Likely CGA Expenses

Discussion in 'Coast Guard Academy - USCGA' started by jnr, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. jnr

    jnr Member

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    My DD is very fortunate to be in CGAS. Baring the unforeseen she should be joining the CGA class of 2019 next year. My wife and I opened a 529 plan for her years ago and would like to use some of those funds to offset the expenses our DD will incur at CGA (e.g., uniforms, books, computer, laundry, dry cleaning etc).

    I realize that Cadets get a stipend to offset these expenses; however, I am trying to gain an understanding of what a Cadet's expenses total so I can properly plan on rolling funds to our other child.

    Thanks
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Honestly, I don't think you need to add anything she hasn't saved. All of her costs at CGA are covered and what's left over will go into an account. CGA cadets get a "white card" that is kind of like debit card for their CGA purchases. I still remember my white card account number (scary!).

    As goes further in their time at CGA, more money will accumulate in her white card account... which she will get when she graduates.

    On top of having all of that paid for, she will also receive a stipend, which is her money.... given her lack of free time, as long as she doesn't get into ebay hoarding mode (oh yeah, she has no where to really put the stuff she gets) she'll have plenty of money to hit the movie theater with over the weekend, or grab a bite at Chillis when she has a few hours of libo.

    The lack of freedom helps cadets save that first year.
     
  3. AlexT

    AlexT Banned

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    At this point, they don't use the white card system anymore. Their cadet "pay" is deposited into their checking account after deductions for taxes, haircuts, etc. Funds also are deducted from their pay to repay the initial "loan" made to the cadet that covered uniforms, equipment, notebook computer and first semester books. With all of that, the 4/c and 3/c generally will net approximately $350.00/month. They are not free and clear, however. They will need to save a considerable share of this "net pay" to pay for their second semester books.

    While I'm not certain at this point, I believe the initial advances that the swabs get through the end of the first semester are somewhere arond $8,000 to $9,000. Most of this should be payed back by the end of their 3/c year, so their net pay should increase somewhat. However, additional expenses will continue. Books will need to be purchased every semester ($800-$1200 per pop- not deducted from pay), additional uniform items will need to be purchased periodically, dry cleaning expenses (I'm not sure if this is deducted or whether the cadet pays for this out of pocket), activities fees, ball tickets, etc.
     
  4. jnr

    jnr Member

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    Thanks for the quick reply and explanation. Do you happen to recall approximately what the expenses to your white card totaled?

    I was prepared to pay for a significant portion of DD's college expenses before she got into CGA. I would like to use those funds to cover as much of her CGA expenses as I can, so that DD can keep as much of her white card and any other CGA money as possible.

    Basically, I don't want to financially profit from my daughter. I would like to pay as much of her college expenses as possible, if it means that she can keep more of whatever CGA offers. I just don't know what her expenses (uniforms, books, etc.) are likely to total if she had to pay them.
     
  5. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    NO WHITE CARDS!?!

    Does that mean I should try to sell my vintage white card on ebay?

    I'm having trouble understanding your concerns. Your cadet will get all the money she needs to pay for all of the obligations CGA throws at her. She will have money left over to spend or save, on her own.

    I'm 99% sure my parents didn't need to give me anything while I was a cadet. Yes, little cash gifts are nice for things you WANT my I did not NEED anything.

    Unless anything has changed... I think she's going to be just fine.
     
  6. AlexT

    AlexT Banned

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    I think he's trying to figure out how to allocate funds from a 529 college savings plan towards these expenses. If so, there are trade-offs. The more qualified expenses you cover through the 529, the higher your cadet's net pay will be. But LITS is correct, all expenses should be covered. You could hold on to the 529 and maybe use it for graduate school at some distant future date. Or you can withdraw it and splurge (after paying taxes), or if you have other kids, just change the beneficiary on the cadet's 529 to another child, even if they already have a separate 529.
     
  7. jebdad

    jebdad Member

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    I think the OP is saying that they have saved money in a 529 over the years and now find themself in a position of not having to use it for this child. They want to use the 529 money they had saved for this child and allocated to this child to pay for whatever they can so that their child begins to receive more of their net pay sooner. I would be in the same situation if my DD gets in next year and I was thinking along the same lines. I was thinking of it in terms of a reward for that child. They worked hard, got into a great school that financially does not put any burden on the parents and as a reward, use the 529 money to pay for the expenses so that they will be rewarded with more money in DD's bank account.
     
  8. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    So, pay the expenses, which are managed internally by the Coast Guard Academy so the child receives more of her pay directly from the Coast Guard?

    I don't see that happening, and I would guess there are very few on here (including probably Objee) who would have an immediate answer for that.
     
  9. AlexT

    AlexT Banned

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    At a minimum, the 529 funds can be used to pay for books, which will cost at least $2,000/year and could easily hit over $3,000/year during the upper class years if the major requires a lot of upper level math, science and engineering courses.
     
  10. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I just wonder how you can slip the funds into the process.... of course the process may have changed greatly since I wanted in line for my book... checked off a list as I picked up each book.
     
  11. jebdad

    jebdad Member

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    That's a good question. I don't know how that would work specifically at CGA and with 529 funds. What got me thinking about it was that on another of the SA forum pages someone was asking about scholarship money and how/if it can be used. The answer was that if allowed by the scholarship (i.e. can be used to pay book, uniform, technology fees, etc) it could be sent to SA and they credit the student's account. Thus, they receive more net pay.
     
  12. AlexT

    AlexT Banned

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    As far as books go, 4/c cadets buy them from the USCGA bookstore. After that, they can get them anywhere (Amazon, etc). As long as your cadet gives you the receipts, you're good to go withdrawing the necessary 529 funds. Your cadet also should have a periodic statement indicating what charges are being assessed. Again, if you get a copy of the statement as proof of the expense, you also should be able to withdraw from the 529 and then give that money back to your cadet. It's good incentive for them to keep track of their paperwork. No statement/documentation, no 529 money.
     
  13. jnr

    jnr Member

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    You summed it up better than I did Jebdad when you said:

    "I think the OP is saying that they have saved money in a 529 over the years and now find themself in a position of not having to use it for this child. They want to use the 529 money they had saved for this child and allocated to this child to pay for whatever they can so that their child begins to receive more of their net pay sooner."

    529 funds can be used without penalty to pay for books, computers, uniforms, etc. My DD can even pay for these expenses out of her CGA account/funds just like every other cadet to keep everything simple. I can subsequently reimburse her for these expenses without tax penalty, as long as she has receipts that $xx was for books, $xx was for a computer and $xx was for uniforms. Trouble is, I still don't know what $xx totals.

    Alex T's earlier post was the first insight I got. Based on what he indicated can anyone tell if the following approximations are reasonable:

    4/c ~9k all start-up expenses, uniforms, books, computer, etc.
    3/c ~2k for books, 1k uniforms and misc
    2/c ~3k for books, 1k uniforms and misc
    1/c ~3k for books, 2k uniforms and misc

    Approximately $21k total for an ORCA major?

    Knowing this will give me an idea of how much existing 529 funds could be used for my DD at CGA, how much should be rolled over to my younger daughter and when contributions can likely stop. Please don't get me wrong, this is a very good problem I am trying to solve. I just want to ensure that I am able to leverage my financial resources for both children most effectively.
     
  14. Physicsguru

    Physicsguru Member

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    Contact the Financial Aid office of the prep school. You may be able to use those funds to pay for room and board, uniforms, and books at the prep school. CGA Scholars get E-2 pay to cover those expenses, but if she can get them paid by financial aid or savings plans, she can bank her pay.
     
  15. jnr

    jnr Member

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    Thanks Physicsguru. I will contact MMI for their expenses.

    Hopefully, someone (maybe a current 1/c, recent grad or Objee) can provide some direction on uniform, book, computer and miscellaneous expenses at CGA as well, so I can better understand the broader picture.
     
  16. trackandfield08

    trackandfield08 USCGA 2014

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    JNR,

    I'm a 2014 graduate so I guess you could call me a very recent grad. :thumb: Expenses flucuate every year as the amount of uniforms issued to you changes as you advance throughout your Academy career. As a first semester fourth class, the process for 2017 was that they were issued a loan and that also included their books for that semester. Books issued directly from the bookstore are not cheap and center around $800 or so. After that period, they are allowed to purchase textbooks from any resource. I cut the amount I paid for my textbooks from $800 one semester to around $250 for the next. Trust me when I say, if you do your research, there are some great deals out there.

    The computers issued to the fourth class are Dells now but my class was issued Macs which cost around $3000 at the time. Again, it came out of the loan. The most I paid for uniforms minus dry cleaning was at the end of 3/c year and at the end of 1/c year and I believe that was around $500 but that might not be exact.

    To be honest, the only time my parents really paid for anything I needed was the intial $3000 that you used to pay as a one time tuition. That has since been converted into the loan that is now issued. My advice? Your daughter will be paid enough to cover all of these things herself and honestly, I preferred it that way because it continued to teach me financial responsibility. My parents offered the use of the money they had saved up for my college experience but I chose to tell them to use it for my brother instead, who had no interest in attending a SA. The best thing you can do to help your daughter out it take her out to eat at good restaurants when you visit, maybe float her some cash every once and a while so she can go shopping or treat herself to a pedicure, things like that. My parents giving me money for necessities did not make me nearly as happy as when I was able to get some good food away from the Wardroom. :wink::biggrin:
     
  17. nigel

    nigel Member

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    Well, if you want to be really accurate, the expenses when a Scholar becomes a swab are less than when a "regular" person does, because they already have a lot (most?) of their uniform needs. I think the only part of her Scholar wardrobe that my DD didn't take to CGA was her cover. So, I don't think her 4/c expenses will total 9K.

    Plus, IIRC those initial CGAS uniforms are not even paid for by the Scholar, since they are enlisted (can someone confirm this?).

    Also, remember that as a Scholar she is paid as an E-2, which is significantly more than her stipend later as a Cadet. She should end her Scholar year with a nice chunk of money saved. Mine did!

    BTW, congratulations on your DD's appointment to the Scholars Program!

    Nicole
     
  18. AuxNoob

    AuxNoob CGA Admissions Partner

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    DS was similar to nigel's offspring. However, he was choosier on what uniform items he brought to the Academy. I think the uniforms Scholar's get are paid for out of their E2 pay. But they still end up with a nice chunk in the bank.

    Which doesn't answer the OP's question. "What part of a 529 can be used to support a cadet, and more specifically a CGA Scholar". Physicsguru the best advice in recommending calling MMI. There are significant uniform and book expenses at MMI which scholarships may cover, as at CGA (as mentioned earlier by jebdad above). A 529 may be the same, but someone at MMI or a (deep breath) tax professional may be your best bet.

    My DS actually turned down scholarships because he figured someone else could use them, and his way was paid.
     
  19. Freda'sMom

    Freda'sMom Parent

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    When your child wants to attend a U.S. Military Academy

     
  20. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Great info!
     

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