December 8, 2022

Feature stories

Featured Story

Bank of America column

Charlotte Is Your Home. It’s Ours, Too. By Kathy Cummings, Senior Vice President, Homeownership Solutions & Affordable Housing Programs At Bank of America, our investment in communities extends beyond the locations of our financial centers. [...]
Featured Story

Executive Functioning

Teaching Children to Manage Their Lives and Emotions By Shavonda Bean These challenges can occur for several reasons. One of the most common contributors can be weaknesses in executive functioning skills. This is an umbrella [...]

WCNC – LATEST NEWS

Talkin’ Bout Living Rooms!

Our feature on living rooms in this issueis quite interesting to me. So much so, I want to chime in and talk about mine. Listen, I grew up in a house where you DID NOT EAT OR DRINK in the living room —
EVER. In my younger days, we had a very small house with a small space for the living room. We did not waddle around in that living, for sure. There was no den either, so where did we watch TV? — In the dining room. The TV was placed in a corner of the dining room so that we wouldn’t “mess up”the living room. Later on, we had a den plus a living room, which was complete with French provincial furniture. And guess what? My Mom didn’t layer this fancy furniture with that hot, heavy turbo plastic either. She knew we were too terrified to even THINK about messing up that living room. Today I have a tri-level home built in the 1970’s. In it, I have three spaces to sit in: a living room near the front entrance, a den and an all purpose room, both on the second level. Let me explain. Unlike my mother’s living room, mine is quite informal. It’s where I have some treasured pieces from my international travels and Na Na Dixon’s (my grandmother’s) old-timey radio.


I love this room because it’s cozy, quiet and a great place to relax and reflect. None-the-less, just like my mom, one cannot eat or drink in my living room — EVER. Now, one can eat in the den with care of course, because I have special treasures in there as well. Coasters are required and cleanup immediate. My all-purpose room is a different story altogether. There’s a lot of junk in there, making it ideal for small children and grown men-boys who cannot eat popcorn without half of it falling to the floor before entering the mouth. I’m okay with “mess” in my all-purpose room. Dogs are allowed in there too, so long as they are trained.


Are You Leaving Money on the Table?

Don’t forget to explore employee tuition assistance programs

The pandemic has caused a shift in all areas of business, and the field of education is no exception. Many colleges and universities had to shift their methods of instruction delivery due to the pandemic, and many of these changes have become permanent.

According to one report, spending on education technology in the United States reached $27.6 billion in 2021. Digital curriculum spending in 2020 was $13.1 billion, an increase of $2.1 billion over 2019. Digital curricula were essential due to the sudden move numerous institutions had to make to remote instruction.

These educational shifts also include shifts in the new student pool and the programs they pursue. Many of these new learners are adults who will be making career shifts. For those who have not been in school for at least a decade, applying for financial aid can seem quite daunting.

In reality, the process of applying for financial aid is much simpler now than it was in the 80s and 90s. When applying, students are also applying for local and state grants for which they might qualify, i.e., “free money.”

In addition to scholarships and grants available to the general population, a little research and diligence can uncover scholarships geared toward specific populations or degree programs. For instance, Western Governors University recently received a grant of nearly $1 million from the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition to increase the number of Black, Latina and Native American (BLNA) women earning bachelor’s degrees in information technology. BLNA women represent approximately 16 percent of the total U.S. population, yet they make up only four percent of students obtaining bachelor’s degrees in computing.

Adult workers could also be overlooking money from their employers. Don’t forget that many employers offer benefits beyond the typical medical, dental and 401(k) plans, including tuition reimbursement.

Tuition reimbursement/assistance can “look” very different based on the employer. Some college-tuition-assistance options include loan forgiveness, low-interest education loans, tuition bills direct-billed to the company, and tuition reimbursement. Some organizations even reimburse employees for one class each term if the employee earns a particular letter grade in the class — typically a “B” for a graduate-level course and a “C” for an undergraduate course.

Other employers have increased their tuition reimbursement amount to $5,250 per year for employees. Since 2016, $5,250 is the maximum amount an employer can provide to an employee tax-free. College tuition assistance is a wonderful way to not only use benefits that your company offers, but also to assist in keeping higher education affordable.

If you are considering pursuing an MBA, Western Governors University recently announced a one-year MBA track. This option costs $9,060 per year ($4,530 for two six-month terms) and has a projected salary increase of $16,200 upon completion of the degree. So, if a student were to begin this program in January and utilized their company’s maximum tuition reimbursement of $5,250 for the year, he or she could potentially pay only $3,810 out of pocket for a regionally and ACBSP-accredited MBA degree. This estimate doesn’t take into account the student applying for and potentially receiving a scholarship or grant from WGU or another source. The bottom line is that we’ve done so much to secure our bag, we also have to be diligent to keep the bag; increase it and not leave anything on the table. I heard someone say the other day that they wanted all their coins, and guess what? Coins add up to dollars.

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