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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Getting the low down on the bottom line: Net-price knowledge essential to choosing college

Photo Town Crier File Photo

Long before local high school seniors graduate, they’ll be busy researching colleges and universities for matriculation. StudentAid.com can help with that decision.

Planning for college is fraught with uncertainty about everything from which college and major to choose to how much it will cost. With nearly 70 percent of high school students enrolling in higher-education programs after graduation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, millions of students and their families are overwhelmed and looking for guidance on their options.

Students weigh many factors when choosing a college, but one that often makes the decision difficult is price. When it comes to planning, most students and their families are on their own. The typical high school student receives only 38 minutes of college-planning preparation at school each year, according to a 2005 study by the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

“Millions of students and their families experience great anxiety around college planning because nobody has insight into what their true out-of-pocket college costs will be,” said David Childress, general manager of Student-Aid.com. “A college’s sticker price is not the price you’ll pay. You can comparison shop for everything from mobile phones to houses, but not for one of life’s biggest investments – your children’s education.”

Many families begin planning for college by creating a 529 tax-free account, which helps offset the college-cost burden. However, the recession’s weakened stock prices have reduced the value of many of these accounts.

High school students often start receiving college brochures as early as sophomore year to help them determine which colleges offer programs they’re interested in. During junior and senior years, many students will visit their top college choices, meet with professors, talk to other students and research some of the 800 Web sites and guide books about colleges to figure out which of the country’s 6,800 colleges are the best fit.

But finances need to be determined early – well before a student starts investigating the programs different colleges offer. Until recently, college net prices remained a mystery. Net price is the cost of tuition, room and board, books and supplies and additional living expenses minus grants. But beginning in October 2011, all colleges receiving federal funding must provide a net-price calculator on their Web sites to help prospective students gauge affordability. To date, only a handful of colleges have installed calculators. Some college-planning Web sites offer basic calculators that are not personalized and exclude the $10 billion available from state grants or scholarships.

StudentAid.com has developed the College Cost & Planning Report to make the process easy and personalized to a student’s academic and financial circumstances. Students and parents can view a side-by-side college net-price comparison and student aid eligibility for as many as 10 colleges. Each report includes a personalized timeline, detailed college profiles and specific grants and tax benefits a student is qualified to receive.

“By determining their aid eligibility and net price, we’re giving college-bound consumers a new power,” Childress said. “Knowing net price lets a family evaluate colleges based on which ones offer the best deal, so they can plan ahead with a realistic idea of how much out of pocket parents and the student will pay.”

Shelene Worland of Mountain View is the mother of twin daughters researching college.

“Obviously, everything you do from preschool on up is preparing them for college,” she said. “I found out about StudentAid.com through word-of-mouth through a friend. It really puts a lot more information at your fingertips about the cost of college. It gives you a better idea of what you’re looking at for expenses and what your eligibility is for financial aid.”

One of Worland’s daughters is interested in a state college, while the other likes the smaller campuses of private colleges. Having a side-by-side comparison of net price allows Worland to ensure that her daughters look at colleges that fit their bank account and career ambitions. The Web site helped narrow college choices, she said.

“I would suggest that parents start looking at this during their kids’ junior year, and look at it a couple times,” she said. “There could be a lot of time wasted on schools you can’t really consider, and this helps them focus on what is possible.”

With support from USA Funds, the nation’s largest student loan guarantor, StudentAid.com offers its college planning service free to all students with a household income of less than $40,000. The service costs other students $49 to $99.

For more information, visit www.StudentAid.com.

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