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How Does Student Loan Interest Work?

When you take out a student loan, you will not just be paying back the amount you borrowed – the lender will also charge you interest. The easiest way to think of interest is that it’s the cost paid by you to borrow money. Whether you take out a private student loan or a federal student loan, you will be charged interest on your loan until it is repaid in full. So, when you have finished paying off your loan, you will have paid back the original sum you borrowed (your original principal), plus you will have paid a percentage of the amount you owed (interest). Properly understanding the way that student loan interest affects your loan is imperative for you to be able to manage your debt effectively.

 

The Promissory Note

When a student loan is issued, the borrower agrees to the terms of the loan by signing a document called a promissory note. These terms include:

  • Disbursement date: The date the funds are issued to you and interest begins to accrue.
  • Amount borrowed: The total dollar amount borrowed on the loan.
  • Interest rate: How much the loan will cost you.
  • How interest accrues: Interest may be charged on a daily or monthly basis.
  • First payment date: The date when you are expected to make your first loan payment.
  • Payment schedule: When you are required to make payment and how many payments you have to make.

 

How Different Types of Student Loans are Affected by Interest Rates

  • Government-Subsidized loan: If you are the recipient of a government-subsidized direct loan, the government will pay your interest while you are in school. This means that your loan balance will not increase. After graduation, the interest becomes your responsibility.
  • Parent PLUS Loan: There are no government-subsidized loans for parents, and regular repayments are scheduled to begin 60 days after the loan is disbursed.
  • Unsubsidized Loan: The majority of students will have unsubsidized loans where interest is charged from day one. If you have this type of loan, sometimes a lender will not require you to make payments while you are still in school. However, the interest will accrue, and when you graduate you’ll find yourself with a loan balance higher than the one you started with. This is known as capitalization. 

Here’s an example: In your freshman year, you borrow $7,000 at 3.85%. By the time you graduate in four years, this will have grown to $8,078 – an increase of $1,078. Here’s the math: 7,000 × 0.0385 × 4 = $1,078 (Click here for ELFI’s handy accrued interest calculator.)

 

How is Student Loan Interest Calculated?

When you begin to make loan payments, the amount you pay is made up of the amount you borrowed (the principal) and interest payments. When you make a payment, interest is paid first. The remainder of your payment is applied to your principal balance and reduces it. 

 

Let’s suppose you borrow $10,000 with a 7% annual interest rate and a 10-year term. Using ELFI’s helpful loan payment calculator, we can estimate your monthly payment at $116 and the interest you will pay over the life of the loan at $3,933. Here’s how to determine how much of your monthly payment of $116 is made up of interest.

 

1. Calculate your daily interest rate (also known as your interest rate factor). Divide your interest rate by 365 (the number of days in the year).

 

.07/365 = 0.00019, or 0.019%

 

 

2. Calculate the amount of interest your loan accrues each day. Multiply your outstanding loan balance by your daily interest rate.

 

$10,000 x 0.00019 = $1.90

 

3. Calculate your monthly interest payment. Multiply the dollar amount of your daily interest by the number of days since your last payment.

 

$1.90 x 30 = $57

 

How is Student Loan Interest Applied?

As you continue to make payments on your student loan, your principal and the amount of accrued interest will decrease. Lower interest charges means that a larger portion of your payments will be applied to your principal. Paying down the principal on a loan is known as amortization.

 

How Accrued Interest Impacts Your Student Loan Payments

The smart money approach is avoiding capitalized interest building up on your loan while you are in school. This is because choosing not to pay interest while in school means you will owe a lot more when you come out. The more you borrow, the longer you are in school, and the higher your interest rates are, the more profound the impact of capitalization will be.

 

How to Find the Best Student Loan

When looking for the best student loan, you naturally want the lowest interest rate available. With a lower interest rate, the same monthly payment pays down more of your loan principal and you will be out of debt more quickly. Talk to ELFI about our private student loan offerings by giving us a call today!

 

Learn More About ELFI Student Loans

 

Terms and conditions apply. Subject to credit approval.

 

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.

How Does Student Loan Refinancing Work?

By Caroline Farhat

 

When you agree to take out a student loan, you also sign on to a specific set of terms and conditions that cover things such as your payment schedule and the interest you’ll pay on your loan. These terms represent the obligations of the borrower and cosigner until the loan is completely paid off. Interest rates for federal student loans are determined by the government, whereas private lenders will set their terms according to your credit score (or that of a cosigner).

Can I Change my Loan Terms?

Before graduating, you probably didn’t give much thought to student loan repayment terms. That being said, student loan terms that fit your needs and goals before starting school aren’t always ideal for you following graduation. For this reason, it is possible to change your loan terms after you graduate, and if you’re approved for a new loan, the new loan servicer pays the old loan servicer for the cost of the loan. The student loan debt is then transferred to the new loan servicer. With the new loan typically comes new and better student loan terms.

 

Why Should I Refinance my Student Loan?

Simply put, student loan refinancing works when you can take out a new loan in order to pay off the first loan with better terms. Here are four reasons why you might want to refinance your student loan:

Your Credit Score Has Improved Since College

Student loans provided by the federal government don’t take credit scores into account – every borrower is given the same interest rate regardless of credit history. If you have taken out a private loan, your interest rate could have been impacted by your or your cosigner’s credit score. After a few years in the workforce, your credit score usually improves. An ideal time to refinance your student loans is when your credit score exceeds 650. This should enable you to refinance your loan at a lower interest rate. Most student loan refinance companies will require a minimum credit score for refinancing approval, so be sure to seek that information out before applying.

A Longer Credit History Could Improve Your Interest Rate

Interest rates for private student loans are usually affected by your or your cosigner’s demonstrated credit history, and most student loan refinance companies will provide a minimum credit score to apply for refinancing. A refinancing company will also usually provide favorable terms to a borrower who has illustrated a financially responsible credit history – for example, by paying bills on time. An individual who has multiple defaults on their credit history is likely to receive less favorable terms or be turned down for refinancing.

Overall Interest Rates May Be Lower

Interest rates for student loans are tied to certain economic indicators at the time you applied for the loan. So, you may have a student loan with an above-average interest rate because you went to college when interest rates were high. When interest rates decrease because of changing economic conditions, you will almost certainly be able to refinance and get a better deal on your new loan.

Consolidation

Refinancing gives you the option of consolidating several loans with different interest rates into a single loan with a more favorable interest rate. One loan with one interest rate is much easier to manage.

 

Fixed and Variable Interest Rates

When you apply to refinance your student loan, you can choose between a fixed or a variable interest rate. A fixed rate doesn’t change unless you are refinancing again. A variable rate will fluctuate over time based on certain economic indicators. Variable rates coincide with low-interest rates across the economy, and they can sometimes fall to below 3%. If you find yourself with a high income and interest rates are declining, then it may be possible to get a great refinancing deal. This works by choosing a variable interest rate and paying off your loan entirely before interest rates start rising again, or by taking advantage of a low fixed interest rate and sticking with it.

 

Avoiding the Risks of Refinancing Student Loans

Refinancing your student loan can be a great choice, but there are some risks you want to watch out for:

  • High-interest rates. If interest rates are high, you might end up paying more over time than if you had stayed with your original loan.
  • Too many fees. Make sure that refinancing fees don’t outweigh the savings from your lower interest rate. Look for student loan refinancing that comes with no fees.
  • Unrealistic repayment schedules. Federal student loans provide you with access to repayment plans based on a low yearly income. Make sure that you can meet the monthly payments on your refinanced loan.

 

When Should I Refinance my Student Loan?

The primary reason to refinance your student loan is to shift into a much more favorable loan. That loan could have a lower interest rate and save you money. Additionally, if you qualify, you’ll have the flexibility to adjust the repayment terms. This means that you could pay the loan off with a shorter term or extend the term so it costs you less every month or is easier to manage.

Use ELFI to Refinance Your Student Loans

You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy it can be to repay your loan faster and more effectively. Doing so can help you avoid the stress of too much student loan debt and enjoy a more prosperous financial life. It can be hard to tell when the best time to refinance your student loan is, so click here for a handy student loan refinancing calculator to determine how much you might save. For a no-obligation consultation, call ELFI at 1.844.601.ELFI.

 

Learn More About Student Loan Refinancing

 

Terms and conditions apply. Subject to credit approval.

 

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.

Get Ready: Student Loan Rates Are on the Rise

Attending college is a privilege, but it’s one that every student has the right to enjoy. Of course, it doesn’t come for free, and depending on the college or university you select, it’s hardly cheap.

If you don’t have the cash in your coffers to pay for higher education, don’t despair. There are a variety of ways to secure the funds you need for schooling. Since many students can’t rely on scholarships or enough help from parents to pay for school, however, student loans are among the most common means of paying for a college education.

According to the office of Federal Student Aid, which administers FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), more than 13 million students take advantage of federal funding each year, amounting to over $150 billion in grants, loans, and work-study opportunities to help them pay for tuition and other expenses. While some can get by on grants, parental assistance, and their own income, especially when they save money by living at home during college, millions of students rely on loans to make it to graduation.

Of course, students that take out loans will eventually have to repay them, which is why it’s important to be aware of student loan rates, and the fact that they can change annually. Since students have to reapply for student aid each year, this means your loan rates could go up, as they’re set to do in July of this year.

Student Loan Rates Over the Past Decade

According to the office of Federal Student Aid, the fixed interest rate for Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans for undergraduates during the most recent school year (the period starting on or after 7/1/16 and before 7/1/17) was 3.76%. However, it wasn’t always this amount. The interest rates for federal student loans were determined each year by Congress (until 2013), and over the past ten years, rates for Direct Subsidized Loans for undergrad students have fluctuated quite a bit:

• 6.8% between 2006 and 2008
• 6.0% between 2008 and 2009
• 5.6% between 2009 and 2010
• 4.5% between 2010 and 2011
• 3.4% between 2011 and 2013
• 3.86% between 2013 and 2014
• 4.66% between 2014 and 2015
• 4.29% between 2015 and 2016

As you can see, there were years in which the student loan rates didn’t change at all, while some years the rates went down. Over the last ten years, the decreases and increases seem to coincide with economic factors such as the Great Recession.

According to a 2014 report released by the Economic Studies department at the Brookings Institute, there were, at the time, 7 million student loan borrowers in default, and that doesn’t even include those behind on payments in general. In addition, student loan debt became the second largest source of household debt following mortgage loans. Still, students continued to borrow, perhaps in the hopes that earning a degree would help them to secure a livable wage, despite economic woes and unemployment during the recession.

The result was what some deemed a student debt crisis, or alternately, a repayment crisis, and this is perhaps why Congress elected to lower fixed rates for some student loans during the recession and why President Obama expanded eligibility for the income-based, Pay As You Earn Program that helps borrowers that are trying to pay, despite financial distress.

Once the economy began to recover, however, student loan rates started to rise, as evidenced by increases in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years. Rates took a slight dip again from 4.66% in the 2014-15 academic year to 4.29% in the 2015-16 school year, and then to 3.76% in the 2016-17 academic year. These fluctuations were based on the yields of 10-year U.S. Treasury Bonds, as they have been since 2013, and they will be moving into the future. This is why we’re going to see a rate hike in the coming year.

Student Loans Moving Forward

Based on the results of the May 10th auction of 10-year Treasury Bonds, interest rates on student loans will increase in the coming academic year, affecting loans taken out on or after July 1, 2017 and before July 1, 2018. Undergraduates taking out federal Direct Loans will see an increase to 4.45%, up just over 2/3 of a percent from last year.

This might not seem like a huge leap, and the upcoming fixed rate is still lower than it was seven of the last ten years, but it could make a big difference over the life of the average student loan repayment plan. The Nerd Wallet Student Loan Calculator shows that a 10-year loan of $20,000 at the 2016-17 interest rate of 3.76% will result in $4,026.02 in interest payments over the life of the loan (assuming regular monthly payments of $200.22). When you bump the rate up to 4.45% for the upcoming academic year, monthly payments go up just six bucks and change (to $206.80), but the cost in interest payments over the course of a 10-year loan swells to $4,815.41, an increase of $789.39.

Even so, students might not be terribly concerned about adding under a thousand dollars to the price tag. However, some students require far more than $20,000 a year in student loans, and if increases continue, each year could tack more onto already-high costs for the privilege of attending college.

What are students to do? There’s nothing you can do to lower federal interest rates, but you can find ways to cut costs, take fewer loans, and eventually, consolidate and refinance student loans.

If you’re lucky enough to get Direct Subsidized Loans, the federal government will pay the interest while you’re enrolled in school (at least half-time) and during a 6-month grace period following graduation (or after leaving school). After that, you will start accruing interest.

However, you always have the option to refinance student loans. As you earn money, pay down debt, and build a strong credit rating, you may find that you’re able to secure better and better rates on private loans. At some point, this could result in attractive refinancing options that lower rates and save you money over the life of your student loans.

LIBOR Rates, Historical LIBOR Rates, and Variable Rate Loans

Updated December 20, 2019

Variable rate loans have interest rates that vary and are based on a financial market index that changes over time. One very well-known financial market index that many variable rate loans are based upon is the London Interbank Offer Rate, or LIBOR. Understanding this financial index and how it is determined is important when evaluating variable rate loan products.

What are LIBOR Rates?

LIBOR is a benchmark rate that banks charge each other to borrow money. More important to borrowers, however, is that this rate is the first step involved in calculating short-term interest rates on a variety of loans — like student loans, mortgages, credit cards, etc. LIBOR is determined daily and is based on rates that a reference panel of banks can borrow from other banks on the London market for each calculated currency, including the U.S. dollar (USD), Euro (EUR), pound sterling (GBP), Japanese yen (JPY), and Swiss franc (CHF).

 

>> Related: LIBOR: What it Means for Student Loans

 

You may have noticed that the definition of LIBOR is included when calculating rates for variable rate loans. LIBOR’s seven available maturities and associated rates are: overnight, one week, and 1, 2, 3, 6, and 12 months. These maturity figures state the cyclical duration for which the variable interest rate can change on your loan. For instance, the interest rate on a one-week term can change weekly, and the 3-month term can change every 3 months (or quarterly). Because these cyclical changes may change your loan’s interest rate, it is important to note that your monthly payment and the total expected interest owed over the life of the loan may change as well.

 

To see which maturity is associated with your variable rate loan, look for the timeframe before the word LIBOR found on your promissory note. You can also read the loan agreement to understand how often the interest rate is subject to adjustment and understand how to identify the correct index amount.  For example, Education Loan Finance’s variable rate loans are subject to adjustment quarterly based upon the 3-month LIBOR, while other lenders may adjust rates more frequently by basing rates upon the 1-month LIBOR.

LIBOR Changes and Your Interest Rate

While variable rate loans, whether refinanced or not, tend to have starting rates that are often lower than fixed loan rates for the same maturity date, these variable rates can change after you close on your loan — including the possibility to increase over the life of your loan. Changes in LIBOR result in changes to your variable rate loan’s interest rate.

 

Here is how it works: If the 3-month LIBOR is 0.4 percent and Education Loan Finance’s (or your lending institution’s) margin is 3 percent, then your monthly rate would be 3.40 percent for those three months. However, if the 3-month LIBOR changes to 1 percent in the next quarter (remember, this scenario is working on a 3-month cyclical change), then your monthly rate would increase to 4 percent for those next three months.

 

If the LIBOR increases dramatically to a rate such as 15 percent, Education Loan Finance actually puts a 9.95 percent interest rate cap on the interest rate that you will be charged for 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20-year variable rate loan terms. This means that no matter how high the LIBOR rate increases, you will never pay more than 9.95 percent interest on the aforementioned variable rate loans if you choose a variable rate loan and refinance your student loan with Education Loan Finance.*

 

What are Historical LIBOR Rates?

Historical LIBOR shows borrowers and consumers the variability in rates over the years. These historical data provide insight into the magnitude of LIBOR rate changes in the past.

 

Historical LIBOR rates can be reviewed and downloaded here. Simply change the frequency to the desired maturity and make sure the date range is accurate. Scroll down and select ‘download data’ to view the rates for your selected time period. Another option is to view multiple maturities at one time, over thirty years, on this scrolling chart. Whichever you choose, please note that these links are provided for historical purposes only. You should always refer to the terms of your promissory note for details  — like date, source, time period — on how the rate for your loan will be determined.

 

Like many lending or refinancing institutions, Education Loan Finance’s variable rate loans are tied to 3-month LIBOR rates, which means they are subject to change based on this publicly available index. The big takeaway is that while there are no guarantees with variable rates, they do tend to start at lower rates than rates on fixed-rate loans with the same term. If you decide to initially refinance your student loan debt with a variable rate loan product, just remember that if rates begin to increase, you can refinance again in the future with a fixed rate loan from Education Loan Finance at no cost to you.

 

Top Tips for Finding the Perfect Lender to Refinance 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.

3 Student Loan Refinancing Topics That Need a Second Look

Updated December 12, 2019

 

Many students will agree that student loans are a welcomed and often necessary part of the financial aid package when pursuing higher education – but most graduates don’t look forward to entering the repayment phase. 

 

Fortunately, student loan refinancing programs help borrowers by combining one or more federal and private student loans into a single loan with new terms – a new monthly payment amount, new repayment terms, and expectedly a lower interest rate. With the many positives of student loan refinancing — all of which may help borrowers save money during their repayment period — there are also some lesser-known topics that borrowers should always keep in mind when researching their refinancing options. Here are three things to never overlook when thinking about refinancing your student loans.

 

1. Always Research the Best Options:

Student loan refinancing programs should be given just as much consideration as the school in which you attended when said loans were created. Like choosing the wrong school, selecting the wrong refinancing program can be detrimental. Simply put, performing an internet search for “student loan refinancing” is not enough to obtain the terms needed to save money. You should thoroughly compare student loan refinancing lenders. There are hundreds of financial institutions, and with so many programs to consider, it is extremely important to find a program that is going to work for you and your budget. The best way for you to ensure that the lending institution is leading you in the right direction — and doing what is right for you and your budget — is to do research and ask questions. 

 

Start by making sure you understand the repayment terminology, and then investigate the company. Look for reviews (Trustpilot is a great resource for reviews) and call the lending institution to ask questions. At the very least, lenders must be credible and reputable, but they should also be available to thoroughly answer all of your questions. Finally, if you choose to refinance your loans, make sure you understand exactly what you have to gain or lose with each. Do this, and you are on your way to protecting your wallet and your financial independence.

 

2. Always Weigh the Implications of Refinancing Federal Student Loans:

Refinancing student loans with a private lender involves student loan consolidation, which means multiple student loans (federal and private) are combined into a single loan, with a single monthly payment. This newly refinanced student loan will have new terms, a potentially lower interest rate, a new monthly payment amount, and/or a new repayment length. See the benefits of refinancing student loans here

 

Before this process takes place, however, it is especially important to understand exactly what changes will take place if you choose to include any or all of your federal loans into the refinancing package, as refinancing a federal loan may nullify federal student loan protections, such as public service forgiveness and income-based repayment plans. With this in mind, and given that many private lenders are willing to offer similar benefits to help their clients remain in good standing, some people still choose to include federal loans in the refinanced package simply to create a single, more convenient repayment plan.

 

3. Always Compare Fixed and Variable Interest Rates:

When considering student loan refinancing, borrowers commonly forget to compare their options regarding the two types of interest rates on loans — fixed interest and variable interest rates.

  • Variable rates change over time based on current financial and economic conditions, including the current LIBOR rate. They can do so at any time in the financial climate, thereby affecting the interest applied to a loan. Variable interest rates will often start lower than fixed interest rates, but there is always the possibility that, as they fluctuate, they will rise and cause an increase in monthly payments.
  • Fixed rates, on the other hand, maintain the interest rate that was agreed upon in the initial contract, and remain at that rate over the life of the loan. With a fixed-rate loan, borrowers are protected against the possibility of rising interest rates during the entire repayment period.

 

Choose the Right Program

Finding the right student loan refinancing program (along with agreeable terms and rates) can be time-consuming and daunting, especially for first-time refinancers. However, understanding your options is the best way to obtain a firm grasp on your finances and find the best refinancing loan possible. If you need any assistance, Education Loan Finance’s refinancing experts and management team — with over thirty years of experience in the student loan industry — will gladly help!*

 


 

*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.