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  • Learn About Credit Unions
    • Historical Timeline of Credit Unions

      As not-for-profit depository institutions, credit unions were created to serve members as credit cooperatives.

    • How is a Credit Union Different than a Bank?

      In the United States, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members rather than to maximize corporate profits.

    • How to Find a Credit Union in Your Area

      Once you select a specific credit union, you can view more details about that credit union, including contact information, branch locations, services offered, and recent financial statements.

    • How to Join a Credit Union

      Anybody can join a credit union. Each credit union serves what’s called their “field of membership” – that’s the commonality between the members.

    • How to Start a Credit Union

      If your group is eligible, NCUA's staff will assist you with preparing an application for a charter and see that your group receives guidance in getting your federal credit union started.

    • Is a Credit Union Right for Me?

      Because credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions, their focus is serving the financial needs of their members and not making a profit.

    • Credit Union and Bank Interest Rate Comparison

      In general, credit unions offer higher savings rates, meaning that your money grows faster, and lower rates on loans, meaning that you will owe less over the lifetime of the loan.

    • Learn More About Your Credit Union

      NCUA makes financial information about credit unions available to the public through Financial Performance Reports (FPRs).

    • Low Income Credit Unions

      Credit unions provide valuable access to financial services for people underserved and unserved by traditional financial institutions.

    • Understanding Differences in Federal vs. Privately Insured Credit Unions

      Federally-chartered credit unions are regulated by the National Credit Union Administration and insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

    • What is a Credit Union?

      A federal credit union is a cooperative financial institution chartered by the federal government and owned by individual members.

  • Protect Your Finances
    • Consumer Protection Update

      Watch the latest NCUA Consumer Protection Update video to learn about important updates and changes that may affect you as a consumer."

    • Credit Reports and Credit Scores

      It’s a good idea to monitor your credit report on a regular basis to make sure that the information is accurate. You can also verify that no one has stolen your identity to make fraudulent charges.

    • Share Insurance Coverage

      Federally insured credit unions offer a safe place for you to save your money, with deposits insured up to $250,000, per individual depositor.

    • Online Financial Safety Tips

      When performing transactions on your credit union's website, it's wise to make sure that the website is legitimate and that your deposits are federally insured.

    • Prevent Identity Theft

      If you believe that someone has stolen your identity, you should contact any credit union, bank or creditor where you have an account that you think may be the subject of identity theft.

    • Frauds and Scams

      NCUA reports on frauds and scams aimed at credit union members. In this section, we provide an overview of recent activity.

    • Scams Targeting Seniors

      America's growing senior population is vulnerable to a broad range of financial crimes. In this section, NCUA provides tips on how seniors can protect themselves from fraud.

    • Tips for Young Adults

      Credit unions offer young adults desirable, affordable financial services, as well as the advantage of personal service developed to help them grow their savings. Many credit unions offer services within schools or have student-run branches.

    • Pocket Cents

      Learn about the history of money, different currencies used around the world, the power of dividends and how to be smart about preparing for your financial future with Pocket Cents from NCUA.

    • Understand Your Privacy Rights

      Federal privacy laws give you the right to stop (opt out of) some sharing of your personal financial information. The law permits your financial companies to share certain information about you without giving you the right to opt out.

  • Financial Tools and Resources
    • Brochures and Graphics

      These brochures and graphics may be linked, downloaded, or printed.

    • Calendar of Events

      View a listing of upcoming events, designations, and opportunities for each month.

    • College Scorecard

      Plan your entire financial aid packages online for all of the schools that you are considering.

    • Consumer Loan Calculator

      Explore your consumer loan, including the effect of adjusting number of payments, principal and interest rate on your monthly payment.

    • Consumer Resources

      Use these references and tools to make better informed financial decisions.

    • FAQs

      Locate answers in the Knowledge Base to a wide variety of frequently asked questions.

    • Games and Activities

      Test your financial knowledge with these games and activities for all ages.

    • Glossary

      Become an educated consumer by taking the mystery out of commonly used financial terms.

    • Lesson Plans and Resources

      Educators and parents can use these plans and resources to teach youth, tweens, and teens about saving, spending, budgeting, and the value of money.

    • Mortgage Loan Calculators

      Compare monthly payments and the amount of equity you would build with several kinds of fixed and adjustable rate mortgages.

    • Personal Budgeting Worksheet

      Take a close look at your income and expenses with this helpful worksheet that can identify where you might have room to save.

    • Savings & Retirement Calculator

      Get estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record with this calculator.

    • Share Insurance Estimator

      Are your deposits insured? Find out with NCUA’s electronic Share Insurance Estimator.

    • Videos

      View NCUA's Consumer Report and Consumer Protection Update videos on current financial hot topics.

  • Credit Unions and You
    • Dealing with Debt

      Bill payer services, or debt consolidation services, can help consumers preserve their credit scores by merging debts and establishing a workable schedule to pay down money owed to creditors through a single monthly payment.

    • Buying A Car

      It's important to know how to make a smart deal. Your credit union can discuss car loan options with you.

    • Paying off Credit Cards

      Read your statement carefully for information about how long it would take to pay off your account balance if you only pay the minimum payment. It can take years, even decades, to pay it off.

    • Home Ownership and Mortgage Options

      Once you are ready to buy a home, consult your credit union about competitive interest rates and to find out about your mortgage options, including the term of the loan and the conditions.

    • Mortgage Modifications

      NCUA encourages credit unions to work constructively with residential mortgage borrowers who may be unable to meet their contractual payment obligations.

    • Preparing for Retirement

      Between longer life expectancies and fewer employers offering traditional pension plans, it’s a good idea to take an active role in planning for retirement.

    • Saving for College

      Whether you are saving for your own education or for your children’s, it’s wise to start planning for college as soon as possible.

    • Short Term Loans

      Payday loans (a.k.a. deferred advance loans, cash advance loans, check advance loans, post-dated check loans, or deferred deposit check loans) are loans borrowers promise to repay from their next paycheck or salary deposit.

Pocket Cents
  • Youth

    Have you ever thought about why money is worth anything? It's just paper and ink, or a small piece of stamped metal. To do a lot of things we need to use money. Money can give you choices and independence. Have you ever thought about how you could earn your own money? Or, how much money you should you save? The way you manage your money could determine if are able to buy food, a movie ticket, a pair of jeans, just about everything. Learn about the history of money, why we use it, how to save it, and how to protect it.

  • Teens and Tweens

    You may be thinking about your first checking or savings account, your first job, or even your first car. Soon, you will have the opportunity to pursue your dreams. You could go to college, launch your career, or start a business. No matter what you decide, you will need money to make it happen. It's never too early to learn smart financial habits. Whether saving a portion of a weekly allowance or understanding the deductions on the pay stub from a first job, good money management skills can last a lifetime. In this section, you will not only learn how to prepare financially for life after high school, but also how to avoid scams and common money mistakes.

  • Young Adults

    Are you prepared to make wise and informed financial decisions? Do you know how to recognize predatory credit offers? Can you balance a checkbook? Do you have a savings plan? Smart financial choices you make today could help you can achieve that new car purchase, or sail through an apartment lease or mortgage application. However, money mistakes when you're just starting out can leave you in debt and ruin your credit score. Learn how to live within a budget, handle credit and debt, and build a solid financial foundation for your future.

  • Parents And Educators

    How do you teach kids about money? It may be as simple as talking about your job, taking a trip to the grocery store, or opening a savings account at a credit union to deposit allowance and birthday money. The bottom line is that it’s never too early to start teaching children smart financial habits and the value of money. Educating, motivating, and empowering kids to become regular savers will enable them to keep more of the money they earn. Whether at home or in the classroom, this section will provide you with the tools and resources to teach kids how to grow into financially responsible adults. The reward could mean a life free from the anxieties of debt.

  • Seniors

    Did you know that seniors account for almost 30% of all fraud victims? Whether you are looking for information for yourself or for a loved one, in this section you will learn how to defend against these scams, as well as, find information on reverse mortgages, prepaid funerals, emergency savings, and long-term care. Additionally, you will find articles that will help with money management, post-retirement planning, and maximizing government benefits.

  • Marriage and Family

    You may have a retirement account. But, do you really know how much you should be saving? Do you budget to save, and not just when you have extra money left over in your paycheck? Have you thought about saving for college? Does your family have an emergency fund? Anyone can learn how to save money and invest in their future. In this section, you will learn how to take control of your financial future, including how to defend against fraud and scams, tips on buying a car or home, how to handle credit and debt, and information about credit reports.

  • Servicemembers

    Are you financially ready? Servicemembers and military families face unique financial challenges, whether on active duty, returning to civilian life, or living as a veteran. In recent years, servicemembers have joined the ranks of those who are considered most vulnerable to predatory lenders and identity theft. Most military families today are not saving adequately for retirement, and many do not have an emergency fund. In this section, you will learn how to protect yourself from financial vulnerabilities, as well as, how to budget, save, and handle debt and credit. Additionally, learn about free financial resources, benefits, and special protections offered by the U.S. government for servicemembers and their families.


Back to Main

Cost of Education: Going to College as an Adult

You've decided that college or graduate school is your ticket to a better career or the path to advancement in your current job. Or, maybe you just want to take a few classes to upgrade your skills. Either way, returning to school as an adult has its challenges. You've probably heard the expression "time is money." Well, you'll need plenty of both.

Where will you find the money?

Returning to school often involves financial sacrifices, but there are ways to lessen the bite. Personal savings, financial aid, private loans, and employer-funded tuition may be available to you, and education tax credits and deductions can help you out at tax time.

The first thing to do is calculate how much your education will cost. Make sure to add in collateral expenses that won't show up on the college bill (e.g., day-care and commuting expenses). And if you're giving up your job, factor in the time you'll be without a paycheck, and the time it might take you to find a job in your new profession. Then, if you can't afford to pay your education expenses out-of-pocket, go look for the money.

Ask your employer

Unless you're leaving your job to attend school, ask your employer about tuition reimbursement. There may be strings attached, though (e.g., you may need to certify that you're not retraining for a new career, or you may have to promise to work at the company for a number of years after you graduate). The good news is that up to $5,250 of employer-provided educational assistance is tax free, even if it's for classes that are unrelated to your current position. For more information, see IRS Publication 508, Tax Benefits for Work-Related Education.

Learn about financial aid - your first academic experience

The maze of student financial aid programs can seem like another obstacle in your quest to return to school, but the process is understandable if you do some research and ask questions. Start your search at your school's financial aid office.

To qualify for federal aid, you'll need to submit the federal government's application, the FAFSA, as soon as possible after January 1st in the year you plan to start school. The FAFSA calculates your expected family contribution (EFC), and lets you know if you're eligible for financial aid. You'll be classified as an independent student, which means that if you're married, both your income and assets and your spouse's will count in this calculation.

There are different types of federal financial aid:

  • Loans -The two main federal student loans are the Stafford Loan and the Perkins Loan. Both are made to undergraduate and graduate students attending college at least half-time, and both have annual and cumulative borrowing limits. The drawback of student loans is that you'll need to repay them at a later date. And graduate and professional students are eligible to borrow the full cost of their education (minus any financial aid received) under the federal PLUS Loan program.
  • Grants - The two main federal grants are the Pell Grant and the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG). They're available only to undergraduate students, and they don't need to be repaid. Review the Federal Student Aid - Grants Program Fact Sheet for more information.
  • Work-study - The federal work-study program subsidizes jobs for both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Military aid - The federal government offers educational benefits for veterans and their dependents. Contact your local veteran's office or your school's financial aid office.

If you don't qualify for federal financial aid (and you should always apply, even if you don't think you'll qualify), you may still be eligible for institutional aid from your school--specifically grants, scholarships, and work-study programs. Inquire at the financial aid office and do your best to meet all application deadlines, because institutional aid is typically administered on a first-come, first-served basis. Finally, don't forget to search for outside scholarships. Thousands of private organizations offer them, and some are based solely on achievement. An easy way to search for scholarships is on the Internet, but don't pay anyone to do it for you--searching is free.

Keep in mind that the federal government and colleges base your aid eligibility on last year's tax records. If you plan to reduce your hours or stop working to attend school, your income will obviously be less when school starts. Make sure to bring this to the attention of your school's financial aid director, who's authorized to take special circumstances into account, and where appropriate, rebalance aid awards.

Take a trip to the financial institution

If you don't qualify for financial aid or you need to borrow more than the federal student loan limits, private loans from commercial lenders are an option. However, the rates on private loans are typically one or two percentage points higher than on federal student loans.

Use personal assets

Do you have savings that could cover a portion of your expenses? Or, maybe you could sell some assets. Just remember that tapping your retirement funds should be a last resort - money you withdraw will reduce your nest egg and miss out on the potential for tax-deferred growth. And, depending on the type of retirement account you tap, you may also face tax consequences and penalties for withdrawing money before age 59½.

Investigate education tax credits and deductions

In addition to the tax break noted above for employer-provided educational assistance, there are several other tax incentives that can help ease the financial burden of returning to school.

EDUCATION CREDITS

Education tax credits can help offset the costs of education. The American Opportunity Credit (Hope Credit extended) and the Lifetime Learning Credit are education credits you can subtract in full from the federal income tax, not just deduct from taxable income.

For assistance or more information, consult a tax professional or the IRS.

Finally, how will you balance school, career, and life?

You've found the money - now you need to find the time. Balancing school demands with the rest of your adult responsibilities will be challenging, though not impossible. Here are some tips:

  • Map out your life goals (again) to confirm that returning to school will help you achieve them.
  • Establish a family/friend support network before classes start, and make sure your family supports your decision to return to school.
  • If you have older children, explain your new routine and how they can help out. If you have younger children, arrange day care if necessary--check to see if your school offers it.
  • Look for programs designed for adult students (e.g., support groups, tutoring programs, specially trained academic advisors and counselors).
  • Consider going to school part-time, taking night classes, or signing up for online classes. Each option can save you time and money.
  • Always keep in mind the financial and personal rewards that will come after your education is complete.

 

For Parents and Guardians For Students Financial Aid Going to College as an Adult Borrow for Higher Education



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