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Ingrid Lopez just started kindergarten at San Francisco's Sanchez Elementary School, but she already has big plans.

"She's saying, 'I will buy you a car, mom,' " chuckled her mother, Julissa Cruz, who walks or takes public transportation to pick up her daughter from the school near Dolores Park.

But for young Ingrid's plans to become reality, "she needs to go to college, she needs to go to a university," her mother, speaking in Spanish, said through an interpreter.

Today, Ingrid will be helped in taking a small first step as officials unveil Kindergarten to College, the nation's first city-bankrolled college savings plan. The program is fueled by the belief that those who save for college are more likely to go.

The 5-year-old will be among about 1,200 newly enrolled kindergartners at 18 San Francisco public schools who will get a one-time payment of at least $50 in taxpayer funds placed in a special trust account. It can only be used to fund post-secondary education like a city college, vocational school or four-year university.

Lower-income students who qualify for the federal government's free or reduced-price lunch program will start with $100, city officials said.

Matching incentives

The plan is to have corporations, nonprofit groups and others offer matching incentives to encourage children and their families to save.

EARN, a local nonprofit that specializes in micro loans and other financial services for low-income workers, has already committed to contributing $100 for every student whose family also saves $100 during the first years of the program.

The San Francisco Foundation has agreed to make additional matches for parents who take financial education classes and make recurring deposits.

Citibank has agreed to set up the accounts at no cost to the students or parents, said Robert Annibale, global director of Citi Community Development. City officials plan to have the accounts open and funded for families by Dec. 1.

"No one else in the country is doing this," Mayor Gavin Newsom said. "We are not just saying every child can go to college. We are now providing families with the financial tools necessary to make this a reality."

Encouraging saving

Officials acknowledge that the city's portion alone won't pay for a college education. But family deposits, other matches and compounding interest over about 12 years will go a long way toward tuition, they say, especially for the roughly half of all Latino and African American families in San Francisco that don't have savings accounts.

"We're going to work with the families so they can see that if they could do just $5 a month, or $10 ... that's going to result in literally thousands of dollars after 12 or 13 years," city Treasurer Jose Cisneros said.

City officials point to a study from the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis that found children who had just some savings set aside for college were about seven times more likely to go.

"We have to start somewhere," said Supervisor David Campos. "The fact that this isn't full tuition from the start doesn't mean this is not something we should do. You cannot overestimate what it means for a child to know that college is a possibility."

The program is the evolution of the Baby Savings Bond proposal that Newsom rolled out in his inauguration address in 2008 that would have covered all children born in the city. Newsom says he poached the idea from then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Great Britain has a similar program, but the local version stalled amid resistance to publicly subsidizing a college education for wealthy residents.

Three-year rollout

The current program, which Cisneros formulated with Newsom, covers only students enrolled in public schools. It is designed to be rolled out over three years.

This year, there is $257,000 in the city budget to set up the program and cover about one-fourth of incoming kindergartners. Schools in every supervisorial district, including those in low-income areas, were chosen for the initial year. The number of pupils would double next year, with the entire kindergarten class covered by the third year. The money will come from the city's general fund, and officials have not decided how to invest it.

$460 million deficit

But that expansion is dependent on future funding, and the city is already looking at a projected deficit next year of about $460 million. Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, a Newsom ally but also a fiscal hawk, fought to strip funding for the program from the current budget and vows to do so again.

"It's an absolutely wonderful idea if the San Francisco government could print money, but we can't," Elsbernd said. "It doesn't get to the core function of local government, and I don't think it should be a part of our budget."

Julissa Cruz, whose husband supports their family by working at a coffee shop, said the program would allow her two daughters to thrive in an increasingly globalized world.

"We're here in this country to become more educated," Cruz said. "That's what I want my daughters to have, what I didn't have."

Kindergarten to College

This year, $257,000 is budgeted to set up the program and cover about one-fourth of kindergartners. For now, 18 elementary schools are covered, with full coverage planned for 2012-13. How it works:

The accounts: The city gives kindergartners at public schools $50 to $100 in a trust account.

Other funding: Nonprofit organizations and other groups offer matching funds.

Spending rules: Money from the accounts can be used only for post-secondary education.

E-mail John Coté at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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DENVER—Before Matthew Crimmins, 20, started college at Northeastern University in Boston in 2008, his mother took him to open a student checking account at a local bank. The bank also offered Matthew a credit card. "I was very surprised that they gave him a credit card with a $1,000 limit when he had no real source of income," says Lisa Conte Crimmins, Matthew's mother.

"Those were the days when credit card companies could take extraordinary steps to attract college customers," says Paul Golden of the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®). "They'd mail preapproved card offers with high credit limits to students who had little or no income. And they'd storm campuses with booths where reps would entice young borrowers to fill out applications in exchange for free T-shirts or other giveaways."

No more. Because of provisions in the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act enacted in February, 2010, credit card companies cannot:
- Issue credit cards to applicants younger than age 21 unless they can prove they have the financial means, such as a pay stub or bank statement with adequate funds, to pay the bills or, a parent or another adult over age 21 must co-sign the application.
- Increase credit limits on cards that have a co-signer unless the co-signer approves.
- Offer freebies while soliciting credit card applications on or near college campuses.
- Receive details about borrowers under age 21 from the credit reporting agencies.
So how many parents plan to co-sign for their college children to have a credit card? It seems the majority of parents won't. According to a recent online poll commissioned by the National Endowment for Financial Education and conducted by Harris Interactive in July 2010, 61 percent of parents who have a child age 18-20 years old said they would not co-sign for their children to have a credit card. Another 16 percent said they were not sure if they would co-sign for their children to have a credit card.

The credit card legislation makes it harder for college students to get credit cards, but it also offers a teachable moment for parents who want their young adults to learn to use credit wisely. Recent research funded by NEFE and conducted at the University of Arizona shows that parents have the greatest influence on building positive financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviors in their children.

"Even if you have less than perfect credit, it's important to communicate the basics of credit use and responsibility to your child—especially if you're co-signing and liable for his or her account," says Golden.

Covering Credit Basics
A Sallie Mae survey reported in 2009 that just 17 percent of college students pay their balance in full each month, and the average card balance for students rose to $3,173. "As a parent, it's my obligation to teach my son about responsible spending," said Crimmins, who reviewed basic lessons with her son before he could start using credit.

Does your child know how interest rates impact the ultimate price he or she pays for goods or services and how easy it is to fall into debt? Use one of your credit card statements to demonstrate how billing cycles and interest calculations work. And this just got easier because under the CARD Act, these calculations now must be shown on all monthly statements. Next, explain the importance of on-time payments and the negative impact on your child's credit score if payments are late. Discuss credit limits and what fees may be imposed on your child if he or she overspends. Be sure to mention that although it may seem like a compliment when a lender raises your child's credit limit, it also can increase the dangers of overspending and falling into debt.

Finally, discuss the kinds of purchases that are appropriate for credit cards. The NEFE-University of Arizona study found a 26 percent increase in students using one credit card to pay the balance on another during the economic crisis. To prevent your child from resorting to such behaviors, set up a plan to monitor your child's spending, and discuss how your student plans to pay off his or her purchases. And keep the conversation going once he or she starts using the card.

New Jersey resident James Gallo was unwilling to co-sign a credit card for his daughter, who is entering college this fall. Instead, Gallo opted to give his daughter a card linked to his own account so he could monitor her spending habits. "It's like learning to swim," Gallo explains. "First, they go in with a life jacket—a card linked to my account. Then, maybe some 'floaties'—a co-signed card. Then, they go in the water by themselves, knowing that I am by the pool ready to throw in a line when they screw up. Finally, after they swallow a little water, they come out with respect for the water but knowing they can swim alone."

Before You Co-Sign
If you decide to co-sign an application for your young adult, you are putting your own credit at risk. If your student falls behind on payments, your credit score could be affected and you will be responsible for the balance. Make sure your student understands that.
If you are wary of co-signing, there are options.

Prepaid card: To make a purchase, your child must have sufficient funds in the account attached to the card. Otherwise, the transaction won't go through and the card issuer won't extend credit. This should ensure that you and your child's credit scores will not be tarnished.
Bank-secured card: A bank can set up a secured credit card, with the card's credit limit generally equal to the amount of money in your child's savings account. If he or she fails to make the monthly payments, the bank taps the savings account for reimbursement.
"There are options for introducing your child to using credit responsibly," says Golden. "But it's up to parents to start the conversation."
For more tips on talking to your children about money, visit www.smartaboutmoney.org. NEFE is an independent nonprofit organization committed to educating Americans about personal finance and empowering them to make positive and sound decisions to reach financial goals. For more information, visit www.nefe.org.

Visa has launched Financial Football 2.0, the latest version of its popular personal finance video game. The fast-paced new release, championed by the New Orleans Saints' quarterback Drew Brees, offers improved graphics and a more exciting gaming experience for students. Visa has partnered with 27 state governments to co-brand and distribute the game, designed to promote financial literacy, to every high school in those states. There are three levels of play for middle school, high school, and for college or adult players.

Available in English and Spanish, the game can be downloaded as a free app for iPhones <http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/financial-football/id387111925?mt=8%20itms://itunes.apple.com/us/app/financial-football/id387111925?mt=8> and iPads (in HD) <http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/financial-football-hd/id387095643?mt=8%20itms://itunes.apple.com/us/app/financial-football-hd/id387095643?mt=8> on iTunes, or can be played online here <http://www.practicalmoneyskills.com/football> .

SAN FRANCISCO, Sep 21, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- As part of its mission to foster financial literacy as the underpinning of financial well-being, Charles Schwab Foundation has announced the 2010 winners of the Innovation Awards. The annual awards recognize unique and enterprising techniques for delivering the Money Matters: Make It Count curriculum, a Charles Schwab Foundation-funded financial education program taught in Boys & Girls Clubs around the country. One Boys & Girls Club was selected from each of the country's five geographic regions for pioneering techniques that make learning about money management compelling and meaningful to today's youth. The winners, which each receive a $3,000 grant, are:

-- Boys & Girls Club of Palm Beach County (Florida),

-- Fort Hood Child & Youth Services (Texas),

-- Waterville Area Boys & Girls Clubs (Maine),

-- Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh (Wisconsin), and

-- Boys & Girls Clubs of Fresno County (California).

For more go to :  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/charles-schwab-foundation-announces-second-annual-innovation-awards-for-creative-delivery-of-financial-education-at-five-select-boys-girls-clubs-2010-09-21?reflink=MW_news_stmp

WASHINGTON – Today, the Obama Administration marked back to school season by emphasizing the importance of financial education and launching its National Financial Capability Challenge for the 2010-11 school year. The Challenge is a voluntary online exam and classroom toolkit that helps educators teach high school students about saving, budgeting, investing, the safe use of credit, and other important skills critical to developing strong financial knowledge and capability.

 

"The recent financial crisis taught us an enduring lesson. Financial literacy is essential not only to the financial security of millions of American families, but also to the economic health of our nation as a whole," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. "Ensuring that young people have the skills they need to make wise financial choices today and into adulthood will help us build a stronger foundation for our nation's economic future."

"We know we have to educate our way to a better economy, and that's why President Obama has declared that by 2020, we will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, "We also know that a lack of financial literacy is a major roadblock on the path to college access and success for too many students.  Through the Challenge, we're encouraging schools and teachers across the country to help make sure their students have the tools they need to make smart financial decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities – whether about investing in higher education, or the many other choices these young people will face."

Educators can begin registering for the Challenge today at http://www.challenge.treas.gov/. In late Fall, educators will be able to download a new and improved "Teacher Toolkit" with ready-to-use lesson plans to help teach their students about important financial concepts and prepare them for the online exam.

The online exam will take place between March 7 and April 8, 2011. Educators can administer the exam to their students at any time in that window. Educators and students who score in the top 20 percent nationally and those who are among the top scorers in their school will receive official award certificates.

More than 76,000 students and 2,500 educators in all 50 states participated in last school year's National Financial Capability Challenge. To build on that success, the Obama Administration has set a goal of increasing participation for this school year by 15 percent to over 87,000 students and 2,800 educators. Recognizing that participation previously averaged only one teacher per school, the Administration is urging each of last year's participating educators to become ambassadors for financial education and recruit additional teachers to participate.

The Obama Administration has taken a number of important steps to help empower Americans to make wise financial choices. In April 2010, the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC), which the U.S. Department of the Treasury coordinates, announced the launch of its newly redesigned financial literacy education website, www.MyMoney.gov, which has already received over 17 million hits to date. Earlier this month, Treasury also announced a new pilot program to deliver financial accounts with debit card access to the unbanked and underbanked at tax time so those individuals can receive their tax refunds through direct deposit, reducing their reliance on high-cost alternative financial products, such as check-cashing and other services.  And the Department of Education doubled its investment in K-12 financial literacy this year with the creation of the Financial Education for College Access and Success program.

Additionally, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that President Obama signed into law in July 2010 establishes an Office of Financial Education within the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This Office will help educate and empower consumers to make better informed financial decisions by providing them with opportunities to access financial counseling; information to assist with the evaluation of credit products and credit histories; savings, borrowing, and other services found at mainstream financial institutions; activities intended to reduce debt, and prepare for educational expenses and other major purchases;  assistance in developing long-term savings strategies; and financial services during the preparation process to claim earned income tax credits and other federal benefits.

###

Eight people who have shown exceptional leadership in the field of financial planning will be honored as the Financial Planning Association's 2010 Heart of Financial Planning Award winners at the FPA annual conference in Denver in October.

 

The awards recognize individual professionals, financial planning firms, FPA chapters or organizations that contribute to the financial planning community and the public. Recipients represent FPA's core values of competence, integrity, relationships and stewardship. The following are this year's recipients:

Don Blandin, president and CEO of the nonprofit Investor Protection Trust, is being recognized for his leadership in developing the "How Can I Afford Retirement?" investor education program, as well as his close work with securities regulators, FPA chapters, and libraries across the country.

Mark Clark is being honored for his commitment to teaching financial education and L.I.F.E. skills to youth through nonprofit agencies and organizations in Northern California

Saundra Davis is receiving the award for providing high-quality pro bono financial planning to the working poor, and for volunteering thousands of hours as a key leader for the FPA of San Francisco Pro Bono Committee.

Michael Kitces, CFP, is being recognized for his commitment to education in the financial planning industry and for his work as co-founder of the FPA NexGen community of interest.

Keith Loveland is a practicing attorney in securities law and compliance and is being honored for his pro-bono and ethics work, and for his work ensuring a client-centered, ethical financial planning process.

Brent Neiser, CFP, is receiving the award for his commitment to financial literacy to educate the public in all areas of personal finance. He is director of strategic programs and alliances for the National Endowment for Financial Education.

Don Pitti, who died in December, received the award posthumously. He had dedicated years to helping advance the financial planning profession and was one of the founding members of the International Association for Financial Planning, a predecessor organization of FPA.

Karin Price Mueller is a journalist who delivers financial planning information to the public through various media outlets. Mueller co-authored financial literacy guides to educate immigrants and the underserved about how they can improve their financial situation in the U.S.

On behalf of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission, the Department of the Treasury invites public comment on the draft National Strategy for Financial Literacy 2010 which was posted on the Federal Register on Friday, September 3.

 

Please click on the following link to view the Federal Register Notice and National Strategy for Financial Literacy 2010:  http://www.treasury.gov/offices/domestic-finance/financial-institution/fin-education/commission/
Thank you.

DENVER—Just as the school year creeps up on your kids, school-related expenses can creep up on you. Paper and pencils are only the beginning. Your daughter wants to try the cello this year. Your son is ready for football. And both kids want the best brand-name jeans and graphic tees to compete with their friends. According to a recent online survey commissioned by the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) and conducted by Harris Interactive in August 2010, 91 percent of parents who plan to spend money this fall on K-12 back-to-school or education-related expenses will spend $100 or more. For 44 percent of those parents, the price tag climbs to $300 or more.

 

"There's no getting around many of these expenses," says Paul Golden, spokesperson for NEFE. "But parents can cut their back-to-school bills with some creativity and planning."

Start With a Plan
Jot down necessary school-related items, such as classroom supplies and after-school-care expenses, and your kids' "wants," such as an after-school rock guitar 101 class. Then, take a look at your family budget to determine the total amount you can spend. See which costs you can spread out, get rid of or at least reduce. When shopping with your kids, stick to a budget. And look for ways to help your kids learn to manage money—a skill that's essential once they head out on their own.

School Supplies
Expect to pay for basic classroom supplies, an up-front cost that accompanies your child's entrance into the classroom. Denver mom Jen Kittleson encourages parents to buy generic or store brands. "Take it from a teacher's wife, I wouldn't buy fancy school supplies," Kittleson says. "They usually all get put in the same community bucket."

Check newspaper circulars from now until just after school begins, as many stores run "dollar days" and other back-to-school promotions with significant markdowns. Compare local deals with what you can find online to make sure you're getting the best deal. Find out if your child's school prints a master supplies list. These usually don't vary much from one year to the next, so you can stock up year-round on items you know your kids will need—pencils, folders and glue sticks—when they go on sale.

Clothes
In the NEFE/Harris survey, 61 percent of parents who plan to spend money this fall on K-12 back-to-school or education-related expenses anticipate spending the most money on clothes. First, take inventory of what your children already have. Sure, your son may want the latest style backpack. But if last year's pack still fits, consider it a lower priority. Perhaps most of your daughter's clothes still fit, so buy only a few must-have items before school starts and find others later. Accessories also can update and freshen up a stale wardrobe. After you decide what your kids need, determine what you can afford to spend before ever setting foot in the store—or hitting the purchase button online. Then, shop smart.

Give older children a budget for buying back-to-school clothes and shoes. Or, give them a stake in the game with allowance or summer job earnings to fund some of their new wardrobe. Grant younger kids choices within your budget and find opportunities to teach them about money. If your daughter is deciding between two shirts, one $10 and the other $20, explain to her that if she chooses the least-expensive shirt, she still has money left to put toward new jeans or shoes.

Look for clothes at consignment stores instead of the mall. Take any of your child's "lightly worn" castoffs to local stores for credit toward what you buy. Also, check to see if there are any neighborhood consignment events, such as "Just Between Friends" (JBF), in your area. "[The consignment shops] have a ton of kids' stuff," Kittleson says. "They inspect everything sold so the quality is good. And I like that you're reusing good clothes rather than having to buy new."

Find out if your state has an annual sales-tax holiday for back-to-school shopping at www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/sales_holiday.html. Many states exclude tax for school supplies clothing and computer purchases.

After-School Activities
It's hard to say "no" when your kids are motivated and excited about a sport, trying a new instrument or participating in the drama club. But before you know it, you easily could spend $500 for an activity they may quickly abandon. There are ways to keep your children happy and active without overspending your budget. Ask your kids to pick their favorite activity and cut one or more of the others. Many kids are overbooked anyway, and you don't want them to burn out. Find out early what each activity requires in terms of your time and financial commitments. Will you need to bring team snacks or pay for overnight sports tournaments? Look for activities offered by the YMCA, community recreation centers and churches, which may be lower cost than commercial gyms or leagues. "My oldest daughter took gymnastics for two years at the YMCA," comments one mom on MomtoMomChat.com, an online parenting forum. Her daughter also brought in old uniforms to trade in for credit toward a new one.

Other ideas for saving on equipment include:
- Renting instead of buying an instrument until you know your child will stick with it
- Suggesting relatives pitch in to buy uniforms, or even lessons and camp dues, as a birthday or holiday gift
- Asking your friends with older kids what unused gear might be stowed in their storage room
- Scouting secondhand deals at used sporting good stores or on Craigslist

Lunches
If you're making lunches at home, buy in bulk. A large bag of pretzels usually costs less than a box of small bags with the same total amount. Use reusable food containers for single portions instead of purchasing individually wrapped packages or boxes. Over the year, you'll spend less. Pack lunches with ice packs and ask your children to eat their leftovers after school before they eat other snacks at home.

Give your child a lunch allowance for the day or for the week, depending on age, or see if the school provides debit cards or accounts that can be preloaded for school lunches. Your child will learn the basics of debit use and money management, and you can keep track of his or her spending.

Transportation and After-School Care
Before classes start, determine how your child will get to and from school and after-school activities and how you will deal with sick days or cancellations due to weather. Will you drive your child to school or is your child of driving age? Make sure to budget for gas and parking fees, and try to find carpool options to reduce time on the road. Look to the bus or other forms of public transportation and if you live close, consider whether your student can bike or walk to school instead. For safety, organize a group of kids to walk or bike together.

For each child, budget a week or more of sick days and snow days each year that require you or your spouse to take off work. Or, coordinate with a neighbor, family member or day-care center that can be ready to watch your child at a moment's notice. Also, remember to account for your child's other days out of school, such as holidays, spring break and teacher in-service days.

"After you've stocked up on supplies, figured out after-school care, and decided what fun new activities your child will try this year, take these last few days of summer to talk with him or her about money," says Golden. "It's never too early to start learning—and it starts with parents."

Back-to-School Basics
Whether your child is taking his or her first steps into the kindergarten classroom or moving out on his or her own to start college, back-to-school time is a big deal. Visit Smart About Money (www.smartaboutmoney.org/backtoschool) for budget-saving tips on school related-spending and ideas for talking to your children about money.

Harris Interactive Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of NEFE from August 4-10, 2010 among 1,016 parents of children age 17 years or younger, of which 815 are parents of children in grades K-12. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, visit
www.nefe.org/ResearchandStrategy/HarrisInteractiveOnlinePolling.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that 19 states are the finalists for more than $3 billion available in the second round of funding in the Race to the Top program.

"Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia submitted bold blueprints for reform that bear the signatures of many key players at the state and local level who drive change in our schools," Duncan said.

 

http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/19-states-named-finalists-race-top

EdWeek:By Erik Robelen July 16, 2010 10:45 AM

The recently developed common standards got an important green light in California yesterday.

A special California commission late last night wrapped up its work considering the new standards in mathematics and English/language arts, ultimately voting to recommend that the state adopt them—but not before putting its own imprint on them.