Posted On: 2005-11-09
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Good morning folks! It is Wednesday, November 9, 2005, episode 111 of the Financial Aid podcast. My name is Chris, I welcome you to the show, if you're just tuning in, welcome aboard! If you are a long time listener, welcome back! Today's show and the show is moving forward. I've got to tell you folks, the new format I've been playing with for about a week-I listened to the show, I listened to how it sounds on my Ipod, on the commute home and stuff like that, and I hate it, I really do. I miss the Podsafe music. I miss having the entertainment between segments. So what I'm going to do, is beginning today, beginning with episode 111, I'm bringing the old format back--so we're going to have segments, and Podsafe music between the segments. So we got a lot of stuff to do today, got a lot of great Podsafe music to bring you, and we're going to do some of the better hits-not the greatest hits, but the better hits in Podsafe music. But before we do that, today's show we're going to do the news, some mailbag, scholarship updates, and that's about it I think-and of course, the Podsafe music. So let's get started right away with the news.
In the news today, voters across the country have voted in favor of education funding, but especially in California. Community colleges in California won major victories on Tuesday when voters approved a series of bond measures well over $1 billion worth to finance major construction projects and other improvements. Including $246 million for the city college of San Francisco, with an emphasis on improvements its campuses; $416 million for the San Mateo Community College district, $450 million for Alamo Community College and $46.5 million for Central Piedmont Community College. These measures will help community colleges in California get the funding they need to operate at the best levels possible. Senator Charles Grassly introduced to legislation Tuesday that would extend through 2010, the expiring federal tax provisions that allow tax payers who earn up to $65,000 a year, $130,000 for married couples, to deduct as much as $4000 in higher education expenses from the taxable income. The tax plan which the Senate is expected to consider as part of its reconciliation process would also extend for a year on tax credit for businesses that sponsor research and development; some possible good news on the education tax fund.
And finally, a study by the National Center for Public Policy on Higher Education reveals that if current trends continue in the way-the makeup of our population in America, the proportion of workers with high school diplomas and college degrees will decrease, and the personal income of Americans will decline over the next 15 years. What they basically looked at in this study is the changing in educational levels and demographics. What's happening is there are an increasing number of people basically age 14-30 who have less than a high school diploma or high school diploma only. Pretty sharp increase projected to be up to 20% of the population and on the other end, the retiring baby boomer generation-which is statistically the most highly educated generation in America-as they retire, those people will be leaving the work force and taking their education and experience with them. So this projection by the NC-well the center for Public Policy and Higher Ed-is basically projecting a decline in the overall education levels in the United States, which is not a good thing because that has a couple of major impacts on the country. The first, obviously, is that when it comes to things like research and development, or when it comes to staying on the forefront of-pretty much everything-it puts the United States in pretty significant risk of falling behind other countries. Already when you look at educational levels compared to other countries we as the United States are pretty far behind some of the world's top leaders, especially in the fields of math and science. Japan, China, Canada, I believe we're just behind Luxemburg in math and science. Which doesn't say much because you know, Luxemburg, great country, I'm not going to really slam anyone else's country, but it's a tiny little country and if the United States, with all of its resources and things, can't do better at educating it's population in math and science than a country that is roughly the size of Rhode Island, then we're really doing something wrong.
The other net effect, which is probably of more importance to individual listeners, is that the decline in education will also correspond to a decline in real incomes. The basic personal income per capiter---personal income per person---in the United States is projected to decline from $21,591 in 2000, to $21,196 in 2020. Basically a drop of $395. If you are in that tier of people who are making that kind of income, any decline in income is a bad thing. But what is even more concerning is that a decline in personal income would also be a decline in the tax base---in what states and the federal government can collect in taxes-because its not necessarily causal---I think it is---it is not necessarily causal but it certainly is correlative the higher your level of education, the higher your income level. Generally speaking, that's not necessarily true of all fields and things, but generally speaking the more investment you put in yourself in terms of education, the more money you'll make. If the United States falls behind in terms of educational levels, then we will also fall behind in terms of income, personal income. And that will have ripple effects throughout the economy, combined with things like the population's overall debt, and the population's overall consumer spending and lack of savings. It paints a not a great picture for the United States overall. So some objects for concern: The policy of recommendation, of course, and its one that I've touted fairly frequently on the podcast is let's get on the ball with funding higher education, let's get on the ball with making sure that education dollars whether they're in the form of scholarships, or loans, or grants, or whatever. Let's make sure that they're there, so that students can get educated, can get the education that they need, that they want, that they have the opportunity to study and really make the most of themselves.
So, that is the news. We're going to jump right now into our first piece of Podsafe music today. I'm going to do some of the, like I said, greater hits. Let's wake up on a Wednesday morning with A Planet of Women, "Waking up the neighborhood".
I'm awake, and that was A Planet of Women, "Waking up the neighborhood." It's a great, great piece of Podsafe music, so much fun. Let's do some News You Can Use. I talked about this the other day, and I said that it wasn't ready. Well, it's ready folks. The re-launch of FAFSA online - our free FAFSA information site - we just cranked this sucker out: www.fafsaonline.com. In the past, FAFSA Online has kind of been a gateway, really, to getting you to the FAFSA form, either the free version that you can fill out online, or if you want the professional consultation much like you would get with tax preparation, we offer that too. But we wanted to do a third route, a third option, for you. Rather than just kind of throw you blindly out there, or point you toward some of the paid resources. And that is the walk through. I spent the better part of yesterday going through the FAFSA. I pulled the 2006-2007 FAFSA, the draft, and the IRS 1040. Really, going through step by step, answering, and trying out the FAFSA myself, looking for the pitfalls, looking for the things that make it kind of tricky in spots. And I'm real happy with the way the first draft of the FAFSA walk-through has come out. I think what I'm actually going to end up doing, is I may even end up publishing this as an e-book. Kind of like the Scholarship Search Secrets e-book, the FAFSA Secrets e-book. If I do that, it will be in the podcast feed, it will be totally just right now, for Financial Aid Podcast subscribers, because you guys are on the cutting edge of financial aid. You're listening to it right here.
The FAFSA Online website, like I said, the walk through, now covers all 101 questions of FAFSA. Believe it or not, it sounds like a lot, 101 questions, but a lot of them are like "What's your name? Where do you live?" Things like that. The questions aren't all difficult questions; most of them are pretty easy. But there are landmines, there are pitfalls in there. There are places where, at least-you know I pulled the 2005, IRS 1040, which is the one you'll be using in January to file for taxes for this year. The FAFSA instructions actually refer to fields on the IRS 1040 that are wrong. You know, they're one or two fields off because I guess the IRS redesigned the 1040 for this coming year. So when you're going through the FAFSA, whether it's now, whether it is in January, or next year, be careful of them. Because I would hope that the folks at the department of education will fix that, I don't know for sure. It's important that you get everything right on a FAFSA when it comes to applying for financial aid. Whether you're filling it out for yourself, or for someone who is a dependant of yours you need to get the information absolutely right, because if you don't, the formula used to compute your expected family contribution---which is basically the money the government says you need to contribute towards the education. The price tag will be wrong, if you omit things, if you don't have all the assets and liabilities in your taxes, you will not get the right amount of financial aid. And obviously the goal is to get you the most amount of financial aid, so we went through the walk through with that in mind.
The other thing I found, and this is something I think will be very helpful when you're doing the FAFSA, come January. Even if you're not going to file with paper, 1040, even if you're going to do an efile or go to H&R Block, or Taxman, or whoever else does taxes, I really strongly recommend that you do the 1040. You download it from our site; we have a copy of it out there in a PDF format. You download it, print it out, and fill it out. To get started before you do the FAFSA, I think the 1040 really is kind of a requirement. Even though everyone says you don't have to, there are so many places on the FAFSA that need really detailed financial information, that you do need the 1040 as a reference mark. Also, that then means that if you do the 1040, and you're optimizing your tax return for the maximum amount of deductions, the best adjusted gross income, things like that, then you can then go and fill out the FAFSA using that data, hopefully get your adjusted gross income as low as possible before you do the FAFSA. That way you'll have the best chances of getting federal financial aid. So check out the website www.fafsaonline.com. Let me know what you think of it-let me know if there are parts that are just really confusing, or not good, or parts that you really like. It's a work in progress, the first draft is out there, it's live, and it's ready for people to use, because the information is pretty good. But there is always room for improvement I am always more than happy to listen to what people have to say, whether things are unclear.
We got a new FAFSA blog on that site as well; I'm going to be doing that one along with the Financial Aid Podcast show notes blog, because as FAFSA season comes up, which of course everyone knows begins January 2, 2006 at 12:01 am when the Department of Education opens their doors, that's the official start of FAFSA season. As we lead up to that, I'm going to try and blog important things that I find along the way that I think would be very helpful for you when you're doing the FAFSA. If you've already graduated and the FAFSA is not really a consideration anymore then obviously the site's not going to be as helpful. But if you are in school, if you are looking to go back to school, if you are a parent of someone who is in school and looking to back to school, check out ww.fafsaonline.com I think it does the job that we wanted to do and if it doesn't I will really welcome your help and input into making it really the best free FAFSA website there is around. So with that, let's move onto our next piece of Podsafe music, "Waking up the Neighborhood," was a good way to get today started, how about we keep it going. Let's do Matthew Ebel's "Drive Away," again. I really like that song, there is a lot to it. Like I said, it sound a little bit like "Big Yellow Taxi," from Counting Crows, but hey it's Podsafe which means it's that much better.
That was "Drive Away," by Matthew Ebel great Podsafe music. I love that stuff, I love-there's so many good hits in the Podsafe world. From the Podsafe Music Network, www.podsafemusicnetwork.com or www.music.podshow.com and as the discussions been going on in the Podcasting world of course there are plenty of other sources of Podsafe music as well it's just that Podsafe music happens to be convenient for me. All right let's do a mailbag and a scholarship update combined in one. The mailbag there is a question, normally I don't respond to international scholarships questions because we've talked about them time and time again but Embila Serenjaav actually sent a nice e-mail saying, " I have some questions about being Mongolian and looking to get a PH in the U.S. what can I do for financial aid?" As always definitely check out our financial aid websites for International Students. Start with www.internationalscholarships.com and or www.IEFA.org International Education Financial Aid. Those are two great sites to get started with, if you are looking for the student loan route and you have U.S. citizen as a co-signer you can also go to www.studyabroadloans.com all three of the sites would be a good way to get started with getting your international education financed in one way or the other.
Also, well let's do the scholarship update. Today's scholarship update is going to be the Florida Bright Future Scholarship program, this is a program started in 1997 by the state of Florida, basically to try and get as many people-many Florida citizen educated as possible. The Florida legislature created the program and it's neat because it's funded by the Florida State Lottery. The more people who play the lottery, the more money arrives in the scholarships which I think is a great use of the lottery. In 2004-2004 over 120,000 Florida students received funding for Florida's scholarship. The Florida Academic Scholars Award which is part of the Bright Future's Scholarship program provides 100% of tuition fees including lab fees up to 300% a semester, plus $300 per semester for college related expenses pro-rated by term and hours. Basically they are covering your fees, your tuition, and probably some books and associated supplies to go to any public institution in Florida. There are also awards for private institutions but the emphasis is very clearly on the public institutions, University of Florida, things like that. Applying for it, there is a link on our website, we are going to be putting this in the Student Scholarship Search database, it will be out there and you can get to it and things like that. In order to apply for it, you have to fill out the Florida Financial Aid application during your last year in high school; you can also go to www.Floridastudentfinancialaid.org beginning December 1 of your last year in high school and this will take care of the application and getting you eligible for that plus any other state of Florida Financial Aid.
Today's scholarships update the Florida Bright Future Scholarship program with 120,000 students helped last year alone, really terrific scholarship program. I hope that other states can model if they've got lotteries or things like that, that provide ancillary income; I hope they can model the Florida program because really what a terrific way to make a good use of that money. Let's finish off today's show it's been a rock-fun show so let's finish it off with some Brother Love, you can't not, my personal favorite of his, "There She Goes," for everyone who is at the podcasting expo, hey let us know how it goes obviously I have other commitments and so the podcasting world will probably be quiet for the next day or so while everyone makes their way out to Ontario California. Best wishes to everyone there safe travel for everyone going to the expo, in the mean time for those of us who have been left behind, here is some Brother Love.
Brother Love, "There She Goes," from the Podsafe Music Network and that is going to wrap up today's show folks, I can already feel the difference in the excitement that I feel about this show and just what difference the music makes. I am glad to have it back, I'm not going to bring back the sound bytes and stuff at the beginning of the show because it just chews up time that I would rather spend on financial aid. Feedback firstname.lastname@example.org I will be more than happy to entertain your questions and answer them on the air if they are appropriate. If you like the show get subscribed to it and get a friend subscribed to it too. Directions are at www.financialaidpodcast.com what it basically boils down to, download the latest copy of iTunes and then click on the "add to my iTunes," button on our website. Reminders, the Ipod Nano contest is December 1 will be the drawing so make sure you apply for that either by applying for one of our student loans or by going to www.financialaidpodcast.com. The iTunes music store gift cards drawing is going to be Friday, so if you filled out the November survey in our financial aid newsletter you can be entered to win. We'll be giving away five gift cards on Friday in Friday's show and you will only hear the winners on Financial Aid Podcast. If you have applied to win those things and you are not tuned in, well tune in. Other wise, let's see anything else; tomorrow very possibly, maybe new music Thursday, only to the fact that we are going to be out with one of our lenders, the First Marblehead Corporation. All day are those for meetings and things but hopefully I am going to try and bring some stuff along and talk to people about the ACT Education Loan program, maybe get some new insights there. Possibly a new music show tomorrow, not sure yet about the schedule, but if it is well enjoy it because Podsafe music is about to go through the roof and nothing could make me happier because there is so much good music. Stay tuned, stay subscribed, we'll see you tomorrow take care everyone.