Home

Financial Aid

With higher education costs at unprecedented levels, financial aid has become more important than ever. College financing has evolved into a familiar issue that millions of American families find themselves struggling with. Unfortunately, the severity of this issue does not seem to be waning. With rising college costs and the increased competitiveness for the small amounts of aid available, it is crucial for parents and students alike to have a strong understanding of their specific financial aid eligibility in order to maximize the amount of aid they can receive.

Financial aid is best known as funding granted to students to be used specifically for costs associated with a post-secondary educational institution, a professional school, community college, four-year college or university. Aid can consist of grants and scholarships, low-interest government-subsidized loans, work-study, and education tax benefits. A common misconception pertaining to financial aid is that grants and awards are only for those who cannot afford the costs associated with higher education. This fallacy is easily reconcilable as there are two main types of aid; merit-based and need-based financial aid.

Merit-based aid is awarded on the basis of student achievements or accomplishments. This type of aid is usually awarded for outstanding academic achievements, such as high SAT or ACT scores. There are also some instances where this type of aid can be awarded for special talents, leadership potential and other personal characteristics.

There is also need-based financial aid. This type of aid is awarded on the basis of the student’s financial needs and circumstances. One’s eligibility to receive federal, state and/or institutionally need-based financial aid is determined by the FAFSA form. The FAFSA form contains the formula that calculates how much need-based financial aid a student is eligible to receive.

To maximize the amount of aid you receive, it is vital that you take on a proactive mindset. Being cognizant of who holds assets can actually affect the amount of aid you can receive down the stretch. According to the FAFSA form and the expected family contribution (EFC), roughly 25% of assets held in the child’s name are expected to be used for higher education. While only 6% of assets held in the name of the parent are expected to be used for higher education costs. It is important to begin applying for financial aid very early on. It is also very beneficial to keep your eyes open for non-need-based aid that can supplement whatever you are granted from a needed basis standpoint.

A common theme associated with financial aid is the fact that many families are unable to afford college costs and yet are considered to be earning ‘too much’ to be eligible to receive financial aid. This paradoxical double-standard has led many students into great amounts of student loan debt, as they are left with no other option but to take out high interest loans.

Financial aid can be a very powerful tool when implemented strategically. Given there are many variables and financial scenarios involved in the financial aid qualification process, it is crucial that you review your specific situation with a financial professional prior to applying for financial aid. Contact us today at Mitlin Financial to have your unique circumstances reviewed to make sure that you are on the correct track to receiving optimal financial aid and ultimately affording the costs of today’s higher education. Also, be sure to check out the latest Mitlin Minute to learn more about financial aid. Let Mitlin Financial assist you with your early planning and help to facilitate your financial future!

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Volatility

There appears to be a pre-notion that market volatility is nothing but a detriment to markets and investors. Although there are inherent negative aspects, this line of thinking can be dangerous. Acting solely on short-term volatility can do more harm than good. Volatility can drive the novice investor to question his or her own investment strategies, strictly due to short-term fear. It is crucial for investors to understand that volatility is inevitable and attempting to navigate around it is risky. Markets tend to move up and down in the short-term and volatility should not be the deciding factor as whether investors should or should not immediately exit. With a strong understanding of volatility and its causes, investors potentially can take advantage of investment opportunities which may result from volatile markets. 

Although volatility sounds terrifying, it is important for investors to develop a strong working knowledge of it so they can make educated investment decisions. Market volatility is the statistical measure of a market’s or security’s tendency to rise or fall sharply within a short period of time. Measured by standard deviation, volatility can be caused by the imbalances seen within trade orders in one direction or another. Volatile markets are characterized by wide price fluctuations and/or heavy trading. It is important to note that there are no conclusive catalysts behind the causes of market volatility. With that in mind, investors can leverage their time more effectively by learning strategies to deal with volatility instead of trying to prevent it.

One effective method commonly used in times of market volatility is to stay the course. This means that as an investor, you ignore the short-term chaos and leave your investments status-quo until the volatility passes. You stay the course despite the current overreaction of the market. Even though this may seem lazy and counterproductive, it may insulate you from losses associated with attempting to time the market.

Market volatility can also create opportunities that an astute investor can take advantage of. Volatility can actually provide entry points for those investors whose time horizon and investment strategy is long-term. Downward market volatility presents investors, who are bullish and believe markets will perform well in the long-run, with the opportunity to purchase additional shares at lower prices. Increasing your position at a discount can be a very powerful strategy. In effect, you are lowering your average cost per share of that particular security.

No matter how you elect to handle your investments during times of market volatility, it is very important to review your portfolio with a qualified financial advisor. Having a distinct philosophy for all markets will help you navigate without emotion. Be sure to check out the latest Mitlin Minute to learn more about volatility. If you are unsure how to proceed the next time the markets become volatile, or you just want to be proactive, contact Mitlin Financial at (631) 952-4466 x12 and allow us to help you navigate in a fashion that is conducive to your goals, investment needs and risk tolerance.

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Mitlin Financial Inc. Supports Local Hockey Team’s Breast Cancer Awareness Event

(HAUPPAUGE, New York)   As many things around us start to turn pink this October a local group of boys will be tying up their pink skate laces and slipping into custom pink jersey's as they step on the ice.  Hauppauge -based Mitlin Financial Inc. is sponsoring the PAL Peewee AA Ice Hockey team as they honor Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Lawrence Sprung, CFP®, President of Mitlin Financial, who lost his mother to breast cancer was humbled to step up and support these young men in their effort to raise awareness about breast cancer.

In conjunction with wearing the jerseys the boys will be raising money for the Long Island 2 Day Walk to Fight Breast Cancer Inc. and auctioning off their jerseys here:  https://www.32auctions.com/Peewee-AA. The boys whose home rink is The Rinx in Hauppauge, NY will be wearing their custom jersey’s starting October 24th through November 8th.

 

About Mitlin Financial
Mitlin Financial, Inc. is wealth management firm that helps small business owners, entrepreneurs, corporate executives and retirees secure their financial future through financial planning, independent investment guidance and wealth management.

About LI2DAY
LI2DAY is a non-profit organization that was originally founded in 2004 responding to the critical need for funding of community-based organizations that provide assistance to Long Islanders with breast cancer. To date, LI2DAY has raised over $6 MILLION to fund programs at local grassroots breast cancer and other women’s cancer organizations, breast cancer research and the LI2Day Scholarship Fund.

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

Market Corrections

We all know that anything in excess is never good over the long term. Not only does excess breed complacency, but unsustainability as well.  This holds true with regards to stock market growth. As the markets have experienced nothing but continuous growth since 2009, investors have become accustomed to this upward trend and desensitized to the fact that the market would eventually need to pullback. Although market corrections may be viewed as a detriment, when analyzed in the appropriate context, they happen to be a very necessary evil. In today’s market environment, it is crucial to understand the role that market corrections play. With a clear understanding, investors can take advantage of potential buying opportunities while mitigating the downside risk that can result from these pullbacks.

What is a market correction? A market correction is a decline or downward movement, of at least 10 percent, of any stock, bond, commodity or market index. These pullbacks that we have come to recognize as market corrections, tend to last a shorter period of time when compared to bear markets. It is important to note that not all market declines are corrections. Based on past corrections, there are some indicators that may help an investor discern whether or not the market is experiencing a correction.

 It is very easy to mistake a market correction with a bear market or capitulation. A correction differs from a bear market in a multitude of ways. For one, corrections are shorter in length and tend to be far less severe than the declines seen in a bear market. Historically, it is common that market corrections manifest once the market has become overbought. Lastly, in a market correction, bottoms are formed far more quickly than in a bear market. Delineating between a market correction and bear market can be challenging at times, however, making this distinction can bode well for the long term investor.

How can an investor with a long time horizon benefit from a market correction? First and foremost, a 10% correction can reduce values and prices in the equity market. This may give an investor, who otherwise would not be able to afford such stocks, the ability to purchase the holding during that correction. A prime example of this type of investor would be Millennials. This demographic tends to look for market pullbacks in order to obtain stocks at lower prices, higher pidend yields and lower valuations.

Another potential advantage that may result from a market correction can be for those investors who are looking to increase their position in a company, they are already invested in, at a discount. For pidend seeking investors currently invested in a stock, their reinvested pidends actually go further, as they are being reinvested at a lower price. Additionally, there is an added benefit for those employees who already have an active retirement plan that they currently and continue to contribute to. When the market is in correction territory, their contributions actually go a longer way since the market is down and their contribution (whether or not it has increased) will buy more shares.

It is also very important to note the benefits of a market correction for those investors whose portfolios get rebalanced. The purpose of rebalancing is to sell those assets that have appreciated in value and to do so during a market correction, allows the investor to buy low and sell high.

In a market environment with significant declines, it is crucial for investors to discern whether or not this is a correction or a bear market. Although market corrections may seem doom and gloom, there are many potential advantages that investors can benefit from. How did your portfolio fare in the recent market correction? You should contact us today at (631) 952-4466 x12 to see how Mitlin Financial can help devise a market correction game plan for your investment portfolio.


Disclaimer: This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

The 401(k)

How are you saving for your retirement? Does your current employer offer a retirement Plan? Are you taking advantage of the tax deferred growth associated with retirement plan accounts? These are just some of the many questions you should be asking yourself when planning your retirement. There are many retirement strategies one can employ and a great way to start is to contribute to a 401(k) Plan. What is a 401(k) Plan and how does it work?

A 401(k) is a self-directed, qualified retirement plan established by an employer to facilitate future retirement benefits to their employees. The employee has the ability to defer a percentage of their compensation to a 401(k) account under their Employer’s plan. Plan contributions are often times invested in mutual funds, however, these investments can also include stocks, bonds and other investment vehicles; as long as they are permitted under the provisions of their employer’s governing plan document.

With a 401(k), there are distribution rules that the employee needs to be aware of and there are only a few instances when monies can be withdrawn. Withdrawal opportunities include the following upon the employee’s retirement, death, disability, separation of service with employer, as a hardship withdrawal (plan permitting) and upon termination of the plan itself. It is important to note that all distributions are considered ordinary income, unless considered a direct or indirect rollover.

One may withdraw from their 401(k) after the age of 59.5 without penalty. Any withdrawals that aren’t permitted before the age of 59.5 are subject to a 10% early distribution penalty. At age 70.5, unless the employee is still employed and they are not a 5% or greater owner in the business, they are mandated to begin withdrawing monies from their 401(k) in the form of a Required Minimum Distributions (RMD).

There are many inherent benefits associated with a 401(k) Plan. One of these great benefits is its qualified tax status. This means that all employee contributions are made on a pre-tax basis, which in effect actually lowers your taxable income by the amount of your contribution. For 2015, employees can contribute up to $18,000 of their W-2 income to their 401(k). Any employee above the age of 50 has the ability to contribute an additional $6,000 as a catch up contribution for a total of $24,000.

Not only does it lower your current taxable income, but it also gives the employee the opportunity to grow their 401(k) investments tax deferred until their retirement. Tax free compounding is a very powerful strategy and should be utilized in everyone’s retirement planning, when available.

Another notable advantage of a 401(k) Plan is a matching employer contribution. Although not mandatory, often times employers integrate an employer matching program to provide additional contributions to their employees’ 401(k)’s. It is very common for an employer to match the employees’ contributions up to a certain percentage. This means that the employer would contribute an amount to match that of the employee’s contribution, however, it would be capped at the percentage designated by the plan document. This is advantageous for someone looking to grow their retirement savings. This is essentially free money, an employee benefit, towards their retirement slated to grow tax-deferred. The employer matching contribution is a great incentive for their employees to continue contributing to the plan.

A 401(k) Plan account can play an integral role in your retirement planning strategy. If this type of plan is offered by your current employer, it is very important that you begin participating. If you would like to learn more about 401(k)’s, contact Mitlin Financial today at (631) 952-4466 x12 and learn if this is something you should implement in your retirement strategy. It is never too early or too late to begin saving for retirement!

Disclaimer: This article represents the opinion of Mitlin Financial Inc. It should not be construed as providing investment, legal and/or tax advice.

More Articles ...

@MitlinFinancial