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Student Loan Refinancing (Blog or Resources)

A Lawyer’s Guide to Student Loan Refinancing

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When Matt Sembach, an assistant public defender, graduated from law school, he had a mix of both private and federal student loans — some with interest rates as high as 10.75%.  

 

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.

 

“In terms of law school, I took out an estimated $135,000,” he said. “When I graduated from law school, I owed about $147,000. The $147,000.00 figure is higher than the amount that I actually took out because my big loan was unsubsidized and the interest was accruing while I was still in law school.”

 

Sembach’s situation isn’t unusual. According to the AccessLex Institute, the vast majority of law school graduates borrow money to pay for school. On average, they leave school with $142,870 in student loan debt. 

 

While attorneys take on a significant amount of debt, their earning potential is immense. The National Association for Law Placement reported that the overall median first-year salary in private practice was $155,000 in 2019, a $20,000 increase from 2017. 

 

With large balances but six-figure incomes, lawyers are good candidates for student loan refinancing, especially if you have high-interest student loans. 

 

When refinancing law school debt makes sense

When you refinance your law school debt, you take out a loan from a lender like Education Loan Finance for the amount of your current debt. The new loan has different terms, including interest rate and length of repayment. 

 

While refinancing isn’t for everyone, it’s a good idea in the following scenarios: 

 

1. You have high-interest student loans

As Sembach found out, graduate, professional, and bar exam loans can have extremely high interest rates. Over time, those high rates can cause your loan balance to balloon, adding thousands to your loan cost. 

 

When you refinance your debt, you can qualify for a lower interest rate and save money over the life of your loan. 

 

2. You want to pay off your loans early

If you refinance your loans and qualify for a lower interest rate, more of your monthly payment will go toward the principal rather than interest charges. If you keep making the same payment that you had before you refinanced, you can pay off your loan months or even years early. 

 

3. You want to simplify your payments

If you’re like most graduates, you had to take out a number of different loans to pay for school. 

 

“When I graduated law school, I had 10 to 15 different loans that I needed to consolidate,” said Sembach. 

 

Unfortunately, that’s very common. Graduates often have several loans to manage, with multiple payment due dates and loan servicers to remember. 

 

By refinancing your debt, you consolidate your loan together. After that, you have just one loan and one payment to handle. 

 

4. You want to reduce your monthly payments

If your payments are currently too expensive, refinancing may provide you with some relief. When you refinance your debt, you can extend your repayment term. For example, if you are currently on a 10-year repayment plan, you could opt for a 20-year repayment plan. You’ll pay more in interest charges with a longer term, but your monthly payments will be much more affordable. 

 

5. You aren’t eligible for loan forgiveness

While student loan refinancing can be an effective tool for managing your debt, one of its biggest drawbacks is that you lose out on federal benefits when you refinance federal student loans. If you’re a public defender or work for a legal aid organization, you could be eligible for loan forgiveness through Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). But if you refinance your loans, you’ll lose your eligibility. 

 

However, lawyers who work in private practice or who have loans from private student loan lenders don’t qualify for PSLF. In that case, refinancing can make good financial sense. 

 

How to refinance your loans

Refinancing law school debt is surprisingly easy. Just follow these three simple steps: 

 

1. Check the eligibility requirements

Before refinancing, make sure you meet the lender’s eligibility requirements and collect the necessary documentation to speed up the process. With ELFI, you must meet the following criteria: 

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • You must have at least $15,000 in student loans
  • You must have a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • You must have a credit score of 680 or higher
  • You must have an income of $35,000 or higher
  • Your credit history must be at least 36 months old
  • Your degree must be granted by an approved post-secondary institution

If you don’t meet the criteria on your own, you may still be able to get a loan by adding a co-signer to your application. A co-signer is usually a parent, relative, or friend who applies for a loan with you and is responsible for making the payments if you fall behind. Adding a co-signer increases your chances of qualifying for a loan and securing a lower interest rate. 

 

2. Get a rate quote 

Before submitting your application, get a rate quote. With ELFI’s Find My Rate tool, you can get an interest rate estimate and view loan terms without affecting your credit score.* Once you find a loan that works for you, you can proceed with the application process. 

 

3. Submit your application

To complete the application, you should be prepared to enter personal information about yourself, including your name, address, Social Security number, employer information, and income. 

 

You’ll also need to submit documentation, including: 

  • A copy of a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license
  • Proof of income, like a W-2 or recent tax return
  • Bank account information if you’re signing up for automatic payments
  • Current billing statement or payoff letter for each current student loan

 

Alternatives to student loan refinancing

Refinancing can help you save money and pay off your debt early, but it’s not a great solution for all attorneys. If you don’t think that student loan refinancing is right for you, there are other ways to manage your debt more effectively. 

 

1. Apply for PSLF

One option is to pursue loan forgiveness through PSLF. For many borrowers, like Sembach, PSLF can be a powerful debt relief tool. Previously, Sembach worked in private practice. But he switched career tracks to take advantage of PSLF. 

 

“I pursued PSLF to help get rid of the debt,” he said. “I took a $10,000 pay cut when I left private practice to become a public defender, but I took the pay cut because of PSLF.”

 

To qualify for PSLF, you must have federal student loans and work for a qualifying non-profit organization or government agency for at least 10 years. During that time, you must make 120 qualifying monthly payments. If you meet those requirements, your remaining loan balance will be forgiven tax-free. 

 

2. Apply for an income-driven repayment plan

If you can’t afford your monthly payments and you have federal student loans, you may be able to reduce your payments by applying for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. Under an IDR plan, your loan servicer extends your repayment term and sets your monthly payment at a percentage of your discretionary income. 

 

You can apply for an IDR plan online or by contacting your loan servicer over the phone. 

 

3. See if you qualify for repayment assistance

Some states try to attract talented attorneys by offering student loan repayment assistance programs. They will repay some or all of your student loans in exchange for a service commitment. 

 

For example, attorneys in Vermont who work for certain civil legal aid organizations can qualify for up to $5,000 per year in student loan repayment assistance from the Vermont Bar Foundation.

 

The American Bar Foundation hosts a database of student loan repayment assistance programs available all over the nation. You can search the database to find programs you may be eligible for near you.  

 

Repaying your student loans

As a lawyer, you likely have a significant amount of student loans. While your loan balance can be a burden, student loan refinancing can help you save money and lower your monthly payments.  

 

To find out how much you can save by refinancing law school debt, use the student loan refinance calculator.*

 


 

*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.

#TorchStudentDebt Series: CMO Josh Phillips

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Welcome to the first episode of our #TorchStudentDebt blog series! At ELFI, our goal is to empower a brighter future for those with student loan debt. We do this by offering competitive rates and flexible terms for student loan refinancing* as well as sharing helpful tips for helping you achieve financial freedom. In this exclusive blog series, we’re sharing the stories of individuals who have torched their student loan debt, covering everything from the challenges they faced to the tactics they used to eliminate their debt. Hopefully these experiences can provide you with some insight on how you can eliminate yours.

 

To kick this series off, we’re sharing the story of Josh Phillips, SouthEast Bank’s Chief Marketing Officer. Note: SouthEast Bank is the parent holding company of Education Loan Finance. 

 

Background

Josh is a Brimley, Michigan native that decided to go to college for the same reason that many of us do – to learn and make more money. His first job was picking up shingles around construction sites for his father, who was a licensed builder. He worked at McDonald’s through high school, handing out food in the drive-thru and eventually moving up into the role of “maintenance man,” being in charge of facilities around the building.

 

“The variety of jobs I had growing up taught me a lot… although I did enjoy some parts of them, I also knew that they weren’t what I wanted to do for the entire adult experience.”

 

Like a good portion of millennials, Josh was a first-generation college student. This left him in somewhat of uncharted territory when it came to choosing a college and acquiring financial aid.

 

“Being the first person in my family to go to college, I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing in terms of the best way to approach it. This was in the early 2000s, so there were some resources online to help guide you through the process, but not nearly the amount of resources as there are now on the internet.”

 

Josh used the U.S. News and World Report college tool to do his research, made a shortlist of schools, and began applying and going on college visits. He ultimately decided to attend Maryville College (TN), a private liberal arts college in East Tennessee. 

 

Taking Out Loans

Going into college, Josh took the same view of his loans that many of us do – putting off the worry until after school.

 

“I definitely didn’t actively think about the amount of debt I was accruing throughout my college education. Four years seemed like a ways away, so I kind of took the approach of, ‘do what you have to do to get the education and experience you want,’ and worry about those minor details afterward.”

 

Facing Reality

Josh graduated with a double major in International Business and Political Science, but he also graduated with around $55,000 in student loan debt that consisted of both federal and private student loans. 

 

“At that point in time, I had loans in a variety of places – so it was kind of like this slow, painful trickle of letters coming in telling me how much I owed different lenders. I wouldn’t say it was completely demoralizing, but it definitely made me understand that this was going to be one of the major payments that I’d be making on a monthly basis for a good length of time.”

 

This was in 2008, right before the bottom fell out of the market. Josh was lucky to find a job with a small startup prior to graduating and transitioned into that after school. He believed that working for a startup would give him the opportunity to potentially grow with the company and accelerate his career faster, but it was definitely a roll of the dice.

 

“I heard the rule that you shouldn’t go into more student debt than what your first year’s salary will be upon graduation… well, I broke that rule.” 

 

The startup Josh worked for was a marketing and advertising agency that was going through a transition from traditional marketing to digital marketing. Josh was an Account Manager and had the opportunity to work with a number of their larger, newer customers and also assist with general business operations. 

 

Strategy for Paying Down Debt

When Josh transitioned into his new role, he didn’t have much of a strategy for paying down his debt. He simply wanted a job that allowed him to meet the minimum monthly payments and afford his living expenses. As his role within the company grew, he began focusing more heavily on ways to eliminate debt.

 

  • Josh didn’t use an Income-Based Repayment plan because he didn’t want to accrue more interest than what he was already paying down. He always tried to make sure the number was “going in the right direction,” i.e., downward.
  • He applied any quarterly or annual bonuses as lump-sum payments toward his higher-interest student loans. This tactic is known as the debt snowball strategy
  • He didn’t change his lifestyle as his career developed. He didn’t buy a new car. He did buy a house on a short sale, but he had roommates to help cover the cost of the mortgage. He didn’t go on any expensive vacations, but would instead stay with family and friends in other states.
  • He avoided credit card debt. He did use a credit card, but more for the points and rewards than out of necessity.

 

Using these strategies, Josh was able to pay down his $55,000 in student loan debt in just seven years.

 

Regrets Along the Way

Despite the impressive timeframe in which Josh paid off his student loans, he did mention that he had some regrets about how he went about it. 

 

“Looking back, I took out extra money to cover living expenses while I was in college… If I had to do it again, I would have probably tightened those purse strings more when I was in school, because living on borrowed money just costs you more and more over time.”

 

He also mentioned that he wished he would have known about his ability to refinance student loans and lock in a better interest rate. He said that doing so would have allowed him to save on interest and possibly even extend his repayment period so that he could prioritize other financial goals, like saving for retirement. 

 

In hindsight, he also wished he would have looked into scholarships and financial aid earlier in the process, as many others with student loan debt do.

 

Being Debt-Free

As one would assume, Josh is happy to now be free from his student debt. 

 

“I mean, it’s great – I think any time you can eliminate debt, it just opens up new options. Whether you want to go into more debt for a new car or a bigger house, or maybe you just want to get to the point where you don’t owe anyone anything, paying down debt almost gives you a bit of a high. It’s great to see the number going down, and once it’s gone, you kind of want to turn around and figure out what you want to pay down next. Currently, my last debt is my mortgage.”

 

Advice for Others with Student Loan Debt

When asked what advice he would give others with student loan debt, Josh emphasized the trade-off of having great experiences vs. being debt-free.

 

“Everyone loves doing new things and getting new experiences, but I would always counter that with the freedom you can feel from getting out of debt. There are plenty of things you can experience for free if you’re creative or thoughtful about how you do it… If you’ve got debt that keeps you worried or at a job you don’t like, it’s a good trade-off to delay your experiences and instead put that money toward your own financial freedom.”

 

#TorchStudentDebt

That wraps up our first #TorchStudentDebt blog! Stay tuned for more stories of how others put strategies in place to torch their student loan debt, challenges they faced along the way, and advice they have for others still on their student loan repayment journey. Thanks for reading!

 


 

About Education Loan Finance

Education Loan Finance, a division of SouthEast Bank, is a leading online lender designed to assist borrowers by consolidating and refinancing private and federal student loans into one simple, low-cost loan. Education Loan Finance believes that providing consumers comprehensive refinancing and consolidation options empowers the consumers on their financial journey. 

 

*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 to Compare Student Loan Refinancing Lenders

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If you’re like most college students, you may have graduated from school with student loans. According to The College Institute for College Access and Success, graduates left college with $29,200 in student loan debt, on average.

 

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.

 

Even if you took out federal student loans, interest rates can be high, causing your loan balances to grow over time.

 

If you want to save money and pay off your debt as quickly as possible, student loan refinancing may be a smart strategy for you. However, there are literally dozens of refinancing companies out there, so how can you find the right one for you? 

 

What is student loan refinancing? 

When you refinance federal or private student loans — or even parent student loans — you take out a loan from a company like ELFI for the amount of your existing education debt. The loan you take out has different terms than your old ones, including interest rate, length of repayment, and minimum monthly payment. 

 

When you refinance your debt, you can opt for a new loan term. You can extend your repayment term to up to 20 years to reduce your monthly payment and make it more affordable. Or, you can qualify for a lower interest rate and save money over the course of your repayment. You can even pay off your loans months or years ahead of schedule, freeing yourself from your debt. 

 

Just how effective is student loan refinancing? ELFI customers reported that they save $272 per month, on average, and should see an average of $13,940 in total savings after refinancing their student loans.1 

 

How to find the best student loan refinance companies

When you’re shopping around for a lender, there are five steps you should follow before selecting a loan:

1. Assess your loan eligibility

Because refinancing loans are offered by private lenders, eligibility criteria can vary from lender to lender.

 

You may qualify for a loan from one lender, but not another. At ELFI, borrowers must meet the following criteria

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • You must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt
  • You must have a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Your income is at least $35,000
  • Your credit score is 680 or higher
  • Your credit history is 36 months old or older
  • Your degree is from an approved post-secondary institution and program of study

 

If you don’t meet the minimum lending requirements on your own, you may need a co-signer to apply for a loan with you. A co-signer is usually a parent, relative, or friend with good to excellent credit and steady income. The co-signer is responsible for making payments on the loan if you fall behind. 

2. Get instant rate quotes to compare interest rates

Before submitting your loan application, it’s a good idea to compare offers from different lenders so you get the lowest student loan refinance rates. Some lenders — like Education Loan Finance — allow you to get a rate quote online in minutes without affecting your credit score.*

 

With the prequalification tool, you can explore your options and choose what repayment terms and interest rate types work best for you before applying for a loan. 

3. Look at what borrower protections lenders offer

When you refinance federal student loans, you lose federal benefits like access to income-driven repayment plans and federal forbearance programs, so it’s important to pay attention to what benefits the refinancing lender offers. 

 

Not all refinancing lenders have borrow protections, so make sure you read the fine print before selecting a lender. Otherwise, you could end up in a tough spot if you can’t afford your payments. 

 

For example, if you’re unable to pay your loan because of a financial hardship or medical issue, you may be eligible for a temporary forbearance with ELFI. You could postpone your payments for up to 12 months, giving you up to a year to get back on your feet without worrying about your loans. 

4. Compare repayment terms

When comparing loan offers, there are a few key factors you should consider: 

  • Interest rate types: Some lenders offer fixed and variable-rate loans. Fixed-rate loans have the same interest rate — and monthly payment — for the entire life of the loan. Variable-rate loans have lower interest rates at first than fixed-rate loans, but they can fluctuate over time, causing your payment to change, too. Variable-rate loans make sense if you want to pay off your student loans as quickly as possible because you can take advantage of the initial lower rate. 
  • Interest rate: The rate you receive will affect how much interest accrues on your loan during your repayment. 
  • Length of repayment: A longer loan term will give you a more affordable monthly payment, but you’ll pay more in interest over time. A shorter loan term will have higher monthly payments, but you’ll pay less in interest charges. And, shorter loan terms tend to have lower interest rates than loans with longer terms. 

5. Research the lenders

Refinancing lenders vary widely in terms of customer satisfaction and accessibility. Before choosing a lender, research reviews online to get an idea of what to expect as a borrower. 

 

For example, ELFI has over 800 reviews on TrustPilot, and a 4.9 out of 5 TrustScore. 

 

You can contact ELFI for help by emailing answers@ELFI.com or by calling or texting 1-844-601-3534.*

 

Tackling your student loan debt

Refinancing your student loans is a great way to save money, lower your payments, or pay off your debt early. But choosing the right lender is key. 

 

If you’re not sure if refinancing is right for you, use the student loan refinancing calculator to find out how much you can save and how it would affect your monthly payments.* 

 


 

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.

 

*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.

9 Signs It’s Time to Refinance Student Loans

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

 

You have a good credit score.

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

 

You’re up to date on your loan payments.

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

 

You are employed with a steady income.

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

 

You have a good debt-income ratio.

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

 

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

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

 

You know which student loans to refinance and why.

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

 

Loan benefits don’t apply to your situation.

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

 

You could save a boatload on interest or loan terms.

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

 

You know how to find a good lender.

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

 

What To Know Before Refinancing Student Loans

 


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

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

An Ophthalmologist’s Guide to Student Loan Refinancing

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

 

By Caroline Farhat

 

Ophthalmologists and Student Loans

If you are part of the 73% of medical graduates with student loans, you may be facing an average of $192,000 in medical school debt according to a 2017 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. While in residency, an ophthalmologist in 2017 was earning about $55,000 on average, but after residency, the average salary for an ophthalmologist is about $366,000 — making student loan debt much more manageable. 

 

Before looking into options available to you to help pay down your debt, it’s best to know the following information: 

  • The type of loans you have. There are different programs available to you based on whether you have federal or private loans. 
  • The balance of your loan, interest rate and term period remaining. With this information, it will be easier to determine what course of action can be the most beneficial for you. 

 

Options To Pay Student Loans

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

 

1. Loan forgiveness

There are state and federal programs that provide loan forgiveness or payments towards your loans depending on the types of loans you have and the sector of your work. 

 

For federal loans one major program is Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This program forgives your remaining student loan debt after 10 years of qualifying payments while you work at a qualifying nonprofit hospital. There are specific requirements for this program including the type of federal loans, when you make payments for them to qualify and the payment plan you are on, so be sure to closely read the requirements! 

 

For federal and private student loans there are numerous programs that provide forgiveness up to a certain amount or payments for working in underserved areas for a certain period of time. 

 

The Association of American Medical Colleges has a helpful database with loan forgiveness programs to check out. 

 

2. Make payments during residency

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

 

3. Refinance student loans

Refinancing student loans can be a great option whether you have federal or private loans and especially if you have any variable interest rates on your loans. Variable interest rates are tied to the LIBOR rate and any changes to the rate could increase your student loan payment. 

 

Refinancing loans can reduce your monthly payment and save you interest over the life of the loan. For example: Say you have $150,000 of student loans remaining with the average rate for graduate loans at 7.08% with 15 years left on the term of the loan. Your payment would be $1,355 per month. If you refinanced to a new 15 year term loan and qualified for an interest rate of 4.35%, your new monthly payment could be $1,136 per month saving you $219 per month and $39,408 over the life of the loan. 

 

Check out our student loan refinance calculator to get a better idea of what you could be saving on your loans.* 

 

There are many lenders that provide student loan refinancing. When comparing the best student loan refinance companies be sure to look for no application fees, no origination fees and no prepayment penalties. It’s also good to read reviews about the company to be sure they have good customer service. 

 

At ELFI we never have application or origination fees and no prepayment penalty. You also receive a personal loan advisor to help with the refinancing process. 

 

Different lenders have different requirements for refinancing. In general you need: 

  • good credit score: minimum in the 600s. At ELFI we require a minimum of 680. 
  • solid length of credit history. At ELFI we require at least 36 months. 
  • be a U.S. citizen of the age of majority. 
  • must have obtained a degree from an approved post-secondary institution. 
  • a minimum amount of loans you are refinancing. At ELFI you need a minimum of $15,000 in loans to refinance. 
  • financial documents, including W-2 and recent paystub. 

 

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

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

 

Bottom Line

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

 


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. 

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

A Veterinarian’s Guide to Student Loan Refinancing

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

 

By Kat Tretina

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

 

Becoming a veterinarian can be an expensive process. The American Veterinary Medical Association reported that the average amount of student loan debt for graduates was $143,000. 

 

However, you also have high earning potential. The median wage for veterinarians is $93,830, which is far higher than most Americans make. With a higher-than-typical income, you’re an excellent candidate for student loan refinancing, which can help you manage your debt and save money.

 

Why student loan refinancing is helpful for veterinarians

When you decided to go to veterinary school, you likely had to take out graduate and professional degree loans to pay for your education. Unfortunately, student loans for graduate degrees tend to have higher interest rates than other forms of debt. 

 

Even Grad PLUS Loans — a form of federal loan for graduate and professional degree students — have an interest rate of 7.08%. With such a high rate, your loan balance can quickly grow, causing you to owe far more than you originally borrowed. 

 

By refinancing your student loan debt, you can qualify for a lower interest rate, allowing you to save a significant amount of money. 

 

For example, if you had $143,000 in student loan debt at 7% APR and a 10-year repayment term, your monthly payment would be $1,660 per month. By the end of your repayment term — including interest charges — you would have repaid a total of $199,242.

 

If you refinanced your debt and qualified for a 10-year loan at just 5% APR, your monthly payment would drop to just $1,517, reducing your monthly payment by $144 per month. Over the course of your repayment, you’d repay $182,008. By refinancing your debt, you’d save over $17,000. 

 

Original Loans

APR: 7%

Loan Term: 10 Years

Minimum Monthly Payment: $1,660

Total Interest Paid: $56,242

Total Repaid: $199,242

 

Refinancing Loans

APR: 5%

Loan Term: 10 Years

Minimum Monthly Payment: $1,517

Total Interest Paid: $39,008

Total Repaid: $182,008

  

  

How to refinance veterinary school loans

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

 

1. Review eligibility requirements

Make sure you meet the lender’s eligibility requirements. At ELFI, borrower’s must meet the following criteria: 

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident 
  • You have at least $15,000 in student loan debt
  • You make at least $35,000 per year
  • Your credit score is 680 or higher
  • Your credit history is at least 36 months old
  • Your degree was issued by an approved post-secondary institution and program of study

You can find the list of participating schools on ELFI’s eligibility requirements page.* 

2. Consider adding a cosigner

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

 

By having a cosigner, you boost the likelihood of getting approved for a loan and securing a competitive interest rate. 

 

3. Get a rate quote

Before submitting your loan application, get a rate quote so you have an idea of what kind of loan terms you can qualify for with a consolidation loan. With ELFI’s Find My Rate tool, you can get an estimated rate in just a few minutes without any impact on your credit score.* 

 

Once you find a loan term and interest rate type that works for your needs, you can move forward with the loan application. 

 

4. Submit your loan application

You can complete your loan application online. You’ll be prompted to enter basic personal information, such as your name, address, employer, and income. To speed up the process, make sure you have the following documents on hand: 

  • Paystubs
  • W-2 for the previous year
  • Government-issued ID

You’ll also need to know who your current loan servicer is, your account number, and your current loan balance. 

 

The entire application takes about 15 minutes to complete. Once you submit the application, ELFI’s underwriting team will review your information and will contact you with a decision and next steps. 

 

Until you receive a loan approval and notification and loan disbursement, make sure you keep making payments on your current student loans to avoid missed payments and late fees. 

3 other options for managing your loans

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

1. Income-driven repayment plans

If you have federal student loans, you may be eligible for at least one of the four income-driven repayment (IDR) plans:

  • Income-Based Repayment
  • Income-Contingent Repayment
  • Pay As You Earn
  • Revised Pay As You Earn

With IDR plans, your loan servicer extends your repayment term, increasing it from 10 years to 20 or 25 years. Your monthly payment is generally capped at a percentage of your discretionary income. Depending on your family size and income, you could dramatically reduce your monthly payments. 

 

After 20 to 25 years of making payments — depending on which plan you’re on — the remaining loan balance is discharged, but the forgiven amount is taxable as income. 

 

You can apply for IDR plans online

 

2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

As a veterinarian, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) if you have federal student loans and work for a non-profit organization or government agency for at least 10 years while making 120 monthly qualifying payments on your debt. Payments made under an IDR plan qualify for PSLF, no matter how low they may be. 

 

After 10 years of making payments, your remaining loan balance is forgiven. The forgiven balance isn’t taxable as income. 

 

Use the PSLF help tool to see if your employment and loans are eligible for loan forgiveness. 

 

3. State student loan repayment assistance programs

Veterinarians are in hot demand, and many states are experiencing shortages of trained professionals. To recruit and retain veterinarians in high-need areas, some states offer student loan repayment assistance programs, where they offer help repaying your student loans. In return, you must agree to commit to work for a set period of time in a designated service area. 

 

For example, Minnesota operates the Rural Veterinarian Loan Repayment Program. Eligible veterinarians who agree to work for five years in a qualifying position can receive $15,000 per year in loan repayment assistance, up to a maximum of $75,000. 

 

Visit the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website to see if your state offers a similar program. 

 

Managing your student loans

If you need help tackling your debt, student loan refinancing can make a lot of sense. And ELFI can help you achieve your goals. In fact, NerdWallet ranked ELFI as the top lender for veterinary school loan refinancing, giving it a five-star rating. 

 

Use ELFI’s student loan refinancing calculator to see how much you can save by refinancing your student loans.*

 


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. To see eligibility requirements, visit https://www.elfi.com/eligibility-requirements-to-refinance-student-loans/.

 

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

We’re In Love with These 7 ELFI Customer Reviews

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Whether you’re spending time with the girls for ‘Galentine’s Day’ or spending the holiday with that special someone, today is a day to share some love with those you care about!

 

At ELFI, we show our love to our customers through top-notch customer service paired with low rates and flexible terms for refinancing their student loans – and sometimes they show us love back through great TrustPilot reviews. In light of Valentine’s Day, we’re sharing 7 ELFI customer reviews that we’re simply in love with!

 

All reviews below were given by real Education Loan Finance customers on TrustPilot. Results may vary.

 

Review #1:

“Loved the personal loan advisor experience … When she called me and left me a voicemail, she sounded like a friend, not a scary loan robot, and it really put me at ease through the process.”

No one likes a scary loan robot! It’s great to see that our personal loan advisors help put our customers at ease through the refinancing process by giving them guidance, answering questions, and keeping them informed of updates along the way!

 

 

Review #2:

“I wish I’d done this sooner! The refinance process was fairly straightforward and easy to manage, and having the added benefit of a loan advisor was super helpful. The rates are competitive and they have plenty of options for every person.”

We hear “I wish I’d done this sooner” pretty often from customers, but it’s always nice to see how happy they are once they’ve made the decision to refinance. If you still have a significant amount of student loan debt, it’s probably not too late to refinance!

 

Review #3:

“Promote this woman!! Candace was so knowledgeable, prompt, and helpful during every step of the process- made the experience seamless.”

So much enthusiasm from this customer! They don’t need to worry – we take great pride in the service given by our personal loan advisors and we love showing people how great they are. They truly do make the refinancing process as seamless as possible.

 

Review #4:

“Did not expect to be assigned to an actual representative so good on elfi for that.. Further.. I can tell that Ivan knows what he’s doing. He’s professional, with prompt responses. It’s one thing to put a representative in place, but another for that person to actually provide value. Sometimes with companies, you don’t even know who to contact to begin with, let alone, the company reaching out to you first, with a representative who’s coherent and professional.”

This means so much to us! We aimed to reshape the student loan refinancing industry by offering every customer with a single personal loan advisor that can understand their situation and guide them through the process… Receiving reviews like this truly make us blush because it shows that our process works!

 

Review #5:

“Andrea was incredibly helpful! It was nice to have someone take the time to answer all of my questions, provide explanations and keep me apprised of next steps. Refinancing was a breeze…thanks ELFI and Andrea!”

Kudos to Andrea for making refinancing a simple process for this customer! Regardless of your lender, there are always going to be several steps involved in the refinancing process – but having someone there to show you the path ahead really makes it a breeze.

 

Review #6:

“Great rates and very helpful customer service. Didier walked me through the process and made it very easy to me to get my loans set up quickly and painlessly. I highly recommend ELFI to anyone looking to refinance their student loans. I compared payment options to several other companies, and Education Loan Finance by far had the best options. I was able to reduce my monthly payments and now I will be paying off my loans in 7 years, rather than 10. Five stars!”

This customer cut three years off of their repayment term by refinancing with ELFI, and they sure seemed happy about it!

 

Review #7:

“I’ve been afraid to refinance for years. ELFI was rated well on NerdWallet so I decided to apply. They actually made it easy to understand what I needed to refinance, how the process works etc. I also had someone assigned to help me and answer any questions. I’m so happy to have my loan with a company designed for the modern age who is actually transparent and helpful.”

Shucks! This customer was putting off refinancing for years, and we couldn’t be happier to be their refi match made in heaven. Our transparent process and personalized customer service really made the difference here!

 

 

What else can we say? We love our customers, and these reviews show us that the feeling is mutual. Our average TrustPilot rating currently stands at 4.9/5 stars, with over 800 reviews! Don’t just take our word for it – check our all of our reviews here.

 

Interested in finding your student loan refinancing match in ELFI? Our personal loan advisors are just a call, text, or email away. One of our PLAs will be dedicated to you from the moment you apply and will work with you each step of the way to ensure your ELFI refinanced loan is the optimal fit for you. Contact us to get started!*

 

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day from ELFI!

 


 

*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.

A Doctor’s Guide to Student Loan Refinancing

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As a doctor, you likely racked up a significant amount of student loan debt to finish your education. According to the American Medical Association, 79% of medical school graduates have $100,000 or more in student loans.

 

Blog 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.

 

However, carrying six figures of education debt isn’t as dire for you as it can be for someone working in another field. As a doctor, you likely have a relatively high salary. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average salary for family and general practitioners is $211,780.

 

With your education and income, you’re a prime candidate for student loan refinancing. And, refinancing your debt can help you save money and pay off your loans early.

 

Why you should refinance student loans after medical school

When you have such a large amount of student loan debt, interest charges can have a significant impact on your balances. Over time, interest charges can add thousands to your loan cost.

 

Unfortunately, the interest rates on medical school loans can be quite high. Even if you qualified for federal Grad PLUS Loans, you can face steep rates. As of 2020, the interest rate on Direct PLUS Loans is a whopping 7.08%.

 

To put that rate in perspective, let’s say you had $100,000 in student loan debt at 7.08% interest and a 10-year repayment term. Your monthly payment would be $1,165 per month, and by the end of your loan term, you will repay a total of $139,825. Interest charges would cost you over $39,000. Pretty scary, right?

 

When you refinance medical school loans, you may qualify for a loan with a lower interest rate. Or, you can extend your repayment term if you want a more affordable monthly payment. Depending on what option you choose, the savings can be significant.

 

If you refinanced your loans and qualified for a 10-year loan at 4.5% interest, your monthly payment would drop to $1,036 per month. However, you’d pay just $124,366 over the length of your loan. By refinancing your debt, you’d save over $15,000.

 

How to refinance medical school loans

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

 

1. Find out if you meet the eligibility requirements

First, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements to refinance student loans. As a baseline, you must:

  • Have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved college or university
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be at the age of majority — 18 years old, in most states — or older
  • Have a good credit history
  • Have a minimum credit score in the upper 600s

 

2. Consider asking a cosigner for help

If you’ve just started practicing, you may not have established your credit history yet, or you may not be making much money. If that’s the case, consider asking a cosigner for help. A cosigner is a friend or relative with good credit and income who agrees to sign the loan application with you. If you don’t make the minimum payments on time, the lender will go to the cosigner for them, instead.

 

While a cosigner isn’t required, adding one to your application can improve your chances of qualifying for a loan and getting a low interest rate.

 

3. Get a rate quote

Next, get a rate quote to see what kind of terms you can qualify for. With ELFI’s Find My Rate tool, you can get an estimated rate in just a few minutes without any impact to your credit score.*

 

4. Submit your loan application

Once you find a loan that works for you and your budget, you can move forward with the application.

 

You’ll need to provide your personal information, as well as information about your loans and employer. You’ll need to have your recent pay stubs or W-2 forms on-hand, and you’ll have to submit a copy of your government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license.

 

Once you complete the application, ELFI will review your information and will contact you with a decision. Until you find out you’re approved and the loan is disbursed, keep making the payments on your existing debt to avoid late payment fees and penalties.

 

5 other options for managing your loans

Refinancing student loan debt can be a great way to improve your finances, but it’s not for everyone. If you decide that student loan refinancing isn’t a good fit for you, there are a few other options for managing your debt:

 

1. Federal income-driven repayment plans

If you have federal student loans — such as Grad PLUS Loans or Direct Unsubsidized Loans — you may be eligible for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. With IDR plans, your loan servicer will extend your repayment term and reduce your monthly payment. Your new payment is dependent on your loan balance, income, and family size. Depending on your situation, you can significantly lower your payment amount.

 

You can apply for an IDR plan online.

 

2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If you work for a non-profit hospital, organization, or government agency, you may qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). With PSLF, the government will forgive your remaining loan balance after making 10 years’ worth of qualifying payments while working for an eligible employer.

 

However, not many people will meet the PSLF criteria. In fact, 99% of PSLF applicants were rejected last year.

 

To prevent any issues, use the PSLF Help Tool to find out if you meet all of the qualifications for loan forgiveness.

 

3. State student loan repayment assistance programs

Depending on where you live, you may be able to get some help with your debt through state student loan repayment assistance programs. Some states offer healthcare professionals money to repay their loans in exchange for a service commitment to work in a high-need area.

 

For example, doctors who live and work in Kansas can receive up to $95,000 to repay their student loans. In return, you must agree to work in an approved facility in a health professional shortage area.

 

To find out if your state operates a student loan repayment assistance program, visit the Association of American Medical Colleges’ website.

 

4. Locum tenens work

Another option is to take on locum tenens work. With this approach, you fill in for another physician on a temporary basis. Some terms can be for just a few days, while others can last for months.

 

Why is this a good idea? It can be lucrative. Qualified professionals can earn large bonuses, which you can use to make lump sum payments on your debt.

 

You can find locum tenens work — and sign-on bonuses — on the American Academy of Family Physicians’ website.

 

5. Live like you’re still in your residency

Now that you’re no longer in residency, it may be tempting to spend some of your new income on a larger apartment or a better car. However, it’s a good idea to continue living like you’re still in residency to limit your expenses. By keeping your living costs low, you can free up more money for debt repayment.

 

Managing your student loans

As a healthcare provider, you likely have a substantial amount of debt. If your student loans are causing you stress, refinancing your medical school loans can be a smart way to manage your debt. Use the student loan refinance calculator to find out how much you can save by refinancing your student loans.*

 


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

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

Refinancing Student Loans to Buy Your First Home

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So, you’re ready to buy your first home? Look at you all grown up and wanting to be smart with your money. The truth is, you were smart enough to invest in your future by working hard for your degree(s), and now you want to double down and dig in some roots. But you may be wondering how you’re going to juggle both a mortgage AND a burdensome student loan payment every month. In fact, 41% of college grads with student loan debt hesitate to purchase a home because of the sizeable amount of student loan debt they have.

 

Note: This blog was previously published in March of 2018, but has been updated to be current for our readers.

 

Purchasing your first home is a massive decision, and you’re wise to not take it lightly. But it doesn’t hurt to dream, right?

 

Picture yourself parking in the driveway of your first dream home. As you slowly walk up to the front door, everything has this wonderful soft glow and your peripherals are a bit cloudy because, well it’s a dream and that’s what they do in the movies. Anyways, you reach out for the door handle and are pleasantly surprised to find it has the perfect form, as if it were fitted for your hand alone.

 

You squeeze the latch, crack the door open and take the first step inside. It’s perfect. Everything is just as you imagined. You take another step towards the living room and brush against something with your foot. You look down to find a pile of old mail. “That’s strange,” you think to yourself. “This home doesn’t have any previous owners. This is MY dream home.” Perplexed, you shuffle through the stack and are horrified to find they’re all bills…. And they’re all addressed to you.

 

An eerie feeling crawls up your spine about the same time you hear a chilling voice say, “Stuuuudent Loooaaans.” The front door slams behind you, presumably by the Ghost of Student Loan Future. To your dismay, the living room begins to shrink and warp into a strangely familiar studio apartment. It’s at this moment you realize your dream has just become a nightmare and you have descended to the basement of Homeowner’s Purgatory, known as, “Oh Yeah, I Have Enough Student Loan Debt to Buy a Mid-Sized House. Maybe One Day I’ll Be Able to Afford It. Maybe.”

 

Fortunately, this is only a dream, and a fake one at that. More relieving, perhaps, is that this blog was not written to encourage or discourage you from purchasing a home; chances are you’ve already made up your mind on that. Besides, there are plenty of other blogs out there that can take you down that rabbit hole. What we’d like to do is help you understand how your student loan debt can and will affect your eligibility for homeownership, as well as ways to improve your chances of approval by offering ways for you to possibly pay off your debt faster and reduce the amount you’ll pay in total, such as refinancing your student loans.

 

Graduated Savings Plan

First and foremost, paying off student loan debt and purchasing a home are not linear. With a graduated savings plan, you can pay down your debt and save for a home at the same time. Start out by putting the majority of your discretionary income towards your debt and set aside 10% for down-payment savings. Next year, decrease your student loan payments to 75% and increase your savings to 25%. The following year, aim for a 50/50 split and continue the trend until you’ve paid off your student loan debt and can finally allocate 100% of your discretionary income towards your down payment.

 

Lower Your Monthly Payment

Before approving your mortgage, lenders are going to be looking closely at how much other debt you owe. Your student loan debt will likely be the heaviest hitter on that roster. They will also take into account car loans, financed furniture, etc. Your best chance for approval is to aim for a debt-to-income ratio of about 25%. Technically the cut-off is at 43%, but you’ll likely borrow at a much higher interest rate and require you to have mortgage insurance. That’s going to really ramp up your monthly payments. While your overall debt-to-income ratio will certainly play a role in your eligibility, it may surprise you to learn that mortgage lenders are not so much concerned with the overall balance as they are with your monthly payments going towards the debt.

 

One of the best things you can do to get your financial house in order is to lower your monthly student loan payments by refinancing their student loans. While this will not remove the reality of student loan debt, consolidating your multiple student loans into one loan will eliminate the hassle of keeping track on your slew of different rates and terms. You can lower your monthly payment even more by extending the repayment term of your loan by few years, though this will affect the total amount of interest you end up.

 

Lock-In Your Rates

Over the past several years, variable interest rate loans have hovered around historical lows. However, you may have noticed that the prime rate has been on the rise, and this will surely affect anyone with variable rate loans. When you consolidate loans, you have the opportunity to lock-in a fixed interest rate for all of your student loan debt, eliminating any variable rates that could prove problematic when the economy improves and interest rates follow suit. Locked-in rates mean locked-in payment, and it’s comforting to know exactly how much you’ll owe every month for the rest of your loan term (the bank will like it too). If you are even thinking about refinancing as a way to get one step closer to purchasing your first home, now is the time to take advantage of your good credit score and get the lowest rates you can qualify for in the event they continue to rise.

 

Opening Doors to a New Life

In the end, purchasing your first home while simultaneously paying down student loan debt is more than simply crunching the numbers. Keep in mind that homeownership is far more than a mortgage payment. It’s also furniture and renovations, not to mention general upkeep, which tends to average more than one percent of the total cost of the home per year. You need to weigh very real costs against your invaluable personal happiness – both present and future. As no one can help you with this formula, it’s best to follow your gut.

 

Remember, your student loan debt and your first home purchase are both investments. Get creative with this abstract equation by having a roommate or utilizing online vacation rental websites, as either option may cover the majority of your mortgage. If you buy in the right neighborhood, you might even earn a couple hundred bucks, which, being the smart and financially responsible adult you are, will go directly towards paying down your student loan debt. It’s a great way to have your cake and eat it too until the day comes when you can reach out and cut a little slice of heaven out of that pie in the sky.

 

All that being said, take a serious look at refinancing student debt. If you are able to get in on a home purchase more quickly by reducing student loan payments now, you may also enjoy a lower rate on your mortgage loan. ‘A dollar saved is a dollar earned’, especially when it comes to student loan debt. Find out home much you can save with ELFI.*

 


 

*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.

Tips for Finding the Best Student Loan Refinancing Lender

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Taking out student loans is an investment in your future, just like buying a house, contributing to a 401K, or building a portfolio of stocks and bonds. Whereas housing and stock markets alike can crash seemingly without warning, however, a college degree delivers, more often than not. According to the College Board’s “Education Pays” report, a college student that is behind employed peers in terms of wages while paying for a bachelor’s degree will recoup these losses by age 34 and begin to surpass those same peers.

 

Note: This blog was previously published in August of 2017, but has been updated to be current for our readers.

 

In other words, you’ve done good by going to college, and the result is that you are now paying your bills and student loans while also saving for your future. Still, you can’t help but notice all the media hype over the benefits of student loan refinancing, or the great offers from companies like Education Loan Finance that could help you to save money over the life of your student loans.

 

If you’re going to refinance in order to reduce your interest rates, monthly payments or overall payout on student loans, you have to be just as smart as you were when choosing a profitable major. You need to ask the right questions and compare student loan refinancing lenders. Here are the top questions to help you get to the bottom of finding the best student loan refinancing lender.

 

Do I qualify for refinancing?

This is question number one. If a lender won’t work with you for some reason or another, you’ll have to go back to the drawing board. As a college student paying down debt, however, you might find yourself in a great position to refinance.

 

Potential factors affecting your ability to refinance include:

 

Not every lender will use the same factors in determining eligibility. While some rely primarily on credit score and history, others now weigh minimum income requirements more heavily. The good news is, if you earn a good income, you’re working to reduce debt and you’ve built up a solid credit score (680+) and clean credit history, you’re probably in a great position to refinance with just about any student loan refinancing lender you approach, allowing you the opportunity to shop around and pick the lender you prefer.

 

What are the benefits?

There are a lot of potential benefits to refinancing student loans, but when you do it right, the biggest benefit is saving money. Once you’ve qualified for refinancing, it’s time to look for the best terms, and this could include comparing:

  • Interest rates
  • Variable/fixed rates
  • Monthly payments
  • Loan duration
  • Overall payout

 

With the right terms, you could reduce your debt and save money on every front. This, in turn, could mean paying off debt faster, improving your credit score, reducing stress and generally feeling pretty awesome about your excellent life choices. You might be able to buy your first home or start a business sooner than you hoped. Maybe you can start putting money into retirement accounts and taking advantage of compound interest early in life. Sound refinancing opens doors. Hashtag winning, anyone?

 

What’s the deal with fixed vs. variable rates?

You may have noticed that among your myriad student loans are lurking some variable rates. As a college grad, you probably understand the difference between the terms “fixed” and “variable,” so you know why the former is generally preferable. Variable-rate loans fluctuate, which is pretty great during economic downturn because your interest rates and payments go down.

 

Are there penalties for early repayment?

According to the office of Federal Student Aid, the federal loans you take for college incur no penalties for early repayment. Can you keep the same benefits when you refinance? You’ll need to make sure the lender you choose allows you to make extra payments toward the principle of the loan, as opposed to paying off fees and accrued interest first. This way you’ll be sure to enjoy the rewards of your responsible financial behavior, and actually reduce debt and pay your loan down faster.

 

Are there further discounts available?

You might already know that you should ask about available discounts when comparing insurance policies, but did you know you can also get discounts through loan refinancing? You might not save the same amount as with a greatly reduced interest rate, but every little bit helps.

 

Some lenders will reduce your rate by a small percentage (say 0.25%) if you select an automatic payment method. You might also be eligible for discounts related to good behavior like on-time, consecutive payments. Or you could get bonuses for referrals. If there are discounts to be had, you definitely want to know about them, and the best way is to ask.

 

What are some other benefits to refinancing student loans?

You want more than monetary savings when you refinance? You got it. Some lenders are finding ways to sweeten the deal with extras like unemployment protection, career coaching, entrepreneurship programs and more. Often, these bonuses are in the best interest of both lenders and borrowers.

 

For example, pausing loan payments during hardships like job loss can give borrowers the opportunity to get back on their feet and resume payments faster, and helping borrowers with career and entrepreneurship opportunities can lead to increased earnings and perhaps future loans. It looks like lenders are starting to see the value of long-term relationships with college grads.

 

Should I refinance or consolidate?

Why not do both? When you refinance and consolidate at the same time, you stand to reduce interest rates and payments, but you could also increase convenience by turning a dozen monthly payments into a single bill.

 

Before your refinance your student loans, you need to choose a lender that’s going to offer you the best terms and the most benefits. With a list of targeted questions in mind, you can find the perfect lender for the job. It could just be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

 


 

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