“The competition for homes in Westchester County is especially fierce, and Alicja Bohmrich of Houlihan Lawrence was instrumental in helping us find and purchase the perfect home. We love our new home in the Kisco Park neighborhood of Chappaqua.” –The Olbrechts. Alicja Bohmrich may be reached at Houlihan’s Chappaqua office, 914 238-4766
Our store, located at 59 S. Greeley Avenue in Chappaqua, is an old fashioned hardware store… friendly, reliable, convenient, knowledgeable, and helpful. We are open seven days a week, during snow storms, hurricanes and power outages. Customers come to us at all hours for help with issues like replacing broken light bulbs, selecting paint colors, delivering BBQ grills, special ordering generators, and assisting with handyman projects. Chappaqua Paint & Hardware knows that a good hardware store is committed to helping our customers with all their household needs. Our #1 priority is to keep a happy home for every customer! chappaquapandh.com
By Scott Kahan
Paying for college can be very complicated, especially if families haven’t saved enough. With many private colleges now costing close to $60,000 per year, parents can expect to spend over $250,000 for a four year degree. State schools can cost as much as $25,000 per year, or higher for out-of-state residents. How do families pay for all this? And what if parents have more than one child? Below, Scott M. Kahan, Certified Financial Planner professional and President of Chappaqua’s Financial Asset Management Corporation, offers suggestions for getting one’s financial planning under control and making the whole college process a little less stressful.
1. Consider your family’s overall financial situation. “College is one goal among many,” Kahan emphasizes to parents. “Retirement is [also] a major goal that should not be sacrificed. You can borrow for college, but you can’t borrow for retirement.” For that purpose, he suggests maximizing your savings into work retirement plans such as 401Ks.
2. For optimum savings, choose the 529 Plan. Available in all states, these plans provide tax-free growth on the money put in, as long as it is used for college. The money can also be used for any immediate family member’s college expenses, meaning, if needed, a parent can take money from one child’s account and use it for another. There is no limit to the number of plans one can set up.
Additionally, using the NYS plan (www.nysaves.org), parents can deduct their contribution on their NYS tax returns ($10,000 max for married couples; $5,000 max for single parents). Says Kahan, “Families can always fund more, but only that amount is deductible.” He also recommends parents use the direct savings plan, rather than the advisor plan, since there are no additional costs built in. Keep in mind, too, that when applying for financial aid, some schools (not all) will not count the 529 as a child’s asset in the calculations. Finally, Kahan suggests grandparents and other family members consider funding these accounts as well, in order to maximize savings.
3. If you have home equity available, consider borrowing from that. Kahan forewarns: “How you do this is important.” With interest rates still low, he suggests refinancing your mortgage rather than taking out a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Why? “The reason is simple,” Kahan states. “A HELOC has a variable rate. When rates start rising, as they will before you know it, this rate will increase, and the college loan will become very expensive. By refinancing a mortgage and taking cash out, you can lock in today’s lower rates for the term of your mortgage. The cost to obtain a new mortgage may be higher, but in the long run, could save you money.”
4. Avoid borrowing from a 401K plan; again, keep retirement money separate from this process. “There could be some advantages to doing this,” says Kahan, “but if you leave your job with an outstanding loan, that loan then becomes taxable income and possibly subject to an additional 10% penalty.”
5. Beware the private student loans trap, as these loans have “low interest rates to start, but those rates can climb.” Also, considering that these are private loans, they do not necessarily provide the same flexibility with deferment and forgiveness of debt as some government loans.
6. Consider the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for your child. These forms should be completed in January of the year the child enters college. Even if a given family may not qualify for financial aid, this plan will allow a parent or child to borrow money using loans available through the school and government programs.
7. Look into Stafford loans and Parent Plus loan options. Stafford loans are student loans that can have lower interest rates, depending upon family finances. Parent Plus loans are parent loans, which allow parents to borrow up to the full cost of education each year.
8. Seek out a Certified Financial Planner professional. He or she can help you identify your goals and figure out how to best execute your plan. “By taking into account all your goals and family finances, they can put you on the right path to meeting those goals,” Kahan explains.
Additionally, Chappaqua residents/parents can benefit from the Horace Greeley Scholarship Fund, www.HGSF.org, which provides scholarships to students based on financial need.
Rest assured that all information provided is confidential.
Each year, with the help of a local college financial director, Mr. Kahan also presents a seminar on how to prepare and plan to pay for college at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua. He can be reached at 914 238-8900 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. FAM is located at 26 S. Greeley Avenue.
By Alan Sheptin
I feel for the Class of 2017. When its senior prom occurs in the not too distant future, perhaps the theme should be “Changes” (that David Bowie song). This is the first class that endured the new Common Core Algebra I curriculum, a revamped English program, and redesigned AP courses. And, it will be the first to experience SAT Reboot.
This new SAT, the dream of the President of the College Board (and Common Core visionary) David Coleman, is a radical departure from the current exam. Gone is the guessing penalty for incorrect answers! Gone are the vocabulary fill-ins! Gone are those brainteaser Math questions! Gone is choice E! And gone is the required, formulaic essay where To Kill a Mockingbird can help any student respond effectively to virtually any essay prompt. Returning is the 1600-point scale. This redesign has led many a Guidance Counselor and test prep expert to call it ACT 2.0.
But is it…really?
Before the reinvigorated test samples came out earlier this year, I, too, was convinced that this was to be the College Board’s version of the ACT; after all, the College Board has seen a consistent loss in market share, while the ACT has been gaining in popularity. However, a more thorough read of the practice tests has led me to conclude differently:
Reading: Evidence-Based reading and longer passages. In addition to finding the correct answer, the follow-up question will require demonstration that a student can show where the answer was located. Some passages will be excerpted from the classics (think Bronte and Tolstoy). There will also be primary source passages, from the important documents of our civilization. There will also be a trend to more relevant passages, with charts and graphs.
Writing and Language: Understand the rules of written English. This section of the SAT mimics the look and feel of the ACT English test. Questions require students to revise and strengthen paragraphs. The reading and writing sections will be combined to create a single score.
Math: Emphasis on Algebra and Data Analysis; reduced focus on Geometry. This exam will require students to have impeccable Algebra skills, including the ability to manipulate variables, solve linear, system, and quadratic equations, explain relationships between variables, create mathematical equations, and analyze data in charts and graphs. More interestingly, this new exam will have a “no calculator” section, requiring students to manipulate algebraic expressions, have a greater sense of numbers and analysis thereof, and an increased fluency in arithmetic.
Optional Essay: Analyze the structure and rhetoric of an article. A student will have to be far more knowledgeable about rhetorical strategies in analyzing an issue. The new essay will require 50 minutes of time, instead of 25.
So, what should rising juniors (and sophomores) be doing right now to prepare for this test? Here are some of my key suggestions:
Read a variety of works. If your child has read the Harry Potter series twelve times over, or thinks that The Fault in Our Stars is high-end literature, help them raise the bar. The SAT will be testing excerpts from “rich” literature. Some passages will look like newspaper articles. Encourage your child to read the New York Times Weekly Review section, as well as the Science Times.
Take the most challenging Math courses. All too many students find Math to be a chore. Yes, learning Math is painful: just like perfecting your lacrosse moves or mastering that really tough classical piece, it takes time and patience. I usually tell my students that the few homework problems a teacher recommends constitutes the minimum amount of work you need to do to master a skill. So, keep at it. Dare to be challenged and don’t drop down a level just to get the easy A. It will hurt in the long run.
Bottom line: the jury’s still out on this new test. However, over time, I think that the College Board has finally hit the nail on the head. It created a test that is challenging, relevant, and resembles the skills required to successfully manage college.
The current SAT will continue to be offered until January 2016, and “SAT 2.0” will make its debut in March. Time will tell how students, educators, and admission officers receive the test. We will continue to analyze these new exams and their impact on the college admissions process.
Alan J. Sheptin is the founder of Sheptin Tutoring Group, LLC, a full-service test prep company in Chappaqua. He has worked with hundreds of students, successfully preparing them for the SATs, ACTs, and all academic subjects. He and his team pride themselves on providing a nurturing and motivating environment, which is vital to success. Call 844-743-7846 Email: email@example.com