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10 Facts About Student Loans That Will Save You Money

August 23, 2018

Many millennials are first-generation college students, which is awesome! Going to college is a huge achievement, and you should be proud of your hard work. Navigating the financial side of college, however, can be a little tricky. There are definitely some basic facts you should know—all of them will save you money. We’ve compiled 10 facts about student loans that will save you money. Make sure you’re reaching out to your school to see what resources are available to you and read up on how you can make good borrowing choices.

  1. Not all student loan servicers are created equal.
  2. Small differences in interest rates and origination fees can mean BIG dollars down the road.
  3. Keeping an eye on your principal can help you understand repayment progress.
  4. It could behoove you to pay interest while in school
  5. Deferment is a short-term solution that you should avoid if possible.
  6. There are different reasons to consider fixed or variable interest rates.
  7. You pay taxes on forgiven loan amounts.
  8. You might qualify for loan forgiveness.
  9. There are options if you can’t pay. Don’t try to hide.
  10. Some borrowers save tons of money with refinancing.

Not all student loan servicers are created equal.

Some people think that getting a student loan from any company or bank is roughly equal. Maybe the interest rate will be a little different, but they all offer mostly the same thing. Sadly, too many millennials have found out the hard way that some student loan companies are not as reputable as others. Whether it’s a lack of payment options, little to no deferment even, or just plain difficult customer service, there are a lot of reasons why shopping around for the best service and best options can save you time and money in the end.

Small differences in interest rates and origination fees can mean BIG dollars down the road

The interest rate you pay for borrowing money is a percentage that’s calculated based on the principal or the amount borrowed. Interest rates might be fixed or variable, depending on your loan, and knowing the difference will save you big money. For instance, if you get a loan with a variable rate because it’s low now, you need to know how high the rate could go, which might affect your decision. When comparing loans, check the interest rate, but also look at the life of the loan and other associated fees. For example, some lenders or products charge an origination fee as well. Here’s a scenario to show how some of these variables play out:

  • A student takes out a $20,000 loan with a 7% interest rate & 0% origination fee. This loan accrues interest monthly and when it capitalizes at repayment 48 months from now, this student will have an outstanding balance of $25,600.
  • A student takes out a $20,000 loan with an 8% interest rate & 4% origination fee. This loan accrues interest monthly and when it capitalizes at repayment 48 months from now, this student will have an outstanding balance of $27,456.

It might look like a minor change, but these small differences matter a lot!

Keeping an eye on your principal can help you understand repayment progress

Your principal and payoff balance will appear on your loan statements and you should note those amounts each month. Obviously, you want to see them trending down, but sometimes watching your principal balance each month will help you realize how much more impact you could have on your loans if you increased or restructured your payments.

It could behoove you to pay interest while in school

There’s one reason why paying even just your interest payments on student loans while in school is a good idea: compound interest. Compound interest is when your interest gets added to the principal. When this happens, your principal is higher, and you end up paying more interest. To combat it, pay interest payments! If you make these small payments while in school, you won’t graduate with even more debt than you actually took out. If you continuously defer your loans, the debt grows and grows until you start paying. This is how some people get into a lot of trouble!

Deferment is a short-term solution that you should avoid if possible

Student loan deferral can sound like a great deal if you’re in dire straits, but there are a lot of reasons why you should avoid student loan deferral or forbearance if at all possible. These options increase your debt and add fees to your loan. If you’re in an extreme situation and have to defer a payment or two that you can catch up on in a few months, you do what you have to do. But don’t opt to defer just because you want more money for something like a wedding when you could find other ways to save.

There are different reasons to consider fixed or variable interest rates

Government loans are always fixed-rate, but private loans can be fixed or variable. Knowing the benefits and possible downside of both options can help save you money when it’s time to decide which loan to get. With a fixed rate, you know what you’re going to pay for the life of the loan. Variable rates are not so certain. You might start with a low rate that goes up over time or vice versa, but they also generally start lower than the fixed rate. Consider how the variable rate is set and whether you’re okay with a variable rate or would prefer the fixed amount.

You pay taxes on forgiven loan amounts

Student loan forgiveness can be a great thing since your remaining balance after 10, 20, or maybe 25 years is forgiven. Many people don’t know, however, that current IRS rules require the forgiven loan amounts to be treated as taxable income. That means you could be on the hook for a hefty tax bill when you least expect it. Knowing this information could change the way you pay your loans, or at least prepare you for what’s at the end of the rainbow.

You might qualify for loan forgiveness

Speaking of loan forgiveness! Only you can figure out if you qualify, grasshopper. The government doesn’t keep track of this, and the rules for qualification are rigid. Be sure that you know your qualification status before you start planning your “student loan forgiveness day” party. Check out our blog on student loan forgiveness.

There are options if you can’t pay. Don’t try to hide (other word choices for ‘hide’ – run, ignore it, lie, pretend it’s not there).

The worst thing you can do is ignore student loan payments. Student loan companies have ways of getting money from you even if you’re hiding under a blanket in mom and dad’s basement. If you ever can’t pay your student loans, call them immediately and talk about options. You might be able to set up a new payment option or refinance to save some cash and keep making payments.

Some borrowers save tons of money with refinancing

There are many ways to save money with refinancing. For instance, if you consolidate private and federal student loans into one monthly payment, you might be able to score a lower payment. If you have several loans with high-interest rates or if rates have gone down since you borrowed, refinancing your student loans can save you bundles.

 

Common Misconceptions About Student Loan Forgiveness 

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Working Professional with Less Debt
2018-10-17
Entrepreneurs – The Cost of Starting Out

Starting a business can seem overwhelming, but it takes the right kind of person. For many entrepreneurs, money can be their biggest concern. You’ve got the dream, but you don’t have the dollars. People will often look for assistance using commercial loans to gain the money needed to get started, but what if you already owed thousands of dollars? Let’s take a look at the cost of starting a business with student loans. In this example, we’ll use a pizza place.  

Research and Planning

Before you begin investing your time and energy into a business, understand if and where there is a need for it. Where is there a lack of pizza places? Once you’ve determined a good area where there will be demand for the product look at your competitors. Look specifically at, prices, marketing, branding, and style. Now take a look at the median income for the neighborhood and surrounding towns that your pizza place would be located in. Is it a lower-income neighborhood or a higher-income neighborhood? Understand the area and price your product accordingly. Now that you have a better understanding of what you’ll need to start your pizza place create a business plan. If you’re in need of additional funding for your business this business plan will be of the utmost importance. There are different formats available for business plans, some more traditional while others are fairly brief. Be sure to check online for samples.  

The Cost of Business

Know what your expenses will be. Identify what those expenses are. The SBA has a list of expenses for starting businesses. These expenses include office space, equipment, supplies, utilities, licenses, permits, inventory, lawyer, salaries, marketing costs, and website costs. Once you have a list of your expenses, estimate out how much you’ll need to spend on each. Check out this handy worksheet that illustrates the starting costs for a pizza place. The SBA expense calculator provides an estimation of $18,975 as the starting costs for a business. The estimation includes one-time expenses like equipment, security deposits, and legal fees and monthly expenses like rent, insurance, and advertising. Every business is different, but typically there is some type of investment that must be made upfront. Now don’t forget that if you’re looking to start a business you can use some “startup costs’ as tax deductions. Tax deductions* per the SBA site include costs to get your business operation ready and costs of investigating the creation of a business. Once you have an idea of your expenses and what is tax deductible, you’re onto step two.  

FUN-ds

Here is the “fun” part where many young entrepreneurs get caught up - getting the funds. Not only do younger entrepreneurs not have the dollars but, they owe thousands in debt. That thousand dollar debt is likely due to student loans. According to a recent survey, nearly half of Americans considering starting a business said that student loans were a major barrier to entrepreneurship. Refinancing student loans can help. When refinancing you may get a lower rate or change the terms of the loan. It can help lower your monthly payments, sometimes significantly, giving you more cash in your pocket. Once your personal finances are in order (decreased student loan debt) figure out how much capital you can put towards your business. For this particular step, we’d recommend working with a financial advisor. By self-funding your business you will take on all the risk of the business, not to mention taking funds from all your accounts resulting in penalties. Instead of self-funding the capital fully, try crowdsourcing, small business loans which you’ll want to research heavily to assure you’re receiving the best rate or finding investors willing to provide capital. If you take money from an investor for your pizza place, it’s a venture capital investment. This type of investment is usually offered in return for a share in the company and some sort of power position within the company. Therefore, if you do take on venture capital investments understand that the business is no longer just yours.  

Naming

Once you’ve gained the funds you’re well on your way! Next, you’ll set up the internal structure for your business, register the name for your pizza place, set up your Tax IDS, and get the appropriate licenses. Licenses are usually industry, location, and state-specific so be sure you’re working with a legal team to meet all appropriate criteria or it could end up costing you. All decisions will have an impact on how your company functions, so be sure that you’re taking every necessary precaution and good luck in your journey. Refinancing may not be the solution to all of your money problems, but it’s a step in the right direction. When you’re starting out, all it takes is to get going on the right path to continue moving forward. Don’t forget to open up a business bank account to help organize your business funds from your personal funds. Similarly to refinancing you’ll want to choose a bank with transparency, credibility, and great service.  

Facts About Student Loans That Will Save You Money

*Please note Education Loan Finance is not a registered tax professional.
Guy Investigating FDIC Backed Banks
2018-10-12
FDIC-Backed and Why You Should Care

You know the orange Chance cards you used to draw when you played Monopoly? Remember the one where the little guy was so broke he was wearing his pockets on the outside of his pants? Well, imagine that guy is your bank, and through bad luck or bad decisions, they negatively affect your life. You go to get a loan, and they aggressively try to get you to borrow more than you can afford. Or, when you show up to get your money, they just shrug, and you’re out of luck. Things are different today and the protections for account holders and borrowers for certain banks are better than ever, but how did we get here? What exactly does FDIC insured mean?

Banking used to be very risky.

Believe it or not, that’s pretty much how things were for a long time in the United States, and it happened quite a bit. Lending practices were not necessarily based on sound data and information. More than a third of the banks in the1920s closed their doors, and deposit holders had little recourse. That’s why many people of that generation had a deep distrust of banks and why you may have heard stories of people stashing money in their mattress or burying it in a jar in the backyard to keep it safe.

The creation of the FDIC.

You’ll notice that most people aren’t hiding money in their bed these days, and no one is wearing their pockets on the outside of their pants anymore. Sure maybe no one ever really wore their pants that way, but it could also be because Congress passed the banking act of 1933 and created the FDIC. FDIC stands for Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, but we usually just say FDIC because the government loves acronyms. The FDIC is quite literally an insurance company and just like other insurance companies, they
provide protection from an unforeseen event, in this case, a bank failure. They also function as a regulatory agency to make sure banks are following laws and guidelines.

What happens when an FDIC insured bank fails?

When a bank becomes insolvent, the FDIC essentially takes over the bank. Almost no matter what, the bank will still have some deposits and assets. The FDIC will try to sell the bank’s deposits and loans to another member bank. In this case, you the customer will find their deposits at a new bank. If for some reason the FDIC cannot successfully sell the bank, they will issue a check to the depositor directly.

It’s not the 1920s anymore, why should I care?

Sure, the Roaring 20s and all its banking peril are long in the past, but you might be old enough to remember the Savings and Loan scandal of the 1980s or the financial collapse of 2008. These were both significant events that wreaked havoc on the banking industry. Banks can still have problems and sometimes big problems. In fact, from 2008 to 2012, 465 banks completely failed. While most everyone felt the effects of the financial collapse in some way, bank depositors were spared significant loss thanks to the FDIC. This is why you absolutely want to make sure your bank is a member of the FDIC.

What else does the FDIC do?

Member banks are subject to strict overview of the FDIC. They monitor debts and assets and help to ensure banks have enough cash on hand for safe and responsible operation. They aren’t just guaranteeing your money, they are actively working to make sure the bank is healthy. Additionally, they work to make sure banks are compliant with the latest consumer and banking regulations.

Are there protections for borrowers as well?

Yes. The FDIC isn’t only focused on depositors, they protect borrowers as well. So if you are in the market for a home loan or you are looking to refinance those student loans, it’s important to pay attention to which lenders are FDIC members. Member lenders are under scrutiny to make sure the debt to income ratios for borrowers aren’t outside what borrowers can afford to realistically pay. You want to work with a member bank to ensure an upfront and transparent process.

Are all financial institutions FDIC insured?

No, not all financial institutions are FDIC members. The FDIC examines and supervises approximately 4,000 banking institutions in the United States.  

Tips for Finding the Perfect Lender

  Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Deposit_Insurance_Corporation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bank_failures_in_the_United_States_(2008-present) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBOFiDpmESI
Millennials Renting Instead of Buying
2018-10-10
Top 5 Barriers to Homeownership for Millennials

Most millennials rent their living spaces and don’t purchase them. Ever wonder why that has become such a common stereotype of the millennial generation? Well according to some research done by Urban Institute it isn’t just a stereotype. It dives deep into this issue to explain the main barriers to homeownership for millennials and how to address them. Here are five of those barriers:

Location-

Millennials are moving to the biggest cities in the country in larger numbers than any generation before. In these cities (like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco), housing prices are extremely high and the actual housing supply for purchasing is low. You can save money in a major city by using mass transit instead of driving or taking cabs.

Starting a family-

In the past, getting married and having children were the life steps that often led to home ownership. Now, we’re getting married and starting families later in life (or not at all), causing a delay in the need to buy a home. If you are wanting to buy a house, don’t let your marital or family status stand in your way. You can save for a down payment now to speed up the process.

Student debt-

The total amount of student loan debt in the United States is at a historical high, and more students are taking out loans than ever before. Many people who are trying to pay off their student loans feel as if they cannot save for a down payment and do not want to add a mortgage on top of their existing debt. Also, a high debt-to-income ratio can make it more difficult to obtain a mortgage. Refinancing your student loan can help you reduce your rate, allowing you to pay off your principal faster and lower that ratio.

Renting-

Typically before taking the step to owning a home, you will rent a place for a few years. Rental rates have continuously risen for years, which is not allowing people to save as much money for their future down payment. This delays reaching that next step by at least a couple of years. You do not have to let this stop you from saving for a down payment if you are hoping to buy a home soon.

Poor credit-

Low credit scores are plaguing many millennials. The average credit score for this generation is 640, which is lower than both gen x and baby boomers as well as the median credit score for obtaining a mortgage loan. Whether those low scores are from lack of credit, high credit card debt, missing payments, or any other reason, there are plenty of ways to bring that score up.  

Consider These Factors before Buying Your First House