Archive - December, 2015

Low-Income Americans’ Kids Can Go to College for Free

New tuition announcements may help some families keep more money in their wallets next fall.One of the reasons I wrote Beating the College Debt Trap is that it seemed to me that millions of Americans don’t know how the whole paying for college thing works. The system is intimidating, confusing, and complicated, so they stay clear of it altogether.

A July 2015 study from the Urban Institute confirms my suspicions. As the U.S. News & World Report summarized: “A new study details how college is surprisingly affordable for the lowest income Americans. Yet fewer than half of them enroll in college, and 12 percent of those who do enroll fail to apply for financial aid.” Here’s more from the U.S. News & World Report write-up: Continue Reading…

Fascinating Website for Evaluating Non-Profits

GuidestarThis is a time in the year that many of us give to nonprofit organizations. Have you ever thought, “I’d love to give to this organization, but I wish I knew how they use their money?”

Well now you can know. Guidestar lets you pull financial data on all sorts of non-profits (charities, schools, ministries, you name it). For free (mostly–some reports require a modest fee to access). You can quickly see each organization’s revenue vs. expenses for a recent year. The 990 Forms are particularly instructive–you’re basically looking at their tax forms (where they get their revenue, how they spend it, and more). Buried in the 990 forms is data that can be useful if you work for a nonprofit, or are seeking to do so, and want to have a sense of what the salary expectations might be at a particular level (director, vice president, etc.).  Top salaries vary widely depending on the organization’s size and scope, but these data can be found in Part VII of the 990 Forms.

I hope Guidestar helps you give generously and with discernment to causes that you care about.