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Repayment for May Grads Begins in November

3 Oct

All information on repayment plans is from this article by David Evans, Ph. D.
Additional info added by Casey Doten, Purdue Financial Aid Administrator

Most student loans begin repayment six months after the student leaves school. With November coming up quickly, now is the perfect time to review your repayment options and set up your payment plan before the first payment comes due!

There are two main types of repayment plans you can choose from: traditional and income-driven. For borrowers that will qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), income-driven plans may be the better option. Income-driven plans will require an annual verification of income. This fact sheet describes each of the repayment plans as well as pros and cons of each. For more information about each of the repayment plans visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Traditional Plansstudent-loan-repayment-plans

Standard Repayment Plan

The Standard Repayment plan consist of equal monthly payments over a 10-year period of time. This repayment plan is good for those who can handle making their monthly payments and make enough money to afford them. This payment plan is best for those who have minimal other debts and start working right out of school.

The Pros: You’ll pay off your loan faster compared to other plans, and pay less interest as a result.

The Cons: Your monthly payments will be higher than those made through other plans.

Graduated Repayment Plan

The Graduated and Extended Repayment plans could be an option for you if your income is low when you graduate but will increase quickly. Under a graduated plan, payments start out low and increase during the repayment period, usually every two years. This is a good plan if you can’t afford your current payments but know you will make more money in the years to come.

The Pros: Your loan is still paid off within 10 years.

The Cons: You’ll pay more interest over the lifetime of your loan compared to the Standard Plan.

Extended Repayment Plan

An Extended Repayment Plan is an option if your loan amount is more than $30,000 and you want to stretch your repayment to 25 years.

The Pros: Smaller monthly payments (since they’re spread out over as many as 25 years) and more time to pay off your loan.

The Cons: You’ll be saddled with payments for a longer period of time as well as pay more interest.

Income-Driven Plans

If you qualify for an Income-Driven plan, these are often the most attractive options if you’re willing to recertify your payment each year (it’s not very difficult). However, some of these are contingent on when you took out loans! If you’re interested in student loan forgiveness*, you’ll need to be enrolled in any one of these plans.

Income Based Repayment Plan

If you’re not making enough money to cover all of your monthly expenses the Income Based Repayment (IBR) Plan would be a good option. There are two separate calculations for IBR which are dependent upon when you took out your student loans.

The Pros: The IBR plan takes into account your annual income as well as your family size. Your payment will be 10% of your discretionary income** if you were a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014. Otherwise it will be 15%. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 (for undergraduate loans) or 25 (for graduate loans) years.

The Cons: You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF (this is true for all loan forgiveness).

Income Contingent Repayment Plan

If you have a federal Direct Loan (other than a PLUS loan), you could opt for the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan. Your payments could be as low $5 or even $0.

The Pros: Your monthly payment will be the lesser of 20% of your discretionary income or on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over 12 years. You can have your remaining loan balance forgiven after 25 years of regular payments.

The Cons: You’ll pay more over the lifetime of your loan than you would with a 10-year plan, your payment could be lower than the monthly accrued interest and your loan principal will grow. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Income Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan

The Income Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan is only available for those with Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. Payments are based on your annual income, family size, and total loan amount. You would pay the loan off in fifteen years.

The Pros: Each lender has their own calculation, but generally it is between 4% and 25% of your monthly gross income, although your payment must be greater than or equal to the interest that accrues.

The Cons: It’s only available for up to five years. After that time, you must switch to another repayment plan. You must reapply annually, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll have continued enrollment in the plan.

Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan

The Pay as You Earn Repayment (PAYE) Plan is another option for those not able to afford their current monthly payments.

The Pros: The PAYE plan takes into account your annual income as well as your family size. Your payment will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 years.

The Cons: PAYE is only eligible to those who were new borrowers on or after October 1, 2007 and must have received a disbursement of a Direct Loan on or after October 1, 2011. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan

The Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment (REPAYE) Plan is very similar to PAYE. This plan was created to allow more borrowers the opportunity to have their payments lowered to 10% of discretionary income.

The Pros: Not dependent upon when you took out your student loan, the payment will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 (for undergraduate loans) or 25 (for graduate loans) years.

The Cons: If you are married, your spouse’s income will be considered whether taxes are filed jointly or separately. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Summary

Federal student loans offer various ways for repayment. If you are in a situation (like so many others who have taken out student loans) that is not ideal for standard repayment of your loan, consider these options. There is a lot to consider when you are trying to decide which repayment plan to choose. Using the Federal Student Loan Repayment Estimator can help you make your decision by showing you what your payments would be under each of the plans described above.

*A note about loan forgiveness: There are two different kinds of loan forgiveness, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and loan forgiveness from your income-driven repayment plan ending. While both plans require you to be enrolled in an income-driven plan to reap the benefits there are some key differences:
-PSLF requires being employed at a qualifying employer in public service (non-profits, government, etc.) for 10 years/ 120 qualifying payments before forgiveness takes place. Standard forgiveness is after 20 or 25 years depending on your repayment plan.

-Any loan amounts forgiven under PSLF are tax-free, but not under standard forgiveness! So if you still have a balance on your loans after 20 (or 25) years, you will owe taxes on it as if it is income. While it’s still better than paying the amount back, it’s important to know it will have ramifications.

**Discretionary income = Your income – 150% of the poverty level in your state for your family size

5 Habits of Successful Student Loan Borrowers

7 Sep

In 2015 student loan servicer Navient completed a study to analyze the behaviors of 6.8 million former students who are successfully managing their student loan payments.

They concluded that there are 5 key habits to staying on track to student loan payoff.

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Student loans have several options for deferment and forbearance that can be utilized if your circumstances necessitate taking a break from payments. If your situation is difficult they can work with you to help reduce your payments or even put them on pause. However, they recommend not doing so unless it is truly necessary.

By keeping deferments and forbearances to a minimum, you can reduce the total cost of your loan and shorten the total time that you are repaying it!

Borrowers who use less than six months of forbearance are almost twice as likely to successfully repay than those who take longer postponements. If you need it, use it! Just remember that the loan will still be there when the forbearance ends and you’ll need a plan to repay it then!

Stay Connected

Borrowers who track their progress tend to be more successful in repaying their loans. Just by checking in regularly into your online student loan account can help you stay on track of your loans. It makes you more aware of your current balance, allows you to explore and renew payment plans, and gives you valuable tax information in addition to other useful tools they provide.

Also be sure to provide your servicer with up-to-date contact information so that any communication they send you reaches you in a timely manner! You never know when a time-sensitive document may be on its way.

Graduate

Nothing is more important to getting a return on your educational investment than graduating! 

When you’re still in school, maximize your meetings with your advisor and take 15+ credits per semester to graduate on-time! Extra years in college cost over $138,000 in lost wages, retirement savings and your tuition for the same degree.

However, even for those who didn’t graduate with a degree successful repayment can still be within reach. If college is still in your future, come up with a plan on how you will pay for your degree (including all portions of the Cost of Attendance) to help ensure you graduate and prevent any surprises while you’re still in college.

Stick with Repayment

the longer that you can make payments on your student loans, the more likely you are to successfully repay them. Even when times are tough, continuing to make even small payments is an important factor in completing your repayment.

Whether it on the standard repayment plan, or one of the income-driven plans available, even a small percentage of your discretionary income can keep you on-track with your repayment. Missed payments will damage your credit and cost you more over the life of the loan. 

Talk to Your Servicer

Your student loan servicer is there to help answer your questions and get you through your repayment successfully. Borrowers who reach out with their questions tend to be more successful with their repayment.

9 times of 10, Navient finds that when they talk to a federal loan customer they can help them avoid default and enter into an affordable payment plan. 

If you have any concerns about missing payments, details or enrolling in different payment plans, or just general questions about your loans, engage with your servicer!

Source: 5 Habits of Successful Student Loan Borrowers, Navient Solutions, Inc.

The FAFSA Opens Oct 1st!

5 Sep

fafsa
Getting you through FAFSA, one question at a time.FAFSAQs

 

  • Who

    • Who Should File a FAFSA?
      If you are interested in getting any Federal Financial Aid, including federal direct loans, you need to file the FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov/ to become eligible. Federal loans are almost always preferable to private loans. In addition, many colleges’ need-based scholarships rely on FAFSA information to verify that you are eligible. In short, everyone should file the FAFSA – even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for any federal aid.

     

    • Whose Information is Needed to File a FAFSA?
      This answer depends on if you are a dependent student or not. Unsure if you’re Dependent or Independent? Check here. (Note: this is not the same as being independent for tax filing)
      Dependent students: You need tax information for both you AND your parents. If your parents are divorced, you need the information on whoever you receive the most support (51%) from.Independent students: You only need your own information unless you are married. If so, you will need your spouse’s information as well.
  • What

     

     

    • What If Things Change After I File The FAFSA?
      If your family situation has a significant change after you’ve filed your FAFSA, and any time while you’re in school, stop by your Financial Aid office to see if you qualify for a “special circumstance”. These could include job loss, divorce, death of a parent, child birth, or other unexpected situations that impact your financial status.

     

    • What Types of Federal Financial Aid are there?
      There are three main types of financial aid:
      1. Grants & Scholarships— Federal Pell Grants do not have to be repaid and are sometimes referred to as “gift aid”. Grants are similar to scholarships, except that they are often for those who demonstrate financial need, where scholarships can be either merit-based or need-based.
      2. Student Loans — This is the type you hear about most often. Filling out the FAFSA is required to be eligible for Federal Direct loans. Federal loans are almost always preferable to private loans from lending institutions, because they have fixed interest rates and flexible repayment options. Keep in mind that there are limits on how much you can borrow in a year as well as in your lifetime.
      3. Federal Work Study (FWS) — Work Study may provide you with more opportunities to find on-campus jobs. Rather than being given the funds in the beginning of the semester like loans and grants, FWS earnings are distributed to you as part of your paycheck. Tips on finding a job around the Purdue campus and the difference between Work Study and non-Work Study jobs.
  • Where

     

    • Where Do I Get the School Code and FSA ID?
      You’ll need the school code for whatever schools you are interested in applying to. They are available here. Your FSA ID is used to login and electronically sign your FAFSA. Set it up at here. Purdue’s school code is 001825.

     

    • Where Do I Get Help?
      College Goal Sunday will be held on Sunday, November 5th in Indiana and it provides FREE FAFSA filing assistance. It is at Ivy Tech in West Lafayette, but to find a location near you in one of the participating 42 states, go to www.CollegeGoalSundayUsa.org. You can always call the Financial Aid office of your prospective school to ask questions as well.
  • When

    • When Can I start the FAFSA?
      You can begin the FAFSA any time after October 1st of the year before you plan to attend college. So if plan to be in college for the 2018-19 school year, you can start your FAFSA on October 1, 2017. The FAFSA uses the student/parent tax information from the previous year of when you file. If you are filling out for the 2018-19 school year you’ll use your 2016 tax info. Keep in mind that while you use your 2016 tax information, the rest of the questions are meant to reflect your situation the day that you file. You can estimate the required information to beat a college priority filing date, but the info must be corrected after the taxes are complete!

     

    • When is the FAFSA Due?
      If you are a Purdue student, the FAFSA priority filing date is March 1st, so be sure to have it done by then! Other colleges (and states) have their own priority dates. Check for deadlines here.
  • How

    • How Do I Get my Financial Aid?
      Your financial aid is sent directly to your school and they will apply it directly toward your billing and send any excess aid to you to be used for books and other education related expenses. The exception is Work Study which needs to be earned by working, and is paid via a paycheck.

     

    • How Much is the Maximum That Can be Borrowed?
      Most students don’t know this, but there is a maximum amount of Federal Loans you can take out each year. There is also a maximum amount you can take throughout your college career! Check out the chart below for annual and lifetime limits.If you take the maximum amount for four years, there won’t be as much left for a fifth year if needed.

      Plan ahead!

      Remember: Everything you borrow you will have to pay back with interest for the next 10 (or more) years. For every $5,000 you borrow at 6% interest, you pay back $6,661.23 over 10 years ($55.51/ month).

Why

  • Why Should I Do a FAFSA?
    Other than qualifying for grants and Federal Loans? Many state grants and institutional scholarships require FAFSA information submitted. Even if you aren’t sure, it is always worth submitting!

 

    • FAFSA-brw-chart

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!

Freshman Boot Camp: Budgeting Your Financial Aid Refund

9 Aug

One of the mantras told to college students is to “Live within your means”. While it’s good advice to generally follow, it doesn’t get at how difficult it can be to do so while you’re in college. One of the biggest challenges college students face is that their incoming flow of cash tends to be extremely irregular.Budgeting your Refund.png

You might be sitting on a big pile of cash after your financial aid refund comes in, but if you don’t budget it correctly you’ll be broke before the semester ends. So in order to avoid eating exclusively ramen at the end of the semester you’ll want to come up with a strategy for taking care of your money!

As a student, you probably have three potential avenues to get an incoming cash-flow. They are your financial aid refund, a part-time job, and cash gifts for holidays and your birthday. Your parents might also throw something your way once in a while but no one wants to have to ask just because you weren’t keeping track.

Making a realistic budget can be tough but once you know your income it does get a little bit easier. So total up what you’ll get between your financial aid refund and what you’ll get from work. If you know for sure what you’ll get for gifts you can toss that in, but that’s not a for-sure thing.

Next, start by totaling up all of your projected expenses for each month. Aside from obvious things like rent, utilities, food, and other monthly bills you’ll need to include a projected number for having fun. If you know some times of the year like Grand Prix or Homecoming you’ll be spending extra, try to account for that by varying it up by month.

What’s important here is to make sure that your total income is higher than your total expenditures. If it’s not, there’s going to be a big problem.

Assuming the numbers add up, you’ll have a little bit of a strange result. You’ll have your monthly expenditures but your income will be a combination of paychecks and a one-time refund from your financial aid.

There’s actually a surprisingly simple way to be able to make this into a steady income flow without being tempted by the big number in your checking account.

This method is called using a Holding Account. Basically you take the lump sum of money and deposit it into a bank account and set up recurring transfers to your primary checking account on a monthly basis. This way between your income from work and the transfers you’ll be able to pay your monthly expenses without having the temptation to make a big impulse purchase.

If you want to de-automate it a bit, you could actually have them both as checking accounts and write a check from your holding account to yourself on a bi-weekly or monthly basis and deposit it into your other checking account.

This system is not fool-proof but it combines the ability to pay your bills and have some fun while also putting up a small barrier to the full sum to keep you from tapping out your semester’s funds on a whim.

Something to note: make sure that your holding account doesn’t have any fees related to minimum transactions or minimum balance if you can. It doesn’t make any sense to pay one bank to hold your money when there’s plenty of others that’ll do it for free.

If you find that your financial aid refund is going to be much more than you’ll need to meet your expenses and you’re taking loans, it’s worth looking into reducing what you borrow. Remember that not only do you have to pay back what you borrow, you’ll be accruing interest on most loans until the day they are paid off.

 Student Loans: Responsible Borrowing

29 Jun

Melissa Leiden Welsh, Ph.D., CFCS, CPFFE | University of Maryland

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If you are planning to attend college, a trade school, or some type of post-secondary training after high school, you will also likely apply to obtain student loans. The challenge is to select loans that match your financial needs, not only when you are a student but also when you are earning an income following graduation.

Student loan debt has generally been considered “good debt” due to a borrower’s increased earning ability upon graduation. However, the amount of outstanding debt should be proportional to a student’s projected earning ability. Check out the following suggestions to keep from falling into student debt traps.

1. Evaluating Post-Secondary School Options

There are many things to consider as you look at educational opportunities and the decision should not be taken lightly.

Do

  • Look at different types of post-secondary school and make sure you fully understand the costs (i.e., tuition and fees, room and board) associated with each one. It’s okay to “shop around” for schools.
  • Complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FASFA is the gateway to federal student loans.
  • Examine and evaluate federal loan options. Federal loans will almost always offer lower interest rates than private loans, and you may be eligible for loan forgiveness programs, or more flexible repayment options.
  • Shop around for private loans if you don’t qualify for enough federal student loans. Even a slightly higher interest rate of 0.5% to 1% more can add up over extended repayment periods.
  • Examine potential career earnings upon graduation specific to your field of study. Some fields of study do not pay as much upon graduation as other fields. You may struggle to pay loans from an expensive post-secondary institution with a low paying career.
  • Get a copy of your free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com to check for unauthorized action with your personal information. You may not even have a credit report at this time, but checking it will ensure you have not been a victim of identity theft.

Don’t

  • Overlook public in-state colleges and training facilities as they often charge lower tuition with degrees matching your career goal and financial budget.
  • Select colleges or post-secondary training sites due to a friend’s enrollment. While it is difficult to change social settings in life, it is far worse to study for a degree/certificate in a field you are not truly interested in studying.

 

2. Before Signing Loan Documents

Student loans are ultimately your responsibility to repay, so make sure you are paying attention when borrowing.

Do

  • Limit borrowing to the amount you need to cover tuition, books, and educational supplies.
  • Keep a running total of loans accruing from year to year. Only looking at semester or yearly totals may leave you surprised and overwhelmed with the final summary loan total at graduation. You can use the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS) to check your Federal loan balances.
  • Keep a folder of all student loan related forms and information brochures, preferably both physical and digital. It is not only convenient to be able to find everything in a single folder, but also can be helpful when planning and evaluating repayment options.
  • Some loans require actions to keep loans in deferment/forbearance (no payments required) while remaining as an enrolled student.
  • Keep your contact information current with each lender. It is your responsibility to report a change in your address to the lender. A lack of current address is NOT an excuse for missing a loan payment.
  • Understand the terms of the agreement in regards to how loan amortization works, how interest will be charged, and if interest will be added to the principal of the loan, commonly referred to as capitalization. Some private loans capitalize more frequently than federal loans.

Don’t

  • Turn to the signature page and sign without reading all the text of the contract you are signing.
  • Use extra funds from the refund check for pizza nights, spring break, drinks with friends or shopping trips. These expenses will cost you more because of interest.

 

3. Searching for Jobs and Preparing to Graduate

It is important to consider your student loans as you near graduation and begin looking for your first post-secondary school job.

Do

  • Work hard to graduate on time. Extra years at school mean additional student loan costs and lost years of earning. 
  • Make a spending and saving budget to follow after graduation. Determine potential costs to help guide your financial decisions such as housing. It is important to look at the interest rate of each loan and work to pay off higher interest rate loans first versus small loans with low interest rates to potentially save thousands of dollars in interest costs.
  • Visit the Student Loan Estimator to determine your estimated loan repayment totals.
  • Examine and evaluate various repayment plans. Schedule an appointment with your university loan department to determine available options.
  • Read all correspondence from loan providers thoroughly before deciding to consolidate loans – some loans are ineligible for loan forgiveness programs once consolidated with non-eligible loans and loan consolidation does not necessarily lower interest rates.
  • Be cautious when deciding to pay for loan consolidation as many federal programs and some private banks offer free loan consolidation. You may receive solicitations via the mail that offer to do it for a free, but it is always free to do yourself for federal loans.
  • Explore tax credits for student loan interest payments.
  • Choose to sign up for automatic draft payments from your bank account. Automatic payments reduce the possibility of late payments and are often rewarded with lower interest rates too.

Don’t

  • Consider not paying your loans on time. Default on student loans can greatly impact your credit report. Lenders and other businesses use the information in your credit report to evaluate your applications for credit, loans, insurance, employment or renting a home.
  • Extend loans to a longer repayment time to simply have a lower monthly payment. Those extra months and years will quickly add additional interest costs beyond the principle.

 

Resources

U.S. Department of Education Blog

Student Loan Hero

Edvisors Network

Making the Most of Your 21st Century Scholarship

27 Jun

Sarah Kercher, 21st Century Scholars Support Specialist

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As the 21st Century Scholars Support Specialist at Purdue, I often get asked about scholarship requirements, and resources available to 21st Century Scholars. After serving a year in this role, I’ve come up with four recommendations for 21st Century Scholars to maintain and make the most of their scholarship:

Know the Requirements

In order to make the most of your scholarship, you have to keep it! There are a few basic requirements that all scholars have to meet to renew their scholarship each year:

  1. Credit Completion

Starting Fall 2017, you need to earn 30 credits per year to renew your scholarship for the following year. If you started school in the fall, you have until the end of that summer to meet credit completion for the year.

  1. Full-Time Status

You must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester to be considered full time.

Pro tip: Take at least 15 a semester to help you meet credit completion. This will keep you on track with your plan of study and gives you a buffer in case you need to drop a class for any reason.

  1. File Your FAFSA On Time

To receive 21st Century funding, you must file the FAFSA by April 15th. The FAFSA is available from October until April, so don’t wait until the last minute and risk losing out on a year of financial aid. Make sure you’re aware of Purdue specific deadlines to maximize the aid you’re eligible for, and file early!

Helpful Hint: You don’t have to go it alone! There are lots of opportunities to get help with your FAFSA- You can attend a local College Goal Sunday or get help from Junia McDole, our Financial Aid Administrator (see below)

Know Your Resources

Making the most of your scholarship is about more than meeting the requirements. It’s also important to take advantage of the resources available to you so that you can stay on track for four-year graduation, minimizing debt, and increasing your earning potential post-college.

  • Your 21st Century Scholars Support Specialist

My goal is to help you succeed! I’m available to answer scholarship questions and refer you to resources based on your situation, and I also offer individualized coaching to help you work through any barriers to your success. Throughout the year I provide workshops related to career exploration, academic success, and financial literacy and send monthly reminders about scholarship requirements, deadlines, and opportunities to get involved on campus. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’ve lost your scholarship, I’m here to help you navigate the appeal process.  My office is on the fourth floor of Krach, and you can schedule an appointment with me here.

  • 21st Century Scholars Financial Aid Administrator, Junia McDole

Junia can assist with the FAFSA, scholarships and grants, loan counseling, debt counseling, budgeting, work study, and other financial aid issues. She is located on the fourth floor of Krach as well, so you can visit us both in one trip! Contact Junia here.

  • Federal Work Study

If you’re looking to make some extra money to put toward your educational costs, look no further! 21st Century Scholars are eligible for the Federal Work Study program, which helps you secure a part-time job on campus where you can gain skills and experience for a future career while also earning money for your education. Click here to learn more about Work Study and use both the Student Life jobs website and the Financial Aid Office’s job posting site to search for opportunities at Purdue (make sure to click “work-study required” in the search criteria).

Note: You must check the box that indicates interest in Work Study on the FAFSA to be eligible for funding for that academic year.

Get Connected

Get to know your Support Specialist and other professionals on campus like professors and advisors. Being proactive about getting to know these people off the bat makes it easier to know where to go and feel comfortable asking them for help when you need to. Having an established relationship with campus professionals can be especially helpful if you need someone to advocate for you in the event that you have to appeal for your scholarship down the road.

Stay on Top of Purdue Email

This one may seem like common sense, but we all know how easy it is to let email pile up! Your Purdue email account is the primary way the University will communicate with you about your financial aid and 21st Century Scholarship, so it’s important to check it regularly and take action as necessary.  You’ll also get regular emails from your 21st Century Scholars Support Specialist reminding you of important dates for your scholarship and opportunities around campus that you don’t want to miss!

Insider Advice: It can be tough to switch from the email you used in high school to your Purdue account, but don’t take the risk of forwarding your Purdue email to another account. Too often messages get lost this way, and missing important emails can have serious financial and academic repercussions. Make it a habit early to check your Purdue account directly and often –soon it will become second nature!

Still have questions, or just want to get connected? We would love to meet you!  Call Student Success Programs at (765) 494-9328 to be connected to a Purdue 21st Century representative or visit our website.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter !

 

Scholarship Tips for College of Agriculture Students

7 Jun

Sherre Meyer, Assistant Director Office of Academic Program, College of Agriculture
Career Development and Scholarship Coordinator

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Indiana and National Scholarships are still available to College of Agriculture students for the 2017-18 academic year!

More information on the scholarships can be found at the College of Agriculture’s scholarship page. While scrolling down the webpage, look on the left side of the screen for “Indiana Agriculture Scholarships” and also for “National Agriculture Scholarships“. It takes a little more time to apply as each has their own scholarship application. Every year, many of these scholarships go unawarded, as students do not take the time to apply. Be sure to be mindful of the application deadlines. My advice is to read through each scholarship listed, and for those a student meets the criteria for – apply, apply, and apply!

The application for College of Agriculture Scholarships for 2018-19 will open in November, 2017. Go to the webpage listed above for the application. A common question is “Do I complete an application for each scholarship?” The answer is no, you only need to complete the one application.

One online application puts the College of Agriculture students into a pool for each scholarship for which they meet the criteria. Applications must be completed in their entirety to be considered. Partial and incomplete applications are deleted, so be sure to finish if you start!

Any questions or concerns about the College of Agriculture Scholarships can be directed to me at meyer10@purdue.edu, or call me at 765-494-8482.

 

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