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Over 80 people attended State Treasurer Deb Goldberg’s presentation, “Preparing for College…Pro Active Steps and Financial Resources”. Superintendent Roy Belson introduced the State Treasurer to the audience, stating Deb Goldberg’s knowledge and expertise are a wonderful resource for all Medford parents”. State Treasurer Goldberg got to the point right away, encouraging everyone to “pay yourself first”! She continued, “When I was a child, I had a passbook and regularly made deposits at the bank. Today banking is all done via ATM or computer, so students do not realize the meaning of savings, because they no longer physically see it, in hand. Saving is important for all, whether for a student’s higher education, for a future home purchase, or for a retirement plan. 40% of families today do not function with a budget, which makes it even more difficult to begin to save.”  

Jonathan Hughes, representing the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, (MEFA) described how their website enables families to plan for their child’s higher education future with expert guidance. MEFA parents/guardians how to begin saving for higher education with affordable and reliable programs, such as the U Plan and the U Fund. In addition, MEFA provides ways to pay for higher education from many sources, such MEFA Undergraduate and Graduate loans, as well as, Education Refinancing Loans. “MEFA’s website allows parents and guardians to begin planning for higher education as early as preschool. We suggest the U Fund (529) to begin saving as early as possible. College savings should be a part of one’s regular budget, just like retirement and paying household bills. It is never too early or too late, to begin saving for higher education. Saving for college, sets children up for future success”, said Hughes.

Patricia Reilly, Director of Financial Aid for Tufts University, explained the federal FAFSA form and how completing this one form allows federal, state and all colleges to access your information. This form does not ask you your expenses, only your income and your assets. She said there is no place for any extenuating circumstances. Therefore, if special circumstances are present, she suggested forwarding a one page letter describing the issue, and that should be sent directly to the college admissions office. She also noted, “sometimes the higher priced school, might have more endowments and therefore are able to provide more in the way of financial aid, than a less expensive college, so don’t just cross the more expensive one off the list, without checking that out”.

Claire Masinton, from the Office of Attorney General Maura Healey, told those assembled to be aware of For Profit institutions as their rules often differ, school to school. In addition, taking out private loans for higher education is tricky because often those loans can function like credit cards, with variable or fluctuating interest rates.

Superintendent Belson noted that Medford High School offers many Advanced Placement Courses which can help reduce college costs, since those placement courses can sometimes eliminate a course from your college costs. Community Colleges are another option, offering your core courses, at a reduced cost, and allowing a student to work while attending classes. The student can then enter a state college to complete his or her degree at a much lower cost to their family. Also in attendance at this presentation included: State Representative Paul Donato, and School Committee Members Kathy Kreatz, Ann Marie Cugno and Paulette Van der Kloot.  

This presentation was organized by the Medford Public Schools Center for Citizenship and Social Responsibility and the Guidance Department. It was made possible by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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