Alternatives TO School

choices, options, alternatives


Alternatives To School

Disclosure notice: The following topic causes panic among parents when I bring it up. We’ve looked at alternative schools in the past (here, here, and here for instance) and will do so again in the future, and this makes people a bit uncomfortable. Today we’ll go one step further. I’m going to walk you through (gasp) some alternatives to school that may work for you.

In my last post I broached the idea that college falls short in its outcomes for many students. Perhaps, then, many would be better off to get what they need through other channels. Sacrilegious, I know, but perhaps you don’t need a full-blown college experience to get where you need to go. Before thinking about school by default, perhaps we should challenge the assumption that anything but a college experience would serve you well. The old maxim is true: College isn’t for everybody. Here are a few alternatives to school to consider. Continue reading Alternatives TO School

Chart: Can You Claim It?



Chart: Can You Claim It?

This chart comes to us via the Federal student loan lending agency, Sallie Mae, via Business Wire. The chart highlights three commonly available but oft misunderstood tax breaks for education expenses.

While the typical expense for college far exceeds the credits and deductions available, a few thousand bucks back from Uncle Same can certainly ease the bite. Note, too, that credits are available for non-traditional students, i.e. the worker who wants to augment a resume with job training. We’ll explore this more in our next Tip of the Week, but in the meantime be sure to work your way through the chart and related news release prior to filing your taxes to make sure you’re aware enough to file accordingly.

For more on these tax benefits, see this  related post.

Chart: Tax Benefits Compared



Chart: Tax Benefits Compared

Students and students’ families have three primary tax benefits available to them, all very well compared and contrasted in this handy chart brought to us by the good folks at the IRS. While last week we saw a breakdown of how to determine which benefit you may qualify for this will help fill you in on the details of each.

Families need to be aware of these benefits during tax time, take advantage of them, and plan accordingly for future years. An extra $2500 per year, per student can make a significant difference in affordability in many cases. Further, non-traditional and/or non degree-seeking students have an incredibly unique opportunity to redirect their tax dollars to personal betterment.

We’ll discuss these benefits more in our another post.

Put Your Taxes Back in Your Pocket

Filing online taxes before deadline


Put Your Taxes Back in Your Pocket

In our previous chart entries (here and here) we explored the primary tax breaks available to students and their families: the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) and the deduction available for tuition and fees.

Now here’s a word of advice. In regards to taxes, anytime you see the word “credit” sit up and take note. A credit is a dollar-for-dollar discount from your tax bill for funds placed elsewhere. In other words, a credit is the opportunity to take money that you owe Uncle Sam or the state and redirect it for some other purpose. If that purpose is in line with something you already want to do it makes all the sense in the world to take advantage of it. Either way you must spend the money, so why not spend it to your benefit?

This brings us to a Tip of the Week: Put your taxes back in your pocket. In other words, don’t pay tuition and taxes if you don’t have to. 

Continue reading Put Your Taxes Back in Your Pocket

Hack Your Brain and Save Your Money

Hack Your Brain and Save Your Money

old saw cutting in skull

Once upon a time as a young lad I couldn’t keep money in my pocket any more than I could a handful of water. Money in, money out, even as the specter of college loomed large on the horizon. As a result I showed up to school with only a week or two’s worth of summer paychecks in the bank, an amount far short of what I could have brought to the table had I been more prudent. After limping to graduation I found things had changed significantly in this regards: I could stretch my meager hourly wages as a laborer a long ways.

So it was with particular interest that some time ago I posted a chart detailing the fact that college graduates, as a whole, tend to save greater percentages of their income than their lesser-educated counterparts. Why? Is it because their relatively higher incomes allow this? Because something fundamentally happens in college that contributes to one’s ability to save? Or, perhaps, because only those who learn to save/control spending survive?

Whatever the case today’s students don’t have the luxury to fart around. Affording an education requires preparation, including all of the various strategies we’ve been exploring in these pages, and it requires rigorous financial discipline. Among other things, students need to learn to save to get ahead of the big bills coming their way. But how?
Continue reading Hack Your Brain and Save Your Money

Chart: Where Majors End Up by Industry

Where majors end up-page-001


Chart: Where Majors End Up by Industry

If you ask high school students why they want to go to college, almost inevitably you’ll hear a variation on one of three themes: education, exploration, and employability. Increasingly as college becomes more expensive and the education itself can be had for free, the employability factor takes center stage in the minds of students. But what is the correlation between our studies and our future employment? More specifically, will choosing a particular major have an impact on my employment in a related career field? Continue reading Chart: Where Majors End Up by Industry

Chart: Long Term Unemployment by Educational Level

Chart: Long Term Unemployment by Educational Level



This eye opening chart comes to us from an article in Bloomberg Business by Gail Degeorge which highlights a recent report by the BLS. According to the article those without a college degree were three times more likely to suffer unemployment. Perhaps that doesn’t surprise us. Interestingly, however, unemployed the college degree seems to have little impact on one’s ability to find employment quickly.

To quote the author, “… once you’re out of work, being better educated barely seems to improve your chances of finding a new job within half a year…. Of those ages 25 or older with at least a bachelor’s degree who were jobless last year, 37.7 percent were out of work 27 weeks or longer. That compares with 38.3 percent for those who didn’t finish high school.” This certainly should give pause to those who think that a college degree is a sure ticket to better employment, or to today’s point, consistent employment.  Continue reading Chart: Long Term Unemployment by Educational Level