Cashing in the savings bonds

paying for higher education

Savings BondI wanted to start cashing in the savings bonds I bought thirty years ago. Late in 1992, I decided to buy $100 US savings bonds through my job’s payroll plan; they cost $50 each.

The first two EE bonds matured recently. The elder, from 1992, was now worth a whopping $207.36. However, the second, from 1993, was valued at $164.12. It’s like me to get on a  good thing after it peaked.

I checked my bank’s website, which suggested they would cash them, but I went there and was told, “We haven’t done that in years.” Then I checked my credit union’s online bot, which told me I had to prove they were mine, even though my name was on them. I would need an unsigned copy of FS Form 1522.

After posting my confusion on Facebook, I got advice to try my credit union, my bank but to give them notice, and another bank. Ultimately, I went to my credit union, which was easier than anticipated.

I noticed that my bonds from 1993 through 1995 are getting 4% interest, which will cash out at about $160 each at maturity. But the 1996 and 1997 ones now receive 2.82% interest and will only be worth about $125 eventually.


One of my relatives has several matured savings bonds left by a spouse, which they have not yet cashed because they are wary of the tax implications.

From Smart Asset: “You won’t pay state or local income tax on interest earnings, but you may pay state or inheritance taxes if those apply where you live.

“You have one option for avoiding taxes on savings bonds: the education exclusion. You can skip paying taxes on interest earned with Series EE and Series I savings bonds if you’re using the money to pay for qualified higher education costs. That includes expenses you pay for yourself, your spouse, or a qualified dependent. Only certain qualified higher education costs are covered, including:

  • Tuition
  • Fees
  • Some books
  • Equipment, such as a computer

“You can still use savings bonds to pay for other education expenses, such as room and board or activity fees, but you wouldn’t be able to avoid paying taxes on interest.”


I’ve known a couple of people dealing with estates involving savings bonds. They involve more legalese than I need to share here.

They may need to provide death certificates they do not possess. I know that, e.g., the city of Albany provides them “upon proof of entitlement under New York State (NYS) Public Health Law.” In Mecklenburg County (Charlotte), NC, you can get one when “seeking information for legal determination of personal property rights.”

Oh, I know I have lost one bond from 1993. I can tell because there is a gap in the dates issued. Since I have a TreasuryDirect account, I can replace it by filling out FS Form 1048. It shouldn’t be signed before being witnessed by a notary.

Education of Black Children in 19th Century Albany

Albany School for Educating People of Color

AfricanFreeSchoolWhile looking for something else, I came across something very interesting on the Albany County, NY webpage. It was a document titled The Struggle for Education of Black Children in 19th Century Albany.

“Albany Common Council laws were rigid in their allowances of land and financial aid for schools for ‘children of color,’ so leaders in the black community decided to use their own land and places of worship for this purpose.

“In 1811, Benjamin Lattimore [Sr.] purchased a lot on Malcolm Street (now known as Broad Street) from Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, the widow of
Alexander Hamilton. On this lot, the first ‘Albany School for Educating People of Color’ was established.” Other schools followed. The article documented the work of Lattimore, Thomas Paul Junior, and John Quincy Allen.

“By July 1845, a new public elementary school house for black children was built at 37 Chestnut Street at a cost of $830 to the city. The Wilberforce School, named after a British abolitionist, became the only public school that black children could attend until 1873, when the law was changed to accept them into the Albany Public School system…

“The Wilberforce School closed in 1873, after desegregation of New York State schools. It was renamed School 16 and was located where the Empire State Plaza is currently located. In 1906, the school was moved to the Pine Hills neighborhood and is now the Pine Hills Elementary School.”

This was a fascinating piece of local history I had not come across. School 16 was torn down in 2005 and replaced by the current Pine Hills Elementary School, which my daughter attended from first through sixth grade.


I went to the New York State Department of Education website to retrieve current data about the Albany City School District.

In the 2020-2021 school year, the most recent data provided, I found this:



HISPANIC OR LATINO   – 1,613 (20%)
WHITE – 1,565 (19%)
MULTIRACIAL – 553 (7%)
Yet the Census data for 2020 notes that the population breakdown for the city of Albany is 52% white, 26% black, and 7% Asian. Hispanics, who can be of any race, are 10% of the population.
Albany has 98,617 people (2020 Census), 11.9% of which were under 18 but over 5, or about 11,735 children of school age. The Albany City School District had 8,610 kids.  
One of the quirks of Albany is that it has long had several nonpublic schools.  There are data for this that my computer won’t open, but one can infer the trendline. A bit of irony, I think.

Doctor Jill Biden turns 70

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in 2007

Jill BidenI noted before the 2020 election that Jill Biden would hit the big 7-0 this year. Frankly, I wasn’t sure there was enough I wanted to say about her. Others helped.

First, there was that op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal suggesting that she “should think about dropping the honorific” of Doctor, since she is not a medical doctor. The guy suggested that her using the title “feels fraudulent, even comic.”

“In 2007, she received a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in educational leadership from the University of Delaware.” Lots of non-physicians use the title. I don’t if it’s snobbishness or sexism.

Here’s something clearly sexist. The hypocrisy of the invented scandal of Jill Biden’s fishnets. The horror! The number of articles on this non-issue, sometimes dragging Melania into the discussion for reasons that bore me, is quite staggering.

Eldest child

Jill Biden is fairly normal, in a good way. Here’s the White House bio. “Jill Tracy Jacobs Biden was born on June 3, 1951, in Hammonton, New Jersey, to Bonny Jean Godfrey Jacobs and Donald Carl Jacobs. The oldest of five daughters, she grew up in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. She graduated from Upper Moreland High School in 1969, then graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1975.” She has taught at various institutions.

Jill had married Bill Stevenson, a former college football player, in February 1970; she had a turbulent divorce from him in May 1975.

In March 1975, she met Joe Biden, widowed US Senator with two young boys, Beau and Hunter. They married on June 17, 1977, at the Chapel at the United Nations in New York City. Joe and Jill’s daughter Ashley Blazer was born on June 8, 1981.

“As Second Lady, Dr. Biden focused on advocating for community colleges, military families, and the education of women and girls around the world. As First Lady, Dr. Biden continues her work for education, military families, and fighting cancer. The professor of writing at Northern Virginia Community College is pushing for free access to community college and training.

Joe and Jill Biden released their taxes! You can do that? They earned just over $600,000 in 2020. Their effective federal income tax rate of 25.9 percent after donating about 5 percent of their income to charity, paying about $157,000. For 2019, the Bidens had an adjusted gross income of $985,000 and paid federal income taxes of nearly $288,000.

Check out the page on Politico about her.

Vote for Albany (NY) library, school board candidates by mail

ACSD Board of Education adopted a $261.6 million budget proposal.

voteAlbany voters will have a safe way to vote for Albany Public Library trustees, the Albany City School District board, and the ACSD budget. It is being conducted entirely by absentee ballot.

Ballots will be mailed on May 26 to qualified voters and are due by June 9 at 5 p.m. This is NOT a postmark deadline. At that time, the district will begin the process of counting the votes to determine the results.

Since the APL trustees did not request an increase in the library budget for 2020-2021, no vote is required. There are eight candidates on the ballot for two open APL trustee seats in the election. There are two seats, both carrying full five-year terms, open.

The candidates were placed on the ballot in alphabetical order:

(1) Jessica Balarin of Partridge St.

(2) Kewsi Burgess of Catherine St.

(3) Donna Dixon of Fleetwood Ave.

(4) Jeffrey Keller of Walter St.

(5) Thomas McCarthy Jr. of Stueben St.

(6) Katharine McNamara of Cardinal Ave.

(7) James Munro of Glendale Ave.

(8) Brigette Pryor of Myrtle Ave.

The library will publish candidate biographical information on its website by May 26. APL will be hosting a virtual meet-the-candidate forum on Tuesday, May 26 at 6 pm. It will be live-streamed on YouTube and recorded for later viewing.

School budget

Per the ACSD website: “The ballot also will include Proposition #2, a proposal to purchase a piece of property adjacent to Delaware Community School for $13,300 using funds from the capital reserve. The property would be used for additional recreational space for students. Proposition #2 would have no impact on taxes.

“In addition to the school budget and proposition votes, three candidates are running for one open board seat: Victor Cain, Hassan Elminyawi, and Edith Leet. The board appointed Elminyawi last summer to serve the remainder of a vacant position; that term expires June 30.

See if you’re registered to vote for the library and school board candidates, and the school budget HERE. If you do not receive a ballot by the end of May, contact the school board clerk – Tanya Bowie (518 475-6015, – who will verify your registration status.

Note: The Presidential, State and Local Primaries will take place on June 23, 2020. Contact the Albany County Board of Elections for more details.

The Lydster: Academic Achievement

kidsheaderThe Daughter just graduated from sixth grade. It was really nice having her attend at a building that was literally a stone’s throw or two from our house for a half dozen years.

This fall, she will be taking the bus, as she moves on to middle school, what they used to call junior high when I was of age.

In June, there were a lot of awards given. She was recognized by the school board for being first in First in Math in the state of New York, the only person in the Empire State to be in the Top 100 in the country. She gave the board two terse sentences of explanation.

Her school gave out a set of achievement recognition. There were LOTS of these – I’m guessing a couple reams of paper worth – and I could see from a distance that she was disappointed that she got only three awards, two for honor role, and one for music, while some of her classmates were collecting quantities in double digits. She thought she might get one for citizenship, as the only active student in the PTA, e.g. She didn’t even get the award for math, which we both had expected.

Finally, there was graduation. There were awards from the state comptroller, the attorney general and other luminaries. A couple kids, including her best school friend, received The President’s Award for Educational Excellence, which “recognizes a student’s academic success in the classroom.”
Then The Daughter and another student received The President’s Award for Educational Achievement, which “recognizes students who show outstanding educational growth, improvement, commitment to or intellectual development in their academic subjects.”

It goes on to say in the description on the website: “This Achievement award should not be compared to the President’s Award for Educational Excellence or be seen as a second tier award; it recognizes a very different type of academic achievement. It is meant to encourage and reward students who work hard and give their best effort in school, often in the face of special obstacles to learning.”

I do not know what “special obstacles” the award is referring to, but no matter. The Daughter is thrilled by the award, “signed” by President Obama, which totally eliminated the disappointment of four days earlier.

I should note she got a paper certificate, rather than the pin.

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