03.04.13 | 5 Easy Ways for Students to Save

Posted in College Life, financial aid tips, News, Student Credit by Student Loan Network Staff

Saving vs. SpendingDeveloping good saving habits starts when you’re young, but many students don’t know where to begin. While we know it can be tough to save money when college expenses keep growing, every little bit helps.

1. Automate your Saving

If you receive a regular paycheck from a part-time or on-campus job, see if you can allocate a portion to automatically deposit in a savings account. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but by putting a little bit away into a separate account, you’re more likely not to spend it and can even earn interest on the savings.

2. Use your Tax Refund Wisely

Did you just get your tax refund or are you patiently awaiting its arrival? It might be tempting to spend all of the “extra” money right away, but don’t! Put it directly into your savings account to build interest for when you really need it. That doesn’t mean don’t treat yourself to something nice, just keep it reasonable.
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02.26.13 | Make the Most of College Savings

Posted in Financial Aid, financial aid tips, News, Student Credit by Student Loan Network Staff

February 25 – March 2, 2013 is America Saves Week, and to kick things off, student loan giant Sallie Mae released a national study on how Americans save for college. In “How America Saves for College: 2013” the statistics show that although most families are optimistic about their college savings, few are taking advantage of their options today. According to the study “Most college savers remain optimistic about their ability to save and plan to increase their savings in the next five years, though two-thirds don’t have a plan to achieve their goals.”

How Families are Saving

Much of the data has been compiled into an infographic, which shows a variety of ways families save, and the types of accounts they’re using. Of the families saving for college, only 27% choose 529 college savings plans. Other savings vehicles include general savings accounts, checking, investments, and even retirement accounts.

How America Saves for College

Best Ways to Save

Parent-Owned Accounts
Savings in the student’s name is assessed at a much higher rate than parent savings when applying for financial aid. While a maximum of 5.6% of parent assets count against a family, a whopping 20% of a student’s assets are used in financial aid calculations. When possible, keep funds out of the student’s name, and take advantage of incentivized savings vehicles over checking accounts, for example.
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02.15.13 | Evaluate College Costs with the College Scorecard

Posted in College Admissions, Financial Aid, News, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

College ScorecardEarlier this week, President Obama talked about the new College Scorecard tool in his State of the Union Address. This new tool provides college data to students and families going through the college selection process and aims to provide some statistics that allow families to assess the return on investment.

Tool Features

The College Scorecard allows users to evaluate colleges on:

  • Costs
  • Graduation rate
  • Loan default rate
  • Average borrowing
  • Employment outlook

While historically, many families have chosen schools based on social environment, location, and academic programs, college costs are now a driving factor. The College Scorecard allows families to make better decisions around college expenses, by providing average borrowing and default rates of schools.
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01.04.13 | Changes to the 2013-2014 FAFSA

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid, News by Student Loan Network Staff

It’s January, and that means FAFSA season is underway! Students can now file their FAFSAs for the 2013-2014 academic year. As you prepare to file, we wanted to make sure that you have all the information at your fingertips, so read on to learn about some of the changes and enhancements that were made to the FAFSA form this year.

Food Stamps

To stay in line with program changes, references to food stamps have been altered to say Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Additionally, explanatory text regarding this name change has been removed from questions 74-78 and 95-99.

High School Information

Starting this year, if you answer “High School Diploma” to the high school completion status question, you are now required to complete the subsequent questions about the name, city, and state of your school. This change is intended to better-ensure applicant eligibility.
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12.18.12 | New Changes to Income Based Repayment – Pay as You Earn

Posted in Financial Aid, financial aid tips, News, Repayment by Student Loan Network Staff

Great news for student loan debt holders who are struggling to pay those loans every month. Have you heard of the Income Based Repayment (IBR) program, or the “Pay as You Earn” plan? Well if you haven’t, you might want to listen up.

To give you a little history- the US Department of Education implemented an Income Based Repayment (IBR) program in 2007, which aimed to help borrowers pay off their student loan debt, relative to their earnings. However, the program wasn’t cutting it as the student debt number continued to rise to $864 billion in federal loans and most students out of college were landing low paying jobs.

The improved version of this program, also referred to as the “Pay as You Earn” plan, is designed to address this issue and will launch on December 21st, 2012.

This plan is designed to do two things:

  1. Reduce the cap on monthly payments from 15 to 10 percent of discretionary income.
  2. Accelerate the time it takes for students’ loans to be forgiven from 25 to 20 years.

Here is an example of potential savings with this improved plan for a household of 1 with an income of $45,000/year and $60,000 in loans:

Standard Old IBR Pay as You Earn
Monthly Payment $720 $297 ($423 savings) $198 ($522 savings)
Amount forgiven N/A $156,927 after 25 years $139,769 after 20 years

To qualify for the “Pay as You Earn” program:

  • You must have taken out a federal student loan after October 1, 2007 AND have taken out at least one loan on or after October 1, 2011 (Private student loans do not apply).
  • Use the IBR calculator to determine if you are eligible for the Income Based Repayment Program.

The Department of Education estimates that at least 1.6 million borrowers qualify for the “Pay as You Earn” plan, but very few are aware that it exists, so spread the word and share this important information with your peers! Learn more about Income Based Repayment.

10.15.12 | Obama vs. Romney: Stances on Higher Education

Posted in College Life, Financial Aid, News, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

With the presidential election creeping closer and closer, it’s important that students know how the candidate’s policies will affect them. While Obama and Romney agree on a few education points, there are some key differences consumers should take note of. Here’s a quick overview of the major differences:

President Obama is for… Presidential Candidate Romney is for…
Maintaining the current Department of Education Cuts to the Federal Department of Education
Keeping student aid federally funded Privatization of the student loan program
Regulating for-profit institutions to ensure quality programs for students Encouraging growth at for-profit institutions to help spur market competition
Lowering tuition costs Lowering tuition costs
Improving consumer knowledge on college costs Improving consumer knowledge on college costs

Student Loans

One point of agreement between the candidates is the importance of keeping student loan costs low for families. Both parties were in favor of the 3.4% interest rate extension that was enacted back in July 2012.

Obama – President Obama ended the Family Friendly Education Loan Program (FFELP) and in its place created the Federal Direct Loan Program. This shifted the student loan program from the private sector to federal as part of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HCERA).

Romney – Candidate Romney is in favor of reversing the “nationalization of the student loan market”, bringing competition back through private lender participation. While it is unclear whether FFELP would be reinstated, he does propose an end to the Direct Lending Program created under Obama’s Administration.
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10.11.12 | New Ways to Search for Scholarships

Posted in Financial Aid, financial aid tips, News, Scholarships by Student Loan Network Staff

Student Scholarship Search HomeFinding scholarships is tough. With so many students looking for aid, many often get discouraged and stop applying. However, searching for scholarships has never been easier. Recently relaunched, the new StudentScholarshpSearch.com allows students to find scholarships quickly and easily, no registration required!

With Student Scholarship Search, you can find scholarships for all sorts of things like state scholarships, scholarships by interest or even by career. The important thing when searching for scholarships is to look for what’s unique to you. Are you a 6’5″ girl? Search for tall scholarships. Do you live in Hawaii? There are scholarships for that too. Searching for scholarships is more effective when you narrow down your criteria – it’s less overwhelming, and you can be more productive.

To make it even easier, you could always use the scholarship matcher, which identifies applicable scholarships based on 5 simple questions like your GPA or gender. Or you can check out scholarship lists created by other students with your interests.

With thousands of scholarships in one place, you can now spend less time hunting, and more time winning money to help get you through school.

Head on over to StudentScholarshipSearch.com to see what scholarships you can find!

09.25.12 | Time Management Tips for College Students

Posted in College Life, News by Student Loan Network Staff

Time Management for Students InfographicDid you know that the average student productively uses 128 hours out of the 168 hours in a week? When you’re in college time management can make or break you. Successful students will learn pretty quickly that effective time management strategies can help make college less stressful and more fulfilling.

One such strategy is getting a day planner AND USING IT. Whether you use a physical planner like the ones provided at many college bookstores, or keep track of your time on your google calendar, planning for all your activities in one place is a huge help!

This brings me to the next time management tip: don’t procrastinate! I know, students are sick of hearing this, but it’s still a good piece of advice. Staying on top of your assignments and getting them done early can help you manage your time more effectively, as well as keep your stress levels down. Plus, the less all-nighters you have, the more time there is for sleeping!

To find more helpful time management strategies, check out our newest infographic, Time Management for Students! While you’re there, leave a comment and let us know how you manage your time in college!

09.19.12 | Beware of Debit Fees This Semester

Posted in College Life, Financial Aid, financial aid tips, News, Student Credit, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

Piggy bank or debit cardStudents who have received financial aid in the past know the drill – the financial aid office receives the funds, applies them to the student’s account for tuition, room and board, and other expenses, then returns the remainder to the student. In the past, students have been given the option of receiving the refund by check or direct deposit, but this year, there’s a new option across many campuses – a pre-loaded debit card.

The problem

These debit cards (often endorsed by the school) may seem like a great idea up front (easy, right?) but students are warned to be cautious if selecting this method. These cards can come with high fees that can eat into your federal aid funds! Not ideal for cash-strapped students. Fees include things like “$0.50 to swipe the debit card using a PIN number, inactivity fees of $10 a month starting as soon as six months and overdraft fees as high as $38 per transaction” according to the Huffington Post.
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08.16.12 | College Jobs for Freshmen

Posted in College Life, financial aid tips, News by Student Loan Network Staff

Freshman Jobs: Ways to Earn & Save Much Needed CashDid you know that 93% of Freshmen have off-campus jobs? Paying for college and living expenses is tough, that’s why we want to help you make money during the school year! It’s not always easy finding steady employment, but there are plenty of odd jobs for college students to earn cash, such as:

  • Babysitting
  • Mowing lawns
  • Shoveling snow
  • Delivering food
  • Being a bike courier
  • Stuffing envelopes

The options are seemingly endless! For more ideas on great jobs for college freshmen (both on and off campus), check out our recent infographic, Freshmen Jobs: Ways to Earn & Save Much Needed Cash.

While you’re there, let us know how you make money while in school!