The poor aren’t the only Americans who struggle to make ends meet. Even middle-income families often find that their paychecks simply don’t go as far as they need to. That’s particularly the case when families face unexpected expenses, such as medical bills, or have to help a child pay for college. While most government agencies and nongovernmental organizations that offer families financial assistance focus on those who earn the least, there is some financial help for middle-income families, if you know where to look.
Help With Schooling
Financial help for postsecondary education is available to middle-income families through the federal government. Individuals can receive this type of aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid online through the U.S. Department of Education. Based on income and need, individuals may qualify for grants and federally subsidized student loans. Individual states and postsecondary institutions may also offer additional aid to middle-income families that can demonstrate need.
Help at Tax Time
Middle-income families can qualify for a wide variety of tax breaks and credits. The extra money at tax time can be a huge help when a family’s paychecks just aren’t covering the monthly expenses. For instance, the American Opportunity Credit allows families at all income levels to take a tax break worth a couple thousand dollars if they paid tuition and other qualifying educational expenses. Other breaks exist for everything from adopting a child to buying energy-efficient appliances.
Help Buying a Home
Some help buying a home is available to middle-income families. For instance, the Federal Housing Administration makes home loans, through private lenders, to consumers even if they are considered middle-income. These homes require lower down payments and have fewer closing costs than most private mortgages. Additionally, some states, cities and towns and even local nonprofits will offer middle-income families grants to help with the cost of a down payment.
Help Building a Nest Egg
Middle-income families often worry about how they’ll afford to retire and whether they’ll be able to maintain their current standard of living. Fortunately, employers very often offer help in this area. While pensions are largely a thing of the past, employees can have their contributions into retirement accounts matched by their employers up to a certain percentage, which varies by company. While families won’t see this help until they retire, it will be there for them at the point in their lives when it is most needed.
Cynthia Gomez has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade. She is currently an editor at a major publishing company, where she works on various trade journals. Gomez also spent many years working as a newspaper reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.