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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
January 23, 2013     Hays Free Press
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January 23, 2013

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+ CLASSIFIEDS PUBLIC NOTICES SERVICE DIRECTORY Janua~ 23,2013 Help your avoid student FINANCIAL FOCUS "t's not so easy being a col- lege kid these days. The job market for recent gradu- ates has been shaky while, at the same time, students are leaving school with more debt than ever before. If you have children who will someday be attending college, should you be worried? You might indeed have cause for concern. Americans now owe more on student loans than on credit cards, according to the Federal Bank of NewYork, the U.S. Depart- ment of Education and other sources. For the college class of 2011, the most recent year for which figures are avail- able, the average student loan debt was about $26,500, according to the Institute for College Access and Success's Project on Student Debt. This type of debt load, coupled with the struggles to find a well-paying job com- mensurate with their educa- tion, is causing many recent graduates to get off on the wrong foot in terms of devel- oping savings and investment strategies that could help them throughout their lives. So, what can you do? If you want to help your kids pay for college, you may want to consider a 529 plan. When you invest in a 529 plan, all withdrawals will be free from federal income taxes, as long as the money is used for qualified college expenses. (However, non- qualified withdrawals may be subject to ordinary income tax plus a 10 percent penalty on the earnings portion.) Contribution limits are high, and, contributions may be eligible for a tax deduction or credit for residents in certain states. A 529 plan, while valuable, is not the only college sav- ings vehicle available. You may also want to consider a Coverdell Education Savings Account, which, like a 529 plan, can generate tax-free earnings if the money is used for higher education ex- penses. However, a Coverdell account's contribution limits are much lower than those of a 529 plan. You could also establish a custodial account, known as an UGMA or UTMA, which offers some tax benefts and no contribution limits. Nonetheless, while these vehicles may help you save and invest for college, they may also divert resources that you might have used for other financial goals - such as a comfortable retirement. Of course, it's not an "either- or" situation - there's nothing stopping you from contribut- ing to a 529 plan, Coverdell account or custodial account along with your 401(k) and IRA. Clearly, though, it will take discipline and perseverance on your part to save and invest for both your children's education and your own retirement. Like everyone else, you don't have unlim- ited resources. But you do have another ally- time. The earlier you begin investing for education and retirement, the greater your chances of achieving your goals in these areas. And by understanding how your goals interact, you can work to make sure you don't inadvertently derail one when saving for another. Avoiding the student loan "debt trap" while still making progress toward your retire- ment savings will require creative thinking- and both you and your children may have to make some sacrifices along the way. But the ulti- mate goals - a college degree that isn't one big IOU and a comfortable retirement - are worth the effort. ARTIST RENDERING OF LONE STAR RAIL STATION | BY ZACHARY BARTON The subway, underground, tube, 'L', metro, rail, rapid transit, or simply the train. Whatever we decide to call it colloquially, due to what Ex- ecutive Director of Lone Star Rail Ross Milloy calls, "almost univer- sally positive" political feed- back, Central Texas will begin to see construc- tion on a com- muter rail sys- tem, or LSTAR, in the next three to four years. Last week, Rail Manager Joe Black from Lone Star Rail District - a public agency created by the Texas Legislature - presented the plans to Kyle City Council. He explained that the new rail system plans to address three main issues: con- gestion on Interstate 35, public safety and economic development. To do this, Lone Star Rail, in coordination with the cities, counties and transit agencies stretching from Georgetown to San Antonio, has devised a multi- tiered solution. The first and most under-appreci- ated step is to build new and improve existing tracks to create an Urban Freight Rail Bypass stretching from San Antonio to Taylor. Then, existing Union Pacific freight trains will be di- verted to this eastern route. This will decrease traffic congestion at The price tag urban railroad crossings as well for a trip on the trainsaS allOWto freightmove rail system will at a faster speed. The faster speed will, in turn, be roughly the make Union Pa- cific more com- same as the petitive with trucking and therefore even- national average tually decrease the NAFTA truck of $.20 per mile, traffic on I-35. The second imately step is to up- or approx grade existing $880 for_ tracks and infra- structure to build a commuter rail round-trip ticket systemstretch that from will from Kyle to San Antonio to Georgetown. According to central Austin. current plans, initial service could begin as with expanded service full service - as many early as 2016, by 2021, and as 32 trains per day - by 2026. Mil- loy expressed his excitement about the future alternative for commuters See LONE STAR RAIL, pg. 4D PROPOSED LSTAR ROUTE MAP m ::::~:~ .... ::7 :::%S: t.EGEND COURTESY PHOTO The Kyle Chamber of Commerce recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony for new the Kyle branch of the First Lockhart Bank at 800 W. FM 150 (Rebel Drive). +