All Articles Tagged "student loans"

Goodbye, Sallie Mae: How To Pay Off Your Student Loan Debt Faster

April 14th, 2015 - By Meg Butler
Share to Twitter Email This
Image Shutterstock

Image Shutterstock

Student loans are a pain, but they don’t have to be for long. These tricks to paying off your student loans faster will put you at the top of the debt-repayment class.

College Student Compares Herself To Rosa Parks Because Of Student Loan Struggle

March 19th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
Share to Twitter Email This
ScreenGrab/ Fox  News

ScreenGrab/ Fox News

Earlier this week, former college student Mallory Heiny wrote a piece in The Washington Post about not paying back her student loans for the now-defunct Everest College.

In her article, Heiney says Everest lied to her about the education she would receive, and her adviser told her she could defer student loan payments until after graduation. Unfortunately for Heiny, two months into her nursing program she received loan payment notices.

To make matters worse, she says her professors only read aloud from textbooks and did not teach the material she needed to pass the nursing license exam. Thanks to YouTube and online practice tests, Heiny was able to pass the exam. Despite her success, Heiney along with 15 other students who attended Everest College have refused to pay pack the loans they acquired during their enrollment.

Everest College —which was under the Corinthians Colleges Inc. — closed after its parent company came under investigation for financial wrongdoing. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Department Of Education worked together to claim $480 million for debt relief to students who were enrolled in colleges under the Corinthians Colleges umbrella. Though debt relief was earned for the students, their federal loan debt cannot be waived.

Heiny, who is upset that she must still pay back  federal loans for a school that no longer exists, compared her struggle to that of Rosa Parks:

“In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus. This soon led to the revolutionary Montgomery bus boycott. If those who came before us can take a stand in the face of persecution, harassment, beatings, imprisonment and even death, I will certainly stand in the face of wage garnishment and a tarnished credit report.”

While many people understand Heiny’s frustrations, some believe she should not compare her financial struggle to the Civil Rights Movement. Corinthians Colleges could have filed Chapter 11, but since they didn’t Heiny claims she and other students must pay back the school’s debt even though their institutions no longer exist. By going to the press Heiny hopes she can show the financial aid practices used to make students poorer.

Do you think Heiny is the Rosa Parks of college students?

Get Schooled: Here’s What Happens When You Fail To Pay Your Student Loans

March 9th, 2015 - By Ann Brown
Share to Twitter Email This
Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Don’t try this at home.

Although a group of students are going on a debt strike against Corinthian Colleges and boycotting their student loans, it’s not a good idea for everyone to do the same.

A little more than 11 percent of student loans were delinquent at the end of 2014, which is double the numbers compared to a decade ago. But as we all know, being late in repaying your student loans can have negative consequences.

Here are the five most important things that can happen, according to Yahoo’s Mandi Woodruff.

–Your credit score will drastically drop and a low credit score will make it much harder to get approved for new lines of credit. And in some cases, it could affect your job prospects.

–You could default if you skip making payments for more than 270 days, and default is nothing to take lightly. As a result, the bank could demand the payment in full and give the account over to a collections agency.  A loan that is in default can do more damage to your credit score than a delinquent loan, and it can be very difficult to get approved for any new credit (auto loans, mortgages, etc). It can even impact a simple cell phone plan and make it tough to get a job with a default loan on your credit report.

–Forget your tax refund. If you allow your student loan to go into default, you can forget about getting your tax refund check–it will go instead to paying off your federal debt.

–Your wages could be garnished. The federal government can take up to 15 percent of your income if you default on your student loans. If you’re retired, they can even garnish your social security benefits. And yes, private lenders can garnish your wages, too, but they have to take you to court first. You can hire an attorney to fight it, but of course, that will cost you even more.

–If you had a co-signer for your loan and you’re in default, your co-signer will be in trouble as well. They can be at risk for credit damage, wage garnishment and even lawsuits. While it’s usually possible to remove your cosigner, if you’re already in default, it will be impossible.

But before things go left, know that there are steps you can take to get your student loan payments back on track.  Prioritize your loans if you have several of them: “Loans that have the highest interest rate should go at the top of your payoff list,” says Woodruff. And also be sure to pay off private loans first because private lenders won’t be as flexible in offering such replacement plans as loan deferment and income-based repayment.

If you’re having trouble paying, contact the lender and explain your situation. They may offer a variety of repayment options such as income-based repayment, loan deferment or forbearance, and loan consolidation (all of which you can apply for free here).

To keep making payments on time, set up auto payments that will be taken out of your bank account on pay day. An added perk of signing up for autopay is that you may qualify for an interest rate discount (ranging from 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent) on your loans.

Students Refuse To Pay Their Student Loans, Go On A Debt Strike

March 2nd, 2015 - By Ann Brown
Share to Twitter Email This
Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Student loan debt is out of control and now some students are fighting back by conducting a “debt strike.”

“Fifteen former students of the failing for-profit giant Corinthian Colleges are refusing to repay their federal student loans in a protest designed to pressure the government into forgiving their debt,” reports The Washington Post. Most often at for-profit colleges, African-American and Hispanic undergraduates are urged to take out student loans. In fact they are more than three times as likely to take out private, high-interest rate education loans as their counterparts at other colleges.

Corinthian runs Everest Institute, Wyotech, and Heald College and has a high number of loan defaults along with allegations of deceptive marketing and even misleading the government over its graduation rates. Because of all of this, Corinthian lost its access to federal funds in 2014, and this forced the company to either sell or close its schools. Feeling they did not get their money’s worth due to the upheaval, 15 current and former students of the for-profit schools have asked the Department of Education to erase debt they say Corinthian pressured them into taking. And they have some powerful political support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) as well as other Senate Democrats wrote Education Secretary Arne Duncan in December pushing for  him to erase at least some of the loans because Corinthian broke the law and “failed to hold up their end of the bargain.”

“Corinthian took advantage of our dreams and targeted us to make a profit,” the so-called Corinthian 15 wrote in a letter to Duncan. “You let it happen, and now you cash in. We paid dearly for degrees that have led to unemployment or to jobs that don’t pay a living wage. We can’t and won’t pay any longer.”

Of course, not paying the student loans could result in their paychecks being garnished, tax refunds withheld, or even a portion of their Social Security taken from them. But the students are willing to take that risk in their fight.

The 15 student protesters have partnered with an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement known as the Debt Collective. Last year the group organized a program called Rolling Jubilee through which they buy student loans from debt buyers for cents on the dollar and wipe out the debt. So far, the campaign has wiped out more than $30 million in medical and education debt, including $13 million in private student loans for Everest students. It was Debt Collective that reached out to Corinthian students when the for-profit schools started to go under, and for several months tried to get the Education Department to forgive the federal loans to no avail. Hence the strike.

After the strike was launched more than 100 borrowers wanted to join. Before doing so Debt Collective insists they  attend a financial literacy workshop on the consequences of not repaying their debt.

The Education Department has broad authority to cancel federal student loans when colleges violate students’ rights and state law. Already the department has worked with ECMC, the student debt collector which bought more than half of Corinthian’s campuses, to forgive many of the private loans in Corinthian’s Genesis program. Those students will get an immediate 40 percent reduction in the principal balances on their loans. The remainder is to be forgiven over the next few years. But this deal does not apply to students who took out federal loans; it’s only valid for private loans.

Word is still out on if a deal can be reached for the federal loan holders.

A Snapshot Of U.S. Student Loan Debt: Who, What, Why & How

February 9th, 2015 - By Kimberly Gedeon
Share to Twitter Email This
Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Student loans are the biggest thorn in the rear for 45 percent of millennials in their mid-20s. Oh yeah, you read right — nearly half of the nation’s 25-year-olds are shackled by their student loan debt. National Journal zooms in on our nation’s student debt troubles, answering your pressing “who, what, why, and how” questions.

The share of American students who owe their lenders nearly doubled from 2003 (25 percent) to 2013 (45 percent), NJ reports. In 1999-2000, only one percent of post-grads were burdened with more than $50,000 of debt. During the 2011-2012 academic year, that figure stood at 10 percent.

The percentage of borrowers who are tardy with their payments climbed from 20 percent from 2004 to 35 percent in 2012.

NJ notes that the rising tuition prices over the past decade, of course, contributes to these dreadful stats — but there are other variables, too: Shady, underhanded practices from conniving lending institutions. ThinkProgress calls out Corinthian Colleges (the head honchos behind Everest College schools), for example, for allegedly luring students into predatory loans:

“…Corinthian intentionally inflated its tuition charges to exceed the maximum amounts that federal education loans will cover. When students came up short as a result, Corinthian offered them alternative loans under the Genesis program that were far more expensive […] and used illegal debt collection tactics to strong-arm students.”

On top of these crooked practices, other reasons for difficulties in repayment include economic hardships and lack of education on how to properly manage student debt. “Sometimes loans are simply forgotten about in the haze of post-school transitions,” NJ added.

NJ notes that there’s a typical face to your struggling debtor — and it’s not the White student graduate with the engineering degree in hand. Black borrowers are much more likely to default on their loans, in comparison to White and Hispanic students, and tend to owe 22 percent more. Asians are in the same boat as Black debtors, but with one exception: “Defaults in the Asian group occurred after a larger portion of debt had been repaid,” NJ adds.

The high default rate among Black borrowers might be due to family members inability to financially assist their post-grad kin;  wealth in the African-American community is notoriously low. It’s not insufficient post-school income that makes one vulnerable to default on their loans per se, but poor financial support.

And if you’re a liberal arts major, forget it! Students with a degree in humanities are more likely to default on their student loans. As for business and engineer majors, payments are a breeze.

Regardless of race and socioeconomic factors, the average post-grad student owes $34,722 and has a monthly bill of $350. Quoting a new studyNJ says that the only way to combat the rising student debt burden is for lenders to disseminate flexible borrowing programs.

“Students of different abilities, making different investments, and borrowing different amounts should generally face different repayment schedules.”

These one-size-fits-all lending practices just don’t cut it.

The Pros And Cons Of The White House Proposal To Make College Free For 2 Years

January 12th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
Share to Twitter Email This
College Free For 2 Years

Source: Corbis

By now you might have heard the news that President Obama wants to make college free, at least for the first couple of years.

According to the fact sheet on White House.gov, the America’s College Promise proposal aims to provide free college, up to two years, for “responsible” American students. The proposal is estimated to save 9 million students, on average, $3,800 in tuition per year.

As the White House writes about the “whys” of this proposal:

By 2020, an estimated 35 percent of job openings will require at least a bachelor’s ecegree and 30 percent will require some college or an associate’s degree. Forty percent of college students are enrolled at one of America’s more than 1,100 community colleges, which offer students affordable tuition, open admission policies, and convenient locations. They are particularly important for students who are older, working, need remedial classes, or can only take classes part-time. For many students, they offer academic programs and an affordable route to a four-year college degree. They are also uniquely positioned to partner with employers to create tailored training programs to meet economic needs within their communities such as nursing, health information technology, and advanced manufacturing.”

According to the proposal, students with a GPA of 2.5 or above and who are already attending college half-time will be eligible to have their tuitions waived. Likewise, the program aims to work with community colleges to help them offer “programs that either (1) are academic programs that fully transfer to local public four-year colleges and universities, giving students a chance to earn half of the credit they need for a four-year degree, or (2) are occupational training programs with high graduation rates and that lead to degrees and certificates that are in demand among employers.”

The proposal doesn’t say specifically how it plans to pay for the tuition waivers, which is estimated to cost $60 million over a decade. However, the White House writes that it is hoping to partner with interested states and will reimburse them for seventy-five percent of tuition costs for each individual student.

Admittedly, I haven’t been the biggest fan of all of the president’s policies; however, I must tip my hat to him for taking on such an ambitious proposal. If he is able to pull this off, he might be the most socially progressive president in our history. And that is a big “if.”

First, what I do like about the program is that it acknowledges what has long been a widely-known, but closely-held secret among many students and even faculty at four-year institutions: the first two-years of college are kind of bullshit. Okay, not exactly…

But there is a reason why most college guidance counselors advise students, particularly those who have yet to decide their majors, to explore and sample a variety of disciplines in your first couple of years in college before committing to a program in your final two years.

Personally speaking, I loved my humanities, political science and sociology classes. They added much needed perspective to my learning experience. However, there were other classes, which felt more like refreshers from high school. And while those classes were also helpful, I didn’t feel like they should have cost the same amount, per credit, as classes, which were more directly related to my major.

And this is important to note, as my tuition costs for the first two years of classes, which were unrelated to my major, started around $12 thousand. (That number includes on-campus living expenses.) That was the cost in the late 90s. Well over a decade later and the price of higher education has risen to astronomical levels. Even worse than the cost of college is the questionable job market, which in spite of its recovery, fails to produce sustainable incomes to college students upon graduation. This is important to highlight as American students are currently over $1 trillion dollars in debt and it is starting to have an effect on the overall economy, according to this article in Time magazine. Therefore, this proposal has the potential to make a four-year educational experience more cost-effective, which means less student loans.

Not to mention the proposal also seeks to make community college credits more easily transferrable to four-year institutions. As this report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education notes, both “affordability and transfers” have long been major obstacles to four-year degree programs for over the 40 percent of all American students currently enrolled at community college.

Of course, this proposal is contingent on Congress’ approval and as Ben Miller, senior educational policy analyst at the New America Foundation tells the LA Times, “Anything involving more money to pay for things is going to be difficult in this Congress.”

Likewise there are concerns about the impact such a change will have on cheapening standards at traditional four-year universities and colleges. Public eduction advocate Diane Ravitch highlighted some of the opposition to the White House’s proposal on her personal blog. In particular, she references a letter she received from a college faculty member working at a university in Tennessee, which already offers free tuition for two years at community colleges. More specifically, the faculty member notes:

Here is a concrete example from my university, The University of Memphis (UofM), that should give a pause to the celebration of free higher education. Last year, shortly after the announcement of a $20 million cut to UofM’s budget, came the announcement of Tennessee Promise that offers free education to all TN residents at public community colleges. In my opinion, TN Promise is a perfect example for taking money away from high quality education (UofM, in this case), and use the extra funds to invest in low quality education (community colleges). Then this lower quality education is offered to the masses as a solution to their educational needs.

To make the high-to-low quality education transformation explicit, I remark that we at UofM are now pressured to start accepting lower level courses to our major requirements to “ease the transition of students from community colleges to our university.”

In addition to the questions of who will pay for it and the impact such a proposal will have on traditional four-year institutions, I do also wonder the impact this proposal will have specifically on historically Black colleges and universities. Recent federal changes to the Pell Grant and to student loan qualifications have been really tough on many HBCUs that largely serve an economically-insecure student body who rely on federal assistance. This proposal has the potential to financially cripple those institutions even more by transferring a big chunk of dollars into the hands of community colleges.

Hopefully, the White House can get those issues sorted before – and if – this becomes an actual program. Or else the old adage about the road to Hell being paved with good intentions might ring true…

Drawing The Fine Line Between Being A “Sugar Baby” & A Prostitute

October 2nd, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
Share to Twitter Email This
Sugar Daddies Financing

SomeeCards

College acceptances in some ways are easier to come by than financing the education that comes with them. Despite the various financial aid/ loan packages one can sign up for, many students still fall short on payments needed for their housing or class materials. While some students turn to part-time jobs to relieve financial burdens, others decide to enter escort services.

The Atlantic reports that 44 percent of the 2.3 million women who are enlisted escorts — “sugar babies” — on the site Seeking Arrangement are in college. If the “babies” sign up to Seeking Arrangement with an .edu email address they receive free premium membership whereas male users must pay $1,200 for it. The “dating” site also claims the sexual relationships created between their “babies” and users are natural. Seeking Arrangement also upholds the illusion that its services are not prostitution despite the clear sex-for-money exchange.

Even though the relationships can get very physical, many of the sugar daddy/sugar baby relationships have an added dimension. It’s not just about physical looks, but also intelligence. It was duly noted in The Atlantic’s investigative piece, “some men on the site use it exclusively for sex, the majority want sex and something else. They want someone to come along on business trips, go to company events, and meet their friends—someone who understands and appears interested in what they have to say. Most importantly, they want someone who will help them pretend that the relationship is not a transaction.”

The “babies” interviewed by Caroline Kitchener, author of the investigative article, told her when they do not ask for their payments upfront, they receive more funds. Some of men even give the young women credit cards to make the exchange feel more personable. One woman,  named Wanitwat shared:

“I found that some, if not most, of the guys don’t want to talk about money. I suspect that’s because it kills the fantasy. They’re trying to pretend that these smart, beautiful women actually want to hang out with them.”

Though these men may try to avoid the reality of the relationships they have with their “babies,” Kitchener challenges readers and even the “babies” to break through another illusion. The “babies” may be brilliant college students trying to fund their education, that does not exempt them from the label of prostitute. Or does it?

Here’s The Good News About Repaying Your Private Student Loans

September 26th, 2014 - By Kara Stevens
Share to Twitter Email This
Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Earlier this month, I promised that I would share some of the hidden forms of student loan relief for your private loans. While the opportunities to reduce the interest rates attached to your private loans may not be as robust as those of federal loans, they, nonetheless, do exist. My hope is that is article will inform you about your options so you can make the best financial decisions for you.

If you have private loans with Sallie Mae…

As of July 1, 2013, Sallie Mae introduced the Graduated Repayment Period (GRP). Sallie Mae offers a six-month grace period after graduation. During this time, a borrower is excused from making payments toward his/her loans. Traditionally, the borrower would then have to begin making monthly payments that include principal and interest. Under the GRP, however, the borrower only has to pay accrued interest for the first 12 months of repayment. This means that recent graduates have 18 months before being required to pay toward the principal. As with many repayment programs, this can lead to higher payments later and a more expensive total loan amount, but it helps consumers get on their feet after graduation. This is particularly important for those who struggle to find work.

In addition to the Graduated Repayment Period, Sallie Mae has the 12-month rate reduction program. This program offers lower interest rates, as low as 1 percent, and sometimes includes a modification of the loan term. To qualify, borrowers must first make three consecutive on-time monthly payments at the reduced rate.

If you have private loans with Wells Fargo…

Private student loan borrowers who are interning, in a residency or fellowship, or are even still enrolled less than half-time as a student might be eligible for its forbearance policy. Wells Fargo also offers an extended grace period for those who qualify.

In terms of relief from student loans because of economic hardship, the following is available: short-term payment relief, payment relief of up to six months, and “payment options” for those who are past due.

If you have private loans with Discover…

Discover offers in-school deferment for students who are enrolled with at least half-time status. They then allow deferment for certain occupations:

  • On active military duty (up to 3 years).
  • In public service with certain organizations (up to 3 years).
  • In a health professions residency program (up to 5 years).
  • Discover likely has other options available to borrowers, too. Discover encourages struggling borrowers to call its “Repayment Assistance Department.”

If you want to refinance your private loans…

If you are interested in refinancing your loans for lower rates, SoFi is an excellent resource to know about. SoFi stands for Social Finance and the company brings together alumni from universities and colleges with investors to refinance loans, offering variable rates as low as 2.92 percent and fixed rates as low as 4.99 percent.

This is a viable option for borrowers with a very good credit history. On top of that, SoFi provides users with access to alumni-driven SoFi network, which comes with additional career services for borrowers.

So what say you? Feeling a tinge better about how to repay your private loans?

Connect with Kara on Twitter. Learn more about The Frugal Feminista and download her free ebook The 5-Day Financial Reset Plan: Eliminate Debt, Know Your Worth, and Heal Your Relationship with Money in Just 5 Days. 

The Do’s & Don’ts To Handling That Student Loan

June 24th, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
Share to Twitter Email This
Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Do you have a student loan? Are you struggling to pay it? With today’s economy still in recovery mode there are many college graduates rethinking their decision to earn their degree as the debt of student loans are zapping paychecks — so much so that money is being garnished from accounts. Whether you have a few more payments to make or will owe institutions for the next couple of decades, there are some do’s and don’ts you need to consider. Here are some tips on handling student loans.

Paycheck Garnishes For Student Loans Jump, Senate Fails To Act On Refinancing Law

June 15th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
Share to Twitter Email This
Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Data analyzed by The Wall Street Journal shows that paycheck garnishment for student loan borrowers was up 45 percent over the previous decade for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2013. The Education Department is actively collecting from borrowers who have defaulted on federal student loans even as debate rages on about what the government should do to help.

Borrowers are in default after missing 12 monthly payments. The government can begin taking as much as 15 percent of post-tax wages without court approval at that point. Though there are different circumstances that land borrowers in this position, many of those who are falling into default, according to the WSJ, are professionals who borrowed a ton to get their advanced degrees, or those who never finished. And many who find themselves getting their wages garnished end up in that position for quite some time.

“Wage garnishment is a tool of last resort used by the department to recover defaulted loans,” said Dorie Nolt, the spokesperson for the Education Department.

Some say the Education Department shouldn’t lend quite so much money. Others say there isn’t enough being done to let borrowers know about the repayment options.

And then there are the legislative measures that could be taken but haven’t. President Obama just signed an executive order to put a cap on student loan payments. An executive order doesn’t require Congressional approval, but they are also usually limited in scope.

The Senate voted this week on legislation that would allow borrowers to refinance their loans, legislation that was heavily supported by Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the President. How do you think that went? The legislation failed. Democrats thought it would be a good idea to let borrowers find a way to reduce student loan interest — which can get as high as nine percent — to as little as 3.86 percent. Republicans thought it wouldn’t be effective.

“Students can understand that this bill won’t make college more affordable. They understand it won’t reduce the amount of money they have to borrow. And students know it won’t do a thing to fix the that’s depriving so many young Americans of jobs,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R, KY).

However, there are others who say that this sort of help is necessary if borrowers are to reach their potential.

This issue deserves more than a partisan response. Allowing students and families to refinance their student loan debt should not be a partisan issue; it’s the right thing to do,” reads a statement from Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.We will continue to fight alongside Sen. Warren and others, including the courageous few Republicans who stood today with students and families, to chip away at this mountain of debt and reclaim the promise of higher education as a pathway to opportunity and success.”

The student loan crisis (yes, crisis, with a trillion dollars in debt) is hampering the financial efforts and stability of many Americans. In turn, it’s become a hurdle to greater economic growth for the country as a whole. Clearly we have to start somewhere, and helping those who are already in debt is a great place.