October 5th, 2010
06:00 PM ET

A quarter of parents using retirement funds to pay for college tuition

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Yet another sign of how the troubled economy is forcing Americans to make tough choices:
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/10/05/art.piggy.bank.jpg caption=""]
A new study shows almost a quarter of parents plan to raid their own retirement accounts in order to pay for their kids' college education.

The Sallie Mae survey, conducted by Gallup, shows 24 percent of parents say they plan to save for college by dipping into accounts like 401(k)s, IRAs and pension plans.

Twenty-four percent. This is the money that people have set aside for their golden years.

Experts call the trend disturbing and a "desperation move." And it can be risky. That's because there are tax penalties and other fees if you withdraw money from these accounts early. There also are restrictions on how quickly you must pay back money you borrow from a retirement plan.

Financial experts point out that there are other options - like 529 college savings plans - that can be spent tax-free on college education.

Nonetheless, the survey finds that despite the shaky economy, education is still a priority for Americans. Sixty percent of parents say they're saving for their children's college education. By the time their children are ready for college, most parents will have saved close to $50,000.

The most common way parents say they're saving for college are CDs or saving accounts, followed by investments like stocks, mutual funds and money market accounts.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Economy • Education
October 5th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

Better for candidate to stay off campaign trail or risk a mistake?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

It's being called the "year of the missing candidate."

Politico reports how with only a month to go before the midterms, candidates in some key statewide races are missing in action on the campaign trail.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/10/05/art.odonnell.jpg caption="Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell at the Values Voter Summit on September 17."]
They're skipping debates, ducking out on public events, refusing to publicize the ones they hold and opting out of national television interviews all together.

This includes everyone from newcomers like Christine O'Donnell in Delaware and Rand Paul in Kentucky to incumbents like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid or Texas Governor Rick Perry.

The reason why: these candidates are worried that if they do step out in public, they'll do or say something stupid that will come back to haunt them.

They're gambling that in the long run it's better to get some bad press for staying away from the campaign trail than to be caught on tape in some "gotcha" moment.

Political observers are stunned at the lengths to which some candidates are going, like refusing to release public schedules to local reporters or running away from cameras and shouted questions. Some wonder if going forward, candidates in state races will be as tightly guarded as presidential candidates.

Then again - you can't totally blame these politicians when you take into account the rise of what's called the "tracker culture." Opponents send staffers with camcorders to their events to record every single word a candidate utters. Make a mistake and you turn up in your opponent's campaign ad to be seen over and over again.

Here’s my question to you: Is it better for a candidate to stay off the campaign trail or risk making a mistake?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Election Process • Elections • Polls