All Articles Tagged "student loans"

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

June 24th, 2014 - By Tanvier Peart
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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
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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.

It’s All Your Fault! Young America Points Finger At Colleges For Student Debt Problem

December 4th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Due to towering student debt and costly higher-education expenses, young America is struggling to build wealth and gain financial stability — and students are blaming the nation’s colleges and universities for this issue, The Huffington Post reports.

While 10 percent of college attendees say that students, not institutions, are at fault for America’s student debt problem, 39 percent disagree. They point to colleges and universities as the culprits behind the staggering levels of student debt. This survey, conducted by the  Harvard University Institute of Politics, also finds that 58 percent believe that skyrocketing student debt is a “major issue” — even those who aren’t even enrolled in college agree (54 percent).

“Young people who are coming of age today understand that getting a postsecondary education is important [but] they have a lot of fear about the rising cost of higher education,” said Rory O’Sullivan, Policy and Research Director at Young Invincibles.

Over the past three decades, the cost of a college degree in America has increased by 1,120 percent! More than seven million borrowers have defaulted on their loans as the nation’s student debt swells up to $1.2 trillion. Tuition and fees in America’s public colleges averages to about $8,400 for the 2013-2014 year. For private colleges, that number nearly quadruples to $30,500.

As a college degree is nearly essential for scoring a well-paying job, students are welcoming the crushing debt. But these outstanding student loans takes a toll on the economy as college graduates are less likely to pursue mortgages or car loans. There is a new generation of thirty-somethings that “subsequently don’t have enough cash to make investments in assets that can appreciate in value,” MN wrote.

Colleges simply focusing on aesthetics rather than academics adds to rising tuition costs. University of Pennsylvania, for example, must have put in tons of cash for their new golf simulator in one of their fitness centers. Iowa State University dropped $46.2 million for a new rock wall and hot tub. While these sound nice, college students are footing the bill for these lavish amenities.

“Too many colleges are acting in the interest of building prestige over providing an affordable pathway to higher learning for their students,” Matthew Segal said, head of millennial advocacy nonprofit OurTime.org.

Going back to Harvard University’s survey, another 32 percent shift the blame to the federal government. “The U.S. Department of Education collected $42.5 billion from borrowers in fiscal year 2013 alone,” HuffPo added. Only eight percent said that their state government is fault.

More than 70 percent of the Harvard poll’s participants admitted that their financial circumstances determined whether or not they attended college.

“People are finally realizing that the college arms race must stop if we are ever going to rein in costs,” Segal said.

Poof! Public Service Jobs Can Make Your Student Loan Debt Disappear

September 8th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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The aftermath of higher education leaves the average student drowning in nearly $29,000 in loans. For many, the prospect of buying a home or car is completely dashed by the entanglement of debt. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Should you choose to work in public service, your student loan debt may be forgiven, MSN Money reports.

“More than 33 million workers qualify to have their student loans forgiven because they work in schools, hospitals, firehouses, police stations, city halls, the military,” MSN added. But not many participate in these student loan forgiveness programs because of their complexity, and well, no one really knows they exist! The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has implored Congress to enforce better regulation on these programs so workers know they are available.

“[T]he CFPB says U.S. workers are sending millions of dollars to lenders instead of keeping that cash in the local communities. It also actively discourages college graduates from entering public service fields,” the story says.

With public service positions, such as education, offering starting salaries at just $36,000, many students overlook these jobs. These student loan forgiveness programs would make those jobs more attractive. “The demand for nurses, police officers and social workers face [...] supply problems thanks to low starting salaries,” MSN Money said. “The government is willing to help them out, but it seems content to just let student loan cash flow to big lenders instead.”

While teachers, military personnel, police officers and other public servants are kept in the dark about these debt forgiveness programs, they remain chained to a low-paying job with hefty debt.

“People give up higher incomes to serve their city, their state, or their country,” said Richard Cordray, director of the CFPB. “We believe that people who contribute part of their talents, part of the benefits of their education, to society as a whole should not be mired in debt because they stir themselves to the calling of public service.”

The CFPB estimates that about 25 percent of America’s workers qualify for student loan forgiveness programs and these public service workers are eligible to have their debt wiped out within 10 years.

Swedes Get Free Tuition And Are Still In Lots Of Debt. How Can We Avoid The Same Fate?

June 17th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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After all the talk about student loans and the massive amount of debt it saddles Americans with, we should turn an envious eye to Sweden, which offers a free college education. However, the average student has about US$19,000 in debt, far lower than the US (over $24,000) but still a lot. And 85 percent of students graduate with debt in Sweden whereas only 50 percent of Americans do. How can this be?

Sweden in particular — and Scandinavia in general — is an expensive part of the world. Quartz links to a story that shows how expensive Stockholm is, adding, “In Sweden, young people are expected to pay for things themselves instead of sponging off their parents.” Moreover, they tend to live on their own at a younger age than other Europeans. Adult children live at home until about the age of 30 in some countries.

“[W]hereas in the US parents are expected to help pay for the their children’s college education, in Sweden parental income levels are just not part of the equation. Students are viewed as adults, responsible for their own finances,” the article says.

Even with a student debt load, they manage to have a comparatively comfortable lifestyle. It should be noted that Swedes also have the support of a government that keeps interest rates low. President Obama is fighting to keep student loan rates from doubling in just a few weeks. Going forward, it’s important that we question political candidates about their views on help for students and managing student loans.

So the lesson here is to closely monitor, not just the cost of college tuition, but the cost of living as a student. It’s important to keep the prices for housing, entertainment, cable (why does anyone have more than one cable box… or one TV for that matter?), and other expenses low when income is low. When making the college decision, be sure to weigh all of the considerations and options. Should you or your child go to a community college first for a couple of years in order to live at home and save tuition money? Should the geographic location of the college be a consideration? Perhaps going to school in a small town is the better option versus choosing a school in a pricier city. Can you room with friends? Should you restrict yourself to only a night or two per week for dinners out and socializing, even if it looks like everyone else is having much more fun? And how big of a student loan do you really need?

Moreover, monitor your spending when you graduate. Loans need to be paid back and savings accounts built up. Just because work and income are the full-time priority, it doesn’t mean you’re flush with cash.

Finally, we have to be sure we’re thinking about debt in the right terms. While debt might be unavoidable, we must have a game plan for managing it and paying it off. In other words, look at your career path, your expenses, and where you hope to be in the longer term to determine the level of debt you can handle. You don’t want to have to put your life plans on hold later because you have to pay off debts you’ve accumulated now.

Survey Says — Ladies Looking For Men To Pay For Plastic Surgery And Student Loans

May 23rd, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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Many ladies in the hunt for a sugar daddy want one that’s got the money to finance either their plastic surgery desires or their student loan repayments.

A study done by SugarDaddie.com (not a typo) found that the top reason women seek out a sugar daddy is to pay for cosmetic procedures that include Botox and — most requested — breast augmentation. This is also the number one cosmetic procedure overall in the country. According to the press release with the study’s findings, one top-notch SugarDaddie wrote, “I could work 24/7 and would never be able to aford [sic] to pay for my own boob job.” Oh.

The second most popular reason was to pay Sallie Mae, showing that relationships are being impacted by the huge student loan debt in this country in more ways than one.

Rounding out the top five reasons women seek out sugar daddy, in order, are shopping, car payments, and travel.

SugarDaddie.com polled its 100,000 members for this survey.

We’ve asked before for your thoughts on sugar daddies. We’ll ask again. Is this whole set up OK?

Black Girl On A Budget: How I Conquered Credit Card Debt & Became Financially Empowered

May 23rd, 2013 - By La Truly
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There is a pattern for some people within the black community of poor financial education. A pattern I didn’t know existed until I fell prey to the pitfall of misinformation where money was concerned.

It was 2009 and I was in grad school. I had stopped going to class regularly. I only left my dorm room to eat. I stayed in bed all day, every day watching television. I was more than stressed. I was literally becoming more and more depressed with every debt collection phone call I ignored into the voicemail folder of my phone.

I didn’t mean to rack up almost $8,000 in credit card debt in less than two years. Somehow the idea that I needed to begin building credit was implanted in my naïve brain the summer between freshman and sophomore year of college. I had heard that if I did not get a credit card and begin building credit in college, I wouldn’t be able to buy a car or a house later in life because I would have no credit history to draw from.

That freaked me out. So, having done little to no research, I grabbed the MTV University Platinum card. It featured a bunch of perks and rewards and goodies and what-nots. It also featured a $4,000 limit and a 32 percent interest rate, but I had no clue what that would mean so I had no worries. Wasn’t I the frugal young lady who had stretched $20 every week during freshman year? Please, $4,000 was going to be no problem. I would only use the card for emergencies anyway.

Well, EVERYTHING soon became an emergency. Acrylic nails. Pizza. Trips to the city. The movies. I could NOT control myself when it came to that little piece of plastic. In my mind, as long as I paid something on it every month, I was good. I ended up getting another credit card with a lower interest rate to transfer my debt and save myself some money while I figured exactly how to pay off $4,000 when I was only making $500 per month on work study. I ended up canceling both cards and burying my head in the sand, scared to answer calls from debt collectors. Then, one day a collections agency called and basically threatened to take me to court OR garnish my wages if I did not set up an automatic payment with them right then for $325 each month. Scared out of my mind, I did it. Then I called my mother. She freaked. She told me I did not have to do that, especially since I didn’t have anywhere near $325 in my bank account.

I ended up having to freeze the account and pay my bank back the money they fronted for my stupidity, as well as a hefty overdraft fee.

From that moment, I knew I could not wallow in depression and anxiety about my money situation anymore. It was not going to get any better by avoiding my creditors. I had to educate myself and figure out how to confront the problem head-on. My finance professor happened to be discussing the difference between credit card interest and student loan interest one night during class. He expressed that student loan interest rates couldn’t exceed about 7.5 percent (at that time) while credit card interest rates could be as high as 30 percent. He said it was wise to take out a student loan to cover credit card debt (depending on the individual situation). Well, I looked at my debt situation, talked to my creditors to try to get my interest reduced, but to no avail. They weren’t budging. So, I took out a student loan to cover my credit card debt and ended up saving myself thousands in interest fees.**

Since 2009, I swore off credit cards for a long time and only decided to get another one in early 2011, which I didn’t even use until that summer. I paid the card off in full every time I used it.

My situation is not so different from many young people who are thrust into taking care of their own finances with little to no guidance or foreknowledge. The most important lesson I have learned in dealing with the depressing trial of massive credit card debt is this: DO NOT SPEND WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE.

If I know I can’t pay off at least 80-90 percent of what I want to purchase on my credit card, I don’t even try it.

What you’re not told is that every little thing affects your credit score. So, while building credit is important – having a job to pay off your credit card and the willpower not to live above your means is more important. It would be different if I had budgeted and used my credit card wisely for things like school supplies and the occasional treat, but I lost my ever-loving mind and charged everything. It’s so easy to swipe that bit of plastic and forget about paying it off.

  1. Educate yourself before you choose a credit card. Know the interest rates. Ask about monthly fees and balance fees (they add up). Or if you’re sinking in debt and burying your head in the sand like I was, get up, call your creditors and explain your financial situation. Get on a plan to pay them back little by little. Trust me, they want to help you pay them back their money. These are people with loans and debt just like you. They get it.  More often than not, they are willing to negotiate terms.
  2. Create a budget for yourself.  If you get into the habit of spending wisely, you’ll feel so accomplished you’ll continue. I use the 50/30/10/10 rule. Fifty percent goes to bills. Thirty percent goes to my treats, shopping etc. Ten percent is tithed to my church. And the last 10 percent is saved. Having a plan will always yield favorable results if you commit to it. Sites like Mint.com are super useful in setting up streamlined budgeting systems.
  3. Understand how credit cards work. Even if you pay your card off every month, maxing it out is no good. A consistently maxed out card signals an out-of-control spender to the credit bureaus and it decreases your credit score. Using 20 to 30 percent of your card and paying it off each month shows restraint and responsible stewardship.
  4. Find deals! You can still afford to have fun and purchase nice things even while on a restrained budget, you just have to search out great deals. And with sites like LivingSocial and Groupon it isn’t hard to find great deals anymore. There is no reason why anyone should be spending full price for anything, ever. Clip coupons! Be a loyal customer – the perks are AWESOME.
  5. Don’t focus on your past mistakes with money or all the things you wish you could do. Focus on the lessons learned and the courage you mustered to take back control of your finances. With time and a committed plan, you’ll be out of debt and more financially empowered than you dreamed.

Many churches and community centers offer free financial courses to help the community find financial freedom. Be active about taking control of your finances. Seek out the help and the tools. They are abundant and so severely under-utilized.

**Taking out a student loan to cover credit card debt is what worked for ME. I am not advocating this course of action for everyone. Find what works best for you.

La Truly  seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Follow her on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and AboutMe about.me/Ashley.hobbs.

Are We Moving On Up? Survey Says Black Financial Experience Has Not Changed Since 2011

May 22nd, 2013 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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From BlackVoices

Not much has changed since Prudential Financial last conducted its “African American Financial Experience” survey in 2011. According to the latest results of the biennial study, released Tuesday, African Americans still face competing priorities when it comes to building a legacy of wealth. At the top of the list: paying off debt, saving for retirement and having enough life insurance to protect loved ones.

This year’s results are based on a March 2013 poll of 1,153 Americans who identify as African American or Black and 471 general population Americans, Prudential notes.

But while the findings compound a recent report on the role the Great Recession has played in perpetuating the wealth gap between racial groups, African Americans remain confident about their financial future, the report says, with half of African Americans saying they are doing better now financially than they were 12 months ago, a sentiment shared by only one-third of the general population.

Read more at BlackVoices.com

Good People Still Exist: Anonymous Businessman Shells Out Over $35,000 To Pay Off Mother of Five’s Student Loans

April 4th, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: USA Today

Source: USA Today

Last Christmas Eve, USA Today ran an article discussing the financial hardships that plagued countless Americans during the holiday season. Featured in the article was Starlie Becote, a single mother of five children living in Rhode Island. Becote revealed to the publication that she had been having a really hard time and was struggling to make ends meet. She also regretfully confessed that she didn’t have a dollar to spare to even attempt to buy her children Christmas presents.

A foreign businessman, who has asked to remain nameless in an effort to protect his privacy, was touched by Becote’s story and decided that he wanted to help. The following January, he wired the mom-of-five $5,000 to assist with her expenses and paid off her student loans, which added up to more than $35,000, reports USA Today.

Becote had been unable to pay her $400 a month loan payments and was incurring $6 per day in interest. The “good Samaritan” encountered a few hiccups while trying to carry out his noble deed, as the U.S. Department of Eduction gave him grief about paying off the loan with foreign currency. It seems that the department’s policy prohibits the use of foreign monies to protect borrowers from paying unexpected exchange fees. Nevertheless, the man didn’t allow the roadblock to deter him. He eventually decided to wire the money to a family member in the United States, who then paid off Becote’s loans.

Becote is currently a case manager for a community mental health center and aspires to become a licensed social worker. In order to do so, she is required to finish graduate school. Thankfully, the good Samaritan paid off her loans before she defaulted on them, as this would’ve sabotaged her chances of borrowing money for grad school.

Not long after, Becote’s 2-year-old son D’Zhaun became ill and was admitted to the hospital. Doctors informed her that the toddler had come down with a serious respiratory virus. He then contract pneumonia and the MRSA infection. As a result of her child’s health troubles, Becote missed work for two weeks. She later revealed that after missing so many days of work, she never would’ve been able to pay her rent for that month if it were not for the $5,000 that the kind stranger had wired her.

“You don’t hear about people that do huge things like for people. I can’t believe anything like that ever happened to me in my life,” Becote says.

What a rare, but beautiful story!

Student Loan Battle: HBCUs Prepare To Fight Back Over Obama Administration Loan Changes

March 19th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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As we recently reported, hundreds of students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are finding themselves with less financial aid due to changes made on federal student loan applications.

Now the HBCUs are fighting back. According to the Washington Times (via  Black Blue Dog), HBCUs may end up having to sue President Obama’s administration for allowing changes in student loan standards. These changes have disproportionately affected minority populations. On the HBCU side, they say they were not given advanced notice of changes in loan standards resulting from new eligibility requirements coming from the US Department of Education.

“We’re going to continue to pursue the legislative process to find a better solution,” Johnny C. Taylor, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund told the Washington Times. “We are not itching for a fight, [but] we need to do what is necessary to protect what is the most vulnerable and fragile in our society.”

On the White House side, the Obama Administration has said that they made the changes so that the expectations for these loans match industry standards for getting other types of loans. This has not happened, however, for many black students, especially those at HBCUs. “[D]ue to differences in wealth levels, African Americans are often left behind,” writes Black Blue Dog. “Before, less than a quarter of PLUS loan applicants were denied.  That number has risen to more than half,” the article continues.

Separately, but related, the average debt for HBCU students is $32,000. So though those loans are needed, many students are walking off campus for the last time with a high degree of debt.