Home > New Kid, New Semester

New Kid, New Semester

August 7th, 2020 at 01:15 pm

So here we are just a couple of months after DS2 graduated and flew the coop. Now DS3 starts college this month. A fresh new round of cobbling together funds to pay the semester’s expenses. This is what Fall 2020 looks like financially:

Total bill from the university for housing, food, tuition, & fees - $10,637. It’s slightly less than I expected, maybe because now the semester ends just before Thanksgiving.

This is how it’ll be funded:
$1,000 scholarship
$2,597 balance of 529 account from old state
$4,000 cash set aside
$ 25 scholarship
$3,015 withdrawal from current 529

I wanted to transfer the funds from our old state’s 529 plan to the current plan after we moved just for simplicity’s sake but the old state informed me that I’d lose the ‘earning enhancements’ that had been paid into my account by the state if I transferred it. It’s just 2%, but still, it’s free money. I didn’t want to leave money on the table so I kept the accounts open. We had accounts there for DS1, DS2, and DS3. I’ve always pulled that money out first so I could close the account. This is the last kid with an account there so finally I’ll be able to close it completely.

Our current state doesn’t provide any contributions but it does provide a state tax exemption for money contributed to a 529 account – ANY 529 account – up to the gift tax exclusion which is around $15k per kid. Since I could choose any 529, I did research back then to find a good one. I selected the Utah plan and I’ve not been disappointed. The fund choices are good (Vanguard), the website is easy to use, and it’s easy to make withdrawals. For that withdrawal, I completed the request online on their website and the money was in my account in two days. In contrast, the old state’s plan doesn’t offer online withdrawals. I had to print out forms, including a tax form, then scan and e-mail them in. Now I’m still waiting for a paper check to arrive. I hope it gets here before the tuition is due. Otherwise I’ll have to temporarily transfer money from a savings account. Grrr.

I set aside $4000 cash per year (at least) from my income so that I’ll qualify for the American Opportunity Credit deduction on our taxes. It provides a refund/credit of $2500 if $4000 was spent on college tuition. It doesn’t provide the credit for money spent on college-related things like housing & food but I’m using 529 funds for that. You also can’t get the credit if you used all 529 funds because that would be double-dipping. You also have to have an AGI of $160k or less. As I type this, it sounds complicated but it really isn’t. Like most things financial, you just have to know the rules.

That $25 scholarship? I’ve waited 10 years to use that! DS3 participated in an after-school bowling camp during the winter of third grade. He’s high energy so I just wanted something active for him to do indoors while I worked in the afternoons. It was a neat setup: the bowling alley sent a bus to school to pick up the kids. They gave them homework time, pizza for snack, and then taught them to bowl. At the end of the week (or two? I can’t remember.), there was a bowling tournament for the kids and DS3 won the $25 scholarship as a prize. We laughed about it and told the grandparents that he already had an athletic scholarship for college at age 8. A couple of times over the years I got paperwork about the scholarship and had to create an account online, updating passwords sometimes. The online request to get the money was straight-forward but they won’t send it to me – it must go straight to the school. It makes me chuckle to think of the person in the bursar’s office who will receive that official scholarship check for $25! So really, I probably worked hard for that 25 bucks but again – it’s free money. I reminded DS3 that his bowling performance is helping him now! I don’t know if he’s bowled since then.

We’ll still have books and the costs related to setting up his dorm room. So I expect to spend another $500 or so. Then I’ll start thinking about next semester.

5 Responses to “New Kid, New Semester”

  1. CB in the City Says:

    As a former fundraising professional, I can tell you there are a lot of $25 scholarships out there! We always tried to discourage that, since they are hardly worth the paperwork, but there are people and groups who want to donate only that way, for the motivation factor, I guess. Anyway, the bursar probably won't be as surprised as you think!

  2. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    I love the $25 scholarship story.

  3. LifeBalance Says:

    CB, that's good to know. I wondered if they would think it's a joke.

  4. terri77 Says:

    Every dollar counts!

  5. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    love it!

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