Retiring Comfortably on a Teacher’s Salary

Retirement is a time that many people look forward to. However, preparing for retirement does present some challenges. People are living longer, and Social Security benefits are not an option for some teachers.

Believe it or not, it is possible to retire comfortably on a teacher’s salary even without social security. The right financial plan and practical financial habits will allow you to live out your golden years securely while still enjoying all the activities and hobbies you crave.

The key is to plan early, create a budget and utilize the financial tools available to you. Invest in employer-sponsored retirement plans, especially if they match contributions. Work a side hustle and put money in the right places.

By saving and following a budget, you can ensure a comfortable retirement on a teacher’s salary. Here’s how:

 

Tax-Advantaged Retirement Accounts

Tax-advantaged retirement accounts are a great place to start saving for your golden years. Aside from building a nest egg, these plans also help minimize the tax burden every year. Tax-advantaged retirement accounts are often employer-sponsored retirement plans with low fees.

Many teachers who work full-time for a public school, or even a tax-exempt private school, can take advantage of a 403(b) plan. Some district employees have access to a 457(b) plan. These are both tax-advantaged retirement plans with high annual contribution limits.

In addition to employer retirement plans, you can also fund your own retirement using a high earning Individual Retirement Account, such as our Premium Market IRA. This IRA’s rate fluctuates monthly, depending on what the market rate is. However, it never goes negative, making your money safe and secure, even in times of market volatility.

For the 2019 tax year, contribution limits are set at $19,000 per person. Both plans have provisions that allow catch-up contributions for employees ages 50 and older. Catch-up contributions are limited to $6,000. That means that one person can theoretically stash away $19,000 or $26,000 in pre-tax dollars annually, depending on their age. The best part is that contributions to these plans are tax-deferred. It lowers the taxable income for the year the contributions were made. Instead, distributions are taxed when they are taken in retirement. Many employers will match these tax-deferred contributions up to a certain amount. The higher annual contribution limits and employer contributions can help fund a retirement account and fill it up.

 

Invest Side Hustle Money

It is often necessary to earn more than just your salary to reach your financial goals. Creating a side hustle is a great way to generate extra cash every month. Investing side hustle money can help your retirement account grow quickly.

As an educator, the best way to do this is to market your finest skills. Selling some of your lesson plans makes efficient use of your time and helps generate extra cash. You must create them anyway, and some websites make the marketing easy.

New teachers and homeschooling moms are always on the lookout for great lesson plans, and they will pay handsomely for them. You could also tutor students for extra money. You can offer one on one tutoring in your community, or you can tutor people online.

Do what comes easiest to you and earns you that extra money to sock away for your retirement. Some educators even teach English as a second language to make extra money. You could also write a book about something you are passionate about. E-books are easier to format, they don’t have to be long and you can self-publish.

The internet allows access to many tools that make it easier to earn side hustle money. Prioritize retirement funding and make efficient use of your skills. Then, invest the profits wisely for your retirement. It will grow quicker than you think and before you know it, you will have a sizable nest egg.

 

CDs and Money Market Accounts

You’ve already seen how socking away money can help you retire comfortably on a teacher’s salary. However, where you put your money matters. A simple savings account doesn’t earn enough interest to really multiply your savings.

A CD, or Term Share Account, is a locked savings account that earns high interest rates without any associated risks. These are federally insured accounts that are offered in various terms, from three months to five years. You choose the term that is right for you based on your individual situation.

If you don’t want your money locked up, a Money Market account is a great option. It is a hybrid account between a CD and a checking account. You earn a higher savings yield, but can still make up to 6 withdraws per month.

GCEFCU named one of 2019’s best of the best

MemberXP, a credit union member experience measurement platform, has designated Gulf Coast Educators FCU as one of 2019’s “best of the best” credit unions.

The MemberXP Best of the Best designation is awarded to credit unions that consistently provide exceptional levels of member service during a calendar year. This prestigious award is given to fewer than one in five of the high-performing credit unions using MemberXP’s service evaluation platform. A credit union cannot apply for this award. It is independently granted by MemberXP based on specific criteria including member service and ease of use.

MemberXP is a voice of member platform that allows credit union members to provide immediate feedback on the service they receive. The platform utilizes mystery shops and member surveys to gauge the overall member experience across multiple delivery channels and specific experiences such as getting a loan or opening a new account.

“We are proud of the way our employees work tirelessly to make sure our members have a great experience. We continually seek feedback from our members and are continually looking for ways to improve the member experience,” remarked Eric Stegall, Senior Vice President of Operations.

“Gulf Coast Educators FCU’s top scores indicate a real commitment to doing what is right for members,” said Constance Anderson, founder of MemberXP.

Tax Tips for Teachers

Tax time often makes people a little nervous when it rolls around. Some people must pay while others get refunds, but Uncle Sam always gets his share. Unfortunately, educators are no exception. However, there are special breaks that teachers can take advantage of.

These tips will help maximize deductions for teachers while minimizing taxable income. Tax time doesn’t have to make you nervous, if you prepare correctly and take advantage of the special rules for teachers.

 

Educator Expense Deduction

Most schools operate within tight budget constraints, and teachers must often dip into their own pockets to fund classroom supplies. Educators who are K-12 teachers working at least 900 hours in a state-certified public or private school facility qualify for an Educator Expense Deduction of up to $250.

This deduction applies to expenses that teachers purchase for their classroom during the school year. Classroom supplies such as paper, pencils, books, paints and even software can qualify for this deduction.

The guidelines are pretty inclusive, as long as items are appropriate and purchased directly for use in the classroom. Physical education teachers can use this deduction towards the purchase of athletic equipment for the students as well.

These expenses are only deductible if you were not reimbursed for them. If supplies are purchased using distributions or savings bond interest, then they are not deductible. However, the monies used to buy them reduces your taxable income.

 

Miscellaneous Deduction

Miscellaneous deductions can be claimed by people in any profession, and they can reduce total tax liability. The total of these expenses must be more than 2 percent above your adjusted gross income, and they must be required to perform your current job duties.

However, the amount may exceed $250. For example, if your adjusted gross income is $50,000, then 2 percent of that is $1,000. Any amount over $1,000 is deductible as a miscellaneous expense. If your unreimbursed expenses for the year total $1,500, then you can take a miscellaneous deduction of $500.

To claim this deduction, you must itemize your expenses and save receipts. Items that fall into this category may include licensing fees, union dues and professional journal subscriptions that you paid for during the year.

You can even claim classroom supplies and software as a miscellaneous deduction, subject to the amount that is 2 percent above your adjusted gross income.

 

Savings Bonds for Educational Purposes

There are multiple ways that you can use savings bonds for educational purposes. If you purchased U.S. or EE savings bonds after the age of 24, then you can use the interest to fund classroom expenses.

The best part is that you don’t have to report the amount of interest used to purchase goods for the classroom as part of your taxable income. That same amount may not be claimed as an educator expense or miscellaneous deduction, but it can reduce the amount of income that you pay taxes on.

The interest must come from U.S. or EE savings bonds reported on IRS form 8815 that were issued after 1989. You may also be able to exclude some, or all, of the interest paid on the redemption of series EE bonds if it was used to fund higher education.

You must have been 24 years old before you purchased the bonds and you must have incurred the educational expenses during the same year the bonds are redeemed. The cost of books or room and board do not qualify for this particular tax exclusion.

If you use both the principal and interest to pay for qualified educational expenses, then the interest may be excluded from your adjusted gross income.

 

Lifetime Learning Credit

While the Lifetime Learning Credit is available to everyone, it can really be helpful for teachers who go back to school to improve their skills or get a higher degree. People can claim 20 percent of the first $10,000 spent on educational expenses, up to a $2,000 maximum, for a nonrefundable credit.

This credit directly reduces the amount of taxes owed, but it cannot trigger a refund. Tuition and fees from an institution of higher learning qualify for this credit. However, insurance, activity and athletic fees are not eligible.

To qualify for this credit, you must be actively seeking a degree or improving your skills for an existing job. Individuals must have an adjusted gross income of $65,000 or less, and couples can make up to $130,000 if they file a joint return.

The credit is reduced for individuals with an adjusted gross income of over $55,000 and couples who make more than $110,000. One of the best aspects of this credit is that it may be claimed retroactively.

If you qualified for this credit in previous years but forgot to claim it, there may still be time. Just remember, this credit will not trigger a refund.

 

Always consult with a tax professional if you have questions about any qualifications for any tax credits or deductions.

Continuing Education for Teachers

Continuing Education for teachers

Many teachers have a love for education, so it isn’t surprising that more than half of public school teachers continue their education beyond a bachelors degree. For most it isn’t about whether or not they should continue their education, but more so about how to pay for it. Going back to school requires a big investment, both with your time and your wallet. Before you make the commitment, you should consider these things:

Why do you want to continue your education?

If you have a love for learning and don’t want to stop, then by all means, keep going! However, most individuals continue their education with the belief that once they have completed their degree or certification, they will make more money. If this is the case for you, be sure that you research how much more your district will pay you once you have earned your new credentials. Compare this to how much continuing your education will cost you. Is it worth it?

Your Best Resources

Many educators want to move up in their careers and become principals, administrative professionals, and even superintendents. If this is you, decide what you want to do, and plan out the steps you need to get there. If you want to be a principal one day, your best resource is your current principal. Make your plans known, and they can help guide you in the right direction. After all, they have been in your shoes before.

Another great resource is your district’s Education Foundation. This is a team of people who are dedicated to helping make your job easier. They raise money with the help of the community to reward innovative teaching grants, teacher scholarships, and much more. Find your Education Foundation and use all their resources that you can – It’s free!

Paying For Continued Education

The biggest kicker when it comes to continuing your education – actually paying for it. The rule of thumb when it comes to paying for education is to look for scholarships first, grants second, and financing last. Your first step should be submitting a FAFSA application. Once completed, this will tell you whether you automatically qualify for any scholarships and grants from your school. It’s essentially free money.

Next, look for all the scholarships you can. Go back to your Education Foundation and see if they have any teacher scholarships available. Teacher.org also lists several scholarships throughout the year that are available for educators.

Once you have submitted applications for all of the scholarships and grants available to you, you can research loans. A great option is our Professional Development Loan. You can borrow up to $10,000 with a rate as low as 1.99% APR*. Remember to never borrow more than you need.

Most Importantly – Never Stop Learning

You don’t have to go back to college in order to learn more. School districts and Universities constantly offer professional development classes to their teachers – for free. Region 4 also offers many free classes for educators, and you can view their upcoming sessions here. If you are finding yourself stuck on something, find a mentor in a seasoned teacher who knows the ropes. And most importantly, once you become a seasoned teacher yourself, reach out and mentor the new teachers who are just beginning.

 

TERMS AND CONDITIONS: *APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Certain credit qualifications may apply. Member must present valid work contract, paycheck stub, or other proof of school district employment at time of loan origination. Only one classroom supplies loan may be originated at a time. No loan discounts. Payment Example: 12 monthly payments of $87.87 per $1,000 borrowed at 9.99%.

Saving For College

If you have children, it is important to save for their college education. While it is likely they may qualify for some type of financial aid, not everyone does, and tuition can be cost-prohibitive. The key to saving for college is to start early and invest wisely, earning interest whenever possible.

People often get busy or encounter unexpected circumstances that require them to forgo savings. They later find themselves scrambling to find the money they need when their child is in high school. By starting early and planning, you can ensure your child has the money they need to attend college.

 

Look into a College Saver Certificate

The College Saver certificate is an excellent place to start your child’s college saver plan. The good thing about this plan is that it’s relatively inexpensive. Just $25 gets the account started, and after the account reaches $250, your child can begin earning dividends, which can be reinvested back into the account for even more savings.

Also, the account comes loaded with special features. It renews automatically every year. It’s also possible to make as many deposits as your child likes, as the account is open to unlimited deposits.

Unlike some other college savings accounts, the College Saver Certificate does not specify the type of school your child must attend. He or she may choose college or university and still qualify. Keep in mind, however, this college saver account requires parental consent and signature as a joint owner in order to be eligible for savings and benefits.

 

Start a 529 Plan

Another option for a college saver plan is the 529 plan. These plans are state government-run and offer tax-free withdrawals for educational expenses. One of the best things about the 529 plan is the opportunity to invest after-tax money and earn investment gains. They mainly consist of diverse stocks and bonds offered at low cost to savers.

If you’re looking to invest large amounts of money at a time, this plan is a good choice. These accounts allow high contribution limits, and perhaps the best feature is that the funds are never taxed as long as they are used only for education expenses. This includes tuition, books, fees and living expenses such as room and board.

An added benefit is the Gift of College program. It allows friends and family members to assist with your college savings plan. They can easily contribute directly into the account simply by registering at the website giftofcollege.com.

It’s important to note that although the contributions to the program are tax-free, there is a 5 percent processing fee that runs up to $15 per contribution. Keep in mind, however, that 529 plan rules and regulations vary by state. Be sure to check your state laws before getting started.

 

Use your Roth IRA

Yet another college saver plan is the Roth IRA. These accounts are somewhat versatile in that they offer tax- and penalty-free withdrawals for educational expenses, but any unused money may be saved for retirement.

This a great option if you’re unsure if your child will in the future change his or her mind and decide college is no longer on the radar. This dual-purpose route also makes for an excellent option for parents whose employers offer Roth IRAs in their benefits package.

Like the College Saver Certificate, there are no requirements regarding the type of school a saver should attend. Any college or university will do. Also, like the 529 plan, it’s possible to earn investment gains and contribute after-tax money with Roth IRAs – an added plus for those looking to grow their money while saving.

Roth IRAs do have their limits, however. Funds for educational expenses can only be withdrawn penalty-free after five years of saving. Also, these accounts are subject to annual contribution limits ($5,500 annually and $6,500 annually if you’re over 50).

Be sure to check IRS rules during your pre-planning phase to ensure your regular contributions fit the contribution caps and to avoid any penalties and fees on early or non-education related withdrawals.

 

Save smart for college

Every child thinking about college needs a college saver plan. The sooner you get started saving, the better. There are some options to choose from. Each type of saver account has a number of features.

Take the time to do your homework and find a fit that’s right for your college plans and financial goals. With a little investigating, you should be able to find a college saver plan that puts you and your child ahead of the game and off to a great start for college.

Getting Your Finances In Shape

Financial health is important. Unfortunately, it is something that people tend to put off. Financial decisions directly impact your future and have a profound effect on your lifestyle. This is why it is critical to plan for expenses and save for the future.

While it can be a complicated process, it is well worth the effort to improve your financial outlook. The key to financial health is budgeting, planning and, last but not least, understanding compound interest. Some general rules can be helpful.

However, your finances are like your exercise program: You need a plan that is individually tailored for you.

 

Step 1: List All Expenses

The first step in establishing financial health is understanding your spending. All the money you pay out to cover the cost of living is an essential aspect of your financial well-being. It helps to have a handy list of where your money goes after you receive your paycheck and other income sources. Doing so makes it easier to make all the clear choices necessary to permanently get your finances in shape.

Your list should include payments toward credit cards, loans and personal debts with family or friends. It’s also essential to take note of education and health care costs, including prescription medicines and doctor visits. Insurance for vehicles and home or apartment, as well as housing expenses such as mortgage payments or rent, should also be noted.

The cost of transportation such as fuel and automobile maintenance in addition to train or bus fare is important to list, as is the cost of utilities like electricity and water bills. Food is always a necessary expense to note, but also be sure to include entertainment expenses such as dining out.

 

Step 2: Consolidate Debt

Consolidating debt is next on the list for ensuring financial health. If you’ve ever had to deal with more than one source of credit card debt, coupled with personal loans and other forms of debt, you know the struggle to keep all the necessary details of repayment organized and ongoing.

With consolidation, you have the chance to place all your debt under one roof and move forward with your day-to-day life. You can consolidate all forms of debt. To get started, you should first visit with your credit union and get a copy of your free credit report. They can sit down with you (for free!) and give you tips on how to improve your credit score.

The key is to get the lowest interest rate possible. If you are paying 18.00% interest on several credit cards, it may be wise to consolidate those to a personal loan with a lower interest rate. If you have a solid plan for paying back your debt, you can even look for 0% interest balance transfer specials to save you money.

Another great option is to use the equity built up in your home. A home equity loan is a great resource for consolidating debt. Because it is secured loan, the interest rates are lower than you would find on a personal loan. The terms can even be extended up to 20 years to give you a lower monthly payment to help you budget better.

 

Step 3: Cut Unnecessary Spending

Next, it’s time to address spending. Unnecessary spending can plague any financial health plan. That’s why it’s best to take an honest look at those extra expenses that you can eliminate to reach your financial goals.

Our modern times mean there are all sorts of new avenues for unnecessary spending, including eating out, music and movie subscriptions, luxury vehicles, hotel staycations, international vacations and more. These types of expenditures are discretionary and never necessary. This perspective keeps your financial plan flexible and efficient.

 

Step 4: Save

Finally, successful financial health requires an excellent savings plan. Whether you’re saving for retirement, travel or education, you’ll need to take the time to develop a plan with effective and sound financial strategies.

If you haven’t already, check with your employer about ways to save with your retirement contributions. Often, reorganizing your benefits plan can save a few more dollars each paycheck, which over time amounts to even bigger savings than expected.

At Gulf Coast Educators, we offer our members a My Savings Goal account. This account allows you to make monthly deposits while earning a higher dividend. It disperses the funds twice a year, in January and July.

Using coupons and even carpooling are just a few practical methods people use to save, and investing in financial instruments such as money market accounts that help earn compound interest often yields big savings over time with little effort.

All in all, it’s important to remember the key strategy for any successful savings plan – pay yourself first.

 

Get Your Finances In Shape

Financial stability is the ultimate goal whether you’re earning a lot or a little. To get there, put together a financial health plan that addresses all aspects of your current financial situation, including expenses, debt, spending and savings.

Although there is a wide range of financial advice available, strive to find a financial plan that works best for your unique way of approaching your short-term and long-term financial goals.

Buying A House On A Teacher’s Salary

Buying a house is perhaps one of the best investments you can make, but it does take some preparation. A good credit score and an appropriate down payment make the process easier and more affordable. It is important to plan accordingly for your big purchase by improving your credit score and saving for a down payment.

Buying a house on a teacher’s salary is totally possible with budgeting and planning. It is also important to get pre-approved for a home loan before shopping, so you know how much house you can afford.

 

Down Payment

Considering how much you can afford to pay as a down payment for the purchase of your home is also important. With down payments, the general rule is always the same: Bigger is better. In other words, the bigger the down payment you can make, the easier it will be on your pocketbook. This is because more down equals lower payments.

If you put down at least 20%, you can avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). If you put down less than 20%, you will be required to pay PMI each month, which generally costs 0.5% to 1% of your entire loan amount. This means that for a $100,000 loan, you could pay as much as $1,000 extra a year, or an additional $83.33 per month.

Also worthy of note is the fact that down payments must come from nonborrowed funds. Since you won’t be able to finance your down payment, be sure you have a savings plan in place. It’s wise to consider an automated savings plan that can be deducted straight from your paycheck and funneled into an interest-bearing savings account.

 

Credit Score

Next to consider is your credit score. You simply cannot get most home loans without at least a good (or consistently improving) credit score. Banks and credit unions alike use it to measure your personal financial health.

You’ll first need to find out what your credit score is, and decide from there how to raise it, if necessary. Ideally, home loans require scores above 700 to qualify. You can always visit your credit union for a copy of your free credit report, and they can give you tips on how to improve your score.

Although it may seem taxing, it’s good to focus on the highest credit score you can muster. Higher scores equal lower interest payments, and good credit buys more home.

 

Teacher Mortgage Program

There are some financing programs available to assist teachers specifically in the homeownership process. These programs often take into consideration the special circumstance involved in buying a house on a teacher’s salary and have designed their terms to specifically address these.

For instance, the Gulf Coast Educators FCU Teacher Mortgage requires $0 down payment and offers 100 percent financing to teachers who qualify. The program also requires no PMI insurance and has a maximum home loan amount of $300,000. Keep in mind a credit score of 680 or better is required.

 

Homeowner’s Insurance

When calculating how much house you can truly afford, be sure to leave room for homeowner’s insurance. This is an expense that’s included in monthly payments, so it’s important to get the numbers to fit your monthly budget without compromising quality.

It’s added into your monthly payment, so it should also be figured into your overall calculations to determine maximum affordability on a month-to-month basis. This is yet another reason to select lenders with special financing programs available to assist teachers with the purchase of a home.

 

Buy a House on a Teacher’s Salary

From checking your credit score to saving for a down payment, there are some steps you can take today to ensure that buying a house on a teacher’s salary is not the impossible endeavor it sounds like it could be.

Take some time to assess the kind of payments you can afford, and work from there. Also, be sure to take advantage of any special financing programs available specifically to teachers. In the end, you may be surprised how easy buying a house on a teacher’s salary can be.

Rolling Over Your Old 403(b)

If you are an educator, changing jobs means you must decide what to do with the money in your 403b retirement account. Leaving the money in an old 403b may not be the best option since it is not growing and there will be no new contributions. Withdrawing the money makes it taxable income and Uncle Sam wants his fair share. The best thing to do may be to roll that money over into a retirement account that earns money and will help the balance grow. An old 403b plan can be rolled into a traditional or Roth IRA, tax-free, giving you access to limitless investment options. It can also be transferred to a current employer’s 401k or 403b retirement plan where contributions can continue to be made up to annual federal limits.

Traditional or Roth IRA

One of the most popular options for rolling over an old 403b plan is to put the money into a Traditional or Roth IRA account. An IRA account is an independent account that is typically not offered by the employer. You can open one at your current credit union or bank, or use a financial advisor. Your credit union’s IRA typically has a lower interest rate, but your money is completely safe and insured. If you opt to go with a financial advisor and open an IRA that is tied to stocks and bonds, you may earn more at a faster rate, but you also put your money at risk. A good in-between option is Gulf Coast Educator’s Premium Market IRA. With this type of IRA, your funds are completely secure, but you earn a higher rate that is tied to the market.

403b

Sometimes, rolling over an old 403b means putting the money into a new 403b plan. If a new employer offers a plan with investment options you are comfortable with, then this may be right for you. It is important that you first familiarize yourself with the investment options and potential constraints of the new plan. However, many people enjoy the benefit of growing their nest egg quickly by keeping the bulk of their retirement in a 403b plan. An employer-sponsored 403b plan typically offers low administrative costs, making it an affordable option. There are no tax penalties for rolling money over into a new 403b plan, and you can still make tax-free contributions.

This type of plan also has much higher annual contribution limits. For 2019, the annual contribution limit is $19,000. There is also a catch-up provision for people over 50 that does not apply to the annual limit. People over 50 years old can potentially sock away an extra $25,000 in 2019 before any employer contributions. The great thing is that many employers do match contributions, up to a certain percentage, as part of the benefit or compensation package. This is an attractive perk that helps multiply savings. If you prefer to have all your retirement funds in one account and you are trying to grow your money quickly, consider rolling over into your new employer’s 403b.

401k

If your new employer offers a 401k, then the IRS allows you to roll your old 403b retirement savings into that new account. This is known as a tax-free conversion. There are no tax penalties for this conversion, and you can still make tax-free contributions, subject to annual limits. Many employers also match contributions into a 401k plan, up to a certain percentage, allowing savings to grow quickly. As with the 403b option, the contribution limits are higher, and there is a catch-up provision for people over 50 years old. If you happen to max out your annual contributions, some employer-sponsored 401k plans have provisions that allow participants to make after-tax contributions as well.

Aside from growing your money quickly, a 401k plan offers a certain amount of asset protection, too. First, plan administrators must abide by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, also known as ERISA. This means that they must comply with a set of fiduciary standards that put your best interest first, instead of pushing investments that may maximize profits. Plans are subject to full disclosure of historical performance and administrative fees. Assets are also protected from creditors and can’t be garnished, with a few minor exceptions. Many employer-sponsored 401k plans offer payroll deductions, making it easier to save for retirement.

Helping Your Child Apply For Scholarships

Helping your child apply for scholarships begins with becoming an informed parent. There are numerous resources available to students looking to continue their academic pursuits into college, and these may be difficult to navigate as a busy high school student. Your child will need your help to find the best opportunities available to them.

 

Start with the FASFA

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the pivotal step toward securing scholarships for college tuition. This determines whether you qualify for scholarships or grants from the government, and even offers low interest loans. The key is to fill the document out as early as possible. To do this, you’ll need a unique identifier known as the FSA ID. The identity key is unique to each FAFSA applicant, and it helps keep all you do concerning your FAFSA application safe and secure.

Once a student receives an FSA ID, he or she will need to create a save key so that the ID can be kept online without interference from hackers or other privacy violations. Use your child’s information such as social security number, address and name to complete the process.

Keep in mind that additional documentation may be required to complete the FAFSA. This may include transcripts, proof of financial status, GPA documentation and more. Stay within the guidelines on these additional documents and pay close attention to any special FAFSA deadlines for best results.

 

Finding Scholarships

Once you’ve finished your child’s FAFSA application, it’s time to turn your attention to the scholarship application process. This process can be intense, but it doesn’t have to be. Parents often stress they don’t know where to begin when looking for scholarships for their children’s college education, but there are a number of sure resources.

  • It’s always wise to begin with your employer. Often the entities we work for provide scholarships.
  • As a member of Gulf Coast Educators FCU, your child may qualify for our GCEFCU Scholarship.
  • Scholarship search engines, such as Scholarships.com.
  • If you’ve attended college or high school, check with your alumni organization to inquire whether they offer scholarships.
  • Your child’s school counselor can provide them with many scholarship options available. Advisors and counselors and teachers are an excellent resource for insight into the college scholarship application process. Start with the school’s counseling office to get pointed in the right direction.

It may take some time to sift through these, but it’s worth it. Often, the criteria for applying can range from very narrow and specific, to very broad and open. Be sure to take note of any special requirements or specifics during your search. Also, deadlines are important. Keep track of deadlines by keeping a calendar organized specifically to track due dates and timelines for each of your child’s scholarship applications.

 

What Scholarship Committees Look For

Chief decision-making in any scholarship application process lies with the scholarship committee. These committees can range in size and makeup across the wide variety of scholarship applications available, but there are a few general things that most committees look for in the ideal candidate.

  • Attention to detail – This means following application instructions with special care and diligence.
  • Demonstrations of moral integrity – What makes you worthy?
  • Internships or volunteer organizations that your child has taken part in.
  • Organization – Be careful to ensure that your child’s personal statement displays complete thoughts and sound sentence structure. It is wise to have your student’s English teacher proof read their essays before they submit them.

 

Best 2018 Black Friday Deals for Teachers

We have scoured the web and all available Black Friday ads to find the best Black Friday deals of 2018 for teachers. Have you found a deal that isn’t listed? Let us know by sending an email to info@gcefcu.org and we will have it added to our list.

Best Buy
WD – Easystore 4TB External USB 3.0 Portable Hard Drive with 32GB Easystore USB – $79.99 (Save $120)
WD – Easystore 128GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive – Blue – $18.99 (Save $61)
PNY – Attache 4 16GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive – Black – $2.99 (Save $5)

Walmart
RCA Projector – $49 (Save $40)
Kodak Mobile Printer – $49 (Save $40)
Costco 2-Step Stool – $8 (Save $5.78)
Crayola 65 Count Marker Set & Storage – $10
Sports Ball (Football, basketball, soccer ball) – $9
Sharpie Marker Set 30 count – $10
Frigidaire 6-can Cooler Fridge – $19.92
Frigidaire Retro Compact Fridge – $99
200 Pc Art Kit with Easel – $30
Giant Craft Kit – $10

Target
Kids’ Books – $5
Select Books – 50% off
Kid Games & Puzzles – 50% off
Strategy Games – 30% off
Art Supplies (Paper Mate Set, Sharpie Set, Glue Set, etc.) – $15 (Save $15)
Keurig K-Mini Single Serve Coffee Maker – $49.99 (Save $30)

Office Depot
Lexas JumpDrive S35 USB 3.0 Flash Drive – $14.99 (Save $25)
JLab Audio JBuds Select Earbud Headphones – $4.00 (Save $5.99)
Kleenex 2-Plsy Facial Tissue – $9.99 (Save $1.30)
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes – $8.99 (Save $1)
Sharpie Permanent Fine-Point Markers – $9.99 (Save $1)

Teachers Pay Teachers
FREE Black Friday Math & Literacy Activity – Click here