|AMT1 Jeremy Drummond||A/S Miami||AMT1|
|AET2 Mauricio Martinez||A/S Miami||EPME6|
|AET2 Sean McGaughan||A/S Miami||AET1|
|ME3 Jacob Peters||TACLET South||ME2|
And if you’ve just finished a College Degree Program and received your degree or have any other noteworthy academic achievement you would like us to recognize, please let us know so we can recognize you for it.
Q: I took out student loans to attend college before joining the Coast Guard and they’re eating me up. What kinds of help are available to help me get rid of or repay them?
A: It all depends on the type of loans you have. If you’re talking about loans you got through the federal government (not private lenders), see the information at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/capemay/Education/loans.asp#repayment, particularly the short article “Got Student Debt?” (http://www.uscg.mil/hq/capemay/Education/doc/finance005.doc).
If you have a loan from a private lender, the law provides only form of relief. The Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act allows you to request (demand, actually) reduction of the interest rate on any student loan you incurred before you entered the military (but after 01 July 2008) to 6% for as long as you remain in uniform. That is, if you have a student loan with an interest rate higher than 6%, you can get it reduced to 6% retroactive to the date you entered the military. (See http://www.uscg.mil/hq/capemay/Education/loans.asp#max) And, of course, lenders may have internal policies they don’t tell anyone about unless asked, that allow various forms of relief to military personnel and veterans. Call your lender and ask. The worst result is that you’ll find out the lender won’t do anything for you.
With college costs continuing to rise, you probably haven't saved enough to foot the bill for a higher education. According to a college cost calculator on collegeboard.org, the price tag for four years at a public institution is $85,788. For a private college or university, the amount almost doubles to $168,896.
That's why, says Scott Halliwell, certified financial planner ™ practitioner with USAA, "it pays to explore all of your options to fund what is certainly a major investment, no matter what you've saved for college."
The cost of college keeps going up, he adds, by 5% to 8% every year.
But don't let those figures discourage you from pursuing a degree. As J.J. Montanaro, certified financial planner ™ practitioner with USAA, points out, "Study after study has shown that education has a dramatic, positive impact on lifetime earnings."
"But you don't want to get that education by racking up a boatload of student loan debt," he adds. "To that end, it pays to be creative."
Here's a look at six options to help cover the cost of college, along with the pros and cons of each.
Whether you're on your own or living under your parents' roof, you could be eligible for financial aid.
To start the process, fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Based on your FAFSA, each college or university you apply to will tell you what types and how much federal aid you qualify for.
Montanaro points out another reason to complete the FAFSA: Some schools also use it to determine your nonfederal aid, which can include state grants and scholarships.
To make the most of such aid, Pam Proctor, an independent college consultant and author of "The College Hook," suggests applying to 10 to 12 colleges and universities. "When it comes time to make decisions, you will have financial aid packages to compare," she explains.
Taking the time to find and apply for scholarships and grants also can pay off. Also known as gift aid, this money doesn't have to be repaid.
QuestBridge is one such opportunity for high-achieving students whose family incomes are less than $60,000. This program gives them the chance to compete for full scholarships at 35 of the country's leading colleges, including Stanford, Yale, Notre Dame and Amherst, Proctor notes.
In addition to academic-related awards, look for offerings from associations, colleges, religious organizations and foundations that target your demographic or affiliations. As an example, Proctor points to Dollars for Scholars. In communities across the United States, the more than 1,000 volunteer-run Dollars for Scholars programs raise funds, establish endowments and distribute scholarships to worthy students.
Although starting your career with debt isn't ideal, student loans may need to be part of your college financing plan -- along with grants, scholarships and part-time wages.
One of the best loan deals is a federal direct loan, which can be subsidized or unsubsidized, depending on your financial need. With a subsidized loan, the government pays the interest while you're in college.
If you don't qualify or a federal loan isn't enough to cover the tab, consider private loans to fill the gap. Generally, student loans from private lenders come with higher interest rates.
Military service can help make your education goals a reality. The Tuition Assistance Program is a powerful incentive for those serving in the military to pursue higher education. Both enlisted members and officers can receive up to $4,500 annually for tuition and fees. Eligibility, service requirements, application processes and restrictions differ among the military branches, National Guard and Reserves.
Another military option is the Post-9/11 GI Bill -- an updated version of the World War II-era legislation that may have helped your grandfather settle back into civilian life. This benefit is offered to members of the military who have served at least 90 days on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001. Depending on length of service, the bill pays 40% to 100% of tuition and fees at an in-state public college or university, or up to $19,198.31 at a private or foreign school, with exceptions in some states.
Unlike the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill requires service members to enroll in the program and pay $100 per month for a year before receiving a monthly education benefit. Reservists have additional requirements to qualify. Benefits vary, but the program provides up to 36 months of education benefits.
You can prepare for military service and pay for college at the same time through ROTC programs. Some college students get their entire tuition tab picked up through ROTC and have an opportunity to serve in the military after they graduate.
If you're employed, look into whether your company offers a tuition-assistance program. Benefits often include payments for undergraduate- or graduate-level tuition, fees, books, supplies and even equipment. Some companies require that your coursework relate to your job.
Community college may be an affordable way to train for a vocation or set you on the path to a four-year college. "Community colleges can be a great option for smart students who are late bloomers or for those who aspire to elite colleges but can't bear the financial load," says Proctor.
She explains that a community college essentially offers two tracks for earning a diploma in two years:
Are you comfortable asking for help with tuition or accepting money from generous family members or friends? Make sure any benefactors know about qualified transfers. According to the IRS, this arrangement allows individuals to pay an unlimited amount of tuition directly to a qualified institution of higher learning on your behalf without being subject to the IRS gift tax. The education exclusion allows the donor to help you and avoid a tax burden at the same time. You and the one with the checkbook should consult a tax advisor before entering into this arrangement.
How Much Should You Borrow?
Montanaro and Halliwell recommend that you take the long view when it comes to student loans. "Too many students graduate today with a huge financial burden in the form of student loan payments," Halliwell points out. Montanaro adds, "Borrow with an eye on how paying back the loans will fit into your overall financial situation once you graduate."
If you aim for monthly loan payments of no more than 10% of what you expect to make monthly after you graduate, you'll probably be in good shape. Say an education major can expect to land a teaching job that pays $30,000 a year. With a monthly gross income of $2,500, his or her maximum student loan payments should be around $250 a month.
Montanaro suggests accepting only enough to cover basic educational expenses, resisting the temptation to borrow a little more to afford luxuries out of the reach of a frugal student on a tight budget.
Once you've graduated, budget so you make those loan payments by their due dates every month. A sure way to hurt your credit rating is to pay bills late.
Uncle Sam also eases the burden of college costs for those who qualify. Consider:
Income and other restrictions apply. Learn more about these options on irs.gov at the Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center, or discuss them with your tax adviser.
The President's recent Executive Order to protect student veterans from predatory colleges and universities includes a requirement for schools to require "Know Before You Owe" documentation, even if the student veteran does not apply for federal student aid. So, what is "Know Before You Owe"?
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau started its “Know Before You Owe” initiative to make mortgage forms easy to understand and comparable. The need for clear information on how much debt they’ll be taking on in order to go to college has never been greater. The CFPB is now is working with the Department of Education to create a financial aid version of the "Know Before You Owe" for students.
The CFPB kicked off the Know Before You Owe student loan project last October by working with the Department of Education on a draft Financial Aid Shopping Sheet that higher education institutions could use to present families with a uniform, easy-to-understand explanation of the total cost of post-secondary education and their options for financing it. The Financial Aid Comparison Shopper builds on that by helping students to compare the information across schools.
The CFPB launched the next phase of its Know Before You Owe student loan project in April 2011 by releasing a beta version of the Financial Aid Comparison Shopper, an interactive, online tool designed to help families plan for the costs of post-secondary education.
The beta version of the Financial Aid Comparison Shopper has more than 7,500 schools and institutions in its database, including vocational schools and community, state, and private colleges. It draws information from publicly available data provided by government statistical agencies. With the prototype, students and their families can compare the following across multiple financial aid offers:
The Financial Aid Comparison Shopper also includes a “Military Benefit Calculator” that can estimate education benefits for Service members, veterans, and their families. The calculator includes military tuition assistance and Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.
The goal is to give students and their families an easy-to-understand view of how their decisions today impact your debt burden after graduation. Equally important, though, is that users can use the tool effectively. You can to adjust the loan amounts, savings, scholarship offers, and more, in order to reflect your individual financial situations.
Diploma Mills are notorious for imitating in superficial ways the structures and functions of legitimate degree programs. Conversely, there are many legitimate programs that offer nontraditional degrees in an effort to serve the needs of adult students. Therefore, it is difficult to develop a comprehensive list of characteristics that one can use to spot a Diploma Mill. Some characteristics students should look for are listed in this article. The following list is to be used with caution. It exemplifies the characteristics one may find (but not always) typical of Diploma Mills. Students are encouraged to beware and to investigate thoroughly any institution BEFORE beginning a program. Your military education center or virtual education center are excellent resources for to use when assessing the legitimacy of an educational institution. The book, Bear’s Guide to Earning College Degrees by Distance Learning, is another resource students may want to consult to avoid the pitfalls of enrolling in a Diploma Mill program.
Some of the characteristics of Diploma Mills are - The organization may have a name similar to a well-known college or university. The address often suggests a prestigious location, but mail may only be received at a post office box or mail service. The organization may frequently change its address. There is no significant cluster of physical facilities; it operates from a single office or maybe private residence. Full-time staff are few in number and lack qualifications appropriate for serving as professional educators or educational administrators. There is little or no selectivity in admissions; frequently there are no admissions requirements listed. Degree requirements, if any, are few and frequently unspecified. Degrees ordinarily can be obtained in a time frame far shorter than that required for the completion of a program at a generally recognized and accredited institution. Tuition and fees are usually on a per-degree basis. Assessment of learning outcomes or achievement is minimal or nonexistent. The organization has no library or maintains inferior resources than that expected of a degree-granting institution. Great emphasis is placed on granting credit for work experience and prior life experiences without appropriate mechanisms for assessing the experience in terms of college-level work. Terms such as nontraditional, alternative, and innovative are used to gloss over a multitude of sins. The words "state-authorized" or "state-approved" are used to suggest that the organization has undergone a process of academic review comparable to accreditation. The organization is not accredited by an agency recognized by the U. S. Department of Education. Promotional materials may, however, list agencies not recognized by Department of Education.
Your military education center or virtual education center are excellent resources for Service members to use when assessing the legitimacy of an educational institution. The book, Bear’s Guide to Earning College Degrees by Distance Learning, is another resource students may want to consult to avoid the pitfalls of enrolling in a Diploma Mill program. Also check out the information at www.ed.gov/students/prep/college/diplomamills/resources.html , the Dept of Education has assembled a number of articles and resources to help students avoid getting involved with a diploma mill. Caveat Emptor – buyer beware, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Don’t fall for the quick fix –your education is your ticket to success.
Since 1986, Ombudsmen have served as a vital link between Coast Guard families donating their time and energy to provide support, which enables execution of our many challenging missions. In addition, Ombudsmen serve as a liaison between the commanding officer or the officer-in-charge and families to provide insight on the state of the unit, and to enable proactive response to minimize or preclude the impact family concerns may have on mission readiness. Ombudsmen help to reduce social isolation among family members by providing direct communication to families and facilitating and promoting a healthy sense of community among Coast Guard members and their families. Contact:
Air Station Miami OMBUDSMAN:
For a list of MWR Activities at NAS Key West, click on the following link for their updated Flyer:
Each week we will try to provide a "Health Tip Of The Week". This weeks tip can be found at the following website: