COLLEGE TUITION INCREASES SMALLER THAN LAST YEAR: Average tuition and fees at four-year public colleges and universities for the 2004-2005 year climbed 10.5 percent from last year's levels, to $5,132, while fees at four-year private schools rose 6 percent, to $20,082, the College Board reported.
The trend marked the third year in a row that private colleges posted smaller percentage increases in their tuition and fees than public colleges. At two-year public schools, average tuition and fees jumped 8.7 percent over last year's level, to $2,076. And while the College Board said that the tuition increases are smaller than last year's increases, it noted that they are still high by historical standards.
When total charges, including room and board, are considered, the percentage increases over time have been somewhat smaller, especially among public schools. At four-year public institutions, total charges rose 7.8 percent to an average of $11,354, while total charges at private institutions increased 5.6 percent to an average of $27,516.
Over the last decade, average tuition and fees in constant 2004 dollars rose 51 percent at public four-year colleges and universities, 36 percent at private four-year colleges, and 26 percent at two-year public colleges.
MOISAND NAMED FPA PRESIDENT: The Financial Planning Association, a 28,000-member group headquartered in Denver, has named Daniel B. Moisand, CFP, as its president-elect for 2005. Moisand has served as a member of the FPA's board since 2003.
Moisand is a principal at Spraker, Fitzgerald, Tamayo & Moisand LLC, in Melbourne, Fla., and has been an active member of the FPA and one of its predecessor organizations - the Institute of Certified Financial Planners - for eight years. Moisand currently serves as board liaison to the FPA's Government Relations Committee, and previously served as chair of the FPA's Professional Issues Subcommittee and on the editorial review board at the Journal of Financial Planning - the FPA's in-house publication.
NASD CHARGES BLOCK FINANCIAL ADVISORS WITH FRAUD: The National Association of Securities Dealers charged H&R Block Financial Advisors Inc., the investment arm of the tax prep giant, with fraud in the sale of $16 million worth of Enron Corp. bonds after the energy firm's finances and bond ratings had begun to collapse.
The NASD charged that during the five weeks before Enron filed for bankruptcy, Block's brokers made affirmative misrepresentations to customers, including representations that an investment in the Enron bonds was safe; touted the bonds' supposed benefits; and failed to disclose the risks associated with the bonds.
Responding to the charges, the Kansas City, Mo.-based company said that it disagreed with the NASD's conclusions and believes that its position will be validated through the NASD hearing process.
"We deeply regret that our clients experienced losses from the devaluation of Enron bonds," said Nick Spaeth, H&R Block Inc. senior vice president and chief legal officer. "However, the lost value was the result of mismanagement and bankruptcy at Enron that later came to light, not the result of actions or omissions on the part of H&R Block Financial Advisors. At the time of sale, these bonds were rated investment grade by the national rating services, and evidence of internal fraud at Enron had yet to be discovered."
According to the NASD charges, from Oct. 29, 2001, through Nov. 27, 2001, some 200 Block brokers recommended and sold over $16 million worth of Enron bonds to more than 800 customers, for which Block received profits of more than $500,000. The NASD also alleged that the company paid its brokers "significantly higher" than usual sales credits on the Enron bonds as an incentive. Enron declared bankruptcy on Dec. 2, 2001, sending the value of the bonds plummeting.
The NASD also charged that the company violated NASD rules by failing to establish and maintain an adequate supervisory system to monitor the sales of Enron bonds by its registered representatives.
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