Category Archives: Student Loans

Earnings and Debt by Major

Last month, the Department of Education announced the release of earnings and debt levels by major and school. This is a fantastic level of transparency when a career path is already in mind. The data is available on College Scorecard.

For example, a student looking at Seattle University would see that the average annual cost is $35,006, with graduates’ starting salaries ranging from $22,000-$84,000 and median debt between $19,000-$27,650. Those are huge ranges, so not particularly helpful– owing $25,000 is not a problem if you’re making $80,000, but it probably is if you’re making $20,000. If you’re a nursing student, on the other hand, the numbers are considerably better:

SU RN

Where do you find this data? Go to College Scorecard, then search for a school, then expand the Fields of Study link.

Haven’t Done the FAFSA Yet? Here’s Why You Should

Many families think there’s no point in doing the FAFSA because they assume they don’t have financial need. That reflects a fairly limited view of the FAFSA; in fact, there are plenty of good reasons why every family of a student who’s even potentially college-bound next year, regardless of the family’s financial position, should do it. Continue reading Haven’t Done the FAFSA Yet? Here’s Why You Should

FAFSA Basics: Student Income

Student income seems pretty straightforward on the surface. Students get an income protection allowance of $6,840 plus the same tax allowances as parents. Income in excess of the allowance is assessed at 50%. Given the prevailing minimum wage, it would appear that student income is not much of a factor. However, there are a few big items that get added into student income: Continue reading FAFSA Basics: Student Income

“Where Do I Begin?”

I’m taking a brief break from the programming I outlined for myself a week or so ago. It’s September and that means that many people are looking seriously at college for the first time. They may be parents of seniors, parents of freshmen, parents at any point who think now is a good time to start investigating this big future step. And after a few google searches or conversations with friends or counselors, they have concluded, “This is overwhelming! Where do I begin?” Continue reading “Where Do I Begin?”

EFC Formula Guide 2020-2021 & FAFSA Basics

Last week, the Department of Education released the FAFSA Formula Guide for the coming FAFSA. Before I give you that link, I want to share some basics about the FAFSA. I’ll also break out each section of it in depth in the coming weeks– hopefully before the new FAFSA arrives on Oct. 1. Continue reading EFC Formula Guide 2020-2021 & FAFSA Basics

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