Grandparents Can Help Bridge the College Cost Gap

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Feb 212017

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Duane J. Silbernagel
Financial Advisor
Waddell & Reed

Grandparents Can Help Bridge the College Cost Gap
Provided By: Duane J. Silbernagel

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For many families, a college education is a significant financial burden that is increasingly hard to meet with savings, current income, and a manageable amount of loans. For some, the ace in the hole might be grandparents, whose added funds can help bridge the gap. If you’re a grandparent who would like to help fund your grandchild’s college education, here are some strategies.

529 college savings plan

A 529 college savings plan is one of the best vehicles for multigenerational college funding. 529 plans are offered by states and managed by financial institutions. Grandparents can open a 529 account on their own — either with their own state’s plan or another state’s plan — and name their grandchild as beneficiary (one grandchild per account), or they can contribute to an existing 529 account that has already been established for that grandchild (for example, by a parent).

Once a 529 account is open, grandparents can contribute as much or as little as they want, subject to the individual plan’s lifetime limits, which are typically $300,000 and up. Grandparents can set up automatic monthly contributions or they can gift a larger lump sum — a scenario where 529 plans really shine.

Contributions to a 529 plan accumulate tax deferred (which means no taxes are due on any earnings made along the way), and earnings are completely tax-free at the federal level (and typically at the state level) if account funds are used to pay the beneficiary’s qualified education expenses. (However, the earnings portion of any withdrawal used for a non-education purpose is subject to income tax and a 10% penalty.)

Under rules unique to 529 plans, individuals can make a lump-sum gift of up to $70,000 ($140,000 for joint gifts by a married couple) and avoid federal gift tax by making a special election on their tax return to treat the gift as if it were made in equal installments over a five-year period. After five years, another lump-sum gift can be made using the same technique. This strategy offers two advantages: The money is considered removed from the grandparents’ estate (unless a grandparent were to die during the five-year period, in which case a portion of the gift would be recaptured), but grandparents still retain control over their contribution and can withdraw part or all of it for an unexpected financial need (the earnings portion of such a withdrawal would be subject to income tax and a 10% penalty, though).

What happens at college time if a grandchild gets a scholarship? Grandparents can seamlessly change the beneficiary of the 529 account to another grandchild, or they can make a penalty-free withdrawal from the account up to the amount of the scholarship (though they would still owe income tax on the earnings portion of this withdrawal).

Finally, a word about financial aid. Under current federal financial aid rules, a grandparent-owned 529 account is not counted as a parent or student asset, but withdrawals from a grandparent-owned 529 account are counted as student income in the following academic year, which can decrease the grandchild’s eligibility for financial aid in that year by up to 50%. By contrast, parent-owned 529 accounts are counted as parent assets up front, but withdrawals are not counted as student income — a more favorable treatment.

Outright cash gifts

Another option for grandparents is to make an outright gift of cash or securities to their grandchild or his or her parent. To help reduce any potential gift tax implications, grandparents should keep their gift under the annual federal gift tax exclusion amount — $14,000 for individual gifts or $28,000 for joint gifts. Otherwise, a larger gift may be subject to federal gift tax and, for a gift made to a grandchild, federal generation-skipping transfer tax, which is a tax on gifts made to a person who is more than one generation below you.

An outright cash gift to a grandchild or a grandchild’s parent will be considered an asset for financial aid purposes. Under the federal aid formula, students must contribute 20% of their assets each year toward college costs, and parents must contribute 5.6% of their assets.

Pay tuition directly to the college

For grandparents who are considering making an outright cash gift, another option is to bypass grandchildren and pay the college directly. Under federal law, tuition payments made directly to a college aren’t considered taxable gifts, no matter how large the payment. This rule is beneficial considering that tuition at many private colleges is now over $40,000 per year. Only tuition qualifies for this federal gift tax exclusion; room and board aren’t eligible.

Aside from the benefit of being able to make larger tax-free gifts, paying tuition directly to the college ensures that your money will be used for education purposes. However, a direct tuition payment might prompt a college to reduce any potential grant award in your grandchild’s financial aid package, so make sure to ask the college about the financial aid impact of your gift.

I hope you found this beneficial and informational. For more information about me and my services, visit my website: or just click here.
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 Posted by at 5:21 PM

Oregon Sec. of State: Voter fraud not a problem in Oregon

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Feb 212017

Dennis Richardson
Oergon Sec. of State

Amidst a wide ranging series of accusations from President Donald Trump of voter fraud nationwide, Oregon Secretary of State Bill Richardson has fired off a letter to the White House to inform Trump that voter fraud is not happening in Oregon.

Here’s the story in The Oregonian. Click here.

 Posted by at 8:47 AM

OSP: “Here’s a discount to fix your head or tail light….”

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Feb 212017

In an effort to improve public safety and assist the communities we serve, the Oregon State Police (OSP) is proud to announce a partnership with Advance Auto Parts/Carquest Auto Parts on our new “Car Care Program.”

OSP Troopers will be offering drivers stopped for a minor equipment violation a voucher that provides a discount on automotive parts purchased at any Advance Auto Parts or participating Carquest Auto Parts store.

OSP Superintendent Travis Hampton say “When an OSP Trooper stops a vehicle for an equipment violation, we understand some individuals defer maintenance on their automobile to pay for other necessities instead, such as groceries and rent. The Car Care Program allows, us in a small way, to assist drivers and their families with improving the safety of their vehicle. Every OSP Trooper understands such costs can influence the trajectory of a person’s life, which is why ‘compassion’ is a core value of our agency.”

“We’re pleased to partner with the Oregon State Police on the ‘Car Care Program,'” said Advance’s marketing manager Walter Scott. “Advance is passionate about serving our customers and communities and our team members are always ready with the parts and advice that customers’ need to keep their vehicles running safely.”

Starting February 21, the Oregon State Police will begin distributing these discount vouchers statewide. In 2016, the Oregon State Police issued over 20,000 warnings/citations for equipment violations. Seventy-seven percent of these violations were due to Operating without Required Lighting. Required lighting includes all external vehicle lighting such as blinkers, headlights, and tail lights. These violations directly affect the safety of all vehicles on our roadways.

 Posted by at 8:35 AM

Weather or Not: Into the Cooler

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Feb 212017

Tuesday, Feb. 21st – Lincoln County

Summary: Showers, some rather heavy, and breezy yesterday, with temps near seasonal.

Past 24 Hours High/Low/Gust/Rain…
Lincoln City: 51F/43F/26mph/0.55”
Depoe Bay: 49F/42F/29mph/0.57”
Newport: 50F/43F/28mph/0.84”
Waldport: 51F/43F/34mph/0.93”
Yachats: 51F/45F/29mph/0.95”

Newport Airport Conditions…
Ceiling: scattered @ 800’, overcast @ 1,300’
Visibility: 5 miles/Wind: WSW 3 mph/Altimeter: 29.86”

Forecast: Our rain bucket receives another quarter to half inch today before the heavier precipitation turns to showers tonight and tomorrow. The mercury dips into the cooler range over the next several days as highs in the mid-40s and lows in the mid-30s are projected. Winds should be light to moderate through Wednesday. Outlook is for a slight chance of a showery rain/snow mix Wednesday night, rain showers Thursday, showers likely Friday, then a chance of showers, but some partial clearing, too, Saturday through Monday. Temperatures beginning to warm a bit by early next week.

Seafood & Wine Festival… Mainly light winds, showers, sunbreaks and cool throughout the event; high 45F, low 35F.

wxon-twitterBe sure to follow Weather or Not’s Twitter feed to keep current on Winter’s rapidly changing conditions. You’ll get updated travel info and notification of any new advisories, watches or warnings. Follow @chrisburnswx.

Travel: In the Coast Range this morning, there’s wet pavement with 40F in the passes. Willamette Valley highways are wet, temperatures 40-45F. The Columbia River Gorge has wet roads, too, thermometer readings near 40F. For the Cascades, snow flurries, packed snow, and 30F in the passes, the snow level is 3,000 feet, carry chains or traction tires, except chains required over Santiam Pass, a Winter Weather Advisory is in effect for 6-12 inches of snow in the passes through this evening. * An interactive map of the latest Northwest/Central Oregon travel weather is available here. Also, motorists should always visit ODOT’s TripCheck before hitting the road.

Marine: Winds are WNW 5-15 knots this morning with seas 7 feet at 12 seconds. A Small Craft Advisory for winds is in effect through this afternoon. Variable winds 10-20 knots gusting 25 at times are expected through Saturday, swells 7-8 feet. * Full text of the latest marine forecast is available here. And, make sure you check the latest Bar Reports before venturing offshore.

On the Beach… Rain, breezy, surf 5-6 feet (low).
* For a safe and enjoyable time on the Central Coast, the Oregon Parks & Recreation Department offers these Beach Safety Tips.
* Tides
02/21 Tue 07:56 AM 7.66 H
02/21 Tue 03:07 PM 1.32 L
02/21 Tue 09:52 PM 6.26 H
02/22 Wed 02:47 AM 4.17 L

In Short: Heavy rain, then showers, cool and unsettled.

 Posted by at 8:00 AM

Lincoln City: Vehicular Beach Access Status Quo at NW 35th – Some not too happy about it.

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Feb 212017

NW 35th Beach Access
Pedestrian and Vehicles
Google Maps

Aerial view of the access area.
Google Maps

State officials have ruled that there won’t be any rule changes surrounding vehicle access to the beach off NW 35th in Lincoln City, despite safety concerns expressed by the neighbors. Cars can still use the narrow dirt road to the beach and have access to the sand 150 feet north and south of the line made by the road. However, the adjoining neighbors aren’t happy about it. They contend motorists can’t see very well on either side as they go up and down the unimproved narrow driveway to the beach.

Members of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission, bowing to a long historical tradition of vehicular access to Oregon beaches, said they understand that cars and four wheel drive rigs using the road and the beach, along with pedestrians, poses some safety concerns. But commissioners pointed out that problems have been minor to non-existent according to police records. They also remind everyone that beach access and the beach itself belong to all citizens of Oregon – not just to the local neighborhood. It’s a very important distinction, they say – one that the parks and recreation commission is legally bound to acknowledge and comply with.

The NW 35th Street access is one of two access spots in Lincoln City – the other is off NW 15th.

But the Parks and Recreation Commission didn’t leave the issue to linger in its current state. Members indicated that the commission will re-examine the situation next year. In the meantime, the commission said state park rangers, City Hall, the business community and the neighbors should get together and explore how the two uses could be engineered to reduce or remove safety concerns.

Commission officials say the site would need considerable improvements to the property, if it was to continue to accommodate both vehicles and pedestrian access to the beach. The parking lot and beach access is publicly owned with private homeowner properties on either side.

State park officials say any improvements, like paving, parking and separate stairways, would have to be negotiated between the city and the state. Neither entity has such a project on its “to do” list. State officials say the improvements won’t be cheap.

Those advocating to maintain, if not expand vehicular access to the beach, claim that Oregon has a long social, recreational and economic history of vehicular beach access and that any access withdrawal is another nail in the coffin of such a uniquely historical recreation tradition. Before roads were built along the western edge of the state, travel along the coast for decades was primarily by driving on the beaches.

Local business organizations and the city, along with neighbors and access supporters, are expected to meet and confer over the next year to deal with the NW 35th beach access issue. Until then, it’s status quo. They just urge everybody to be cautious and to watch out for each other.

 Posted by at 12:26 AM

Senator Wyden draws overflow crowd at Sisters High – Info relevant to all Oregonians including those living on the Coast!

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Feb 202017

Sen. Ron Wyden Town Hall in Sisters Monday evening.

A solid majority of the crowd was very upset with the unfolding of the Trump Administration.

Crowd wanted expanded Obamacare, not elimination.

Sen. Wyden: Obamacare needs large patient pools to spread costs over larger population.

Many opposed sale of federal lands – feared sell off to extractive corporations. Gone forever.

Many concerned about Education Secretary – no experience in public schools – fears of privatization – uneven resources for kids.

Wyden opposed to wholesale disposal of federal lands. “They belong to all Americans!”

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, stood before a standing-room-only packed theater at Sisters High School Monday night to what was a very friendly crowd, but a crowd very upset with what is going on in Washington DC.

Wyden told hundreds and hundreds of people that he too has been taken aback at the sudden and deep confusion surrounding the White House and it’s effects on the Congress and most Americans – starting with the initial immigration ban on Muslims that created air travel chaos around the world and which was soon ruled by the federal courts as illegal because it was based on religious discrimination only. Not on any valid suspicion of terrorist motivations. Wyden reminded the room that his own family fled the persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany in World War II. “We are a nation of immigrants. We’re all descendants from foreign lands. It’s who we are…all of us, Americans!” Wyden told the gathering that President Trump’s handling of immigration issues will likely land in the Supreme Court.

Wyden expressed a frustration felt by many Americans over President Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns. Wyden said the American people not only deserve, but have a right to know about Trump’s financial affairs so they can figure out if Trump is running the country on behalf of the American people or for his own personal gain. Wyden said there is also the part related to foreign trade and military issues that can have devastating effects on America’s economy and national security. If Trump can be blackmailed over bad behavior or insider trading, he could steer the country in any number of wrong directions to keep something out of public view.

Wyden promised the crowd that he and other democrats will fight to create a congressional investigation into the scandal of former Trump campaign operative Michael Flynn’s behind the scenes conversations with top Russian government officials which were believed on behalf of then presidential candidate Donald Trump. Those secret negotiations reportedly dealt with President Obama’s sanctions against Russia for it’s role in the Syrian War. “This will not be swept under the rug!” Wyden vowed to a roaring and prolonged cheering crowd.

Wyden was asked about efforts to begin selling off federal lands – especially in the west. Wyden hinted there could be some lands disposed of but only possibly a very small portion. Wyden said “America’s federal lands are among some of the most beautiful in the world and they belong to all Americans, not to mention all the wildlife that depend on them for their very lives. Hunters and fishermen in the crowd were loudly against any national land grabs by American extractive corporations and waved signs to that effect.

The crowd loudly supported Wyden’s stand on expanding Obamacare, not eliminating it. He, as many other democrats remind everyone that Republicans, for the past seven years, have had plenty of time to come up with an alternative medical program to replace Obamacare but have produced nothing. Wyden said the GOP’s current strategy is to “repeal and replace,” but what they starting to talk about is dropping mandatory enrollments, initiating medical savings accounts and inflicting lifetime caps on benefits which amounts to a complete hollowing out of the Affordable Care Act. Wyden said expansion of medical care for the disabled, the sick, and the elderly is the only way to go. He said a minor tax on America’s richest families and businesses has proven that Obamacare works. And it’s a very small tax. Wyden said “The country and the Congress just have to work together to improve the lives of the American people – not just leave them hanging.”

Wyden went on to discuss the growing inequality between the rich and the non-rich of the country. Wyden reminded the crowd that a tiny percentage of American families own just about half the county’s economy and more than half of the country’s wealth. He said if America is to remain a competitive player in the world economy, more young Americans must go to college or vocational schools or they’ll be left behind. And he added, college and higher training should not come with a crushing debt burden that can take half-a-lifetime or longer to pay off. He reminded the crowd that more and more American college students and even graduates are moving back in with their parents because of a huge pile of debt that’s stacked up on them.

Wyden touched briefly on what he called Internet Neutrality and why America should keep Internet Neutrality intact. Wyden said all Americans should have equal access to the internet for all of the many educational, financial, social and entertainment benefits it offers. He said efforts by America’s communications giants to put everything “a la carte,” not only on what’s accessible but how fast it’s delivered – would dramatically increase prices from what we’re currently paying. Wyden said it would be disastrous for the country, our economy and for our nation’s quality of life.

Wyden was then asked by a citizen about his thoughts on the country’s new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, a billionaire appointee now in charge of America’s education system even though Ms. DeVos has never been employed by, or in charge of, any educational institution in the country. Wyden said it was plain to him and to his congressional colleagues that DeVos is ill-prepared for the job. Wyden was also concerned about funding for America’s schools because if DeVos is allowed to start channeling more federal dollars to public charter schools, which she has said she wants to do, it would leave America’s already underfunded schools even higher and drier on all fronts. Test scores reveal that charter schools don’t appreciably educate better than public schools since educational performance has a family factor to it – the lower the income, the lower the performance levels. Charter schools have been roundly criticized for siphoning off higher performing students which come predominantly from higher income families. They say it leaves behind lower income family students to flail and struggle in schools that are left with substantially reduced budgets, now playing second fiddle to charter schools.

Getting back to public lands here in Oregon, income from federal lands provides a large part of Oregon public school revenue. But with the slow down in the harvesting of timber, especially, those funds have begun to dry up leaving a worsening funding gap for Oregon’s education system. Senator Wyden says other states are finding themselves in the same situation. He said he and a few of his colleagues, including a few republicans, are pushing a plan to have the federal government pay what’s called “in lieu” funds instead of taxes on harvested timber. Wyden told the crowd that this funding change strategy is in its early phases.

Wyden will conduct two more Central Oregon Town Hall meetings this week: Tuesday, 12:30pm at Crook County High School Auditorium in Prineville. Then Wednesday in Madras at 10am at the Madras Performing Arts Center.

 Posted by at 11:35 PM

The Oscar’s! All the fun and glitz without having to drive to Hollywood!

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Feb 202017

Experience the Glitz and Glamour of The OSCARS at the 1ST ANNUAL OSCAR VIEWING PARTY, February 26th at the Newport Elks Club!

And the winner is . . . you!

Enjoy a night on the Red Carpet with photos, food, trivia and prizes hosted by the Newport Elks Lodge in partnership with players from the Newport Performing Arts Center. View The Oscars on the big screen! Prizes for Best Dressed, and Oscar Trivia! This isn’t your Grandpa’s Elks Lodge – get decked out or come as you are! $10 for food, fun and a cash bar!

Everyone is welcome – you do not have to be a member to attend this event – membership information will be available. Proceeds benefit the Elks Scholarship Fund and Performing Arts Center.

The Elks do great work in our community including thousands of dollars in scholarships for local youth, The Hoop Shoot, hosting over 700 people at the Community Christmas Dinner, food boxes, financial support for The ELKS Casey Eye institute, hosting the CASA Beach Bash and much more! The Elks hosted our CSC All Staff meeting at no charge for this wonderful space, with one of the best views in town. We sure appreciate all of our local non-profit partners and are happy to share your information with our networks.

See you on the Red Carpet!

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 Posted by at 8:53 PM

Calling all tree lovers!!!

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Feb 202017


The Lincoln County Small Woodlands Association will host their annual native tree seedling sale on Saturday, February 25th at the 4H Building at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds in Newport. Hours 10am-3pm, or until supplies run out.

At this sale a number of native tree seedlings and some native shrub species will be available.  This annual event is designed to provide the public with affordable native tree seedlings, promote natural resource conservation awareness, and to increase forest owners’ knowledge and abilities as stewards of their land.

Most seedlings will be $2.  Contact w/questions

Species will include Douglas fir, Western Hemlock, Western Red Cedar, Noble Fir, Sitka Spruce, Coastal Redwood, Giant Sequoia, Colorado Spruce (blue), Ponderosa Pine(valley) Shore Pine, Japanese Larch, Big Leaf Maple, Red Alder, Oregon Ash, White Oak, Pacific Willow, Cottonwood. Shrubs will include Oregon Grape, Mock Orange, Indian Plum, Red Osier Dogwood, Vine Maple .

Larger orders 100 – 300+ of Douglas Fir, Hemlock, Noble Fir, & Red Cedar should be available.

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 Posted by at 8:30 PM