financial aid that does not need to be repaid. The application process for grants is similar to that of scholarships. Get in touch with the admissions office and fill out the required forms to see if your child is eligible for any grants.
- Work-Study Programs:
Work-study programs provide an excellent way for students to earn money while attending college. These part-time employment opportunities are usually available on the school campus, making it convenient for students who don’t have cars. Besides helping cover educational expenses, work-study programs allow students to immerse themselves in their new academic environment.
- Your Own Income and Savings:
In addition to seeking external financial assistance, consider your own income and savings. You might have set up a 529 plan or other college savings accounts to help cover your child’s educational costs. These funds can be a valuable resource in funding their college journey.
When other sources of financial aid aren’t sufficient, loans can be a viable option. There are two primary types of loans to consider:
Federal Student Loans: Federal student loans are provided by the government and typically offer competitive interest rates. One pro tip is to explore the possibility of having a co-signer, as this can often result in a lower interest rate – especially if the co-signer has an excellent credit score.
Private Student Loans: Many colleges also offer their own loan programs that you can apply for through the admissions office. These loans may have varying terms and interest rates, so it’s essential to research them thoroughly and compare them with federal loan options.
We hope this guide has provided you with a comprehensive understanding of how to fund your child’s college education. There are numerous financial resources available to help you make the most of this educational opportunity. Remember that careful planning and early applications for scholarships and grants can go a long way in reducing the financial burden of college expenses.
At Wealth Dimensions, we are committed to helping you take full advantage of these funding options and ensure a smooth transition into the college experience. If you have any questions or need further guidance on financing your child’s education, feel free to reach out to us.
Emotionally Preparing Your Child for College: A Parent’s Guide
In this video, Isla Carey, Client Ambassador, helps you understand how to best navigate the emotional aspect of your child’s college journey.
As parents, one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of our journey is helping our children make life-altering decisions, such as choosing the right college. It’s not just about finding the best academic fit, but also ensuring our children are emotionally prepared for this significant transition. In this blog, we will explore effective ways to emotionally prepare your child for college.
Asking the Right Questions
The first step in guiding your child through this process is to ask them a series of key questions. Here are some essential inquiries that can help both you and your child gain clarity:
- Location Matters
Ask your child if they want to stay close to home or venture out of state. This simple question can significantly narrow down their college options. Proximity to home can provide a sense of security while attending an out-of-state school can offer a fresh start and independence.
- School Size
Does your child prefer a large university with big class sizes or a smaller college with a more intimate classroom experience? The size of the school can greatly impact the learning environment and personal experience. Knowing your child’s preference will help identify the right fit.
- Living Arrangements
Another crucial aspect to consider is whether your child wants to live on or off campus. Their housing choice can impact their social life and overall college experience. For instance, living on campus can provide more opportunities for building relationships and involvement in campus activities, reducing the risk of feeling isolated during weekends.
Seeking Professional Guidance
It’s important to acknowledge that navigating the college selection process can be overwhelming, and sometimes, it’s beneficial to seek professional help. Consider these two valuable resources:
- School Counselors
Your child’s high school counselor can be a valuable source of information and guidance. They are experienced in helping students explore their options, understand the application process, and identify colleges that align with their interests and aspirations. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them.
- Private School Counselors
For a more personalized approach, hiring a private school counselor is another option. These professionals specialize in guiding students and parents through the college selection process. They can provide tailored advice, conduct assessments, and help create a list of suitable colleges for your child.
The Campus Visit
One of the most effective ways to ease your child’s college-related anxieties is to schedule an on-campus tour. Visiting the college in person allows your child to get a feel for the campus environment, the layout of the classrooms, and the available amenities. It’s also an opportunity to explore the various clubs and organizations offered at the college. This firsthand experience can provide reassurance that they are making the right choice.
Helping your child emotionally prepare for college looks like: open communication, asking the right questions, seeking professional guidance, and visiting potential campuses. There are many aspects to consider when choosing the right college, but the key is to start the process early, engage in meaningful conversations, and offer your unwavering support. So, grab a pen and paper, start asking those crucial questions, and embark on this exciting journey with your child. After all, their success and happiness are the ultimate goals of this important decision.
Navigating Student Loan Help for Your Children or Grandchildren
In this Watch this video to hear Eric Loftus, Financial Advisor, explain what repayment options are available, and how to find the best recourse for your unique situation.
For parents and grandparents, supporting the educational pursuits of their children or grandchildren is a heartwarming endeavor. However, with the complex landscape of student loans and ever-evolving repayment options, it can be daunting to determine the most effective way to assist with student loan balances. In this section, we will explore some essential steps to evaluate repayment strategies and gifting options for your loved ones.
The Dilemma of Paying Down Student Loans Directly
Given the confusion surrounding student loans and repayment, it’s not uncommon to wonder whether directly paying down those loans is the best course of action. Surprisingly, the answer may not always be a resounding “yes.” In fact, paying down student loans directly can sometimes reduce the amount that can ultimately be forgiven, particularly in light of the new repayment and forgiveness options available.
In such cases, alternative gifting strategies may be more beneficial. Let’s delve into five key steps to evaluate your options and decide on the best approach for helping your child or grandchild:
- Explore Studentaid.gov
To begin your journey, visit Studentaid.gov, where you will find a revamped website offering a plethora of resources, educational materials, and access to a helpful support desk. The site also outlines the new SAVE Program, which has streamlined income-driven repayment plans.
- Utilize the New Calculator
On Studentaid.gov, take advantage of the new calculator, which allows you to input loan information, household details, and income data. This tool will help you model repayment and forgiveness options, making it easier to visualize different scenarios.
- Investigate Forgiveness Programs
Look into forgiveness programs like SAVE or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which is available to government and non-profit employees. This includes professionals working in hospital systems, such as doctors, nurses, and support staff.
- Optimize Payment Options
If it appears that you or your loved one may qualify for forgiveness under one of these programs, the next step is to seek the lowest payment option available through an income-driven repayment plan. This approach maximizes forgiveness at the end of the loan term, even though it may require some initial legwork.
- Consider Alternative Gifting Strategies
For those still interested in helping their children or grandchildren, consider alternative methods, such as using the annual gift exclusion. By doing so, you can encourage your loved ones to use the gifted funds for purposes like saving for their first home or boosting their retirement accounts. Increased savings can not only secure their financial future but also reduce monthly student loan payments by decreasing their overall income.
At Wealth Dimensions, our financial planning process involves helping our clients craft and optimize their family and charitable gifting strategies. If you’re unsure about the best approach for your family, please reach out to any of our advisors to see if we’re the right fit for your financial planning needs.
The Essential Documents Every 18-Year-Old Should Have
Dan Vogepohl, Principal & Financial Advisor, is sharing the essential documents your 18-year-old should have.
Turning 18 is a significant milestone – it’s the age when your child is considered a legal adult. With this new status come both freedoms and responsibilities – and yes, paperwork. We’ll walk you through essential documents that every 18-year-old should consider having so you can feel confident knowing your new adult has everything they need!
Identification and Legal Documents
Even if your child doesn’t have immediate travel plans, a passport is a solid form of identification that lasts for 10 years. It’s a valuable document to have for various purposes, including international travel, employment, and more.
- Driver’s License or State ID
This serves not just for driving but also as a primary form of identification domestically. Having a driver’s license or state ID is essential for various day-to-day activities, such as opening a bank account or proving your age.
- Social Security Card
Keep the original in a safe place. Your child will need this for various forms and applications, including employment, financial transactions, and government benefits.
- Birth Certificate
Like the Social Security Card, it’s important to know where the original or certified copy is. The birth certificate is often required for legal matters, applying for government programs, and more.
- Bank Account Information
By 18, your child should consider having their own checking and/or savings account. This provides a sense of financial independence and a place to manage their money.
- Credit Report
Your child should start monitoring their credit report annually. It’s free and critical for understanding their financial standing and maintaining a good credit score.
- Tax Documents
As they start earning money, they’ll likely need to file taxes. They will need to keep their W-2s, 1099s, and tax returns organized and accessible. Understanding their tax obligations is essential as they enter the workforce.
- Health Insurance Cards
If your child is covered under a health plan, they need to keep the insurance card with them. This is crucial for accessing healthcare services and benefits.
- Medical Records
Having a copy of your child’s immunization records and other medical history can be vital when they see a new doctor or travel. These records ensure that they receive appropriate medical care and vaccinations.
- Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney
This is really important. These documents allow your child to specify their health care preferences and designate someone to make decisions for them if they are unable. It ensures that their medical wishes are respected in case of emergencies.
At 18, they can legally create a will. While it may seem premature, it’s the best way to ensure their wishes are followed regarding their possessions and assets. This is particularly important for those who want to protect their assets and distribute them as per their wishes.
- Updating any beneficiary information
Ensure that beneficiary information for bank accounts, insurance policies, and retirement accounts is up to date. This ensures that the right people receive assets in the event of the account holder’s passing.
- Emergency Contact List
This isn’t a legal document, but it is crucial. They should have a list of family or friends who can be contacted in an emergency. It ensures that loved ones can be reached in critical situations.
Being 18 is exciting – it’s the start of adulthood! With these documents in order, your child is not just being responsible; they are also taking significant steps to protect themselves and their future. So, celebrate the 18th birthday, but take some time to get these documents in order. It’s one of the best gifts your child can give their future self. Preparing these documents is a valuable way to kickstart their journey into adulthood.
For informational purposes only. Not intended as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security or strategy. Information prepared from third-party sources is believed to be reliable though its accuracy is not guaranteed. Opinions expressed in this commentary reflect subjective judgments of the author based on conditions at the time of writing and are subject to change without notice. For more information about Wealth Dimensions, including our Form ADV Part 2A Brochure, please visit https://adviserinfo.sec.gov or contact us at 513-554-6000. Please be advised that this material is not intended as legal or tax advice. Accordingly, any tax information provided in this material is not intended and cannot be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.