A Word About Scholarships

April 18, 2014

It's my freshman year of college and I am standing in a crowded campus book store among several other freshman and their parents. Frantically I look for the books I need for my classes. As I struggle to navigate my way through I notice that, with each book, comes a fairly large sticker price. Panicking I call my Dad on the phone. "Dad, do you know how much these books cost? And I have to pay for them out of my own pocket?" Obviously I missed this part of college planning during high school - oh wait, college planning courses weren't offered at my high school! Regardless, at this moment I am seriously wishing I were better prepared, mentally and financially, for all that college entails. Now I recognize how scholarships in the amount of $300 or $500 could be of assistance to me. 

I tell you this story to illustrate this point: No scholarship is too small for you to apply. Any amount of free money that you are given for college is just that - FREE MONEY! No loans, no interest fees, you don't have to pay it back! Large scholarships are not awarded to everybody and, even if you are incredibly gifted, the competition for them is stiff. That's not to say you shouldn't apply for the larger scholarships; but don't write off the smaller gifts of money. If you fit the criteria for a scholarship then it is worth your time to apply. 

Posted in College Planning.

Tax Deferred = Tax Postponed

April 16, 2014


The link will take you to a splash of cold reality.  And I'm not picking on the current President and Congress.  Since the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1913 tax increases have been a way of life for "we the people."

Tax-deferred accounts not only postpone the tax due, but also the tax calculation -- and you will have no say-so in what that calculation is.

Is your retirement leaning on tax-deferred (that is to say, postponed) accounts?

I am available to discuss with you facts that may change your life in retirement.

Posted in Retirement Planning.

FAFSA - Get on it!

January 30, 2014

It's the time of year to complete FAFSA! (FREE Application for Federal Student Aid) We have included a few guidelines to keep in mind:
1.       The FAFSA must be completed every year. If you are already a student in college don't forget to complete the form for the upcoming year.
2.       You don't have to wait until you file your taxes to complete FAFSA. It is wise to complete FAFSA as early as possible as financial awards are often given on a first come first serve basis. Use last year's tax return to complete the form. You can always make corrections at a later date if needed.
3.       Every student preparing for college should complete the FAFSA regardless of their family's income level. Don't make the mistake of thinking your family's income level is too high. Financial aid can be awarded based on many different factors including number of children in college. Also, in many cases colleges will not give merit based awards unless the student has completed the FAFSA.
4.       Perhaps one of the most important things to remember is the FAFSA is always free to complete. If you find yourself at a website asking for money in order to complete the form then you are not at the official FAFSA website.
Completing the FAFSA is an important step in your journey to college. Having problems completing FAFSA? Are you still not sure where to begin?  We offer a one-on-one consulting session at no cost to you. Contact us today.
Hannah, Director of Student Services

Posted in College Planning.

Importance of the Campus Visit

March 25, 2014

The Importance of a College Visit

Narrowing down your selection of potential colleges is exciting and fun! There is no doubt that a campus visit is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the college selection process. All the online research in the world cannot replace the experience of actually setting foot onto a college campus. The way something appears online may be very different from an in-person visit.

I'm a military wife, and I have lived on several Army posts around the country. One of the first things I did each time my husband received new orders was to research our new location online. Each Army post has a website, and just like colleges do, everything is made to look picturesque. The on-post housing is neat, up-to-date, and beautiful. The people in the pictures are smiling and having a good time, and the local community is a nice place to explore.

How very different, in person, those places were! It wasn't until we actually arrived at each destination that I was able to get a true feel for the housing, the neighborhoods, the on-post shopping, etc. Even more important than the physical details was the sense of community. Believe it or not at every post I have been to I have had completely different experiences with my ease of making new friends, as well as the ease and comfort of getting involved in different activities.

I share these experiences with you because it is similar to moving onto a college campus. I was a dorm resident on two different campuses before I finally earned my degree. You are going to be looking at living arrangements, cafeterias, the library, the architecture and landscape of a school. A campus visit will allow you to meet current faculty and students. It is also a great time to taste the cafeteria food! Remember you will be spending four years of your life on that campus, so it should be a place you enjoy on many different levels.

As an Army wife I really ..... read more

HELOC or Re-Finance -- a source of college money?

November 22, 2013

Are you planning to use your home equity line of credit (HELOC) as a source of cash to cover out-of-pocket expenses for your child's college education? Are you re-financing a mortgage and taking cash out of your equity for those expenses? Before you spend a dollar of that money, please read our article under "Parents" on this website. The IRS has restrictions on such uses. read more

Posted in College Planning.

Wrong information worse than no information

November 18, 2013

Are the things you "know" about college admissions and financial aid true and accurate?

I referee soccer -- many are aware of that. That sometimes puts me on the touchline (sideline for the non-soccer people) where parents, grandparents and others sit to watch and enjoy the match. The close proximity allows me to catch bits and pieces of conversations. It is amazing how much inaccurate information people share with each other about college admissions and financial aid.

It is painful to hear. I want to stop, turn around and offer my workshop on the spot. Can't do that at a soccer match.

Is your student in 11th grade, or younger? Have you attended my workshop ever, or has it been more than a year? Please reach out to me. It will be my pleasure to bring you up-to-date with accurate information. read more

What I do -- YouTube 19 minute video

November 11, 2013

Every day people ask me something along the lines of, "What kind of work do you do?" Well, for all of you who have not had the benefit of a personal meeting with me, here's the link: http://youtu.be/LiJGkT6KT-g

If you like what you see, let's talk so I can help you apply the truth to your financial success plan. And, please, share the link with your friends and family. read more

Encore Career -- the parent solution

November 6, 2013


Don't overlook dad or mom!

A "pink slip" comes as a shock! It has happened to me. It is never a good time to get the formal notice your job has been eliminated.

Although at Succeed Where It Counts we work primarily with parents to economize on of the costs of sending a child to college, we are aware that sometimes a parent is also lfacing the need to re-engineer the career track. The link at the top of this page takes you to an article of relevance to that topic.

Thanks to my friend Chris Dickson at Golden Career Strategies, Mallard Creek Road, CHarlotte, for the heads up. read more

The Coke bottle and your financial future

November 5, 2013

Google's login page today displays their logo adapted to honor Raymond Loewy. Loewy is one of those persons whose influence even today is profound, yet little known. Check out his website: http://www.raymondloewy.com

There you will find this: "Loewy lived by his own famous MAYA principle - Most Advanced Yet Acceptable. He believed that, 'The adult public's taste is not necessarily ready to accept the logical solutions to their requirements if the solution implies too vast a departure from what they have been conditioned into accepting as the norm.'"

That parallels the defining question I ask everyone, "If what you think is true turned out not to be when would you want to know?" How to pay for college, your house, your cars; or how to save for your future with the goal of maintaining your present lifestyle are the financial solutions everyone wants. Yet, sometimes even when presented with a superior outcome, people find it hard to accept the numbers staring them in the face.

In honor of Raymond Loewy, the designer of the Coca Cola bottle, I ask you, "If what you think is true about your financial plan for college expenses and retirement turned out not to be true, when would you want to know?" read more

Financial Aid in 58 -- and counting

November 4, 2013

Fifty-eight days . . . yes, 58! January 1 is that close. FAFSA opens for applications for the 2014-2015 academic year January 1 .

Financial aid is mostly distributed on a "first come, first served" basis. Our recommendation is that every family complete FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as soon after January 1 as is practical.

True, you will not have your taxes done by then. Does not matter. Use your 2012 return or your best guess about what 2013 will look like. But get it done.

Elsewhere on this website under "Student" there is more information. Alongside of that are three more articles you will want to read.

Reach out to us for help with FAFSA, retirement questions and any other college and financial concerns you have. We get it -- we're parents, too! read more

Posted in College Planning.

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