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Establishing Your ‘Why’ for Paying Off Student Debt

If you are working to pay off student loan debt, you are not alone. Approximately 45 million Americans have student loan debt, with the average borrower facing almost $33,000 to pay back. This could take ten years or longer to get rid of the debt. If you are on a mission to pay off your student loans, or any debt, establishing your ‘why’ can be a big help to pay them faster.   

Establishing Your 'Why'

Studies have shown that writing down your goals makes you more likely to achieve them. This can easily be applied to the goal of paying down debt. Determining your 'why' and writing it down can help keep you motivated to knock out your student loans.    Knowing your motivation will also help you when the debt-paying journey gets hard. The process to pay off debt, especially large student loans, can be stressful and seem never-ending. You will inevitably encounter setbacks to your payoff goal or hard times that make you question whether you should stay on track. For example, you may have budgeted one month you were going to pay an extra $200 to your student loans, then a few days later an unexpected car repair or medical emergency occurs and now the $200 has to be spent on the emergency instead of your student loans. This may be a setback that makes paying down the debt a little tougher that month. But having your motivation, your ‘why’, can help you see the big picture and stay focused on your debt crushing goal.    Every person will have a different reason for wanting to get out student debt now, but some ideas you may want to consider when establishing your 'why' are:   

Desire to Start a Family

Most everyone has heard how expensive kids can be, and if you are paying student loans off, you may not have much room left in your budget to cover all the costs associated with having a baby. Although you shouldn’t put off starting a family because you have debt, use it as motivation to pay it off quickly so you won’t have to feel stressed about finances when you have a little one. Make a goal to have a portion or all of your student debt paid before your family grows. Try to meet your goal by budgeting for extra payments to your student debt. It also might be helpful to start budgeting and saving for baby expenses before the newest addition arrives.     

Retiring Early

If you want to focus less on your 9 to 5 and more on a passion project, retiring early may be on your radar. This could be a great motivator to use extra money to eliminate your student loan debt. Having fewer expenses, like debt payments, allows you to live off of less income during retirement, which may allow you to retire earlier than expected.    

Buying a House

If you dream of buying your own home you may encounter hurdles being approved for a mortgage if your debts compared to your income are too high. But every dollar towards your student loans can help you get closer to the dream of owning a home by decreasing your debt totals.   


Being debt-free provides many opportunities that may not be sustainable when you are facing debt payments each month. You are free to accept a dream job that may pay less. You have the opportunity to have more experiences, like travel and music festivals, that may not have previously fit in your budget. Freedom from student debt payments can be a great motivator when you are trying to establish your why because it can lead to many more goals you want to accomplish.   

How to Stay Motivated

Once you have established your 'why,' try some different techniques to stay motivated to actually achieve the goals. Besides just writing down your goals, here are some other techniques to try:   

Visualize Your Goal

This can be as simple as putting up a picture of your dream house to remind you that homeownership is in your future or creating a whole board of how you envision your life after paying off your debt. However you do it, actually seeing pictures and representations of your goal can help “keep your eye on the prize”.   

Debt Payment Charts

If you are more motivated by the amount of debt paid, use a debt-payment chart to show your progress. You can do this by drawing out boxes to represent amounts of your debt and shading in when you reach that milestone. You can also do a simple search online to find free debt-free charts to use.    

Reward Yourself

Be sure to reward yourself, but do it in moderation so you don’t undo your progress. When you meet a milestone of paying off your debt, reward yourself with a little something special. For example: Set a goal that every time you pay down your debt by 20% you buy a purchase you’ve been eyeing under $100. This will help you feel like you are still able to buy things you enjoy while making progress on your debt paying journey.     Are you looking to pay your student loan debt off quicker? Check into refinancing your student loans. Refinancing can be beneficial for many borrowers because it can help you save in interest costs and pay your loans off faster. Use our Student Loan Refinance Calculator to see what you could be saving.*    Bottom Line Paying off student loan debt may be a stressful journey at times, but once you establish your why for wanting to pay off the debt, you will feel motivated to keep going during the tough times. Accomplishing your goal of paying off student loans will allow you to feel free from the debt and help you get closer to the other goals you have planned. You can do it!  
  *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.
How College Graduates Can Still Take Advantage of Low Student Loan Rates

If you went to college before the 2020-2021 school year and took out student loans, you, unfortunately, have terrible luck.    In May, the U.S. Department of Education announced it was slashing federal student loan interest rates to their lowest rates in decades. The changes aren’t retroactive, so if you took out student loans before July 1, 2020, you’re stuck with the higher rate you agreed to when you signed your promissory note.    If that feels unfair, there is a workaround: student loan refinancing.* By refinancing your loans, you can secure a lower interest rate and save money over the life of your loans.   

Current federal student loan interest rates

As of July 1, 2020, the following federal loan interest rates apply: 
  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans: Interest rates on Direct loans for undergraduate students went from 4.53% to just 2.75%. 
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans for graduate students: The interest rate on graduate loans decreased from 6.08% to 4.30%. 
  • PLUS Loans: The interest rate on Parent PLUS Loans and Grad PLUS Loans went from 7.08% to 5.30%. 
If you took out loans even a day before July 1, 2020, you have a much higher rate, and the federal government doesn’t offer any way to take advantage of the lower interest rates.    The impact of these rate differences can be significant.    For example, let’s say Laura went to college during the 2019-2020 school year and took our Direct Unsubsidized undergraduate loans. She borrowed $15,000 and had a 10-year term at 4.54% interest. By the end of her repayment term, she’d pay $3,681 in interest charges.    Laura’s friend Jennifer is going to college during the 2020-2021 academic year. She also will take out $15,000 in student loans, but she qualifies for a 10-year loan at a reduced rate of 2.75%. At the end of her repayment period, she’ll pay just $2,174 in interest charges. The reduced interest rate allows Laura to save over $1,500.    Direct Unsubsidized Loan Comparison Chart for 2019 vs. 2020  

How to lower your interest rate with student loan refinancing

If you have an older federal student loan and want to lower your rate, student loan refinancing may be a solution for you.    With the Federal Reserve slashing rates and the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) at a record low, you can get a low variable or fixed-rate loan. Fixed-rate loans tend to follow the trend of the Federal Reserve. As interest rates are reduced, fixed-rate loans usually follow suit.    With variable-rate loans, private lenders typically use LIBOR to set their rates. Private lenders will base their rates on the LIBOR plus their margin. Since the LIBOR can fluctuate over time, your variable interest rate can change, too.    Right now, the LIBOR rate is much lower than it was even six months ago. If you refinance and opt for a variable-rate loan, you could dramatically lower your interest rate.    Refinancing interest rates are at historic lows for fixed and variable-rate loans, so now is a great time to refinance your debt if you want to get rid of high-interest debt.   

How student loan refinancing works

When you refinance, you apply for a loan from a private lender like Education Loan Finance. Unlike federal loans, which typically don’t require a credit check, private refinancing lenders base their decisions off of your creditworthiness and income.    If you have good credit, you can qualify for a loan at a competitive rate. If you have less-than-perfect credit, you can still refinance your debt. You’ll just need a cosigner with good to excellent credit to apply for the loan with you.    Refinancing has multiple benefits:  

1. Save money

When you refinance and qualify for a lower rate, you can save a substantial amount of money.    ELFI customers reported that they are saving an average of $272 each month and should see an average of $13,940 in total savings after refinancing their student loans with ELFI.1    Use the student loan refinance calculator to find out how much you could save by refinancing your loans.*   

2. Consolidate your debt

To pay for college, you likely had to take out multiple student loans. You may have a mix of federal and private loans and have different loan servicers, monthly payments, and due dates to manage. Juggling multiple loans can be confusing, making it more likely you’ll lose track and miss a payment.    When you refinance your debt, you’ll consolidate all of your loans into one. Instead of having multiple loans and due dates, you’ll have just one loan and one easy payment to remember.   

3. Reduce your monthly payments

When you apply for student loan refinancing, you can qualify for a lower interest rate. But, you can also change your loan term. If you decide to extend your loan term, you can reduce your monthly payment and get more breathing room in your budget, a valuable benefit when you’re getting your career off the ground.    Later on, when you’re more established and making more money, you can make extra payments and pay off your debt early without paying a prepayment penalty.   

How to refinance your loans

Refinancing your loans is a simple process; You can get a rate quote from ELFI online without affecting your credit score.* Once you find a loan that works for your needs, you can finish the application process online.    If you need help or have additional questions, call ELFI to speak to a Personal Loan Advisor at 844-601-3534.   
  *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.   1Average savings calculations are based on information provided by SouthEast Bank/ Education Loan Finance customers who refinanced their student loans between 2/7/2020 and 2/21/2020. While these amounts represent reported average amounts saved, actual amounts saved will vary depending upon a number of factors.   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.
Woman enjoying a wedding
How to Budget for Wedding Season Without Breaking the Bank

It’s no surprise that planning a wedding is expensive, with the average cost of a wedding in the United States hovering around $25,000. Slightly more surprising, however, is the cost of attending a wedding. From hotel expenses for out-of-town guests to attire for the wedding party, guest expenses average between $400 and $1,000.   With that in mind, it’s important to be proactive about maintaining your budget, especially during peak wedding season, if you’re planning to attend several events. Here are a few tips on how to budget for wedding season without breaking the bank.  

Plan ahead

The best way to keep costs down is always to plan ahead. During the summer, experts recommend buying plane tickets 47 days in advance to get the best possible airfare prices. On the other hand, waiting until the last minute means you’ll pay premium prices. Buying tickets within 6 days of your flight costs an average of $208 dollars more. Even the week before that, you’ll pay an extra $100.   Hotels are slightly different from airlines in that they tend to reward late booking. Those who book within the last 6 days tend to save around 15%. That said, it’s important to keep a few things in mind when booking your stay. For example, experts claim the best days for booking hotels are during the weekend, and the worst days are during the week. Plan your search accordingly, and if possible check in on a Sunday, when prices are the lowest.   If you have an important role in the wedding, however, be sure not to book too late, or you may miss the opportunity to find a hotel with easy access to the venue.  


As expenses begin to add up, you may wonder how to budget for a wedding. Account for basic expenses ahead of time, like how many meals you’ll eat on-the-go or any fuel refills your trip will require, especially if you’re traveling out of town. If you plan to take part in any pre-wedding activities, like hair or nail appointments, be sure to keep those in mind, as well. When budgeting, leave yourself some leeway, in case you find yourself doing things you hadn’t planned for.   There are a number of fantastic budgeting apps that can make this easy, allowing you to categorize expenses and manage your money. Also, some banks offer temporary, specialty savings accounts that prevent you from withdrawing money before a specific date. These are great budgeting tools for event-specific expenses.   Sticking to a budget during wedding season is a fantastic way to ensure you’ll enjoy your trip and have the flexibility to participate in a few fun activities, but also to avoid breaking the bank when attending each person’s special day. If you have a busy wedding season coming up, now is the time to begin considering your wedding season budget, so you can be prepared for every “I do.”  

Find deals on gifts

While it’s fun to choose a wedding gift the couple will enjoy for many years, there’s no reason to break the bank while shopping the registry.   Keep an eye on stores where the couple is registered well in advance, then, as gifts go on sale, you’ll be able to pick them up at a slight discount. If you give yourself enough time, you should be able to find discounts on a number of things that are on the wedding registry, and the couple will still enjoy them as much as if you had paid full price.   Retailers like Amazon and Target have regular sales, meaning it’s only a matter of time before the things you’re looking for are discounted. If you’re still a student, also consider looking into student discounts. Hundreds of retailers offer them.   If you take your time looking for gifts, keep an eye out for sales and start your shopping early, both your wallet and the happy couple will be thrilled with your purchase.    

Rent or borrow an outfit

Let’s be honest. Nobody is going to remember what you wore to the last wedding, so if you need to save a few dollars, this is the perfect way to do it. If you do want to show off a new style for the special occasion, consider renting an outfit or even borrowing one from a friend. That way you don’t end up with clothing you’re unlikely to wear more than once.   Recycling your special occasion outfits will be a huge help in keeping your peak wedding season finances on track. As a bonus, renting or borrowing will make your wedding day outfit both budget- and environment-friendly.  

Don’t be afraid to say no

If you truly cannot afford to attend a wedding, don’t go. Just make sure to let them know you won't be attending, send a nice card, and maybe even a gift. Show your appreciation for the invitation regardless; make sure they understand that you’d like to be there. If your reaction is polite and friendly, they will certainly appreciate it.   Your financial situation is important, and if attending a wedding will put you in dire straits, your close friends will understand your having to decline, as unfortunate as it may be.   In many ways, all of these tips can be summed up into two: plan ahead and keep your wedding season budget in mind. Don’t put these things off until the last minute whenever possible, because it may make the process more stressful and expensive. Be sure to have fun and enjoy celebrating people you care about during the happiest moments of their lives. What could be better?   If you’re the one getting married, we have even more tips and tricks for making your wedding day special and budget-friendly. You can find them here.  
   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.
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What Trump’s Executive Order Means for Your Student Loans

Due to the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the economy, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March. The CARES Act gave some federal loan borrowers relief, temporarily suspending their loan payments and reducing their interest rates to 0%.   By Kat Tretina   The CARES Act was originally set to expire on September 30, and payments and regular interest rates were supposed to be reinstated on October 1, 2020. However, President Trump signed an executive order on August 8 that extended the payment suspension until December 31, extending its benefits but raising some new questions for student loan borrowers.    Here’s what Trump’s executive action means for you, and what to do if you don’t qualify for the CARES Act federal student loan protections.   

How CARES Act executive order affects your student loans

For federal loan borrowers who may be still experiencing financial hardships because of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump’s executive action was welcome news.    Under the executive action, certain CARES Act protections have been extended until December 31, 2020: 
  • Federal loan payments suspended
  • Interest rates reduced to 0%
  • Collection activities postponed
  The Education Department has clarified that the extension includes the prior CARES Act protections for those pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness and loan rehabilitation, with non-payments during this period still counting as qualifying payments for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and the federal loan rehabilitation program.   Thanks to the executive action, you won’t have to make payments on your loans, and you won’t become delinquent or enter into default. You can use the money you would’ve spent on your payments on rent or other necessary expenses. Or, you can continue making payments on your loans to accelerate your repayment. Since interest rates are set at 0%, you can use this period to chip away at your loan principal.   

Who is eligible for the CARES Act federal student loan protections? 

Unfortunately, not all student loan borrowers are eligible for the CARES Act federal student loan protections. Only federal Direct Loan borrowers and those with federally held FFEL Loans qualify, so you must have one of the following loan types: 
  • Direct Subsidized
  • Direct Unsubsidized
  • Grad PLUS
  • Parent PLUS
  • Direct Consolidation
  • FFEL Loans currently owned by the U.S. Department of Education

Should I refinance my student loans?

While federally held student loans are covered by the bill, neither Perkins Loans nor privately-held FFEL loans are covered by the bill. Private student loans are also ineligible for the CARES Act protections and the executive action extension.    If your loans don’t qualify, now may be a good time to consider student loan refinancing. Student loan refinancing rates are at an all-time low, so you can reduce your rate, lower your monthly payment, and save money over the length of your repayment term.    When you refinance, you apply for a loan from a lender like ELFI for the amount of your combined existing debt. Your new loan will have different terms, such as interest rate, monthly payment, and the repayment period. To get the lowest student loan refinancing rates, you typically need good to excellent credit, and you need to opt for a shorter loan term.    With good credit — or a cosigner to apply for the loan with you — you may qualify for a lower interest rate than you have now and save a significant amount of money.    For example, if you had $40,000 in student loans at 6% interest and a 10-year repayment term, you’d pay $53,290 over the length of your repayment term.    But if you refinanced and qualified for a 10-year loan at 4% interest, you’d pay just $48,598. By refinancing your student loans, you’d save $4,692, and you’d even reduce your monthly payment.   

Original Loan

Balance: $40,000 Interest Rate: 6% Loan Term: 10 Years Minimum Monthly Payment: $444 Total Interest: $13,290 Total Repaid: $53,290  

Refinanced Loan

Balance: $40,000 Interest Rate: 4% Loan Term: 10 Years Minimum Monthly Payment: $405 Total Interest: $8,598 Total Repaid: $48,598   Use the student loan refinance calculator to find out how much you save by refinancing your student loans. If you decide to move forward with refinancing, you can get a rate quote from ELFI 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.
Check out these 8 apps that can help you pay off your student loans
8 Apps That Can Help You Pay Off Your Student Loans Faster

Over the past few decades, student loan debt has skyrocketed. That’s no secret. Fortunately, at the same time, hundreds of tools have been created to help make paying off student debt easier and faster. Many of them can be accessed entirely through your phone, turning student loan relief into a mobile, accessible service. We’ve compiled a list of several apps that can help you pay off your student loans. Take a look:  


There are dozens of fantastic budgeting apps, and Mint is among the best. It allows you to track and plan for expenses by providing easy access to statistics and other information about your spending.   How does this pertain to student loans? The answer is simple. Proper budgeting and paying off student loans go hand in hand. Being able to set aside portions of your income every month for your student loan payments is key to successful financial management. Plus, by looking at your budget and determining where you can cut spending, you’ll be able to put more money toward your student loan payments, allowing you to become debt-free faster.  


Created by personal finance guru Dave Ramsey and his team, EveryDollar is another great budgeting application. Designed to be simple and efficient, EveryDollar is a very effective budgeting tool. As with Mint, maintaining a budget is key to every quick student loan payoff. EveryDollar is best used to identify where you can spend less money in order to reallocate that money to your student loan payments, and with all the information laid out in front of you, it’s hard not to see where you can make some improvements.  


Built by two individuals who struggled to pay off their student loans, ChangEd is an app that links to your credit and debit cards. When you make a purchase with those cards, ChangEd rounds up to the nearest dollar, taking that change and sending it straight to your student loan provider when you reach a minimum threshold. While seemingly a small amount, this extra change adds up. It’s more money going directly to your student loan payments. Who would turn that down?  


Qoins functions very similarly to ChangEd. You connect your credit and debit cards, and after every purchase, Qoins will round up and send that money to your student loan provider. The difference between Qoins and ChangEd: there’s no minimum threshold to reach, all the extra money goes straight to your loan provider. That said, it charges a higher monthly fee than ChangEd to do this.  


Undebt.it is a handy app that allows you to track all your debt in one place, then it provides a plan to help you pay it off in the most efficient way possible. One way is the ever-popular debt snowball method, where you pay off all of your smallest loans first, but you can also choose from a variety of repayment strategies. You can choose whichever works best for you. One highlight is the app's ability to show what a difference an extra payment makes.  

Debt Payoff Assistant

Debt Payoff Assistant is a debt tracker focused mostly on the debt snowball method. Input each of your debts, student debt especially, and a unique debt repayment plan is generated. The app offers great utility, with several built-in calculators, as well as the ability to view a payoff schedule, estimated payoff dates and more.  


Givling is a quirky way to deal with student debt faster. Twice a day, Givling hosts a trivia contest via their app. Winners earn a cash prize, and as one plays more, they help to crowdfund future giveaways and prizes. So if you’re good at trivia, this could be your chance to tackle some student debt. If you aren’t good, you’re still helping to pay off someone else's student loans. That said, the odds are against you winning big through Givling, and it’s definitely better to consider it a fun diversion rather than a serious solution for dealing with student debt.  

Google Opinion Rewards

A little like a side hustle, Google Opinion Rewards and other survey-for-pay websites are a different way to deal with student debt. When you complete a survey, you will receive a very small reward, but the rewards add up over time. It’s a great way to fill short periods with nothing to do. You can easily earn a little pocket change in a waiting room or while waiting for the tea kettle to boil. Put it towards your student loans, and you’ll be well on your way!   There are dozens more apps that can help you pay off your student loans, and undoubtedly there will be even more in the coming years. It’s never been easier to get organized and tackle your student loans head on, and with these apps, we hope you’ll get it done in style. If the apps don’t cut it, it may be time to consider student loan refinancing, check it out here.  
  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.
Benefits of making consistent student loan payments
The Benefits of Making Consistent Student Loan Payments

If you have student loans and consistently make your monthly payment, congratulations! You know how beneficial that can be for your financial health. However, if you are in the habit of skipping student loan payments because you think it won’t affect you, you need to keep reading.   Although missing a student loan payment isn’t quite as detrimental as missing a car or mortgage payment, missing student loan payments can have a strong negative impact on your financial future. Still need convincing? Here are four great reasons to continue making consistent student loan payments, and what to do if you’re struggling to make your payments.  

Benefits of Consistent Student Loan Payments

Whether you have federal student loans or private student loans, there are many benefits to making consistent payments on time. When you make consistent student loan payments, you're more likely to:  

Have a Better Credit Score

Your credit score can affect many facets of your life. For example, if you want to buy a car, rent a home or buy a home, your credit score will be reviewed before you’re approved.   One of the most important factors in determining a person’s credit score is their payment history. The payment history shows if you miss a payment, and missed payments remain on your credit history for 7 years. So any missed student loan payments could take a significant toll on your credit score, while making consistent payments can help improve your score. A better credit score can:  

Qualify for a Mortgage, Car Loan or Better Interest Rate

When you apply for a loan, sometimes lenders require a minimum credit score to approve the loan. Even after you are approved for a loan, a higher credit score means a better chance of receiving a lower interest rate. A lower interest rate equates to paying less interest over the life of the loan, saving you money!  

Qualify for Refinancing

Whether you want to refinance your student loans or your mortgage, having a good credit score can help you qualify for refinancing and a better interest rate.  

Qualify for Better Credit Card Limits and Rates

Having a strong credit score and good credit history shows lenders you are responsible with credit and making payments. Therefore, when you apply for a credit card, you are more likely to receive a higher credit limit and lower interest rate.  

Qualify for Rental Housing

Even if you think you will not be taking out any other loans, if you are trying to rent a house or apartment, some locations require a credit report. A low credit score or negative credit history can prevent you from qualifying for certain housing.  

Save on Interest

When you make consistent payments on your student loans, you will save on interest costs. Interest compounds daily, meaning more interest is added to your loan each day. Some interest accrues based on the principal of the loan (the amount you borrowed), while other loans interest compound based on the total outstanding balance. Therefore, consistently making payments, and making extra payments when you can, will save you from paying more interest.  

Avoid Late Fees

When you make consistent payments by your due date, you will avoid having to pay any late fees. Saving yourself money that could be put towards your loans!  

Pay Loans Off Faster

One of the best benefits of making consistent payments is that you can pay your student loans off faster. For example: if you are paid bi-weekly and decide to make half your monthly payment each time, you will ultimately make one extra payment per year.   Here is how it works: If you owe $50,000 at 7% interest and have a 20 year loan term, your payment would be approximately $387.65 per month. If this is paid consistently monthly you would end up paying over $43,000 in interest over the 20 years. However, if you divide your payment in half to $193.82 and pay that every two weeks you would pay the loan off 3 years sooner and save over $7,000 in interest.  

What to Do If You Can’t Make Consistent Payments

If you are worried because you can’t make the payments by your due date, here are some options to try:  

Switch to a Different Repayment Plan

If you have federal student loans, look into whether a different repayment plan would help make your payment more manageable. Although switching to a longer loan term or income-driven repayment plan will increase the amount of interest you owe in the long term, it’s best to have an affordable payment you can make so you do not default on your loan.  

Try Refinancing Your Student Loans

Refinancing your student loans is an excellent way to make your loans more affordable and save on interest costs. Refinancing is taking out a new loan to pay off your old student loans. When you apply for a new loan you may qualify for a new lower interest rate, which reduces the amount you’ll pay over the life of the loan. A lower interest rate can also reduce your required monthly payment, making it more budget-friendly. After you refinance, you may also see that it is easier to make more consistent payments, such as bi-weekly, to pay your loan off faster. Use our Student Loan Refinance Calculator to see how much you can save with refinancing.*   When you are paying off any type of debt, it’s always best to make consistent payments on time. This will not only keep you in the habit of making payments but will save you money in the long run. Although paying off student loans may seem like a marathon at times, you will reach the end! Keep going because it will literally pay off!  
  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.   *Subject to credit approval. Terms & Conditions apply.
Woman checking her credit score
7 Ways to Put Your Good Credit Score to Work

If you have been paying your bills on time and have achieved a high credit score, congratulations! A high credit score opens up many options that can help in both your financial and personal lives. Now that you have a good credit score, here are seven ways to put it to work for you.  

What is a Good Credit Score?

A credit score is a three-digit number that lenders use to determine how much of a risk it is to lend money to that person. There are two major types of credit scores, a FICO credit score and a VantageScore. Lenders can use either score, although a FICO score is used by 90% of the top lenders. A credit score can range from 300 to 850. A good credit score is considered to be in the range of 670 to 739. According to Experian, one of the credit bureaus that calculates scores, the average FICO score in 2019 was 703.  

What Can a Good Credit Score Do for You?

When you have a good credit score, there are many benefits you can take advantage of to help improve your finances and that affect your personal life. Here are some examples of how you can put your good score to work for you:  

Help Qualify for Credit Cards and Loans

When you apply for credit cards or loans, like student loans, mortgage or car loan, the lender pulls your credit report and score to determine your creditworthiness. A good credit score will help you qualify for credit cards or loans. With a strong credit score, you can qualify for sought-after credit cards that offer rewards and benefits. With a low credit score, you may not even qualify to obtain credit.  

Save You Money in Interest

If your credit score allows you to qualify for a credit card or loan, a good credit score can help you qualify for a lower interest rate, thereby saving you money. This can help advance your financial future because if you save money in interest costs you can put those savings towards other financial goals, like retirement or an emergency fund.  

Qualify for Housing

A credit score doesn’t just affect you when you are trying to take out a loan, it can also affect your personal life by determining whether you will be approved for rental houses or apartments. Landlords may look at your score to determine whether you may be at risk of not paying rent. A good score makes you more likely to be approved for housing.   Avoid Security Deposits: When you have a good credit score, you can use it to your advantage by not having to pay some security deposits or paying a reduced security deposit. This can come into play with utility companies, like electric and water companies, as well as with cable and internet companies. With a lower credit score, you may have to pay a high security deposit when you are signing up for utilities. A higher credit score leads to more savings!  

Help Get a New Cell Phone

If you are looking to get a new cell phone, but won’t be paying for it outright, you may need to lease a phone. Some carriers will require a good credit score to qualify for a lease plan on a new cell phone. Otherwise, you may have to pay the entire cost up front or choose a different phone.  

Qualify for Refinancing

If you want to refinance your mortgage or student loans, having a good credit score can help you qualify and obtain a lower interest rate. Refinancing can help decrease your monthly costs, as well as your interest costs over the life of the loan.  

More Options from Different Lenders

With a high credit score, you will be able to qualify with many different lenders when you are trying to obtain a loan. Having many different lenders willing to work with you enables you to obtain the lowest interest rate and best terms. With a lower credit score, you may qualify with fewer lenders and would be forced to use lenders that offer less than ideal rates and terms.  

How to Improve Your Score

A credit score is determined by information in your credit report, such as your payment history, whether you make late or on-time payments, how much debt you have and how much available credit you have. If your credit score isn’t where you want it to be, here are a few ways to improve it:  

Pay your bills on time every month.

A major part of your score is based on the consistency of your payments. If you don’t have a budget, create one to make sure all your payments can be made.  

Pay down debt.

The next major factor in determining a credit score is the amount of outstanding debt. Try to pay down your balances to keep the debt amount low.

Do not apply for a lot of credit.

Every time you apply for credit it causes an “inquiry” on your report. All inquiries for the past 12 months are shown. A lot of inquiries can raise a red flag that a person needs credit and would have a difficult time paying it back.  

Do not close long-standing accounts that are in good credit.

Some of your score is based on the length of your credit history. A longer credit history can help improve your score. Having a good credit score can help you in the future, whether with financial aspects or your personal life. If your credit score is negatively affecting you, follow the above steps to improve it. And if you have a high credit score, put it to good use and keep up the good work!  
  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.
Woman reading student loan news
This Week in Student Loans: August 14, 2020

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:
white house

Trump Extended Federal Student Loan Relief: Here's What Experts Say You Should Do If You Qualify

This past Saturday, President Trump signed an executive order to extend the federal student loan suspensions included in the CARES Act, which put all federal student loans into automatic forbearance with 0% interest accrued during the period.  

Source: CNBC


student loan servicers

New Details, Timeline Announced For Big Student Loan Servicing Changes

This week, the U.S. Department of Education released new details and a possible timeline for the upcoming loan servicing changes that would impact millions of student loan borrowers.  

Source: Forbes


photo of low student loan interest rates

Student Loan Interest Rates Are Way Down — Here's How to Refinance in 3 Quick Steps

Interest rates on private student loans offered by banks and online lenders have dropped significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic – here's how you can take advantage of these low rates by refinancing.  

Source: Yahoo Finance

  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.

Take on a DIY project while working from home
10 DIY Projects to Consider When Working From Home

Since it seems like work-from-home life is here to stay, it’s best to focus on positive ways to be productive. Your commute is shorter, you save on gas, you save on insurance and you can finally get around to some DIY projects! Maybe even some of which you’ve been putting off for a long time. How exciting!   We’ve come up with a few DIY projects you can embark on, from the grotesquely boring to the enjoyable, which should make your work-from-home experience a little more enjoyable.  

Plant an Herb Garden

Planting an herb garden is not only satisfying; it’s also incredibly useful! Plants like basil grow easily in hot weather and provide you with lots of fresh ingredients. Best of all, many of these herbs grow in just a few weeks, making them perfect for the impatient chef.   If you’re not planning on growing your herbs from seeds, buying pre-potted herbs is a great way to enjoy the same herb garden experience. You can easily plant them in the ground or move them to larger pots when you need to. As a bonus, you’ll have a few herbs to use immediately.  

Paint Your Baseboards

While it may sound a little boring, painting your baseboards is is an incredibly easy way to make your house or apartment look nicer. Use painter’s tape to ensure that paint doesn’t spill over onto the walls, and you should be good to go. For more information, check out this in-depth guide.  

Paint an Accent Wall

Accent walls are a great way to make your space look larger, which if you have a small house or apartment, is a huge benefit. They also provide an easy way to add some panache to a room.   An accent wall is a great way to showcase a striking painting and other features of your room. Best of all, it’s only one wall. It’s all too easy to embark on a full room-painting odyssey only to find that it’s far more work than you thought. The accent wall, by comparison, is quick and easy, and if it turns out you don’t like it, it’s easy to repaint.  

Bring Some Green Inside

If your work-from-home space is looking dull, plants are the perfect way to brighten things up. First, they look great in a wide variety of interiors. Second, they provide several health benefits, which include making you happier, helping with stress, and even boosting productivity. Just make sure you put them in a place where they’ll get plenty of sun.   A great alternative to traditional greenery is succulents. They provide a lower-maintenance way to enjoy the same plant experience. Many succulents only need watering on occasion, and as long as they have sun, they tend to thrive.  

Change Your Knobs

If all you have is a screwdriver, you’re in luck. With that one handy tool, you can change all the knobs on your drawers, door or wherever you please!   Spruce up those plain white knobs with color, and maybe even some designs. Just make sure you choose knobs that match the holes you already have. Other than that, the world is your oyster - or rather - knob.  

Build a Backyard Pond

This is a big project, but ultimately, one of the most satisfying. Fortunately, in exchange for the hard work, you will have something to be proud of for the rest of your life. As a bonus, your pond will attract wildlife to liven up your yard. The best news is, while building a pond may be a lot of work, it isn’t particularly difficult, and with the proper supplies, you’ll be watching the fish swim in no time.  

Make Some Ice Cream

Up to this point, you’ve been working hard. How about a break? And what better way to do that than with some easy, shake-up ice cream.   All it takes is heavy cream, salt, vanilla extract, and granulated sugar. Put the ingredients in a mason jar. Shake the jar until the cream thickens, then put the jar in the freezer for 3 hours (the perfect amount of time to say, paint some baseboards). When you come back, you’ll have ice cream ready to eat!  

Build a Chair

When you’re sitting by your pond eating a fresh, mint ice cream, you’ll want to sit in style. So why not put together a custom chair? It’s easier than it sounds. In a couple of hours, with only a drill and a circular saw, you’ve got a handmade chair. Whenever you look outside, you’ll be astounded by your own craftsmanship.  

Build Some Cornhole Boards

At this point, you’re probably tired of losing to your arch-rival in cornhole. You know who we mean. This is the person with the spin in their throw, who sinks a bag every toss. It’s time to get training! Build yourself a cornhole board to get started.   Not only will your board be durable, but your opponents will also be intimidated knowing that the playing field is one you’ve created with your own two hands. As a bonus, you’ll have something to do while on conference calls. Just have an excuse ready for the noise. Although if you’re good enough, there should be next to no noise at all!  

Add Some Smart Light Bulbs

With a couple of Smart Light Bulbs, your home will be transformed. You can toss your flickering yellow light bulb and replace it with colorful lighting for any mood. Whether you’re looking to feel cozy at night or productive in the morning, the right lighting is imperative in making sure that you are enjoying your every moment in your work-from-home space.   Smart Light Bulbs are also cheaper than ever, which means now is the time to take control of your lighting.  

Build a Boat

Here’s a not so easy DIY project for those extra savvy builders. Build a boat. Not just any old rowboat, but a speedboat from the 1960s.   Built in the same style as the boat speed record-holders, this boat is no slouch, and with the right motor, it will soar across any body of water. Just don’t forget to read the diagrams and wear a life vest and safety helmet.   You may be stuck at home, but take this opportunity to be productive! Use any number of DIY projects to fill some of the time you’ve saved by skipping the commute every day. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done. If you’re looking for some other things to do at home, maybe some that are more fun than painting the baseboards, check out this article.  
  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.