How this one tool is helping black families pay for college

How this one tool is helping black families pay for college

The cost of a college education has dramatically increased over the past decade. As a result, parents and students have continued to accumulate more college debt and the ability to pay it off has become a significant problem for many people.

This means that it’s more important than ever to start saving for college expenses now. One method that is growing in popularity is the 529 plan. A 529 plan is an educational savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs.

How does it work?

The 529 plan allows you to save on a tax-deferred basis and ultimately, if used for educational purposes, a tax-free basis. Additionally, contributions as well as gains on those contributions remain tax-free.

Investing in a 529 plan also encourages positive financial behaviors. According to Regina Lewis, a consumer trends expert, the deliberate action of saving encourages more saving. Studies have shown that families that contribute to 529 plans are far more successful in saving for college. In addition, their children are seven times more likely to attend college.

How can you choose the right 529 plan?

There are several online tools where you can plug in various data like the age of your child, years to go before the start of college, how much you are currently saving, and by what method. The tool also compares various state plans so you choose the one that is best suited for you.

Who can and cannot contribute?

Anyone can contribute for any beneficiary, including godchildren. Once the plan is in place, there are gift certificates that can be purchased for contributions and you can put your deductions on auto-pilot.

TIAA-CREF has started an initiative to help families save for college. To raise awareness of the benefits of 529 college savings plans, TIAA-CREF launched the Big Dreams Start Small $100,000 College Fund Contest. The winner will receive $100,000 contributed to a 529 college savings account for their grandchild or child sponsored by TIAA-CREF Tuition Financing Inc. TIAA-CREF understands that with the costs of higher education continuing to rise and families facing  tighter budgets, saving for college has become an extended family affair. Therefore, they have partnered with AARP College Savings Solutions in an effort to educate individuals, particularly grandparents, about the benefits of saving for college.

What are some ways to boost college savings?

  1. Put savings on auto-pilot. Have it automatically deducted so you don’t have to think about it. Saving money is easier and more effective when it’s automatic.
  2. Make contributing to a 529 plan a gift idea within your family. Instead of sweaters and video games, contribute to each child’s 529 plan instead.
  3. Seek grants and scholarships to combine with 529 plan savings. “You should be seeking the trifecta of grants, scholarships, and 529 plan savings,” says Lewis.
  4. Get started! There are no income limitations when setting up a 529 plan and you can get started for under $50.

Take advantage of a 529 Plan. An investment in education is still one of the best investments you can make.
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3 Reasons Why College Is Not Worth It

3 Reasons Why College Is Not Worth It

Before some of you get in your feelings about the title of this article, you have to take a step back and look at this for a different perspective. As someone with two college degrees, I’m just asking you to hear me out. I believe college is a great experience for all adolescents to have. It is a very important time period that molds you into the adult you will become. You will meet great friends, potentially a husband or wife, and may even do a little traveling. I think that is great. But let me tell you what college will not do: MAKE YOU RICH!



1. College prepares you to be an employee

Majority of majors in college prepare you to work for someone else and obey. We all know it is damn near impossible to get rich while working for someone else. If you want to be wealthy, you will have to create a source of income outside of a salary. The reality of the situation is this: If you exchange your time/services for money from a company, you will put a cap on the income you can make. Some of the richest people in the world either dropped out of college or never went to college. That is not by coincidence. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerburg all dropped out of school to create multi-billion dollar companies. Rich people do not work for money; they generate assets that work for them. If you want to learn how to work for money, go to school. If you want to learn how to work even harder, you should get an MBA. If you want to be rich, you must become an entrepreneur, investor, or both.


2. Cost of tuition

Whoever is in charge of the cost of tuition has lost their entire mind. Not part of it, the entire mind. According to, the cost for one year of tuition and fees varies widely among colleges. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2013–2014 school year was $30,094 at private colleges, $8,893 for state residents at public colleges, and $22,203 for out-of-state residents attending public universities. I’m not even going to entertain the cost of private colleges, so lets start with state residents at public colleges.
At close to $9,000, this doesn’t cover room and board, books and supplies, and spending money. So lets call a spade a spade and bump it up to $13,000 a year for a state college. Let’s do the math: $13,000 x 4= $52,000 in student loans. Now lets do the math on paying those loans back in 3o years.

Loan Balance: $52,000.00
Adjusted Loan Balance: $52,000.00
Loan Interest Rate: 6.80%
Loan Fees: 0.00%
Loan Term: 30 years
Minimum Payment: $50.00
Monthly Loan Payment: $339.00
Number of Payments: 361
Cumulative Payments: $122,041.29
Total Interest Paid: $70,041.29

I don’t know about you, but that is insane. The average salary coming out of school is $30,000. That will not get the job done. When you equal in a car note, apartment, miscellaneous spending, and etc, they can’t afford $339. This leads me into #3.


3. Making that minimum payment

Most of us can’t afford to pay the full amount of what we owe each month for student loans. Therefore we either make the minimum payment or opt deferment/forbearance. The definition of each is below.


What is deferment?

A deferment is a period during which repayment of the principal and interest of your loan is temporarily delayed.


What is forbearance?

If you can’t make your scheduled loan payments, but don’t qualify for a deferment, your loan servicer may be able to grant you a forbearance. With forbearance, you may be able to stop making payments or reduce your monthly payment for up to 12 months. Interest will continue to accrue on your subsidized and unsubsidized loans (including all PLUS loans).

Understand the science.

Deferment can only last so long, and forbearance still requires that you accrue interest on the loan. So both options are like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound. So you really have to ask yourself, is the cost of college today worth it?



I made great relationships in college that you cannot put a price on. It is advantageous to get as many scholarships and grants as possible. But it is equally important to understand the cost of college and really determine what it is you want out of life. If you have a dream or an idea, do not let it die. There will be people to doubt you, they will always be the closest people to you. If you have know issue with working for someone for the rest of your life, then college is definitely for you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you can’t become an entrepreneur while going to college or graduating from college. Just understand that college wasn’t built to teach you to own, it was built to teach you to be a monetary slave.
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