NVE Bank’s relationships with schools throughout Bergen County, from elementary through college, are valuable and long-standing. One of the ways we invest in supporting the future of our communities is by publicly recognizing the importance of education, and providing tools and support to help children achieve their educational goals.
Every year, throughout April, NVE Bank managers from our 12 branches visit Bergen County elementary school classrooms to educate students about proper savings habits in honor of Teach Children to Save Day. Presentations cover the concept of saving, earning interest, and determining needs versus wants. In 2016, we celebrate the 20th year of this program, which is hosted by the American Bankers Association Education Foundation.
This year also marks nine years of NVE Bank’s scholarship program! Each year, 10 graduating high school seniors are selected to receive $1,000 to help alleviate some of the costs associated with achieving a higher education. Eight graduating 8th grade students receive a $500 Savings Product Scholarship to help them begin a savings program for their own college goals. To date, NVE Bank has awarded over $100,000 to deserving students throughout Bergen County.
We spoke to Mary Bilali, Guidance Supervisor at New Milford High School — where several of NVE’s scholarship recipients have attended — about some of the trends she sees among college-bound students right here in our Bergen County, New Jersey home.
NVE Bank: What are some of the colleges where you find most of your school’s students are applying?
Mary Bilali: Students are applying to a wider variety of colleges this year as compared to other years. Recently, when the economy was unpredictable, families were struggling to stay ahead and, therefore, our students applied to mostly New Jersey State colleges such as Montclair State University, William Paterson University, Rutgers, Ramapo College of NJ, NJIT, Kean University and The College of New Jersey. This year, our students have applied to American University, Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, Amherst College, Baruch College, Case Western, University of Connecticut, Drexel, Princeton, Georgia Tech, Johns Hopkins, University of Michigan, NYU, Pace, University of Pennsylvania, Penn State, Stevens Institute of Technology, Stony Brook, Temple, Villanova and Yale.
NVE Bank: What colleges do most of your school’s students attend?
Mary Bilali: For the most part, our students attend New Jersey and New York State Colleges because of the cost factor.
NVE Bank: What, if any, major are most graduating seniors planning to declare?
Mary Bilali: Many students are opting to apply undecided because they’re just not sure and don’t want to be locked into a major and/or career path.
NVE Bank: What are some of the things college-bound students should be doing to prepare ahead of applying to college?
Mary Bilali: The new re-designed SATs are a big focus at this point for junior students. The first administration of the new SAT was earlier this month. The format and scoring has changed and students need to prepare for the test. The ACT is another college admissions test that’s gaining popularity with students. Many students take both tests since colleges accept either.
NVE Bank: What do you tell students about the value of a college education?
Mary Bilali: Our faculty stresses the importance of a college education. Teachers speak about it in classes, counselors encourage students to attend, and administrators stress the necessity to gain a college education. Some students opt to attend Bergen Community College for two years to help determine a major and save money, which is a great alternative to attending a four-year college or university directly. We help students and their families understand all options.
NVE Bank: Do you find that tuition costs are a major barrier for students who want to go to college? What resources do you recommend to help with costs (e.g., grants, scholarships, financial aid, etc.)?
Mary Bilali: Yes, cost is a major barrier for some students. College grants/scholarships are awarded for academic excellence, national and local scholarship can be applied for, and the FAFSA form must be filled out each year. Depending on income, EOF programs can be another option for some students with documented financial need.
NVE Bank: Anything you’d like to add?
Mary Bilali: Students and parents should listen to the advice of family and friends, but honestly, they need to do their own research and utilize the services provided by school counselors to understand the admissions process and all the different options and resources available to students.
We’d like to thank Mary for her valuable time and insight. As she mentioned, tuition costs are a common barrier students face when it comes to college. According to the New Jersey State website, the average cost of in-state tuition at a New Jersey Senior Public College for the 2014-2015 schoolyear was $9,149. While grants, scholarships and financial aid are often available, the most basic action to take is to start saving as early as possible. After all, the earlier you start, the more time your money has to grow. One way to do this is with a Coverdell Educations Savings Account, a deposit account established for the qualified education expenses of a designated beneficiary. The maximum annual contribution is $2,000 and distributions used for the designated beneficiary’s qualified education expenses are tax free*. More tips on saving for education can be found in this blog post.
For information on all NVE Bank’s savings products and services, go to www.nvebanking.com or visit one of our neighborhood branches, conveniently located throughout Bergen County. You can also speak with one of our Branch Associates by calling 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265).
*Customers must contact their tax advisor to determine eligibility.