Govt rules out RTI in co-ops in Lok Sabha

After the UPA govt now the NDA government has also ruled out bringing co-operatives under the ambit of Right to Information Act. The government is not planning to bring any amendment in the Right to Information Act to include co-operative societies under it, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday.

“No” was the response from minister of state for personnel Jitendra Singh to a question from a member seeking to know whether the government is planning to amend the RTI Act and bring co-operative societies under the transparency law.

Co-operative societies do not fall within the ambit of Right to Information Act, the Supreme Court had ruled last year while quashing a Kerala government circular to bring all such societies within the scope of the transparency law.

The controversy has been bogging cooperatives for a long time with cooperative leaders and RTI activists drawn at the two ends of the legal fight.

IFFCO, the cooperative giant was first to win the RTI battle which led many cooperative leaders to heave a sigh of relief and generated a hope among others of battling it out the court in course of time.

Cooperative societies would not be covered under the ” right to information Act” and therefore not liable to share information with public under the law observed the apex court while disposing of a slew of appeals impugning a Kerala High Court judgment in the matter.

The court had said the authority exercised by the registrar of cooperative societies under the cooperative societies Act ” is only regulatory or supervisory and ” supervisory or general regulation under the statute of cooperative societies which are body corporate does not render activities of the body so regulated subject to such control of the state so as to bring it within the meaning of “state” or instrumentality of the state”.

The court reasoned ” if the information is not statutorily accessible by a public authority as defined in section 2[h] of the RTI Act , that information will not be under the control of the public authority. Resultantly, it will not be possible for citizens to secure access to that information’, the court said.

RTI activists are sure to continue their fight with this rebuff from the new dispensation. Himself a great votary of cooperative movement, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has his personal savings account in one of the urban cooperative banks of Rajkot in Gujarat.

Money Talks News: Finding Help With Student Loans

We talk to so many students today that call in. (On-cam here.) They dont know what to do. Theyre trying to raise their families, theyre trying to support their families, and the payments theyre facing on these loans is just outrageous.

Dealing with student loans is big business. Theres more than a trillion dollars of student loan debt out there: more than our country collectively carries on credit cards or car loans.

There are programs out there to help deal students cope, especially Direct and other Federal student loans. But the types of loans and available programs make the process complex. Result? Although they can theoretically deal with these debts alone, many pay for-profit companies for help.

Oftentimes people dont have the time; oftentimes they dont have the knowledge, to do it appropriately. They come to us, they get it done efficiently, effectively, and theyre assured theyre in the right program.

Help doesnt come cheap: this business charges about $700. Some charge more, some less. But none do anything you cant do yourself.

The Department of Education offers a lot of information on the topic. And you can go to the DOE websites and research for yourself what the programs are, what the requirements for these programs are and which programs you may qualify for.

So thats step one: looking at the DOE website to see what programs you might qualify for. If theyre federal loans, you might qualify for anything from forbearance to forgiveness. After checking out whats out there, act. If you can, do it yourself. If you cant, find help. But do it carefully.

I would encourage everyone to do their due diligence. To check the Better Business Bureau before enrolling or providing any personal information to make sure the company is registered and in good standing in the state in which it operates.

One last bit of advice: If youre having trouble keeping up, don’t stand like a deer in the headlights. Do some online reading and research and see what help you can qualify for.

For more information and links, go to MoneyTalksNews.com and do a search for Student Loans.

For MoneyTalksNews, Im SJ.

These Women-Run Co-ops Push Back Against the “Feminization of Poverty”

Source: Yes Magazine

Two-thirds of the country’s low-wage workers are women. That’s why they stand to benefit the most from greater equity in and control of the workplace.

Last month, Seattle passed an ordinance to increase its minimum wage to $15 an hour, making it the city with the highest minimum wage in the country. As women living in Seattle earn only around half of what white men earn and are over-represented in low-wage work, this ordinance will be particularly transformative for women–particularly women of color and female-headed households.

Nationwide, women comprise two-thirds of all minimum-wage workers. Minority women are more likely than white women to work these jobs, with 35.8 percent of African-American and 46.6 percent of Latina versus 26.2 percent of white women working at minimum wage. Laws like Seattle’s that raise the wage floor go far in addressing living-wage concerns as well as grappling with gender pay-gaps in communities across the country.

This disproportionate representation of women in low-wage work is compounded by the fact that the majority of women in the United States still make only 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns for equal work. Additionally, poverty rates are higher for women in this country than for men.

In 2012, the poverty rate for women was 15.4 percent, compared to 11.9 percent for men and 31 percent for female-headed households. Non-white women experience poverty rates significantly higher than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts: One in four black and Hispanic women and about one in three Native American women live in poverty.

So while Seattle’s new law, and minimum wage movements like 15 Now, can provide a tremendous boost to women’s earnings, they are not by themselves sufficient to overcome the feminization of poverty, particularly in communities of color.

Women of color working low-wage jobs must often navigate unregulated work conditions, as much of their work is domestic labor–caregiving, house cleaning, child care–an industry that, historically, is not only low-paid but also exploitative.

The National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA), a 10,000 membership-based organization for nannies, housecleaners, and caregivers, describes, in its 2012 report Home Economics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work, the substandard conditions of domestic work. This includes lack of employment benefits, meager wages, exposure to toxic chemicals, and physical abuse. (The NDWA’s efforts to expand labor protections for domestic care workers are described in this interview with Ai-jen Poo, co-founder and director of the Alliance, from Community Wealth.)

Such unhealthy work environments and insufficient pay have led a number of these low-wage women to take matters in to their own hands. Many have formed women-owned worker cooperatives that ensure good pay and healthy working conditions, help women overcome the isolation and vulnerability of domestic work, and empower women to build wealth for themselves, their families, and their communities.

One such cooperative is the Women’s Action to Gain Economic Security (WAGES) in Oakland, California. Founded in 1995 by low-income immigrants (mainly Latinas), WAGES now supports five eco-friendly housecleaning cooperatives employing more than 95 women, all of whom are worker-owners. These worker-owners have a voice and vote in key business decisions, and share an equal distribution of business profits, creating improved financial security for these women and their families.

The first of WAGES cooperatives, Emma’s Eco-Clean and Eco-Care Professional Housecleaning, provide for their member-owners 150-200 percent above prevailing wages in the commercial housecleaning industry; and WAGES most successful co-op to date, Natural Home Cleaning Professionals, has generated sales upwards of $1.4 million each year since 2011.

Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) in the Bronx, founded in 1985, provides quality jobs and benefits for low-income minority women in direct personal health care. Today, CHCA anchors a national cooperative network yielding more than $60 million a year in revenue and employing more than 2,000, making it the largest worker cooperative in the United States. It also runs a free workforce development training program that serves 600 low-income and unemployed women annually and is a significant driver of employment in the Bronx.

Started in 2006, Si Se Puede! Womens Cooperative, We Can Do It! Inc.in the Bronx now has 51 members in their women-run, women-owned, eco-friendly housecleaning business. The cooperative is designed to create living-wage jobs in safe and healthy environments, as well as to provide social supports and educational opportunities for its members. Members have an equal voice in decisions regarding policies and operations and retain the full amount paid by clients while contributing monthly dues to the cooperative for business expenses. In 2012 they began working with the Working World to create their own line of environmentally safe cleaning products.

Inspired by these examples, the Beyond Care Childcare Cooperative, also located in New York, started in 2008 with the support of the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park. This cooperative owned by immigrant women now has 30 members and provides access to business development and nanny training as well as other social supports and educational opportunities.

Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance is one step toward lessening inequality and poverty compounded by low-wage work. But there are still many challenges ahead that highlight the difficulties that municipalities face in regulating working conditions, including the International Franchise Association’s lawsuit against the city on the grounds that the city “illegally discriminates against franchisees”; and the proposed Washington Uniform Minimum Wage Measure, which would strip cities of their authority to set minimum wages.

Cooperative development is one tool in the community wealth-building strategy toolbox that circumnavigates these challenges and can help lift low-wage workers, and especially women, out of poverty.

The examples profiled above are just a taste of how women can work cooperatively to take control of their own work environments and build productive assets in a way that is best for them and for their families.

***

Sarah McKinley is a research associate for The Democracy Collaborative, whose project Community Wealth originally published this article. She has a background in community development and has worked with a number of community groups, including the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, a Chicago-based community development corporation, and the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations. While earning her master degree in urban and regional planning at Cornell University, McKinley was a co-author of “A People’s Plan for New Orleans,” a bottom-up community development plan for the 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina. In her spare time, McKinley, an avid food lover, is the Co-Chair of Slow Food DC, the local chapter of an international organization that promotes a good, clean, and fair food system.

Violeta Duncan is a community development associate for The Democracy Collaborative, where she writes the monthly Community-Wealth.org newsletter and maintains content for the community-wealth.org website and blog, in addition to supporting feasibility studies and other community wealth-building research. Duncan received her masters degree in urban planning from Columbia University, concentrating on participatory planning and local procurement practices in Kenya. She enjoys listening, playing, and dancing to music and spends her free time volunteering at the National Building Museum and Casey Trees.

Properly Managed, Student Loans Offer Benefits

A college education has long been intertwined in the fabric of the American Dream.

President John F. Kennedy proclaimed American Education Week in 1961, saying, Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.

Those words as ring true today as they did when President Kennedy issued that proclamation. Education can unlock the enormous potential of the American spirit and remains a basis of our national economic might.

But this benefit comes at an increasingly higher cost. College costs have increased much faster than families incomes and financial aid. In 1961, it cost about $2,300 to attend an Ivy League college for a year. That amounted to about 40% of the median household income. Today, the average cost for that same education is around $54,000, astonishingly more than 100% of median household income.

Private student loans increasingly fill the financing gaps for a large majority of students in the United States. They are also one of the fastest-growing products in the credit union industry.

The average balance on a credit union student loan is $6,400, and nationally, the average student loan debt is $29,000.About 70% of all graduates carry student loans into their new lives. Many have found it hard to start those new lives with debt sometimes equaling the price of a home, and monthly payments to match.

The NCUA sees a good match between consumers in need and credit unions committed to serving those needs. Student lending is a potentially promising opportunity, when managed well, to establish long-term relationships with consumers at the beginning of their financial lives. It is also an opportunity to ensure your members receive the best deal possible. We encourage credit unions to meet this need prudently and with the interests of the membership in mind.

We identified private student loansasStudepart of our supervisory focus early in 2014 and issued a letter to examiners and credit unions outlining appropriate program management expectations. We did this because we see affordable student loans as a valuable product for credit unions and their members.

The NCUA encourages credit unions to continue to adopt best practices that both serve members and control the unique risks associated with student loans. Specifically, credit unions should consider several strategies.

Know the product, the marketplace, and your members needs. A well-managed student loan portfolio can open the door to opportunity for your members, and enhance your bottom line. Poorly managed, the portfolio is fraught with risk, as well as lost member confidence. See how the NCUA will evaluate your portfolio through our Private Student Loan Supervisory Letter.

Exercise appropriate oversight over third-party relationships. Make sure any vendors you work with uphold your credit unions standards. Your oversight and due diligence are critical to ensuring your members are treated fairly and the portfolio performs as expected. Use the NCUAs third-party questionnaire to make sure you cover all the bases.

Use care and counseling early on. Student loans contain complexities not common with other types of consumer credit. Be sure you clearly inform and educate your members on the benefits, risks and obligations of this unique form of credit. Encourage your members to visit the NCUAs consumer education website at www.mycreditunion.gov to learn about student financing options. Remember, build a strong beneficial relationship today, and this borrower will become a lifelong loyal member.

Work with borrowers who hit a bump in the road. It is in your interest, as well as your members interests, to reach reasonable accommodations for struggling borrowers safely and soundly.

Debbie Matz is chairman of the NCUA. She can be reached at703-518-6301 ordmatz@ncua.gov.

Educate yourself on student loans to avoid scams, BBB says

The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is recommending that prospective college students, current students and their families carefully research student loan programs and offers in order to avoid financial aid scams.

The key to not being caught up in a financial aid scams is to check up on any offers and the companies offering the before signing any documents, said Steve J. Bernas, Better Business Bureau president and CEO.

Bernas applauds the work of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who recently filed two lawsuits against companies that claim to help people pay off their student loans. Her suits claim the businesses were deceptive and illegally charged clients for services and financial aid they could have gotten for free.

One company Madigan filed suit against is Broadsword Student Advantage, LLC, which is based in Carrolton, Texas. The company has a BBB rating of an F and 52 complaints in the last 12 months. The other lawsuit was filed against First American Tax Defense, LLC, which is based in Chicago.

It is always a good idea to look up the rating and read of the Business Review on the BB website about any company youre looking to do business with, Bernas said. This is especially true when dealing with loan firms, which have specific laws governing their operation.

In general, the BBB recommends the following tips to avoid financial aid and student loan scams:

Do not pay advance fees., In Illinois, it is illegal for debt relief companies to charge upfront fees before providing services.

There are no special deals. Debt relief companies do not have the ability to negotiate with your creditors in order to obtain a special deal under these federal student loan programs.

Look out for high-pressure tactics. Beware of companies that pressure you into a plan or make any guarantees without looking into your specific needs.

Always check it out first. Research the company and the services it offers. It is better if it offers a wide range of options and education on how to handle debt.

Look into Government Repayment Plans. There are government-approved repayment plans, including Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plans. Payment levels under IBR and other federal income-driven repayment plans are set by federal law.

For more information, visit bbb.org.

Financial freedom

Financial freedom starts with no

They say there is value for money on delayed gratification. Credit cards, quick loans around the the corner, consolidation loans and technological advancements have all made it so easy to get big and small debts very fast. People have completely lost their ability to say no. we have been brainwashed by the media to a point where we think we can get what we want with no delay.

I suspect the reason most people do not practise delayed gratification is that the concept conjures up the principle of self-control, which implies a never ending application of will power. There is a slight psychological delayed gratification and self-control.

Delayed gratification implies a pleasurable moment at the end of the tunnel, while self-control has no such ending in sight. There is magic associated with delayed gratification. Food tastes so much better when you ve waited until you are hungry to eat it, and the three weeks of holiday is so much more enjoyable memorable when you know its all paid for in cash.

So, what is not so cool about immediate gratification?

It makes people associate little work with high rewards. This subtle suggestion plays itself out in all other areas of our lives. Here are a few instances around gratifications

Easting fast food , instead of cooking a healthy meal raises chances of having a heart attack and diabetes or watching four hours of TV and not doing academic assignments may lead to failure.

People who invest in in delayed gratification associate hard work with high rewards. This idea also plays itself in other areas of our lives.

Take time and cook a healthy meal, you wont battle with strange diseases. Do a good job and get paid good money. Spend time with your family promoting harmony instead of rotting your brain with TV.

Are you beginning to see the multitude of benefits that spread throughout your life once you step back from the trees and see the entire forest?

Immediate gratification gives you that narrow minded thinking, so you only see whats in front of you. Delayed gratification is a price-less value. It allows you to see bigger picture and realise how everything you do contribute to it.

It helps to be a smart thinker, a planner, and an achiever. So become aware of its benefits, practise it and watch the quality of your life change. After all, nothing in this world thats worth having comes easily.

Capitalizing On Boomers Need For Relevance, Influence, And Context

The current backdrop and setting for retirement offers advisors a unique opportunity to become a more relevant part of their clients lives, redefine the context within which they provide advice, and maximize their influence over lifes final and most sought after phase of life. This opening conveniently coincides with both the needs and desires of new and soon-to-be retirees who want to stay relevant, have an impact with their investment dollars and, in doing both, redefine the context of retirement.

Relevance
The greatest desire of most baby boomers is not necessarily to retire with enough money to live happily ever-after, to take a road trip across the continental US in an RV, or to cover the outrageous tuition costs of their grandchildren. Instead, they crave and aspire to be relevant! Its a theme that resonates with boomers of every age, background, and net worth. Its not only becoming one of the hot buzz words for new and soon-to-be retirees, but also for advisors who want to be more relevant to their clients and prospects.

Basically, being relevant means being connected, affiliated, or part of something bigger than oneself. This, of course, shouldnt come as a major surprise because it supports fundamental human psychology. According to Maslows hierarchy of human needs, the desire to belong comes right after our need for food and water and the desire to feel safe. Whats makes it a meaningful trend is that more and more people are verbalizing this need for relevance, and seeking solutions. Boomers dont want to become obsolete, or be perceived as irrelevant, disconnected, or unproductive. It goes against everything they have sought to achieve.

Taking the concept of relevance one step further, when you apply Maslows model to retirement, you can see that in order to achieve a happy and meaningful retirement, a retiree must achieve a sense of community or belonging. First they need enough money to feed and clothe themselves, as well as feel safe and secure in terms of lodging and medical supplies. Then comes the need to establish a connection with others, after which they can proceed to meet next level needs, which can include personal achievement, independence, and self-fulfillment. Thats the longwinded version of saying if you want your clients to achieve a successful transition into retirement you need to help them find ways to stay relevant.

There are countless ways to help clients feel relevant but I want focus on Impact Investing, a growing area of interest for baby boomers that relates directly to the Financial Services industry.

Impact amp; Influence
Generally, one of the most difficult things to do in financial services is connect the soft side of the business (the mental and emotional aspects of retirement) with the products and services we offer. Thats changing rapidly, and its being driven by aspects of socially responsible investing (SRI), or more specifically, impact investing. Whats unique and often undervalued about SRI is its ability to allow a client to blend their actual investment dollars with their desire to feel part of larger issues. In the past, financial services offered clients a relationship with an advisor but not necessarily with their money, let alone other people with the same values and beliefs. Now, as personal savings have replaced pensions and people have a growing awareness of issues such as water scarcity, pollution, and unfair labor practices, the options available through SRI help bridge the gap between the soft side of retirement and the harder dollars and cents.

Im not suggesting you convert your entire practice to an SRI model, or even develop a new set of SRI portfolios. If, however, you wish to extend your influence within the retirement planning process (and that of your clients) advisors need to become aware of the growing SRI market and its ability to meet a variety of client needs. Generally speaking, my clients arent looking for a complete SRI portfolio; but I do get requests like that from a vegan who wanted to avoid genetically modified foods and fast food chains; or that from a small business owner who wants to avoid investing in certain big box retailers because a family or friends business went to pot after the local warehouse club moved in; or from an investor who lost a loved one due to toxins associated with coal or tobacco industry; or from a religious-minded client who wanted to put money in a faith-based fund. Its all about advisors using SRI components to empower clients; to foster a personal relationship between clients, their money and like-minded investors. As a result, everyone involved feels more relevant and fulfilled.

Along the same lines, I have found a growing level of curiosity in crowdfunding and impact investing on a local level. In both cases, the investor is writing a check to an individual or company, rather than depositing it into their investment account. Obviously, this tactic comes with some noticeable dangers (including incidents of fraud) yet more and more boomers like the idea of either starting their own local business or diversifying their portfolio to include shares of the companies they prefer. As an added benefit, having or working with a local business has a way of helping new retirees fill their time and replace their former work identity hellip; both critical and often under-planned aspects of retirement.

Context For Advice
On both the advisor and client level, relevance and influence come with an inherent change to the context within which we deliver advice. First and foremost, I have found that the starting point for most new client relationships is education. People have large amounts of savings that need to be managed; they dont want to make a mistake with it, and yet they want to use it to be relevant and influential.

Therefore, advisors who are willing and able to educate, can not only use their role of teacher as a way to validate their expertise but also differentiate themselves from other advisors. Back in the day, this philosophy would have got you kicked out of a firm quicker than failing your Series 7 exam. The old mentality was to keep clients in the dark so that they always needed you. Nowadays, though, there is so much information out there that people dont know how to decipher it. More than any previous generation, boomers are also responsible for making their money last longer. As a result, they feel the need to keep up with a certain baseline of knowledge, which creeps higher and higher each year.

I can share with you that one of my best sources for new clients is my Do-It-Yourself Retirement Classes. During both my DIY Retirement Planning and DIY Dividend Class, I explain what I do with clients, what Ive learned over the years, and provide free tools and resources for people to use on their own. Attendees are also allowed to ask any questions they want. Now you may think Im giving away the store but what inevitably happens is that people sit back and say, Ok, I get it; but I dont want to do all that work.

Imagine telling a group of prospects most of what you know about retirement planning and portfolio management within a couple of hours, and then telling them to just go do it. Most of people who attend classes like this are not do-it-yourselfers. They either dont know where to begin, or are afraid of getting burned. They know they need more information because retirement is approaching very quickly. As a result, the context of the advice provided changes; and our industry gets re-branded into one of teachers and information providers, rather than salespeople, information hoarders or Ponzi-schemers.

Whether its staying relevant, becoming more influential, or changing the context of retirement advice, advisors need to continue to use retirements never-ending evolution to improve the lives of their clients and extend the brand and capacity of the industry. Going forward, Im convinced that there will be times when we as advisors will need to look beyond the dollars and cents and help clients manage whats happening on the inside. During other times, our role will require us to deal with more traditional and external issues such as money and investing. As a result, we have to be ready, willing, and able to find and implement solutions that solve both sides of the equation.

Robert Laura is the creator of the Retirement Wellness Report, co-founder of RetirementProject.org, and author of Naked Retirement. He can be reached at rl@robertlaura.com. Please connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter @robertlaura.

Who has the best bank account rates and the lowest fees?

What is the best type of bank account to have, and where should you open it?

WalletHub, an online resource for financial products, reviews and news, recently published its second-quarter banking landscape report. In the report, WalletHub examined fees, features, and rates associated with more than 2,000 checking accounts, savings accounts and money-market accounts from financial institutions across the country.

Since the first quarter, interest rates have increased overall for checking and savings accounts, according to the report. Checking account rates increased by 12 percent and savings account rates increased by about 11 percent.

For the average consumer, the best deal on checking accounts is online, according to WalletHub. Online accounts are 23 percent cheaper than branch accounts and provide a 94 percent higher average interest rate.

Online checking accounts led the way for interest-bearing checking accounts at an average of 0.51 percent based on a $1,000 balance, according to the report. Personal branch accounts averaged 0.27 percent, and business branch accounts totaled 0.11 percent.

Online personal savings accounts also were the leader for interest rates, according to the report.

Based on a $1,000 balance, a personal online account earned interest of 0.59 percent, compared with online branch accounts, which earned 0.12 percent, and business branch accounts, which earned 0.08 percent, according to the report.

Debra Stamper, general counsel and executive vice president of the Kentucky Bankers Association, said customers should start seeing interest rates on personal bank accounts increase at a pace similar to how quickly loan interest rates increase. She said increases in the two figures — loan interest rates and returns on accounts — tend to go hand-in-hand.

Stamper added that many banks havent increased their return rates significantly because of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

With the passage of Dodd-Frank, a lot of sources of income to banks were significantly reduced, she said. So a lot of the features that were free just couldnt be free anymore.

With fewer sources of income, banks have looked to generate revenue elsewhere.

According to the WalletHub report, fees associated with the checking accounts increased 1.57 percent, and the average minimum to open a savings account increased 21 percent from the first quarter of 2014 to the second quarter of 2014.

For checking accounts, the average monthly fee for a business branch account is $8.73, with a personal branch account at $5.80 and personal online accounts at $3.89, according to the report.

Fees for savings accounts were $2.11 for an average monthly fee on a personal online savings account, $5.08 average monthly fee for a personal branch account and $10.39 for a business branch account, according to the report.

The future for bank accounts is likely to bring more options, Stamper said.

Banks are looking for more creative ways to offer customers just the services that they want versus a one-size-fits-all checking account, she said. I see our banks looking to target more specific groups of customers.

Stamper said much of what is offered to clients is based on demand and is depends on the type of bank and its location.

Braden Lammers covers these beats: Financial services, residential real estate, law, property and casualty insurance, construction, unions, engineers, architects and agriculture.

Some community colleges end federal direct student loans

More than half of the state’s community colleges have stopped offering some federal student loans to combat student debt, but critics say such loans are key to accessibility.

About 36 percent of NC community college students lacked access to the federal direct student loans in 2013-14 the fourth highest percentage in the nation, more than quadruple the national average of 8.5 percent, according to a report by The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) last week.

Debbie Cochrane, one of the report’s co-authors, said the study’s findings are concerning because she thinks federal student loans are safe and affordable.

“When we see large groups of students not having access to them, that’s a concern for us because we want students to get the aid that they need to attend college,” she said.

But loans from the federal government must be repaid, sometimes even in cases of bankruptcy, said Jeff Lowrance, a spokesman for Central Piedmont Community College, which opted out of the federal direct student loan program in March.

“We felt like for many of our students, it would be better if we could provide grants and scholarships rather than (have them) take out loans that they have to repay,” Lowrance said.

The Motley Fool: Penny stocks are no way to build wealth

Bad pennies

Q: Since penny stocks are so inexpensive, I can buy thousands of them, which can make me richer faster, no? – HE, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

A: Sorry, no. Penny stocks might seem like bargains, but they wont necessarily grow faster than other stocks. A $1 stock and a $60 one can both go up (or down!) by the same percentage in one day. With a 5 percent increase, the $1 stock will rise in value by 5 cents, to $1.05. For the $60 stock, its a $3 jump, to $63. If the $60 stock is tied to a healthier company with competitive advantages, actual revenue and profits, and a lower valuation (perhaps as suggested by its price-to-earnings ratio), its likely a much better bargain than the $1 stock.

Penny stocks (which trade for $5 or less per share) can be more likely to plummet than skyrocket. Theyre risky, and often hyped and manipulated. Penny-stock investors are typically looking to get rich quick, but thats not how reliable wealth-building works.

Focus on the long run – plenty of big, successful blue-chip companies have made shareholders happy over many years. Penny stocks have made many unhappy. Its fun to own 5,000 shares of something, but not when they crash.

Foolish Trivia

Name that company

A pioneering global importer of decorative home furnishings and gifts, I was born in California in 1962. My early offerings included beads, incense, beanbag chairs and groovy furniture, and over my decades in business Ive sold all kinds of things, such as wicker armchairs, hand-painted dinnerware, distinct clothing, scented candles, decorative accessories, and even life-sized suits of armor. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, since 1966, I now boast more than 1,000 locations in 49 states and Canada – and I have a presence in Sears de Mexico boutiques, as well. I employ about 21,000 people globally. Who am I?

Last weeks trivia answer: Twitter.

The Take

Kicking Hertzs tires

If you have a parking spot to fill in your long-term portfolio, consider Hertz Global Holdings (NYSE: HTZ). Accounting problems have pressured the stock and may potentially delay the spinoff of its equipment business, but theres a lot to like in Hertz.

Hertz will be restating its past three years of financial reports. Thats not great news, but it could be worse. First off, the restatement is focusing on expenses, not aggressive revenue recognition policies or anything that suggests dramatic wrongdoing. Revenue growth, which is critical, will not change.

With the car-rental industry consolidating in recent years, having fewer competitors can prop up prices and profit margins for Hertz. (Hertz has participated in the consolidation, buying Dollar Thrifty last year for $2.3 billion.) Of course, business landscapes change over time. It remains to be seen whether new ride-sharing businesses such as Uber and Lyft turn into threats for car-rental companies such as Hertz.

Hertz plans to complete the spinoff of its equipment-rental business sometime next year. The move will give the company net proceeds of $2.5 billion, which will be used to pay down debt and reward shareholders via share buybacks (which reduce share count and thereby boost earnings per share). With a forward P/E ratio near 12, Hertz is worth a closer look. (The Motley Fool owns shares of Hertz.)

Universal Uclick