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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01.14.13 | 5 Tips for Filing Your FAFSA

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid by Student Loan Network Staff

Person Typing on ComputerWith the holidays coming to a close, many of you are putting down the eggnog and starting to prepare for the upcoming year. All those who will be entering college in the fall, whether it be for their freshman or senior year, are trying to minimize the costs of school, and the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is one of the best ways to do that.

I’m back from my third semester of college to provide some tips for filing the FAFSA. So, without further ado, here are my five pieces of FAFSA advice.

1. Do It

Many families don’t file the FAFSA because they believe that they earn too much to qualify for federal aid. Income is only one of the factors that determines eligibility, so you should file the FAFSA regardless of income. Even if you only qualify for $500 of federal aid, this is certainly better than nothing.
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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.

12.03.12 | 14 Great Holiday Gifts for Students

Posted in College Life by Student Loan Network Staff

Stack of Gifts

Technology Gifts

  1. External hard drive – This was a life-saver for me in college. There were a few times when my USB drives were corrupted and unusable. Backing up all of your papers and other files on an external hard drive will eliminate the headache of recovering any missing files down the road.
  2. Digital camera – A digital camera is always a great gift to document all those college memories. High School seniors will also appreciate this as their senior year winds down.
  3. Noise-canceling headphones – College is…loud. Whether studying in the library or trying to sleep when there’s a party down the hall, these are great for all students.
  4. Laptop – This might be a little pricey for a holiday gift, but take advantage of sales this season. If you decide to pick out technology for your student, make sure know what features they’ll need beforehand! Computers with good graphics cards and a lot of RAM are great for streaming movies or playing video games, as well as the basics like word processing.

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11.12.12 | College Financing Resources for Veterans and Military Families

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

Little Girls Thank SoldiersHappy Veterans Day, and National Military Family Month! In the words of Maya Angelou, “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” To thank all of the military men, women, and families who serve our nation, here are some resources to help veterans everywhere take advantage of their education benefits.

Funding Education

Scholarships for Veterans and Families

There are hundreds of scholarships out there to help veterans and their families receive a college education. Whether you’re a veteran, or the spouse or child of a soldier, there are lots of scholarships to take advantage of. Here are just a few:

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10.29.12 | 8 Ways to Keep Student Loans from Haunting you

Posted in Consolidation, Repayment, Student Credit, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

Student loans can be scary! Paying off thousands in debt is no easy task, and repayment can creep up on you if you don’t have a plan. So to keep you on track, here are 8 ways you can keep your loans at bay.

1. Know who you owe

With lenders buying and selling loans, the first step to know where your loans are. For federal student loans, borrowers can track their servicer information through NSLDS.ed.gov. Your loan servicer will be your main contact for making payments and for the day-to-day handling of your federal loans.

For private loans, you should consult their original loan paperwork. If this is not an option, request your free credit report. Your credit report will list all of your creditors, including private loan lenders.

2. Keep in touch

Now that you know who you owe, stay in touch. At the first sign of repayment trouble, contact your lender to discuss your options. Ask about different repayment plans, or if deferment or forbearance options are available.
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10.25.12 | New Scholarship Search Ideas for Students

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

Student Scholarship ListsWith millions of students putting in the effort to search for scholarships, it seems a shame not to share the findings! That’s why StudentScholarshipSearch.com asked students, just like you, to suggest their scholarship lists – and the results were fantastic! Students picked topics that were important to them, created their lists, and now they’re being shared with you!

From scholarships for southpaws to no essay scholarships, and scholarships for single parents, it’s never been easier for students to find scholarships relevant to them. To find a student scholarship list relevant to you, head on over to StudentScholarshipSearch.com and get started!

We should also mention that if you’re a student who has put a lot of time into researching scholarships, you can share your list, too. Suggest a list and help other students find scholarships – after all, why reinvent the wheel?

10.17.12 | Happy Financial Aid Day!

Posted in Financial Aid by Student Loan Network Staff

People CelebratingBack in July 2011, Neville R. Brown, the President of the Eastern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (EASFAA), created Financial Aid Day. This third Wednesday of October serves as a day to stop and appreciate all that financial aid administrators do for their students and their schools.

According to the Financial Aid Day Explanatory Text,

On FAD, colleagues are encouraged to do something special – have an office party, a potluck, a toast, etc., to celebrate our contribution to our profession. Colleagues are also urged to take lots of pictures to record this momentous occasion, so that we can share them with our regional, national, state and federal colleagues, as we demonstrate our respect, love and passion for Financial Aid: A Grand Profession.

So, from the Student Loan Network, thank you to all the Financial Aid Administrators out there!