Pay Off Student Loans by Keeping a Reasonable Balance When You Graduate in Four Years
Keeping a reasonable student loan balance requires an immense amount of planning, organization, and discipline, but you can do it. Some kids can’t pay off student loans because they are spending way too much time in college, going five or six years for a four-year degree. Some have to work more than expected, some drop classes, some feel they can’t get all of their classes, and some don’t force themselves to decide on a major course of study when it is time.
Organize yourself, and graduate in four years no matter what. If you want to do something else later, pay for it with cash after you start working, or use your employer tuition reimbursement plan some employers offer.
Some students drop classes, some feel they can’t get all of their classes, and some don’t force themselves to decide on a major course of study when it is time. Organize yourself, and graduate in four years no matter what. If you want to do something else later, pay for it with cash after you start working, or use your employer tuition reimbursement plan some employers offer.
The Nightmare Scenario of Getting Student Loans and No College Degree
It seems hard to believe that students are taking out thousands of dollars of student loans, and not getting the college degree that comes with it. But, that is happening all the time. I recently listened to a radio show where the host asked listeners to call in with their student loan balances and tell if they got their dream job. He got the surprise of his life when several people, calling in from all over the region said they had $50,000, $70,000 and even $100,000 in student loans, but left college with no degree.
They gave various reasons; some fell behind in grades and were asked to leave, some became ill and had to leave, some did not qualify for the last semester or year of student loans to finish their degree because they reached their maximum eligibility, some had to quit and work awhile and did not return.
There were many reasons. Here is the sad part, once the loans payments start if payments are not made you are sent to collections, when you are in collections you have to jump through hoops to qualify for financial aid again, so you can return to school. If you don’t pay your way out of collections and start making payments’, your student loan balance will increase exponentially every single year, due to added penalties’, including collection company fees and interest rates. Avoiding collections is the most encouraging reason you should pay off your student loans as soon as possible.
Pay Off School Loans as Early as Possible to Avoid Possible Catastrophic Events
If you can’t pay off student loans after your grace period is over because you don’t have a job in your field, you can apply for government help. You can get an Income Based Repayment Plan or IBR Plan set up by the federal government, created under the Obama Administration. When you are adequately employed your payments will return to normal. In addition to paying your school loans no matter what to protect your lifelong credit, think about paying them off early. Parent loans are not eligible. The bad part of the Income based repayment plan is that, your payments are so low they usually don’t cover most interest or principle. This causes your balance to balloon. I have had students tell me a balance went from $30,000 to $70,000 in a few years or even worse. This is one reason you should do everything in your powers to pay your full payment immediately, and extra to the principle will pay off your student loan early.
When you pay extra money to principle, you can pay off your loans early. Do your research with your school loan providers, and make sure you pay them off correctly and monitor your statements. Another way to bring down your loan balance is with the governments [service oriented repayment plan] if you work for a non-profit.
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A Problem Many Students Don’t Discover Until After They Are Enrolled
Most financial aid packages at four-year colleges cover only 80% of costs for the poorest students as well as everyone else, an exception is a full scholarship that covers all income levels. Many poor and middle-income students don’t discover this fact until the end of their freshmen year.
Here is an actual example a college student gave me: a young man was told his college would cost $13,000.00 for the year, all but $2500.00 was covered by his financial aid package, he wasn’t told about this gap in financial aid until the end of his first year. His single mom had no money to help him.
He was asked not to come back until he could pay the $2500.00 balance. They told him the computer would not allow him to register. Another case, that was taken up by a local senator, is that of a young girl who took out $55,000.00 in school loans, she was told that was her maximum, and needed to find another way to pay for her last year and get a degree. She informed them that she had no other way. You can find out how difficult it can be to repay student loans by reading about it at the Student Loan Justice site.
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Debt-Free College Can Happen When You Understand The Various Options You Have
Getting a debt-free college education begins with a deep understanding of the different types of colleges and universities. There are many different types of colleges you can attend, and it is important that you know the difference between them. Not all colleges and universities are good for all people.
You must know which is best for you, both financially and academically. I will start with a brief explanation of junior colleges, (also called community colleges), and end with for-profit colleges.
Junior Colleges Your Best Value for Debt-Free College:
If you want to get a certificate or a 2-year AA (Associates of Arts) degree in something that has high job value, the community college is a best value. If you are poor, low income or a struggling single parent you may be able to attend with a Pell Grant, avoiding loans. If you do have to get loans they may be minimal.
Do your research, and work out your best solution. You must keep yourself motivated if you attend a community college. Some find it difficult to focus since you are no longer in high school, but also you don’t have the attention of a four-year college.
You can also later transfer to a four-year college to complete a bachelors’ degree if you decide to get it sometime in the future. Transfers are allowed at most four-year colleges.
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State Colleges and Universities:
Your absolute best value for colleges and universities, under junior colleges, are your state colleges and universities. These colleges and universities have the lowest cost of tuition and fees for a four-year degree for most colleges. The books and room and board, as with all colleges and universities are extra.
If you live at home or with a relative a state college or university can be a real value and leave you with little or no loans. Most employers in local towns gives preference to their local state college and university students for employment, since they usually know the quality of those schools.
For poor and lower middle class students many can go to their local four-year college with a Pell Grant and part-time job, leaving them with no school loans if they live at home. This is huge. Most HBCUs are priced similar to state colleges, a few are priced as expensive private colleges or universities, so remember to do your research.
Private Colleges and Universities:
This includes famous and not-so-famous colleges and universities. Some of the colleges that fall into this category are expensive Christian schools, some are ivy league schools and some are small little known colleges and universities. They all have one thing in common, and that is enormous costs.
Enormous costs that will leave you with school loans of $40,000 to $200,000. This is a near tragedy for poor or middle income students, these loans could take 30 years to repay. No college graduate should be braced with that much of a load on their backs for so long.
These schools have enormous hidden costs, so it is imperative that you research costs at the schools’ website, otherwise you could be left with severe sticker shock after you start. You can get a good job if you go to an inexpensive school, as well as an expensive school, so why not protect yourself, your finances, and your future, with a low-cost college or university.
For- Profit Schools, Colleges, and Universities:
In for-profit colleges, the learning is usually quick, the courses are short, and the costs are high. How do you know if a school is for-profit? They do a lot of advertising on TV, they are usually located in a strip mall, business park, office building or online only – they don’t normally use college campuses. When you research for-profit schools the graduation rates are usually very low and the student loan pay-back is also very low.
They offer short, quick programs and degrees. You may have to do a lot of research to find them listed as for-profit online. Some of them claim to be non-profit, but they are not. Many of them give college degrees in a little as 1-2 years, or certificate programs in as short as 6-8 months. Some employers don’t recognize degrees from for-profit colleges. Since for-profit colleges have been accused of and found guilty of numerous problems against students, some are now calling themselves non-profit. But, they are still for-profit with another name. Most are located in office type buildings, or store fronts, they offer quick classes and very poor financial aid packages, with education that is not always recognized by employers.
The biggest problem with these schools are that most of them include loans for even the poorest students, the courses are often times quick, they offer a lot of certificate programs that require the passage of an exam to get your certificate.
Many kids don’t pass the exam because the courses are so quick, so they don’t get their certificate, and now they have loans with no ability to get work. This is usually the most difficult way to get debt-free college.
The government has recently cracked down on for-profit schools since the default rate on exams, including board exams is high. One for-profit nursing school had a pass rate on board exams of zero. None of the students passed the nursing board exam, but they all had loans they could not repay.
One type of for-profit school that was closely scrutinized was found to brace students with near $80,000 in school loans, this was the Corinthian Colleges.
After petitions and media attention, the government forgave all their student loans with forgiveness, this is rare. The problem was that students could not get jobs after attending. The employers told them they did not recognize the school as adequate for job placement.
The students were told they would have no problem getting jobs when they enrolled. Itt technical Institution was recently shut down due to its predatory methods against its students.
It is a part of the government crackdown on predatory for-profit schools. You can search google for a list of for-profit schools that have been closed by the government. Understand the current student loan debt crises to keep your student loans at 0 or very low.
Financial aid packages in for-profit colleges almost always includes loans, and for many who can’t get jobs, it is not possible to pay the loans back. These loans can leave students with a lifetime of poor credit.
Your best bet for debt-free college:
The best way to get debt-free college is 1. Go to a junior (community) college on a Pell grant, work part-time, and live at home. 2. Go to a state college or university with Pell grant, work part-time, get a relative to help, and live at home. 3. Go to a state college or university with the help of a relative or on a full scholarship. 4. If you decide to go to an expensive private college or university, go with the help of a relative or a guaranteed full scholarship or fellowship for graduate school.
Understand that cost is the most important factor when it comes to choosing an education with debt-free college. It is absolutely essential that you know all cost and academic programs of your chosen school, by reading their online catalog. A last reminder, that if you do not pay off student loans you have signed for, and you get behind, the government will catch up with you, and garnish your check.
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You Can’t File Bankruptcy on Student Loans, Understand College Without Student Loans, and Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized Loans.
There are many reasons you should strive to go to college without student loans, one is the crushing pain of debt, another is that you are not allowed to file bankruptcy on student loans due to hardship.
If you start a business with any amount of money and your business fails, you can file a business bankruptcy on your loan balance due and later start over with replenished credit. If you buy a home and fail, you can short sell your home or let it go into foreclosure and you can later buy another home, once your credit clears.
This is not the case with student loans, politicians have rigged the system, so no matter what, you have to pay. You only have a short grace period after you graduate, but your grace period, if you don’t have a job, you still have to pay. If you don’t have a relative who is willing to step up and make the payments until you get a job, your life can be ruined forever with bad credit.
The unpaid school loan balance grows exponentially due to collection agency cost and interest on interest overdue charges. The balance can double every 3-4 years until one day you open a letter and find you owe $100,000 on an original $5000.00 student loan. It has happened to many and it does not have to happen to you or anyone else.
Recent New Programs to Save College Students Credit
The new programs the Obama Administration created for college students with student loans has made payback easier, but you must apply for them, and even though your payments are decreased to an affordable rate until you find a decent job, you must still make your payments. There is no hardship benefit for most.
The program is called the income-based repayment program. There are others as well. This program is mostly for government subsidized loans, but there are programs for private or unsubsidized loans, but they are more difficult to get them to help you. If you delay regular student loan payments with an income based repayment plan, the delay in paying interest can raise your balance two to three times the original loan balance. So, it is recommended that you do EVERYTHING in your powers to make your reglalar payments. The situation is direr for unsubsidized loans; these lenders can be brutal.
It is better to find an actual loan forgiveness program. There are different types of programs listed at Consumer
They charge interest while in school, and you don’t get the benefits that come with government subsidized loans. Subsidized loans don’t charge interest while you are in school and therefore cost much less than unsubsidized loans, sometimes as much as half.
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I Went to College with Almost no School Loans
I went to graduate school with a horrible amount of school loans so I know the difference. I had unsubsidized and subsidized, it seemed to take forever to pay off my unsubsidized loans. In college, I had one very small subsidized loan that took only a couple of years to pay off. I figured out why my unsubsidized loans took so long to pay off, but by then it was too late, I just suffered and eventually, they were paid. It took me a total of 12 years to
pay off my loans, it would have been sooner if I figured out the game they were playing with interest and time.
When it comes to graduate school, most of the financial aid is student loans, and some the predatory unsubsidized loans. Focus on scholarships or fellowships if you plan to go to graduate school.
I Was Lied to About the Cost of my Private University Graduate School Up Front
It is extremely important to research each and every school you consider attending before you apply. I attended a state university for undergraduate school and had no problems with loans. I only had to take out a tiny loan, which I paid back quickly after graduation. I researched every school I considered attending graduate school.
The one problem I had with the graduate school I actually attended was that I did not include current students in my research. I was given an estimate of the cost of attendance for four years by the student affairs office. It turned out the actual cost was double what I was told, and that was after I lived like a pauper in graduate school.
At one point I planned to leave because the costs were getting out of control, but after a lot of introspection, I decided I was half way there so I should finish. I don’t recommend you go to a private school unless you have a full scholarship, full fellowship, rich parents or family members who can pay for your college.
If you are poor or middle class your financial aid package will be lop-sided with huge loans, and in some cases bad unsubsidized loans. You have to ask yourself; Do I want to spend the rest of my life paying on school loans? It could very well happen if you attend a school too expensive for your budget.
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Do Your Research Before You Apply to Colleges That Interest You
Every college and university catalog is currently, online. If you have a computer at home, you are all set. If you do not you can go to your local library and use the computer there. Here is what you do. First of all, look at the cost, many of the more expensive colleges have their cost hidden, so don’t give up, it’s there. Search total cost to attend college X (substitute the name of each in the X field).
You should find a grid. In that grid, it will explain all of the costs for four years, down to the paperclip. I have looked, and it is the norm, I did not find a single college or university without the four-year cost of college grid. The private schools will display outrageously expensive costs, some of them I looked at a cost between 200.000-300,000 for four years.
Those costs are definitely for rich kids or the lucky few who get guaranteed scholarships. It makes no sense at all to go to a school like that with a financial aid package that includes school loans.
Your loan bill at that school could definitely scar you for life. You will have either a lifetime of loan payments or have a good chance of a lifetime of loan default if you become ill, disabled, or can’t find a job that pays enough to make the payments – there are no guarantees. Coming Soon, Part 2 of this article.
As of 2017 we now have a new administration. They have not said what they will do with student loan fulfillment problem, but have hinted toward doing nothing, and taking down the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau website. Because of this, the student loan crises could hit epic proportions if students continue to have more debt than they can pay with low job opportunities including, no job or low paying jobs.
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Student Loans Scary
The Cost of a College Education Can Be Outrageously High if You Are Not Careful
During the past 20 years the cost of a college education has skyrockted way past the rate of inflation. Educational cost are far above the reasonable loan repayment with an entry level job. The average entry level pay of most college graduates is not sufficient to repay student loans and cover living expenses. Because of this sad saga, you must be diligent in understanding college cost and the process of college financial aide, especially college loans.
There are different types of loans, with a wide variety of repayment options. Some of the loans are very reasonable, while some can become very expensive if you do not understand the repayment terms. Some loans do not charge interest during school attendance, during deferment, or the grace period, while others charge interest during all there of the latter periods.
Direct Loans are low-interest loans for students and parents to help pay for the cost of a student’s education after high school. The lender is the U.S. Department of Education (the Department), though the entity you deal with, your loan servicer, can be a private business.
With Direct Loans, you:
Borrow directly from the federal government and have a single contact- your loan servicer- may be a private institution for everything related to repayment, even if you receive Direct Loans at different schools.
Can choose from several repayment plans that are designed to meet the needs of almost any borrower, and you can switch repayment plans if your needs change.
The Direct Loan Program offers the following types of student loans:
Subsidized: for students with demonstrated financial need, as determined by federal regulations. No interest is charged while a student is in school at least half-time, during the grace period, and during deferment periods.
This is by far the best type of student loan, if you can qualify. The deferral of interest payments makes this an affordable loan, if paid in a timely manner after graduation. The current interest rate for this loan is 3.4%.
Unsubsidized: not based on financial need; interest is charged during all periods, even during the time a student is in school and during grace and deferment periods. The interest could almost double your payback at graduation, unless you make interest payments during college.
Because interest is charged during all periods, it is possible that this loan could spiral out of control if small payments are not made during the entire loan period, including while enrolled in school. The current interest rate for the unsubsidized loan is 6.8% (this may be different by the time you read this article).
PLUS: unsubsidized loans for the parents of dependent students and for graduate/professional students. PLUS loans help pay for education expenses up to the cost of attendance minus all other financial assistance. Interest is charged during all periods. This loan requires a credit check.
If you cannot survive a credit check 1. — You can get a co-signer (this person is responsible for repaying the loan in the event that a) you do not get a job, b) you loose your job, c) you cannot pay due to disability or long term illness. d) you do not make enough money to repay your loan. 2. — You can plead your case and write a letter of explanation of bad credit, this may give you an exemption.
The current interest rate for plus loans is 7.9%. This alone makes it imperative for graduate and profession students to make a payment during the school attendance, grace, and deferral period. A young girl was profiled on dateline who finished medical school, did a residency and saw her total school loan balance balloon from $250,000 to over $500,000 during residency.
She stated that she did not understand the interest charges during her residency deferral period. She could have kept this balance at $250,000 had she understood that making an interest payment during her residency would have solved this issue.
College loans are awarded after a student submits a FAFSA (Free Application For Federal Student Aide). This application can be started and finished online directly at the FAFSA government website, by creating a PIN. This procedure is more efficient than applying at one individual college of your choice, since you can verify that all of the requested information is completed in a timely manner.
Every single college you think you are interested in should be placed on the online application, and the completed application will be forwarded to the school of your choice when you decide where to attend.
Denial: Students have the right to deny any portion of the student aide as loans or ask to decrease the amount of loans that may not be needed. The fewer loans a student has the better off they will be later, due to low debt.
Consolidation: Eligible federal student loans can be combined into one Direct Consolidation Loan. The government gives you a deadline for consolidation of school loan debt. This may ease your payment burden if your loan payments are too high or come from too many sources.
You also have a choice of private school loans. Private school loans are more expensive than government loans, they have more fines and fees if not paid due to illness or disability, and they have less forbearance. With private student loans you have no safety net. Private loans are easy to get, but have no deferment or forbearance on the loans.
They have no sympathy for those who get into trouble. Because of this it is important to get the maximum from government loans before you think about private loans. Most students have no business at all with a private loan, considering the risk involved. You can understand more of the nuances of student loans by going here.
Related Link: Student Loans eBook
Easy Ways to Save Money
Many college students, stifled with the sudden high cost of college, upon entering, have probably stop to ask themselves, “what are some easy ways to save money as a college student”? at different times during their college years. College is all about acquiring a quality education, focusing on a degree, and some side advantages are making new friends, and enjoying the educational and social process. But a lack of financial “awareness” on a student’s part, can make it a period of constant financial turmoil and emotional strife.
Every student entering college arrives with a dream of collegiate success, some are, but many don’t complete their course of study due to financial hardships. The reason for this disparity is not because few students are financially superior, but because they possess the ability to budget and save while in college.
Earning money during college is one thing, but students can increase rainy day savings by starting the habit of focusing on easy ways to save money. Having money in your pocket feels good and the habit of saving money gives you peace of mind, and a bit of financial security. The challenge is, of course, is how to achieve the goal of saving money while in college. Well, to help college students, I’ve come up with the most amazingly practical ways of saving money listed below.
Start With Budget Preparation For Easy Ways to Save Money
Most college students shun the idea of preparing a budget, but believe me this is the best way of initiating your saving process. A budget is nothing but a statement showing your estimated expenditures coupled with income. You have the freedom to go in for minute details or prepare a superficial budget based on your needs, but I advise you to prepare a detailed budget, so that leaking cash can be easily spotted. After preparing a full-fledged budget, let us find out the ways in which cash leaking can be avoided. The main question when preparing a budget should be, “easy ways to save money on just about everything you do and delete things you don’t need to do”.
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Apply For Scholarships and Financial Aid
The first step to saving before and after entering your college life, begins with applying for scholarships or financial aid. This kind of aid is generally given to two kinds of students- 1. meritorious and/or 2. needy, so if you belong to either of these categories, do apply for scholarships as it would help you save a lot of money which would otherwise come out of your personal budget.
Understand FAFSA (also known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you can download it from the government website used for getting private and government aid for college. You can file your FAFSA application online as soon as it comes out, the sooner you apply, the better your financial aid. List every single college you may apply to, and the award will later be sent to the college of your choice. Do everything you can to keep student loans to a minimum, your number one consideration when choosing a college is staying out of debt as much as possible, your college must be affordable to start. [link to student loan article]
Buying Old Books or Clothes
We live in a time where many college students are actively participating in various environmental savings activities, and believe in the concept of ‘renew, reuse and recycle’. You will be surprised to know that for college students, this can be a process for saving a lot of money. Yes, buying old books and clothes not only allows you save a lot of money which eventually adds up to a lot in savings, but also allows students to contribute to the environment, by saving resources and energy. Look for stores where used books and clothes are sold, and purchase those in good and usable condition.
Roommates in College May be a Good Bet
Saving money is not an easy task, it takes a lot of effort on the part of a person, but for a college student, there are plenty of answers to the question ‘how to save money’. Living in college dorms or apartments is costly, but if you find yourself a few roommates, you can avoid a lot of extra expense, and thus save money. Do a careful analysis of the people you choose as roommates, make sure they are in college for the right reasons, and they pay their bills on time.
A Healthy Transportation Option
College campuses are scattered over large areas and thus having a vehicle becomes a necessity when you must move from one place to another on campus, some campuses are huge in area. But who said that only a motorcycle or a fancy car can solve your problem, if saving money is your target then go for a bicycle instead of other transportation options. A used bicycle is easily available from any shop near college, so take advantage of this healthy transportation option and save on your fuel and repair expenses. Create ride share teams with other students when you must take a car, and use public transportation to get to and from school when it is available.
A Part-Time Job
The task of saving money can be eased by taking up a part time job on your college campus or any store nearby college where you shop. By taking a part-time job on your college premises or nearby, you can pay major expenses such as gas or food. However, if you don’t want to get a job at your college, then look for a job opening at a retail shop nearby college where you shop regularly, which would help you get things you need at a discount, which can be considerable.
Student Discounts and Freebies
Many e-commerce websites and retail shops offer a variety of student discounts such as hair products, grooming accessories, clothes and food items. Receiving discounts will help you save a lot of money and reduce your expenses, considerably. But not everything is available with discounts and this is the reason why we recommend you stay on the alert to look out for freebies and giveaways, don’t be afraid to use coupons when you are in college.
By following the prior suggestions, a student can learn easy ways to save money during his/her college life. We hope you’ve got some useful and exciting answers to the question ‘how to save money’ that would help you make your college life more affordable.
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Your Scholarship Search
Understanding financial aid and all it should offer you can keep your student loans low. When you apply for financial aid and you are low or middle income, you may qualify for a financial aid package. That package usually includes loans, the more expensive the school, they larger your loans will be in your package.
The best defense against high debt is high grades in high school or college. Either can lead to college scholarships. Your scholarship search should be extreme and early in high school. Search and apply as if your life depended on it. Ask family members to help, show them your grades, discuss your plans.
Many scholarships go unfunded simply because there are no applicants. Study and understand everything about financial aid at the federal financial aid website, FAFSA, that is where you can avoid financial aid mistakes the most.
And mostly, apply early, and place every single college you remotely think you are interested in on your application.
When you apply online, which is best, the college you choose will be the college your award is forwarded to.
Study and understand everything about financial aid at the federal financial aid website, FAFSA, that is where it all starts. And mostly, apply early, and place every single college you remotely think you are interested in on your application.
When you apply online, which is best, the college you choose will be the college your award is forwarded to.
Don’t Go to College Blind
Avoid financial aid mistakes by reading your college catalog online, understand all your college offers, this you should find information about financial aid at your given institution. Your registrar’s and financial aid office will have more. Understand what courses you must take to graduate with that degree in four years.
If you are not sure what you want to do, you should have some ideas since you are going to college. Choose at least three fields you are interested in and have good job prospects, make sure you get the general education courses to major in each of those three fields. No matter what, major in one field by the beginning of your third year so you can graduate in four years, get a job, and start paying down debt right away.
Don’t linger with indecision, and don’t allow yourself to get loan defaults, and later a lifetime of bad credit. Your credit rating is one of the most important assets you have for getting low-interest rates later and your ability to rent an apartment, buy a car, or buy a home.
There are many ways you can go to college debt-free if you concentrate on affordable colleges, Pell Grants, scholarships, understanding financial aid packages, living at home, working, and relatives helping, should keep you with low or no debt.
Should You Refinance Student Loans to Make Payments Affordable?
Some students will not have an option except to refinance student loans because the payments are way too large for their income. If you can pay on student loans as soon as they are due, make your payments plus an additional to principle balance, so the loans are paid off quickly.
At the same time, of course, remember to place a monthly payment in your savings account for a rainy day. The best student loans, as I have said, are government subsidized loans since you don’t have to pay interest while you are in school.
The best refinancing options are also government refinancing programs. If you refinance with private companies, you could lose the loan benefits you get with government programs. One such benefit is loan deferral if you return to school, a hidden higher interest rate can be found in private loans or tax benefits of interest deductions in government loans.
If You Pay Off Your Student Loans Early
If you pay off your student loans early or on time you will have a peace of mind you never thought attainable. That is how I and many of my friends felt when our student loans were paid off. When I graduated from dental school and my student loans became due before I got a job, I felt I would be in this debt box forever.
Knowing I had a large student loan balance every month when I made my payments, it always gave me a sinking feeling. When I graduated there
When I graduated from graduate school there were no government loan repayment programs and my financial aid was only student loans. The Income Based Repayment Plans and the non-profit service plans, were recently put in place by the Obama Administration.
I knew if I did not make my loan payments, even when I had no job, the loans could balloon out of control if I got sick or experienced long-term unemployment. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to get out of this box of miserable student loan debt.
Avoiding Financial Aid Mistakes Requires Research
I finally came up with the solutions that I am sharing with you in this article on student loans and my previous two articles. The solutions start way before you start college, but it is never too late to figure out how to pay off student loans and maintain your credit rating. It begins with understanding financial aid for college and all options that surround it.
College Without Student Loans
Going to College With Student Loans
In the past 30 years as the priorities of states have shifted away from a public college education to for-profit government contract companies, the cost of college has skyrocketed and an increasingly huge number of students are being forced into student loans. College costs have soared far in excess of inflation. Thirty years ago a middle class family could easily send their child to a state funded college if they lived at home, and for some even living on campus was an affordable option. But, with today’s cost, the choice of which college to attend should be a well-researched and lengthy decision process, with cost your number one consideration. Because college cost are so high, students and parents who do not research college cost and financial aide well, find students going to college for 6 years( for a 4 year degree), or dropping out due to unmanageable cost. In-depth research and planning early in the students’ high school years can avoid these tragic problems. Get crucial information about college and student loans here.
The College Boards Research
According to the College Board, tuition and fees have increased from an average of $600 per year in 1976, to $6000 per year in 2007, for public colleges. The tuition increases are $2500 per year in 1976 to $22,000 per year in 2007 for private colleges. These numbers do not include room and board, books, lab fees, registration fees, car expenses, plane tickets, computers, clothes, bus tickets, or other hidden cost that colleges do not list.
The Real Cost of College
The total cost of college including room and board, tuition and fees, books, lab fees, registration fees, and bare necessities could easily range from $120,000 for a public college to $300,000 for a private college. This range could leave a middle class student with student loans (after Pell grants, Work Study, Summer Jobs, and Parents contribution), as much as $40,000 for a public school, to $150,000 in school loans for private schools. Many private schools have large yearly increases in tuition every single year, this must be factored in as you add up your total expected cost. If you do not qualify for government assisted subsidized loans, you may have to take out unsubsidized student loans that charge interest on loans while you are in school.
The College Acceptance Letters
College acceptance letters and financial aid information will soon be available. The average college tuition alone is $17,000 today. Most financial aide packages do not cover all of your cost, even for the poorest student. You are usually expected to come up with as much as 20-30% of the cost, after your financial aide award. Some students don’t find this out until they have traveled across the country to go to college and find themselves without enough money. Most financial aide packages don’t cover books; registration fees, lab fees, car expenses, computers, plane tickets, and other necessary items.
Do Your Research
Do your research when it comes to college cost and available financial aide. Most schools have a maximum amount of financial aide they will give to each student. For instance, if you are an out of state student, who attends a state school, your financial aide will be based on the cost for an in-state student. Therefore, you will have large gap that you will have to fill in, in order to pay all cost, no matter what you financial status. Know all of your colleges costs, this is difficult information to find, especially with private schools. Many schools hide some cost to keep students coming. Navigate the colleges’ website for cost; and also call the colleges’ registrations office, financial aide office, and housing office, and if possible talk to past alumni. It will literally take every single one of these inquiries to find out the true college cost. Most private schools will be off limits to middle income and low income students, unless they receive a full scholarship with many guarantees. Learn to Save Money here.
Keep Student Loan Amounts Low
Choose a college where you can keep loan amounts very low. There is no guarantee a graduate will be employed before school loan payments become due, or that they won’t become sick or disabled at some time during their loan repayment period. Know the difference between private loans and federal loans. Federal loans come with more safety nets. Private lenders such as Sallie Mae charges students when their loans are in deferral. With federal loans, if you are unemployed or suffering an economic hardship, you will not be charged to defer your loans. A rule of thumb is that your total loans should not exceed your expected beginning salary. For example, if you plan to go into teaching, a beginning teacher can expect to make about $21,000 a year, so your loans for 4 years should be capped below $21,000. Since many students change their major many times during college, and no one actually knows when they will be hired, or what their salary will be, it is wise to keep total college loans as low as
How the Current Administration is Helping
President Obama has made it easier to navigate the oftentimes complicated maze of college and financial aide. He has required colleges to be more open about their cost, and the financial aide available. In the past many colleges hid some of their cost to prevent parents and students from making an informed decision, as I mentioned before.
President Obama made changes in Pell Grants so the amount awarded per student is greater, and the number of students who qualify per income is greater.
Effective January 2012, if you’re someone who has different kinds of loans’ guaranteed and direct-you’ll be able to roll them both into one direct loan and bring down your interest rate. You’ll only have to write one check a month, and you’ll see a discount. This switch saves money for taxpayers across the board and it helps pay for the second step President Obama announced in October 2011.
As a part of 2010’s student loan reform, borrowers’ loan payments could be no higher than 10 percent of their disposable income. This is a big deal-but it wasn’t going to go into effect until 2014. The President announced that he’s speeding up this program so it will affect students in 2012-two years early. This will have huge consequences for people struggling to make their student loan payments.
Federal Financial Aide Website
To get financial aide for college you can obtain a pin, and start your application process at the Federal Financial Aide Website. When all of your information is in, (check the site regularly), they will send a financial aide award letter to the colleges you submitted. Make sure you place every single college you are interested in on your FAFSA application. You will choose only one college at the end, and FAFSA will forward your information there. Read the FAFSA website carefully so you are well-informed before you start.
Choosing a College
The top colleges and universities recommended by major publications; most American students can’t afford. There for you must consider several factors when choosing a college, to make the best choice possible.
Several national magazines publish the top colleges and universities in the U.S. yearly. All of the top colleges listed have one thing in common, extreme high cost. Because the cost are so high, most Americans cannot afford to attend these so-called “top colleges” unless they acquire an uncontrollable school loan debt or a full 4 year scholarship. My number one consideration for choosing a top college or university, and what should be your number one
consideration, is simply put, cost. Not considering cost, can cost you misery later in life, for years to come.
If a poor or middle-income student choose one of the “top colleges”, their school loan balance after graduation would be outrages. Because, even after amortizing it over 20 years, the monthly payment would not be possible with the vast majority of entry level jobs in the U.S. You read that right, I said 20 years. Many students find that they have to amortize their school loans over 20 years to get a somewhat manageable payment option. Many graduates have payments more like mortgages than school loan payments, but this does not have to be the case.
Furthermore, if one of these students choose to defer school loans for graduate school, their existing outrageous balance could easily double. Interest payments are charged to the balance of the account even if the loan is in deferral.
If the school does not have a reasonable and affordable cost for your income, don’t even think about attending, unless you can get a full scholarship. Keeping a full scholarship usually requires you maintain a B+ grade point average.
Why burden yourself or your child with debt you or they can’t repay? The burden would be so high their life would be miserable trying to make the monthly payment. Figuring out the cost of a college includes a detailed analysis of tuition(for in-state and out of state residents), room and board, books, registration fees, plane fair or auto expense to get to and from school 3 times a year. Add an extra 2% to that total to cover hidden cost. Some students who choose schools they cannot afford, graduate with a college degree only to find their credit score fizzles so low they are no longer a candidate for employment, as a result of non-payment of school loans.
Most financial aide packages include a combination of large school loans, small grants, work study, and parents or students contribution. The financial aide package usually includes only about 70-80% of total cost for the poorest students, unless you are lucky enough to get one of the rare full scholarships.
Choosing a college without the consideration of debt can cause you and your child a lifelong drama of financial misery and unbearable stress. Don’t burden yourself with unsustainable debt and a low credit score, to get a college education.
Is the culture conducive to your upbringing? If not, can you assimilate into the culture? The culture includes kids from similar communities, things to do that you enjoy, your religious facilities to attend, and acclimating to severe weather you are not used too. Some straight A
students attend colleges that are so culturally different to their upbringing that they have a difficult time adjusting, hence, their grades suffer as a result.
3. Academic Standing
Is the school certified by the local, state and federal academic boards?
4. Major Fields
Does the school have a large variety of major fields, so you can choose a second or third choice if you discover you don’t like your first choice?
5. Type of School
Understand the different types of schools available. Is your school choice an in-state public college, a private college, or a for-profit college?
The best value for your education is an in-state public college. Public schools are subsidized by taxpayers dollars so children within the state can get a quality education at an affordable cost.
Private colleges and universities are usually owned by organizations and churches. For-profit colleges and universities are usually owned by corporations. Both of these choices can be outrageously expensive with a lot of hidden cost. Do your research well before you consider a college or university. Understand that most colleges have tuition increases each year, this must be figured into the ongoing yearly cost. Because school cost is being subsidized with school loans for many students, getting the lowest loan amount it imperative. Your income right out of college is not guaranteed, neither is a job. Because of this it is wise to focus on low or no school loan debt for college or trade school. The debt must be repaid, the lower your debt the better your chance of repaying your debt easily and on time.
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As a part of the health care reform bill President Barack Obama signed a long over due education reform bill as a part of the health reform package. College has become progressively more expensive and less affordable for the middle class in America. The education reform bill is absolutely essential.
The key points of the education reform bill is as follows:
1. Ends subsidies to special-interest private lending companies, cutting out the middle man and decreasing the cost of school loans.
Under the current program banks can act as the middle man for federally subsidized student loans, collecting billions of dollars in federal subsidies, protecting either government money or bank money from default. Under the new program, starting July 1, 2010 banks can still offer student loans, but they are not guaranteed by the government. Cutting out the banks as the middle man will create more money available for more and cheaper college school loans, coming directly from the government.
2. Doubles funding for Pell Grants to help more students afford a college education.
The extra money from decreased bank subsidies will go to more and larger Pell grants. Pell grants are targeted to low and moderate income students, more than $40 billion will go toward these grants. The maximum award will increase to $5,975 from $5,550 and the number of available grants will nearly double.
3. Will cap a graduate’s annual student-loan repayments at 10 percent of his or her income.
This will insure that every graduate can make their school loan payment, therefore decreasing the amount of school loan defaults and saving graduates credit ratings. For students who make their payments on time the government will forgive their balance after 20 years, instead of 25. Public service workers (teachers, nurses, police officers) or those in the military will see their loans forgiven after 10 years.
4. Helps an additional 5 million Americans earn degrees and certificates over the next decade, by revitalizing programming at our nation’s community colleges.
Community colleges, a growing population, will receive $2 billion over the next 4 years.
5. Increased funding to HBCU’s.
Over the next 10 years these colleges will receive an additional $2.5 billion in funding. Get more personal finance education here.