Category Archives: Student Loans

Loan Payments in Grace Period

Upon graduation, student loan borrowers have a 6 month grace period during which time no loan payments are required to be made. Sounds great, right? For many borrowers with “getting started” expenses like security deposits and moving expenses, the grace period can be a real lifeline. However, any payment you can make during the grace period is highly beneficial because unlike a traditional loan payment that is part principal and part interest, a payment during the grace period results in a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the loan balance. Huh? Continue reading Loan Payments in Grace Period

Better EFC Strategies

I get tons of questions about strategies for reducing EFC, especially those related to the Asset Protection Allowance. And there are plenty, but sheltering assets is typically the lowest bang-for-the-buck strategy out there: Every $1,000 you shelter will only reduce your EFC by $54. And that assumes that the school will meet your full need. Here are some better options: Continue reading Better EFC Strategies

Net Price Matters More

What do the numbers $7,000, $42,000, $44,000, $56,000, $58,000, $72,000 and $81,000 have in common? Each is a net price estimate (rounded) that we received from a different college, using the same data inputs. That’s one example of why one might reasonably argue that Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is of marginal significance. Continue reading Net Price Matters More

Unemployment Rates

With college tuition increases outpacing inflation by a substantial margin, it’s normal to ask whether a college degree is worth the cost. One metric for determining that is whether a degree results in lower unemployment. A recent New York Fed report shows that college graduates have consistently lower unemployment rates than those without a degree. Not only that, but during recessionary periods (the shaded areas in the chart below) those without degrees suffer far higher unemployment rates. Continue reading Unemployment Rates

Student Loan Interest Rates 2019-2020

The May Treasury auction has taken place, which means that federal student loan interest rates for the coming school year have been set. And there’s good news: for the first time in three years, interest rates went down– by about half a percent. Keep in mind that federal student loan interest rates are fixed, meaning borrowers won’t see their costs go up should interest rates change in the future. Continue reading Student Loan Interest Rates 2019-2020

Co-Signing Student Loans

If you’re among the 2/3 of families that will borrow to pay for college, you may be looking at private student loans as one of your options. Unlike federal direct student loans, private student loans typically require a co-signer. It’s vital that parents and others asked to co-sign understand what they are actually doing when co-signing a student loan. Continue reading Co-Signing Student Loans

FAFSA Verification

Every year, about 1/3 of FAFSAs filed are selected for validation, which could be described as FAFSA’s version of an audit. Some FAFSAs are chosen at random for verification, whereas some schools– especially those funding need-based aid out of an endowment– will verify every application. Because verification goes through the school, it’s not unusual for students to first learn about their verification status when they receive an acceptance and financial aid award. Being selected for verification does not typically mean that you’ve done anything wrong, just that you need to provide additional information. Continue reading FAFSA Verification

Risks of Income-Based Repayment Plans

Income-based repayment, or IBR, can be a great option for recent college graduates who need some breathing room while getting started in a career. However, there are some real risks to it, especially for those who owe significant loan balances or are in career paths where the salary trajectory is fairly level. In these instances, the payments may never make enough of a dent on the loan principal to make a material difference in the balance, and the borrower could find themselves 20 years out with a large taxable loan forgiveness, despite paying substantial sums for 20 or 25 years. Continue reading Risks of Income-Based Repayment Plans

Planning for All Four (or More) Years

A friend whose son is my twins’ age was surprised recently when I told her some of the colleges my daughter was applying to. She thought they seemed unlikely choices given my constant messaging of finding affordable schools. Her son was interested in some of the same ones and the net prices they found were quite high. The answer: we have the benefit of two children in college all four years. That means our EFC gets divided between then and in many cases, this yielded lower likely net costs. Good news for my Continue reading Planning for All Four (or More) Years

Budgeting for Books and Supplies

When comparing the two schools my son is considering, we noticed an interesting data point: one school estimated books and supplies to cost $800 annually; the other $1,146. One of the schools my daughter applied to estimates $1,800. While I can certainly understand that different meal plans or living options might be more or less expensive at different schools, it’s hard to understand why books would cost 50% or 100% more from school to school. Continue reading Budgeting for Books and Supplies