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Loan for Students

Smart Strategies to manage your Student Loans

Student loan debt can be overwhelming and many people end up paying it off well into their 40-s and 50-s. We have a few strategies to help you manage your loans better.

Understand Your Loans

Many students don’t really understand the terms of their loans and end up overpaying down the road. Know the type of loans you have, the interest rates, balances, and grace periods. You may have Perkins loans, subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans or private loans. If you visit your loan servicer’s website, you will be able to see each loan account, balances, interest rates and current repayment plan. Be aware that frequently students have loans managed by 2 or 3 different servicers. Two common servicers are Navient and Great Lakes. If you go to the Department of Education website, you will find help creating a smart repayment plan.

strategies-to-manage-student-loans

Know the Numbers

It is crucial for you to know the precise amount of money you owe if you want to have control over your student loans. Most students end up with multiple loans and sometimes lose track of them before and during repayment. Know how many loans you have, how much you have to pay each month, the interest rates of each loan and the grace periods.

If you are a current student or a recent graduate, ask your financial administrator at School for assistance or visit the National Student Loan Data System website or Clearinghouse Meteor Network website to find out how much you owe. You can also see all of your loans and debt by checking online your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Accelerate Your Loan Repayment

You can either pay less money for longer time at a high interest rate, or you can pay more money than the minimum for a shorter time with a lower interest rate. Basically, the faster you pay back your loan and the more money you pay each month, the less interest you will have to pay, thus paying less overall and getting out of debt sooner.

Refinancing

A lot of students end up refinancing their federal student loans; however, this means that you will lose your right of using benefits, such as loan forgiveness and income-based repayment plans. If you are interested in refinancing your student loans consider contacting different lenders to compare total repayment amounts and get a complete picture of your options.

SoFi, CommonBond, Citizens Bank and LendKey are decent lenders who offer good interest rates. LaurelRoad has interest rates starting from 2.99% to 6.99%; Earnest has very decent interest rates, too, between 2.57% and 6.39%; CommonBond offers interest rates starting from as little as 2.57% to 7.12%. SoFi and Earnest might even help you get employed if you struggle with finding a job.

Avoid Default

Depending on what school you are attending, your loans may have a grace period of 3 months, 6 months, or more and the same goes for the total repayment period. Despite most students starting a job right after graduation, often times they are stuck under the burden of repaying these student loans.

If you are more than 270 days late with your payments, your loans will go into default, which is going to lead to taking away your social security benefits. Remember that no matter how difficult your financial situation is, you ought to make at least the minimum payments.

Federal Student Loan Consolidation

This gives you the option to merge all of your student loans into one, thus get rid of all the different interest rates, however, bear in mind that you will, indeed, pay one interest rate but it is going to be quite high.

Aim Higher

Firstly, focus on the loans with the highest interest rate because they will add up the most to your overall debt. Afterwards, shift your focus on the second to last debt with the highest interest rate. This may be challenging, but you will save a significant amount of money if you pay off the costlier debts first. Since your interest rate is based on your principal, another smart move would be to pay extra principal because this will lower your interest payment.

Automatic Payments

Once you have started a job and have consistent, reliable income, you can set up your payments to be automatically withdrawn on a monthly basis. This is just a precaution in case your life gets too hectic and busy and you forget to make your payments on time. Another bonus is that you will get a small reduction on your interest rate.

Programs And Forgiveness

Income-based repayment programs allow you to be forgiven from your outstanding loan money after 25 years of regular payment. However, there are certain criteria to be met if you want to use the benefits of IBRP, like the payments you have to make on your federal student loans must exceed 15% of your total earnings above 150% of the poverty level.

Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

This is a good program which will forgive outstanding money on your federal student loan after 20 years of regular payment. To be eligible to use PAYE your payments must exceed 10% of your total income above 150% of the poverty level. There are other criteria which must be met in order to qualify for the program.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Certain people can be eligible for PSLF after 10 years of qualifying payments. One of the stipulations is that you must be hired by a non-profit organization, volunteer organization or other public service organization. It is worth doing your own research to see what your chances of benefiting from this program are.

The approximate number of people with student loans in the USA is 40 million with around $1.3 trillion total debt. In 2014 the federal government seized portions from the social security checks of about 135,000 people because their loans went into default. Get educated about your student loan repayment options, pay more than the minimum whenever you can and do whatever is necessary to avoid defaulting on your loans. Don’t worry, you are not alone. There is free student loan counseling available from the Federal Government, from your loan servicer and from most reputable banks. If you feel overwhelmed or fell behind on your payments, contact your servicer as soon as possible. Do not wait. You can get back on track with some timely action.

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How to Check Your Credit Score and Credit Report

Up to 80% of Americans use credit, yet many don’t realize the importance of their credit score and do nothing to increase it. Some people don’t have a high score because they have never taken a loan and usually these are people in their early 20s. Many Millennials use student loans, but their credit score tends to be below average, making it difficult to obtain a loan later in life.

Interestingly, 6 in 10 Americans have no clue what their credit score is and don’t understand the role it plays as an indicator of their financial health. Here’s how you can check your credit score and get a credit report.

Know your credit score

There are four credit score tiers:

How to check Credit Score & Credit Report

  • Poor Score: 400-549
  • Fair Score: 550-649
  • Good Score: 650-700
  • Great Score: 701-850

If you want to find out which of these four grades you fall in, there are three ways to do it:

  • Check it online: If you are curious about your credit score, you can easily check it online for free. You can also obtain your full credit report for free as it is a federal law that you are able to access it annually. An account with CreditKarma.com is free and will give you access to your consumer credit score, allow you to track your score, send you instant updates and notifications when a new account is opened or when you apply for credit. It is a great way to keep an eye on suspicious activity and avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. www.AnnualCreditReport.com allows you to download your credit reports from all 3 credit agencies once a year. AnnualCreditReport.com does not offer you a free credit score – that comes as part of their paid credit monitoring program.
  • Consult the 3 Credit Bureaus: You can get your credit reports directly from Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, but, again, you’ll have to pay for your credit score. You can either get all 3 of your credit reports once a year or request them one by one every four months. Note that these bureaus are completely separate and you will need to pull your reports individually.
  • Ask your bank: Fair Isaac Co can pull your credit report, but keep in mind that it is not free of charge. Make sure you go to your bank and ask them if they can pull your reports for free – most banks started offering this service to their clients. Among these banks are Discover, Barclays, Citi, Chase, Bank of America, Ally, Capital One and Wells Fargo.

Check the accuracy of your credit score and report

Your credit report is the key to accessing credit cards, loans, renting and buying property, getting lower interest rates, receiving job offers, and more. Make sure you review all the information provided in the reports you pulled because data shows that 1 in 20 people have credit report errors which drastically change their credit score.

Take a close look at your name, address, accounts, and payments. Review your reports for errors, like foreign accounts; unauthorized loans; someone else’s collections; late payments which you, indeed, paid on time; and debts that are not yours. These could mean that you were a victim of identity theft and can ruin your credit history.

If you detected errors in your credit report, contact all 3 credit bureaus right away and have them corrected. It is your right to file a dispute and some bureaus offer easy and convenient way for you to get that job done. It can be as easy assending a letter where you thoroughly explain the issue and attach proof of errors.

Your proof can be a document or a letter, payment records, receipts, monthly payment statements and anything else that can show what actually took place. Keep in mind that you must keep all correspondence with bureaus and banks. In addition, you need to have a tracking number for your mail in case it gets lost. File your dispute right after you notice the errors because sometimes a dispute can take up to 45 days to be processed.

Know the difference between credit score and credit report

An important thing to remember is that credit score and credit report are two completely different things. Your credit report is a complete history and record of your use of credit, like credit cards, student loans, car title loans, and credit amounts. Your credit score is a creditworthiness grade you are given based on a calculation by a credit bureau. This calculation is based on how much debt you have, your payment history, accounts in collections, credit card use and more.

In other words, if your credit report looks good your credit score will be good as well and vice versa. Your score can affect your future plans for renting your dream apartment in downtown Long Beach, for example.

A good credit score is crucial especially for those who sooner or later will need to invest in their first apartment or house, a car or a small business. Reaching that high score is important if you want better interest rates for your mortgage, or if you want a car, insurance, credit card offers, and other benefits. If you have a good credit score you will have better loan terms, higher chances for credit approval, and less payments to make.

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