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2020-03-06
This Week in Student Loans: March 6

Please note: Education Loan Finance does not endorse or take positions on any political matters that are mentioned. Our weekly summary is for informational purposes only and is solely intended to bring relevant news to our readers.

  This week in student loans:

People Are Applying for Disability to Try to Get Out of Their Student Loans

Recent data from the National Bureau of Economic Research has claimed that the recent change that allows "Totally and Permanently" disabled individuals to have their student loans discharged has led to an approximate 50% increase in the probability of student-loan holders to apply for Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

Source: National Review

 

What This Surprise Fed Rate Cut Means for You

The recent emergency Fed rate cut of 50 basis points in response to the coronavirus outbreak is projected to lower student loan interest rates significantly, as well as student loan refinancing interest rates. The 50-point rate cut was the largest rate cut implemented by the Federal Reserve since late 2008.  

Source: CNBC

 

Letters Urge Betsy DeVos To Erase Student Loans For Borrowers With Disabilities

An array of student loan advocates are urging DOE Education Secretary Betsy Devos to eliminate hurdles for individuals with disabilities to apply to have their student loans discharged. The letters were signed by more than 30 advocacy groups and student loan advocates of seven states and the District of Columbia.  

Source: NPR

 

Startup Offers An App That Helps Millennials Pay Off Student Debt

With the trend of companies offering employees assistance with student loans on the rise, a new app, Goodly, provides companies with a variety of methods for doing so, from providing flat monthly payments or tying payments to tenure and increasing over time.  

Source: Forbes

    That wraps things up for this week! Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or LinkedIn for more news about student loans, refinancing, and achieving financial freedom.  
 

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.

A couple counting their change
2020-03-05
Cutting Your Monthly Budget: Where to Start

A monthly budget is not always one-size-fits-all. You may find a budget that works perfectly for a little while, but your financial situation is not likely to stay the same. Big life changes can come along, both planned and unplanned, that require a budget adjustment.   Whether preparing for a new baby, saving for a down payment on a home, or going through tough times such as a job layoff or large medical bills, you may find yourself cutting the monthly budget. If your monthly budget already seems tight, it can be hard to determine the best place to start. Here are a few quick tips for cutting back on your monthly expenses:

Be Proactive

Cutting a budget for significant life changes pays to start early. Some can be easier to prepare for than others – a new baby comes with a few months to save as much as you can, and a home can be purchased on your own timeline when you are financially ready. You may try to plan your life as much possible, there are always unexpected changes and challenges.   Even if there are no planned life changes on the horizon, it is essential to build up a solid emergency fund. The general rule of thumb is to save around three to six months of living expenses. A solid emergency fund ensures that when times get tough, you will have something to fall back on.

Assess Your Variable Expenses

When cutting your budget, looking at your variable expenses is a great place to start. Your variable expenses include amounts that fluctuate every month. Examples of variable expenses are groceries, dining out, entertainment, and clothing.   Variable expenses are good to start with because you control how much you spend in these categories, and they are often easiest to cut back on. As much fun as going out for dinner and a movie is, it may be considered a luxury for the phase of life you are in. Making meals at home is exceptionally less expensive than eating out. In addition, renting a movie or having a game night at home with the people you love can be just as satisfying as a night on the town. To save money on groceries, looking into the benefits of meal planning can be helpful.

Find Ways to Slash Fixed Expenses

Obviously, you may not be able to immediately cut back on expenses such as rent, mortgage, car payments, or education loan repayments (although student loans could potentially be refinanced to save you money or lower your monthly payment). However, there may be other fixed expenses that you can eliminate. For example, cutting out cable – even temporarily – can save you a surprising amount of money. If you have a landline, you might be able to get rid of it and solely use your cell phone. Utility bills can rise in the winter months, so ensure you are diligent about turning off your lights, unplugging appliances, and not turning up the heat too high. If necessary, do some research to make sure you are getting the best deals on cell phone service, internet, and car insurance. While you won’t be able to completely exclude all of your fixed expenses, with a little effort, small savings spread over several categories can add up to a cumulative amount that creates more flexibility in your monthly budget.  

Getting Through Tough Financial Times

Throughout life, there are many circumstances that may change your income or expense levels. Whether you are cutting back to consciously save up for an exciting life event or to unexpectedly adjusting to a financial challenge, it is essential to reevaluate your budget to adapt when these changes occur. Though it may seem daunting at first, you might be surprised by how much you can save when you put forth the proper thought and effort.  

Related: Best Apps for Budgeting in College

 
  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.  
2020-03-03
9 Signs It’s Time to Refinance Student Loans

When is it time to refinance your student loans? It can be a tough question because everyone’s situation is so unique, and your goals or your motivation might be totally different from someone else. That’s why we’ve put together a simple explanation of signs that refinancing might be a good option for you. Here are nine signs it might be time to refinance student loan debt:  

You have a good credit score.

If you don’t have a good credit score, now is probably not the time to try to refinance student loans. You will not get as favorable of interest rates and you might even be turned down outright. Check your credit score and go over your credit report asap. If there’s anything that needs to be fixed, do it. If your score could be better or if your credit history isn’t very long, look into ways to improve it. You can get your score up and clean up your report, but it takes work. That needs to be in order before you choose to refinance student loan debt.  

You’re up to date on your loan payments.

Have you been making your payments no problem? Great! If not, now is probably not the time to refinance student loans. You might need a new payment plan instead of refinancing, but you will not look like as good of a borrower if you are behind on payments or have had trouble paying. Get up to date and make your payments on time for a while before trying to refinance student loans. If you’re having trouble coming up with the money, be sure to reach out to your servicer to see what your options are.  

You are employed with a steady income.

If you are unemployed or your income is spotty, refinancing will likely be difficult or impossible. The best time to refinance is when you land a good main gig that has a consistent paycheck. You’ll have to report your income, so you may want to postpone your refinancing now if you aren’t already making a decent income. If you are self-employed, try giving yourself a few months of solid income before proceeding.  

You have a good debt-income ratio.

This one can be kind of a bummer because a lot of millennials are saddled with a fair amount of student loan debt (and maybe other kinds of debt) along with being underemployed. To get a hold on some of this debt, you might be looking to refinance your student loans. The problem is rates may not be as favorable or you may not qualify—if your debt to income ratio is too high. Look at options for gaining more income or reducing some debts you currently have, like cutting out credit cards and paying down those other debts.  

You are not planning on student loan forgiveness for public service work.

If you’re in public service and know you’ll qualify for loan forgiveness after the ten-year mark, refinancing can interrupt that and disqualify you for loan forgiveness. If you’re counting on loan forgiveness, we’d recommend you don’t refinance your student loan with a private lender, but be sure to verify that you qualify for loan forgiveness.  

You know which student loans to refinance and why.

If you’re not sure about which loans you want to refinance and why check out our guide to student loan refinancing. We help explain why you might not want to refinance federal loans, and which private loans are best to be refinanced.  

Loan benefits don’t apply to your situation.

If you are not going to qualify for loan forgiveness or if you don’t need benefits like income-based repayment plan options that you’re currently taking advantage of, it might be cool to refinance. Know what special plans you’re using with your current lender before you refinance student loans, because you don’t want to lose those in the process.  

You could save a boatload on interest or loan terms.

People usually think about refinancing when they are looking at a super long-term payment plan that they want to shorten or when they realize that their interest rate is high and they might be able to do better. If you aren’t sure how good your interest rate is, ask a friend or Google current rates. Start comparing. You’ll get an idea. And that will help you understand whether you can keep the same payment and shorten the length of time you pay, too, because this is also tied to interest rates.  

You know how to find a good lender.

Even if you don’t know how to find a good lender, you can figure it out! We encourage you to reach out and get in touch. With ELFI, applicants get their own Personal Loan Advisor who will stick with you throughout the application and setup if you decide to refinance, making the process simple and straightforward. ELFI is one of the best student loan refinancing companies for customer service, being named NerdWallet's Best Refi for Customer Service for 2019. ELFI also has some of the lowest student loan refinancing rates available and flexible terms to fit your goals.*  

What To Know Before Refinancing Student Loans

 
  *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.
2020-03-02
10 Most Expensive U.S. Cities to Live In for 2020

Depending on where you live, your income may not give you as much spending power as you expect. For instance, someone making $100,000 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania will be far more comfortable than someone making $100,000 in Manhattan, New York.    If you’re thinking of moving to a new city, consider the cost of living before committing to relocating. The city’s cost of living can have a big impact on your cash flow and your ability to handle your expenses, including your student loan repayment if you have education debt.   

10 Cities with the Highest Cost of Living in the US

To come up with a list of the 10 U.S. cities with the highest cost of living, we looked at information compiled by Kiplinger. In each city, the cost of living is well above the national average and the median home value is over $450,000 — well above the median home value for the nation as a whole.    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual average wage for all occupations is $51,960. To show you just how expensive each of these cities actually is, we used a cost of living calculator to demonstrate what that salary is worth in each location. For the sake of comparison, we used Atlanta Georgia as the resident’s original city — a city that is right at the national average in terms of cost of living.    Here are the 10 most expensive U.S. cities to live in for 2020:   

10. Boston, MA

If you relocated from Atlanta to Boston and earned the national average wage of $51,960, you’d have to get a job that paid at least $75,137 to maintain the same standard of living that you’re accustomed to in Boston. That’s because Boston’s cost of living is 50% higher than the national average.    Boston does have a below-average unemployment rate, increasing your chances of finding and maintaining a job. As of December 2019, the unemployment rate was just 2.1%      

9. Queens, NY

If you want to move to the Queens section of New York, you’d have to earn at least $75,387 to have the same spending power as you would with a $51,960 salary in Atlanta. The cost of living in Queens is 52% higher than the national average. In particular, you’ll face a much more competitive housing market. According to Zillow, the median home value in Queens is $531,000 and the median rent price for an apartment is $2,250.        

8. Arlington, VA

Arlington’s proximity to the Pentagon and the nation’s capital makes it a hotspot for government workers and lawyers, and the cost of living reflects that. Its cost of living is 53% above the national average, and the median home value in Arlington is $737,932 — nearly $500.000 more than the national median home value.    If you moved from Atlanta to Arlington, you’d have to earn at least $76,588 to maintain your standard of living.       

7. Oakland, CA

In Oakland, be prepared for sticker shock when it comes to housing. The median home value in Oakland is $765,350. The median rent for apartments is a whopping $3,000. That’s more than three times the national median rent for a one-bedroom apartment.    To have the same spending power in Oakland as you did in Atlanta, you’d have to earn at least $80,193 per year.       

6. Seattle, WA

Seattle’s cost of living is 54.8% above the national average. To maintain your standard of living after relocating from Atlanta, you’d have to earn at least $79,792. If you want to be a homeowner, be prepared to spend a significant amount of money. The median home value in Seattle is $752,187. If you prefer to rent, the median rent price is $2,600.    The unemployment rate in the area is relatively low. As of December 2019, it was just 2.2%. The median household income was $85,562      

5. Washington, D.C.

The cost of living in the nation’s capital is 62.6% above the national average. If you relocated from Atlanta to Washington D.C., you’d have to earn at least $82,095 to have the same spending power as you did before.    The median household income is a high $82,604. The median home value in the area is $636,372, and the median rent price is $2,700. However, unemployment in Washington D.C. is quite high. As of December 2019, it was at 5.3%. Unless you already have a job lined up, it may be difficult to find a position since it’s a very competitive market.       

4. Brooklyn, NY

Brooklyn has become a more desirable area for New Yorkers to live, and it’s become more expensive as a result. Its cost of living is 81.7% above the national average, and you’d have to earn $92,206 to maintain your standard of living.    While the housing market is expensive, incomes tend to be relatively low. The median household income for Brooklyn residents is just $56,015. And, the unemployment rate is quite high. As of 2018 — the last available data — the unemployment rate reached 4.6%.        

3. Honolulu, HI

Moving to an island paradise may sound like a dream come true, but that dream comes with a hefty price tag. Honolulu's cost of living is 89.7% above the national average, largely because so much of your everyday essentials need to be imported. To maintain the standard of living you enjoyed in Atlanta, you’d have to earn $100,766 working in Honolulu.    The median home value in Honolulu is $705,505, and the median rent price is $2,200. Unemployment is Honolulu is low; as of December 2019, unemployment was at 2.1%      

2. San Francisco, CA

Many major employers call San Francisco home, including Salesforce, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, and Genentech. With such big companies in the area, employees can often command high salaries. The median household income for San Francisco is $110,601, well above the national median income.    However, San Francisco’s cost of living is quite high; it’s 96.3% above the national average. To maintain your standard of living, you’d have to find a job that paid at least $100,166 per year.    The median home value in San Francisco is $1,392,859. If you want to rent an apartment, be prepared to pay a high price; the median rent price is a staggering $4,500 per month.       

1. Manhattan, NY

Manhattan is notorious for its sky-high cost of living. In fact, its cost of living is 148.5% higher than the national average. If you were to move to Manhattan from Atlanta, you’d have to increase your salary to $127,497 to maintain your standard of living — a $75,537 increase over your current income. Everything in Manhattan is more expensive, especially housing, food, and transportation.    The median home value in Manhattan is $1,013,116, and the median rent price is $3,450. Unfortunately, finding and keeping a job to pay for those housing costs can be difficult since Manhattan does have a relatively high unemployment rate. As of 2018 — the last available data — it was at 4.1%  

Living in an Expensive City

If you’re moving to a new city, it’s important to know what to expect in terms of cost of living and how far your income will go in your new location. Before moving, create a budget and streamline your expenses to free up as much money as you can.    If you need to improve your cash flow, consider student loan refinancing. You could lower your interest rate or extend your repayment term to reduce your monthly payment, giving you more breathing room in your monthly budget so you can afford your new home. Use ELFI’s Find My Rate tool to get a quote without affecting your credit score.*  
  *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.  
2020-02-28
This Week in Student Loans: February 28

Please note: Education Loan Finance does not endorse or take positions on any political matters that are mentioned. Our weekly summary is for informational purposes only and is solely intended to bring relevant news to our readers.

  This week in student loans:

Parents Owe $100 Billion Of Student Loans

The latest data on student loan debt has revealed that while 44 million borrowers collectively owe $1.6 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S., 3.6 million borrowers collectively own $96.1 billion in Parent PLUS Loans.  

Source: Forbes

 

Record Portion of Student Loans are on Income-Based Repayment

During the fourth quarter of 2019, it was found that almost a fourth (24.7%) of $452 billion in federal student loans were being paid using an income-based repayment plan, which was 21.8% higher than the fourth quarter of the previous year.  

Source: Market Watch

 

Debt Among Oldest Americans Skyrockets 543% in Two Decades

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, total debt for Americans over age 70 increased 543% from 1999 through 2019. More specifically, student loan debt for 65-year-olds increased 886% per person between 2003 and 2015.  

Source: CNBC

 

First Aid Beauty Launches Fab Aid Campaign to Tackle Student Loans

A popular beauty brand just took an angle on tackling student debt – First Aid Beauty recently announced that several of their new products sold at Sephora will contribute 10% of retail sales toward a $1 million commitment to help students and graduates pay down their student loan debt. Individuals can apply to have their student loans paid off by First Aid Beauty at fabaid.com by submitting a video sharing their student loan story, and winners will be chosen by the brand's advisory board.  

Source: Yahoo

    That wraps things up for this week! Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or LinkedIn for more news about student loans, refinancing, and achieving financial freedom.  
 

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.

2020-02-26
An Ophthalmologist’s Guide to Student Loan Refinancing

Whether you have already achieved your dream of becoming an ophthalmologist or you are in the midst of your residency, the last thing you need to worry about is overpaying for your student loans. This guide will help you understand your different options so you can make the best financial decision for you and your future.   

By Caroline Farhat

 

Ophthalmologists and Student Loans

If you are part of the 73% of medical graduates with student loans, you may be facing an average of $192,000 in medical school debt according to a 2017 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. While in residency, an ophthalmologist in 2017 was earning about $55,000 on average, but after residency, the average salary for an ophthalmologist is about $366,000 -- making student loan debt much more manageable.    Before looking into options available to you to help pay down your debt, it’s best to know the following information: 
  • The type of loans you have. There are different programs available to you based on whether you have federal or private loans. 
  • The balance of your loan, interest rate and term period remaining. With this information, it will be easier to determine what course of action can be the most beneficial for you. 
 

Options To Pay Student Loans

So how do you tackle the six-figures of student loan debt you may be facing? Outlined below are the different options you have. Depending on your types of loans, you may be able to do a combination of the options to maximize your payments.  

1. Loan forgiveness

There are state and federal programs that provide loan forgiveness or payments towards your loans depending on the types of loans you have and the sector of your work.    For federal loans one major program is Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This program forgives your remaining student loan debt after 10 years of qualifying payments while you work at a qualifying nonprofit hospital. There are specific requirements for this program including the type of federal loans, when you make payments for them to qualify and the payment plan you are on, so be sure to closely read the requirements!    For federal and private student loans there are numerous programs that provide forgiveness up to a certain amount or payments for working in underserved areas for a certain period of time.    The Association of American Medical Colleges has a helpful database with loan forgiveness programs to check out.   

2. Make payments during residency

Some may think forbearance is the only option due to the lower salary during residency and the large payments due on the loans. However, this may not be the best option since interest continues to accrue during forbearance. For federal loans, income-driven repayment plans may be a better option since it could significantly lower your monthly payment. Although your payment may not fully cover the interest accruing it will at least cut down on the amount the loan is increasing.   

3. Refinance student loans

Refinancing student loans can be a great option whether you have federal or private loans and especially if you have any variable interest rates on your loans. Variable interest rates are tied to the LIBOR rate and any changes to the rate could increase your student loan payment.    Refinancing loans can reduce your monthly payment and save you interest over the life of the loan. For example: Say you have $150,000 of student loans remaining with the average rate for graduate loans at 7.08% with 15 years left on the term of the loan. Your payment would be $1,355 per month. If you refinanced to a new 15 year term loan and qualified for an interest rate of 4.35%, your new monthly payment could be $1,136 per month saving you $219 per month and $39,408 over the life of the loan.    Check out our student loan refinance calculator to get a better idea of what you could be saving on your loans.*    There are many lenders that provide student loan refinancing. When comparing the best student loan refinance companies be sure to look for no application fees, no origination fees and no prepayment penalties. It’s also good to read reviews about the company to be sure they have good customer service.    At ELFI we never have application or origination fees and no prepayment penalty. You also receive a personal loan advisor to help with the refinancing process.    Different lenders have different requirements for refinancing. In general you need: 
  • good credit score: minimum in the 600s. At ELFI we require a minimum of 680. 
  • solid length of credit history. At ELFI we require at least 36 months. 
  • be a U.S. citizen of the age of majority. 
  • must have obtained a degree from an approved post-secondary institution. 
  • a minimum amount of loans you are refinancing. At ELFI you need a minimum of $15,000 in loans to refinance. 
  • financial documents, including W-2 and recent paystub. 
 

4. Live like you’re a resident even after residency

Although your salary may be much higher after residency, it’s best to keep your expenses the same as when you were a resident. Create and stick to a budget based on your residency income and use all your additional income to put towards paying off your student loans. Not only will this help pay your loans off faster and save you interest in the long run but learning to live below your means will allow you to keep out of debt in the future and create a more stable financial future.   

Bottom Line

Becoming an ophthalmologist was hard enough. You should be incredibly proud of your accomplishment and not let student loan debt damper this exciting time. When you are facing six-figure student loans, it may seem difficult and never ending. But by researching options and making a plan you can tackle the debt effectively!   
  *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.
2020-02-26
A Veterinarian’s Guide to Student Loan Refinancing

If you are a veterinarian or are in school to become one, you’re part of a growing field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for veterinarians is expected to grow by 18% by 2028, far higher than the average for all occupations.   

By Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, Florida. Her work has been featured in publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and more. She is focused on helping people pay down their debt and boost their income.

  Becoming a veterinarian can be an expensive process. The American Veterinary Medical Association reported that the average amount of student loan debt for graduates was $143,000.    However, you also have high earning potential. The median wage for veterinarians is $93,830, which is far higher than most Americans make. With a higher-than-typical income, you’re an excellent candidate for student loan refinancing, which can help you manage your debt and save money.  

Why student loan refinancing is helpful for veterinarians

When you decided to go to veterinary school, you likely had to take out graduate and professional degree loans to pay for your education. Unfortunately, student loans for graduate degrees tend to have higher interest rates than other forms of debt.    Even Grad PLUS Loans — a form of federal loan for graduate and professional degree students — have an interest rate of 7.08%. With such a high rate, your loan balance can quickly grow, causing you to owe far more than you originally borrowed.    By refinancing your student loan debt, you can qualify for a lower interest rate, allowing you to save a significant amount of money.    For example, if you had $143,000 in student loan debt at 7% APR and a 10-year repayment term, your monthly payment would be $1,660 per month. By the end of your repayment term — including interest charges — you would have repaid a total of $199,242.   If you refinanced your debt and qualified for a 10-year loan at just 5% APR, your monthly payment would drop to just $1,517, reducing your monthly payment by $144 per month. Over the course of your repayment, you’d repay $182,008. By refinancing your debt, you’d save over $17,000.   

Original Loans

APR: 7% Loan Term: 10 Years Minimum Monthly Payment: $1,660 Total Interest Paid: $56,242 Total Repaid: $199,242  

Refinancing Loans

APR: 5% Loan Term: 10 Years Minimum Monthly Payment: $1,517 Total Interest Paid: $39,008 Total Repaid: $182,008      

How to refinance veterinary school loans

You can refinance your veterinary school loans in four simple steps:  

1. Review eligibility requirements

Make sure you meet the lender’s eligibility requirements. At ELFI, borrower’s must meet the following criteria: 
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident 
  • You have at least $15,000 in student loan debt
  • You make at least $35,000 per year
  • Your credit score is 680 or higher
  • Your credit history is at least 36 months old
  • Your degree was issued by an approved post-secondary institution and program of study
You can find the list of participating schools on ELFI’s eligibility requirements page.* 

2. Consider adding a cosigner

If you don’t meet the minimum eligibility requirements, or you want to improve your chances of qualifying for a lower interest rate, consider adding a cosigner to your loan application. Typically, you’d ask a parent, relative, or close friend to cosign the loan application with you. If you can’t afford the payments, the cosigner is liable for making them, instead.    By having a cosigner, you boost the likelihood of getting approved for a loan and securing a competitive interest rate.   

3. Get a rate quote

Before submitting your loan application, get a rate quote so you have an idea of what kind of loan terms you can qualify for with a consolidation loan. With ELFI’s Find My Rate tool, you can get an estimated rate in just a few minutes without any impact on your credit score.*    Once you find a loan term and interest rate type that works for your needs, you can move forward with the loan application.   

4. Submit your loan application

You can complete your loan application online. You’ll be prompted to enter basic personal information, such as your name, address, employer, and income. To speed up the process, make sure you have the following documents on hand: 
  • Paystubs
  • W-2 for the previous year
  • Government-issued ID
You’ll also need to know who your current loan servicer is, your account number, and your current loan balance.    The entire application takes about 15 minutes to complete. Once you submit the application, ELFI’s underwriting team will review your information and will contact you with a decision and next steps.    Until you receive a loan approval and notification and loan disbursement, make sure you keep making payments on your current student loans to avoid missed payments and late fees. 

3 other options for managing your loans

While student loan refinancing can be an effective way to manage your debt, it’s not a good idea for everyone. If that’s the case for you, there are some other options you can use to manage your loans: 

1. Income-driven repayment plans

If you have federal student loans, you may be eligible for at least one of the four income-driven repayment (IDR) plans:
  • Income-Based Repayment
  • Income-Contingent Repayment
  • Pay As You Earn
  • Revised Pay As You Earn
With IDR plans, your loan servicer extends your repayment term, increasing it from 10 years to 20 or 25 years. Your monthly payment is generally capped at a percentage of your discretionary income. Depending on your family size and income, you could dramatically reduce your monthly payments.    After 20 to 25 years of making payments — depending on which plan you’re on — the remaining loan balance is discharged, but the forgiven amount is taxable as income.    You can apply for IDR plans online  

2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

As a veterinarian, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) if you have federal student loans and work for a non-profit organization or government agency for at least 10 years while making 120 monthly qualifying payments on your debt. Payments made under an IDR plan qualify for PSLF, no matter how low they may be.    After 10 years of making payments, your remaining loan balance is forgiven. The forgiven balance isn’t taxable as income.    Use the PSLF help tool to see if your employment and loans are eligible for loan forgiveness.   

3. State student loan repayment assistance programs

Veterinarians are in hot demand, and many states are experiencing shortages of trained professionals. To recruit and retain veterinarians in high-need areas, some states offer student loan repayment assistance programs, where they offer help repaying your student loans. In return, you must agree to commit to work for a set period of time in a designated service area.    For example, Minnesota operates the Rural Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program. Eligible veterinarians who agree to work for five years in a qualifying position can receive $15,000 per year in loan repayment assistance, up to a maximum of $75,000.    Visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website to see if your state offers a similar program.   

Managing your student loans

If you need help tackling your debt, student loan refinancing can make a lot of sense. And ELFI can help you achieve your goals. In fact, NerdWallet ranked ELFI as the top lender for veterinary school loan refinancing, giving it a five-star rating.    Use ELFI’s student loan refinancing calculator to see how much you can save by refinancing your student loans.*  
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. To see eligibility requirements, visit https://www.elfi.com/eligibility-requirements-to-refinance-student-loans/.   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.
2020-02-25
7 Great Things to Spend Your Tax Refund On

While tax season fills most people with dread, there’s one thing everyone looks forward to — tax refunds. According to the IRS, approximately 71% of American tax filers receive a tax refund. In 2019, the average tax refund was a whopping $2,869. If you’re like many people, that may be the biggest lump sum you’ll see all year – so it’s important to use it wisely.   

By Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, Florida. Her work has been featured in publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, and more. She is focused on helping people pay down their debt and boost their income.

 

7 Best things to spend your tax refund on

During tax season, retailers compete for your business. You’re bombarded with advertisements and sales trying to get you to spend your newfound money. But before parting with your hard-earned funds – it is money you worked for, after all – focus on using your tax refund on things that will improve your finances, your future financial prospects, and overall well-being.    Need inspiration? Here are seven smart ways to use your tax refund.   

1. Student loan lump sum payments

Student loan debt can be a substantial burden, causing you to put off other goals like saving for retirement, relocating to a new city, buying a home, or even getting married.    Using your tax refund to make a lump sum payment on your debt could allow you to save money on interest fees and help you pay off your loans ahead of schedule.    For example, let’s say you had $30,000 in student loan debt at 6% APR. With a minimum monthly payment, it would take you 10 years to repay your loans. And, you’d repay a total of $39,970; interest charges would cost you $9,970.    But let’s say you received $2,869 as a tax refund. If you applied the entire amount to your student loans as a lump sum payment, you’d pay off your loans 15 months early and you would repay just $37,801. By using your tax refund to make an extra payment on your debt, you would save $2,169 in interest charges.    You can make your tax refund work even harder for you by refinancing your student loans to possibly lower your interest rate. Use our Student Loan Refinance Calculator to see what you could save by refinancing your student loans.*   

2. Medical procedures

If you’re like many people, you may have put off going to the doctor or visiting a dentist because you simply couldn’t afford it. In fact, 25% of Americans reported putting off necessary medical procedures due to cost. However, skipping routine medical and dental care can cause more expensive issues later on, so it’s important to stick to a preventative care routine.    If you haven’t been to the doctor or dentist because you were short on cash, using your tax refund to take care of your health is a wise investment.   

3. Car repairs

Cars are often money pits, causing many people to skimp on routine repairs because of the expense. AAA reported that the average car repair is $500 to $600, but can often cost much more. Keeping up with your car’s maintenance and making necessary repairs can improve your car’s lifespan and fuel efficiency, helping you avoid more costly issues later on.    If you’ve been putting off any repairs or need to replace your tires, use your tax refund to finance that purchase so you can get to and from work safely.   

4. Professional development

With technology changing so quickly, it’s essential that you keep on top of the latest trends in your field so that you remain competitive in the job market. If you want to take your career to the next level, consider using your tax refund to invest in your professional development. You can attend a conference, take a class, or hire a career coach.   

5. Investments

If your finances are in otherwise good shape – meaning you don’t have high-interest debt or a pressing immediate expense – you can use your tax refund to build long-term wealth. Consider using your refund to invest your money by making contributions to your retirement accounts or an individual taxable account.    Don’t think your tax refund can make that much of a difference? Think again. Over time, your money can grow significantly.    For example, let’s say you’re 30 years old and deposit your $2,869 into an individual taxable account. If you don’t deposit another cent and your money earns an average annual return of 8%, that account will have grown to $31,374 by the time you’re 60.    If you’re not sure where to start, check out robo advisors like Betterment® or WealthFront®. They automatically invest your money based on your goals and risk tolerance, so you don’t have to be an investment expert to reap the rewards.   

6. Exercise equipment

Investing in your health and wellness is a good use for your money. Over time, it can help you save on health insurance and medical bills, too.    Consider using some or all of your tax refund to purchase exercise equipment you’ll actually use. Or, sign up for a gym membership or take a few sessions with a personal trainer to ensure you’re using the equipment correctly.   

7. A new computer

If you freelance or are thinking of starting a new side hustle, you may want to use your tax refund to purchase a new computer or software so that you can work more efficiently. With better tools, you may be able to improve your earning potential. And, you may be able to deduct the cost of a new computer or software on next year’s taxes (talk to a tax professional about your unique situation).   

How not to spend your refund

There are a lot of bad ways to spend a tax refund. But one of the worst is using it to purchase a car you can’t really afford. Unfortunately, using a tax refund to buy a new car is incredibly common.    Using your tax refund as a down payment can help you qualify for a car loan. But car values depreciate rapidly, and you could end up with a car that is too costly for your budget, or you could end up owing more than the car is worth. That issue can put you in a precarious financial position, and it’s hard to dig yourself out of debt.    If you need reliable transportation, use your tax refund to purchase an inexpensive, used car that you can comfortably afford. If you need to take out a loan, financial experts recommend that you choose a loan term no longer than 36 months; if you need a longer loan term than that to manage the loan payments, the car is likely more than you can truly afford.    There’s seven things that you should spend your tax refund on, along with one that you shouldn’t! Regardless of your situation, focus on spending your refund responsibly.    For more information, learn how to create a monthly 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.
2020-02-21
This Week in Student Loans: February 21

Please note: Education Loan Finance does not endorse or take positions on any political matters that are mentioned. Our weekly summary is for informational purposes only and is solely intended to bring relevant news to our readers.

  This week in student loans:

30,000 borrowers are being charged for student loans that were already discharged

30,000 borrowers of student loans from a private lender thought their loans would be discharged when they declared bankruptcy years ago – however the lender disagreed, and they are continuing to be charged. The borrowers are now suing the U.S. Bankruptcy court for the Eastern District of New York.  

Source: Yahoo Finance

 

USC announces new tuition-free plan

The University of Southern California (USC) recently announced two major changes to its financial aid plan, one of which makes attendance tuition-free for applicants whose family's household income falls at or below $80,000. Owning a home will also not be counted in the calculation to determine a student's financial need.  

Source: Forbes

 

Younger employees want help paying down student debt

A recent report from consumer research firm Hearts and Wallets revealed that younger workers would rather have employers assist them with repaying student loans than help them save for retirement. Two-thirds of workers of ages 21 to 27 said companies should help them pay down student debt, while just 27% said companies should help them save for retirement.  

Source: Investment News

 

49% of Americans expect to live paycheck to paycheck this year

A new survey revealed that a whopping 49% of Americans expect to live paycheck to paycheck through each month of this year. It also revealed that 53% don't have an emergency fund that covers at least three months of expenses. Despite the negative sentiment, 91% did say they wanted to develop better money habits in 2020.  

Source: Forbes

    That wraps things up for this week! Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or LinkedIn for more news about student loans, refinancing, and achieving financial freedom.  
 

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.