Loan Repayment Tips for Recent (and not-so-recent) Graduates

25 May


Whether you’re a recent graduate whose loans are just entering repayment or you have been making payments for several years, there is a very real chance that educational loan payments may be causing you a financial hardship. For recent graduates, there is a lot of info covered in federal exit counseling and it would be easy to have missed some of it.  While there isn’t much that can be done about the amount you owe since you’ve already borrowed it, you can still choose from several different options for repayment.  The Institute for College Access and Success created a Top 10 Tips for recent graduates, a handy reference for borrowers.

If you are able to pay more than the minimum on your loans each month you can reduce your payments and total interest that you will pay. If you are able to do this, you might wonder what the best method is. The two best ways to pay down your loans are the snowball and avalanche methods where you pay either the lowest balance or the highest interest rate, respectively. In addition, if you pair this with an income-based repayment plan but still pay the same total amount on your loans you can allocate more toward your loan of choice and pay it down even quicker while having flexibility of a lower minimum payment if life throws you a curve ball.

Unless you chose otherwise, you’re probably enrolled in the Standard Repayment Plan which spreads your payments evenly over 10 years. This is both the default plan as well as the most aggressive repayment option available. However, there are several other options a borrower can choose which can limit the repayment per month to 10% of  discretionary income and reduce payments to as little as zero dollars per month (depending on income). For more information, check out Acacia Squire’s piece in NPR about her experiences and what options may be available to you.

If you have thought about refinancing your student loans, CNBC recommends not to rush into it. While you may be able to get a better interest rate you lose out on any income-based repayment options in the event that your financial situation has any changes. However if your situation is stable and an income-based plan is not in your future, a lower interest rate could save you thousands in interest throughout the life of your loan.


Income Share Agreements: Connecting Education to Employment Through Financing

18 May

Completion With a Purpose

Kevin James, Director, Higher Education at Jain Family InstituteBy Kevin James, Director, Higher Education, at Jain Family Institute

For those who may have missed it, in mid-April thousands of ed tech entrepreneurs, investors, educators, philanthropists and other edu-wonks converged on San Diego for the annual ASU-GSV summit. The conference, which first took place seven years ago in 2010, serves as a yearly gathering point for those interested in the latest developments in education technology and related services.

As part of the summit, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel on income share agreements (ISAs) that USA Funds®, a sponsor of ASU-GSV, helped to organize.

ISAs are an idea that has been around for decades but has started to get more attention recently as researchers and entrepreneurs seek better alternatives to traditional student debt. Under an ISA, a student receives funds to help pay for school in exchange for agreeing to pay a percentage of his…

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Don’t Panic About Your Federal Student Loans

17 May

From WiseBread New Graduate Help Center: Reyna Gobel, Student Loans Expert

girl surprised by letter


Dear Not-Yet-In-Trouble Federal Student Loan Borrower,

You might have heard that the Department of Education will be sending out letters to millions of student loans borrowers. The letters target borrowers whose grace periods are ending, as well as borrowers who exhibit signs of trouble that could lead to defaulting on their loans. If you haven’t started repayment yet but are fretting about how you’re going to possibly repay all that money — stop worrying.

I’m writing you this letter to not only give you important details about student loan repayment, but also to help you be aware of potential issues well before trouble starts.

I Defaulted — Here’s How to Avoid My Mistakes

I defaulted on a federal student loan simply because I didn’t know it existed. I had over a dozen student loans from different lenders; I forgot about one loan and went into default. It’s easy to do, but it’s also easy to avoid. Just log in to the National Student Loan Data System. You’ll see all your federal student loans on this site, along with contact information. Either arrange to pay each individually, or consolidate them into one loan. This is also a great time to get a free credit report – it can alert you to any problems you might have, like having missed a loan or bill payment.

Then, know yourself. If you can’t keep track of each individual loan, you really need to consolidate them into one loan to streamline payments (ask your loan servicer about consolidation options). Once consolidated, you can still choose a plan where payments are based on income, such as Pay as You Earn. And if you’re interested in the public service loan forgiveness program, know that it’s only available through loans originated by or consolidated with Federal Direct Loans.

Realize That Even With the Pay as You Earn Plan, You Might Have Payment Problems

The income-based Pay as You Earn repayment plan bases payments on your income and family size, but it doesn’t fully consider your expenses if your circumstances change. For example, at some point, you may have to help support a sick parent or child. You could also have bought a home when your income was higher. After a pay cut, a majority of your income could go towards your mortgage.

If you experience a financial setback, you have three options:

  • Call your servicer and see if your Pay as You Earn payment amount can be adjusted. You have to supply your income annually, and you may have forgotten to do so this year, causing your payments to set based a higher income level.
  • Ask for a deferment or forbearance, which are temporary payment breaks. Taking a break should only be done if the situation isn’t permanent. Always take a deferment when possible over a forbearance when any of your student loans are subsidized. The government pays the interest on subsidized student loans during periods of deferment.
  • If your income is lower because you took family leave for six months, you may not want to change your plan. However, for long-term pay cuts where your income-based repayment is too high for your budget, you should ask your servicer to also calculate payment options and see which payment option offers the lowest monthly payment.

Don’t Feel Embarrassed If You Don’t Know Something About Student Loans

I wrote two editions of a 240-page book on student loans, and I still don’t know everything about them. I read articles and play with the student loan repayment calculators every day. There’s always something new to learn. For instance, the public service loan forgiveness employer verification form wasn’t created until after the first edition was released. Now, thanks to that form, you can find out if you qualify for the public service loan forgiveness program right away and register for it right after you start working or after you’ve already started repayment — the choice is up to you. Never be afraid to ask your servicer questions about any of these programs.

Talk to Your Friends Who Are or Will Be in Repayment Soon

I’m not the only person who has experience with and advice about student loans. Talking to your friends can help you figure out repayment options and possibly pick better ones based on their choices and experiences. Just remember, they might have different circumstances than you, such as income level, children, or other debt that impacted their choices. Therefore, you shouldn’t copy their decisions. But you’ll be more informed and learn questions to ask your servicer. Plus, they may have missed payments, recovered, and now have advice about that. Learn from others’ student loan mistakes and victories.

The Most Important Part of This Letter?

The help you get doesn’t end here. You can tweet me anytime — @ReynaGobel— and ask questions. My articles will be posted here every week. You can ask me questions in my CollegeWeekLive web chats or get more helpful advice in my book CliffsNotes Graduation Debt.

Finally, remember you never want to receive a “dear troubled borrower” letter. The second you think you might miss a payment, talk to your servicer about options for a payment break or new repayment plan. With federal student loans, that one call will likely save your credit.


Reyna Gobel is a writer, author, public speaker, and student loans expert.  Her financial advice appears on Wise Bread’s New Graduates Help Center, in her video course How to Repay Federal Student Loans, in CollegeWeekLive newsletters and keynotes speeches, and in her audiobook How Smart Students Pay for School, now in its second edition. Be sure to check out her website for more helpful information on repaying your student loans.

It’s Time to Think Summer

12 May


The spring semester has ended and summer is upon us.  Pat yourself on the back you have made it another semester!  Taking summer classes?  Looking for an internship? What about study abroad? Or even picking up a part-time job? Now is the time to THINK SUMMER.

A summer job is a great way to make a few dollars to pay for various activities or to prepare for the next school year. While many students will rely on the mentality of “any job will do,” others are more mindful about what the job can offer in terms of education. Your choices could also be beneficial for future decisions once you have graduated. These temporary jobs typically can range in three categories:

  • Entrepreneur
  • Career Building
  • Passing Time



Being a young entrepreneur can provide you with a great deal of experience when it comes to developing a business practice. As long as you have a marketable talent or product, you could have a great deal of success starting up a new business using little money.  And starting your own business isn’t as difficult as some may think and it could offer an excellent chance to develop your skills. So, what can be gained from being an entrepreneur during the summer months?

  • Being your own boss
  • Designing your own schedule of pay
  • Developing your own strategies for improvement
  • Practicing marketing skills
  • Developing a sense of responsibility to the business
  • Provides insight to the various aspects of business practices
  • Could potentially turn into a lucrative practice
  • Easily added to a résumé

Career Building

Some jobs available throughout the summer could be beneficial towards your future career. For example, any job that involves communicating with the public can help you gain you valuable skills andPurdue student at work experience. Whether you’re gaining this skill by standing across the counter from a customer or talking to them over the phone, you are gaining valuable communication skills. Regardless of what you’ll decide as a future career, there are jobs that can improve your marketability. Some of the potential benefits from a career building summer job could be:

  • Emphasizing aspects of a job that are related a career
  • Obtaining knowledge of certain criteria for your career path
  • Providing a stepping stone within that organization to obtain a greater position
  • Allowing experience on a small level to determine if you’re on the right path for yourself
  • Improving your résumé by showing experience in related fields

Passing Time

For many students, a job is just a way to pass the summer months and make a few dollars on the side. However, even these jobs can be greatly beneficial to your development both as an individual and a future employee. In some regards, working a variety of jobs before choosing a career path could be more advantageous in the long run. Working a variety of jobs allows you the experience to investigate what types of jobs you enjoy and what types of jobs you really do not.  This experience is vital in picking a successful career.  What kind of benefits could you expect from any summer job?

  • Building character and a work ethic
  • Providing the ability to explore different opportunities
  • Discovering who you are as a person as well as an employee
  • Demonstrates your willingness to work when added to your résumé
  • Could open doors to possibilities you didn’t realize existed

A summer job can be almost anything you need it to be. Whether you want to experience running your own business, improving your career marketability, or just need a job to put gas in your tank – a summer job can do great things for you as an individual. Choose what works best for you and you’ll benefit from the knowledge you obtain. Remember, even menial jobs can offer insight to how the world works.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

Where Those “Pre-Qualified” Credit Cards Come From & How To Stop Getting Them

11 May

Why do I get so many credit card offers in the mail? And how can I stop them?


John Ganotis from Credit Card Insider talks about:

  • Why you get so many credit card offers in the mail
  • How pre-screened can actually be beneficial to you
  • How you can stop the credit card offers
  • How you can opt back in to pre-qualified offers when you’re looking for a card

The website mentioned where you can opt out:

Graduation Cap Hall of Fame

6 May

You’ve worked hard to get through years of school and graduation is finally coming. While there isn’t much that you can do about your graduation gown outside of stoles and cords, your graduation cap is where you can really shine and reflect all the hard work (and tears) you’ve put into college. So here is some inspiration and DIY advice on having an amazing graduation cap. Be sure to click on the pictures to go to the sources for their advice on making it.

You can use your cap to show off your school spirit


Look fabulous with a bow



Give a nod to a favorite movie or show


Brag about the awesome major you had

(Even if Wumbology isn’t a “real” major)

Show that you’re happy just to have escaped with your diploma


Let the world know what you’re doing after graduation



Maybe be a little bummed that those student loans are due in 6 months


Have one more place to show you’re a crazy cat person

Throw out some Greek love



Get your Disney on


Toss a favorite inspirational quote out there



Or even just to say “Peace Out”


Just remember that you do have to wear your cap on your head for the graduation ceremony and all those pictures after. So be careful about what kinds of things you add on as it might get unnecessarily heavy. You want to have an amazing graduation cap, not a sore neck.

If you love what you see here, check out our Pinterest board that includes everything pictured above and more! Plus even more advice on graduation attire and DIY caps.

Leave any advice you have or a link to your cap in the comments!

High School Seniors: You’ve Picked a College… Now What?!

3 May

clock; text overlay: You've Picked A College...Now What?!

Get excited! Your future awaits you! Take some time to absorb the good feelings after months of stress and financial aid inquiries and balancing senior activities on top of preparing for college. Then, get down to business.

Enjoy Your Last Month of High School!

You only go to high school once. Enjoy being in the same hallways with the same people for a few more weeks and knowing nearly everybody you’re in class with because unless you’re going to a very small college, that will never happen again. I know my high school has a lot of silly senior traditions, and even if they seem silly, participate! You only get to do them once. Pick out a nice outfit for graduation too. You’ll be taking pictures, and they’ll last forever.

Research Your University

Look into some specifics: Where will you live? Do you need to do/register/pay for anything else before you can officially become a (insert school mascot here)? Know what is expected of you before you enroll. Getting all set up way in advance is a good idea because you’ll have enough to worry about with moving out of your parents’ house and into a dorm without having to find a room last minute. Make sure any and all fees and deposits are paid so this transition from high school to college is as smooth as can be.

Make Sure You’re Happy with the Major You’ve Chosen

Changing majors is a really common occurrence with college students. You’re likely to change your major at least once in your undergraduate career. Take a few moments to sit back and make sure you’re still happy with your choice for your first year of college. Chances are that you’re completely satisfied, but it’s been almost six months since you applied, you could have changed your mind. And, if changing your major sounds like something you’d like to do, get in contact with your university and see what steps need to be taken in order to make the switch and any impacts that could have on any scholarships you received. Don’t jump into it right away though; mull it over before making the call.

Understanding Financial Aid Terms

26 Apr

what is financial aid - open road

Financial Aid can be a tough concept to understand: financial = money, aid = help… So it’s free money that colleges give you to pay for your school, right? Well, kind of. Some forms of financial aid can be free money other forms of financial aid you will have to pay back.

The first step in getting financial aid is to file a FAFSA, and filing it on time. Filing your FAFSA on time is especially important so you are eligible for more types of financial aid, meaning state aid (if you’re a resident of the state where you attend college) and university aid. Once the universities you have been accepted to receive your FAFSA, they will be able to put together a financial aid award for you and calculate your estimated financial aid awards.

Financial aid consists of two main types of financial aid: gift aid and self-help aid.

Gift Aid

This refers to all scholarships and grants, or, to put it more simply, all the types of aid that you don’t have to pay back. Scholarships can be need or merit-based and students can get them from various sources. Typically, students receive scholarships either from their university or from a private donor. There are websites such as and to help students find all kinds of private scholarships. There are some pretty obscure scholarshipsout there, so if you look hard enough, you may even find one that fits youreccentric hobbies.

For information on grants and scholarships available to Purdue students, please visit our website.

Self-Help Aid

This type of aid consists of loans and Federal Work Study. Loans are the most common type of self-help aid; they’re also the only type of financial aid that reallymakes it on the news. Students are expected to pay back their student loans once they have graduated and depending on what type of loan you take, there may be interest accruing on it while you’re in school. Federal Student Loans consist ofPerkins Loans and Stafford Loans. Parents may also have the option of taking out a Parent PLUS Loan to help cover any remaining costs that the student has; Parent PLUS loans are taken out in the parent’s name, so the parent is the one who is expected to pay them back. Students also have the option of taking outprivate student loans, which are loans they apply for through a third-party lender and are then sent to their college.

It’s important to remember that ALL LOANS HAVE TO BE PAID BACK, so always try to borrow as little as possible so you aren’t burdened with huge loan payments once you graduate college.

This may seem like a bit of a dry topic, but it is so important. Take some time and learn all you can so you’re well-informed on the financial aid you’re receiving and make sure you know what’s expected of you in order to keep the aid you get.  If this article did not answer all your burning questions make sure you do not assume an answer… give your college’s financial aid office a call.

Lifestyle Inflation: Avoiding Making More but Having Less

20 Apr

hot air balloon; text overlay: Beware Lifestyle Inflation

You’ve graduated. Hooray!

You’ve landed a dream job. Hooray!

And best of all…that dream job comes with more money than you’ve ever had before and now you get to plot out how you’re going to spend all of your riches. You can finally get that car you’ve been eyeing (and ditch your old beater car). You can update your ENTIRE wardrobe because you can’t wear sweats/yoga pants to a real job every day. You can finally buy all name brand food and eat out at great restaurants more often. You can get a great apartment with an extra bedroom…because why not? You’ve got money now!

But wait…If you do all of these things, then you’re quickly going to run out of money. And what’s the point of having a regular, decent income if you don’t actually have any money at the end of the month?

It’s important to remember that just because you can afford all of these things doesn’t mean you should actually buy all of them. You want to avoid the deathly trap of lifestyle inflation. Lifestyle inflation occurs when you’re making more than you were before and you spend accordingly (i.e. more money earned equals more money spent). But wait…that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Again though, it isn’t bad (and it may even be fun) until you find yourself living paycheck to paycheck just like you did in college.

If you’re making bank right out of college, invest some of it! Save for a big goal! Don’t starting spending like crazy because now you can buy all the stuff you ever wanted and didn’t even know you wanted. You’ll run out of money fast if you’re not careful.

So…how do you avoid spending every last dime of your new income?

Set a BIG Savings Goal

Now that you’ve graduated college you have more freedom to decide what to do with your time and since you’ve scored your dream job, you have money to play with. What’s something big you want to spend your money on? Some common things would include a house, a wedding, a vacation overseas, your dream car. Some uncommon options could include retiring early or starting your own business. Whatever your goal, own it! Save for it.

Spend Below Your Means

Don’t blow your money on pointless purchases. You don’t have to eat like a college student anymore, but you also don’t need to eat like a King. Maybe you can just have one roommate instead of three. Keep your spending low so that you have room to save your big goal.


This is what it all comes back to. You need to have a plan for spending your money. If you don’t have a plan for where your money is going every month then you’ll quickly run out of money before the month is up.

Do you have any tips for avoiding lifestyle inflation? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Great Elective Filler Classes at Purdue

6 Apr

Recommended by Purdue students, compiled by Raysha Duncan, Purdue Alum

stack of books

Scheduling classes for the upcoming semester can be stressful whether you’re brand new to the process or if this is the millionth time (exaggerating just a little bit here) you’ve scheduled classes. And if you’re struggling to find one class to fill a scheduling space, that class can make all the difference and reduce class scheduling stress. We polled our peer counselors here at the Division of Financial Aid for suggestions on fun classes. Take a look below! Maybe you will find the class that completes your schedule and reduces your pre-semester stress.

Art and Design (AD) 255: Art Appreciation

One of our peer counselors took this class not only to fulfill a humanities requirement, but because she’s also “really interested in art fields.” It’s a great base for learning about art and while it has “zero to little homework, it’s really important to keep up” to get the most out of the class. The professor was clear and really easy to listen to, so she never felt unprepared. If you’re interested in art at all and need a humanities course, she HIGHLY recommends this course.

Course Objectives:

In this course, you will:

  • gain basic knowledge of art concerning media, vocabulary, themes, and history
  • patronize art establishments, such as galleries and museums (we’ll go as a class once or more)
  • describe and analyze works of art (current chances to see art will be announced in the classroom)
  • increase your aesthetic perception

English (ENGL) 227: Elements of Linguistics

This class is being recommended by an English major.  She just found this class “super interesting” because it pertained to her major and allowed her to learn a new field in the English realm.

William_Shakespeare_1609Subjects Covered:

  • Language: General Features
  • Phonetics/Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Syntax
  • Semantics
  • Pragmatics
  • Language and Languages

Art and Design (AD) 113: Basic Drawing

“A great, but tough class to take”, stated another Purdue Peer Counselor. There are some really great professors and the class provides you with an opportunity to learn some fundamental drawing skills. (It’s also a requirement if you want to move up in any 2-D art courses).

Course Objectives:

  • To develop and strengthen your observational , perceptual skills and creative
  • drawing skills
  • To challenge those skills by providing opportunities to explore a variety of media,
  • practices and concepts.
  • To sharpen your abilities to communicate visually and verbally when making and

analyzing art.

Physical Education Skills (PES) 114: Exercise & Music

This class has been recommended as a fun (one credit hour) course for anyone to take. “You get to do new exercises each week and that makes it really fun.” There are students who help out and teach the course some weeks and that also adds some diversity to this class – you get something new each week!”Sweatin_to_the_oldies Richard Simons

Course Description:

Instruction and practice in various types of exercise programs. Students select from the activities listed in the current schedule of classes. Following is a partial list of activities: body conditioning; exercise and fitness; exercise to music; jogging and running; swimnastics; relaxation techniques; weight training; exercise and principles of weight control. Typically offered Fall Spring.

Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAS) 138: Thunderstorms & Tornadoes

An interesting course! This class provided one peer counselor the opportunity to learn about practical subjects. In this course, he learned to read weather maps and radars and “actually look at the different weather patterns” in ways that you don’t get to when you see the radar just on TV or online.

Course Description:

An elementary treatment of the physical structure of the atmosphere and the dynamical conditions that lead to the development of convective clouds, thunderstorms, and severe weather (including tornadoes, hail, wind, rain, lightning, and flash floods). This course will also focus on storm climatology, the socioeconomic impact of severe weather, as well as prediction, detection, warnings, and safety procedures. Analysis of severe weather events will include tornado movies and case studies of ground/aerial surveys of storm damage


Have you had a great class you’ve enjoyed at Purdue? Let us know below!


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