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Friday Facts: Government Information You Can Use

This Week's Facts:

  1. State Agencies Team Up to Offer Summer Safety Tips

  2. SEC Offers Sound Investment Advice

  3. Virtual Tours Highlight Archeology of National Parks

Three Tips for Minimizing College Debt

By June most recent high school graduates know what college they are going to, but many of them may still not know how they are going to pay for it. We’ve heard the stats that the average debt students have upon graduation has skyrocketed to $35,200, according to a recent Fidelity survey, and that the costs of attending college increase 6% each year. College is still a great investment for most students, especially with some planning ahead of time to help keep debt to a minimum. It’s still true that those with a bachelor’s degree will earn $1 Million more over their lifetime than those who only complete high school.

The challenge is to graduate with as little debt as possible. Here are three ways to help keep student debt to a minimum:

1. Create a College Savings Plan
Just like savings for retirement, it’s good to save early and often. There are many ways out there to help you save, from a
529 account to Savings Bonds. Tip to find extra money to save: If you can save an extra $300 a year ($25 a month at 5% interest, compounded monthly for 18 years) you will have an extra $8,766.43 to put towards tuition bills.

Haven’t created a college savings plan yet? Pledge to Save with America Saves and you can set your savings goal and create a plan to reach it. You can even sign up for text message tips and reminders to help you reach your goal of saving for college.

2. Shop Around For Schools and Free Money

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created a tool to compare the costs of different colleges. Their tool will let you compare financial aid offers so you can see how all those numbers impact your payments down the road.

Apply for as many scholarships as you can. $500 here and $1,000 there can go a long way to helping pay for college. Many students also stop looking for scholarships once they enter college, but keep applying each year. Need some inspiration? Check out the article “How I won $100,000+ in college scholarships by Ramit Sethi.

3. Find Ways to Reduce Spending (or Earn Money) While in College

Live at Home – Living on campus can cost anywhere from $7,500 to $9,000 per year. Consider living at home during college (if you can) and you can save nearly $40,000. You can still get a full college experience by joining clubs and being active on campus.

Get a Part-Time Job – Look for a job on campus or a paid internship to supplement your income and pay for expenses like food, books, and incidentals while in college. The more you can pay upfront the less your monthly loan payments will be when you graduate. Need more ways to save? We’ve got a list of 54 ways to save here.

This information is brought to you as a courtesy of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) via the blog. This piece was written by Katie Bryan, of America Saves, which is managed by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), is a non-profit research‐based social marketing campaign that seeks to motivate, support, and encourage low- to moderate-income households to save money and build wealth.

Friday Facts Editorial Team:

Katharine Springer
State Data Center Coordinator

Andrea Glenn
State Documents Librarian

Kim Brown-Harden
Federal Documents Coordinator

Indiana Federal Depository Library Program

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State Agencies Team Up to Offer Summer Safety Tips Summer Saftey TipsJuly is the month when summer really kicks into gear, and many Hoosiers will head out to Indiana county fairs, local festivals, and carnivals.  The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS), Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH), and Indiana State Police (ISP) have compiled some helpful reminders and tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable summer experience for everyone, regardless of your destination. For a list of statewide festivals and events, check out the Visit Indiana website and click “Events.”

General Safety Tips

  • Pay attention to weather forecasts and prepare appropriately.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and know where you will go if you need to seek shelter from an unexpected thunderstorm.
  • Be sure to use sunscreen and sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Remember, even on overcast days UV rays are still powerful enough to burn skin so use sunscreen. 
  • On hot days, make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Wear closed toe shoes like tennis shoes, not flip-flops or sandals, to protect your feet.
  • Remember “If you see something, say something.” If you see people or activities that seem suspicious, report your observations to the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center at 877-226-1026. If you believe danger is imminent, contact local security or call 911.

Safety tips for kids and caregivers

  • Teach kids to stay calm and stay put if they become separated from parents or other caregivers. Knowing what to do in this scary situation will help prevent a lost child from panicking, and help safety officials locate them faster.
  • Keep a watchful eye on children. It’s easy for children and caregivers to become separated in large crowds.
  • Have an established family meeting location where you will reconnect if separated.
  • Check with county fair organizers and ask for ‘missing parent’ contact tags your children can wear with your name and cell phone number in case your child becomes separated.
  • If you do become separated from your child, notify local security immediately.

Animal Safety Tips

  • Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after touching animals, and don’t consume any food inside of the barns.
  • Watch out for animal feces on barn floors and aisle ways when walking or using strollers.
  • Animals at the fair are in a noisy, crowded and unfamiliar environment, and may easily become dangerous if they are spooked or scared. 
  • Avoid running, yelling, talking loudly or making loud noises while in the animal barns.
  • Never attempt to pet any animal at the fair without receiving explicit permission from the animal’s owner.

Fire Safety Tips

  • Make sure all fires are extinguished and dispose of cigarettes properly.
  • Ensure all wires being used for fair exhibits are away from flammable materials such as cloth or hay.
  • If parking on grass lots while attending the fair, avoid parking on tall dry grass. Park on mowed grass whenever possible.
  • Use caution refilling generators. Exhaust can be very hot. Make sure the exhaust vent is pointing up in the air and not down at the ground, where it could catch dry grass or other flammables on fire.

Amusement Ride Safety Tips

  • Don’t board a ride if you see broken parts, signs of improper maintenance, or an inattentive operator. Report your observations to the ride operator or call IDHS amusement ride hotline at 1-888-203-5020.
  • Every ride should have a prominently displayed, current permit issued by IDHS. If the ride has no such permit, call the amusement ride hotline at 1-888-203-5020.
  • Read all posted rules and listen to instructions given by ride operators.
  • Watch the ride with your child before boarding. Point out the operator and the entrance and exit locations prior to riding. Make sure they understand the instructions and warnings fully.
  • Obey minimum height, age, and weight restrictions. Never sneak children onto rides if they are too small or too young. A smaller/younger child may not be physically or developmentally able to stay safely seated.
  • If you can’t count on your child to stay seated with hands and feet inside, don’t let them ride. 
  • Keep all body parts (hands, arms, legs, long hair, etc.) inside the ride at all times. If you have long hair, keep it pulled up with a hat or hair tie.
  • Always use the safety equipment provided (seat belt, shoulder harness, lap bar, etc.).
  • Remain in the ride until it comes to a complete stop at the unloading point. If a ride stops temporarily due to mechanical failure or other reasons, stay seated and wait for an operator to give you further instructions.
  • Know your physical conditions and limitations. If you suspect that your health could be at risk for any reason, or that you could aggravate a preexisting condition of any kind, do not ride.
  • Additional ride safety tips are available at 

SEC Offers Sound Investment Advice  

Investor.govWhether you’re interested in investing for the first time or whether you’ve been investing for years, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has advice on how you can get the most from your investments.

Checking the background of an investment professional is easy and free.
Details on an investment professional’s background and qualifications are available through the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website and FINRA BrokerCheck. If you have any questions on checking the background of an investment professional, call the SEC’s toll-free investor assistance line at (800) 732-0330.

Diversification can help reduce the overall risk of an investment portfolio.
By picking the right mix of investments, you may be able to limit your losses and reduce the fluctuations of your investment returns without sacrificing too much in potential gains. Some investors find that it is easier to achieve diversification through ownership of mutual funds or exchange-traded funds rather than through ownership of individual stocks or bonds.

Promises of high returns, with little or no associated risk, are classic warning signs for fraud.
Every investment carries some degree of risk and the potential for greater returns comes with greater risk. Ignore so-called “can’t miss" investment opportunities or those promising “guaranteed returns" or, better yet, report them to the SEC.

Some investments provide tax advantages.
For example, employer-sponsored retirement plans and individual retirement accounts generally provide tax advantages for retirement savings, and 529 college savings plans also offer tax benefits. Individuals who are interested in learning about the tax impact of their investment decisions should consult their tax adviser or visit the IRS website.

Active trading and some other very common investing behaviors actually undermine investment performance.
According to researchers, other common investing mistakes include focusing on past performance, favoring investments from your own country, region, state or company, and holding on to losing investments too long and selling winning investments too soon.
Find more tips and advice for keeping your money safe and growing your investments from the SEC’s 13 Things Everyone Should Know About Investing.

This information is brought to you as a courtesy of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) via the blog.

Virtual Tours Highlight Archeology of National Parks

NPS: Virtual ToursTravel to Arizona’s Grand Canyon and visit the inside of archeological sites recently excavated – from the comfort of your home or office! Adults and children alike will enjoy the Grand Canyon River Archeology Virtual Tour, a 360 degree exploration of the excavations that took place between 2007 and 2009 along the Colorado River. According to the National Park Service, the oldest human artifacts found within Grand Canyon park are nearly 12,000 years old. Artifacts were closely examined in the laboratory so that archaeologists could infer details about the lives of the people who lived here long ago. Take the 360 degree tour and watch a video about archaeology along the Colorado River

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