Student Loans

The Ins and Outs of the DC Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG)

Fact: No one seems to know exactly when people started giving apples to teachers, but it may have started long ago when food was used to pay teachers for their services.  Another Fact: I don't know any teachers who want to be paid with apples (or food in general).

Fact: No one seems to know exactly when people started giving apples to teachers, but it may have started long ago when food was used to pay teachers for their services.

Another Fact: I don't know any teachers who want to be paid with apples (or food in general).

What Options Do College-Bound Residents of DC Have When Applying to Out-of-State Schools?

Unless you're a resident of Washington, DC, this week's post may be of limited interest to you, but feel free to share if you know someone that can benefit from the information!

I'm often asked if residents of DC can receive in-state tuition when attending an out-of-state school. While the actual benefit may not equate to in-state prices, it's still worth it. Here are the details.

The DC Tuition Assistance Grant (DCTAG)

  • What is it? The DCTAG was created by Congress in 1999 for the purpose of expanding higher education choices for college-bound residents of DC.
  • What schools are eligible? The DCTAG treats public and private schools differently:
    • Public: DC residents may use the DCTAG to attend one of the more than 2,500 colleges and universities in the nation.
    • Private: DC residents may use the DCTAG to attend any private HIstorically Black College or University (HBCU) or private not-for-profit college or university in the DC metro area.
  • What is the benefit? Again, the DCTAG has slightly different benefits based on the type of school:
    • Public: Up to $10,000 per academic year (a maximum of $5,000 per semester) toward the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition, for a lifetime maximum of $50,000. The award is disbursed directly to the institution.
    • Private: Up to $2,500 per academic year (a maximum of $1,250 per semester), for a lifetime maximum of $12,500. The award is disbursed directly to the institution.
  • What are the eligibility requirements? Students must be enrolled on at least a half-time basis and be in good academic standing. Awards do not cover mini-terms or non-accredited online classes.
  • How do I apply for the DCTAG? There are three requirements:
  • Is funding for the DCTAG in danger? Between late 2017 and early 2018, the Senate and the Trump Administration attempted to cut funding for the program. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) negotiated to maintain $40 million for DCTAG. For now, the program will remain in place.
  • Where can I learn more? Check out the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

Listening / Reading / Watching

Here's what has my attention right now:

  • The Outsider by Stephen King. To say I'm a longtime fan of King's work is an understatement. This week marks the release of his new book and I can't wait to dive in.

Takeaways From the 2016 XYPN Conference

I returned from San Diego late Wednesday night after spending a few days at The XY Planning Network's (XYPN) annual conference. Here are some of my takeaways:

  • There are a lot of planners excited about improving the financial planning profession. I believe the XYPN had about 100 members in 2015. The network has grown to more than 300. And we will act in our clients best interests. Not because we're forced to, but because we want to. And it's the right thing to do.
  • Student loans are a big problem. There are millions of people who need who need help navigating confusing loan types as well as their repayment and refinancing options. I've started work on a project to address this problem.
  • Robo-advisors, such as Betterment and Wealthfront, cannot replace a human. Sure, they can invest efficiently, but their algorithms can't handle disruptions in financial markets (Brexit) nor can they hold their clients' hands while on life's emotional roller coaster. And a human financial planner augmented with a computer? That's a force to be reckoned with.
  • This next generation of planners is willing to work hard for their clients, but they also want time with their families. The panel I was on, "Full-Time Parent, Full-Time Owner" was well-attended by planner/parents looking for advice on how to juggle work and life. I can't speak for the other planners on the panel, but I don't consider myself an expert on this subject. It's a work in progress. That said, judging by the responses from planners in attendance, I think we are on the right track.*


*True story:
I told the audience my wife and I came to an agreement when I started my firm: She was now the primary breadwinner and working a demanding job at a public affairs firm. Naturally, my income had decreased because I was building my firm. I may not have been able to contribute to the household financially, but I could contribute in other ways. I could drop-off and pick-up the girls from school and take the lead on laundry, grocery shopping, and cooking. So that is what I did.

Later that day, one of the attendees approached me and said he called his wife after attending my panel discussion. He told her that while launching his firm he was going to take over drop-off and pick-up, laundry, grocery shopping and cooking.

Well done, Sir.

Listening / Reading / Watching

Here's what had my attention this week:

  • Loads of great information about all aspects of financial planning.
  • Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X. This long-running reality show has become something of a family tradition in our house. The four of us enjoy watching the physical challenges, scheming, and strategies every season. In addition, our nine-year-old has declared that she plans to win when she's old enough to compete. Oh, and that's after she wins American Ninja Warrior. And becomes a professional soccer player.