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This Week in Student Loans: January 17

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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:

House of representatives

House Democrats Overturn DeVos on Student Loan Forgiveness

This Thursday, the Democrat-controlled House voted to overturn regulations introduced by Education Secretary Betsy Devos that eliminate the “borrower defense” rules introduced by the Obama administration. Critics have said the new regulations make it more difficult to get student loan forgiveness if a college suddenly closes. Sources say that the move to overturn Devos’ new regulations won’t pass the GOP-controlled Senate, however – and Trump is likely to veto the bill even if it does.

 

Source: USA Today

 


signing legislation

Could Elizabeth Warren Really Wipe Out $1 Trillion in Student Loans in a Single Stroke?

Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren recently vowed to eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in student loans on her first day in office if elected president. Her plan was released just before Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate. While the ability to erase debt is typically a decision left to Congress, student loans may be a different story due to a loophole involving the “Higher Education Act” passed in 1965.

 

Source: CBS News

 


can't pay student loans

Study: Barely Anyone is Paying Off Their Student Loans

A recent study revealed that very few people are making progress on paying off their student loans, along with shifting factors in the nation’s rising student loan debt. The study found that 51 percent of students who took out loans from 2010-12 haven’t made any progress in paying them off. Additionally, it showed that while in the past higher enrollment and rising tuition costs were the main drivers in the rising debt, slow repayments and amassing interest have now become the primary drivers.

 

Source: NY Daily News

 


IRS building

IRS Issues Tax Guidance On Discharged Student Loans

The Internal Revenue Service recently issued guidance for some taxpayers who took out federal or private student loans and qualified to have their loans discharged. Typically, having loans discharged is treated as a taxable event, in which the forgiven amount is treated as income – but the tax break from the IRS allows the discharged amount to not be recognized as taxable income.

 

Source: Forbes

 

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

 


 

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

This Week in Student Loans: January 10

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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:

Income-Driven Repayment Borrowers After Missed Deadlines to Recertify

Half of Income-Driven Repayment Borrowers Miss Recertification Deadlines

Over 8 million student loan borrowers use the Federal Income-Driven Repayment plan to help afford monthly payments. The plan can drop payments as low as $0 per month, depending on the borrower’s income and family size. However, in order to stay in these plans, borrowers must recertify annually to avoid consequences such as increased payments, a larger loan balance, and potentially defaulting on the loans. ABC News reported that according to Department of Education data, more than half of borrowers miss the deadline to recertify.

 

While they will likely have to recertify annually, a new law is being put in place to allow borrowers to opt into automatic recertification. The article encourages borrowers with income-driven repayment plans to watch for the option to become available.

 

Source: ABC News

 


Colorado weighs "get on your feet" bill to help in-state graduated with student loans

Colorado Weighs “Get On Your Feet” Bill to Assist College Graduates in State

New graduates of public colleges in Colorado may have more incentive to stay in-state following graduation due to a new bill in the works that could mandate the state to pay their student loan payments for two years. If passed, the “Get On Your Feet” bill will take effect for public college graduates who commit to staying in Colorado and enroll in an income-based repayment program.

 

Source: Denver Post

 


college student panicking because of FAFSA rumors

Filling Out FAFSA Won’t Get You Drafted, Experts Say

With tensions rising between the U.S. and Iran this week, a misinterpretation of the fine print within the FAFSA application led some college students to panic over the potential of being drafted. Despite the widespread social media panic, experts say that the federal form won’t actually increase your chances of being drafted.

 

Source: USA Today

 


student loan forgiveness tax implications

The Student Loan Forgiveness Tax Bomb

Forbes writer Robert Farrington published an article on January 6 highlighting the tax liabilities that borrowers who receive loan forgiveness through income-driven repayment plans will face. While it’s not widely known, forgiven debt is treated as taxable income during the year that debt is forgiven through an income-based repayment plan. The article outlines the surprising amount that borrowers might pay in taxes when having their loans forgiven.

 

Source: Forbes

 


ELFI team celebrates $1 billion in refinanced student loans

ELFI Surpasses $1 Billion in Student Loan Refinancing

Education Loan Finance (ELFI), a division of SouthEast Bank, announced the successful funding of over $1 billion in student loan refinancing and consolidation loans. This funding has positively impacted over 14,500 graduates, parents, and cosigners since they began offering student loan refinance products in December of 2015. ELFI maintains an industry-leading “Excellent” 4.8/5 rating on Trustpilot.com and has been named one of NerdWallet’s Best Student Loan Refi Companies for Customer Service for 2019.

 

Source: Education Loan 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.

U.S. Cities With the Most Student Loan Debt

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By Kat Tretina

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

 

You’ve heard it on the news: student loans are a national epidemic. According to Experian, Americans carry $35,359 in student loan debt, on average. However, where you go to college and where you live can have a big impact on how much you need to borrow to pay for school and how much you’ll owe after graduation.

 

10 Metropolitan areas with the highest levels of student loan debt

While student debt is pervasive, it affects some metropolitan areas more severely than others. Experian reported that people who live in or near college towns tend to have the highest student loan balances.

To understand where education debt is the worst, we looked at 10 cities with the highest average levels of student loan debt based on Experian’s latest data.

 

 

10: Charlottesville, VA

Average Student Loan Debt: $42,476

 

Charlottesville is home to a number of universities and colleges including the American National University and the University of Virginia.

 

Among people aged 25 years and up, 54 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. That’s far greater than the 37 percent of all Americans who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher.

 

The large number of people with a degree is likely why people working in Charlottesville earn more money than the typical person, too. The median income for all Americans is $32,838. In Charlottesville, that number jumps to $36,400.

 

The biggest industries in Charlottesville are management and business services, accommodations and food service, and sales.

 

Related: The Average Cost of College

 

 

9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA

Average Student Loan Debt: $43,290

 

There are dozens of universities in the Atlanta area, including Georgia State, Emory University, and Morehouse College.

 

Atlanta residents tend to be highly educated; over 43 percent of its population has a post-secondary degree. That benefit turns into higher salaries. The median earnings for the area is $38,400.

 

Finance, healthcare, and manufacturing are three of the biggest industries in the region. The largest employers, based on employee headcount, are Northside Hospital, The Home Depot, Emory University & Emory Healthcare, and Delta Air Lines.

 

 

8. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA

Average Student Loan Debt: $43,674

 

Many well-known and expensive universities are located in or near San Francisco, such as Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley.

 

The Bay Area in California — which includes San Francisco — has grown by 600,000 people since 2010. That growth is because the San Francisco metropolitan area is the base for many major companies, including Salesforce, Wells Fargo, and Uber.

 

Because of the prestigious employers in the area, San Francisco has much higher levels of degree attainment. Over 53 percent of the population has a post-secondary degree, and the median earnings are $50,900.

 

Related: Best Cities for Young Professionals

 

 

7. Washington D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria, DC, VA, MD

Average Student Loan Debt: $43,797

 

The Washington D.C. area has many elite universities and colleges, including Georgetown University and American University.

 

The biggest industries are government, public school administration, and healthcare. To succeed in these fields, you need higher education, so it’s no wonder that over 58 percent of the population has received a college degree.

 

The median earnings are $56,700. However, the cost of living in Washington D.C. is quite high, so people may struggle to afford both their living expenses and student loan payments.

 

 

6. Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, CA

Average Student Loan Debt: $44,294

 

If you live near Santa Barbara, you may have gone to school at the University of California, Antioch University, or Westmont College.

 

The top industries in the area are in education, hospitality, and healthcare. Major employers include the Four Seasons, the University of California, and Pacific Diagnostic Lab.

 

About 52 percent of the population has a college degree, and the median earnings are $38,800.

 

 

5. Gainesville, FL

Average Student Loan Debt: $44,508

 

Gainesville, a city in northern Florida, is well known as the home of the University of Florida. It’s a relatively small college town, with just over 133,000 residents.

 

Over 52 percent of Gainesville residents have a college degree. However, the median income is lower than the national average, mostly because the biggest employers are in the service and retail industries, which can have lower wages. In Gainesville, the median income is just $30,800, which can make repaying your student loans difficult.

 

 

4. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA

Average Student Loan Debt: $45,396

 

The Santa Cruz area has one major college: The University of California-Santa Cruz. It’s also one of the region’s biggest employers, along with local government and administration offices and hospitals.

 

More than 50 percent of the metropolitan area’s population has a bachelor’s degree or higher. The median income for Santa Cruz is $40,200.

 

 

3. Ann Arbor, MI 

Average Student Loan Debt $45,668

 

Located outside of Detroit, Ann Arbor has a number of universities in it. The largest is the University of Michigan, which has over 28,000 undergraduate students.

 

Besides being the biggest school, the University of Michigan is also the area’s top employer, followed by Trinity Health and Ann Arbor Public Schools.

 

Ann Arbor has the highest percentage of college educated people on this list; 72 percent of the population have a bachelor’s degree or higher. With so many people getting degrees, it’s no surprise that Ann Arbor is among the top three in terms of student loan debt.

 

Read More: 5 Financial Tips for After You Refinance Student Loans

 

 

2. Corvalis, OR

Average Student Loan Debt: $46,164

 

Oregon State University is based in Corvalis, with over 24,000 undergraduate students enrolled. Corvalis is a relatively small town, with just over 50,000 residents, so the University is a major economic driver for the area.

 

Oregon State University is the biggest employer, followed by the Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Hewlett Packard.

 

Corvalis has a remarkably high number of people with college degrees. Over 61 percent have a post-secondary credential. However, the median earnings are relatively low; it’s just $36,100.

 

 

1. Durham, North Carolina

Average Student Loan Debt: $47,955

 

Known for its technology and educational facilities, Durham has a number of elite universities in or near the city. Some of the biggest schools include Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina Central University.

 

Those schools can be quite expensive. A single year at Duke University for an undergraduate student can cost $78,608 before financial aid. With such steep tuition fees, it’s no wonder that Durham leads the country in student loan debt.

 

Over 48 percent of the population has at least a bachelor’s degree, and the median earnings are $37,000.

 

Paying Off Your Student Loans

Whether your city is one of the 10 cities with the most student loan debt or not, paying off your education loans is key to your financial freedom. If you’re looking to pay off your debt as soon as possible and save money, consider student loan refinancing.

 

You can use ELFI’s Find My Rate tool to get a rate quote without affecting your credit score.*

 

 


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

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

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.

 

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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.

 


 

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Note about mobile applications: Some mobile applications may charge fees or allow you to purchase access to content or features through one-time or subscription-based payments.