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This Week in Student Loans: November 22

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Welcome to our weekly roundup on all things student loans. Let’s take a look at some top happenings of the week (click to scroll to the story):

Filing Bankruptcy to Alleviate Student Debt?

LendEDU’s Mike Brown wrote a column for Business Insider regarding the Student Borrower’s Bankruptcy Relief Act, which was proposed in May by Senator Dick Durbin and was cosponsored by Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris. If passed, the bill would erase the current part of the bankruptcy code that makes private and federal loans non-dischargeable unless “undue hardship” is proven, which has been known to be very difficult.


This is especially relevant as a LendEDU study found that 32% of bankruptcy filers carried student loan debt, with student loans making up 49% of their total debt on average.


The proposed law would treat student debt the same as other forms of consumer debt in bankruptcy proceedings, which may lead some student loan borrowers to consider filing bankruptcy to start fresh from their debt, despite the negative connotations. Whether that’s a smart move for borrowers is up for debate.


Source: Business Insider

Employers Joining in on Student Debt Repayment

In the midst of rising student debt, The Chicago Tribune reported that more employers are launching benefits programs to assist their employees in repaying their student loans.


“According to a survey last year of 250 companies by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 11% offered student-loan repayment subsidies and 13% planned to add it as a way to attract and retain employees,” the article states.


Among the corporations following the trend are Hulu®, HP®, and Fidelity Investments®.


The types of student loan benefits that are being offered vary from employers making direct payments to lenders, offering tools to manage repayment, and even matching employee’s student loan payments with contributions to their 401(k) retirement plan. Perhaps more businesses will continue to catch on to high demand for debt relief among recent college graduates and implement benefits to attract their talent.


Source: Chicago Tribune

Will the College Affordability Act Enable Government Refinancing?

With all the buzz surrounding the College Affordability Act that was introduced by House Democrats in October, it’s worth looking into the details of what the act will change. Forbes writer Zack Friedman explains the three ways this could change repayment, with the first being that the government will enable borrowers to refinance their student loans to “today’s interest rates.”


How these rates will compare with top private student loan refinancing lenders is yet to be known. If this plays out like the in-school funding market, well-qualified borrowers may still receive better rates in the private market. In addition, there are some other limitations to the proposed refinancing program, including strict limits on the dollar amount of private loans that could be refinanced through the government. 


The proposed program would also eliminate origination fees of federal student loans (joining many private lenders like ELFI, who already do this for borrowers) and would “simplify” student loan repayment by replacing the variety of federal loan repayment plans with just two plans: one fixed student loan repayment plan and one income-based repayment plan. This “simplification” comes at a cost for borrowers who will lose access to:


  • Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE) 
  • Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR Plan).


Source: Forbes


Trump’s Loan Discharges Halted for 24,000 Veterans

In August, President Trump called the U.S. Education Department to forgive student loan debt for veterans who are “totally and permanently” disabled. However, this process has been delayed due to regulatory complications, leaving 24,000 veterans who would qualify without student loan forgiveness. The number of veterans who have received discharges of their loans thus far has reached 3,300.


The hang-up is that the Education Department “could not legally move ahead with the automatic loan forgiveness until the agency first rewrote the regulations governing the program,” according to the internal memo. It has been reported that the department is taking steps toward doing so and that new proposed regulations were pending review at the White House.


Source: Politico


Boston Librarian Upset With Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

NBC Boston shared an article surrounding Maija Meadows Hasegawa, a Boston librarian who is upset at the lack of information she was provided regarding the qualification requirements for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.


“It was almost like unless you knew to ask, nobody would tell you,” she stated in the article.


Hasegawa notes that the rules of the program sounded simple at first: get a full-time public service or nonprofit job and make 120 qualifying payments. After applying and being rejected, she was surprised to find that she could have switched her loan type to qualify, which she eventually did. She also wasn’t aware that she needed to be in an income-based repayment plan, which she eventually did as well.


Hasegawa is like many of the 102,051 applicants who have filed for the PSLF program, of which only 1,216 have been accepted – frustrated.


Source: NBC Boston


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NOTICE: 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.

7 Benefits of Refinancing Student Loans

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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.


It’s a scary feeling: you just graduated from college, and your student loan grace period comes to an end. Suddenly, you have to start making payments on your loans, and your minimum monthly payments eat up a significant portion of your entry-level salary.


It’s a common problem. According to Experian, Americans carry $35,539 in student loan debt, on average. And, student loans often have sky-high interest rates, causing your loan balance to balloon over time.


If you’re overwhelmed by your debt and are looking for ways to manage your loans, one option is student loan refinancing. Refinancing your student loans can be a smart way to tackle your debt and save money over the length of your repayment.


What is student loan refinancing?

Student loan refinancing is a process where you work with a private lender to take out a loan for the amount of your current debt, using the new loan to pay off your old ones. The new loan has completely different terms than your previous loans, including interest rate, repayment term, and minimum monthly payment.


7 student loan refinancing benefits you should know

While refinancing is a well-known strategy for paying off debt, there are some often overlooked benefits to refinancing student loans you should know before submitting your loan application.


1. You could lower your interest rate

Many student loans have very high interest rates. Over time, those rates can cause your loan balance to grow, forcing you to repay far more than you originally borrowed. For example, the interest rate on federal PLUS Loans for graduate students is a whopping 7.08% APR* according to the US Department of Education.


If you have good credit and stable income, you could qualify for a lower interest rate by refinancing your student loans. Education Loan Finance offers fixed-rate loans with interest rates as low as 3.14% APR*, and variable-rate loans with rates as low as 2.39% APR*.¹


2. You may be able to reduce your monthly payment

When you refinance your student loans, you can choose a different repayment term than you currently have. You could choose a loan term of 5, 7, 10, 15, or even 20 years. With a longer repayment term, you could reduce your monthly payment.


With a longer payment term, you’ll pay more in interest over time. However, that tradeoff may be worth it to you to get a more affordable monthly payment that fits comfortably within your budget.


3. You could save money over the length of your loan

Student loan refinancing can be a powerful money-saving tool. If you qualify for a loan with a lower interest rate, you could save a significant amount of money.


For example, let’s say you had $35,000 in student loan debt with an interest rate of 7% APR*. Under a 10-year repayment plan, your monthly payment would be $406. Over the length of your loan, you’d repay a total of $48,766.


But let’s say you refinanced your debt and selected a 10-year loan at 4% APR*. Under the new loan terms, your monthly payment would drop to $354 per month — freeing up $52 per month from your budget — and you’d repay just $42,523. Refinancing your student loans would help you save over $6,200! In fact, customers reported saving an average of $309 every month and an average of $20,936 in total savings after refinancing student loans with Education Loan Finance.²


chart depicting student loan repayment savings


4. You’ll have one simple payment going forward

During your years in college, you likely took out several different student loans — both federal and private loans — to pay for your education. According to Mark Kantrowitz, student loan expert and publisher of Saving for College, the average college graduate leaves school with eight to 12 different student loans.


If you have multiple loans, managing them can be overwhelming. You’ll have several different loan servicers, monthly payments, and due dates.


Refinancing your student loans can be a smart solution because you consolidate all of your student loans into one and have the option of choosing a new term with likely a lower interest rate. Going forward, you’ll have just one loan servicer and one monthly payment to remember. This is in contrast to consolidating your loans with the federal government, which calculates your new interest rate based on the weighted average of your previous loans and rounds up to the nearest one-eight percentage point.


5. Having a co-signer can help you score a lower rate

If you have a limited credit history or income, you may not be able to qualify for a refinancing loan on your own. However, there’s a workaround: you can add a qualified co-signer who is willing to guarantee the loan to your application.


A co-signer is a relative or friend with good credit and stable income who guarantees the loan. If you miss payments, the lender will go to the co-signer for repayment, instead. Having a co-signer reduces the lender’s risk, increasing your chances of qualifying for a loan and getting a low interest rate.


6. Parent loans are also eligible for refinancing

Student loan refinancing isn’t just for recent college graduates. If you’re a parent who took out student loans to pay for your child’s education, you could qualify for refinancing, too.


In general, parent student loans tend to have high interest rates. But when you refinance, you can qualify for a much lower rate, helping you save money or pay off your debt ahead of schedule.


Parents who refinance through Education Loan Finance can choose a loan term of five, seven, or 10 years. Fixed-rate loans are available with rates as low as 3.14% APR*, and variable-rate loans are as low as 2.39% APR*.¹


7. You can get a rate quote without damaging your credit

When you’re researching your refinancing options, it’s important to know that some lenders require you to submit a full application before they’ll give you a quote. The lenders will perform a hard credit inquiry when they review your application, which may lower your credit score. According to myFICO, the organization behind the FICO credit score, a hard credit inquiry can reduce your score by as much as five points.


However, Education Loan Finance allows you to get a rate quote with just a soft credit inquiry, which has no impact on your credit score. You can get an estimate of what interest rate and loan terms you can expect in a matter of minutes.


The bottom line

If you’re struggling with student loans and feel like you’ll never be able to dig your way out of debt, student loan refinancing can provide you with much-needed relief. Now that you know the seven biggest secrets to refinancing student loans, you can make an informed decision and take charge of your debt.


If you’re ready to take the next step, complete a quick, no-fee application with Education Loan Finance



*APR=Annual Percentage Rate.


¹Education Loan Finance is a nationwide student loan debt consolidation and refinance program offered by Tennessee based SouthEast Bank. ELFI is designed to assist borrowers through consolidating and refinancing loans into one single loan that effectively lowers your cost of education debt and/or makes repayment very simple. Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. Interest rates current as of 10/1/2019. The interest rate and monthly payment for a variable rate loan may increase after closing, but will never exceed 9.95% APR. Interest rates may be different from the rates shown above and will be based on the term of your loan, your financial history, and other factors, including your cosigner’s (if any) financial history. For example, a 10-year loan with a fixed rate of 6% would have 120 payments of $11.00 per $1,000 borrowed. Rates are subject to change.


²Average savings calculations are based on information provided by SouthEast Bank/Education Loan Finance customers who refinanced their student loans between 8/16/2016 and 10/25/2018. While these amounts represent reported average amounts saved, actual amounts saved will vary depending upon several factors.


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

Student Loan Refinancing Basics

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You’ve graduated and have a great job! You’re flying high and loving your post-grad life. But then your dreaded student loan bill comes. If your high-interest, scattered monthly payments bring you dread, you should consider student loan refinancing. Not sure what it is or if it’s right for you? Don’t worry! We’ve gathered all the most important information so that you can make the decision that is best for you and your wallet.


What is student loan refinancing and why should I consider it?

Student loan refinancing allows you to obtain a new interest rate by refinancing your current student loans into a new loan. Both private and federal student loans are eligible to be refinanced. Parents, if you took out student loans for your child, PLUS loans are also eligible for refinancing.


Oftentimes, when students first apply for private student loans, they have a lower credit score and, as a result, don’t obtain the best interest rate. Let’s say when you were 18 you signed up for private student loans with an interest rate of 9.5%. Now you have a steady income and a healthy credit score, qualifying you for a lower interest rate around 6%. Refinancing your student loans is how you can obtain that lower interest rate, and as a result, put more money in your pocket. To illustrate how much we really mean, get this: Our customers reported saving an average of $309 every month and an average of $20,936 in total savings¹. That’s a nice chunk of change!


Want to see just how much money you could save? Plug your info into our student loan refinance calculator to get your estimated rate and monthly payment*.


Is student loan refinancing the same as consolidation?

People sometimes confuse refinancing with consolidation. Consolidation is for people who have multiple federal student loans and want to combine them under one monthly payment. Consolidation does not lower your interest rate, it just makes the payment process easier by streamlining your loans into one payment. When you consolidate your federal student loans, you will receive a new interest rate. This new rate is the weighted average of your previous loans and rounded up one-eighth of a percent. If you want to lower your interest rate, you need to consider student loan refinancing. One added benefit of student loan refinancing, in addition to the lower interest rate, is that it can give you one single monthly payment.


How to know if refinancing student loans is a good fit for you

Refinancing your student loans can be incredibly beneficial for student loan borrowers, but it’s not right for everyone. Here are three signs refinancing is a good fit for you right now:

  1. You are gainfully employed – It’s best to consider student loan refinancing only after you have graduated, secured a job, and have a steady income.
  2. You have a strong credit score – Aim for at least a 680 before applying. The higher the credit score, your rates will likely be better.
  3. You don’t have a high debt-to-income ratio – Your debt-to-income ratio reveals how much debt you have in relation to your monthly income. A great DTI is 20% or lower, but in some cases you can qualify with a DTI of 40%. Obviously the lower the better! You can calculate your DTI with this formula: DTI = (Total of your monthly debt payments/your gross monthly income) x 100.


Of course, refinancing is not going to be the right option for everyone. Here are a few situations when refinancing may be a bad idea.


  1. You are giving up other benefits – If you qualify for student loan forgiveness through the federal government, then refinancing your student loans may not be the best fit for you because it will disqualify you from receiving this benefit. It’s worth mentioning that more than 99% of people who have applied for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) have been rejected.
  2. You only have a few thousand dollars or a couple of years left on your loan – Most companies, including ELFI*, require a minimum dollar amount to refinance. For example, if you only have $3,000 left on your student loan, refinancing probably isn’t a viable option. To refinance student loans with ELFI you must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt.
  3. You already have a low rate and are satisfied with your monthly payments – Do your research to make sure your low rate is truly as low as it can be. If it is, why mess with a good thing?


If you don’t qualify for student loan refinancing on your own, you can apply with a creditworthy cosigner. If you choose to do so, your cosigner will need to have many of the same requirements as stated above.


How to refinance your student loans

Congrats! You’ve decided that refinancing your student loans is the best fit for you. Luckily, the application process with ELFI is quick, easy and 100% online. Remember, when researching student loan refinance providers, be on the lookout for application fees, origination fees, and prepayment penalties. With ELFI, you won’t pay any of these fees.


Here are the steps you need to take to refinance your student loans.

  1. Get prequalified – Getting pre-qualified will allow us to provide you with preliminary rates with just a soft credit inquiry that won’t affect your credit score.
  2. Gather your documents
    1. If you’re applying alone, you’ll need:
      1. Recent paystubs documenting the last 30 days of employment
      2. Previous year W-2
      3. Government-issued Identification
      4. Account information to make payments online
      5. Current Billing Statement or payoff letter for each eligible loan
    2. If you’re applying with a cosigner, they’ll need:
      1. Recent paystubs documenting the last 30 days of employment
      2. Previous year W-2
      3. Government-issued Identification
  3. Apply – Explore your options and select the plan with the rates and terms that best fit your needs. Each situation is unique so an ELFI Personal Loan Advisor can help advise you on the best options for you. For example, when applying you’ll have the option of selecting a fixed or variable interest rate.* You’ll want to review and discuss these options before signing on the dotted line.
  4. Send your documents electronically – We make it easy for you! Just send us screenshots or upload photos from your smartphone then sign the paperwork electronically.



If you’re eager to lower the amount of money you’re putting towards your student loans, refinancing your student loans is a great option. Refinancing can help you lower your interest rate and adjust your repayment terms. Ready to get started? Find out more here.



¹Average savings calculations are based on information provided by SouthEast Bank/Education Loan Finance customers who refinanced their student loans between 8/16/2016 and 10/25/2018. While these amounts represent reported average amounts saved, actual amounts saved will vary depending upon several factors.


*Education Loan Finance is a nationwide student loan debt consolidation and refinance program offered by Tennessee based SouthEast Bank. ELFI is designed to assist borrowers through consolidating and refinancing loans into one single loan that effectively lowers your cost of education debt and/or makes repayment very simple. Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. The interest rate and monthly payment for a variable rate loan may increase after closing, but will never exceed 9.95% APR. Interest rates will be based on the term of your loan, your financial history, and other factors, including your cosigner’s (if any) financial history. For example, a 10-year loan with a fixed rate of 6% would have 120 payments of $11.00 per $1,000 borrowed.


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 Making Friends in College

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If you’re like many students, starting college means striking out on your own, forging your path through life, and developing the skills that are sure to result in financial success. At least that’s the dream, right? But what happens when going off to college means leaving behind the familiarity of your family and friends? Or living in a new city that you have no idea how to navigate? What about striving to make ends meet financially and finally understanding what it means to budget? What is Ramen anyway?


College isn’t always what we conjure up in our heads. While it is a time of self-growth and development, getting a foothold in your new chapter can be challenging.  Because of that, we’re sharing a few tips to help you embrace the unfamiliar and start making new friends in college. 


Get out of your comfort zone.

We can give you countless ideas, but they all start with this one piece of advice. If you want to make new friends, you’ll have to get a little uncomfortable. But when you think about it, that’s a massive part of what college is about, right? To create new experiences and meet people, you’ll have to leave the comfort of your dorm room and put yourself out there. We’ll talk about a few different ways to do this, but it’s essential to go into this process expecting to do more than just what’s familiar. This is about being “ok” with not having a grasp on this phase of life.


Make friends in your dorm.

At no other time in your life will you be living with this many people. Living in a dorm doesn’t just mean living with roommates or suitemates. It means there’s a whole building of people you can get to know. Most dorms are equipped with community rooms of some kind, so an easy way to branch out and get to know people would be by doing your homework in a community room instead of your own bedroom. Since many students live on campus and don’t need a car, you could offer to carpool to the market or even create “watch parties” of your favorite TV shows. Post opportunities for group outings on the bulletin board and keep the RA in the loop of any sight-seeing trips around the city. The more you engage with people, the more your relationships will grow over time. 


Bonus tip: a sure-fire way to make friends in college is to ask your mom to bake some treats and share them with people in your dorm — everybody loves cookies. 


Consider an open door policy.

Whenever it’s appropriate, don’t be afraid to leave your room door open. Besides being a signal that you welcome small talk, you never know when another student will hear what music you’re playing, show you’re watching or even overhear what you’re talking about with your roommates. Remember that the freshmen on your floor are looking for opportunities to connect, just like you are.


Looking for friends? Join the club. 

College campuses are full of extracurricular opportunities. From academic organizations and Greek life to hobby-based clubs and everything in between, there’s likely a way you can get plugged in with students who share a common interest. “Welcome Week” is a popular semester kick-off event where clubs set up booths and give out freebies like food and t-shirts. Do your homework and make a list of some you’d like to know more about. Pace yourself, and resist the urge to sign up for everything that remotely sounds interesting. When you first start college, it can be fun to get an idea of what each group is like, but overextending yourself can backfire


Joining a fraternity or sorority is a fail-proof way of making friends in college. Many fraternities and sororities focus on community involvement and leadership development, and there’s always an opportunity for an upperclassman to guide you through your college years. If Greek life is for you, take the time to understand the process of recruiting, rushing and pledging here.


Get an on-campus job.

Want a fool-proof way of making friends in college? Live and work in the same place. Whether it’s at the school bookstore or coffeeshop, you can literally get paid and get to know people at the same time. Visit your campus Career Services center and they’ll give you a list of all the jobs you can apply for. Better yet, they’ll be able to coach you on your interview skills and help make your resume irresistible to employers. If you’re not making regular appointments with the Career Services staff you’re missing out on a very valuable resource.


Break the ice with a classmate. 

It may seem hard, but you can do it. Get past the awkward and get to know a classmate. If just introducing yourself isn’t your speed, then ask a classmate if they understood the assignment or if the class is what they thought it’d be. People may shy away from talking about themselves initially, so forging a bond over the dislike of oxford commas  is a fine place to start. 


If you’re assigned a study group, be active and participate in discussion. Take opportunities to ask questions and pay attention to what your classmates are saying. 


Making friends in college might seem like a daunting task, but just be yourself, get out of your comfort zone, and it will start to come naturally for you. 


Learn more about navigating the college years

What I Would Have Told Myself in College – Barbara Thomas

Advice From A University of Tennessee Knoxville Graduate on Attending College


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.

10 Ways College Students Waste Money

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In college, you don’t have much disposable income, so you must find ways to reduce your outgoing expenses. While it’s easy to pretend that your financial decisions don’t count until after you finish college, being smart with your money in college will save you thousands. Here are ten common ways that college students waste money.


1. Eating out too often.

Spending $5, $10, or $15 for each meal starts to add up pretty quickly. While fast food and takeout present themselves as reasonably convenient options, they truly aren’t worth the money (or your health). We know it may seem like a hassle to cook your own meals, and sometimes your campus dining hall might not be the most appealing (if you have a meal plan), but choosing these options could save you hundreds each month. 

2. Buying new textbooks.

New textbooks cost significantly more than used textbooks. If your campus bookstore doesn’t have a used copy, take the time to look for it online. You could also share a book with a friend or borrow one from someone who’s already taken the class. You could even download a digital copy. This will save you significant money over the semesters.


3. Not using campus resources.

Beyond the cost of tuition, colleges often have fees you must pay for specific services on campus. These include fees for health services, the campus center, technology, fitness center, etc. These services are meant to support the academic environment and provide value to you. Take advantage of these services that you’re already paying for. Use the health services when you are sick, use the campus fitness center instead of buying a gym membership, and get your computer fixed on campus if they provide services. 


4. Skipping classes.

If you divide the cost of your tuition per semester by the number of classes you attend, you’ll likely be surprised at how much you are paying per class. Take advantage of the money you’re spending by attending class and getting the knowledge you went to school for. 


5. Withdrawing from classes after the drop date.

If you’re going to drop a class, make sure you do it before the drop deadline. This is typically about two weeks after the start date of the course. Dropping a class after the drop deadline means that you’ll be forfeitting that portion of your tuition. 


6. Failing classes.

One of the most costly mistakes that college students make is failing classes. Make sure you study up and don’t miss your lectures. If the course that you fail is required for your major, then you’ll have to pay for the class twice. If you foresee difficulty in a class, make sure you find a study group, tutor, or friend that can help you get through it with a passing grade. 


7. Overdecorating.

You obviously want your home away from home to be cozy, but don’t go overboard here. There are plenty of cheap decor superstores around that can bring your dorm to life. Consider setting a tight budget for your dorm decor before you start decorating.


8. Using credit cards.

Since you typically don’t have a ton of bills in college, don’t use a credit card for anything other than emergencies. Some studies have shown that college students with credit cards rack up $3,000 to $5,000 in credit card debt by the time they graduate. Get in the habit of using a debit card or cash only. Here are some more tips for avoiding credit card debt


9. Visiting expensive spring break destinations.

While a spring break in Panama City Beach is on many college students’ bucket lists, it’s really not necessary. Consider taking a trip to visit a friend’s hometown, going on a camping trip, or even going home to visit your family. Once you graduate and have a full-time job, you’ll have plenty more opportunities to visit tropical destinations. 


10. Missing out on student deals.

Whenever you’re about to buy something, remember to break out your student ID! Many companies offer exclusive benefits to college students, generally in the form of discounts. Finding out where these deals are could save you a decent amount of money while in school (and possibly after school too). For online services (such as Apple Music and Spotify), you may be able to use your student email address to earn a discount. 


While college days can be seen as a time to be care-free, the financial decisions you make now, as well as the habits you build, will affect your life after college. Be sure that you’re doing all you can to save money in college. Your bank accounts (and your parents) will thank you. 



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.

9 Tips for Transitioning to Life After College

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When your college days come to a close, there are a lot of unknowns about what life will be like. You’ve been student for the majority of your life, so thinking about what life will be like after college can be a bit scary. Not only are you transitioning from college student to working professional, but your social life will also see major changes. Not to mention dealing with the financial responsibilities of the “real world”. Here are 9 tips that can make this transition easier.


Make new friends.

A harsh reality of graduating from college is that you and many of your friends will likely head your separate ways. While you should try to keep your best friends close, you may lose touch with a few over time. Try to make friends with people you work with or get involved with your community in order to meet new people.


Say goodbye to free time.

Your college class schedule likely only took up a few hours each day. You may have even had days off. Once you have a full-time job, days off will come a lot less often. You’ll be lucky to get two weeks worth of paid vacation at your first entry-level job. Learning how to use this free time to reenergize or benefit yourself is going to be key to your overall well-being.


Set goals.

You’ve achieved your goal of getting a college degree, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. Setting goals for your professional life will be imperative to achieving success. Your dream job won’t be handed to you, and you won’t climb the ladder in your company with average effort. You’ll also want to set goals for your personal life – what kind of life you want to lead, whether you want a family, where you want to live, etc. Setting goals for yourself on a regular basis will keep you motivated.


Change sleeping habits.

While all-nighters can happen from time to time in college, staying up through the night can’t happen when you’re trying to maintain a working lifestyle. Naps are also typically out of the question. Learning how to get to bed at a decent hour will keep you healthier physically and mentally. Aiming for 8 hours is a good goal (thought it doesn’t always happen).


Purchase work attire.

Jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts might not be of much use to you if you’re transitioning into the corporate arena. While it’s fun to have some style, you’ll be wearing business casual apparel 5 days of the week if you’re working full-time. Invest in an appropriate wardrobe, and don’t go overboard by purchasing from top brands.


Find a place to live.

Deciding where you want to live after college is a big decision. Some people will move back home to live with their parents and save money. If you don’t have job lined up, this may be your only option – but don’t be afraid to look for jobs away from home. Living with your parents after a few years of living independently can be a difficult transition. If you’re not going to live with your parents – Do you want to rent or buy? Do you want a roommate? Do you want to move out of state? These are just a few of the questions you need to consider.


Learn to manage your finances.

As soon as you land a job, you should enroll in a 401k, 403b, or another retirement plan. This will allow you to plan a sound retirement as well as teach you how to save money. You will also need to budget wisely. If you are low on cash for the month and your rent or mortgage is due, don’t buy those shoes you have been eyeing. Wait until you can afford them. Furthermore, if you use credit cards on a regular basis, try to pay off the balance in full each month. Once you are in debt, it takes a lot of will power to get out of it.


Be prepared for entry-level jobs.

Even though you have a college degree, don’t expect to have the perfect job and bring in a huge paycheck. A large number of the jobs available to new grads are entry-level. These jobs often require long hours, low pay, and hard work. Most employers want to see all employees start at a certain level in order to better understand the business. Working hard at this entry-level job will show your employer that you are dedicated and thus open up new doors for you.


Network wisely.

As you transition from college life to the working world, don’t overlook important associations that can contribute to your professional advancement. Stay in contact with old professors, friends, or family members who have connections with people in major corporations and organizations. These people may let you know when they are aware of opportunities that could benefit you.

Knowing what to expect after graduation and following some of these guidelines should help launch your post college life on a positive note. The transition into the “real world” may be shocking at first, but you will become acclimated to it after a while. Good luck!

What You Could Afford With an Extra $309/Month By Refinancing Your Student Loans

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One of the best ways to lower your monthly student loan payments is by refinancing your existing loans at a lower interest rate, a longer term, or a combination of both. You can refinance just one loan or consolidate a bunch of loans into one single payment plan. Here’s an important statistic you should know: ELFI student loan refinance customers have reported that they save an average of $309 per month1. Just imagine what you could do with an extra $309 every month. 


The Fun Stuff

While refinancing your student loans is normally a decision you make to propel yourself toward financial freedom, you might want to use your extra cash on the little things that make life fun. Here are some ideas:


  • Indulge your coffee fix – A Grande Latte before work every day will run you around $76 each month. If you absolutely need to have a Caramel Macchiato, you can splurge to about $93 per month. 
  • Take your significant other to a movie every weekend – Movies are expensive, especially if you live in a big city. Movies for two will cost you upwards of $100 per month, not including dinner before or after the show.


Upgrade Your Lifestyle

An extra $309 per month saved by refinancing your student loans is a nice chunk of change, so maybe you should use it more wisely to really improve your lifestyle. Here are some suggestions:


  • New Apartment – Are you fed up with living in a tiny studio apartment where you have to maneuver your Murphy bed into the wall to free up space when you have friends over? An extra $300+ every month could go towards a nice one-bedroom apartment with plenty of room for a dog. 
  • Transportation – Are you still driving around in that used car your parents bought for you when you went to college? Is it on its last leg? Are you wondering what on earth you’re going to do when it finally gives out? You could use this extra cash on car payments for that new vehicle you’ve had your eye on. 


Empower Your Financial Future

Let’s suppose you choose not to spend the money you saved by refinancing your student loans, but instead use it to enhance your financial future. What might this involve? Here are three ideas.


  • An Emergency Fund – No one is immune to financial emergencies. You never know when your company might have layoffs, and you suddenly find yourself out of a job. Knowing that you have some cash laid aside for such a possibility will make you feel more secure. A good rule of thumb is to have enough money put aside in a savings account to cover anywhere from three to six months of living expenses. An emergency fund can also come in handy when you find yourself with an unplanned burden, such as your car breaking down or your beloved pet needing to see the vet. If you don’t have savings to tap into, you’ll likely have no choice but to ask friends and family for cash or resort to credit card debt.


  • Invest for Your Retirement – Ok, this doesn’t sound very exciting, and you’re only in your twenties, so you may ask, “Why should I be thinking about retirement?” However, the earlier you begin to save for retirement, the more your money will grow thanks to the magic of compounding interest. Here’s an example demonstrating how someone who begins to set aside funds at age twenty-five has more money at retirement compared to someone starting at age thirty-five who contributes three times as much. Think about setting up automatic contributions so that a portion of every paycheck goes into your 401(K) or similar retirement account.


  • Pay Off Your Student Loans Quicker Many college graduates expect to be paying off their student loans well into their 40s. If you find this prospect alarming, you should consider putting the $309 you save every month with ELFI toward paying off your loans. Paying off your student loans early can save you a significant amount of money, as you will be cutting your interest costs. You’ll also avoid the stress that often comes with being in debt.



How to Have an Extra $309 in Your Pocket Every Month

Having read this far, you are probably intrigued and excited at the prospect of refinancing your student loans and saving money on your monthly student loan payments. You probably also have your own ideas of how you might choose to spend the extra cash. However, the first step is to get in touch with ELFI to explore the various refinancing options available to you.* Talk to us today and start saving!



*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

1Average savings calculations are based on information provided by SouthEast Bank/ Education Loan Finance customers who refinanced their student loans between 8/16/2016 and 10/25/2018. While these amounts represent reported average amounts saved, actual amounts saved will vary depending upon a number of factors.

NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites

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

Salary Calculators: How Much Should You be Making?

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In a career search,” How much should I be making?” is a common concern. It is not something that is taught in a classroom and is a topic employers may avoid. In social settings, it can be seen as an inappropriate subject and should not be discussed. If no one is talking about salary, where do you begin? The Internet has several options for how to search for a salary comparison, but there are a few steps you should take prior.


Know Your Personal Value

First, begin by assessing your personal background and preferences. Be sure that you take a look at the education level, job title searching for, total experience in the field, skills, and location. Within your self-worth search, it is important to factor in the salary your lifestyle needs. Consider the lowest salary you can live on and go from there. Remember to also include benefits you may need such as health insurance or a student loan assistance program. All of this will help when you begin to research job comparisons and opportunities.


Research, Research, and ResearcEducate 

After taking a look at your personal values and needs, take your search to the Internet. There are several websites that can calculate salary, so finding one that fits what you are looking for is important. Here are a few helpful websites and what they offer.

Educate to Career – https://www.jobsearchintelligence.com/etc/jobseekers_free_salary_calculator/

The information needed to use the tool includes your job title, the field of interest, experience, and location you provide and uses education levels to predict your salary. This is a more student-focused tool and uses career centers around the United States to generate salaries for the career you are searching for. This is a good starter tool that will ease you into the salary search and is a good place to begin.




Most people know Glassdoor® as a site that posts jobs and helps connect companies to potential employees, but they offer additional tools too.  The Know your Worth Salary calculator is available through Glassdoor®.  This calculator uses marketing trends to give you an idea of what you should be earning. The requested information is your job title, education, skills, and location preferences, and then it will estimate your possible income.  This particular calculator is unique because it will indicate what your salary could be in another region or with an additional degree. Glassdoor® will also show job opportunities available in your preferred field and location. It’s important to note that this tool does not include benefits in the estimated salary.


Payscale® – https://www.payscale.com/my/survey/choose


The salary calculator tool by Payscale will compare employees in the same industry you are searching for to your current total pay (If you are already in the field of interest). If not already in the field, there is an exploring option. The needed information for this tool is your job title, education, skills, experience, and location. The Payscale® tool includes bonuses, overtime pay, and benefits. In addition, it gives in-depth results and can help you find what you could be making in another company or field.


LinkedIn® Salary – https://www.linkedin.com/salary/


LinkedIn®  is a social media channel for professionals looking to network. It connects professionals to possible employers. Linkedin Salary takes this a step further in using the networking application to estimate potential compensation. They give information on the highest paying businesses, regions, and job titles. A bonus is that LinkedIn® Salary includes a current view for the career industry you provided and how salaries in these industries may be impacted in the future.


Using a wide variety of sources can help compare the salaries in your field. By taking advantage of these tools, you can get the most accurate estimate for what you should be offered by an employer.


Moving Forward

Once completing your salary research, look at all of your options. Compare salaries from different industries and understand what would best fit your lifestyle. Find a career that has the right location, job security, and can support you. Remember that if the salary is not what your research indicated, there is always room for negotiation.


3 Steps for Negotiating Salary


NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites
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.



Glossary of Student Loan Refinancing Terms

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There are so many terms that borrower’s encounter in the student loan application process, most borrowers may not be exactly sure what each means. If you’re getting ready to apply or just want to know what the documents are talking about, here’s our glossary of common student loan terms that you should know.


Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and Gross Income

Gross income is the total income you earn in a year before deductions for federal or state taxes, credits, and so on. Adjusted gross income is the income you earn in a year which is eligible to be taxed after accounting for deductions. AGI is usually lower than your gross income and is what many institutions use to determine if you can get perks like loan tax benefits or financial aid, grants, etc. The easiest place to find these are on your official tax return.


Adverse Action Letter

When you apply for credit, insurance, a loan, or sometimes even employment, and are denied due to something negative on your credit report, the organization inquiring might be required to send you one of these. It explains why you were turned down and it’s important because it gives you a reason to see if something is wrong on your credit report.



This term describes how the principal is paid over the course of a loan.  Most student loans are fully amortized, meaning that if all payments are made as scheduled over the life of the loan the principal balance will be fully repaid at the maturity date.  Other types of loans, including some types of mortgage loans, have a feature known as a balloon payment.  With a balloon payment, regularly scheduled payments do not fully repay the principal amount borrowed, so when the loan matures the final payment contains a larger, or balloon, payment of all remaining principal.


Annual Loan Limit

This is the maximum loan amount you can borrow for an academic year. Loan limits can vary by facts like grade level and loan type.


Award Letter

If you received financial aid, expect to see an award letter that explains the different types of aid for which you are eligible. The document will also include information about your loans, grants, or scholarships, and you’ll see a new one each year that you’re in school.



The person who is responsible for paying back a student loan. You may not be the only one responsible, like if you signed with a cosigner, but the loan is for you and your academic fees and tuition. You’re the borrower.


Capitalized Interest

When unpaid interest gets added to the principal balance (increasing your overall balance and future interest), this is called capitalization. This is why it’s important to pay interest whenever possible. Capitalization might happen at the end of a grace period or deferment, or after forbearance, depending on whether it’s a federal or private loan. When a loan is consolidated or if it enters default, capitalization may occur.



If needed, borrowers can add a second person who shares responsibility for a student loan. This second person co-signs the loan and becomes partially responsible for repayment in the event that the primary borrower is not able to pay.


Consolidation Loan

Consolidation is when a new loan replaces your current student loans. People might do this to make payments easier to manage or to reduce the amount you owe each month or in total. There are lots of things to know about consolidation.



A loan is considered delinquent when a scheduled payment is not made in a timely manner.  Delinquency can result in the imposition of late charges, collection calls or letters, and negative information being placed on a credit report.  Default is when the lender determines that the borrower has failed to honor the terms of the loan agreement in such a way that the lender is entitled to declare the entire loan balance due and payable, even if the loan has not yet reached its maturity date.  Serious delinquency is very often the reason for a loan being declared in default, but loan agreements typically provide that certain other events can trigger a default.  Before entering into a loan agreement, always read the loan agreement carefully and understand what can constitute a default under that loan.



Students can usually postpone loan repayment if they meet certain criteria. This might be a pre-set time limit or can be when someone is in school and not able to make payments. Unsubsidized loans accrue interest while being deferred, but subsidized loans do not accrue interest while in deferment.



This is when your school receives funds like financial aid money or student loan funds. The institution then applies it to your bill for tuition and school-related fees. If you consolidate, the disbursement happens when money is sent to pay off your old loans.



When some or all of your student loan debt is canceled, this is called discharge.


Entrance/Exit Interview or Counseling

Schools provide entrance or exit counseling to help students understand important financing topics like how to repay loans and stay in good standing with student loans. This can happen during enrollment as an entrance to the process, and after graduation as part of leaving the school system.


Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

This amount is an estimate based on how much money you, your spouse, and/or family can contribute to your tuition for the academic year. It’s calculated with information provided on your FAFSA and helps determine your financial need. Financial need is calculated as the cost of attendance minus your EFC. This determines your eligibility for aid including Stafford loans, Perkins loans, scholarships, and grants.


Fixed or Variable Interest Rate

If an interest rate cannot change over time, it is fixed. A variable interest rate can change over the life of the loan.  Variable rates can move up or down based upon changes to an identified index, such a prime rate, a particular U.S. Treasury note, or LIBOR.  LIBOR stands for the London Interbank Offered Rate, and is an index commonly used with student loans.  Some variable rate loans may have a “cap” and/or a “floor.”  A cap is the maximum rate that can be applied to the loan, regardless of changes to the index.  A floor is just the opposite – the minimum rate for the loan regardless of changes to the index.



Forbearance is when you can postpone or reduce student loan payments, but interest continues to accrue and increase the total amount you owe.


Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

FAFSA is the application a student must complete to apply for any type of federal student aid including loans, grants, or scholarships.


Full-Time/Part-Time Enrollment

Whether you are enrolled or not, and your status as part-time or full-time can affect different aspects of student loan financing and repayment. Part-time is usually six credit hours and full-time is twelve, but this can vary.


In-School Deferment

While in actively enrolled in school, you might be able to postpone your federal or private student loan payments until you graduate or drop below half time.


Loan Forgiveness

When you qualify for certain programs, you may be able to have the final balance of your loans forgiven after a certain period of time. There are specific criteria for eligibility and usually a detailed application process.


Master Promissory Note (MPN)

This document states the terms of repayment for your student loans and is the official document proving your commitment to repay the money you borrowed with interest. To receive federal loans, all borrowers must sign an MPN.


Principal Balance

The principal balance is the amount of money borrowed under the loan that you currently owe. It doesn’t include interest or fees that are either unpaid or yet to accrue.


Repayment Period

This amount of time is what you have to repay your student loans. Standard for Stafford loans is ten years, but this can be extended with reduced repayment plans. The longer you take to pay your loans, usually, the more you end up paying in interest. A repayment plan is the formal agreement you have with a servicer that details how you plan to repay your loans each month.


Repayment Terms

These terms represent all of your rights and responsibilities for the student loan, including what you’ll pay for monthly payments. Lenders are required to disclose repayment terms to you before you can commit to borrowing a loan.


Right to Cancel

Once an approved application has been accepted by the borrower, the federal Truth in Lending Act requires the lender to provide a Final Truth in Lending disclosure statement.  This final disclosure statement includes a three business day right to cancel, during which time the borrower can change their mind and cancel the loan.  To protect borrowers, the lender cannot disburse the loan proceeds until the right to cancel period has expired.


The loan servicer handles your student loan billing like collecting payments and offering customer service between you and the lender.


Student Aid Report (SAR)

The SAR is a detailed list of all of the financial and personal information you submitted for your FAFSA, including financial info for your family. Your school receives a copy of this and you should receive one as well.


Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans

While in school and during your grace period, the government pays the interest on your subsidized loans so you don’t have to. Federal loans that are not based on financial need are unsubsidized, meaning you’re responsible for paying the interest that accrues.


Top Tips for Finding the Right Student Loan Refinance Lender