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For College (Blog or Resources)

Educate Yourself Before Taking Out Student Loans

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Taking out student loans to attend college has become extremely common in the United States. However, just because they are common does not mean you shouldn’t pay attention to what you’re getting into. It’s important to know your responsibilities when taking out a loan of any type, especially student loans. Take these steps before making an investment in your education by taking out a student loan. 

 

Educate Yourself

Before you take out a student loan, educate yourself on the details of it. Make note of the interest rates, eligibility terms, repayment terms, etc. before signing off on the loan. Our friends at eCampusTours have several articles and resources about student loans that can help you better understand your loan terms:

 

Repayment Plan

Keep in mind that when you take out a student loan, you will have to pay it back – even if you don’t graduate or aren’t happy with your education. If you want to get a grasp on what your repayment will look like following college, check out this worksheet: 

 

 

 

Ideally, you’ll secure a job in your field after graduating from college. Although you’ll want to pay off your loan quickly, keep in mind that your overall repayment shouldn’t exceed 15% of your monthly income. ELFI has some additional tips for prioritizing your student loan repayment. Here’s a worksheet that can help you determine how to repay your loans following college:

 

 

Taking out student loans is a commitment. Educating yourself on the responsibilities associated with student loans will help you make sound decisions about your education and will prevent you from feeling blindsided by your student loan debt and repayment terms later on.

 


 

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.

The Average Cost of College

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When it comes to shopping, many of us have champagne taste and a beer budget. We shop with our eyes and our hearts before taking a peek at the price tag. The process of selecting a college is no different. We make decisions based on location, athletic teams, available programs of study, greek life, or even where our friends apply. Unfortunately, for many people, the cost of college lives at the bottom of the checklist, despite being a vital factor to consider. 

 

The average cost of college for the 2019-2020 school year, is $21,950 for public, four-year, in-state colleges and $49,870 for private universities. This is an increase of 2.6% and 3.3%, respectively, over the year prior, alone. 

 

Without question, college is expensive, and very few people are talented enough to get an athletic or academic scholarship to completely or partially cover the cost of education. An even smaller number of people are able to pay for a degree out-of-pocket. That leaves the majority of college students and their families to rely on loans to pay the bills.  

 

Further complicating matters, a lot goes into the cost of college, including your residency status, level of degree you seek (bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral), where you live (on-campus, alone, or with a house full of roommates), and even how much you eat or how you commute to campus. 

 

To help you understand where you can save, as well as how you can cover expenses with financial aid, let’s dig into what comprises the average cost of college. 

 

Tuition

Average Cost: $10,440 (public) | $36,880 (private)*

Tuition is the amount you pay your university to enroll in classes. The total changes based on the number of credit hours you take and if you take courses with additional charges like science labs or residential academic programs that let you attend smaller classes in your dorm. Offers like the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) can help students save money by providing in-state tuition to out-of-state students. Despite programs like this, the average cost of college is always rising because tuition increases each year based on inflation, school budgets, and a variety of other factors. 

 

Mandatory fees are lumped into tuition and include contributions toward campus construction and access to things like:

  • Student rec center
  • Athletic events
  • Career services
  • Student activities
  • Computer labs
  • Bus passes
  • Etc. 

 

Room and Board

Average Cost: $11,510 (public) | $12,000 (private)*

Many colleges require you to live on-campus for at least your first year of attendance. The benefit of this requirement is that you’re close to classes and resources, including dining halls and bodegas that can be paid for with your room and board fees. These costs aren’t typically part of the bill for community colleges or schools with a high population of daily commuters. However, students will still need to cover living expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries if they chose not to live at home with their parents and amounts vary based on eating habits and geographic locations. For example, rent in California is higher than in Tennessee and the general cost of living in an urban setting is higher than it is at a rural school. 

 

Books

Average Cost: $1,240 (public and private)*

Books can be a secret killer when it comes to college expenses. No one ever anticipates the sticker shock associated with their first $300 textbook. These costs also include necessary technology like tablets or laptops for note-taking and essay writing. It also can include special supplies like graphite pencils and drawing paper for art majors or scrubs or stethoscopes for nursing majors. These semesterly shopping trips can do real damage to your checking account and add to the average cost of college. 

 

Transportation

Average Cost: $1,230 (public) | $1,060 (private)*

So far, we’ve focused on what you’ll need to pay to get by on campus, but we haven’t talked about the expenses associated with getting to campus. These costs impact resident and commuter students and range from airplane tickets and bus fare to parking passes and tanks of gas.  

 

Financial Aid 

When factoring the average cost of college, the other side of the ledger is represented by financial aid in the form of scholarships and need-based grants. With these awards, that don’t have to be repaid, the cost of tuition is reduced. 

 

In addition to scholarships and grants, federal and private loans are available to help cover the cost of college. Private lenders offer student loan options for undergraduate students, graduate students, and even parents. Loans cover everything from tuition to personal expenses that you’ll occur during your college years, like cell phone bills, clothes, laundry, or even a bed for your apartment. The biggest thing to keep in mind when taking out loans is to borrow only what you’ll need. It’s necessary to have money to pay bills while you’re a full-time student, but borrowing too much can put you in a bind when it comes time to pay back those loans.

 


 

* Source: https://research.collegeboard.org/pdf/trends-college-pricing-2019-full-report.pdf

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.

What is Early Decision for College?

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If you, or your son or daughter, are currently applying for colleges, you live in a world of deadlines. There are ACT registration dates, SAT prep dates, application deadlines, and scholarship due dates. When you live by the calendar, it can feel like torture waiting to hear back from schools, especially your top choice. Some colleges have early decision options that help push the application and admissions process along. What is early decision? Students can elect to apply early decision to (typically) one school as early as November, and can subsequently hear back from that school in just a few weeks. There’s more to the agreement though…

 

Let’s dig into the details to see if this application option is right for you. 

 

What is Early Decision? 

Early decision is available at many private colleges and universities, and some public schools also offer this option. Certain highly selective programs like Ivy League schools can limit students to only one early application. Through this option, prospective students submit applications in early- to mid-November and hear back as early as late-November. This notification rolls in months before you might hear back from other colleges. In a typical application timeline, students submit applications in early winter for decisions by mid- to late spring. 

 

There are two different early application windows. Early Decision I is typically in November while Early Decision II is in December or even January. If you don’t get into your Early Decision I school, you can still apply to another school’s Early Decision II deadline. 

 

Early decision can also give you an edge when it comes to acceptance rate. In 2018, colleges with early decision had an average regular acceptance rate of 50.7%, while the early decision acceptance rate was 62.3%. Colleges appear to weigh early decision applications differently since these potential students demonstrate a strong interest in their programs.

 

What Are the Drawbacks of Early Decision? 

If you apply to a binding arrangement like early decision, you lose the opportunity to compare financial aid packages from multiple colleges. This might also impact a college’s incentive to offer you merit-based financial aid. If you already expressed excitement and interest, why would the school need to convince you to attend by offering scholarship discounts? You might even have to accept the offer before hearing from third-party scholarship organizations, affecting your ability to accurately determine if you’ll be able to afford that dream school. 

 

You can only typically reject an early decision offer if the school’s financial aid package isn’t realistic for your financial situation or if your financial situation has changed. However, if the school truly is your first choice, you can still apply for scholarships or private student loans to help bridge the gap. 

 

Finally, if you’re going to hit early decision deadlines, you need to be very organized. Submitting applications four to six months early means you also need to have application materials ready early. It’s recommended that you leave time to take the ACT and/or SAT at least twice, in case you need to boost your score. Without planning ahead, you might find yourself up against early decision deadlines. 

 

If early decision seems like an intimidating commitment, many schools also offer early action. This option allows students to apply and receive an admission decision earlier than typical decisions. But the main difference is that the option isn’t binding. 

 

What’s The Right Choice? 

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is early decision?” the next question is whether this option is right for you. It can be tempting to want to hear back from your dream school before the holiday break hits. However, you have to consider if you’re prepared to submit your best application at such an early date. You also have to do your research regarding financial aid. 

 

There are many choices to make when applying for college. Be sure you’re aware of what your choices mean for your college career and the loans that will help you get through those four years. 

 


 

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.

What is FAFSA Verification?

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You finally submitted the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You think everything is going smoothly until you receive notice (via your Student Aid Report) that you have been selected for FAFSA verification. What does this mean? What should you do?

FAFSA Verification is a process that the U.S. Department of Education uses to verify certain information on the FAFSA is accurate. Sometimes these selections are made by the U.S. Department of Education, and sometimes they are made by the college or university that the FAFSA was submitted to. In most cases, only a portion of students are selected for FAFSA verification, however some schools verify 100% of students to ensure all students are verified. 

 

Why was I chosen for FAFSA verification?

So, why did you get chosen for verification? It depends. There are several possibilities for being selected for FAFSA verification. Keep in mind that more possibilities exist, but the following are the main reasons for being selected:

 

Random selection

In many cases, you were just selected randomly or the school you submitted the FAFSA to has protocol for verifying its students. 

 

The submitted FAFSA has incomplete data

If you didn’t answer certain questions or provide certain information on the FAFSA, you may be subject to having your application verified. 

 

The submitted FAFSA has inaccurate or contradictory information

If the information that you listed on the FAFSA doesn’t make complete sense, such as having contradictions or having inaccurate information, you may be subject to having your application verified.

 

The FAFSA application has estimated information

Often times, people make estimates for things like income and moving dates. If the information provided as estimates doesn’t seem accurate to the Department of Education, your application may be subject to verification. 

 

What needs to be done after the selection?

Once you’ve been informed that you’ve been selected for FAFSA verification, the first thing you should do is check your Student Aid Report to see if you have a message from the Department of Education. If you have any questions, contact your Financial Aid Office. Your Financial Aid Office will likely ask you to submit certain documents as part of the FAFSA verification process. You should submit these documents in a timely manner. These documents may include: 

  • Verification Worksheet
  • IRS Tax Return Transcript 
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Social Security Card
  • Alien Registration Card
  • Other information/documentation

Keep in mind that these documents will depend on your specific circumstances and that not everyone is required to submit the same documents. 

 

What happens if there are discrepancies in the application?

Once you’ve submitted your documents, your Financial Aid Office will compare the information to that of your Student Aid Report. Corrections will be made if any errors or discrepancies are found. If the errors or discrepancies have an impact on the amount of financial aid you can receive, you will then be given a revised award notification showing the difference. 

 

If you are selected for FAFSA verification, you need to return the information and requested documentation as soon as possible. Processing usually takes two to three weeks, but it can take longer during the peak season. Because verification must be completed in advance of disbursing any money from any financial aid program, it is vital to send complete and correct information as quickly as possible. Above all else, don’t be upset because you were selected for verification. This is a process that is required by the federal government. The Financial Aid Office may even discover errors in your report that could actually increase your eligibility for more aid.

 


 

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.

Choosing Which College to Attend (Post-Acceptance)

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So, you’ve submitted college applications to several institutions and you’ve been accepted to a few – now it’s time to compare your offer letters and choose the college that’s the best fit for you.

 

The campus visit is an essential part of deciding which college you are going to attend, and while we suggest that you visit your prospective schools before you submit your applications, it’s not always easy to do so. You may be busy with your senior year and extracurriculars, or some of the campuses may be a long distance from you.

But once your acceptance letters start to arrive, it’s time to make the big decision about which college you will attend. Now would be the time to visit (or revisit) the campuses you’ve been accepted to to help you make that final decision. Here are some tips for how to approach these final campus visits so that you’ll be ready to choose a college or university that you’ll be the most happy with.

 

Map Out Pros and Cons

This may seem simple, but the best way to choose the right college is to weigh the pros and cons of each institution. This will help you look past the face-value of the school and the information they provide you with, and instead focus on the characteristics you care about most. Here are some typical pros and cons that we think will help you decide:

  • Academic programs
  • Athletic facilities
  • Campus atmosphere
  • Campus grounds
  • Classrooms
  • Clubs
  • Coaches
  • Cost of attending (i.e. how much you’ll take out in student loans)
  • Dining hall food
  • Dorm rooms
  • Professors
  • Safety
  • Student body
  • Surrounding area

 

Try Spending the Night

While you might not have had time to experience overnight visits during your first round of campus tours, with your list now narrowed, it may be time to try it out. Staying overnight at your prospective colleges will give you a much better feel for what the experience of attending will feel like. Ask yourself questions during your overnight visit, such as:

  • Do I feel safe here?
  • Am I comfortable in the dorms?
  • Are the students welcoming?
  • Are the students focused on academics?

 

If school is in session during your visit, be sure to talk with current students and ask them questions you have – this will also help you make that final decision.

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Look Past Pros and Cons

While pros and cons are a great way to narrow down your list of options, you’ll probably want to go with your gut when it comes to making the final decision. In other words, focus on which college just feels right. It doesn’t have to be the most prestigious college. Picking the most prestigious school may seem like a smart move, but it may strap you with student loans. Being comfortable at your college and being confident in your decision will be more beneficial than attending one based on the opinions of your parents or other people – and you’ll be more likely to stay and complete your degree.

 

Keep in mind that these tips are for choosing a college post-acceptance and approaching your post-acceptance visits, which is much different than visiting colleges pre-acceptance and choosing colleges to apply to. During the initial visits, you’re focused on deciding whether to apply. When you visit post-acceptance, you’re deciding where you will actually attend, which means you need to pay closer attention to which school will best accommodate you academic, social, and extracurricular needs. For more information about campus visits, read Making the Most of the Campus Visit from eCampus Tours.

 

If you’ve been accepted to your dream college, but your financial aid and scholarships don’t quite cover the full cost of tuition and expenses, private student loans from ELFI may be right for you. Learn more about our flexible terms on private student loans. Applying is simple, and you’ll never pay an application fee, origination fee or prepayment penalty.*


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

Note: Links to other websites are provided as a convenience only. A link does not imply SouthEast Bank’s sponsorship or approval of any other site. SouthEast Bank does not control the content of these sites.

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

1. Make a list of future monthly expenses

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

3. Make adjustments to save money

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

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

Best Apps for Budgeting in College

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Managing money is hard, but budgeting in college? That’s a whole different ballgame. For a lot of students, you have so much to worry about with classes, work, and other involvements that finances often slip your mind. So how do you hold yourself to a budget when you can barely remember to feed yourself dinner? Luckily, we live in an age full of apps to help you get a jumpstart on budgeting and money management. Here are a few of our favorites.

 

Mint®. Mint is a free mobile app where you can view all of your banking accounts in the same place. It automatically updates and puts your transactions into categories so you can see where all your money is going – and where it’s coming from. It also recommends changes to your budget that could help you save money. Its features include a bill payment tracker, a budget tracker, alerts, budget categorization, investments, and security features.

 

PocketGuard®. Like Mint, PocketGuard allows you to link your credit cards, checking, and savings accounts, investments and loans to view them all in one place. It automatically updates and categorizes your transactions so you can see real-time changes. PocketGuard also has an “In My Pocket” feature that shows you how much spending money you have remaining after you’ve paid bills and set some funds aside. You can set your financial goals, and this clever app will even create a budget for you.

 

Wally®. This personal finance app is available for the iPhone, with a Wally+ version available for Android users. Like other apps on this list, it allows you to manage all of your accounts in one place and learn from your spending habits. You can plan and budget your finances by looking at your patterns, upcoming payments and expenses, and make lists for your expected spending.

 

MoneyStrands®. Once again, with this app, you’ll have access to all the accounts you connect. Its features allow you to analyze your expenses and cash flow, become a part of a community, track and plan for spending, create budgets and savings goals, and know what you can spend without going over budget.

 

Albert®. A unique feature that Albert emphasizes is its alert system. When you’re at risk for overspending, the app will send you an alert. The app also sends you real-time alerts when bills are due. Enjoy a smart savings feature, guided investing, and the overall ability to visualize your money’s flow and create a personalized budget.

 

Before you download any budgeting app, make sure you check out the reviews and ensure it’s legitimate. Because a lot of apps ask for your personal financial information, it’s essential you verify their legitimacy before entering your account number. Listen to what other people have to say and then choose the option that works best for you, because not every app will be perfect for everyone. Budgeting in college may be hard, but downloading an app is just one way you can make it easier. Maybe you don’t want to use an app at all. If you’re in that boat, you can check out some other approaches to budgeting here or here.

 

Note: Links to other websites are provided as a convenience only. A link does not imply SouthEast Bank’s sponsorship or approval of any other site. SouthEast Bank does not control the content of these sites.

Tour These 6 Stunning College Campuses in the Eastern US From Your Couch

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If you’re like us, you have a deep appreciation for college campuses – literally any college campus. When you stop to think about it, they’re so much more than just institutions of higher learning. Often, they’re the most aesthetically-pleasing, historical, and lively landmarks within a city. We’ve partnered with the team at eCampus Tours to highlight 5 stunning college campuses you can discover right from your couch. Let’s a take a look at our favorites from the Eastern US.

 

Princeton University 

This Ivy-league standout needs no introduction. Established in 1746 and known for its high academic standards and even higher achieving students, you can experience everywhere from Firestone Library and McCosh Courtyard to Rockefeller College Common Room and Carl Icahn Laboratory without worrying about finding a parking spot. Tour here.

 

 

University of Florida

Start at the Century Tower and traverse your way to the 90 thousand-plus seating found in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Plaza of the Americas is a well-known campus spot where you can see students lining up for Krishna Lunch, slacklining or lounging around in hammocks in-between classes. Tour here.

 

 

Temple University

This college campus tour begins in the The Liacouras Center Sports & Entertainment Complex, home to championship Owls athletics, and where everything from concerts to wrestling matches are hosted. Take a stroll through the brick-lined Founder’s Garden and experience the bustling Shops on Liacouras Walk. Tour here. 

 

 

College of Charleston

This liberal arts and sciences university sits in the heart of historic Charleston, and though many of the Greek Revival and Federal-style buildings look like remnants from the past, it provides students with cutting-edge technology and modern curriculum. The tour begins at Sottile House and College Greenway, showcasing the school’s vine-clad fences and meticulously-maintained lawns. Other highlights include the Cistern and impressive Addlestone Library Rotunda. Tour here.

 

 

University of Kentucky

Established in 1865 in the heart of the Bluegrass State, the University of Kentucky is a campus steeped in tradition as much as academics. From the main quad (known as the Quadrangle) and Memorial Hall, which honors casualties of WWI to Maxwell Place, home to the university President, the comprehensive e-tour provides an accurate snapshot of this university’s unbridled spirit. If you can’t make a trip to Rupp Arena, home to Wildcat athletics, an eCampus Tour is the next best thing. Tour here. 

 

 

Colgate University

This prestigious private liberal arts college in Hamilton, New York was founded in 1819. With a student population that’s about the same size as the city’s population (just under 3,000 students), this university is known for its sense of community. Nearly half of upperclassmen are involved in Greek Life, and games are often played outside of the Academic Quad. A more modern addition to the campus, the Little Hall Art and History building is home to art made by students in their classes. Colgate’s Seven Oaks Golf Course is ranked among the top five college courses in the country by Golf Digest. Tour here.

 

Whether you’re a rising high school senior still scoping out where to spend your college years, or like us, and appreciate everything a vibrant college campus brings to a community, we think you’ll find the over 1,300 tours on eCampus Tours well worth the visit. 

 

Note: Links to other websites are provided as a convenience only. A link does not imply SouthEast Bank’s sponsorship or approval of any other site. SouthEast Bank does not control the content of these sites.

Tips for Choosing a College

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Choosing a college to attend is not an easy task, and there are many factors to consider when making your pick. Should you go to your parents’ alma mater? What about the one with the best student life or athletic teams? Prestige certainly is a factor for many students. When all is said and done you want to pick one that sets you up for success in your career and provides and opportunity to thrive – whether it be by practicing your passions or helps you grow as an individual. Whatever the reason, these tips will make choosing a college much easier.

 

Start by making a thorough list of schools.

By making a list of schools that you are interested in attending, you’re giving yourself a starting point for deciding which are worth taking next steps with. Decide which ones you would like to see in person and which stand out as your ideal schools. If you’re having trouble at this stage, try picking a few that are far different from each other – whether they’re small, large, in the city, in the country, private, public, etc. Deciding the type of school you want to attend is a good first step.

 

Do you research on each school before you visit.

Doing research before you visit will allow you to develop expectations for the school. These expectations can then be compared to what you experience when you visit, giving you a more thorough impression of the school. You can look through brochures and the school website, but also be sure to check around online for various ratings and reviews from past students. As always, double check your sources.

 

Take notes when you visit.

Visiting colleges is fun, so sometimes its easy to forget whether a school meets the criteria you set forth when you’re taking a tour. Bringing a notepad for this very reason can be very effective at allowing you to review the schools after visiting – especially if you plan to visit multiple schools. This way you won’t mix up any information. Then, you can refer to these notes when deciding where you want to apply.

 

Find other members from the campus to help you decide.

When you start narrowing your list of schools down further, start contacting other sources that can help you get more information about the school. While it may seem like a bother, talking to the admissions officer, professors and current students is the best way to get a true feel for what to expect from a school. Students are the most likely to give you unbiased answers.

 

Take your own tour in addition to the admissions tour.

The admissions tour is beneficial, but viewing the campus on your own will give you the chance to see the whole campus in a scope more similar to what students experience. View the parking facilities, actual classrooms, and areas that would pertain to your major (if you know your major prospective major).

 

Don’t forget to ask questions.

You may want to prepare a list of questions to ask beforehand just to make sure that you don’t forget anything. Ask questions regarding academic, financial, housing/food, social, community, athletic, and safety aspects.

 

For more information about visiting college campuses, read The Campus Visit and Making the Most Of the Campus Visit. Remember, if you can’t visit a campus in person, you can always take a virtual tour of the school.

 


 

 

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

Private Student Loans vs. Government Student Loans: What’s the Difference?

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If you are looking forward to going to college and you know you need financial help, you may not give much thought to whether you should take out private student loans or federal student loans. Either way, you will end up with debt, right? The truth is, deciding between private and federal government student loans is not as simple as comparing apples to apples. Your financial future could be affected by your understanding of how these loans differ.

 

Government Student Loans

Federal loans for students are made by the Federal Government’s Department of Education. When you apply for this type of loan, you must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The information on this form will be used to determine i) how much federal student aid and what types of federal loans you qualify for and ii) your family’s contribution toward the cost of your education. 

 

Private Student Loans

Any loans that are not issued by the federal government are defined as private student loans. Private loans are made by various types of lenders, including banks, credit unions, and lenders that specialize in loans to students. If you don’t meet the criteria set by the lender, you can still get a private loan, but you will need a co-signer who meets the lender’s requirements. In the event that you miss payments or default on the loan, your co-signer will be responsible for your debt.

 

The Difference in Interest Rates

  • Government Student Loans – Interest rates on federal loans do not depend on financial factors such as your or your co-signer’s credit rating and are therefore the same for each borrower. Also, the rate on newly originated Federal Direct Loans does not change throughout the repayment period. Currently, interest rates on federal student loans are based on the 10-year Treasury Note plus a fixed percentage increase depending on the loan type, with a cap set depending on the loan type. For example, direct undergraduate loans are based on the 10-year Treasury Note + 2.05% and are capped at 9.50%, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Student loan rates are set in the spring for each new school year, and they are effective from July 1 to June 30 of the following year. 

 

  • Private Student Loans – Interest rates on these loans are set by the lenders and are based on various underwriting criteria including the credit history of you or your co-signer. This means that you may be able to qualify for private student loan interest rates that are lower than government loan interest rates. Additionally, you could be offered a private loan with a variable interest rate rather than a fixed interest rate. Although a variable rate means your rate may go up when you are repaying your loan, the rate could still beat what you would be paying if you had federal loans.

 

The Difference in Repayment Terms

  • Government Student Loans – The repayment terms for federal student loans depend on whether they are subsidized or unsubsidized. Subsidized loans are ideal because the federal government will cover the interest while you are finishing school or in deferment, whereas unsubsidized loans begin accruing interest as soon as they are taken out. Federal student loans also offer options of deferment and forbearance as well as income-driven repayment plans, making these types of loans slightly more accommodating if you may have trouble paying your student loans.   

 

  • Private Student Loans – Private student loans come with different repayment plans depending on the lender. A private student loan from ELFI gives you a choice of several attractive repayment options including deferring repayment until six months after graduation. With terms ranging from 5-15 years, you can choose between having lower monthly payments or paying off your loans quicker.*

 

The Difference in How Much You Can Borrow

  • Government Student Loans – The government sets a cap on how much you are allowed to borrow both for each year of college and cumulatively.

 

  • Private Student Loans – At ELFI, we encourage all individuals to explore all scholarship and grant options available. We always advise potential students to go after the “free money” first, as there are thousands of scholarships and grants you can take advantage of each year.

    After taking advantage of scholarships and grants, the full cost of your education may not be entirely covered. The next step is to look into Private Student Loan options to cover the remaining amount you need for your education expenses. If you have reached your limit with respect to federal loans, you can also make up the difference with private loans. Private student loans from ELFI can help to bridge the gap.*

 

Choosing Between Government Student Loans and Private Student Loans

It’s important that you consider all of the differences when deciding which types of loans are best for you. If you need assistance in working through your options, contact ELFI. We have years of experience devoted to helping students realize their college dreams, so don’t wait – give us a call today.*

 


*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites

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