Protecting your tuition dollars
What the experts say
The soaring cost of college is leading some families to buy tuition insurance, said Jessica Dickler in CNBC.com. “A college education is now the second-largest expense an individual is likely to handle in a lifetime—right after purchasing a home.” Tuition insurance, also known as tuition refund insurance, can protect at least some of that investment in the event a student has to withdraw from school for medical or psychological reasons. Bad grades and expulsion generally aren’t covered, “although the extent of coverage varies from plan to plan.” Plans are purchased one semester at a time, and the most comprehensive can cost as much as 6 percent of tuition. The insurance can be used to cover nonrefundable tuition, as well as housing and other fees.
A little love for active management
Index funds that mimic the market instead of trying to beat it are all the rage, but they’re not infallible, said Nellie Huang in Kiplinger.com. “Indexing’s defenders may scoff,” but there have been long stretches in the past when active managers consistently beat their market benchmarks. It’s true that over the past five years only 14 percent of actively managed, large-company mutual funds have beaten the S&P 500 stock market index. But from 2000 through 2009, 63 percent of actively managed large-cap stock funds beat the market, with an average annualized return of 2.4 percent versus an annualized loss of 1 percent for the S&P 500. That suggests that, “in the end, your best strategy may be to own a combination of index and actively managed funds.”
Homeownership for cohabitants
“If you’re saying ‘I do’ to a mortgage without marriage, it’s important to take steps to protect that investment,” said Kelli Grant in CNBC.com. Unmarried couples should avoid having one partner listed as the sole owner, which “might be attractive” if the other partner has bad credit but also leaves him or her off the title and with very few rights. The most common choice for unmarried partners is to become tenants in common. They then “can own equal or unequal shares, which pass upon their death to a beneficiary of their choosing.” It’s also a good idea to draft a homeownership contract, spelling out what happens in the event of a breakup. Provisions might include first right of refusal to buy out the other partner’s stake, “or agreeing to enter mediation.”