Friday, September 15, 2006

It's College Savings Month!

Thursday Connecicut State Treasurer, Denise Nappier spoke at the Stepping Stones Museum in Norwalk about Connecticut's 529 College Savings Plan known as CHET. Nappier expressed concern about Connecticut families trying to pay for college are faced with "a perfect storm of financial challenges: rising college costs, diminishing federal aid, and increasing costs of borrowing."

Most states have 529 programs, but Nappier is pleased to point out advantages to the CHET program.

  • New deduction on state income tax for Connecticut taxpayers

  • Lower fees, among the lowest of any state college savings plan in the country

  • More investment choices, including two investment options added recently

  • Federal tax-free permanency, eliminating uncertainty about tax-free use of savings
    for education expenses

Seminars about the CHET program are being held throughout the state:

Through the Connecticut Library Consortium, the CHET program will be offering a series of
free College Savings Seminars at more than 30 public libraries throughout Connecticut
beginning this month and continuing through the year. The seminars, conducted by a certified
financial planner, will provide essential information about options available to save for future
higher education costs. Among the libraries that have scheduled seminars this month are:
** Hull Library (Clinton): September 19th, 7:00-8:00p.m.
** Bethel Library: September 20th, 7:00-8:00p.m.
** Torrington Library: September 21st, 6:30-7:30p.m.
** East Hampton Library: September 26th, 7:00-8:00p.m.
** Mitchell Library (New Haven): September 27th, 6:30-7:30p.m.
** Gunn Library (Washington): September 28th, 7:00-8:00p.m.

And in an unusual twist, Connecticut museums are tying into the CHET program outreach with special programs.

In addition 11 childrens museums throughout Connecticut are offering special admission
programs for visitors and providing information about CHET and college savings. Participating
museums include:

The Barnum Museum - (Bridgeport) admit one free
Yale Peabody Museum one free adult OR two free child admissions
The Childrens Museum - (West Hartford) one free general admission with purchase of one
paid general admission

Mystic Seaport one free youth admission (age 6-17) with purchase of one adult or senior

New England Air Museum - (Windsor Locks) one free child admission with one paid adult

Discovery Museum & Planetarium- (Bridgeport) one free child admission with one paid adult

Beardsley Zoo (Bridgeport) one free child admission with one paid adult admission
Stepping Stones Museum (Norwalk) $2 off general admission (up to 4 people)
Mystic Aquarium $2 off admission (up to 6 people). also save $10 on new membership
Mashantucket Pequot Museum $2 off admission (up to 4 people)
The Maritime Aquarium (Norwalk) one free child admission to "spongebob squarepants 4D
ride" with one paid child admission to the IMAX theater and aquarium.

I'm not sure what special deals on museums and college savings have to do with each other, but maybe it harkens back to Socrates classroom under a tree kind of philosophy.

More info about CHET can be found at


The Architect said...

Funny how Denise comes out from under her rock every election cycle that she's up in. Funny.

Chris MC said...

Under her rock? At the risk of being partisan, the Treasurer is hardly under a rock.

Treasurer Nappier has outperformed in terms of the investment returns and the risk profile of her portfolio performance - in the top third of her peer group if memory serves.

Nappier is an innovator in her role as fiduciary, acknowledged and respected by her peers, including the Treasurer of the State of California. And there are other substantive professional accomplishments and contributions to her field and to the people of Connecticut.

Most taxpayers and voters do not even know there is such a thing as a State Treasurer. Unlike the Governor or the Attorney General (and very much like the Controller), it isn't really the kind of position that is on the front page of the Courant very often.

Nappier spends her time excelling in the job, from everything I've observed, and is in the news for the best of reasons between elections. But, she does have to ask for the voters' approval for all that, every four years.

Anonymous said...

Even funnier how Denise doesn't mention that she fought against legislation that would have allowed a state tax deduction for contributions into any state's 529 college savings plan. But she cashed her one-chip-per-session in with Amann to gain deductibility for only her plan to ensure that all the money go into CHET because the poorly managed plan was on life-support, and as a boone to TIAA-CREF, the fund's manager.

If she truly wanted to encourage college savings, she would have pushed for legislation that would incentivize families to shop around the 529 plans of other states and choose the best performing fund. The current CHET-only deductibility basically allows TIAA-CREF to have poor performance without worrying that it will lose customers.

Nappier's entire tenure has been a boondoggle....but compared to Silvester, I guess you can't complain, but we can ask for better.

Anonymous said...


Did you copy that verbatim of of her literature, or did you combine a series of her talking points?

You're a joke.

bluecoat said...

BR helped Nappier get her current job. Despite his frequent public spats with ChrisMC, this proves what I have always maintained: behind the scenes, they are in cahoots with each other. <:-)

Chris MC said...

Damn it bluecoat, we told you not to tell!

Look, A12:40, I can usually understand that kind of criticism, and ignore the insults (easy for you to talk sh*t without owning it, but I don't care either way).

Here's the problem with this instance: those are facts I posted. Nothing about her predecessor, nothing about her opponent. Just some observations about her.

If those are her talking points, or whatever, so what? Don't you wish there were more discussions of merit based on fact than the spew of half-truths and invective that stuffs the channel instead? Most people, and even honest partisans, should be able to say "yes" to that.

But to address your accusation directly, I see y'all are watching closely, and when it comes to front page contributions, I am going to make every effort to excise partisan rhetoric there. Really. If it creeps in when I'm commenting - especially in someone else's thread, you're going to have to give me a little leeway.

But no kidding, I volunteered for the duty, and I'll take sincere criticism sincerely. It will be useful if you offer your critiques in that vein, and be as substantive as you can in your turn.

I take it that none of the facts I cited in Treasurer Nappier's defense are at issue.

ken krayeske said...

At what point will we find a state administrator who will go out on a limb and simply say that free higher education is a human right? Loans and college savings plans are not the solution. The only action we should be discussing is how do we finance free public community college and university educations for our young people.
More young people leave Connecticut than 48 other states, we have a lack of a skilled workforce, and students are deeper in debt today than ever. Today's Hartford Courant carried a Washington Post story about college graduates who cannot even afford to live on their own because the cost of high ed has far outpaced inflation.
From the story:
"Victoria Grossmann graduated from the University of Florida in 2003 with a degree in business, a minor in statistics, big plans - and about $5,000 in credit card debt.
That debt was enough to send her back to live with her parents for three years, during which she learned the tough lessons confronting many young people saddled with consumer debt and increasingly hefty student loans."
Al Lord, the chairman of Sallie Mae, makes $33 million annually on student loan debts. The federal government at one point found enough money to pay for more than 8 million GI's to go to college. Today, the ratio of student loan dollars to grant dollar is 2:1, where it used to be the other way around.
On the state level, the Connecticut legislature underfunds all grades of education. The state needs to lobby the federal government to return to those days, and only one candidate for governor is actually calling for free higher education.
The Green Party's candidate for Governor, Cliff Thornton, has put forth a plan for free higher education. The state should use lottery and casino gaming monies to pay for community college for all students graduating high school with a 2.0 and university for students who carry a 3.0.
It is time to invest in our future, and to stop the unconscionsable practice of saddling students with the indentured service of loans. Free higher education is a human right.

ken krayeske said...

Home Sweet Home, Again from 9/15/06 Hartford Courant:

Victoria Grossmann graduated from the University of Florida in 2003 with a degree in business, a minor in statistics, big plans - and about $5,000 in credit card debt.

By Ylan Q. Mui, Washington Post
That debt was enough to send her back to live with her parents for three years, during which she learned the tough lessons confronting many young people saddled with consumer debt and increasingly hefty student loans.

"I had a hole to dig myself out of, and therefore moving home was the only answer," said Grossmann, 25. "If I tried to pay rent, that would be just extending the amount of time it would take for me to pay off my credit card."

Such are the trade-offs facing many recent grads. Some - known as the Boomerang Generation because they just keep coming back - move in with their parents, and others scrape by on their own. Either way, this is when young adults gain their financial footing by learning to juggle needs and wants. Call it Personal Finance 101, the hard way.

"Today's recent grads are dealing with more money issues ... really than any generation before them," said Todd Romer, executive director of Young Money magazine. "If they were not able to save and be frugal during college, they'll still need to attempt to be frugal in those first few years after college."

For recent graduates, trying to live within a budget is complicated by low starting salaries, minimal savings and often high educational and other debts. Student Monitor, a New Jersey research firm that specializes in the college market, puts a graduate's average student loan debt at $25,760, which will take an estimated 7.9 years to pay off.

Credit card liabilities can also weigh heavily. A recent survey of college seniors by the firm showed that though 60 percent paid their balance in full each month, those who didn't carried an average balance of $617. Other research suggests that credit cards may be an even greater burden as young adults get older: An analysis of Federal Reserve data by the policy-research group Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action showed that adults between 25 and 34 have an average credit card debt of $4,358.

Numbers like these have driven many young adults back to the nest after their college graduation. A report released last month by Experience Inc., a Boston firm that recruits at universities across the country, showed that more than half of the approximately 300 students surveyed moved in with their parents after college, with 32 percent staying more than a year. Forty-eight percent of those living at home said they did so to save money.

Financial planners say that for those who live at home, saving money should be the top priority. Shashin Shah, a financial planner with SGS Wealth Management in Texas, advises young adults living at home to sock away at least 10 percent of their salary. That should be done in part through a 401(k) if offered by their employer. Shah says recent graduates should try to save for retirement, even if that means taking longer to pay outstanding credit card balances, though other advisers say paying off those debts should come before anything else.

Saving for retirement has not gotten much consideration yet from Seth Niedermayer, 22, a Yale University graduate who is back at his parents' home in Bethesda, Md., after spending six weeks traveling through Europe. He plans to work for a year, either in Washington or New York, then go to law school. He anticipates his salary will be about $35,000. He had some money saved from summer jobs, but he spent much of it in Europe.

"Preliminarily, I think what we thought was that if he's living at home, it's an opportunity for him to save his money," said Seth's mom, Gail Ross. "We would not charge him room and board, but he would be expected to help around the house."

Abby Wilner, co-author of "Quarterlife Crisis" and "The Quarterlifer's Companion," recommends that parents and kids discuss financial goals and expectations, including the length of time spent at home. Whether it's with chores or rent, parents should require that children contribute to the household.

Wilner offers a template for a "contract" between young adults and their parents that includes the amount of time per week young adults must spend researching careers and how much access parents can have to their bedrooms.

Experts (not to mention young adults and their parents) debate the merits of charging rent. Elina Furman, author of "Boomerang Nation," said rent is crucial to teach responsibility, even if it is a nominal $50.

"It's a very important gesture that implies that you're an adult and want to be treated as an adult," she said.

Furman acknowledges that some parents think asking for rent defeats the purpose - the more money their children can sock away, the more quickly they can move out.

Furman recommended that parents who are uncomfortable taking money from their children invest those rent payments in an interest-bearing account and return it when the children move back out.

Maria Varmazis, 22, knew almost immediately that she would have trouble saving after a long talk with her parents before she graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in May.

Together, they wrote up a budget, including estimated rent, gas prices and insurance. Then they considered her expected salary. The financial picture was not pretty.

"We concluded that I could feasibly live on my own and have my own apartment," she said. "But I'd basically be throwing money down the drain if I'd be paying rent every single month."

So Varmazis moved back into the family's home outside Boston and began work at a trade publication that pays less than $40,000 a year. She hopes to save at least that much by living at home and then use the money for a down payment on a place of her own.

turfgrrl said...

anonymous12:39-- Funny how you don't mention that “Currently, two-thirds of the states that have an income tax offer some type of tax incentive to their residents who contribute to their state’s college savings plan,” said Treasurer Nappier.

“As a proud Connecticut resident and someone who recognizes the significant economic challenges posed by the rising cost of college, I can’t help but wonder why we don’t offer our families similar incentives to save for their children’s futures.”
PDF Press Release 02/06/06

Seems like 529's want to keep investments in their state. WHy do you hate Connecticut?

MikeCT said...

Nappier has chosen smart and low-cost investments for the 529 plan and the state employee funds - largely low-cost index funds. TIAA-CREF is one of the most reputable mutual fund companies in the world (though Vanguard would have been better). Many other states charge exorbitant fees.

At what point will we find a state administrator who will go out on a limb and simply say that free higher education is a human right? Loans and college savings plans are not the solution.

On this larger point, Ken is correct. It would be a much better investment to restore the massive cuts made in need-based scholarships (around 40%) in the last decade or so, rather than creating tax incentives that primarily benefit higher-income folks with more discretionary income.

Gabe said...

For the record, I disagree with MikeCT (possibly for the first time?) - TIAA-CREF is 1, everyone else is 1A.

I have all my investsments (such as they are) with them and I have been very pleased...