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Tips for Choosing a College

October 1, 2019

Choosing a college to attend is not an easy task, and there are many factors to consider when making your pick. Should you go to your parents’ alma mater? What about the one with the best student life or athletic teams? Prestige certainly is a factor for many students. When all is said and done you want to pick one that sets you up for success in your career and provides and opportunity to thrive – whether it be by practicing your passions or helps you grow as an individual. Whatever the reason, these tips will make choosing a college much easier.

 

Start by making a thorough list of schools.

By making a list of schools that you are interested in attending, you’re giving yourself a starting point for deciding which are worth taking next steps with. Decide which ones you would like to see in person and which stand out as your ideal schools. If you’re having trouble at this stage, try picking a few that are far different from each other – whether they’re small, large, in the city, in the country, private, public, etc. Deciding the type of school you want to attend is a good first step.

 

Do you research on each school before you visit.

Doing research before you visit will allow you to develop expectations for the school. These expectations can then be compared to what you experience when you visit, giving you a more thorough impression of the school. You can look through brochures and the school website, but also be sure to check around online for various ratings and reviews from past students. As always, double check your sources.

 

Take notes when you visit.

Visiting colleges is fun, so sometimes its easy to forget whether a school meets the criteria you set forth when you’re taking a tour. Bringing a notepad for this very reason can be very effective at allowing you to review the schools after visiting – especially if you plan to visit multiple schools. This way you won’t mix up any information. Then, you can refer to these notes when deciding where you want to apply.

 

Find other members from the campus to help you decide.

When you start narrowing your list of schools down further, start contacting other sources that can help you get more information about the school. While it may seem like a bother, talking to the admissions officer, professors and current students is the best way to get a true feel for what to expect from a school. Students are the most likely to give you unbiased answers.

 

Take your own tour in addition to the admissions tour.

The admissions tour is beneficial, but viewing the campus on your own will give you the chance to see the whole campus in a scope more similar to what students experience. View the parking facilities, actual classrooms, and areas that would pertain to your major (if you know your major prospective major).

 

Don’t forget to ask questions.

You may want to prepare a list of questions to ask beforehand just to make sure that you don’t forget anything. Ask questions regarding academic, financial, housing/food, social, community, athletic, and safety aspects.

 

For more information about visiting college campuses, read The Campus Visit and Making the Most Of the Campus Visit. Remember, if you can’t visit a campus in person, you can always take a virtual tour of the school.

 


 

 

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. 

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Woman smiling at college graduation
2020-09-08
7 Actions to Take Before Your Grace Period Ends

Congratulations! You graduated from college and have hopefully settled into the start of your career. If it has been almost 6 months since your graduation, it’s most likely your student loan grace period is nearing the end if you have federal student loans. Are you prepared for when your grace period ends? Luckily we have some actions you can take to prepare.      If you have federal student loans, there is a six month grace period before you have to begin making payments after you graduate, leave school or drop below a half-time student. Not all federal student loans have a grace period. The loans that do include: direct subsidized and direct unsubsidized. PLUS loans for graduate school have a six month deferment period after graduation where payments are not required. Some private student loans also have a grace period but it may not be six months. Be sure to check with your lender to determine if any grace period exists.   

Actions to Take

Here are a few actions you should take before your grace period ends to ensure you are prepared.  

Determine Your Debts

  First, it’s important to understand the types of student loans you have. For example, do you have private or federal loans? If you have federal student loans, you’ll need to determine whether you have subsidized or unsubsidized loans. Subsidized loans mean the U.S. Department of Education will pay the interest on the loan during the grace period for most loans. (Note: If you have a direct subsidized loan that was disbursed between July 1, 2012, and July 1, 2014, you are responsible for the interest during the grace period.) If you have a Direct Unsubsidized loan you will always be responsible for the interest, even the interest accruing during the grace period. This means that if you don’t need the grace period you may want to think about at least paying the interest on the loan.    Be sure to take stock of your other debts, such as a car loan or credit card payments, and their minimum payments.  

Make a Budget

Determine a budget that includes your new student loan payment and all other debt payments. Once you determine your budget, start following it before your grace period ends. The money budgeted for your student loan can be put aside to use as an emergency fund. Or use the money you saved during the grace period to make a principal-only payment to get ahead on your repayment.    

Set Up Auto-Pay 

Another great action to take during your grace period is setting up auto-pay through your loan servicer. Setting up auto-pay will ensure your student loan payment is always made on time. Another great benefit of using the auto-pay feature is that federal student loans are given a 0.25% interest rate reduction. Some private student loan lenders also provide a discount for auto-pay so check with your lender if any discount is available.   

Establish a Debt Repayment Plan

Your grace period is a great time to establish a student loan debt repayment plan. A debt repayment plan will help you decide exactly how you will pay off your debts. There are two main types of student loan debt repayment plans, the snowball method, and the avalanche method. You have to decide which method would work better for your financial situation and motivation. Either method will be helpful if you have multiple student loans or other debts to pay off. Once you decide on your method, you will know how to allocate any extra money you have in your budget for debt repayment. When it comes time for your grace period to end you will be more than ready to start paying down your loans efficiently!   

Research Repayment Options

  1. If you have multiple student loans you can pay each loan, keeping track of each loan individually and their due dates. 
  2. Another option is to consolidate your federal loans into one loan. The average interest rate of the consolidated loans becomes the fixed interest rate on the new consolidated loan. This is consolidating your federal loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan through the U.S. Department of Education.  
  3. Refinance student loans. Once you start getting your finances in order you may realize your student loan payment is not going to fit in your budget or has a much higher interest rate then what is available now. That’s where refinancing your student loans can help. Refinancing your student loans means you will borrow a new private student loan to pay off any previous student loans (including federal and other private student loans). Refinancing can save you money because interest rates can be much lower than for federal loans. A lower interest rate means you are saving money in interest costs monthly and over the life of the loan. To find out how much you could save use our Student Loan Refinance Calculator.*
 

Learn About Borrower Protections and Programs

When you have federal student loans you are provided benefits that are not always provided by private student loan lenders. The grace period of your loans is a good time to find out about any federal borrower protections you may want to use in the future, such as deferment and forbearance for your loans. Also, if you work for a non-profit or government agency, your loans may qualify for forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. During the grace period, it is helpful to learn about the requirements for the program so when your payments begin you can be sure they qualify under the specific rules of the program.    

Learn About the Repayment Plans

If you are shocked by what your monthly payment will be on the standard repayment plan, check into the other student loan repayment plans provided for by the U.S. Department of Education. Certain loans are eligible for an Income-Driven Repayment Plan, where your payment will be based on your income. Or you can elect to have your loans on the Graduated Repayment Plan that will extend your loan term to provide for a smaller monthly payment. However, keep in mind that you will end up paying more interest over the loan term.   

The Bottom Line

Taking these actions will help you be prepared for the end of your grace period. You are already a step ahead by thinking about this now. This preparation will start you off on a bright financial future knocking out your student loans. Good luck!  
  *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.
Check out these 8 apps that can help you pay off your student loans
2020-08-20
8 Apps That Can Help You Pay Off Your Student Loans Faster

Over the past few decades, student loan debt has skyrocketed. That’s no secret. Fortunately, at the same time, hundreds of tools have been created to help make paying off student debt easier and faster. Many of them can be accessed entirely through your phone, turning student loan relief into a mobile, accessible service. We’ve compiled a list of several apps that can help you pay off your student loans. Take a look:  

Mint

There are dozens of fantastic budgeting apps, and Mint is among the best. It allows you to track and plan for expenses by providing easy access to statistics and other information about your spending.   How does this pertain to student loans? The answer is simple. Proper budgeting and paying off student loans go hand in hand. Being able to set aside portions of your income every month for your student loan payments is key to successful financial management. Plus, by looking at your budget and determining where you can cut spending, you’ll be able to put more money toward your student loan payments, allowing you to become debt-free faster.  

EveryDollar

Created by personal finance guru Dave Ramsey and his team, EveryDollar is another great budgeting application. Designed to be simple and efficient, EveryDollar is a very effective budgeting tool. As with Mint, maintaining a budget is key to every quick student loan payoff. EveryDollar is best used to identify where you can spend less money in order to reallocate that money to your student loan payments, and with all the information laid out in front of you, it’s hard not to see where you can make some improvements.  

ChangEd

Built by two individuals who struggled to pay off their student loans, ChangEd is an app that links to your credit and debit cards. When you make a purchase with those cards, ChangEd rounds up to the nearest dollar, taking that change and sending it straight to your student loan provider when you reach a minimum threshold. While seemingly a small amount, this extra change adds up. It’s more money going directly to your student loan payments. Who would turn that down?  

Qoins

Qoins functions very similarly to ChangEd. You connect your credit and debit cards, and after every purchase, Qoins will round up and send that money to your student loan provider. The difference between Qoins and ChangEd: there’s no minimum threshold to reach, all the extra money goes straight to your loan provider. That said, it charges a higher monthly fee than ChangEd to do this.  

Undebt.it

Undebt.it is a handy app that allows you to track all your debt in one place, then it provides a plan to help you pay it off in the most efficient way possible. One way is the ever-popular debt snowball method, where you pay off all of your smallest loans first, but you can also choose from a variety of repayment strategies. You can choose whichever works best for you. One highlight is the app's ability to show what a difference an extra payment makes.  

Debt Payoff Assistant

Debt Payoff Assistant is a debt tracker focused mostly on the debt snowball method. Input each of your debts, student debt especially, and a unique debt repayment plan is generated. The app offers great utility, with several built-in calculators, as well as the ability to view a payoff schedule, estimated payoff dates and more.  

Givling

Givling is a quirky way to deal with student debt faster. Twice a day, Givling hosts a trivia contest via their app. Winners earn a cash prize, and as one plays more, they help to crowdfund future giveaways and prizes. So if you’re good at trivia, this could be your chance to tackle some student debt. If you aren’t good, you’re still helping to pay off someone else's student loans. That said, the odds are against you winning big through Givling, and it’s definitely better to consider it a fun diversion rather than a serious solution for dealing with student debt.  

Google Opinion Rewards

A little like a side hustle, Google Opinion Rewards and other survey-for-pay websites are a different way to deal with student debt. When you complete a survey, you will receive a very small reward, but the rewards add up over time. It’s a great way to fill short periods with nothing to do. You can easily earn a little pocket change in a waiting room or while waiting for the tea kettle to boil. Put it towards your student loans, and you’ll be well on your way!   There are dozens more apps that can help you pay off your student loans, and undoubtedly there will be even more in the coming years. It’s never been easier to get organized and tackle your student loans head on, and with these apps, we hope you’ll get it done in style. If the apps don’t cut it, it may be time to consider student loan refinancing, check it out here.  
  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.
Benefits of making consistent student loan payments
2020-08-18
The Benefits of Making Consistent Student Loan Payments

If you have student loans and consistently make your monthly payment, congratulations! You know how beneficial that can be for your financial health. However, if you are in the habit of skipping student loan payments because you think it won’t affect you, you need to keep reading.   Although missing a student loan payment isn’t quite as detrimental as missing a car or mortgage payment, missing student loan payments can have a strong negative impact on your financial future. Still need convincing? Here are four great reasons to continue making consistent student loan payments, and what to do if you’re struggling to make your payments.  

Benefits of Consistent Student Loan Payments

Whether you have federal student loans or private student loans, there are many benefits to making consistent payments on time. When you make consistent student loan payments, you're more likely to:  

Have a Better Credit Score

Your credit score can affect many facets of your life. For example, if you want to buy a car, rent a home or buy a home,
your credit score will be reviewed before you’re approved.   One of the most important factors in determining a person’s credit score is their payment history. The payment history shows if you miss a payment, and missed payments remain on your credit history for 7 years. So any missed student loan payments could take a significant toll on your credit score, while making consistent payments can help improve your score. A better credit score can:  

Qualify for a Mortgage, Car Loan or Better Interest Rate

When you apply for a loan, sometimes lenders require a minimum credit score to approve the loan. Even after you are approved for a loan, a higher credit score means a better chance of receiving a lower interest rate. A lower interest rate equates to paying less interest over the life of the loan, saving you money!  

Qualify for Refinancing

Whether you want to refinance your student loans or your mortgage, having a good credit score can help you qualify for refinancing and a better interest rate.  

Qualify for Better Credit Card Limits and Rates

Having a strong credit score and good credit history shows lenders you are responsible with credit and making payments. Therefore, when you apply for a credit card, you are more likely to receive a higher credit limit and lower interest rate.  

Qualify for Rental Housing

Even if you think you will not be taking out any other loans, if you are trying to rent a house or apartment, some locations require a credit report. A low credit score or negative credit history can prevent you from qualifying for certain housing.  

Save on Interest

When you make consistent payments on your student loans, you will save on interest costs. Interest compounds daily, meaning more interest is added to your loan each day. Some interest accrues based on the principal of the loan (the amount you borrowed), while other loans interest compound based on the total outstanding balance. Therefore, consistently making payments, and making extra payments when you can, will save you from paying more interest.  

Avoid Late Fees

When you make consistent payments by your due date, you will avoid having to pay any late fees. Saving yourself money that could be put towards your loans!  

Pay Loans Off Faster

One of the best benefits of making consistent payments is that you can pay your student loans off faster. For example: if you are paid bi-weekly and decide to make half your monthly payment each time, you will ultimately make one extra payment per year.   Here is how it works: If you owe $50,000 at 7% interest and have a 20 year loan term, your payment would be approximately $387.65 per month. If this is paid consistently monthly you would end up paying over $43,000 in interest over the 20 years. However, if you divide your payment in half to $193.82 and pay that every two weeks you would pay the loan off 3 years sooner and save over $7,000 in interest.  

What to Do If You Can’t Make Consistent Payments

If you are worried because you can’t make the payments by your due date, here are some options to try:  

Switch to a Different Repayment Plan

If you have federal student loans, look into whether a different repayment plan would help make your payment more manageable. Although switching to a longer loan term or income-driven repayment plan will increase the amount of interest you owe in the long term, it’s best to have an affordable payment you can make so you do not default on your loan.  

Try Refinancing Your Student Loans

Refinancing your student loans is an excellent way to make your loans more affordable and save on interest costs. Refinancing is taking out a new loan to pay off your old student loans. When you apply for a new loan you may qualify for a new lower interest rate, which reduces the amount you’ll pay over the life of the loan. A lower interest rate can also reduce your required monthly payment, making it more budget-friendly. After you refinance, you may also see that it is easier to make more consistent payments, such as bi-weekly, to pay your loan off faster. Use our Student Loan Refinance Calculator to see how much you can save with refinancing.*   When you are paying off any type of debt, it’s always best to make consistent payments on time. This will not only keep you in the habit of making payments but will save you money in the long run. Although paying off student loans may seem like a marathon at times, you will reach the end! Keep going because it will literally pay off!  
  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.   *Subject to credit approval. Terms & Conditions apply.