Later this week, I plan to drive down to the City ofBrotherly Love to drop my eldest off at college. She's a bit later in startingthan most of her fellow graduates, but her university of choice operates on aco-op program that includes working sessions spliced between classroommatriculation.
Her mother is already experiencing bouts of watery eyesand mopey-ness now that we're about to achieve 50 percent of the empty nestsyndrome. For those keeping score at home, I have another four years before weachieve total lift-off in that category.
I, in turn, will reclaim my American Express Blue card,which was given to her this summer on sort of a leased basis if you will, butwound up resembling my cosigning on a bad loan. In other words, yours truly wasusually stuck with the entire tab.
And speaking of tabs, I'm sure I'm preaching to the choirto many of you far more experienced in these matters, when I even begin toreference the tab for college. I honestly think I spent more time filling outfinancial aid forms and questionnaires both in print and online than I didstudying my entire freshman year.
I mention this only because recently the Treasurydepartment proposed a number of improvements to Section 529 college savingsplans including the use of aged-based index funds - vehicles that pare down thepercentage of equities while adding fixed-income selections as the beneficiaryof the plan approaches college.
In a rare moment of lucidity, Vice President Joe Bidenunveiled the proposals at a meeting the White House Task Force on Middle-ClassWorking Families held at Syracuse University, a forum dedicated toward helpingfamilies save and ultimately pay for college.
The Treasury recommended eliminating the "home-statebias" - the assessment of fees and state taxes that force enrollees tochoose the funds offered in their home state instead of funds available inother states.
It also recommended placing limits on 529 plan accountbalances on a per-beneficiary basis, rather than on a state-by-state basis, thereasoning behind it being to help spread help to a greater number of low- andmiddle-income families - whatever nebulous parameters the administrationdecides to assign to those demographics. Hopefully it will be more realisticthan their past definitions of "wealthy."
Also tossed into the proposal mix was simplifying theFree Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, a 153-question ordeal thatmakes 1040s seem like a personality quiz in People magazine.
I've written enough critical opinions of the currentadministration's policies and proposals to leave nothing to the imagination interms of where I stand, and it won't surprise you that you've read far from mylast column on the pending debacle known as ObamaCare.
But to be fair, when a promising proposal is floated, itdoesn't matter which side of the aisle you happen to sit on, it should bestudied and then decided. Easier access to a college education doesn't appearto have much of a downside and the worst that can happen is a larger educatedpopulace able to distinguish between real reforms and massive tax hikes.
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