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In the News: Accounting Student Paul Wright Wins Medal of Inspiration Award

PaulThe AICPA recently announced Paul Wright, a student at Western Washington University, as this year’s winner of the Beta Alpha Psi’s Medal of Inspiration Award. Danielle Lee of Accounting Tomorrow reports that the AICPA-sponsored award, which includes a $5,000 cash stipend, honors a student who has experienced extreme hardships in his or her life and demonstrated an unusually high level of success in face of this adversity. Wright was born with arthrogryposis, a disability which includes stiff joints and missing muscle, requiring multiple surgeries before he turned 16. AccountingWEB noted that, despite his disability, Wright enrolled in Western Washington University, declared an accounting major and last April joined Beta Alpha Psi, an honorary organization for financial information students and professionals. He has worked with the university’s disability resource center and local BAP chapter to stream meetings to students who couldn’t attend. “A key lesson I learned while growing up is that true strength comes from the heart,” said Wright. “I know that I work harder for everything and that makes me feel even prouder of my accomplishments.”

A U.S News and World Report article cited steps for parents wanting to utilize their 529 College Savings Plan in order to meet the rapidly increasing cost of college tuition. A 529 plan is a way for parents to save and/or invest their money to help pay for their children’s high education costs. The article quotes Jason Washo, CPA/PFS, who says it is important for parents to estimate time needed to cash out their investments since most accounts contain mutual funds or short-term bonds. According to the article, other steps which can be taken are: reviewing the tuition payment due dates, considering potential delays, deciding where tuition checks need to be sent, and requesting distributions. For example, considering potential delays consists of the holding time between someone cashing the check and the time the money is accessible whether it be for a payment or withdrawal.

Fox Business quoted Ted Sarenski, CPA/PFS, and CEO of Blue Ocean Strategic Capital in an article about the importance of budgeting for recent college graduates. The article states that while a recent graduate’s first paycheck will likely seem like a lot of money after living frugally in college - it is of the utmost importance that they understand the need to budget and pay down their debts with their new or increased income. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers the average starting salary for recent grads is $42,569; however, a majority of graduates have at least $28,000 in college loans according to the College Board. Sarenski’s advice to the graduates is, “needs come first.” Food, clothing, and shelter must take precedence over leisure activities – otherwise young adults could spend years paying off a few months of lavish spending. Additionally, Sarenski advises grads to closely monitor their housing and transportation costs. “When you go to a bank for a mortgage on a home, people shouldn’t spend more than 28% of their income on a mortgage.”

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