1. Begin your College Education in Fall of 2020 at the school you originally planned?
  2. Enroll at your local Community College for the first year or two, then transfer to another university or college where you can earn your diploma from?
  3. Take a “GAP YEAR”?

With all of the UNKNOWNS and UNCERTAINCIES, most Universities and Colleges are not yet clear on what the Fall 2020 semester will be.  There is a possibility that they will offer only remote learning and no on-campus living.  OR, it is still possible that schools will reopen (possibly) with limited classroom access for physical attendance, exercising social distancing and strict precautionary measures with specific limitations for safety.

  1. Your original College enrollment – If you decide this is what you want to do, your school will most definitely work to make sure you get the best college education and experience possible. It may not be the “typical or traditional” semester, but you should be confident that your University/College will provide the education you expect and deserve.  We suggest to contact your school for the latest and most updated information about your Fall 2020 semester.
  2. Community College – Some students may opt to enroll in their local Community College for their initial year (or two). This can possibly save some tuition costs while taking some core (or mandatory) classes that could be transferrable to their next school of choice from which they will earn a degree.

Finance and Career Counselors are always on hand to discuss students’ options and help guide them to make the right decision for themselves.

More information on this is cited on CNBC:

Community colleges could see a surge in popularity amid Covid-19


  1. Take a “GAP YEAR” – Some students (especially during this COVID-19 pandemic) may be considering deferral of beginning college, or applying for a “Gap Year”.

Taking a “Gap Year” may be a consideration or viable solution for those students who are not absolutely sure how to proceed with their college education.  There can be many reasons why a student is confused or conflicted about beginning the next phase of their higher education.

All Universities and Colleges have Guidance/Career Counselors and Finance Counselors on staff and are there to help students when making these decisions.  If you would like to discuss all options, you should contact your school to make a (virtual) appointment.

More information on this (including Pros and CONS), cited on AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org.

Taking a Gap Year Before College


and/or from: The Wall Street Journal

Gap Year Ideas for College Students


Change your lens…change your story. Like putting a wide lens on a camera, choosing a different perspective can not only broaden our current perception of events but influence our behavior to produce more positive and long-lasting outcomes. We often let not only the history of our lives but the fear of the unknown control how we view present situations. These limiting perspectives often prevent us from seeing the true breadth of possibilities that lie before us. This narrow lens keeps our vision limited and restrained but in times of uncertainty, when it is easy to feel out of control and our stress levels begin to rise, the lens through which we choose to view the situation can be our most powerful tool. During difficult times, simply by realizing you choose your perspective, you empower yourself to influence the outcomes. Below are a few tips for changing your lens to better shape your narrative.


The Optimist’s Perspective

When we are stuck in a pessimistic perspective, which we can very quickly gravitate to in uncertain times, it prevents us from being curious and creative with the way we think about the future and the choices we have to forge a new path forward. What if, instead, we choose an optimistic perspective? What if we choose not to focus on anxiety and worry of the unknown and instead focus on positive outcomes by noticing what we can control? We empower ourselves to be optimistic realists who take positive steps towards conquering the challenges we face. We look instead through a lens of hope as we shift our vision to the big picture and find inspiration to get there one accomplishment at a time.


Focus on Resilience

“I’m sorry for what I said during quarantine.” No doubt this will become a popular meme post Covid era. During these unique and trying times we are all experiencing challenges in some way, shape or form. Our limits are being tested. Our patience, willpower and resolve are all on trial. Rather than looking through the lens of self-criticism, what if instead, you choose a growth mind set and find lessons in these missteps. What are we learning about ourselves? What have you overcome? What can you overcome? Some of the situations we find ourselves in may even be temporary. It’s an opportune time to take inventory of our blessings and be grateful for what we do have, including our own resilience.


See the Opportunity

Many of us are finding ourselves in new situations that are unfamiliar, unchartered and even unusual. It’s human nature for fear to take over the choices we make and it can quickly shape outcomes into disappointing results. There is opportunity here…to do things differently. Try new things. Take small risks. What are you noticing that has been missing from your life? What steps can you take to change that? When this is over and some normalcy returns to our lives, how will your life look? How do you want it to look?

Things to consider when planning for special needs

As parents, we all want what is best for our children. For parents of children with special needs, the financial planning process can become extremely stressful and confusing. Many parents often take extended periods of time to create an action plan due to confusion, anxiety, and a variety of obstacles. But if parents are able to navigate through the many decisions and find the right strategy for their family, special needs planning can give comfort knowing there is a plan in place. Planning for a child with special needs is most effective when it is implemented in stages based on the child’s age. The following questions and insights can be discussed with your Financial Advisor to help you to map out together a clear plan for your family.

Questions to discuss when building a special needs Financial Plan

  1. What are the major expenses and concerns today as well as in the future?
  2. Where will the child live after parents are retired or have passed on?
  3. How will the future needs of any additional children and the parent’s retirement plans be affected?
  4. What is the child’s ability to take care of themselves physically and financially?
  5. What government assistance is the child eligible for?
  6. What are the intentions for education?

Assistance from Government Programs

It is essential to prioritize eligibility in the beginning of the financial planning phase with your advisor. These programs can provide great relief considering the high costs of lifetime funding and living expenses for the parents.

  1. Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Federal program designed to aid individuals with special needs with little to no income to meet basic needs. Children become eligible once turning 18 unless the parent’s assets are below standards.
  2. Medicaid: an individual who qualifies for SSI is automatically eligible for Medicaid. This program will provide medical and prescription needs, this is essential due to coverage for special needs being very limited
  3. Social Security Survivor/Disability Insurance (SSDI): funded through Federal government based on FICA taxes. Each payment is calculated from all FICA earnings made by the individual’s parents. It is required that a child is diagnosed prior to turning 22 years of age

Able Account

  • Eligible for individuals and their families to use by contributing funds which will grow tax deferred and distribute tax free when it is for a qualified expense
  • 2020 current contribution limit is $15,000 without reporting as a gift to the IRS
  • SSI benefits are subject to change if the account value exceeds $100,000. If so, benefits would be on hold until the account falls below $100,000.
  • Similar to a 529 plan, there are several conservative, moderate, and aggressive investment choices

Special Needs Trust

  • A trust designed to manage assets dedicated towards a special needs individual while protecting access to eligible government programs
  • First & Third-Party Trusts
    • First Party: irrevocable trust holding the assets of the individual with special needs. This can include an inheritance or settlement
    • Third Party: established by parent/guardian for the benefit of a special needs individual
      • Legal language specifies that the trustee will use their discretion of the trust to enhance the quality of life

Implementing a customized financial plan that best suits your family’s situation is the most important step you can take to having peace of mind. Examining potential situations, reviewing financial & estate planning documents, and going over the long term goals of all parties involved will help lay the foundation for an action plan.

Right now, due to quarantine, we are stuck in our homes and it sometimes feels as though it will never end. But there will be life after quarantine is over, and there is no better time to prepare for it than now. If you could go anywhere or do anything, what would it be? What do you want your life to look like? What is important to you?

When thinking about what you want, it is necessary to consider both the big picture and the details. Perhaps being at home has made you realize that you want to travel. Maybe you want to go on multiple small trips a year, or one bigger trip annually.   Perhaps, it’s even a once in a lifetime trip around the world that you desire. Each of these options requires different financial considerations. The cost, how frequently you will need the money, and how soon the funds need to be available, are all financial considerations that change based on what you want your travel plans to look like.

You may hate traveling and view your home as your oasis, but being home has you noticing things you haven’t before and inspiring you to make some changes. These changes can range from a new coat of paint, to renovating a bathroom, to an addition, or even deciding that your home is too small or too big to fit your current needs. Putting some money aside weekly to save up, getting a mortgage or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC), or withdrawing funds from a savings or brokerage account are just some options to obtain these goals.   It’s important to be sure that you are using the best financial plan for you to fulfill your needs.

The recent rise in unemployment may have you looking at your budget and deciding it is time to reduce your spending and overall debt, or wishing you had a bigger financial security net. Having your children or grandchildren virtually going to school at home may have you thinking about wanting to help them through college and potentially opening a Uniform Trust to Minors Act (UTMA) account or 529 account for them. The additional time at home may have urged you to spend more time on your hobbies, or finding a love for a new hobby. If you grant yourself the time to evaluate what you value, and determine your goals, you can accomplish more than you might even be able to imagine.

Most people have more than one goal they would like to obtain. It is important to consider what you value most and prioritize your goals. Then, a plan can be created to help you reach those goals. This way you can be sure that what you value most is receiving most of your attention. Everyone has different goals, values, and needs. How they are met changes from person to person and family to family. There are no right or wrong goals, only what is right for you and your family.

Things can happen to derail your plans. Some obstacles may be small and possibly avoidable, some may seem insurmountable, some you will never see coming. Three months ago, no one would have imagined our lives looking the way they do at this moment. This does not mean that your goals cannot or will not come to fruition. The important thing is to accept that things beyond your control happen, forgive yourself for mistakes you make, adjust the plan when necessary, and continue to keep moving toward your goal.

At Lighthouse Financial Advisors we know our client’s values and goals are important to them and make it a point to help you get to where you want to be in life. LFA is lucky to have clients who share pictures of their journeys with us. Some pictures have been taken in their backyards, others are from around the world. You can view some of their pictures on our website at the link below. Life is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy it!