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College Grant Available for Research in Retirement and Disability Policy

College is expensive and I have previously written on my website ( about ways that families can help young adults gain a college degree.

Recently, our friends at the Center for Retirement Research posted a grant opportunity that is intriguing.

It is a substantial grant for young scholars to pursue research on retirement or disability policy. The grant is called the Sandell* Grant Program.

The Opportunity:

Sandell Grant Program  – Sandell Grants provide the opportunity for junior or non-tenured scholars to pursue research on retirement or disability policy.  The program is open to scholars in all disciplines.

Up to three grants of $45,000 will be awarded for one-year projects.

Proposal guidelines are available online. There is a deadline!

There are several methods to fund the college experience.  Applying for Grants is one way to help cover the costs and to gain valuable experience.  The other methods , in general, are:

  • Having a part-time job
  • Take credits/courses at a less expensive community college and then transfer to a four-year college
  • Request funds from the college you want to attend (many offer special programs based on family income) e.g. student aid
  • Scholarships and Grants
  • Loans
  • Work/study programs
  • Save money by living off campus
  • Trusts established by family members

Grandparents (and parents), who are in a good financial position, can help by establishing  a College Savings 529 Plan (qualified tuition plans)

* From the website: “Steven Sandell was a distinguished researcher, leader, and public servant… It was his dream that the centers would help produce a new generation of highly trained social scientists to shape the future direction of policy research…Steven Sandell passed away in 1999, and as a tribute to his lifetime achievements, the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has named its grant program for junior scholars in his memory.”

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Student Loans and Their Servicers

I have previously written about student loan programs and offered websites with helpful information about how to deal with issues of student loan debt. (See my website Archive under ‘student loan’ and student loan debt’

If you have acquired a student loan – or been a co-signer on a student loan – then an article from our friends at  may be a worthwhile read.

The Worst Student Loan Servicers Going Into 2018 By Amy Fontinelle  (April 7, 2018) details data about those companies servicing student loans.

To put things into perspective, if you are having problems with a student loan, you are not alone.  According to the articles, “Consumers registered 17,175 complaints about student loans in 2017 through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint (CFPB) Database.”

Those with the most complaints ended up on a special report.  “The Student Loan Report (SLR), a student loan news site, used the CFPB’s database to determine which student loan companies were the most complained about in 2017.”

And the data going into 2018 is not much improved.

Complaints included charges of: sloppy student loan servicing; misleading student loan borrowers; charging illegal fees; overcharging active-duty service members; delaying borrower applications; and over-billing the government of interest rate subsidies.

Access the article of the SLR report to see the top ten worst student loan servicers and find out if yours made the list. If you are applying for a student loan, check the list first.

Remember, a student loan is a legal financial obligation for the student and any co-signer.  If you are uncertain about any terms, consult with a professional to determine if the agreement is one that you can ‘live’ with.

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Thanks for the “Likes”

Thanks to my readers for all the many recent “Likes” on my Word Press page.

I really appreciate knowing that readers enjoy a certain topic.

The topic that seemed to touch a cord with many was… disabled veterans and student loan debt. (find the article on my website – archived under military families; student loans

As I often write, part of my practice is in the Colorado Springs, home to many military families. Whenever any topic passes my computer screen that I think can be useful to our military, I pass it on.

Some readers have also inquired why I do not ‘dig deeper’ into a topic.  I often write that “it is beyond the scope of this article…” and I truly mean that.

At time a topic is both deep and broad.  Rather than offering legal advice that might not be appropriate to a given situation, I offer up other sites where the reader can begin to gather and research more information.

Beware – Sometimes, the internet is not always the best source of legal help. In that case, time and money spent with a legal professional can prevent mistakes…mistakes that can haunt you later.

A case in point is taking a legal document from a free website.  Sure, it is free, and I LIKE free! But that free legal document might not be appropriate to a more complex situation; or to a person’s individual circumstances.

On the other hand, that free legal document can be a starting point and a basis for an individual to begin to think about their own unique issues.

I will continue to offer articles that are on current topics and advise my readers to delve further into any issue.

Again, thanks for the LIKES…they spur me on.

Working To Preserve Your Wealth and Protect Your Future…in a Constantly Changing World

Please read my full Disclaimer and How I Can Help You

Visit my website – for over 250 articles and printable infographics

Student Loan Help for Our Disabled Veterans

As many of you know, part of my practice is in Colorado Springs, where there are a large number of military families.  Whenever an article passes my computer that can help a military family, I like to pass it on.

This is one article that could help disabled veterans (and their families) who are struggling under the burden of debt from student loan obligations.

Here is the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB)  link: k:

There are several issues about student loan debt:

First, since the beginning of the federal student loan program those individuals who were considered total and permanently disabled could have their federal student loans forgiven.  Note, that this is for federal student loans and not private loans.

Second, there was the possibility of having a loan forgiven due to death or total disability.

Third,  Previously,  if/when the debt was forgiven- the portion of the ‘forgiven’ debt was considered ‘income’ and therefore was taxable.

NOW>>>>Effective, January 1, 2018 due to ‘death or total permanent disability borrowers whose student loans are forgiven NO LONGER HAVE TO PAY FEDERAL INCOME TAXES ON THOSE FORGIVEN LOANS.

Thus, Now when the student loan debt is forgiven, there will be no detrimental tax consequences.

According to some data, more than 800,000 severely disabled veterans are unemployable due to a service-connected disability.

Many of these do not know that their student loan debt could be forgiven.  Also, for those veterans, if/when the debt is forgiven, the ‘forgiven’ portion of the debt is no longer considered as taxable income

Veterans with student loan debt should contact their Department of Veterans Affairs for more information and if their student loan debt is forgiven, consult with a tax advisor.

It is beyond the scope of this article to address each individual circumstances with regard to specific student loan debt.

The data is from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau…..“There are new student loan protections in place in 2018.  Tens of thousands of disabled veterans and hundreds of thousands of people living with severe disabilities are now eligible for new student loan protections starting this year.”

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Student Loan Debt-We Are Not Alone

Student loan debt has been the focus of some of my recent articles.  Why such an interest?  For Estate Planning purposes it is necessary to quantify all debt and that includes your own, your spouse, and your child or grandchild (if you have assumed -or plan to assume – any of their loan indebtedness).  Such debt affects your financial planning; your retirement planning and your estate planning.

So it was interesting to know that we in the U.S. are not alone is dealing with the ‘student loan debt crisis’.

It seems that British students are also struggling with increasing student debt.  Our neighbors ‘across the pond’ have concerns about how to deal with the situation.

According to the website: in the article titled: How to avoid student debt disaster: Should parents borrow to pay off loans or let children go £50k into the red? We explain all – British parents are grappling with questions of student loan debt for their offspring.  Formerly, decades ago, a university education in the U.K. was within the grasp of a talented student who wanted further education.

Presently, according to the article:

“Around 320,000 18-year-olds have applied to go to university in the UK this year…

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies they face average debts of £50,800..

If you started university before 2012, rates on loans were just 1.25% (in the U.K.)…

But if you started after then, you will pay a lot more…”


An interesting twist for British student loans:  Unlike conventional loans, the amount British students repay each month after graduation is linked to their earnings (in a certain formula) and after 30 years any outstanding debt is ‘wiped’ by the Government.  However, student loan payments are taken directly out of wages by the employer, thus former students cannot miss payments, and their debt does not go into collection.

There are a number of other caveats of the student loan system in the U.K. beyond the scope of this article to explain.

The point is, parents in the U.K. (like those in the U.S.) have increasing concerns about how their children will be able to afford a university education and how their loans can be repaid.

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Student Loan Debt Pitfalls

Our friends at Squared Away * blog have just come up with a holiday “gift” for those with (or contemplating) student loans.  The article titled: Student Loan Repayment: 12 Rules (December 6, 2016) is something I wanted to share with you immediately.

If you know someone who has a student loan, encourage them to read the article.

The Squared Away blog outlines twelve major considerations of repaying student loans and offers solid advice on some ‘pitfalls’, for example “default”; “forbearance” and “debt relief” companies. There are also links to the federal website for more information.


“A deferment or forbearance allows you to temporarily postpone making your federal student loan payments or to temporarily reduce the amount you pay. … A deferment is a period during which repayment of the principal and interest of your loan is temporarily delayed”

Further – from the federal site: “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).”

Know That You Are Not Alone…if you have student loan debt. According to some statistics the value of student loan debt in the U.S. in 2016 was a staggering $1.3 trillion, spread out over 44 million borrowers.

In an article titled: The college debt crisis is even worse than you think by By Neil Swidey (The Boston Globe-online) is that with respect to lower income students: “more troubling, many of these low-income students — and, at some colleges, most of them — are not graduating. That means these non-completers are leaving campus saddled with lots of debt but none of the salary gains that traditionally come with a bachelor’s degree.”

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