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Financial Aid for College

Where Do I Start?

University students in cooperation with their assignment

As a parent one of the scariest things to consider is how you’re going to pay for college for your children. According to the College Board Annual Survey in 2016, the average annual cost for a four-year public college was $20,090. The average annual cost for a four-year private college was $45,370. This cost includes tuition and fees, as well as room and board. You know in most cases, you won’t be able to foot the bill for 100% of the cost, so how do you go about getting financial aid for your child?

Financial aid comes in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study jobs. There are three basic sources of aid:

  • Federal and state governments
  • Colleges
  • Private organizations

To give your child the best chance for all available aid, start by having him/her complete the FAFSA – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Submitting this application gives you access to the largest pool of financial aid dollars and loans with the best terms. The FAFSA opens on October 1 each year and you should complete your FAFSA as early as possible. Click here for tips on completing the FAFSA. Be sure to have your tax records and financial documents handy.

The second-largest pool of money comes from colleges, which may require you to fill out the FAFSA, the PROFILE or their own forms.

Finally, aid from private organizations is definitely worth researching and applying for, but it’s unlikely to be your main source of college money. Be strategic in completing these applications – you are more likely to get a local scholarship than a national one. And never pay for a scholarship search service – there are plenty of free tools out there.

To calculate your estimated college savings plan, use our online calculator.

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Citizens National Bank Celebrating Community Banking Month with a Financial Fair on April 29


Public invited to participate between 10 am and 2pm

Each branch of Citizens National Bank will host a Financial Fair on Friday, April 29 from 10 am – 2 pm in celebration of Community Banking Month. This fun educational event will feature information about CNB’s newest products as well as games and prizes. The bank’s tech experts will be on hand to answer questions regarding CNB’s mobile banking products and business banking officers and mortgage lenders will be available to discuss business and home loan needs. Cake will be served.

Each year the Independent Community Bankers Association designates April as national Community Banking Month, drawing attention to the importance these institutions play in our local economies by taking deposits and lending the money back out to local businesses. There are more than 51,000 community banks nationwide, employing 700,000 Americans and financing more than 50 percent of small business loans and 90 percent of agricultural loans.

Throughout the month of April, CNB customers who come into the branch will have the opportunity to register to win one of 7 gift baskets including local items from each of our branch communities. The drawing will be held on Friday, April 29 following the Financial Fair.

To learn more about the Financial Fair or to request an appointment with a tech expert or banker, visit Be sure to follow the bank on Facebook for updates –

Retirement Planning Can Start with an IRA

retirement-savingsThese accounts make a good “first step” in retirement saving.
Provided by Citizens Wealth Management Group

Sooner or later, people decide to start saving and investing for retirement. When that starting point arrives, taking that “first step” can seem like a big deal. Opening an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) amounts to an easy “first step” in retirement saving for many.

When you invest through a traditional or Roth IRA, you give those invested assets the potential to grow with compounding and you also position yourself for present or future tax savings.

How does an IRA work? An IRA is not an investment in itself, but an account into which various investments can be placed. It is yours; you control it. In that way, it differs from an employer-sponsored retirement account that you lose immediate control over when you leave a job.1

IRAs are tax-advantaged. In both Roth and traditional IRAs, account earnings compound with tax deferral until withdrawn – that is, they grow without being taxed.

With a traditional IRA, contributions are usually tax-deductible, based on your income, but withdrawals are taxed as ordinary income after age 59½ (a 10% penalty often applies to withdrawals made before that). With a Roth IRA, tax-deductible contributions are not permitted, but your earnings can be withdrawn tax-free. (Contributions will not be taxed when you withdraw them either, as long as you are the original IRA owner and have had the Roth IRA for more than five years.)1

So there you have the main difference between a traditional IRA and Roth IRA: while both give you a chance to build retirement savings with tax advantages, the traditional IRA offers you a sizable tax break today while the Roth IRA offers you a big tax break tomorrow. Or to put it another way (as some have), a traditional IRA lets you amass tax-deferred savings while a Roth IRA lets you amass tax-exempt savings.1,2

Should you open a traditional IRA or Roth IRA? Several variables should be considered as you make your choice, and a chat with a financial professional can help you weigh them. One key question to consider: do you think you will be in a lower tax bracket when you retire? If you do, a traditional IRA might be the better choice. If you have decades to go until retirement and think you will retire to a higher tax bracket than you are in today, the Roth IRA may be the better choice. Some savers “hedge their bets” and open Roth and traditional IRAs.3

Given compounding, the future tax break offered by a Roth IRA may be profound indeed. Roth IRAs also have two other compelling features. One, you never have to make mandatory withdrawals from them starting in your seventies (as with traditional IRAs). Two, you can keep contributing to them all your life, whereas contributions to a traditional IRA are prohibited after the year in which you turn 70½. Certain couples and individuals cannot have Roth IRAs, however, as they have incomes well over $100,000 (the precise thresholds are periodically adjusted upward for inflation).1

Some traditional IRA owners convert their accounts to Roth IRAs. That is a taxable event, and if the traditional IRA is large, a Roth conversion may not be worth the effort: the resulting income tax bill may be too large to handle and even offset the potential long-range benefits.3

How do you open an IRA? Just about any financial professional can help you do that; you can even do it online and at many bank and credit union branches. You should try to open one with low annual fees, as even a 1% annual account fee subtly eats into your IRA balance. Quite often, opening an IRA is just a matter of filling out an application (and a beneficiary form) and writing a check. Alternately, you may be able to transfer money from a bank account to start an IRA.4

What are the drawbacks of IRAs? First, their annual contribution limits. Right now, you can only contribute a maximum of $5,500 a year to a traditional or Roth IRA ($6,500 if you are 50 or older). If you have multiple IRAs, your total yearly contributions to all of them must not exceed that limit or you will incur an IRS penalty. This annual contribution ceiling is low compared to common workplace retirement plans such as 401(k)s and 403(b)s.5

Many Americans would like a retirement account that never loses money. A Roth or traditional IRA is not that account. IRA assets are not usually allocated to riskless investments, and when you have investment risk, you have potential for investment losses. IRAs are not insured by the FDIC or any other federal agency.1

In response to the desire for riskless retirement saving, the federal government recently created the myRA, a Roth IRA whose value is guaranteed to increase. Its return is pegged to the return of the government securities fund for federal employees, which averaged 3.39% a year from 2003-2013. The myRA yearly contribution limits are exactly the same as yearly Roth IRA contribution limits. After 30 years or when its balance hits $15,000, a myRA converts to a private-sector Roth IRA. A myRA is basically a vehicle to help Americans who have few or no avenues to save for retirement due to their line of work or income levels.6,7

To learn more, contact a Citizens Wealth Management Advisor at any of our Citizens National Bank office locations or visit their website,

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

1 – [2/16/15]
2 – [2/16/15]
3 – [5/1/14]
4 – [2/16/15]
5 – [1/11/15]
6 – [11/24/14]
7 – [11/24/14]

Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance products offered through LPL Financial or its licensed affiliates. Citizens National Bank and Citizens Wealth Management are not registered broker/dealers and are not affiliated with LPL Financial.

Not FDIC Insured | Not Bank Guaranteed | May Lose Value | Not Insured by any Federal Government Agency | Not a Bank Deposit

The LPL Financial Registered Representatives associated with this site may only discuss and/or transact securities business with residents of the following states: Registered for Securities in the following states: AL, AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, HI, IL, IN, KY, MD, MI, MO, NC, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, PA, SC, SD, TX, VA, WA, WI, and WV – See more at:

Ask the Lender – Should I Buy a Home or Continue to Rent?

If you’re considering purchasing a home, now might be the time. With the Fed recently raising rates and indicating they plan to again this year, interest rates on home loans will begin to tick up. However, that shouldn’t be your only deciding factor in jumping into home ownership. You’ll need to take into account the cost of home owner insurance and property taxes, as well as Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) if you won’t have 20% to put towards a down payment. Home ownership also comes with maintenance and you’ll want to consider those costs, as well as the time involved in activities such as mowing a lawn, that may currently be taken care of by your landlord.

The positive side of owning your own home means you’ll have a long term investment and you have something to show for those monthly payments. Also, according to, 2015 had the highest rent prices in recent history as demand for rentals continued to grow, so your house payment may indeed be less than what you’re currently paying in rent. On a national average, renters can expect to spend 30 percent of their income on rent, while buyers can expect to spend 15 percent of their monthly income on a mortgage payment. Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll probably make in your lifetime. Make sure you’re comfortable with your finances and understand the total cost of home ownership by using our Rent vs. Buy mortgage calculators. This calculator helps you weed through the fees, taxes and monthly payments to help you make a decision between the two options. When you’re ready to purchase, contact a Citizens National Bank mortgage lender to help you through the application process and understand the mortgage options available. – See more at:

If you would like to submit a question for this column, email

Stress-Free Gift Giving

holiday-shoppingGear up for the holidays by determining a gift-giving budget and sticking to it. Studies show one of the biggest causes of stress during the holiday season is money worries. Here are a few tips according to to have a stress-free gift giving season.

  1. Be realistic about your holiday budget and stay within it.
  2. Don’t add to your debt. Paying for gifts months after they’re given is no fun.
  3. Get organized and make a plan. By making a list of the gifts you want to buy ahead of time you can watch for sales and coupons and buy over a period of time instead of cramming all your purchases into one month. Also, if you save a little bit each week, such as with a Christmas Club account, you’ll have a nice amount of cash saved up by November without wrecking your normal budget.

Check out our Home Budget Calculator to help you figure out how much money you have available each month for savings.

Stop in your local Citizens National Bank office and ask about opening a Christmas Club account for 2016!

Prepaid Reloadable Cards

Convenient Money Management & Safe Online Shopping

Pre-Paid Reloadable CardsIf you like the convenience of shopping with a card rather than cash, but want to limit how much you make available to spend or are concerned about using your regular debit or credit card online, a prepaid reloadable card might be just what you are looking for.

Now available at any Citizens National Bank office, the Visa® branded cards work like a gift card in that you determine how much you want loaded onto them. They can be used anyplace Visa® is accepted, including for online purchases, and you can even access cash from an ATM if needed by establishing a PIN. “The big difference between these cards and a gift card is that you can reload them and even have your paycheck direct deposited to them,” explains Janet Dukes, Chief of Operations, Citizens National Bank. Research shows many people are using cards such as these as a budgeting tool to limit spending for themselves or their children. Transactions can easily be tracked online through the website and the card is easily replaced if lost/stolen.

“Maintaining a separate card for emergency funds or to shop online is a good practice,” comments Dukes. “The funds are there when you need them and it eliminates opening your checking account or credit card account up to online fraud.” Additionally, there are some people who do not qualify to open a traditional checking account. Citizens National Bank’s Visa® Prepaid Reloadable Card does not require a credit check, has no minimum balance requirement and can accept direct deposit from an employer. “If someone has direct deposit set up on a reloadable card, the monthly fee is waived for the card, the employee has instant access to his/her pay through an ATM, and the card can be used at any store just like a debit card,” explains Dukes. In addition to direct deposit, cards may be loaded online through the website or at any Western Union location.

Stop by any Citizens National Bank location and speak with a Customer Service Representative to purchase a prepaid reloadable gift card. Once loaded you can use them immediately. To learn more, visit

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What Are You Teaching Your Kids About Money?

family-of-fourAccording to a study by the Harford Financial Services Group, Inc., the majority of college students say they pick up most of their personal financial education from their parents, but less than half of students said their parents make a consistent conscientious effort to teach them. Another study from Capital One indicated 49% of teens are “eager” to learn more about money management and that they want to learn money skills from their parents, but only a small percentage of parents are taking advantage of everyday learning opportunities about money. Almost one-third of college students surveyed by Harris Interactive admitted they were not very well prepared for personal money management on campus their freshman year.

It is never too early to teach your kids about money management, but where do you begin? An easy way is by visiting the Money Basics page on Citizens National Bank’s website. View a brief slide show that focuses on learning how to set goals, develop a budget and start saving. Scroll to the bottom of the page for Sites for Kids which includes an interactive site called Budget Basics. Then check out the Overview for Parents and Teachers which provides links to tips for teaching fiscal responsibility and even economics lessons for teachers.

With 87% of teens reporting their parents are their main source of financial education, it is important that parents get it right in teaching their children about managing their money, paying bills on time and establishing a savings plan. One step in this direction is to have your student open a checking account. Citizens National Bank’s student checking account has no minimum balance and comes with a low limit Visa® CheckCard. For ages 14-18, this account must be co-signed by a parent and can be used as a learning tool as monthly you can review statements and activity with your child to educate them on where their money is going. For college-age children, we offer our Go Anywhere checking account. This mobile account features unlimited free ATM withdrawals and a Visa® credit card if the student qualifies so they can access their money while they are on the go and begin to build credit in their name. The minimum balance requirement is waived until age 23.

Financial education is an important step in becoming an adult and research shows those who have had financial education participate more often in retirement programs, make larger contributions to the program and have a much higher savings rate than others. Make sure your child is in this group by teaching them fiscal responsibility early on.

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