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Paying for your Child’s Higher Education

Most parents assume their children will complete high school and attend a 2- or 4- year college. As higher education costs continue rising, it becomes even more important to plan ahead and determine how your family will pay for it. Ideally, you should start saving as soon as a child is born.

Begin by saving small amounts each month. “Even if it’s $25 or $50, it’s the act of saving consistently that counts,” says Joseph Orsolini, president of College Aid Planners Inc., Glen Ellyn, Ill. “You’ll be surprised how it builds over time.”

Ways to save

Every state offers tax-advantaged 529 plans, which families can use to save for future higher-education costs. Plan managers invest the funds you contribute and, when you withdraw the money to pay for educational expenses, the earnings aren’t subject to federal taxes. Many states exempt the funds from state taxes, too, and many have minimum monthly contributions as low as $15

Other options for saving are contributing to Roth IRAs (individual retirement accounts) and Coverdell ESAs (education savings accounts).

Roth IRAs can be good for parents concerned that they’re not saving enough for retirement, but who also want to help with their kids’ education, according to Jean Chatzky, author of “Money Rules.” “If you put money in a Roth IRA, when your kids reach college age you can decide if you’ll use it for college or retirement.”

Another option is to contribute to a Coverdell Education Savings Account (ESA). Contributions to an ESA are not deductible, but amounts deposited in the account grow tax-free until distributed.

If you'd like more information about Roth IRAs and Coverdell ESAs, talk to Kari, our IRA specialist here at Brokaw Credit Union.

Finding funds

Seek financial aid if you need additional funding. The first step is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at the beginning of your child’s senior year of high school. You can apply online at fafsa.ed.gov.

Colleges you apply to will put together financial aid packages and send you award letters. They may include federal need-based grants, called Pell grants, or low-cost, need-based federal Perkins loans. They also may include federal Stafford loans, which have slightly higher interest rates. Schools may also offer need- or merit-based grants.

In addition to your savings, look for scholarships and grants. The guidance counselling office at your local high school can provide information about them. If that’s not enough, use federal loans, which you and your child don’t need to repay until after graduation.

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Tax Tips for First-Time Filers in College

Unless you’re an accounting major, filing taxes may not be your idea of a good time. But if you don’t file, you may end up leaving a lot of money on the table. If you’re going to file taxes for the first time this year, here are a few tips to make this task easier and less stressful:

  • If taxes were withheld from your paycheck, even if you only earned a little money, file your taxes so you can get some of that money returned to you.
  • If you earned more than $10,400 in 2017, you must file a tax return.
  • You’re eligible for at least 3 tax breaks in the years you pay tuition: The American Opportunity Tax Credit, the Lifetime Learning Credit, and the tuition and fees deductions.
  • If your parent still claims you as a dependent, you must mark off “I can be claimed on someone else’s return” on your form.
  • File early. Waiting until the last moment will only make the process more stressful.
  • You can file your Federal taxes for free and online by going to www.irs.gov. There are other free filing websites, found easily through an online search.
  • You’ll have to pay state taxes to each state you are a resident of during the tax year. If you attend college in one state but live in another, check the residency requirements to see if you qualify as a resident or nonresident of the state in which you attend school.

Here are the forms you’ll need to file your taxes and get your returns:

  • W-2: Your employer will give this to you. It’ll show any taxes that were withheld from your paycheck.
  • Form 1098-T: Your college will send you this tuition statement. It includes information you’ll need to claim education credits.
  • Form 8863: This is another form that will tell you if you qualify credits like the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.
  • Form 1098-E: Use this to deduct the interest you paid on a qualified student loan during the tax year. Your lender will send this form to you if you paid more than $600 in interest.

Filing taxes may seem like a boring chore, but if you don’t, you’ll miss out on a nice tax return. And who wouldn’t like a little extra cash in their account? Hmm?

Brokaw Office

300 Everest Ave
PO Box 151
Brokaw, WI 54417
Phone: 715-675-2319
Fax: 715-675-5511

Lobby Hours:
M, T, Th 9:00-4:00
Fri 9:00-5:30
Closed Wed and Sat

Drive-up Hours:
M, T, Th 8:30-4:30
Fri 8:30-5:30
Closed Wed and Sat

Weston Office

2006 Schofield Ave
PO Box 199
Weston, WI 54476
Phone: 715-359-7012
Fax: 715-355-5295

Lobby Hours:
Mon-Thurs
8:30 am to 4:30 pm
Friday
8:30 am to 5:30 pm

Drive-up Hours:
Monday
7:30 am to 5:00 pm
Tues, Wed, Thurs
8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Friday
7:30 am to 5:30 pm
Saturday
9:00 am to 12:00 noon

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