Cape Cod Moms Advisor, Gary DellaPosta, CPA is pleased to announce Jacquelyn Grinnell as the winner of the 2016 Gary DellaPosta, CPA Business Scholarship for $1,000.
Jacquelyn is a local 2014 Falmouth High School graduate who has excelled in her studies at University of New Hampshire while majoring in Business Administration Accounting and Marketing. She has received excellent grades in her accounting classes, has earned high honors twice and currently holds a cumulative GPA of 3.58.
Jacquelyn is a first generation college student in her family attending the University of New Hampshire. Her parents Robert & Nanette both work within our community and her younger brother, Robert attends Lawrence Jr. High School. She has grown up learning that nothing is handed to you in the real world and that one must work hard for what you want in life. As a result she has paid her own way through college working full time as a manager in the summer in Falmouth at Jimmy’s of Woods Hole and the Surf Drive Snack Bar. She is a valued employee who is trusted to help operate the business responsibly and takes ownership of her job. She also works at the Dimond Library at the college during the school year.
In addition to working and going to school, Jacquelyn also volunteers at a therapeutic art club. Jacquelyn has demonstrated passion and dedication to her studies, her job, her family and to our community. It is because of her strong work ethic and devotion to her all these that proves just how far in life this young woman will go. She is a true asset to our community and we are extremely pleased to offer her this opportunity to help her finish her college education. Congratulations Jacquelyn!
Gary DellaPosta, CPA & Business Advisors are pleased to announce our 2016 Scholarship for entering college juniors. We will be awarding $1000 to a qualified local student. To qualify, you must be from Falmouth, Bourne, Mashpee or Sandwich and entering your junior year in 2016. Applicant must be enrolled in a program leading to a bachelor’s degree in a business degree field at an accredited college or university. Applicants are invited to download the application off of our website or contact us directly to receive a copy. All applications are due June 1, 2016 and a winner will be announced on July 1, 2016. The winner and their family will be invited to attend a luncheon to receive their honors.
To view and download our College Scholarship Application please select below:
College Scholarship PDF Version
College Scholarship Word Version
Check out the upcoming Cape Cod Five: Dollars for Degrees: Savings & Paying for College Programs taking place between September 17-November 12, 2015! Sign up at your local branch today!
Falmouth Rotary Club is holding their annual Pancake Breakfast this Saturday to benefit the local scholarships including the exclusive college junior year scholarship! For $6, you can eat all the pancakes you want! Military members in uniform eat free!
#Pancakes #Payingitforward #scholarships #community
By: Gary M. DellaPosta, CPA
The best time to start instilling financial skills and values is when children are young. Start giving your kids an allowance once they reach school age. Let them participate in making the decision of how much their allowance should be.
Some parents may want to require kids to do household chores to earn the allowance. Or, parents might want to provide an allowance, but pay kids extra for the performance of tasks. This incentive plan is, of course, a matter of individual child-rearing philosophy, but it does get the message across that money does not grow on trees.
Give your kids control over their own money (their allowance and whatever monies you give them that are not earmarked for some particular purpose). You can make suggestions to them about what they should do with it-i.e., that they might spend half and save half-but allow them the final say on what happens to the money.
Let them see the consequences of both wise and foolish behavior with regard to money. A child who spends all of his money on the first day of the week is more likely to learn budgeting if he is not provided with extras to tide him over.
How much allowance to provide is a matter of parental discretion. Most parents provide about $7 per week to their elementary school children, and from $12 to $20 a week to kids in junior high.
Savings and Investment
Beyond the basics of budgeting and saving, you will want to get your child involved in saving and investing. The easiest way to do this is to have the child open his or her own passbook savings account.
If you want your child to get familiar with investing, there are various child-friendly mutual funds available. The mailings from the fund can be a source of education. Or you may want to get the child interested in individual stocks.
You may want to start a "matching" program with your kids to encourage saving. For instance, for every dollar that the child puts into a savings account or investment, you might match it with 50 cents.
If you want to get your kids involved with investing, it will usually have to be done through a custodial account. There are generally two types of widely used custodial accounts-one is set up under the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act, and the other under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. The type of custodial account available depends on which state you live in.
With a custodial account, the child is the owner, but the custodian (usually a parent) manages the property until the child reaches the age of majority under relevant state law-either 18 or 21. The custodian must follow certain rules concerning management of the property in the account. These rules are intended to ensure that the custodian does what is in the child's best interests.
IRAs for Kids
If your child has earned income-from a paper route or baby-sitting, for example, or from working in the family business he or she can contribute earnings to an IRA. The IRA can be an extremely effective investment for a child because of the IRA's tax-deferral feature and the length of time the money is left in the IRA. If $3,000 per year is contributed to the child's IRA for ten years and the money is left to grow until the child reaches age 65, the amount in the IRA could reach $600,000 or more, depending on the returns on the investment. In 2014, your child can contribute the lesser of his or her earned income for the year or $5,500, either to a traditional IRA or a tax-free Roth IRA. The contribution limits are the same for both types of accounts.
To replace the "lost" earnings, the parents can give $3,000 per year to the child (or the amount of earned income the child has, if less). The child may have to file tax returns.
The drawback of course is that, with some exceptions, the money cannot be withdrawn before age 59-1/2 without tax penalty.
Related Guide: For tax rules on IRA withdrawals for higher education, please see the Financial Guide: HIGHER EDUCATION COSTS: How To Get The Best Tax Treatment.
Taxes and Credit
Kids can learn to use automatic teller machine cards for their savings accounts. They can also start using credit cards at an early age-with parental counsel and involvement. They can learn the concepts of incurring and paying off debts both from credit card use and from small loans that parents make them.
It is important to familiarize kids with paying taxes as well. If children have to file tax returns-as they would with an IRA--allow them to participate in the process; this will get them used to the idea of yearly tax payments, and can also be an opportunity for learning about how governments are run with tax revenues.
Note: One side benefit of getting your kids involved in money management is that it may help to avoid the "math phobia" some kids experience in junior high school.
Tip: Professional guidance should be considered for a life event change as major as a marriage of divorce.
Source: Expenditures on Children By Families 2013, US Department of Agriculture Publication Number 1528-2013. Before-tax Income of $61,530 and $106,540 (Average = $82,790).
Gary DellaPosta is a CPA and founder of the firm: Gary M DellaPosta, CPA's & Business Advisors. A graduate of Bryant University, he is a member of the American Institute of CPA's as well as the Massachusetts Society of CPA's. In addition to providing accounting, tax and advisory services to individuals and businesses, he also provides litigation support to attorneys and has been recognized as an expert in numerous Massachusetts' courts. Mr. DellaPosta serves on the Board of the Barnstable County Mutual Insurance Co., where he serves on the audit, investment and employee benefit committees. He is a Director at The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod and is a former director of Eastern Bank and Plymouth Savings Bank. He also serves as the Treasurer of the Community Health Center of Cape Cod and is a trustee of Heritage Museum & Gardens.
By: Gary M. DellaPosta, CPA
Here is a summary of the possible sources of financial aid. The types of aid and tax implications change frequently, so consult your financial advisor for specifics when you're approaching the time to seek financial aid.
Grants, the best type of financial aid because they do not have to be paid back, are amounts awarded by governments, schools, and other organizations. Some grants are need-based and others are not.
Loans may be need-based, and others are not. Here is a summary of loans:
To make a thorough investigation, you should fill out the financial aid application, which you can obtain from the school's financial aid office. You will have to provide tax returns. The amount you are determined to be eligible for depends on your income, the size of your family, the number of family members currently attending college, and your assets.
Gary DellaPosta is a CPA and founder of the firm: Gary M DellaPosta, CPA's & Business Advisors. A graduate of Bryant
By: Gary M. DellaPosta, CPA
Here are some strategies that may increase the amount of aid for which your family is eligible:
Try to avoid putting assets in your child's name. As a general rule, education funds should be kept in the parents' names, since investments in a child's name can impact negatively on aid eligibility. For example, the rules for determining financial aid decrease the amount of aid for which a child is eligible by 35 percent of assets the child owns and by 50 percent of the child's income.
Example: If your child owns $1,000 worth of stock, the amount of aid for which he or she is eligible for is reduced by $350. On the other hand, the amount of aid is reduced by (effectively) only 5.6 percent of your assets and from 22 to 47 percent of your income.
Reduce your income. Income for financial aid purposes is generally determined based upon your previous year's income tax situation. Therefore, in the years immediately prior to and during college, try to reduce your taxable income. Some ways to do this include:
Have your child become independent. In this case, your income is not considered in determining how much aid your child will be eligible for. Students are considered independent if they:
Gary DellaPosta is a CPA and founder of the firm: Gary M DellaPosta, CPA's & Business Advisors. A graduate of Bryant
By: Gary M. DellaPosta, CPA
Tax-deferral can have a dramatic affect on the growth of an investment. With a state-sponsored 529 College Savings Plan your contributions can grow tax-deferred (some states allow contributions to be partially or completely deductible) and distributed income tax-free as long as distributions are used for qualified education expenses such as tuition, fees, room and board at higher education institutions.
There is no limit on contributions but some states tend to limit contributions once the plan assets have reached a defined maximum (typically $200,000 - $250,000). You may make contributions of up to $55,000 per beneficiary in a single year without triggering a federal gift tax. Married couples may contribute $110,000 per beneficiary in a single year.*
Assets are professionally managed by fund managers selected by the state. Participants can choose from two to almost 30 mutual fund-type investments. Control of the account remains with the contributor regardless of the age of the beneficiary.
On my website I provide a calculating tool for 529 plans, visit my page for this specific calculation: 529 Calculation.
Gary DellaPosta is a CPA and founder of the firm: Gary M DellaPosta, CPA's & Business Advisors. A graduate of Bryant University, he is a member of the American Institute of CPA's as well as the Massachusetts Society of CPA's. In addition to providing accounting, tax and advisory services to individuals and businesses, he also provides litigation support to attorneys and has been recognized as an expert in numerous Massachusetts' courts. Mr. DellaPosta serves on the Board of the Barnstable County Mutual Insurance Co., where he serves on the audit, investment and employee benefit committees. He also serves as the Treasurer of the Community Health Center of Cape Cod, is a Director at The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod and is a former director of Eastern Bank and Plymouth Savings Bank.
By: Gary M. DellaPosta, CPA
Two tax credits are available for education costs - the American Opportunity Credit (formerly the Hope Credit) and the Lifetime Learning credit. These credits are available only to taxpayers with adjusted gross income below specified amounts (see Income Phase-Outs below).
How These Credits WorkThe amount of the credit you can claim depends on (1) how much you pay for qualified tuition and other expenses for students and (2) your adjusted gross income (AGI) for the year.
You must report the eligible student's name and Social Security number on your return to claim the credit. You subtract the credits from your federal income tax. If the credit reduces your tax below zero, you cannot receive the excess as a refund. If you receive a refund of education costs for which you claimed a credit in a later year, you may have to repay ("recapture") the credit.
Caution: If you file married-filing separately, you cannot claim these credits.
Which costs are eligible? Qualifying tuition and related expenses refers to tuition and fees, and course materials required for enrollment or attendance at an eligible education institution. They now include books, supplies and equipment needed for a course of study whether or not the materials must be purchased from the educational institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance.
"Related" expenses do not include room and board, student activities, athletics (other than courses that are part of a degree program), insurance, equipment, transportation, or any personal, living, or family expenses. Student-activity fees are included in qualified education expenses only if the fees must be paid to the institution as a condition of enrollment or attendance. For expenses paid with borrowed funds, count the expenses when they are paid, not when borrowings are repaid.
Tip: If you pay qualified expenses for a school semester that begins in the first three months of the following year, you can use the prepaid amount in figuring your credit.
Example: You pay $1,500 of tuition in December 2014 for the winter 2015 semester, which begins in January 2015. You can use the $1,500 in figuring your 2014 credit. If you paid in January instead, you would take the credit on your 2015 return.
Tip: As future year-end tax planning, this rule gives you a choice of the year to take the credit for academic periods beginning in the first 3 months of the year; pay by December and take the credit this year; pay in January or later and take the credit next year.
Eligible students. You, your spouse, or an eligible dependent (someone for whom you can claim a dependency exemption, including children under age 24 who are full-time students) can be an eligible student for whom the credit can apply. If you claim the student as a dependent, qualifying expenses paid by the student are treated as paid by you, and for your credit purposes are added to expenses you paid. A person claimed as another person's dependent can't claim the credit. The student must be enrolled at an eligible education institution (any accredited public, non-profit or private post-secondary institution eligible to participate in student Department of Education aid programs) for at least one academic period (semester, trimester, etc.) during the year.
No "double-dipping." The tax law says that you can't claim both a credit and a deduction for the same higher education costs. It also says that if you pay education costs with a tax-free scholarship, Pell grant, or employer-provided educational assistance, you cannot claim a credit for those amounts.
Income Limits. To claim the American Opportunity Credit your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) must not exceed $90,000 ($180,000 for joint filers). To claim the Lifetime Learning Credit, MAGI must not exceed $63,000 ($127,000 for joint filers). "Modified AGI" generally means your adjusted gross income. The "modifications" only come into play if you have income earned abroad.
The American Opportunity Tax CreditThe American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOC) was extended through tax year 2017 by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. The maximum credit, available only for the first four years of post-secondary education, is $2,500 for tax years 2013 to 2017. You can claim the credit for each eligible student you have for which the credit requirements are met.
Special Qualification Rules. In addition to being an eligible student, he or she:
The Lifetime Learning CreditYou may be able to claim a Lifetime Learning credit of up to $2,000 (20% of the first $10,000 of qualified expense) for eligible students (subject to reduction based on your AGI). Only one Lifetime Learning Credit can be taken per tax return, regardless of the number of students in the family.
Electing Not To Take the Credit. There are situations in which the credit is not allowed, or not fully available, if some other education tax benefit is claimed - where the higher education expense deduction is claimed for the same student, see below, or where credit and tax exemption (under a Section 529 or 530 program) are claimed for the same expense. In that case the taxpayer - or, more likely, the taxpayer's tax adviser - will determine which tax rule offers the greater benefit and if it's not the credit, elect not to take the credit.
A limited deduction is allowed for "qualified higher education expenses" -- tuition and related expenses under the same definition as for tuition credits, above. A $4,000 above the line deduction (Form 8917) is allowed for qualified tuition expenses in 2012. Deduction up to $4,000 is allowed on if taxpayer's (modified) adjusted gross income is $65,000 or less ($130,000 or less on a joint return). If taxpayer's modified adjusted gross income is more than $65,000 but not more than $80,000 (more than $130,000 but not more than $160,000 on a joint return), deduction is allowed up to $2,000. The tax deduction reduces your amount of income, reducing amount of tax you pay. You do not need to itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040) in order to take this deduction, which benefits higher earners who cannot take the Lifetime Learning Credit because
their income exceeds the limits.
Business expense deduction is allowed, without dollar limit, for education that serves the taxpayer's business, including employment. Deduction is also allowed for student loan interest, but a taxpayer may not take more than one deduction for the same item. In addition, you cannot claim this deduction if your filing status is married filing separately or if another person can claim an exemption for you as a dependent on his or her tax return.
"Qualified higher education expenses" must be reduced by any such expense paid with an amount treated as tax-free under the rules for excluding income from Series EE bonds, or Section 529 or 530 programs.
If you have any questions please comment below or feel free to contact us at our office (508) 540-3683 or visit our website!
Until next week, Happy Financial Planning
~Gary M. DellaPosta, CPA
With the costs of a college education rising every year, the keys to funding your child's education are to plan early and invest shrewdly. However, there are steps you can take if you get a late start. Moreover, there are a number of effective techniques for increasing financial aid opportunities and reducing taxes.
Savings And Investment Strategies
According to the College board, over the most recent decade, the largest one-year increases in average published tuition and fees at public four-year colleges and universities were 11% beyond inflation in 2003-04, and 9.3% beyond inflation in 2009-10. The inflation-adjusted increase was under 1% in 2008-09, and is 4.5% in 2011-12. However, proper planning can lessen the financial squeeze considerably, especially if you start when your child is young. It should also be noted that in 2010-11 the average amount of aid for a full-time undergraduate student was about $12,455, including more than $6,500 in grants that don’t have to be repaid.
Here are some guidelines--geared to parents whose children are no older than elementary school age--for funding your child's education.
Start Saving Early
We cannot emphasize enough that getting an early start is basic to funding your child's education. The earlier you start, the more you'll benefit from the compounding of interest.
Planning Aid: For an estimate of the amount of money you would have at the time your child enters college if you begin saving now, see the Financial Calculator: College Savings Calculator.
When should you start saving? This depends on how much you think your children's education will cost. The best way is to start saving before they are born. The sooner you begin, the less money you will have to put away each year.
Example: Suppose you have one child, age six months, and you estimate that you'll need $120,000 to finance his college education 18 years from now. If you start putting away money immediately, you'll need to save $3,500 per year
for 18 years (assuming an after-tax return of 7%). On the other hand, if you put off saving until the child is six years old, you'll have to save almost double that amount every year for twelve years.
Another advantage of starting early is that you'll have more flexibility when it comes to the type of investment you'll use. You'll be able to put at least part of your money in equities, which, although riskier in the short-run, are better able to outpace inflation than other investments after time.
Find Out How Much You'll Need To Save
How much will your child's education cost? It depends on whether your child attends a private or state school. In the 2010-2011 school year, the total expenses--tuition, fees, board, personal expenses, and books and supplies--for the average private college are about $35,636 per year and about $15,213 per year for the average public college. However, these amounts are averages: the tuition, fees, and board for some private colleges can cost more than $55,000 per year, whereas the costs for a state school can be kept under $10,000 per year.
Planning Aid: To find and select the best colleges for your child from a database of over 3,200 two-and four-year colleges, see College Search.
Don't forget to add the costs of graduate or professional school to the amount your child will need.
Planning Aid: If you're trying to estimate future costs, you can estimate that school costs will grow by about two percentage points above the inflation rate. To be on the safe side, we suggest you assume costs will grow by at least 7% per year. For the most recent increases, refer to 2011 Trends in College Pricing.
Choose Your Investments
As with any investment, you should choose those that will provide you with a good return and that meet your level of risk tolerance. The ones you choose should depend on when you start your savings plan-the mix of investments if you
start when your child is a toddler should be different from those used if you start when your child is age 12.
Related Financial Guide: For a general overview of investing principles, please see the Financial Guide on our website: www.dellapostacpa.com :INVESTMENT BASICS: What You Should Know.
The following are often recommended as investments suitable for education funds:
Series EE Bonds are extremely safe investments. For tax treatment of redemption proceeds used for college, please see the Financial Guide: HIGHER EDUCATION COSTS: How To Get The Best Tax Treatment.
U.S. Government Bonds are also safe investments that offer a relatively higher return. If you use zero-coupon bonds, you can time the receipt of the proceeds to fall in the year when you need the money. A drawback of such bonds is that a sale before their maturity date could result in a loss on the investment. Further, the accrued interest is taxable even though you don't receive it until maturity.
CDs are safe, but usually provide a lower return than the rate of inflation. The interest is taxable.
Municipal Bonds, if they are highly rated, can provide an acceptable return from the tax-free interest if you're in the higher income tax brackets. Zero-coupon municipals can be timed to fall due when you need the funds and are useful if you begin saving later in the child's life.
Tip: Be sure to convert the tax-free return quoted by sellers of such bonds into an equivalent taxable return. Otherwise, the quoted return may be misleading. The formula for converting tax-free returns into taxable returns is as follows: Divide the tax-free return by 1.00 minus your top tax rate to determine the taxable-return equivalent. For example, if the return on municipal bonds is 5% and you are in the 30% tax bracket, the equivalent taxable return is 7.1% (5% divided by 70%).
Stocks contained in an appropriate mutual fund or portfolio can provide you with a higher yield at an acceptable risk level. Stock mutual funds can provide superior returns over the long term. Income and balanced funds can meet the investment needs of those who begin saving when the child is older.
Deferred Annuities provide you with tax deferral, but the yield may not be acceptable because of the relatively high cost of these investments. Further, amounts withdrawn before you reach age 59-1/2 may be subject to a 10% premature withdrawal penalty.
Related Financial Guide: For further information on investing in annuities, please see the Financial Guide: ANNUITIES: How They Work And When You Should Use Them.
If you have any further questions, please give our office a call: 508-540-3683 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
It's not too late to take advantage of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, a credit that helps parents and college students offset the cost of college. This tax credit is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and is available through December 31, 2012. It can be claimed by eligible taxpayers for college expenses paid until 2012.
Here are six important facts about the American Opportunity Tax Credit:
1. This credit, formerly known as the Hope Credit, has been expanded. Eligible taxpayers can claim qualified tuition and related expenses paid for higher education through 2012. Qualified tuition and related expenses include tuition, related fees, books, and other required course materials.
2. The credit is equal to 100 percent of the first $2,000 spent per student each year and 25 percent of the next $2,000. Therefore, the full $2,500 credit may be available to a taxpayer who pays $4,000 or more in qualifying expenses for an
3. The full credit is generally available to eligible taxpayers who make less than $80,000, or $160,000 for married couples filing jointly. The credit is gradually reduced, however, for taxpayers with incomes above these levels.
4. Forty percent of the credit is refundable, so even those who owe no tax can get up to $1,000 of the credit for each eligible student as cash back.
5. The credit can be claimed for qualified expenses paid during any of the first four years of post-secondary education.
6. You cannot claim the tuition and fees tax deduction in the same year that you claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit or the Lifetime Learning Credit. You must choose to take either the credit or the deduction.
If you would like more information about the American Opportunity Tax Credit please call us. We're more than happy to help. Contact our office at 508-540-3683 or email me directly at email@example.com
Tax Rules Relating to 529 College Savings Plans
Income Tax. Contributions made by the account owner or other contributor are not deductible for federal income tax purposes. Earnings on contributions grow tax-free while in the program.
Distributions from the fund are tax-free to the extent used for qualified higher education expenses. Qualified expenses include tuition, required fees, books, supplies, equipment, and special needs services. For someone who is at least a half-time student, room and board also qualify.
Tip: In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) added expenses for computer technology/equipment or Internet access to the list of qualifying expenses. Software designed for sports, games, or hobbies does not qualify, unless it is predominantly educational in nature. In general, however, expenses for computer technology are not qualified expenses for the American Opportunity Credit, Hope Credit, Lifetime Learning Credit, or tuition and fees deduction.
Gift Tax. For gift tax purposes, contributions are treated as completed gifts even though the account owner has the right to withdraw them - thus they qualify for the up-to-$13,000 annual gift tax exclusion. One contributing more than $13,000 may elect to treat the gift as made in equal installments over that year and the following 4 years, so that up to $65,000 can be given tax-free in the first year.
Estate Tax. Funds in the account at the designated beneficiary's death are included in the beneficiary's estate - an odd result, since those funds may not be available to pay the tax.
Funds in the account at the account owner's death are not included in the owner's estate, except for a portion thereof where the gift tax exclusion installment election is made for gifts over $13,000. For example, if the account owner made the election for a gift of $65,000 in 2011, a part of that gift is included in the estate if he or she dies within 5 years.
Tip: A Section 529 program can be an especially attractive estate-planning move for grandparents. There are no income limits, and the account owner giving up to $65,000 avoids gift tax and estate tax by living 5 years after the gift, yet has the power to change the beneficiary.
State Tax. State tax rules are all over the map. Some reflect the federal rules, some quite different rules. For specifics of each state's program, see http://www.collegesavings.org.
If you would like more information about 529 Savings Plans or saving in general for post please call us. We're more than happy to help. Contact our office at
508-540-3683 or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saving with 529 Qualified Tuition Plans Section 529 plans, also known as Qualified Tuition Programs, are the best choice for many families.
Every state now has a program allowing persons to prepay for future higher education, with tax relief. There are two basic plan types, with many variations:
1.) The Prepaid Education Arrangement. You essentially buy future education at today's costs, by buying education credits or certificates. This is the older type of program, and it tends to limit the student's choice of schools within the state.
2.) Education Savings Accounts. You contribute to an account earmarked for future higher education.
Tip: When approaching state programs, one must distinguish between what the federal tax law allows and what an individual state's program may impose.
You may open a Section 529 plan in any state. But when buying prepaid tuition credits (less popular than savings accounts), you often need to apply the credits to a specific college or group of colleges.
Unlike certain other tax-favored higher education programs, such as the Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits, federal tax law doesn't limit the benefit only to tuition. Room, board, lab fees, books, and supplies can be purchased with funds from your 529 Savings Account. (Individual state programs could be narrower.)
The key parties to the program are the Designated Beneficiary, the student-to-be, and the Account Owner, who is entitled to choose and change the beneficiary and who is normally the principal contributor to the program.
There are no income limits on who may be an account owner. There's only one designated beneficiary per account. Thus, a parent with three college-bound children might set up three accounts. (Some state programs don't allow the same person to be both beneficiary and account owner.)
Gary M. DellaPosta is a CPA located in Falmouth. He has been in practice for over 30 years. Stay tuned next week to read about tax implications regarding 529 plans.
College tuition and fees are on the rise. Shockingly, the cost for 4-year private schools now tops $36,000 per year on average.
But the investment is well worth it. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, individuals with a bachelor's degree earn more than double those with just a high school diploma.
The two most popular college savings programs are 529 plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts. Whichever you choose, be sure to start when your child is young. The sooner you begin, the less money you will have to put away each year.
Example: Suppose you have one child, age six months, and you estimate that you'll need $120,000 to finance his college education 18 years from now. If you start putting away money immediately, you'll need to save $3,500 per year for 18 years (assuming an after-tax return of 7%). On the other hand, if you put off saving until your son is six years old, you'll have to save almost double that amount every year for twelve years.
Financial Calculator: College Savings Planner
Use this calculator to help develop and fine-tune your child's college education savings plan.
How Much Will College Cost? Based on the survey completed for the 2010 Trends in College Pricing, the average cost for tuition, fees, and room and board for 2010-11 was:
$16,140 per year for 4-year public (in state) colleges and universities.
This is an increase of 6.1% from 2009-10 findings.
$36,993 per year for 4-year private colleges and universities.
This is an increase of 4.3% from 2009-10 findings.
It should be noted that, on average, full-time students receive $16,000 of financial aid per year in the form of grants and tax benefits for private 4-year institutions, $6,100/yr for public 4-year institutions, and $3,400/yr for public 2-year institutions.
Gary M. DellaPosta is a CPA located in Falmouth. He has been in practice for over 30 years. Stay tuned next week to read about 529 Qualified Tuition Plans.
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