Tips for Choosing a College (or Feel Better About Choosing a College)

Tips for Choosing a College In some circles, the debate over college education can be volatile and has all the features of a gripping novel: huge financial stakes, strong emotions from hormonal teenagers (and their equally hormonal parents), and the very real potential of short- and long-term success or ruin. And that’s leaving out the different ways that parents, children and other interested parties even define success or failure.

Peoples Bank wants to be the benevolent and grandfatherly influence here, so while not taking up the debate, we do want to offer some suggestions that will help reduce the emotional and financial stress that choosing a college can bring to your family.

The ACT compiled a helpful web page about choosing a college with five simple steps. (Yes, the same ACT who stressed you out from elementary thru high-school with their “assessment tests”. This is them making it up to you.) Of the five steps, four include very good information that we think help not only make the process more efficient, but help you feel good about taking the fifth and final step, “make the final decision”. You should review the website when you have time, but here are some highlights from it:

  • The first step is the Identify Important Factors in Choosing a College, making a list of items to consider when evaluating and comparing different college options.
  • One of the resources on this site is the “Career Planning Process” within the Think About Your Reasons for Going to College step, which includes the comment “decide what you want from life and use college as a tool to help you get there”.
  • In the List and Compare step, they include the ACT Profile tool to help you collect information about colleges, rank them, and suggest you talk to professionals in the field you’re interested in to see what they have to add to the discussion about college.
  • Questions to Ask on a Campus Visit step has some useful questions, such as asking students if they could register for the class they want, and how successful graduates are at finding a job.

Choosing a college is often a tough process for a family. The decision process itself is not the only complicated thing, so are the environmental variables. The cost of a college education takes one’s breath away. And it’s not like a college degree can guarantee a job these days. Added to the mix is that a whole lot of people have found better alternatives in trade school or technical school enrollment. Recently The Simple Dollar updated their blog post on just this issue, “Why You Should Consider Trade School Instead of College”. Famously, some of the world’s richest and most successful people never finished college. There is even a website devoted to the famous, rich and successful people who were high school or college dropouts.

Peoples Bank knows how hard it is to make and then execute the decision about college. We know that money is just one part of the equation. So, while we have people standing by to help you with the family’s financial matters, we will continue to support you and your family in its effort to thrive and be happy, no matter what. That is what you should expect from a bank for Real People.

For more information, see these helpful links:

FDIC insurance coverage may exceed $250,000 per account

FDIC insuranceA big reason to keep your deposits at a recognized bank is the deposit insurance offered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Most of you reading this are too young to remember the pain that people felt when their deposits disappeared along with their bank during the Great Depression that occurred about 90 years ago. But the government felt the pain, not just the depositors, which is why the FDIC exists, and why you don’t have to worry about your deposits disappearing if the bank fails.

For a long time the limit of insured deposits was $100,000. But that was when $100,000 was a lot of money. Now the insurance for each depositor is up to $250,000 with some special considerations.

Each depositor at each insured institution is “fully insured” up to $250,000. The word “fully” there doesn’t mean what you’d think it means, the total amount on deposit; it means that dollar amount less than or equal to $250,000.

The key concepts to FDIC insurance coverage are “each depositor at each insured institutions” and “insured account categories”.

The FDIC insurance categories

There are six common categories based on Single, Joint, (certain) Retirement, Employment Benefit, Revocable Trust and Irrevocable Trust accounts.

One example provided by the FDIC to show what “fully insured” can mean is in the case of a Joint Account. Say that two or more people have equal rights to (are co-owners) of a deposit account where there are no beneficiaries named on the account. “Under the FDIC rules, each co-owner is separately insured for up to $250,000 for his or her ownership share in all qualifying joint ownership deposits he or she has in any one bank.” The cited example is of two co-owners who “would be fully insured for up to $500,000 in a joint account, in addition to any single ownership or other accounts they might have at the same bank.”

There is much more to know about FDIC insurance and its categories. Insurance coverage is also extensive for other types of account coverage, such as Revocable and Irrevocable Trust accounts. Talk to any Peoples Bank deposit specialist for more information.


Learn How to Repair Identity Theft

Learn how to repair identity theftMore financial losses may occur from identity theft than from any other property crime. This was true in 2012, when according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 7% of all the people 16 years old or older living in the United States suffered losses of more than $24 billion, $10 billion more than from any other property loss. In case you read past those numbers too quickly, 24 BILLION DOLLARS disappeared because of identity theft in 2012. Wow.

No wonder that the United States and other governments are joining with technology companies to solve this problem. And, no wonder that Peoples Bank has devoted substantial resources to informing customers and its communities about how to protect themselves.
The Federal Trade Commission has created a wonderful new resource to help consumers repair identity theft with a new site, named appropriately that provides a simple, easy to follow process of repair:

  1. What to do right away
  2. What to do next
  3. Other Steps

Each step includes suggestions of what to say and who to say it to. For example, within Step 1 is the suggestion to call the company where you know the fraud occurred and ask to speak to the fraud department, asking them to close or freeze the account(s). Such specifics are very helpful, and good to know.

We also like that each step has a “print checklist” option with the things to say and do along the way. There is a related action to take if you received a data breach notice and the text is also clear for disabled people using their web reader. The site is available in English and Spanish languages.

What if no one stole your identity but you want to learn more about how identify theft happens and who gets involved? Great question. FTC’s Identity Theft Consumer Information web page has links so you can learn about:

  • What to do when you receive a notice of a “data breach”?
  • How can you stay current with ways and means to protect your identity?
  • What free resources are available to help educate you and your children or other family members?
  • What information is available that is specific to law enforcement, lawyers or businesses.

And, by the way, the federal government is not the only compassionate organization with resources to help repair and avoid identity theft. Peoples Bank has a team of security and banking professionals continuously trained to protect your financial interests. The bank makes much of the information learned from its training program publicly available. Please do not hesitate to talk to your banker to make sure you have necessary precautions in place. Below is a brief list of some of the bank’s online resources:

Be assured that Peoples Bank is diligent, and constantly monitors for suspicious activity. We will notify you immediately of any such types of activity.

Thank you, in advance, for taking the basic precaution of having good, unique passwords for your financial accounts, and not taping them to your computer keyboard! By working together, we can shave billions off the identity theft statistics. But more important, we protect each other from financial fraud.

Your credit report—get it free and regularly

Credit ReportYou probably know that the information contained in your credit report is critically important. And you probably also know that you are entitled to a free copy of your report. Here’s how to get a copy, and what you need to know about the process.

The US government says that citizens can request a free credit report from each of the “big three” credit reporting companies once a year. That means that you can get up to three free credit reports every 12 months, one each from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. It is a good idea to make sure you get your copy from these companies.

A credit report includes information about where you live and how good you are (or have been) in paying your bills. It also reports on legal actions such as bankruptcy or lawsuits against you. Banks and other creditors rely on this information when making a decision about offering you credit.

You can order your free credit report from each of the three reporting companies via one website, Or you can call 1-877-322-8228, toll-free, and order that way. You can also simply mail your request (after you download the form and fill it out).

You will need to supply your full name, social security number and date of birth. This may be the only time you should enter that information on a web page! Be absolutely certain that the web address in your browser includes the ‘https’ prefix; it should be If the “https” isn’t there, or the last part of the web site isn’t “” close your browser and try again. Or simply call that toll-free number.

Other considerations

If you are requesting your credit report online, via your computer browser, you should get your credit report immediately. Otherwise it may take several days, perhaps as much as 2 weeks, to get the report.

If you find errors in your credit report, you should promptly contact the reporting company and let them know. (Some media reports suggest this process is a difficult one, but credit reporting companies refute this claim by saying most credit reports are accurate because of a good system of collection and correction.) This notification should be in writing, and should be specific. You should also notify the party reporting the inaccuracy. More details about this process are on the FTC’s consumer protection website.

Get more detailed information.

Your credit report is an important indicator of your personal economic condition. Be informed about what it says, and make sure you manage it well.

More information about credit reports, including details not included in this post can be found on the Federal Trade Commission’s web page “Free Credit Reports”.