Chicago families urged to explore college funding options

Apr 10, 2013 by

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College decisions

Many Chicago parents share a dream of seeing their children attend college and receive a quality education that can help set the foundation for a successful career. But some fear that paying for college will be difficult.

“The important part is that parents do something,” says Sedrik Newbern, a Libertyville-based Allstate Insurance agent.

There are many college savings programs available from various sources that can help develop a savings plan tailored specifically to your situation. There are Illinois-specific 529 savings plans, as well as all sorts of grants, financial aid plans and even life insurance packages that provide college-funding options. The issue for many parents is choosing a strategy and taking action.

Sedrick Newbern“I recommend to just do something. Sometimes there’s this ‘analysis by paralysis’,” Newbern says. “[Have] a conversation with your insurance agent or financial specialist to figure out ways that you can accumulate money in a way that doesn’t put much of a tax burden on you and allows you to grow your money, so when your child is of college age, you’ll have money to pay for it.”

Newbern admits that while having a plan in place and taking action is important, the dramatic increases in the cost of college may be exceeding the amount of assistance available through traditional financial aid vehicles.

Costs Are on the Rise

Last October, The Washington Post reported that financial aid is not keeping pace with the rising cost of college, citing a study by the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center.

According to the story, the cost of college has risen faster than inflation for some time, and “Many states have slashed funding for higher education. The [College Board] report found state appropriations per student dropped 10 percent in 2011-12, a fourth straight year of decline.”

According to a Wall Street Journal report  on the same topic, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s 2012 tuition and fees were $14,522 for residents in 2012, which amounts to a 47 percent increase since 2006.

That said, parents must still find ways to pay for their child’s education, because as Newbern says, “Not all kids are scholars or athletes and they won’t be eligible for scholarships. Who knows what options will be available or what those options will look like in 10 years.”

Quotes for Education

Which is precisely where companies like Allstate can–and do–step in. Since 2008, Allstate has offered its Quotes for Education program that is designed to help students of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) finance their education. Working with partners such as the Tom Joyner Foundation, the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) and the Thurgood Marshall Foundation, the program has provided consumers a quick and easy way to support HBCU students.

This year, the Quotes for Education program raised $141,120 for The Tom Joyner Foundation to support HBCU students. These donations help form the Allstate/Tom Joyner Foundation Scholarship, which is awarded to financially in-need HBCU students each year.

 

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Boats with either gasoline or diesel engines can suffer poor performance and damage if their fuel is contaminated. If you look out and there’s black smoke pouring out of the exhaust, that’s a pretty good indication that something’s gone awry! You may also experience excessive smoke, lack of power, hesitation in acceleration, or outright stalling. No one wants to be stranded, so let’s look at what you should know about your boat’s fuel, how it gets contaminated and how best to prevent contamination.

Water is the most common contaminant found in both gas and diesel fuel.

Water is the most common contaminant found in both gas and diesel fuel. Water in gas, particularly ethanol-boosted gas that attracts water, is quite common in pleasure boats that go unused for prolonged periods. Air in less-than-full fuel tanks contains moisture. Over time this moisture condenses in the tank and is one reason why, regardless of fuel type, tanks should be topped off during storage periods, leaving less room for condensation. Water can also intrude storage tanks through poorly sealed fuel caps and vents during boat fueling.

Less likely, but not unknown, is the fact that water can be introduced into your fuel directly from a supplier. Occasionally, adding a simple “dry gas” additive  when fueling your boat during the season is a good idea.

Whatever the source, it is estimated that in diesel engines, 90 percent of all problems are fuel-related. Fuel system inspection should be top-of-mind with boaters.

Find the Problem

If your boat experiences any of the symptoms of contaminated fuel listed above, you should start by examining your boat’s fuel filters. Small outboards with external tanks will have an inline filter; larger boats with internal tanks may have more elaborate filters between the engine and tank, such as a Racor water separator.  Sometimes, simply cleaning and replacing filters will eliminate the small amount of water or contaminant present in your fuel system, but a clogged filter should lead you to a more thorough visual inspection of the inside of tanks if possible–look for evidence of rust, corrosion or sediment.

The only real cures for fuel contamination are to completely replace the fuel or hire a company to do fuel polishing (filtration) along with a thorough tank cleaning.

Water or debris in the fuel can also lead to deeper problems, namely damaged fuel tanks and blown engines. Microbes that feed on hydrocarbons cause sludge, but can only flourish if water is present. These same algae emit sulphuric acid as a waste product which further corrodes metal tanks, pumps, and injectors. Water vaporizing in an engine’s cylinders can cause permanent damage—which is why we have all these filters to begin with.

The only real cures for fuel contamination are to completely replace the fuel or hire a company to do fuel polishing (filtration) along with a thorough tank cleaning. The presence of algae, discoloration, or sediment should prompt any boat owner to act quickly.

Simply adding products like Biobor to fight algae in an already fouled system will only bring the problem past the filters and into the engine.  Biobor and similar products should be used as preventatives to algae growth, not cures.

Near the end of the boating season, it’s recommended to:

  • Add a fuel stabilizer, specific to your fuel type, and run your engine long enough to draw the enhanced fuel into the engine—this will keep the fuel from breaking down over time and gumming up your carburetor or fuel injectors.
  • Inspect your fuel filters annually—lay-up time is a good time for this. Again, if you have water or contaminants in your filters check for further problems. A water indicating paste can be used to “stick” your tanks if visual access is limited.
  • Top your tanks off with fuel. This will minimize air and condensation from getting in your fuel.

Clean, fresh fuel will maximize engine performance and give you peace of mind to enjoy boating.

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