U.S. Department of Education Proposes New Restrictions on Campus Financial …

The US Department of Educationhas issued proposed revisions to its Title IV Higher Education Act (HEA) cash management rules that include significant new restrictions on financial products used to disburse credit balance funds to students. Credit balances result when the amount of Title IV HEA program funds credited to a students account exceeds the amount of tuition and fees, room and board, and other allowed charges. Comments on the proposal are due on or before July 2, 2015.

The proposal would establish two different types of arrangements between postsecondary institutions and financial account providers, tier one (T1) arrangements and tier two (T2) arrangements, which are described as follows:

  • A T1 arrangement is an arrangement between an institution and a third-party servicer that performs one more of the functions associated with processing direct payments of Title IV funds on behalf of the institution to financial accounts that are offered to students and their parents by the servicer or any entity contracting or affiliated with the servicer.
  • A T2 arrangement is an arrangement between an institution and a financial institution or entity that offers financial accounts through a financial institution under which accounts are offered and directly marketed to students or their parents. A financial account would be deemed directly marketed if: (1) an institution communicates information directly to students or parents about the financial account and how it can be opened; (2) the financial account or access device is co-branded with the institutions name, logo, mascot, or other affiliation; and (3) a card or tool that is provided to the student or parent for institutional purposes, such as a student ID card, is linked with the financial account or access device. The proposal would create a presumption that Title IV HEA program funds are deposited into financial accounts offered and marketed under T2 arrangements. To avoid the requirements for T2 arrangements, an institution would have to document that for the most recently completed award year, no student or parent received a credit balance.

The proposal would impose the following key restrictions:

  • An institution must establish a selection process that allows the student or parent to choose from one of several options for receiving Title IV funds. The process (1) prohibits the institution from requiring the student or parent to open or obtain an account or access device offered by or through a specific financial institution; (2) requires the institution to provide a list of options (which must include issuing a check) for receiving funds in which (i) such options are presented in a neutral manner (except that the students or parents preexisting bank account must be shown prominently as the first and default option), and (ii) the major features and commonly assessed fees associated with all of the institutions T1 or T2 arrangements are shown; (3) requires the institution to ensure that electronic payments made to a preexisting account are as timely as, and no more onerous than, initiating payments to an account made available through a T1 or T2 arrangement, and (4) gives the student or parent the right to change his or her choice at any time as to how direct payments are made.
  • An institution must obtain the students or parents consent to open an account under a T1 or T2 arrangement before (1) sharing personal information (except name, address and e-mail address) about the student or parent with the third-party service provider, the financial institution at which the funds would be deposited, or the agents of either, and (2) an access device is sent to the student or parent or the students ID card or other card or tool provided for institutional purposes is linked to a financial account
  • An institution must ensure that (1) financial accounts are not marketed, portrayed as or converted to credit cards, (2) the student or parent has convenient, sufficient, and timely access to surcharge-free ATMs, incurs no cost for opening a financial account or receiving an access device, and (3) for accounts offered under T1 arrangements, no point-of-sale or overdraft fees are charged, and for at least 30 days after Title IV funds are deposited in the financial account, no charges are imposed by the institution, servicer, or servicers associated financial institution
  • An institution must disclose on its website any contract establishing a T1 or T2 arrangement and related information, such as the total monetary and nonmonetary consideration for the most recently completed award year paid or received by the parties under the terms of the contract
  • An institution must ensure that the terms of accounts offered pursuant to a T1 or T2 arrangement are not inconsistent with the best financial interests of students and parents, with such requirement deemed to be satisfied if the institution takes certain steps such as periodically reviewing whether fees imposed under an arrangement are excessive based on prevailing market rates and having a contractual right to terminate an arrangement based on student or parent complaints or a determination that fees imposed are excessive.

Level 3: Success of TW Telecom buy likely means more deals (LVLT)

  • During the earnings call for Level 3 Communications (LVLT +3.7%), execs suggested it would still pursue opportunistic acquisitions, pointing to how well the last one worked out.
  • The company raised guidance for 2015 after realizing greater cost savings than expected from its acquisition of TW Telecom, which closed Oct. 31.
  • In its earnings report the company pointed often to pro forma comparisons, as if the company had acquired TW Telecom on Jan. 1, 2014, instead of in October.
  • The company survived the dot-com shakeout by managing debt while acquiring competitors, and the booming bandwidth market means more deals are on its horizon. Outside the US … is probably more in our targets than maybe inside the US, given that weve just done the TW Telecom acquisition, says CEO Jeff Storey.
  • Previously: Level 3 gains on Q1 beat, raised guidance (Apr. 29 2015)

Texas Realtors demand tax relief, transportation funding

More than 2,500 Realtors descended on the Capitol Tuesday to support both House and Senate versions of tax relief and transportation funding, and they opposed a resolution that could lift the cap on home equity loans.

Realtors typically prefer to be in favor of, rather than nixing, bills. But Rep. Richard Raymond’s, D-Laredo, House Joint Resolution 131, which would allow voters to lift the cap on the capacity of home equity loans has changed that. Texas Realtors, who were active in crafting legislation after the housing market crash that devastated other states, have firmly supported home equity loans no more than 3 percent above market value.

Emily Chenevert, director of government and community affairs at the Austin Board of Realtors, said Raymond’s proposal would exclude certain fees associated with obtaining a home equity loan from counting against the cap. These fees can sometimes amount to thousands of dollars, Chenevert said.

Consumers may like the idea of increasing the total of a home equity loan, but Realtors urge caution when that increase can eventually turn a mortgage upside down and lead to home foreclosures. A good deal may end up being too much of a good thing, Chenevert cautioned.

“We need to protect home value and protect the stability of our market by limiting home equity loans above and beyond market value,” Chenevert said, as her Austin members departed to meet with members of the Travis County delegation. “We have a pretty low bar for how much you can borrow before you are upside down and how much you can borrow against the value of your home. Our opposition to this bill is just a further protection of that.”

Raymond’s bill was laid out in House Investments and Financial Services last week. House Joint Resolution 131, which is a resolution that would go to the voters, is still pending in committee.

Contributing writer Kimberly Reeves covers the 2015 Texas Legislature

United FC asks for tax relief on privately financed stadium

Minnesota United FC on Tuesday asked state lawmakers for tax relief to help it privately finance a soccer-specific outdoor stadium in downtown Minneapolis that would cost an estimated $150 million.

United FC owners, led by former UnitedHealth Group executive Bill McGuire, shared with Gov. Mark Dayton, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, and House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, a plan to pay $120 million for construction of an 18,500-seat stadium in downtown Minneapolis and $30 million for about 10 acres across three parcels near Target Field.

The team will pay Major League Soccer a $100 million expansion fee for the franchise officially awarded to Minnesota on March 25.

Im surprised that theyre making this kind of investment, said Bakk, who made it clear he would not support public financing for a stadium as soon as United FCs winning bid became official last month.

Its a tremendous financial investment that these owners are making to bring soccer here, he said.

The club asked lawmakers for a sales-tax exemption related to construction costs for materials and supplies, a property-tax exemption or relief, and limits on future taxes levied on the stadium and its operations.

Dayton said the ratio of private-to-public financing should make taxpayeres very, very pleasantly surprised but added, I havent committed to anything.

Dayton and Daudt joined Bakk in trying to shoo United FC away from the Capitol, citing stadium fatigue after the state and local municipalities chipped in to help build stadiums for the Twins, University of Minnesota football team and Vikings, as well as a renovation to the Timberwolves Target Center.

On Tuesday, however, Dayton said he will wait and see before taking a stand on Uniteds tax requests. The sales tax break on construction materials alone is estimated to be about $3 million.

I want to hear what the legislative leaders have to say, and we will make that assessment when all the numbers come out, he said.

Bakk called Uniteds request pretty modest when compared to other stadium proposals but said its unlikely that a sales-tax exemption would be included in legislation before this years session ends in May.

He suggested United seek tax abatement or tax-increment financing from Hennepin County and possibly the City of Minneapolis, which would not require state legislation.

Its still a heavy lift, and if the city and county dont support it, theres no path, Bakk said. People are going to have to take the temperature of the city and county.

Daudt said he was encouraged that United is not asking for direct public money but echoed Bakks thoughts on state legislation, calling that plan an uphill battle.

I advised them that their chances around here are not real good this session, Daudt said.

During MLS announcement that a franchise was coming to Minnesota, league commissioner Don Garber made it clear the promise of a stadium was necessary, going so far as to say without a deal by July, the league would have to re-evaluate the deal.

We are committed to getting this done this year, McGuire said Tuesday. This is an extraordinary opportunity for our community to have won the MLS franchise and have it come here. There are a lot of other cities around the country, which you well know, that are very much desirous of this franchise spot that weve got.

Other United owners present were Twins owner Bob Pohlad; Timberwolves president Chris Wright, who was representing owner Glen Taylor; Wendy Carlson Nelson of Carlson Companies; and team president Nick Rogers.

Property-tax exemptions have been granted for the new $1 billion Vikings stadium, the Twins Target Field, the Wilds Xcel Energy Center, the Timberwolves Target Center renovations, CHS Field for the St. Paul Saints and the Us TCF Bank Stadium, according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

In addition, the sales-tax exemption for construction materials was granted for the Vikings stadium, Target Field and TCF Bank Stadium.According to the Department of Revenue, the state otherwise would have collected $22.5 million from the Vikings stadium, $18 million from the Target Field and $5 million from TCF Bank stadium.

However, those stadiums are publicly owned and were built in large part with taxpayer money. Uniteds stadium will be privately built and owned.

They (exemptions) are absolutely standard, McGuire said. We are not asking for anything new. The unique thing here is, we are putting out the money here to do this.

United says stadium construction would generate 1,900 jobs and more than $2.5 million in annual state and local taxes. They say they believe the soccer park will be an anchor tenant in an underdeveloped section of Minneapolis.

Daudt, however, said he is not currently open to extending exemptions.

They will have to present this to the public and present it to the other members of the Legislature, Daudt said, and we will see if they can gain any support.

Follow Andy Greder at twitter.com/andygreder.

A first-year money management guide for the new college grad

Retirement may seem a distant spot on the horizon after graduation, but success depends on saving and investing as soon as possible. New grads can benefit from the IRS#x2019;s Withholding Calculator (www.irs.gov/Individuals/IRS-Withholding-Calculator) to determine the right amount of tax is being withheld from weekly paychecks. From there, he or she can evaluate personal retirement savings options and employer#x2019;s plans as well #x2014; both will be necessary to retire effectively. Signing up for automatic deposits into retirement accounts and personal savings allows money to grow without the temptation of spending it first.

Insurance is crucial. Renter#x2019;s insurance is important not only to cover personal belongings that are lost, stolen or damaged, but most policies cover living expenses in an emergency and offer liability and medical coverage if someone gets hurt at one#x2019;s apartment. Auto insurance is the law in many states, and even though disability coverage may be available at work, it is important to determine whether additional individual coverage should be purchased. Finally, the Affordable Care Act has made health coverage a must for young adults. New graduates may stay on a parent#x2019;s plan until the age of 26 even if they have the option for health coverage at work. After age 26, health insurance can be bought privately or through federal and state exchanges.

Young adults should get into the habit of tracking their credit reports from the beginning. By law, everyone has the right to receive all three of their credit reports for free (www.annualcreditreport.com) each year, and it is important to stagger requests from the three credit bureaus #x2014; Experian, Equifax and TransUnion #x2014; to better check for inaccuracies and potential identity theft.

Finally, for those still having trouble making ends meet, moving home for a limited time period could be an option. New grads should negotiate an affordable rent on a fixed timetable and use those savings to create investment accounts that can pay for major goals like a home, a wedding or graduate school. If you#x2019;re working with a financial advisor already, ask them to weigh in with additional ideas.

Bottom line: The first year out of college, young adults encounter a range of financial challenges that will shape their money behavior for a lifetime. Embracing budgeting, saving and investing is crucial even with the smallest of amount of resources.

Jason Alderman directs Visa#x2019;s financial education programs. Follow him on Twitter:www.twitter.com/PracticalMoney; www.twitter.com/PracticalMoney.

Wealthy millennials want automated retirement

Although a good number of HNW millennials use robo tools for retirement planning, they dont for other financial services, where theyre much more likely to look for advice somewhere other than online. Although theyre happy enough to go online to manage their retirement portfolios, the same definitely doesnt hold true for portfolio management in general; just 17 percent said they relied on auto advice for that.

Online financial tools also have a long way to go among HNWIs automating their quest for other financial services, such as buying life insurance (only 11 percent use online tools), managing debt (9 percent) or taxes (10 percent) or planning a major purchase (7 percent)although other studies have shown that they certainly use online research tools to figure out just what theyll purchase.

But millennials are social butterflies when compared to other generationsespecially boomers and the Silent Generation (those born between 19251945). Twenty-two percent of HNW millennials, according to Phoenixs Global Wealth Monitor, utilize any type of social networking in managing finances and investments. Only 8 percent of HNW GenXers do that, while just one percent of boomers do. The Silent Generation? Not even 1 percent.

Kifowit Legislation Providing Property Tax Relief to Area Homeowners Passes …

Kifowits House Bill 3823 requires school districts outside the City of Chicago to use a minimum of 80 percent of construction grant funds, if awarded, to first reduce or pay off any outstanding debt. They must also reduce the district-wide amount of property taxes, known as the debt levy by an amount equal to or greater than the amount of the grant funds used to pay down the debt within the first 5 years of receiving the funds. Realizing that property taxes mostly go to the school districts, Kifowit has been working closely with Oswego School District 308 to bring proposals, such as this one, to provide property tax relief. Oswego District 308, which is owed a construction grant from ten years ago through the Capital Development Board, has committed that upon receiving money owed to them, they would pay down debt and potentially lower property tax rates.

Working collaboratively with other forms of government to help residents produces good legislation such as this, Kifowit said. This legislation will ensure that once a district is given these funds they use it to lower the levy, which may in turn lower property taxes.

For more information, please contact Representative Kifowits constituent service office at 630-585-1308, by email at Stephanie.Kifowit@att.net, or by visiting www.ILDistrict84.com.

This item was posted by a community contributor. To read more about community contributors, click here.

Buying Home In Las Vegas – Homes By Leslie Reports Favorable Time

LasVegasHomesByLeslie.com Reports Southern Nevada Housing Market Favorable for First-Time and Bounce Back Homebuyers.

Las Vegas, NV (PRWEB) April 15, 2015

Las Vegas housing market and real estate website Las Vegas Homes By Leslie is reporting the Las Vegas housing market will be favorable towards home buyers for 2015. Leslie Hoke, long-time Las Vegas realtor and administrator of the website reported the news from her popular real estate blog.

The pendulum is swinging the other way towards recovery, as it always does. With exception to Florida, Las Vegas was hit the hardest during the mortgage crisis. Now that the local market has stabilized and interest rates are still historically low, conditions for buying a home in Las Vegas are excellent for first-time home buyers to stop paying high rent prices in southern Nevada and get into a home, Hoke said.

Zillow recently published a report naming Las Vegas the 4th best major market in the country for first-time buyers. The average sale price for a home is $204,000, which is very low for a major market. It means people can get into a great family home for cheaper than they would pay for rent, said Hoke.

And its not just first-time buyers either. The same conditions apply to boomerang, or bounce back buyers. Those are folks who lost a home during the economic collapse, but are now in the position to buy again, Hoke went on to say.

To learn more about the latest Las Vegas real estate market data and to view Las Vegas real estate listings, visit: http://www.lasvegashomesbyleslie.com/blog/ready-to-buy-a-home-in-las-vegas-good-market-for-bounce-back-buyers.html

About Leslie Hoke

Leslie Hoke is an award-winning Las Vegas Realtor with RE/MAX Premier Realty Group. Leslie has been selling homes in the Las Vegas area for well over a decade after a successful business career with Disney Corporation. Leslie owns and operates the popular Las Vegas real estate website and blog Las Vegas Homes By Leslie.

Ms. Hoke earned RE/MAXs award for ‘Top Vegas Realtor in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 due to her results-oriented approach to helping her clients meet their real estate needs. Ms. Hoke is a member of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and National Realtor Association. She is a certified short sale specialist, and has expertise in the areas of condominiums and new construction. Leslie is known for her client customer service, savvy marketing strategies, and track record of success. As a long-time Las Vegas resident, Ms. Hoke brings a wealth of knowledge about the Las Vegas real estate market.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/buy-home/las-vegas/prweb12658605.htm

Buying a home in an HOA community? Caveat emptor!

Its springtime and people are thinking of buying their dream house. However, if you are looking to buy in a community governed by a homeowners association, you may want to think again.

Ive lived in several HOA communities. From my experience, they all promise to make life incredibly delightful, from taking care of residential lawn and common area maintenance, to making sure property values are maintained by keeping house and trim colors neutral and not allowing your somewhat eclectic neighbor from putting up sculptures of famous landmarks on the lawn.

Some HOAs are stricter than others.

Then there are those HOAs that are so ineffective you wonder why you are paying monthly and/or yearly fees for such terrible services.

Usually the intentions of HOA Board members are good, but something gets lost in the translation of words into deeds.

The real problem is that most buyers never learn the truth about their HOA until it is too late — after they have signed the purchase agreement and moved into their shiny new home.

Then, depending on how your HOA is run, the real nightmares can begin.

Suggestion: Talk to several people in the community in which youre thinking of buying a home. Some will blindly sing the praises, while others will tell it like it truly is.

I have lived in great HOA communities and absolutely terrible ones.

The best ones were run by residents who were truly concerned about their communities and their neighbors.

The worst was run by a developer who had not given up his right to control the board, meaning that residents had little or no control over the rules or financial aspects of the board.

In such a scenario, I have seen property values diminish, because maintenance and repairs were reduced, leaving the residents without the services promised through the HOA bylaws and declarations, which are the rules and regulations governing the community.

Lawns look shabby, with weeds abundant or irrigation sprinklers not working; rules governing the parking of boats and commercial vehicles are not enforced; and HOA fees are used for things that were never anticipated by residents or the bylaws.

In other words: caveat emptor: buyer beware.

Of course, there are ways to seek redress for HOAs that fail to represent the residents best interests or refuse to follow the bylaws: you could file a complaint with the Maryland Attorney Generals Office of Consumer Protection or even with the new federally created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

You may even want to file a lawsuit for breach of contract, seeking damages for loss of property values, loss of use, failure to provide services, misappropriation of funds or the HOAs failure to abide by state or federal laws.

If you feel thwarted by your HOA, seek answers at the Maryland Attorney Generals Office, online at www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/complaint.htm, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, online at www.consumerfinance.gov/.

You can also check HOA-related laws at www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/openrealestate.htm.

Ron Pagano is a community activist and business owner who lives in the Wood Creek community in Delmar.

BestCreditRepairCompanys.com Releases New Survey About Important Factors …

A new survey highlights factors potential customers look for in credit repair companies

This press release was orginally distributed by ReleaseWire

San Francisco, CA — (ReleaseWire) — 04/14/2015 — BestCreditRepairCompanys.com (BCRC) released a new survey about the most important factors potential clients look for in credit repair companies. The BCRC team released this survey to get a better understanding of potential credit repair clients and their needs.

Whats important to customers, is important to us, BCRC PR Director Kate Ward said. We want to make sure we are listening to customers concerns when it comes to credit repair companies.

The survey asked the question to 1,000 participants: What is the most important factor you look for when signing up with a credit repair company? The answers to the survey and their relative percentages are as follows:

Low Monthly Prices-25.9 percent
BBB Grade-25.5 percent
Fast Results-21.9 percent
Number of Negative Reviews-16.3 percent
Licensed Attorneys on Staff-10.3 percent

The top two responses were low monthly prices and BBB grade, with a difference of less than one percent. The results are almost too close to call to decide which response is the clear favorite.

The survey highlights the two most important, even interchangeable, responses. Price is an important factor for those looking for credit repair services. Potential customers want budget-friendly fees in order for them to sign up for a companys services. Low monthly prices are necessary in order to attract more customers.

The other top response, BBB grade, shows that customers are concerned about a high BBB rating. They are more likely to choose with a high BBB grade as opposed to one with a lower rating.

Many credit repair companies can take advantage of customers and a higher BBB could indicate a more trustworthy company. Its clear that potential customers are concerned with a companys BBB rating when it comes to credit repair companies.

The BCRC review team wants to help customers find the best credit repair company for them, Ward said. This survey provides new insight for the team and the site as a whole.

About BestCreditRepairCompanys.com
BestCreditRepairCompanys.com provides unbiased reviews of credit repair companies. Combined with real customers reviews, potential clients are able to get an honest representation of a company.

For more information about this survey and credit repair companies, visit bestcreditrepaircompanys.com

Media Contact:
Kate Ward

For more information on this press release visit: http://www.releasewire.com/press-releases/release-592074.htm