President Biden's plan to address student loan debt: A financial expert weighs in.

The big talk recently has been President Joe Biden's plan to address student loan debt, which includes wiping away $10,000 in debt for some borrowers and extending the pandemic-related pause on payments for all.

News 12 Staff

Aug 26, 2022, 10:05 AM

Updated 603 days ago

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The big talk recently has been President Joe Biden's plan to address student loan debt, which includes wiping away $10,000 in debt for some borrowers and extending the pandemic-related pause on payments for all.
But financial experts say the plan does not fix the problem of the outrageous cost of a higher education to begin with.
News 12 spoke with Ryan Zacharczyk, who is a financial adviser, about how to plan for one of the biggest bills you could ever get in your lifetime, as well as one father, Don Wachtor, who's feeling the effects of planning too late for his kids.
“I thought I had a pretty penny as far as providing for school, but, no, it was not nearly enough,” says Wachtor.
Wachtor is a retired 70-year-old father of two college-aged kids.
“It wasn't expected, but I'm really happy that I have kids and I want to do all I can for them,” says Wachtor.
For Wachtor, that means paying for their higher education. He took out federal "parent plus loans" to cover the costs for his daughter, now a Rutgers graduate, and his son, who has one year left at Montclair State University. With interest, Wachtor now owes over $164,000 in student loan debt.
“Education is far more expensive than it's ever been in history,” says Zacharczyk.
Zacharczyk, the president of Zynergy Retirement Planning in Red Bank, helps people like Wachtor figure out how to set aside money for their children's educational expenses.
“We prioritize things like an emergency reserve,” says Zacharczyk. “Second priority is retirement planning because at the end of the day you can borrow for college, but you can't borrow for retirement. So, somebody trying to save for two middle class individuals with average incomes in the state of New Jersey is gonna struggle to get to that third priority and saving for education."
Zacharczyk says most people know about 529 college savings plans.
“Sometimes our people come to us and they're either just pregnant or they're planning a family and we start a 529 right from the get go even before the child is born,” says Zacharczyk.
But Zacharczyk finds many of his clients don't know about using "I-bonds" for college savings instead.
“In my family, we're prioritizing putting away in I-bonds instead of the 529 in the short term,” says Zacharczyk. “The I stands for inflation so it's an inflation adjusted bond and right now inflation is pretty high, so the interest rates are high."
In fact, the interest rate on I-bonds right now is 9.62%. They're tax free if you use them for education, but you can't cash them for one year.
“If you cash in the bond in less than five years, there's a three-month interest penalty,” says Zacharczyk. “Not principal interest, so if you put in $10K and at the end of a year it's worth $10,900 or something along those lines, really the best option we have in this world for federally guaranteed money."
Zacharczyk says if your child choses a profession in public service, tell them their loans can be forgiven altogether, but most importantly, as a parent, plan as early as possible for your child's future.
Wachtor says the one mistake he made was not planning sooner, but he's just glad he was able to give them an opportunity he never had.
The I-bond is fully backed by the federal government. For more information, click HERE.
While you can also tap a Roth IRA for college expenses even though it's intended for retirement, the financial advisor never advises taking money from retirement to pay for college education.


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