An Unconventional Guide to Paying for College

How to Use 1098T for Education Tax Credit

Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in Completing the FAFSA | 0 comments

As we are all well aware, it is tax time again…

If you, your spouse, or one of your dependents attended an institute of higher education this past year, they should have received a 1098T tax from from their school. **Many schools make these available online, and do not mail them out, so please check your school’s online portal if you have not received one**

The 1098T is used to qualify for the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Benefits-for-Education:-Information-Center

One important point to note is that the majority of colleges and universities report qualified tuition and related expenses based on when the amounts were “billed” as opposed to when they were actually paid. This may cause a headache for you when filing your taxes because you will likely want to file based on how much and when you actually paid the expenses. It is ok to do this, but you must figure out the exact amount of “qualified” expenses versus non-qualified expenses, and file accordingly.

In the end, it is often easier to simply file according to how the 1098T is reported from your school.

In the end however, the 1098T is only for informational purposes, and you can do with the form what you would like. Yes, it is submitted to the IRS, but many people do not claim their education deductions strictly according to the 1098T.

For a sample form, and an explanation of each of the boxes you will see on your form, please see below!

Sample of Form 1098-T that will be mailed to student.

Instructions for Student

Box 1. Shows the total payments received in 2012 from any source for qualified tuition and related expenses less any reimbursements or refunds made during 2012 that relate to those payments received during 2012. Please note, Box 1 may be intentionally left blank. Many colleges reports tuition billed and not payments received. For information regarding total payments made to your student account, please see the supplemental information accompanying your 1098T.

Box 2. Shows the total amounts billed in 2012 for qualified tuition and related expenses less any reductions in charges made during 2012 that relate to those amounts billed during 2012.

Box 3. Shows whether your institution changed its method of reporting for 2012. It has changed its method of reporting if the method (payments received or amounts billed) used for 2012 is different than the reporting method used for 2011. You should be aware of this change in figuring your education credits. The credits are allowable only for amounts actually paid during the year and not amounts reported as billed, but not paid, during the year.

Box 4. Shows any adjustment made for a prior year for qualified tuition and related expenses that were reported on a prior year Form 1098-T. This amount may reduce any allowable education credit that you claimed for the prior year (may result in an increase in tax liability for the year of the refund). See “recapture” in the index to Pub. 970 to report a reduction in your education credit or tuition and fees deduction.

Box 5. Shows the total of all scholarships or grants administered and processed by the eligible educational institution. The amount of scholarships or grants for the calendar year (including those not reported by the institution) may reduce the amount of the education credit you claim for the year.

Box 6. Shows adjustments to scholarships or grants for a prior year. This amount may affect the amount of any allowable tuition and fees deduction or education credit that you claimed for the prior year. You may have to file an amended income tax return (Form 1040X) for the prior year.

Box 7. Shows whether the amount in box 1 or 2 includes amounts for an academic period beginning January-March 2013. See Pub. 970 for how to report these amounts.

Box 8. Shows whether you are considered to be carrying at least one-half the normal full-time workload for your course of study at the reporting institution. If you are at least a half-time student for at least one academic period that begins during the year, you meet one of the requirements for the American opportunity credit. You do not have to meet the workload requirement to qualify for the lifetime learning credit.

Box 9. Shows whether you are considered to be enrolled in a program leading to a graduate degree, graduate-level certificate, or other recognized graduate-level educational credential.

Box 10. Shows the total amount of reimbursements or refunds of qualified tuition and related expenses made by an insurer. The amount of reimbursements or refunds for the calendar year may reduce the amount of any education credit you can claim for the year (may result in an increase in tax liability for the year of the refund).

Read More

How New College Graduates Can Avoid Debt

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Getting Started | 13 comments

For the majority of college students around the country Graduation just happened. At the school I work at, we just released 2600 newly minted students to the world to seek their fortunes. This is a scary time for most graduates. Entering the work force in the current economic climate is daunting, and they are faced with odds that are already stacked against them. And unfortunately, not a single one of those college classes taught them how to get out of debt.

Fortunately, there are specific steps that new college graduates can take to avoid falling into the consumer debt trap that so many of their fellow students find themselves in.

Continue your college lifestyle for as long as possible!

There is no shame in this, and the stigma of living on ramien noodles and single ply toilet paper is rapidly receding. In fact, I would say that adults who are long removed from their college years are increasingly moving back towards their “college spending” days to save money and avoid falling further into debt.

In college, you don’t need “stuff” because you have friends and real human relationships to occupy your time as opposed to china patterns and big screen tv’s. By avoiding the trap of lifestyle inflation as soon as you get a job, you will be able to establish a firm foundation, start paying off your student loans, establish an emergency fund, and even set aside money for your future (spouse, marriage, kids, house, new car, travel). Setting a plan, and understanding the downside of falling into lifestyle inflation will help you avoid these common mistakes.

Make a Savings/Spending Plan

One of the best pieces of financial advice my parents ever gave me was to set a strict budget and keep to it. Having a firm grasp of your budget and income needs will tell you very quickly the lifestyle you can expect to have.

In fact, if you have a Stafford Student Loan, you will be required to complete exit loan counseling when you graduate, and you will have the opportunity to create your first sample budget in that counseling session.

Understanding that a high income is got a right granted upon graduation will help you face reality, and plan accordingly. Sticking to your savings and spending plan, will help you keep that vision in check.

Read More

Scholarship of the Day: Healthy Lifestyles Scholarship

Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 in Scholarships and Grants | 5 comments

Scholarship of the Day

 

Award: $5000 

 

Deadline: May 30, 2012

The Healthy Lifestyles Scholarship is open to high school seniors and first-year college students. You must be a citizen of the U.S. or Canada and be under 25 years of age to be eligible for this award. You must also submit a maximum 1000-word essay on the following topic: “Why is a healthy lifestyle important in school?”; and in under 500 words, describe your career plans, goals, and personal ambitions.

Apply Now

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

How to Apply:

There is no Formal Scholarship Application. To apply for the Healthy Lifestyles Scholarship, please write your scholarship essay in Microsoft Word or, if you do not have Microsoft Word, in Google office, the latter is free to use on the Internet. After you are finished the writing process, please attach it to an email and send it to: studentaward@fitnessexercises.tv. If you have any questions or concerns, please forward them to Linda Wells (linda.wells@fitnessexercises.tv ).

Previous Winners:
April 2011 – Carmelo Vargas – Texas
December 2010 – Shifang (Stephan) Cheong – California
May 2010 – Elizabeth Maalihan – Florida
December 2009 – Michael Striker – Minnesota

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Awards Available: 1

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Eligibility:

 As of May 30th, 2012, be under 25 years of age.
 Be currently a senior in high school or in your first year of college/university
 Be a resident of the United States or Canada
 Answer the following essay questions:
1) In under 1,000 words: “Why is a healthy lifestyle important in school?”
2) In under 500 words: Describe your career plans, goals, and personal ambitions

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Website: http://www.fitnessexercises.tv/scholarships.php

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Additional Information:

The $5000 award will be presented to the student who provides the most comprehensive answers to the two questions.

You could also win an additional scholarship.Win $1000 by taking part in Thepensters Writing Contest for college students.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Apply Now Read More

Scholarship of the Day: Copyright Awareness Scholarship

Posted by on Mar 14, 2012 in Scholarships and Grants | 0 comments

Scholarship of the Day

 

Award: $5000 , $3000, and $2000

 

Deadline: May 1, 2012

The Copyright Awareness Scholarship is available to students between the ages of 13 and 25. To be considered, you must creatively present your viewpoint on the importance of intellectual property and copyright law. Entries must include a multi-media component, which can be one or all of the following: audio, video, or PowerPoint files. All audio, video, PDFs, and PowerPoint files must be saved to a CD or DVD and mailed in with the entry form. Audio and video projects should be under five minutes in length.

Apply Now

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

How to Apply:

HOW TO ENTER: To enter, beginning December 1, 2011, go to www.mpa.org or www.nafme.org and follow the instructions for completing the Application and uploading your Submission. Applications must be submitted by Tuesday, May 1 no later than 11:59 PM EST.

Limit one (1) Application and Submission per person.  Written, pictorial, audio or video responses that are obscene, pornographic, defamatory or otherwise objectionable will be disqualified. All Applications and Submissions become the property of the Sponsor and will not be returned. Sponsor assumes no responsibility for lost, late, misdirected, or unintelligible entries. By submitting an Application and Submission, you fully and unconditionally accept and agree to these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding.

NAFME is looking for students to creatively present their viewpoints, in VIDEO format, on The Importance of Intellectual Property and Copyright Law. All submissions must consist primarily of original material. If a submission contains copyrighted material (e.g., a song, a video clip) owned by another party, please submit evidence of permission to use that material. Submissions that contain copyrighted material but which do not include such evidence of permission to use that material will be automatically disqualified.

Videos should be in .mp4, .m4v, mov, or .wmv formats. Other formats will not be accepted. Videos should be between thirty (30) seconds and three (3) minutes. Per the application form, videos should be 20MB or less. NOTE: the online application form will not allow any file larger than 20MB.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Awards Available: 3

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Eligibility:

The NAfME Copyright Awareness Scholarship Program Sponsored by the MPA for 2012 (the “Scholarship Program”) is open only to those legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia and individuals currently studying in one of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia pursuant to a valid F-1 Student Visa who are between thirteen (13) and twenty-five (25) years of age at the time of application and who are currently enrolled in an accredited secondary school or post-secondary institution of higher learning (college, university or trade school). Students must supply contact of school official so that enrollment can be confirmed.

Current employees, officers, directors and agents of Sponsor and their immediate family members (defined as spouse, domestic partner, parents, siblings and children) are not eligible to win.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

Website: http://www.mpa.org/content/2012-copyright-awareness-scholarship

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Additional Information:

SELECTION OF POTENTIAL WINNERS: Sponsor is looking for Submissions that are well-constructed and clearly and creatively address the topic. On or about May 15, 2012, a qualified panel of judges will select three (3) potential winners. All applicants will be notified of their status via email.

4. PUBLICITY: By submitting an Application and Submission, Applicant (or, if a minor, his/her parent or legal guardian) agrees that Sponsor may, without any limitation or further compensation or notice, use his or her name, voice and/or likeness in any and all media, worldwide, for the purpose of advertising and promoting the Website, the Sponsor, the Scholarship Program, or any other promotion, contest or sweepstakes of the Sponsor.

5. OWNERSHIP: By submitting an Application and Submission, Applicant (or, if a minor, his/her parent or legal guardian) assigns to Sponsor the material submitted, including the worldwide copyright and any extensions, renewals, revivals, reversions and restorations thereof.  Applicant agrees that Sponsor and its designees may exploit, edit, modify, and distribute the Submission and all elements of it in any and all media now known or not currently known, throughout the world in perpetuity without compensation, permission or notification to Applicant or any third party.

6. REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES/INDEMNIFICATION: Each person who enters this Scholarship Program represents and warrants to Sponsor as follows: (i) the Application and Submission, including any written, pictorial, audio and/or video content are the Applicant’s own original, previously unpublished, and previously unproduced work (except for any copyrighted material owned by third parties as to which all necessary permission to use such material has been obtained) and, as of the date of submission, are not the subject of any actual or threatened litigation or claim; (ii) the Application and Submission, including any written, pictorial, audio and/or video content, neither infringes upon nor violates the intellectual property rights or other rights of any other person or entity; (iii) the Application and Submission, including any written, pictorial, audio, and/or video content, does not and will not violate any applicable laws, and meets the Official Rules set forth herein. Each Applicant hereby agrees to indemnify and hold the Sponsor harmless from and against any and all third party claims, actions or proceedings of any kind and from any and all damages, liabilities, costs and expenses relating to or arising out of any breach or alleged breach of any of the warranties, representations or agreements of Applicant hereunder.

7. NO OBLIGATION TO USE: Sponsor shall have no obligation (express or implied) to use any winning Submission, or to otherwise exploit a winning Submission or continue the development, production, distribution or exploitation thereof, and Sponsor may at any time abandon the use of the winning Submission for any reason, with or without legal justification or excuse, and the Scholarship prize recipients shall not be entitled to any damages or other relief by reason thereof.

8. LIST OF SCHOLARSHIP PRIZE RECIPIENTS: The names of the Scholarship prize recipients and their winning Submissions may be posted on Sponsor’s Websites.

9. SPONSOR: The NAFME Copyright Awareness Scholarship is sponsored by The Music Publishers Association of the United States and the National Association for Music Education (NAFME).

Questions regarding the Scholarship may be directed to scholarship@mpa.org.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Apply Now Read More

Money for College Project Weekly Roundup: March Madness

Posted by on Mar 9, 2012 in Scholarships and Grants | 6 comments

For all of my fellow college basketball fans, we are entering our favorite time of the year: March Madness!

I love nothing more than sitting in front of the tv for hours on end watching all of the drama and suspense unfold. Who needs reality tv!

Unfortunately, my Alma Mater won’t make it into the big dance this year, but I still plan to watch as much of the tournament as possible. I’m a little jealous of Jeff at Sustainable Life; I believe he is actually going to watch some games live this year! Maybe some day…

Even if you are not a big college basketball fan, I think there is still some awesome information that can be learned from the following articles. Here is what went on at Money for College Project as well as with my Yakezie friends. Enjoy!

Money for College Project

 

Family Financial Fitness Day

 

 

Higher Ed Helps the Economy

 

 

Odenza Marketing Scholarship

 

 

 

Yakezie Friends

 

Sustainable Life – Tenets of Sustainability

 

 

Stock Trend Investing – Mobile Stock Investing

 

 

Penny Pinching Pro – Thesis Edits

 

 

Fiscal Phoenix –  Fun in Investing

 

 

Mighty Bargain Hunter  – Uncle Sam Keeps Refunds?

 

 

Money Cactus – Hyperbolic Discounting

 

 

Roshawn Watson – Safe investments?

 

 

Broke Professionals – House on the Market

 

 

Dog Ate my Wallet – Budgets…

 

 

Read More