College Funding

Monitor Your Savings Bonds Through Treasury Direct

Jeanette LoPiccolo Contributed by: Jeanette LoPiccolo, CRPC®

Monitor your savings bonds through Treasury Direct

Throughout the years, savings bonds have been popular gifts. Before college savings accounts became so popular, grandparents sometimes gave bonds for birthdays, encouraging their grandchildren to save for the future. Could you have any savings bonds lying around in files or locked up in a safety deposit box?

If you have bonds that you have not looked at in years, now may be the right time to bring them into the digital age with Treasury Direct.

Recently, the U.S. Treasury stopped issuing paper bonds to save costs. Instead, you can create an online account and monitor your bonds as you would an investment account. If you use Raymond James Client Access, you can create an external link to your savings bonds account. Then, you and your financial planner can track your bonds.

In addition to preventing your bonds from being forgotten (or tossed away in a Marie Kondo cleaning frenzy), here are a few good reasons to try the online account:

  • You can cash your electronic bonds, in full or in part, at any time – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and move the funds to a savings or checking account that you specify. You don’t need to go to a financial institution, and there are no restrictions on the number of bonds or the value that can be cashed, once minimum requirements are met.

  • Online holdings and their current values can be viewed at any time.

  • When electronic bonds reach final maturity and are no longer earning interest, they will be automatically paid to a non-interest bearing account.

The process is fairly simple. Step 1 is to locate your savings bonds. Then visit and scroll down to “How Do You Use SmartExchange?”. Follow the prompts and get started!

Jeanette LoPiccolo, CFP®, CRPC®, is an Associate Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc.® She is a 2018 Raymond James Outstanding Branch Professional, one of three recognized nationwide.

Opinions expressed in the attached article are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.

Holiday Financial Conversations for the Generations: Teenagers

 The upcoming holiday break from school gives you the perfect opening to have conversations with your teenage children about their college plans.  Try talking to them about what they are currently interested in studying once they reach college, where they think they might apply, and also your family’s plan for college funding.  This includes what you plan to contribute, as well as your expectations about your child’s contribution. 

Here are several items that should be on your list:

How much is your child’s education likely to cost?  Go online and look up tuition rates for the schools your child might be considering. Then find one of the many online college tuition calculators to determine what your child’s costs might be.

How will you plan to pay for school?

  • Discuss what you have saved (529 College Savings Plans, UTMAs, and other savings).
  • Discuss opportunities for scholarships and grants.  Here are two sites to visit as early as your child’s freshman year in high school:

Discuss ways for your child to contribute, either now or in the future. This may include part-time work in high school, during summers, or during college.  This also includes strong academic performance and/or extra curricular activities now which can put them in a position for academic or other scholarships in the future.

The high cost of a college education makes these family conversations necessary.  By framing the discussions around the excitement of planning for your child’s future, you can make this an enjoyable and productive use of the holidays.

Talk to your financial planner about the many ways to save for your child’s college education.

In my next blog, I will talk about holiday financial discussions to have with your older adult parents.

Sandra Adams, CFP® is a Financial Planner at Center for Financial Planning, Inc. Sandy specializes in Elder Care Financial Planning and is a frequent speaker on related topics. In 2012 and 2013, Sandy was named to the Five Star Wealth Managers list in Detroit Hour magazine. In addition to her frequent contributions to Money Centered, she is regularly quoted in national media publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Research Magazine and Journal of Financial Planning.

Five Star Award is based on advisor being credentialed as an investment advisory representative (IAR), a FINRA registered representative, a CPA or a licensed attorney, including education and professional designations, actively employed in the industry for five years, favorable regulatory and complaint history review, fulfillment of firm review based on internal firm standards, accepting new clients, one- and five-year client retention rates, non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered, number of client households served.

Links are being provided for information purposes only.  Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors.  Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members.

The Early Bird gets the Dough

 This post is provided by Zach Gould our former summer intern and current college campus envoy. From his perspective at the University of South Carolina, Zach offers his take on funding the ever-rising cost of a college education.

The time before, during, and after college can be truly hectic. The packing, the dorm room decorating, it can all be mayhem and the financials can easily be forgotten. I should know! I didn’t do a great job of managing the financials when I was applying to college. Sure I spent hundreds of hours finding which school was the best for business, or which schools had the nicest dorms and on-campus restaurant options, but I put the financial aspect on the back-burner. The reality is that there are a ton of resources out there to help pay for college and to help budget money. The biggest thing is taking a look at these resources before the opportunities to utilize them pass you by.

FAFSA: Don’t Miss the Deadline

The first resource is FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is a form that I highly recommend filling out before sending in that first tuition check or even choosing a school. FAFSA becomes available every year on Jan 1st. Check with your individual state, as different states have different deadlines for submission. For this past school year, the deadline in the state of Michigan was March 1, 2013. Federal student aid can come in a variety of forms, from work-study programs (where you work part-time and the money goes directly to paying for your tuition), to low or no interest loans, and even to aid that doesn’t require repayment. And don’t think that you don’t qualify because you or your family is well-off. There are a variety of factors that are looked at and it can’t hurt to apply!

Scholarship Scoop

While I failed at getting a FAFSA in on-time/at all, I did take advantage of one amazing resource that is offered by almost every college out there: SCHOLARSHIPS. Scholarships are probably the most important and valuable resource in helping to pay for school. I can say with all certainty that without scholarship money, I would not be attending the University of South Carolina. As a resident of North Carolina, I noticed that the out-of-state tuition for almost everywhere was triple if not quadruple the in-state tuition rates at many universities. In fact, the University of Michigan has one of the highest out-of-state tuition rates, coming in at over $40,000 per year before any fees or room and board. The University of South Carolina has a particularly attractive scholarship program. The university offers scholarships to qualified out-of-state students that not only reduce the tuition to the in-state rate, but also take-off additional money. I am currently attending an out-of-state school, while paying less than the rate I would pay for an in-state school. See if any of your potential schools have a similar scholarship. The best place to look ships is on the school’s website. Make sure you take extra note of deadlines, as many scholarships have early deadlines.

Study Abroad Secrets

In addition to tuition scholarships, there are scholarships or grants to do things while in school. A friend of mine started early in looking at scholarships for her semester of studying abroad in Italy and received a few thousand dollars to help pay for her semester abroad. This gave her more options once abroad to travel and experience the local culture with the money she saved. At the University of South Carolina there are scholarships available through each language department and there are also general study abroad scholarships or grants that could be applied for within or separate from the school. I truly wish I had taken advantage of these scholarships, as I found out very quickly last semester how expensive it is to live for 4 months in Paris. Like the other financial resources, getting scholarship applications submitted early is imperative and many require written recommendations from professors or other references which can often be a lengthy process.

The opinions are those of Zachary Gould and The Center for Financial Planning, Inc., and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.

A GIFT FOR A LIFETIME: Grandparent Giving for Education

 We all know grandparents and grandchildren have a special bond. If you are a grandparent of college age children, or those attending private schools in some cases, you have to be alarmed about the amount of debt students are racking up. Economists are estimating students will be paying loans for as long as 20 years, affecting their ability to get homes and cars.*

Grandparents have a special tax saving measure that will be a wonderful gift to their favorite student.  They can make direct payments of tuition to a school free of gift tax.  So what does that mean to the grandparent?  It means that even if you have contributed to 529 plans or given to your student directly, you can exceed the $13,000 annual gift tax exclusion by writing the check directly to the educational institution for tuition payments.  The grandparent is giving now and also reducing their future taxable estate.

What does it mean to your grandchild?  It could mean less debt and the ability to start their professional career on a more solid financial basis.   With the giving season right around the corner, this may be a strategy you want to consider. To learn more, contact your financial planner at the Center.

Source: Huffington Report, 7/20/2012

The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.  Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc., and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.  You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.