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Friday College Town Hall

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In Friday College Town Hall, we post a question about college or education, and you leave an answer in the comment field.

Today’s question comes from the National Association of Colleges Admissions Counseling:

During the Fall 2008 admission cycle, the average number of college admission offers revoked by colleges was 10. The most common reason that colleges rescinded admission offers was final grades.

 

While “Senioritis” is often thought of a common and even humorous condition, do these numbers change your opinion on that matte? What do high school seniors need to realize about their second semester?

 

 

Have a thought or an answer? Leave a reply below.

We’ve also asked our @Cappex Twitter followers to chime in! Here’s what people are saying on Twitter:

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5 Need-To-Know Tax Tips for Newbies

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It’s completely annoying and nobody likes it, but you, unfortunately, owe the government a portion of your income. Usually, what you owe in tax is withheld from your income throughout the year. You need to file a tax return to know if you overpaid or underpaid your taxes. If you happened to have overpaid, you get a refund (yay!!!!). If you underpaid, you have to pay the balance by April 15th (yuck).

There are tons of details to fret about inbetween, but for now, here the basics of need-to-know tax tips for first time filers:

How to know if you should file a tax return:
If you are depositing checks into your bank account from any kind of job, no matter how big or small, you should file a tax return. The tricky part for young people, especially college students, is determining whether you’re claimed as a dependent by your parents. So know that just because you and your co-worker have almost identical circumstances, you may have to file differently.

You may not be required to file if you don’t reach the minimum gross income. For example, for 2011 the minimum gross income for a single person under 65 was $9,500. There are a lot of variables to consider, however, even if you don’t take in the minimum income, your employer may have withheld taxes. If you don’t file, the government will just keep that money!

What do you need to file?

If you’re an employee, your employer will generally mail or hand-off your W-2 to you. The W-2 is prepared by your employer at the end of the year and is a report of your paid wages and taxes withheld. The information on the W-2 is sent to the IRS and the Social Security Administration.

What do I file with?

To actually file your taxes, you will need to fill out one of three forms:

  • 1040EZ: This is the most basic form. And just one page (huzzah!). To choose this form you need a taxable income of less than $50,000 and interest income of less than $400. This form is for the single ladies and men out there with no dependents (party!!!). There is no section to itemize deductions or deduct IRA contributions.
  • 1040A: This form has a bit more body to it, allowing for more flexibility in income sources and requires a taxable income of less than $50,000. Again, you cannot itemize deductions but CAN deduct IRA contributions (401K schtuff).
  • 1040: This is the mother of all forms and is required if your income is more than $50,000.

Generally speaking, the 1040EZ is probably a fine choice for most students. But, if you’re not quite sure and have some other sources of income and deductions, there’s always the other two choices.

When do I need to pay?
April 15th. Yeehaw.

Getting Help
If you’re a first time filer, the good thing is that you probably don’t have too many moving parts to deal with…unless you happen to be an 18 year old mogul. But still, it can be a bit confusing. The IRS actually now has a 24/7 toll-free number (s 1-800-829-1040) to help answer questions about taxes. You can also find more info at www.irs.gov.

 What’s usually not taxable? That’s right, scholarships. (But always double check).

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New Student Loan Complaint System

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Lenders provide BILLIONS of dollars in private loans to undergraduate students, and yet there has never been much oversight, leaving borrowers (you students) without a reliable resource to seek help when it comes to private student loan lenders.

Many students who take out loans from private lenders don’t realize that once they graduate and have to pay back the loans, have very little wiggle room. A late payment can have disastrous effects on their credit, and lenders have never really had the motivation to respond to borrowers’ concerns before.

But good news: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced on Monday that it has opened a student loan complaint system for issues regarding, you guessed it, private student loans. Now there is a system in place for students to air out their issues with lenders and actually have the resources to do something about it.

While previously, private student loans were overseen by a patchwork of government agencies, there is now one central agency for private student loans within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to assist borrowers with private student loan complaints. So, instead of a bunch of decentralized and separate agencies trying to keep track of private student loans, there is now one single federal agency now responsible for watching out for all students and families who choose to borrow private student loans.

Why is this important? Well, unlike federal student loans, private student loans don’t necessarily carry the same consumer protections as federal student loans and borrowers can wind up hurting their financial futures.

According to CFPB, borrowers (you students or recent grads) can file a complaint, and they will then work with your lender to get a response–something that is awfully difficult to get without some backup. Obviously, the new agency can’t just wave a wand and make your debt disappear–that’s not what it’s been created to do–but they can make your voice a lot louder and get the attention of the financial institution.

The Consumer Bureau is dedicated to “gathering facts and providing tools” for students who need to take out private students loans. An online tool you can take advantage of now is the Student Debt Repayment Assistant, to help students understand the labyrinth of student loan repayment options.

Complaints can be filed at the Web site or by calling (855) 411-CFPB toll-free.

And remember, scholarships can be a big help in keeping down the amount of loans you might have to take out.

Do you think this is an effective answer to problems with private student loans? What’s your experience with taking out loans? Leave a comment in the section below!

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