Here are three of the week's top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:
Getting a better college aid offer
More families are haggling over financial aid with colleges before the commitment deadline, said Douglas Belkin in The Wall Street Journal. "For decades, schools made an offer" on need or merit-based financial aid, "and families either accepted or rejected it." Colleges had the leverage in these negotiations because they "long held most of the information" on pricing. But new websites like TuitionFit let students check their grade-point average, ACT or SAT score, and family's financial status "to see merit based offers given to comparable students." A growing number of consultants have also begun offering "advice on how best to negotiate for more merit aid." And a growing number of families are listening: Last year, 40 percent of students appealed their aid package.
The rise of high-yield savings
It may be time to "break up with your bank," said Michael P. Regan in Bloomberg Businessweek. The introduction of a 4.15 percent savings account from Apple and Goldman Sachs knocks "another brick out of the wall of inertia protecting traditional banks" from having to raise their own rates. Bankrate.com is one of almost two dozen other online banks sporting yields on savings above 4 percent, and the highest rate being offered now is 5.02 percent. By comparison, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America "pay as little as 0.01 percent" — yes, you read that right, one-hundredth of 1 percent — on basic savings deposits. It may not make sense to ditch traditional banks entirely just for the sake of yield, but you can stick "with one bank for your regular bill-paying, checking, and cash needs," and push "the excess into a better-paying online account."
Lobbying to keep noncompetes
Business groups are ramping up their campaign against a federal plan to ban noncompete agreements, said J.J. McCorvey and Sara Ruberg at NBC News. "The lobbying crossfire comes in addition to more than 26,000 comments from the public" gathered last week by the Federal Trade Commission, which says barring noncompetes will boost workers' earnings. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week sent a letter signed by 280 organizations arguing that noncompetes encourage investment in employees. Small-business owners have also voiced concern. "There is absolutely no incentive for me to teach anyone anything I know," wrote one medical practitioner, "only to have them move into the neighborhood and compete against me."
This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.