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4 Ways to Prep For Your Post-College Life – Right Now

November 1, 2019

College life can be a bubble. In many cases, you’re shielded from the real-world realities of full-time jobs, rent and student loan payments. But before you know it, graduation will pass and you’ll be thrown into the responsibilities of adulthood.

 

“You need to plan for the future, and the future is here,” says Barbara Thomas, executive vice president of Education Loan Finance (ELFI). “It’s not just when you graduate.”

 

But you also don’t have to sacrifice a memorable college experience to set yourself up for future success. Here’s how to estimate — and plan for — the cost of your post-grad life.

 

1. Make a list of future monthly expenses

Having a sense of how much life costs is helpful for choosing a major, researching jobs and negotiating your first salary. It’s okay to estimate for now. For example:

  • Rent: Nationally, a one-bedroom apartment typically costs about $1,000/month, but that could be higher or lower depending on where you live. Research typical rents for your area (or the place you want to move after college) to get a better sense of what to expect.
  • Student loan payments: You’d owe about $333/month on a $30,000 student loan balance, which is about what the average undergraduate owes at graduation. (This assumes a 10-year repayment schedule and a 6% interest rate). Use a student loan calculator* to see an estimate of how much your future monthly payment would be based on your loan amount, interest rate and repayment terms.
  • Food: If you live off-campus and buy your own groceries, your current food expenses are a good indicator of how much you’ll spend on food in the future. For this example, let’s say that’s $500/month.
  • Transportation: If you have a car, include your monthly payment, insurance costs and gas. If not, budget for public transportation and Uber/Lyft. Let’s say this costs $300/month.
  • Other bills: This includes utilities, internet and your cell phone bill. If you split costs with roommates and are still on the family phone plan, let’s say this sets you back $150/month.
  • Miscellaneous: Include other categories that apply to your life, like clothes, travel, and personal care items and services. Let’s say this all costs $250/month.

 

2. Add it all up, then account for taxes and savings

In this example, your total monthly expenses come to $2,533. But you’re not done yet — there’s a lot this number doesn’t include. For one thing, the government takes money out of each paycheck for taxes, Social Security and Medicare. You also need health insurance, the cost of which may get taken directly from your paycheck if your job offers it.

 

Those costs vary based on factors including the amount you earn, where you live and your job’s benefit package (use a paycheck calculator to estimate yours), but they could easily run you $1,000/month. This puts you at $3,533/month in this example, or about $42,000/year.

 

You’re still not quite done. You need to be saving for the future and for inevitable emergencies like car trouble or accidentally smashing your phone on the sidewalk. Experts recommend saving 20% of your paycheck, which is about $600/month in our example. (That may not be realistic at first, but it’s an excellent goal.) So, you really need to earn $4,133/month, or about $50,000/year.

 

3. Make adjustments to save money

You might be panicking a little right now, but these numbers are attainable. The average annual starting salary for the class of 2018 was about $51,000, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

 

Plus, there are ways to cut your monthly expenses to make some wiggle room in your budget. For instance, student loan refinancing* can potentially shave hundreds of dollars off your student loan payment by lowering your interest rate. To qualify, you’ll need good credit, which takes time to build. While you can’t refinance until you at least have a post-college job offer, you can start establishing credit now.

 

4. Get a credit card (but don’t carry a balance)

Student loan refinancing isn’t the only thing that demands good credit. Almost everything you’ll need or want to do after graduation — rent your own apartment, buy a car, travel on the cheap with credit card points — requires a strong financial track record. The easiest way to establish good credit is to get a credit card, use it and fully pay it off every month.

 

As a student, you’re limited in your credit card choices because you don’t have much of a credit history. Your options are:

  • Get a secured or student credit card. These cards require a deposit (secured cards) or that you have an income (student cards), but they’re designed to help you get started. Over time, you can add other cards with more perks, like cash-back and travel rewards.
  • Ask a parent to add you as an authorized user on their card. This gives you a copy of the card to use, but keeps the payment responsibility on them. Before going this route, double check that the card company will report the card activity to the credit bureaus (the companies that create credit reports) on your behalf. Otherwise, it won’t help your credit.

 

Having a credit card will only help you if you spend within your means and consistently pay off the balance on time. Otherwise, you’ll rack up interest charges and be stuck with debt you can’t afford.

 

By doing these four things, you’ll emerge from your college bubble ready to take on the “real” world.

 


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

NOTICE: Third-Party Web Sites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

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2020 graduate cap
2020-06-10
Tips for 2020 Graduates Entering the Job Market

While your last semester may have been online, you’ve graduated nonetheless, and you’re finally ready to head out into the world and face the job market. After graduating amidst a global pandemic, you may feel a bit uncertain about your job prospects coming out of college. The fact is you’re entering the job market at a somewhat inopportune time – job openings on Glassdoor have dropped 20.5% after all, and articles are published weekly on the status of the 2020 graduate. However, there’s no need to panic. We’re here to tell you that you’re more prepared than you think, and there are still jobs out there for you. But just in case you feel uncertain, we’ve compiled 5 tips to help you seamlessly enter the job market.  

Be Practical

It’s no secret that the economy is on somewhat shaky footing, making it a little more difficult than usual to get that perfect job. Obviously, that perfect job is the ideal, but now is the time to be practical and expand your job search. Look in areas that you may not have considered before or in fields other than your major. These may be lower-paying than you’d hope for, but the work experience is still valuable, and stepping out of your comfort zone won’t go unnoticed when pursuing future opportunities. Search on job sites like Indeed for entry-level jobs and work from there. Your college also likely has a career center that can help you find employment. Reach out to them to see what help they can offer. Many colleges have partnered with platforms like Handshake that serve to link students with employers.  

Acquire Skills

If you want to hold out for a job in your chosen field, that is not necessarily a bad thing. Now is the perfect time to acquire skills that your employers will find valuable and that will benefit you in the long run. You might take this time to practice job interviews to improve your interview skills. The more interviews you do, the more comfortable you will be during them. As such, never turn one down, even if you aren’t interested. It’s still worth gaining the experience. As for skills that will make you more appealing to prospective employers, sites like Linkedin Learning can help you brush up on things you know or help you pick up new skills. Online classes can also serve as a way to pass the time while acquiring new skills. While building new skills doesn’t bring in immediate income, these skills will serve to make you more valuable to a prospective employer and could improve your income in the future.  

Polish What Employers Will See

Employers see a wide variety of things when looking at a prospective candidate. The resume is perhaps one of the most important. Now is the time to perfect your resume. Add in any relevant work experience you may have forgotten to add. Do some research on what employers are looking for on a resume. This should be an ongoing process. Your resume should be constantly evolving as you acquire new skills and experiences. Likewise, this is the perfect time to get your social media profiles polished. Many employers use social media as a vetting tool for prospective employees. Remove any material that could hinder you from being hired, and, in particular, get your Linkedin profile as professional and complete as possible. Employers love Linkedin, and as more and more of the hiring process is moved online, it has become an invaluable tool for them to look at prospective hires. Thus, it is important for your Linkedin to be filled out and representative of you and your workplace skills  

Expand Your Circle

As important as your skills, networking is essential is you are in the job market. Particularly in these uncertain times, an effective network can mean the difference between being employed and not. Reach out to people in your field via Linkedin or other social media outlets. Ask questions and demonstrate your interest. You may be able to get an interview with them. Even if a job doesn’t come of it, your demonstrated interest will place you in the back of their minds as well as provide you with valuable interview experience. Similarly, interacting with people within your prospective field on any of your social media platforms is beneficial to you. Employers want to see that you are engaged within the wider community of the field. Also, be sure to attend virtual industry meetups and conventions. The importance of becoming involved cannot be understated.  

Persevere

It’s important to treat your job search as a job because, for a time, it is your job. Stay at it, and constantly be reaching out to prospective employers. It can be hard to stay motivated in the job search, but remember that this is necessary. Plan out your job search and keep track of the contacts you make. They could be useful later on. Make sure to take breaks when necessary. Like any job, the job search is tiring and can lead to burnout, so make sure that you rest between sending out those surges of applications. Eventually, you will make it.   Congratulations on graduating. Now for your next challenge. It would be a lie to claim this as a great time to enter the job market, and it is certainly an unfortunate time for you to graduate. The job search will be difficult, but by working hard and following these five tips, you could certainly still succeed. You can do it. If you’re looking for more post-graduation tips, we’ve got you covered. Check out this article on saving money after graduation.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
college student refinancing student loans
2020-05-26
Can You Refinance Student Loans While in School?

If you have student loans you probably have wondered what’s the best way to handle them. Should you wait to pay them after graduation or start paying them while in school? Or maybe you have heard about student loan refinancing and are wondering if it is right for you. Read on to find out one way you can manage your student loans that will benefit you right now.  

What is Student Loan Refinancing?

When you refinance student loans you take out a new loan to pay off one or multiple federal or private student loans. You will have a new loan term and presumably a lower interest rate. You can refinance to a new loan with the same amount of years left as your old loan or stretch out the term to allow a longer time for repayment. If you increase the amount of time to repay this will lower your monthly payment but likely will cause you to pay more interest over the loan term.   

Can You Refinance Student Loans While in School?  

The short answer is yes, but it may be difficult to find a lender that you can refinance with if you are still in college. Many lenders require a Bachelor’s degree as an eligibility requirement for refinancing. The other
requirements to refinance* with ELFI include: 
  • You must have a credit score of at least 680 and a minimum yearly income of $35,000. 
  • Must have a minimum credit history of 36 months.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, the age of majority. 
  If you cannot currently meet these requirements, you can have a cosigner that fits these requirements.     If you have federal student loans some may argue you should wait to refinance them until you graduate because they offer more flexibility with deferment and forbearance. However, some private lenders also offer deferment and forbearance options. Some other things to consider are:
  • If you think you will get a job in the public sector that would qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you may not want to refinance because you would lose the benefit of having your federal student loans forgiven under the program. 
  • If you think you will want to take advantage of an income-driven repayment plan when you graduate, you may not want to refinance because this is only offered for federal student loans. Tip: Be aware that when you take advantage of income-driven repayment plans, your monthly payment is lower, but you will end up paying more for the loan in interest costs.   
  There are many benefits to refinancing while in school to put you on a better financial path when you graduate. The average college graduate has $31,172 in student loans. However, you can work to reduce that amount by refinancing. Student loan refinancing can be beneficial for many reasons: 
  • Consolidate - Refinancing allows you to consolidate multiple federal and private student loans into one new loan. You can refinance some or all of your loans. Consolidation makes it easier to manage one loan as opposed to multiple loans. With only one loan you will be less likely to miss a due date, and avoid any associated late fees. 
  • Lowers Interest Rate - When you refinance you can potentially qualify for a lower interest rate. A lower interest rate saves you in interest costs over the life of the loan. 
    • If you have unsubsidized federal student loans (the ones where interest accrues while you are in school) your loans could be growing by an average of 4.53%. But if you refinance you may qualify for a lower rate, as low as 3.86%, and less interest would be accruing. 
  • Lower Monthly Payment - If you score a lower interest rate when you refinance you will be paying a lower monthly payment. To find out how much you could potentially save, use our Student Loan Refinance Calculator.*  
  • New Lender - Do you always have trouble with customer service when you want to ask a question about your loan? When you refinance, you can get a new lender if you choose. It’s great to find a lender with high customer reviews. At ELFI we pride ourselves on providing award-winning customer service. 
  • Fixed Interest Rate - if you have a loan with a variable interest rate it may be more advantageous to refinance and lock in a fixed interest rate. With a variable interest rate your payment can increase when interest rates increase, which could put a financial strain on your budget. 
  Important tip: if you refinance while in school and after graduation your credit score and income increase, you can always try refinancing your loan again to possibly get an even lower rate.*   

Conclusion

Researching how to handle your student loans while still in school is a great initiative to set yourself up for a strong financial future after graduation. Student loans may seem like a heavy burden, but utilizing resources available to you will make the monthly payments easier on your budget.  
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.   Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
Former UT athletes obtain graduate degrees through the SouthEast Bank RAC Program.
2020-05-08
ELFI Parent Company Helps Former Student-Athletes Obtain Degrees

Empowering others to reach their full academic potential is an integral part of Education Loan Finance's mission, and this extends to its parent company, SouthEast Bank.   This was shown in a recent UTSports.com article highlighting how several former standout University of Tennessee athletes are set to complete their undergraduate degrees after putting their education on hold to pursue professional sports careers – these athletes, including former NFL wide receiver Peerless Price, were able to obtain their degrees with the help of the SouthEast Bank Renewing Academic Commitment (RAC) program, which helps former University of Tennessee student-athletes return to the university to complete their undergraduate studies.    As a company, we are proud to empower these individuals in achieving their academic goals and we congratulate them for their achievements both on the playing field and in the classroom.   Read the SouthEast Bank blog for more details on how this program has helped former University of Tennessee student-athletes achieve their academic goals.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.