ELFI is monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and following guidance from state and federal agencies. If you have been impacted by the Coronavirus, our Customer Care Center is available to help you.
×
TAGS
Private Student Loans
Student Loans

Understanding Student Loan Payments

February 22, 2019

There are many options when it comes to paying student loans, and just as many questions! Questions like what these terms and situations can mean for a borrower. If you have questions about your student loans or want to learn more about how you can manage your repayment, check out these tips on understanding student loan payments.

 

What is a student loan servicer?

 

Your student loan servicer is the company collects your payments. According to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, they typically handle most administrative task associated with your loan. Servicers do things like, answer customer service questions and enforce regulations provided by your lender related to your loan. You pay them for your loan and they give you options for repayment and deferment. It’s likely you’ll take out a student loan with one company and end up getting a different servicer. Your servicers can change too if your loan is transferred.  If you choose to consolidate or refinance with a company that gives you lower payments, better interest, or quicker payoff you’ll probably receive a different servicer.

 

When should you start making payments?

 

Start making loan payments whenever you can. Most student loans allow a period of non-payment while you are in school, known as a grace period.  On average most student loan lenders require payments to be made when the borrower is at less than half-time status for six months. You don’t have to wait until six months after graduating to make payments, though! If you can make payments while in school, you will save on interest and cut the time it takes you to pay off your student loans.

 

What’s a student loan grace period?

 

The grace period is typically a 6 month period that occurs after graduating, dropping below half-time enrollment status, or leaving school. During the grace period, you are not required to make payments on your student loans. Grace periods will vary based on the student loan lender that you have. Know what your grace period is so you aren’t caught off guard with late payments.

 

Can I pay extra on my student loans?

 

Yes! There are no prepayment penalties for federal or private student loans. Prepayment penalties are fees charged for reducing your loan balance or paying the entire loan off early. Many other types of debt like mortgages can have a prepayment penalty. Prepayment penalties were created to limit early payment of a debt, but no need to worry about that with your student loans. Instead, pay attention to how additional payments are applied to your loan.

 

If you make payments online some loan servicers allow you either pay extra on the principal or apply the additional toward interest on the next payment. Basically, if you choose to pay over the minimum depending on who your lender is, you may need to specify the amount that is a prepayment. Prepayments on your loans go towards the principal balance.  You should aim to make prepayments sometimes referred to as overpayments because it lowers the total amount of the loan. When the principal balance decreases it reduces the amount of interest you’ll pay in the long term. The next monthly payment will usually remain the same. Since you’re not applying additional money toward your next payment if you choose this option.

 

Check Out This Prepayment Calculator

 

Not all loan servicers will direct prepayments towards the principal of your loan unless specified by the borrower. Some lenders will count the prepayment as a payment towards your next monthly payment.  That can make it seem like your extra payments are hardly affecting your balances at all.

 

Instead, try to direct additional payments toward one loan’s principal. For example, if you have several loans through the same servicer, but one is $1,000, you can pay that off within a year. If you pay an extra $100 per month on that one $1,000 loan principal- it will be gone faster! If you’re not allocating prepayments strategically, you won’t see this same kind of progress.

 

What if I can’t pay my student loans?

 

There are limited options available when you can’t pay student loans. Weigh your options carefully. When making student loan decisions make sure you’re not adding stress to your future. First, contact your servicer immediately. You’ll have more flexibility if you stay on top of repayment before you start making late payments or missing payments. Avoid missing or late payments at all costs! Not only will late or missed payments damage your credit they put you at risk for extra fees. In addition to damaging your credit, risking additional fees, you could lose benefits available to only those who pay on time.

 

Repayment Options (Not a Long Term Solution)

Look at repayment options. If you can’t pay with the plan you’re currently on there may be a better repayment option. If you are able to select another repayment option that lowers your payment you will want to consider doing so temporarily.  Doing this quickly will avoid you being late on future payments. It’s important to note that repayment plans are not a long-term solution to paying back student loan debt. We wouldn’t recommend for the long term because in more income contingent repayment plans the monthly payment isn’t covering the interest that is accruing during that period. Therefore, you can make a payment every month but the overall loan balance remains the same or could even increase!

 

Consolidating Student Loans

If you’re in good standing on your loans, but want to reduce your payments student loan consolidation might be a good idea. Consolidation can make it easier for you to manage paying all of your loans, open you up to other repayment options, and reduce fees. It’s not a sure thing, but it doesn’t hurt to investigate this option and see if it is right for you.

 

Deferment or Forbearance: Use with caution!

The last options to consider are deferment or forbearance. If you can avoid these options like changing repayment or consolidating, do it! Usually, borrowers have to be in financial hardship to qualify for deferment or forbearance. That doesn’t mean you’re off the hook because you’re in a tough financial spot. Depending on the loan you have, your interest might be added to the principal balance. This is really not ideal because it means your balances will grow. When you start paying again, your balances will be higher than where they are today. This is called capitalized interest—it equates to paying “interest on interest” and can get out of control fast if you use deferment or forbearance for longer-term hardship.

 

Most people don’t qualify for loan forgiveness because they are having a hard time paying their loans, but be aware that is possible. If you have developed a disability that precludes you from using your education or went to a school that has since shut down you might be eligible for forgiveness. Don’t count on this as an option, and don’t delay if you can’t pay your loans. Start investigating what’s available to you as soon as possible.

 

What are income-based repayment options for student loans?

 

Private loans may have options available that will lower your payments if you have a lower income, but the standard income-driven repayment plans apply to federal loans. Your monthly loan payment is calculated on your income. Your income is based on some stipulations and it may be taken into account things like your family size.

 

Income-Based Repayment

The standard income-based repayment plan adjusts your payment if your loan payments are more than 10% of your discretionary income. Based on when you took out your loans, there may be other benefits or stipulations to meet in order to qualify. Regardless, you’ll have to calculate your loan payments based on your income and family size through your servicer.

 

Income-Contingent Repayment

This type of repayment limits payments to 20% of discretionary income. The income will be based on income and family size. It is the only option available to Parent PLUS loan borrowers and requires PLUS borrowers to consolidate their loans to qualify.

 

Pay As You Earn and Revised Pay As You Earn

There are limits on which form of this repayment plan you can qualify for. These qualifications are based on when you took out your loans. On the Pay, As You Earn plan you’ll have payments that correlate to 10% of discretionary income. The payment will be based on how much money you’re making and limiting the term of the loan to 20–25 years depending on whether you were a graduate or undergraduate borrower.

 

Learn More About Parent Loan Refinancing

 

 

How does refinancing change my student loan payments and payback?

 

Refinancing opens you up to lots of different options. Some qualifications to refinance include illustrating a responsible credit history. People often look into refinancing when interest rates are high, they have a steady income and good credit. Refinancing could help borrowers qualify for lower interest rates. Sometimes people refinance in order to get new loan terms and pay off their loans sooner. Shortening the loan terms on your loan can help you to pay less interest over the life of the loan. Borrowers will refinance to a longer term that allows them to continue the loan payments for a similar or longer period of time.

 

9 Signs It’s Time to Refinance Student Loan Debt

 

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.

millennial pushing ball uphill, representing student loans
2020-05-29
The Modern Millennial’s Battle With Student Loans

Everyone can agree that student debt is a problem in the United States. Now more than ever, student loans have come to the forefront of the cultural landscape. This February, Forbes reported that student loan debt in the U.S. had reached a record of $1.6 trillion, and the CARES Act provisions for student loans has brought them even further into the spotlight of public consciousness.

 

The everyday millennial’s battle with paying off student loans is a complex problem that is created by a variety of factors. Here are some of the issues and situations that typical millennials face when paying off student loans, along with some tips for actually tackling their debt once and for all.

 

That Moment When the Grace Period Ends

The grace period of student loans, typically lasting around six months after the completion of college, provides time for the new graduate to find a job. For those six months, they are free from the burden of making payments on their student loans. This period can seem to be a respite from the debt; however, the grace period can quickly turn into a period of stress. If the economy is in a dip, it can be difficult to find the job’s necessary to pay off student loans. Even when they do find a job, sometimes it can be difficult to make the monthly payments with an entry-level salary. The moment when the grace period ends is when reality starts to set in. Nonetheless, many still find the ability to begin making payments for a period of time. This then leads them toward the next hurdle – not getting discouraged by their loan balance.

 

The Difficult Task of Paying Off High Interest Rate Loans

Many millennials are trapped in high interest rate loans, where they attempt to pay their loans back, but the balance of the loans never really seems to go down, or at least not by much. The high interest rates simply counteract any effort to pay the loans off, leading many millennials to feel discouraged and stop making payments altogether. This causes their loan balance to increase, along with impacting their credit score with missed payments, which can hinder their ability to refinance for a lower interest rate later.

 

The Misleading Comfort of Student Loan Forgiveness

Loan forgiveness has often been discussed by both politicians and the media. After all, forgiving student loans would unburden hundreds of thousands from debt – however, there still stands no real basis for believing in total and complete student loan forgiveness. The closest to forgiveness that we’ve seen is the recent CARES Act, which waived payments on student loans through September 30, 2020, allowing those with federal student loans to stop paying for the period without having interest accrue. The constant talk of student loan forgiveness and even the CARES Act, while incredibly important and beneficial to those struggling with student debt, take away from some of the seriousness of paying back student debt on time. After all, why pay back loans when there seems to be student loan forgiveness on the horizon? This hope is the reason that many millennials decide to miss student loan payments, defer them, or even worse, go into default.

 

The Importance of Making Student Loan Payments

The talk of loan forgiveness should never trivialize the importance of paying off student loans promptly, as student loans can affect other things than simply your wallet. When many millennials graduate, they aren’t overly concerned with their credit score or history, and may not even know that missing student loan payments can affect them in this area. After all, they likely aren’t looking to buy a home or take out a personal loan immediately following graduation. They already may have to pay plenty of “new” expenses such as rent, utilities, groceries, etc., and unfortunately, student loans can fall by the wayside with these newfound expenses emerging.

 

However, missed payments, depending on how long you go without making them up, can have severe impacts on your credit score and credit history. Most prevalent is the presence of your missed payments on your credit report for up to seven years. In some cases, missed payments can lead to drops in your credit score as well. As such, it is important that you know how missed student loan payments can affect your credit score.

 

The Reality

The impact of missed payments on your finances cannot be understated. It leads to more interest to pay back, keeping the mountain of debt continuously growing, and it can drop your credit score substantially, especially if you have a good credit score to begin with. And, sadly, debt forgiveness isn’t guaranteed. The best way to avoid drops in your credit score and increasing debt is simply to take it seriously and pay it back timely. Worth noting is that if managed properly student loans can help your credit score in the long run.

 

How to Pay Back Student Loans Faster and More Effectively

Student loans can be seriously overwhelming, but there are several methods to pay them off faster and more effectively:

 

Set Up Automatic Payments

Automatic payments are an easy way to make sure that you are paying your student loans on time and never missing payments. They’re easy to set up and can take much of the burden away from keeping track of when you need to be making your payments.  

Refinance Student Loans

Student loan refinancing is another way to pay student loans back quickly and more effectively. By refinancing, you choose which loans to consolidate and take out a new loan with a private lender, often with a lower interest rate and with a term length of your choosing. This allows you to either lower your monthly payments or pay your loans off faster by choosing a shorter term. ELFI customers have reported that they are saving an average of $272 every month and should see an average of $13,940 in total savings after refinancing their student loans.1. Check out ELFI’s student loan refinancing calculator to estimate your potential savings.  

Choosing a Different Term

Another method to pay back student loans quickly or more effectively is to change the term of the loan. Shorter loan terms typically have higher monthly payments but allow you to pay them off faster, while longer terms often lower the monthly payment amount. Adjusting the length of your loan term can help you better manage your student loans by adapting them to your goals and lifestyle.  

Make Extra Payments

Making extra payments on your student loans allows you to make contributions that directly impact your loan principal balance, helping you save on interest long-term and pay off your loans faster. Keep in mind that if you have late fees or interest has accrued, your payments will first go towards late fees, then interest, then at last your principal balance.  

Look into Student Loan Forgiveness

If you work in a public service position or for a non-profit, you may want to consider the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program or another loan forgiveness program offered by the federal government. Keep in mind that only about 1% of PSLF applicants actually qualify for forgiveness. Other options exist for volunteers, military recruits, medical personnel, etc. Some state, school, and private programs also offer loan forgiveness. Check with your school or loan servicer to see if you may qualify for student loan forgiveness.  

Federal Loan Repayment Plans

By default, upon completing your federal student loan grace period, you are entered into the Standard Repayment Plan. However, there are a wide variety of other repayment plans that the federal government offers, such as the Income-Based Repayment plan, which determines payments based on your income and is forgiven after 10 years of on-time payments. Check out the Federal Student Aid website to learn more about the options available to you.  

Paying back student loans can undoubtedly be difficult and stressful, but by taking advantage of the many resources at your disposal, they can be managed. If you have questions about your student loans or methods of repayment, the best way to have them answered is to contact your loan servicer.

 
 

*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 2/7/2020 and 2/21/2020. While these amounts represent reported average amounts saved, actual amounts saved will vary depending upon a number of factors.

 

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.

Young woman reading student loan news
2020-05-22
This Week in Student Loans: May 22

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:
what you need to know about student loan debt relief

What you need to know about debt relief on student loans

As there have obviously been some major changes in the world of student loans recent, the Washington Post covers many frequently asked questions in this article, from the details of the Heroes Act to how the new changes affect a variety of borrowers.  

Source: Washington Post

 

college's loan default rate

Why a college's student loan default rate matters

With the extended deadline for "decision day" approaching, this US News & World Report brings to light how a college's default rate, or the average portion of students who default on their student loans, should matter to students who are choosing where to attend college.  

Source: US News & World Report

 

Donors provide students with debt relief

Anonymous donors paid off $8 million in student loans for first-generation grads

According to CBS News, a group of anonymous donors contributed a total of $8 million to pay off college loans for up to 400 first-generation college students who have overcome financial hardships, from homelessness to poverty. The donors are longtime supporters of Students Rising Above (SRA), a Bay Area nonprofit.  

Source: CBS News

 

Student Loan Debt Relief

More relief could be coming for student loan borrowers

While the CARES Act has already suspended federal student loan payments through September 30, 2020, a new bill known as the HEROES Act, passed by the House last Friday, would include additional relief for borrowers with both federal and private student loans, including potentially suspending federal student loans another year through September 30, 2021.  

Source: CNBC

    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.