Archive | August, 2017

Releasing Your Cosigner from Private Student Loans

31 Aug

If you have a private student loan through a bank, credit union, or other lender odds are you will be part of the 90% of private student loans that require a cosigner. While the cosigner is meant to be an extra guarantee to the lender that the loan is repaid, it’s fair to assume that you’re no longer a risk for the lender not getting paid back after you’ve graduated, have a steady job, and have been steadily making on-time payments.Cosigner Release

Now that you’re on your feet, it would be nice to be able to release your cosigner from your private student loans. Releasing a cosigner from a student loan means that they are no longer tied to the loan and it won’t appear on any credit checks or leave them on the hook in the event of a catastrophic incident that leaves the student permanently disabled or dead. Not to mention, if your cosigner were to die or declare bankruptcy, it could automatically put your loan into default even if you are on-time with payments.

Remember, removing your cosigner from your loan won’t harm you as the student in any way! The loan will still have the same impact on your credit regardless of whether there is a cosigner or not. So whether your co-signer is a parent, or one of the 30% of cosigners who are a non-parent, releasing them of the liability is something nice you can do for them after they put their neck out for you.

Every lender has different methods to release cosigners, if they do so at all. There are, however, some standard things that most lenders like Sallie Mae or Wells Fargo will review when considering releasing your cosigner.

In addition to having graduated from college and being a US Citizen, they’ll take a look at your employment, income, payment history, credit score, and ability to assume full responsibility for the loan.

Remember that the release isn’t guaranteed, with the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau reporting a high number of rejections from lenders. But the opportunity to relieve you and your cosigner of the potential issues from unfortunate circumstances is worth contacting your lender and filling out some paperwork.

Do Student Loans Die with the Student?

29 Aug

Casey Doten, Purdue Financial Aid Administrator

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What happens to my student loans if I die or are permanently disabled?

It’s not a thought most of us want to visit but, like many personal finance topics, you’ll want to be prepared in case of the unfortunate and unforeseen. If you have student loans, you should know if your loan burden could be passed on to someone else.

So do your student loans die with you? It depends…

There are a few different types of student loans you might have and many of them treat discharge for death or permanent disability differently.

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans are the most common form of student loans, with 42.3 million borrowers totaling over $1.3 trillion between Federal Direct, FFEL, and Perkins loan programs.

Fortunately, federal student loans are also the most lenient in almost all situations – death forgiveness included. If you pass away, or suffer from total permanent disability, all federal student loan debts in your name are discharged.

In order for this to occur, you or your survivors will need to contact your loan servicer and make them aware of the circumstances. The servicer will likely request third party documentation of the circumstances such as a certified copy of a death certificate, a letter from a doctor, or proof of unemployment or disability benefits to go along with Total & Permanent Disability Discharge application in the event of disability.

This applies to all federal loan programs, including Federal Direct Stafford Loans (both subsidized and unsubsidized), FFEL Loans, Perkins Loans, and Graduate and Parent PLUS Loans.

Of note to Parent PLUS borrowers: If either the parent or the student the loan was borrowed for become eligible for a death discharge this benefit can be applied to the Parent PLUS loan. Just note that in the case where a parent borrower has the loan forgiven for their student they will receive a 1099-C form from the IRS and the cancelled debt will be treated as a taxable income. While better than repaying the debt, you will want to prepare for what may be a large tax bill.

Private Student Loans

This is where things get tricky. All private student loan lenders have their own rules when it comes to their own loans. While there are some protections that are mandated by the government, discharge due to death or total permanent disability is not one of those.

Some lenders will seek to recoup the loan from your estate. Others, like Wells Fargo, Sallie Mae, NYHELPs, and some other lenders do offer loan discharge in the event of the death of the student. Next time you speak to your lender, you may want to ask them if they have a similar program.

What About Cosigners?

Your lender will likely seek payment from your cosigner in the event of your death or any other circumstances that render you unable to pay on your student loan. Cosigners are legally responsible for the debts they sign on to and unless the lender discharges the loan, they will be on the hook for the sum – possibly on an accelerated repayment schedule.

However, you can head this off a couple of ways. After being out of college a couple years, you may want to look into a cosigner release from your lender which removes their name from the loan. Once that takes place, the loan will solely be in your name.

A second option would be if your cosigner is one of your parents, for them to take out a life insurance policy for the amount they are cosigned on to. This can be a low-risk way to hedge against the possibly terrible combination of losing a child then being given a large bill immediately after.

How Does Marriage Impact?

If your spouse takes out student loans and passes you are likely in the clear unless you live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin). If you live in one of the states listed, you may be liable for your partner’s debts after their passing.

Most of the time, however, unless you are a cosigner on the loan neither you not joint assets in the estate will not be held liable for the loan if your partner passes away.

All in all, it’s a situation none of us hope we ever have to confront. Thankfully there are some protections built in for many student loans that can keep a terrible situation from becoming even worse. Even if your lender doesn’t have discharge written into their loans, it is always worth giving them a call and seeing if there is anything that can be done in the event this unfortunate situation becomes a reality.

 

What About Work Study? Answering your work study questions

26 Aug

Work study is a unique form of financial aid that doesn’t act like other the other types of aid that might see on your Financial Aid Award Notice. Questions about work study are one of the most common ones that students contact the Financial Aid office about, so we took some of the most common work study questions and provided answers right here!

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So what is work study?

Federal Work Study is a federally funded form of self-help aid that allows students to earn money for school by working part-time jobs.

How is work study different than other aid?

While your grants, scholarships, and loans will credit your account balance and pay your bill, work study will not. You have to earn your work study funds during the school year by working in a job that can utilize your work study funds (on-campus & off-campus non profits typically). It is paid to you via bi-weekly paychecks similar to most other jobs.

What are the advantages of work study?

Having work study provides some notable positives for students who utilize it. The biggest is that it opens up a large pool of employers who would not otherwise be able to hire you. These are mostly on-campus departments who typically have the most flexible hours and are near where students live. The other positive is that the funds you earn through work study do not count as income when you file your FAFSA, which can help keep your expected family contribution (EFC) low.

How do I use my work study?

You will need to find a job that can utilize work study. These can either be on-campus or off-campus at non-profits that have work study agreements with Purdue. You then need to provide your employer with a Payroll Authorization Form (PAF). You can print one from your myPurdue portal, but only one. If you have more than one work study job or need another one for some reason you’ll need to stop by the Financial Aid office in Schleman Hall to have another printed for you.

How do I find work study jobs?

Both the Division of Financial Aid and Student Life host job posting boards for Purdue students. You can use these boards to find jobs on and around campus. Keep in mind that not all off-campus employers can use your work study funds. You can still work off-campus, but the money you earn won’t be from your work study fund.

Can anybody get work study?

No, Federal Work Study is for students who demonstrate a high level of financial need as determined by the results from the FAFSA. If you did not receive work study and would like it, you can contact the Division of Financial Aid and ask to be put on a wait list.

How do I receive my work study funds?

Even though work study is a form of financial aid, you have to earn it by working. After finding a job and working there, you will be paid bi-weekly depending on how many hours you work and what your wage is.

Do all work study jobs pay the same?

No, the hourly wage can be very different from one job to the next depending on the level of skill required and many other factors. It is worth searching available jobs to find one that pays well while also being a good fit in terms of duties, flexibility and location.

Do I need work study to find a job?

No, but work study makes it much easier to find a job around campus. Many academic departments and off-campus employers will only hire work study eligible students. Having work study opens up a pool of employers who might not be available otherwise.

What if I don’t plan on working right away?

You should still accept your work study if you think you might want it. Students who do not accept their work study risk having it cancelled so that it can be distributed to students who requested to be on the work study wait list.

Can I use work study to pay my tuition?

Sort of. Your tuition bill for the semester is due on the first day of class, you cannot start utilizing your work study funds until the semester starts. This means you won’t get paid until after the tuition bill is due. Work study is typically a good way to give students money for pay as you go expenses like rent, food, or other miscellaneous costs but it isn’t great at paying tuition. The best way to apply your work study earnings toward tuition is if you save it in your own account and use it to pay the next semester’s tuition.

What if I run out of work study?

Depending on your situation, you may have a couple of options. You may be able to talk with your supervisor and see if your employer can pay you from their normal funds. If not, you can contact the Financial Aid office and see what options you might have including adjusting your budget.

Have questions that didn’t get answered? Be sure to comment and we’ll let you know the answer!

Think Twice Before Dropping that Course

25 Aug

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator

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As syllabus week nears it’s end, you may start to realize how difficult this semester is going to be. Between daily readings, tests, group projects, and papers it’s easy to get overwhelmed without even considering that you also have a life outside of class.

The thought might cross your head that if you drop one of your more difficult courses, you can make it through this semester and take it later when life is easier. My advice: is to think carefully about that decision especially if it drops you below 15 credits!

If you drop below 15 credits, not only does that likely take you off-track for graduating on time but new research from EAB finds that students who take 15 credits each semester during their first year have higher GPAs on average and are more likely to graduate. Indeed, this applies to even the least-prepared students who are most likely to feel in over their heads.

While taking one extra year might not seem like a big deal, it can be an incredibly expensive decision. The combination of allowing time for student loan interest to accrue for longer, more tuition paid, and lost wages and retirement savings can total over $138,000!

Even if you’re covering your education with scholarships, many only last for four years leaving you on the hook for any costs after that.

Another perk to not dropping that class and falling below 15 credits? You don’t have to take that class another semester, one which you’d probably be at 15 credits without adding in a class you were worried would stress you out.

If you thought the class looked tough at 15 credits, imagine what it’ll be at 18.

An alternative to adding up those extra credits in the semester is to take some classes during the summer. It’s a good way to play catch-up (or just to get ahead) without adding an extra burden to fall or spring semester and still staying on track to graduate in 4 years! You can even receive a Pell Grant or scholarships from Purdue during the summer term if you qualify.

So save yourself time and money: Take and complete 15 credits every semester!

Happy 1st Day of Classes Boilermakers!

21 Aug

“HAIL PURDUE”*

To your call once more we rally, Alma Mater, hear our praise;
Where the Wabash spreads its valley, Filled with joy our voices raise.
From the skies in swelling echoes Come the cheers that tell the tale
Of your vic’tries and your heroes, Hail Purdue! We sing all hail!

Hail, Hail to Old Purdue! All hail to our old gold and black!
Hail, Hail to Old Purdue! Our friendship may she never lack,
Ever grateful, ever true, Thus we raise our song anew,
Of the days we’ve spent with you All hail our own Purdue.

When in after years we’re turning, Alma Mater, back to you,
May our hearts with love be yearning, For the scenes of old Purdue.

Back among your pathways winding, Let us seek what lies before,
Fondest hopes and aim e’er finding, While we sing of days of yore.

Hail, Hail to Old Purdue! All hail to our old gold and black!
Hail, Hail to Old Purdue! Our friendship may she never lack,
Ever grateful, ever true, Thus we raise our song anew,
Of the days we’ve spent with you All hail our own Purdue.

*The Purdue fight song copyrighted in 1913. Music by E.J. Wotowa, class of 1912; lyrics by J. Morrison, class of 1915.

Cheap On-Campus Fun

18 Aug

www.purdue.edu/mymoney

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Looking for something to do on the weekend but running out of money? Try some of these fun activities available on Purdue’s campus to keep you entertained while saving money.

Purdue Student Union Board Events

The Purdue Student Union Board (PSUB) is a student run organization that provides students with different activities throughout the year. Most of the time the events they put on are free and involve getting free food! These events are a great way to meet new people, have fun, and save money. For a list of events take a look at their website as events change from semester to semester.

girl walking on Purdue campusExplore

This is always an interesting way to spend a few hours. You can either walk around campus and visit places you have never been or take a walk across the bridge and see what downtown Lafayette has to offer. Or get in your car and see where the road takes you. You never know what you might find while exploring. Have you ever been to Purdue’s Horticulture Park? Definitely worth the short drive (or walk if you live in McCutcheon or Harrison hall).

Having a hard time deciding where to go on your adventure? Every time you come to an intersection while walking or driving, take out a coin and flip it. If it lands on heads take a right and if it lands on tails go left. Let fate decide your adventure!

Flicks at Fowler

Every few weeks PSUB will show a movie in Fowler Hall located in the Stewart Center (or on Slayter Hill when the weather is nice). Students can get in for free when they show their Purdue ID and general admission is $4. Not only do you get to see movies for free but they are fairly recent movies. Visit the PSUB website for dates and movie titles.

Trivia Night

Another event PSUB puts on for students is a trivia night which takes place in the Union Commons or Pappy’s Sweet Shop. Your Purdue ID is usually required to participate. They even give away prizes to the top team!  So grab your friends and test your knowledge on 90s, sports, television, and more!

girls on rowing machinesCoRec

Looking for something a little more active? Try going to the CoREC. You get in free with your Purdue ID and they have everything from weights and treadmills to a pool and rock climbing wall. You can even join an intramural team if you are willing to pay a small fee. You then get to compete in your favorite sport with different teams.

These are just a few of the options for free things to do on Purdue’s campus. There’s always lots being offered so be sure to keep your eyes open and try something new!

Share your favorite ways to have fun in the comments below!

My First Grocery Shopping Experience

16 Aug

Jo Marshall, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

You have decided to take the leap—the leap from childhood to adulthood. You are going to try to make your own food… but first you have to buy ingredients. Grocery shopping can be an adventure in and of itself. Just finding the correct items in the grocery store and maintaining your budget can be a challenge.

The first time I decided to buy my own groceries, I chose to go to Walmart. I didn’t have a car and I knew that the bus route would take me directly to the store and back to campus. Even so, I was terrified that I was somehow going to end up stranded.

I boarded the correct bus, but once the bus reached Lafayette, the driver announced that we were changing routes. Purdue’s campus was far off in the distance and I didn’t know what to do. Surely I could find another bus, but what if it also changed routes? I had to think fast. I found another bus that was heading to Walmart and decided to take my chances.

Luckily, this bus stayed on route.

It wouldn’t have been that stressful, had I taken the time to look around on http://www.gocitybus.com/ to see which routes could get me there. The City Bus even has a smartphone app that allows you to see where the bus is at any time. Because I hadn’t prepared myself for the trip, going to the store took longer than normal, and I was hungry upon arrival. And you never want to grocery shop when you’re hungry.

bus floor and seats; text overlay: Grocery Shopping in College

When I reached Walmart, I grabbed a cart and very slowly walked around the store. It’s not that I wanted to be lackadaisical, but rather that I wanted to find the items and I had no idea where they would be.

I arrived in the aisle for my first item and was bombarded by the immense array of colorful advertisements and choices. I had never realized how many different kinds of cereal there were! Not only are there lots of different kinds of cereal, there are also lots of different brands of every single kind.

The thing about having a lot of choices available is that you are frequently faced with the choice of buying a cheaper and potentially lesser quality item, or perhaps spending more and getting an item that may not be better than the cheaper option.

On this particular shopping trip, I made some poor choices when it came to which brand to buy. I spent more money than I had planned and came home with things that I didn’t need because I had been hungry. I also forgot several of the items that I needed the first few times that I went to the store.

As I learned after a few shopping trips, it’s best if I follow a few rules when I go:

First and foremost, I no longer go grocery shopping if I’m hungry. If I go shopping when I’m hungry, I buy way too much junk food. It’s better if I take the time to eat beforehand.

Secondly, I have learned that it’s best if I carry a grocery list. This helps me not to forget anything and prevents me from buying items I don’t need. It also enables me to estimate how much money I will be spending so that I know whether or not I am going to stay within my budget.

Finally, I have learned from experience which items are okay to buy cheaply and which items are worth spending more money on. This is my personal preference but it’s definitely worth trying different brands to find the best and cheapest option for you.

I hope that you can learn from my mistakes in order to stay within your budget and experience less frustration than I did the first time you go grocery shopping. Shop away!

Freshman Boot Camp: Last Minute Packing Tips

11 Aug

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator

Believe it or not, it’s almost time to move in to your new home at Purdue!

Depending on how far you’re travelling, forgetting something at home could be a quick trip home on the weekend or it could be “looks like I have to sleep without blankets until they can be shipped here”.

If you are feeling panicked because you haven’t started yet, don’t worry! Take it from someone who didn’t actually pack until the morning he left, it can be done in a pinch but that’s also a great way to forget a bunch of important items like I did. So don’t be like me and have to sleep without a real pillow for the first night.

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Because move-in day and the packing leading up to it can be stressful even for those who plan ahead, it’s good to be prepared with a few last checks to make sure you have everything you need!

Label everything – This first tip comes from University Residences’ Tips for a Successful Move-in Day. Put your first and last name as well as your room number on everything. There will be people helping to bring your stuff into the residence halls but don’t leave any room for question in where it is going.

Pack light – Another great tip from University Residences article. Dorm rooms aren’t huge and trying to fit everything from your bedroom at home just isn’t going to do. If you’re doing anything more than filling an SUV with your stuff, you’re going to want to cut back. This might mean only bringing clothes that are in-season and leaving the winter parka at home (for now).

Buy it here – Believe it or not, West Lafayette is more than just Purdue! There are plenty of grocery stores and other shops like Wal-Mart, Target and Meijer where you can buy most anything that you need. Whether it’s something replaceable that you forgot or you don’t have room for, consider buying it once you arrive.

Don’t forget it – Remember to bring along any items that can’t be replaced or it’s unnecessary to have extras at home! Some ideas:

  • Laptop charger
  • Pillows, blankets, and sheets
  • Personal care items like tweezers, bandaids, etc that you’d rather not have to run to a store when you need them
  • Scissors
  • Tape and command strips
  • School supplies – you could buy these before classes but you might be too busy
  • Clothes hangers
  • Long (6′ or longer) phone charging cord
  • Water bottle
  • Fan – these sell out quickly at the local stores
  • Towels

It may not be everything you’ll need but there’s a few things that are easy to forget that you’ll regret. So finish up the packing, have one last weekend with your high school friends, and download the Purdue app.

We’ll see you on Monday!

Freshman Boot Camp: Money Saving Tips for Students

10 Aug

Jim Wang, Wallet Hacks
wallethacks.com

College is a fantastic time of exploration, freedom, and growth.

It’s also a time when many of our habits are formed, especially those about money and saving. These habits can have a ripple effect on your life so solidifying a few good practices today can help you better manage the future.

I have a list of 40+ money tips for college students, which cover the basics like emergency funds and budgeting, but today I wanted to share an extra set of just money saving tips every college student needs.6 Easy Money Saving Tips

Avoid credit card debt at all costs

It’s so easy to charge everything to plastic. Whether it’s textbooks, equipment, or a pizza, make sure that you pay off your credit card bill in full each month.

It’s so tempting to pay the minimum and push the debt off another month, but that will result in you paying hundreds of dollars (if not more!) in interest for nothing. If you don’t believe me, you can use this calculator to do the math yourself and find out how much that $20 pizza will cost you!

That’s money you can use to save for your retirement, for a new car, or your first house. Avoiding debt, especially high interest credit card debt, is priority number one after graduation.

Start budgeting

Budgeting isn’t the most fun thing to do but getting in the habit early is a good idea. When you budget, you have a better sense of where your money is going.

You can use tools like Mint or Personal Capital to help automate the process and when you’re older, you’ll appreciate the wealth of historic information you’re recording now.

Cook more, eat out less

Your studies and your social activities will probably take up a big chunk of your time, so you’ll be tempted to eat out more than you cook if you’re not on a university meal plan.

Resist the temptation! Eating at a restaurant, even a quick service one, is far more expensive than cooking at home. In the beginning, you’ll be terrible at it. Everyone is.

But stick with it and try to cook as much as you can. It’s healthier, cheaper, and you’ll get better the more often you do it.

Take advantage of student discounts

Businesses give student discounts all the time. They know that students don’t make a lot of money and they still want your business, so they’re willing to give you a break if they know you’re a student.

Always keep your student ID on you and ask if a student discount is available – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Use your student loan for tuition only!

Some student loans are deposited directly into your student account and some are deposited directly into your bank account. If you have one of the latter, do not use the money for anything other than tuition and school related expenses.

If you have no other choice, you can use it on necessities but your goal should be to avoid debt as much as possible. Sometimes you don’t have any other options, and that’s understandable, but make sure before you saddle yourself with student debt.

Earn a little cash in your spare time

We all have downtime during the day and on weekends – try to find a way to turn that time into money.

Whether it’s taking on a side gig, earning some cash online through surveys, or something bigger – building a side hustle that earns a little extra money can pay dividends in the long run. There are a lot of sites online that will pay you money for small segments of work, or gigs, and you can easily finish them in 5-15 minutes of down time.

Jim Wang writes about money on his personal finance blog, Wallet Hacks. Get his strategies and tactics for getting ahead financially and in life by joining his free newsletter.

Freshman Boot Camp: Your Student Discount

9 Aug

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Counselor – Purdue University

Student discounts are one of the nicest perks you get from being a student. Combined with all the events that hand out giveaways and free food, using your student discount can help keep you within a budget.

So here’s a list of places that you can get a student discount at! Just keep in mind that this isn’t everywhere that offers one, so always ask when you buy something if they offer a discount!

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Shopping

  • Amazon: Join Amazon Student for free two-day shipping for your first 6 months. Just remember to cancel it before the 6 months is up if you’re not interested in subscribing for $49 a year (50% of standard Prime cost). Not to mention with the Amazon Stores in the Union and Krach, you can get packages delivered directly to campus!
  • Apple: $5/ month Apple Music subscription and a bunch of random discounts on macs, iPads, and other products
  • Banan Republic: 15% off
  • Charlotte Russe: 10% off
  • Dell: $150 off PCs
  • FedEx: 20-30% discount on documents and packages
  • Microsoft: 10% off
  • Toms: Free shipping on all orders
  • Sam’s Club: $40 membership plus $15 gift card given to you

Entertainment & Travel

  • Amtrack: 15% off if you book ahead
  • Wabash Landing Movie Theater: Save on your movie tickets $.50 – $1.50 depending on the time of the movie. They also have a rewards program that is free to join for free concessions.
  • Rugged Xscape Escape Room: $2.00 off
  • Purdue sporting events!

There are also other discounts around the area, but unfortunately they are difficult to track down individually online.

Food*

  • Arby’s: 10% off
  • Buffalo Wild Wings: 10% off
  • Burger King: 10% off
  • Chick-fil-A: Free drinks with a meal
  • Chipotle: Free drink with a meal
  • Dairy Queen: 10% off
  • Kroger/ Payless: 5% off
  • Papa John’s 10-20% off
  • Pizza Hut: 10-20% off
  • Qdoba: Free drink with a meal and burrito meal for $5
  • Subway: 10% off
  • Taco Bell: 10% off

*All of these are depending on the location, but it’s worth it to ask!

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