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Student Loan Refinancing

Glossary of Student Loan Refinancing Terms

December 20, 2018

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.

 

Amortization

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.

 

Borrower

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.

 

Cosigner

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.

 

Default/Delinquent

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.

 

Deferment

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.

 

Disbursement

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.

 

Discharge

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

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.

Servicer

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

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Man researching about discharging refinanced student loans
2020-05-29
Are Refinanced Student Loans Dischargeable?

If you have refinanced your student loans in the past, you may be wondering whether your refinanced loans can be discharged. The short answer is yes, but only under specific circumstances of which most individuals do not meet the criteria, and if you do meet the criteria, it can still be a very difficult process. Read on to see what circumstances allow for refinanced student loans to be discharged, and what you can do to ease the burden of private student loan debt if you don’t meet the criteria for discharge.

 

What is Student Loan Discharge?

To begin, it’s important to understand what the term “discharge” means in regard to student loans. Often used interchangeably with student loan forgiveness, these terms actually apply to different situations:

  • Student loan forgiveness is usually based on the borrower working in a particular occupation for a period of time, such as within the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. For private student loans, loan forgiveness is essentially non-existent.
  • Student loan discharge is usually based on the borrower’s inability to repay the debt or the borrower not being responsible for the debt because of fraud.
 

Discharging Refinanced Student Loans

Refinanced student loans are essentially new loans taken out with a private lender – so when talking about whether refinanced student loans are dischargeable, you should look at them like private student loans. Here are some situations in which private student loans may be dischargeable. Keep in mind that private student loans are very rarely discharged and that this shouldn’t be considered a realistic option.

 

Disability

While federal student loans are dischargeable for individuals who are “totally and permanently” disabled, private student loans aren’t necessarily subject to this rule. However, some private lenders do offer loan discharge in situations of disability. If this applies to you, contact your lender for more information – many lenders review requests for financial assistance on a case-by-case basis and will show compassion toward the situation.

 

Bankruptcy

If you’re seeking to have your refinanced student loans discharged, filing for bankruptcy could possibly be a last-resort option – however, it is very difficult and unlikely to happen because student loans aren’t categorized as dischargeable debt. According to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, in order to have your federal or private student loans discharged through bankruptcy, you must prove undue financial hardship on yourself and your dependents, which is a difficult and expensive process that will most likely require a separate lawsuit and an attorney. This process is so difficult that most people who file for bankruptcy do not attempt to include their student loans. If you are unable to prove undue hardship, you will be obligated to continue repaying your student loans, and if you’re currently having your wages garnished due to default, they will continue to be garnished.

 

There are also some pretty substantial drawbacks to filing bankruptcy that could have a lasting impact on your life.

 

Drawbacks of Filing for Bankruptcy

It Could Hurt Your Credit Score

If you currently have a good credit score (700 or higher), filing for bankruptcy is likely to bring it down substantially, making it more difficult to obtain financing for a mortgage, car loan, or personal loan.

 

It Will Show on Your Credit Report for up to 10 Years

As if a ding to your credit score isn’t bad enough, filing for bankruptcy will show on your credit report for up to 10 years, which can not only affect your ability to obtain financing, but also could be seen by potential employers and affect your hireability or be seen by landlords and affect your ability to find rental housing.

 

Your Cosigners will be Liable for your Debts

If you have any cosigners on your loans, they will become responsible for your debts that you no longer owe.

 

Loss of Property and Real Estate

Occasionally, not all personal property and real estate will fall under exemption when bankruptcy is filed. This means that the bankruptcy court may seize your property and sell it for the purpose of paying your debts to creditors.

 

Denial of Tax Refunds

As a result of filing bankruptcy, you may be denied federal, state or local tax refunds.

 

Ways to Ease Private Student Loan Debt

If the burden of your refinanced student loans appear to be too much for you to handle, there are several actions you can take to help ease the pressure.

 

Take Stock of Your Finances

While this may go unsaid, making changes to your financial habits and budget may help you set aside the money to afford your monthly payments. Take stock of your income, savings and how you are currently spending your money. Perhaps you also have federal student loans that you could consolidate or refinance as well, or maybe you have a few subscriptions that you don’t need and can cancel. Making small changes to your financial habits can make a big impact.

 

Contact Your Lender

While you may not qualify to have your refinanced student loans discharged, you may find it useful to contact your lender to learn about the options available to you. Many lenders will offer a temporary deferment or forbearance in times of economic or financial hardship. Being transparent with your servicer may allow you to avoid missed payments, which can have pretty significant impacts on your credit score.

 

Consider Refinancing Student Loans Again

Did you know there’s no limit to how many times you can refinance your loans? While you may have already refinanced your student loans once, refinancing them again may be an option to consider, depending on whether your financial situation has changed or if interest rates have dropped. If your credit score improves or you get a raise at work, you may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate. Even if you haven’t seen a big change in your financial status, you may be able to extend your loan term and lower your monthly payments. Check out our Student Loan Refinancing Calculator to examine how changing the length of your loan term may help you save on monthly payments.*

 

Ask for Employer Assistance in Student Loan Repayment

In an effort to be competitive in recruiting and provide relief to employees, many employers are offering (or considering) student loan repayment assistance as an added benefit to employees. If your employer isn’t currently offering this benefit, consider asking if there’s potential for it to be added. Now is actually a great time to make this proposal, as a recent provision within the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allows employers to contribute up to $5,250 tax-free annually to their employees’ student loans until December 31, 2020. Send your HR department a well-written letter or have a formal meeting to discuss this opportunity.

 

Conclusion

You may find that getting your refinanced student loans or private student loans discharged isn’t any easy process. However, there are actions you can take to ease the financial burden that your student loans are causing. Visit the ELFI blog for more helpful tips and resources for paying off your student loan debt.

 
 

*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.

college student refinancing student loans
2020-05-26
Can You Refinance Student Loans While in School?

If you have student loans you probably have wondered what’s the best way to handle them. Should you wait to pay them after graduation or start paying them while in school? Or maybe you have heard about student loan refinancing and are wondering if it is right for you. Read on to find out one way you can manage your student loans that will benefit you right now.  

What is Student Loan Refinancing?

When you refinance student loans you take out a new loan to pay off one or multiple federal or private student loans. You will have a new loan term and presumably a lower interest rate. You can refinance to a new loan with the same amount of years left as your old loan or stretch out the term to allow a longer time for repayment. If you increase the amount of time to repay this will lower your monthly payment but likely will cause you to pay more interest over the loan term.   

Can You Refinance Student Loans While in School?  

The short answer is yes, but it may be difficult to find a lender that you can refinance with if you are still in college. Many lenders require a Bachelor’s degree as an eligibility requirement for refinancing. The other
requirements to refinance* with ELFI include: 
  • You must have a credit score of at least 680 and a minimum yearly income of $35,000. 
  • Must have a minimum credit history of 36 months.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, the age of majority. 
  If you cannot currently meet these requirements, you can have a cosigner that fits these requirements.     If you have federal student loans some may argue you should wait to refinance them until you graduate because they offer more flexibility with deferment and forbearance. However, some private lenders also offer deferment and forbearance options. Some other things to consider are:
  • If you think you will get a job in the public sector that would qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you may not want to refinance because you would lose the benefit of having your federal student loans forgiven under the program. 
  • If you think you will want to take advantage of an income-driven repayment plan when you graduate, you may not want to refinance because this is only offered for federal student loans. Tip: Be aware that when you take advantage of income-driven repayment plans, your monthly payment is lower, but you will end up paying more for the loan in interest costs.   
  There are many benefits to refinancing while in school to put you on a better financial path when you graduate. The average college graduate has $31,172 in student loans. However, you can work to reduce that amount by refinancing. Student loan refinancing can be beneficial for many reasons: 
  • Consolidate - Refinancing allows you to consolidate multiple federal and private student loans into one new loan. You can refinance some or all of your loans. Consolidation makes it easier to manage one loan as opposed to multiple loans. With only one loan you will be less likely to miss a due date, and avoid any associated late fees. 
  • Lowers Interest Rate - When you refinance you can potentially qualify for a lower interest rate. A lower interest rate saves you in interest costs over the life of the loan. 
    • If you have unsubsidized federal student loans (the ones where interest accrues while you are in school) your loans could be growing by an average of 4.53%. But if you refinance you may qualify for a lower rate, as low as 3.86%, and less interest would be accruing. 
  • Lower Monthly Payment - If you score a lower interest rate when you refinance you will be paying a lower monthly payment. To find out how much you could potentially save, use our Student Loan Refinance Calculator.*  
  • New Lender - Do you always have trouble with customer service when you want to ask a question about your loan? When you refinance, you can get a new lender if you choose. It’s great to find a lender with high customer reviews. At ELFI we pride ourselves on providing award-winning customer service. 
  • Fixed Interest Rate - if you have a loan with a variable interest rate it may be more advantageous to refinance and lock in a fixed interest rate. With a variable interest rate your payment can increase when interest rates increase, which could put a financial strain on your budget. 
  Important tip: if you refinance while in school and after graduation your credit score and income increase, you can always try refinancing your loan again to possibly get an even lower rate.*   

Conclusion

Researching how to handle your student loans while still in school is a great initiative to set yourself up for a strong financial future after graduation. Student loans may seem like a heavy burden, but utilizing resources available to you will make the monthly payments easier on your budget.  
  *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.
Person reading news about student loans in coffee shop
2020-05-15
This Week in Student Loans: May 15

Please note: Education Loan Finance does not endorse or take positions on any political matters that are mentioned. Our weekly summary is for informational purposes only and is solely intended to bring relevant news to our readers.

  This week in student loans:
person calculating the savings when refinancing

Consumers are refinancing loans as a form of personal stimulus

Despite the economic callout due to the coronavirus pandemic, Americans are using historically low interest rates to refinance their loans as a form of personal stimulus during the pandemic. The article explains how mortgage refinancing volume has skyrocketed and how the low-interest rate environment is also applying to student loan refinancing.  

Source: Yahoo Finance

 

Government building

House Democrats scale back $10,000 student-loan-forgiveness measure

On Thursday, House Democrats introduced an amendment to their $3 trillion coronavirus relief spending package that significantly scaled back a student-debt provision, also known as the HEROES Act, because of its higher-than-expected cost.  

Source: Business Insider

 

Government proposing HEROES Act

HEROES Act promises 5 ways to help your student loans

As mentioned above, House Democrats proposed a new $3 trillion stimulus bill called the HEROES Act to provide financial assistance to Americans due to the coronavirus pandemic. Read about the five changes this act includes in the Forbes article.  

Source: Forbes

 

millennial debating whether to pay student loans during CARES Act suspension of loan payments

Coronavirus pauses federal student loans for 6 months — should you pay anyway?

The CARES Act put a pause on all student loan payments through September 30 – but should you pay anyway? This Fox Business article argues that if you have the financial means to do so, you might consider continuing to repay your school loans or even refinance your student loans in a low interest rate environment.  

Source: Fox Business

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

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