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Can I get private student loan forgiveness? The short answer is no. Private student loan lenders do not forgive or cancel loans unless extreme circumstances demand it, such as death or permanent injury/disability. To add salt to the wound, Federal government programs, such as the CARES Act*, put in place to provide financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, do not apply to private student loans**. This includes student loans initially financed through a private lender or those that have been refinanced. It is also important to note that federal loan income driven repayment programs do not apply to private student loans. Some private lenders may offer similar programs, but it is recommended to speak with your private loan servicer if this is something that you are specifically interested in. With all the options unavailable to you, private student loan debt relief options may seem virtually nonexistent, but before you give up all hope, know that most private student loan lenders have repayment options available, providing some financial assistance when needed. *In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal government temporarily suspended student loan payments and waived interest through the CARES Act. Repayments were set to begin again on January 31, 2021 but this forbearance period has been extended, although it is unclear for how long. It is important to note that federal forbearance or forgiveness programs, such as the CARES Act, do not apply to private student loans, or federal student loans that have been refinanced through a private lender. **Most private student loan lenders have a specific COVID-19 response plan in place, but details and terms will vary by lender. Although options may vary by lender, here are some common repayment options that you can look for in place of loan forgiveness: Student loan refinancing Student loan deferment Student loan forbearance Student loan refinancing Most, if not all, private student loan lenders offer refinancing services for both private and federal student loans. This can be a good option if you would like to reduce your monthly payments and potentially save more on interest. In the refinancing process, the lender will pay off your original loan and give you a new loan with better rates and terms. Since the lender is essentially giving you a better deal on your loan, they will want to ensure that you are a trustworthy borrower, which will be reflected in your credit score. Thus, if you want to qualify for the lowest rates and best terms possible, you will need an excellent credit score. If you do not have a well-established credit history, or bad credit overall, many lenders will allow you to apply with a cosigner which can increase your chances of qualification, as well as help you get better rates and terms. It is important to note that if you choose to refinance a federal student loan with a private lender, you forfeit all access to federal repayment options and programs, including student loan debt relief under the CARES Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Student loan deferment Student loan deferment is an agreement between the borrower and lender that repayment may either be reduced or postponed for a period of time. This may also include a pause on interest, but specific terms will vary by lender, including how long you are able to defer payments. Note that some private lenders use the terms “deferment” and “forbearance” interchangeably. However, in most cases loan deferment refers to a planned need for repayment relief, such as returning to school or entering the military. Forbearance, on the other hand, is most often used when unexpected circumstances or an emergency arises and temporary payment relief is needed. Student loan forbearance It is a common mistake to confuse student loan forbearance with student loan forgiveness, or to assume that they are the same, but they are quite different. Student loan forgiveness basically cancels your loan, whereas student loan forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making payments for a period of time (often up to 12 months). It is important to note that interest will continue to accrue on your loan balance over the forbearance period, and so it may not be in your best interest to prolong forbearance longer than is necessary. To provide you with a more well-rounded idea of what the top private student debt companies on BestCompany.com have to offer in terms of debt relief options, we have included some data and analysis from customer reviews. Please note that reviews for all companies were limited and generally outdated, thus it may not be the most accurate representation of each company. In addition, student loan deferment has not been outlined as an option provided by these top private lenders, as there is no easily accessible information on this repayment option, and varies widely between companies. If you are looking specifically for deferment options, I recommend speaking directly with your lender, or the lender you wish to do business with. Credible ✔ Refinancing✔ Forbearance As a marketplace lender, any repayment options will be dependent on the lender from which you choose to borrow in Credible’s network. Credible customer reviews are limited and somewhat outdated, but the majority are positive, speaking to how quick and easy the refinancing process is and how customers were able to lower their payments and save more money on their student loans. "Credible helped me in a time when I really needed it. Their forms were easy to fill out, I got a personalized rate for my situation, and I had the best person working with me to help me find the best option." — Hailey, Salt Lake City, UT COVID-19 Response: Specific COVID-19 repayment options will depend on the lender that you choose from Credible’s network. SoFi ✔ Refinancing✔ Forbearance Refinancing: Get pre-qualified online, choose your rates and terms, and get your new loan. This prequalification process will have no impact on your credit score. Forbearance: SoFi offers unemployment protection, providing up to 12 months of forbearance in three-month increments. SoFi customer reviews are limited and are a mixed-bag of sentiments regarding the refinancing process, but many of the 1-star reviews are outdated. More recent, and the majority of reviews, highlight reliable customer service that is committed to helping you pay off student debt. "Great service! These guys made my life so much easier and made me solve my debt problems much quicker than if I'd deal with it myself. Thank you for your hard work!" — Jojo, Jersey City, NJ COVID-19 Response: To those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, SoFi is providing forbearance of payments for a minimum of 90 days; an initial 60 days with a 30-day extension available if needed. Brian Walsh; CFP Sofi Senior manager, financial planning SoFi COVID-19 Support As the pandemic continues, we will continue to offer support and find avenues to help our members get their money right and get back on track. Assistance for those in hardship has been expanded during the pandemic with forbearance being offered in increments of 30 days, with the option to extend for 30 additional days at a time, as deemed necessary. This program has been extremely successful in helping members during this difficult time. Read more about SoFi’s COVID-19 response. CommonBond ✔ Refinancing✔ Forbearance Refinancing: Quickly fill out an application and see your new rate. This prequalification process will have no impact on your credit score. Forbearance: Commonbond provides up to 24 months of forbearance over the life of your loan. It is important to note that CommonBond reviews are limited. However, most CommonBond reviews, past and present, are negative with many customers commenting on some difficulty with customer service, qualification issues, and lack of transparency. "I would give more stars for the CommonBond Care Team. They are responsive but they cannot correct the problem. . . . The approval process itself might be quick, but once you are approved, the check to pay off your existing loan goes to the lender vis regular mail. . . . To be fair to the customer, CommonBond should disclose this upfront and not charge interest on the new loan until the old loan is paid off." — Aurelia, Woodstock, GA COVID-19 Response: CommonBond is offering its members national disaster forbearance, as COVID-19 has been classified as a national disaster. This means that payments can be paused for the duration of the declared national emergency, but interest will still accrue although there are no fees to participate. In addition, CommonBond has waived all late fees to further help its members at this time. Read more about CommonBond’s COVID-19 response. LendKey ✔ Refinancing✔ Forbearance As a marketplace lender, any repayment options will be dependent on the lender from which you choose to borrow in LendKey’s network. LendKey customer reviews are limited and outdated, so it is difficult to know exactly what the LendKey borrowing experience is like currently. However, the majority of past reviews are negative, most commonly remarking on bad experiences with customer service. "Consolidated my loans with LendKey when they were calling themselves ECSI. At first it was great, I got a good rate, then they changed the name, hiked up the interest rate (and my monthly payment) without any warning." — Lori, Elmwood Park, IL COVID-19 Response: Relief options will be contingent on LendKey’s lending partners, but if you are unable to make a monthly payment, you can apply online for forbearance. In most cases, options will be discussed and determined on an individual basis. Read more about LendKey’s COVID-19 response. Laurel Road ✔ Refinancing✔ Forbearance Refinancing: Easily check your rates with no impact to your credit score and lower your monthly payments. Forbearance: Laurel Road offers forbearance for one or more three-month time periods if you are experiencing financial hardship. In addition, Laurel Road offers forbearance to those impacted by a natural disaster of up to two monthly payments. Laurel Road reviews are limited and outdated, but the majority of reviews are negative with the most common complaint being that it is difficult to be approved, even with a strong credit score. "We had a pretty bad experience with this company. I won't go into details but the problem seems to be this: the customer service people do not know the underwriting side of the business well enough to answer questions regarding loan applications. . . . Wasted a lot of time and was ultimately rejected for a loan." — Kathleen, Wrightstown, NJ COVID-19 Response: If you are experiencing financial hardship, you can apply for forbearance of three monthly payments. It is important to note that interest will continue to accrue during the forbearance period, which will lengthen the life of your loan and likely increase remaining payments. Read more about Laurel Road’s COVID-19 response. The final word Although private student loan forgiveness may not be available to you, there are other student loan repayment programs offered by private lenders that can provide repayment assistance when needed. When considering refinancing or forbearance options with any private student loan company, make sure that you analyze your own circumstances and needs first. Doing so will help you choose the best loan repayment option for you. Compare Top Student Debt Companies If you are looking for an alternative to private student loan forgiveness, compare top private lenders and their debt relief options. Compare
The second highest consumer debt category, student debt, has risen exponentially over the years with 45 million borrowers collectively owing nearly $1.6 trillion in 2020. To add salt to the wound, student loan debt is projected to increase to $2 trillion by 2022. Those are massive numbers, aren’t they? Although they might seem scary and daunting, there are ways to finance your college education and plan ahead that can keep you from falling into large amounts of student debt. As far as student loans and student debt are concerned, there are two options available to you: private or federal loans. But which is the best choice? To make the journey through private and federal loans as easy as possible, use this guide as a roadmap to help you navigate your student loans before and after college. Before college Once you’ve applied to the colleges of your choice, it’s a good idea to get started on applying for student loans right away. Federal student loans are funded through the U.S. Department of Education, while private student loans are funded through private companies/lenders. It is important to know the difference between private and federal student loans because they have different advantages and disadvantages depending on your circumstances. To this point, Brian Martucci, a finance editor at Money Crashers, says, “For most undergraduate students, federal loans make more sense; private student loans can be useful for professional school students with good credit and high income potential…” With that in mind, let’s break them both down. Federal student loans Funded through the U.S. Department of Education, federal student loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students alike. Experts agree that the best place to start is with federal student loans. With fixed interest rates that are generally lower than those for private student loans, students have more options and benefits available to them as they pay off their loan, allowing them to potentially save more money over time. Travis Hornsby, CFA and founder of Student Loan Planner says, “You should always seek federal loans first because they are administered by the government and have more valuable programs and protections such as student loan forgiveness, repayment plans, deferment and forbearance.” The first step is to apply for a student loan through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Submitting your FAFSA application is easier than you think and requires your personal and family financial information as well as a list of colleges that you’ve applied to. To complete the FAFSA application, you must create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. This ID allows you to access your information online, and apply for FAFSA each year. If a parent is applying for a Direct PLUS loan or would also like access to their child’s financial aid information, they will have to create their own FSA ID. Once you’ve completed your FAFSA application, it’s time to choose your loan. There are four types of loans available to students: Direct Subsidized — Only available to undergraduate students. Loan amounts are determined by the U.S. Department of Education, which also covers the cost of interest if a student is enrolled in school at least part-time. Interest costs are also covered for the first six months after a student leaves school, as well as during a deferment period. Direct Unsubsidized — Available to both undergraduate and graduate students. Students who apply are not required to show proof of financial need, but they are responsible for paying all interest on the loan. Direct PLUS — Available to graduate or professional students, as well as parents of undergraduate students. With the U.S. Department of Education acting as the lender, a credit check will be conducted, and applicants are required to have a good credit score to receive approval. Direct Consolidation — Allows students to merge all loans into one with a single loan receiver. It is important to note that subsidized direct and unsubsidized direct loan amounts for undergraduate students range from $5,500–$12,500 for each year. The amount of money you can receive is dependent on your year in school and whether or not you are listing your parents’ information along with your own. Graduate students can receive up to $20,500 each year in direct unsubsidized loans. Various repayment options with federal student loans can make it easier to manage and pay off your debt quickly. You should always plan to make your payments on time, but it is important to know the consequences of late payments nonetheless. In most cases, if you are late on a payment you will be charged a late fee. Furthermore, if you were to miss consecutive payments and end up defaulting on your loan, the government can garnish your wages to secure repayment on your student loan. With that being said, there are pros and cons about federal student loans that you should weigh and consider when looking at options to pay for college. Private student loans Private student loans are funded through private lending companies, and are a great option for refinancing student loans later on. Make sure that you do your research on different companies that offer student loans. Each company offers similar services, but it is important to check requirements for each. Basic requirements for private student loans include a credit check and a cosigner to ensure the lender that the loan will be paid back. Although neither a credit check or a cosigner is required for federal student loans, these requirements allow borrowers to receive larger loan amounts through private lenders, and receive lower rates if they, or the cosigner, have an excellent credit score. Private student loans also have something called the statute of limitations. This refers to the period of time that a lender can sue if payments are not being made. Once that period of time expires, lenders can still attempt to collect money, but they are not allowed to sue. Federal student loans do not have this statute of limitations, meaning that borrowers can be sued at any time if payments aren’t being made. Weighing the pros and cons of private student loans is very important as you’re looking for a student loan. That, in addition to assessing your own needs and circumstances, will help you know which option is best for you. Important note: Many of these pros and cons are dependent on the lender. . Additional college costs Tuition is a major college cost, but it is not the only one to consider. In addition to tuition, you should consider the cost of room and board, books and other school supplies, as well as other expenses including emergencies. Student loans (both federal and private) can be put towards rent, room and board, and fees, in addition to tuition. Monthly payments There are various repayment plans available for federal student loans. The repayment options allow flexibility and you can switch your plan for free at any time. It is important to note that federal student loans do not require payments while you’re in school. In fact, payments generally aren’t due until after a student graduates. Private student loans often require payments while a student is in school, with potential opportunity for payment deferment, but that is dependent on the lender. Fixed or variable interest rates One large advantage of federal student loans is that they have fixed-term rates. This means that the interest rate of the loan will not fluctuate or change during the loan term, allowing you to know exactly how much your payments will be each month. The ability to know your monthly payments can provide some security and peace of mind as you plan accordingly. Whether or not you can get a fixed-term rate with a private student loan is dependent on the lender. After College After a couple years of stress, occasional all-nighters, and hopefully some fun, graduation day comes, leaving you with a degree and likely some student debt to pay off. To make these payments easier to manage, there are a couple of options available to you, especially if you have multiple loans. Make a payment plan For successful loan repayment it is important to establish a plan and/or budget that you can stick to throughout your loan term. Robert Farrington, student debt financial expert and creator of The College Investor.com, suggests the following for making a repayment plan: “Develop and use a dedicated budget plan each month. Follow it, stay disciplined, and make the largest payments you can in order to get out of student debt as quickly as possible. Try to pay more than the minimum payments each month. Even just an extra $20 or $30 a month can shave time and a large amount of interest off of your loan balance.” Sign up for autopay Autopay allows your student loan lender to set up automatic monthly payments from your bank account, which can also lower your interest rate. Both federal and private loan lenders offer up to a 0.25% interest rate discount. Make a point of contacting your lender to see if autopay is an available option for you. Additionally, setting up automatic payments can give you peace of mind, removing the chance of missing a payment and getting hit with late fees. Federal student loan consolidation If you have multiple federal student loans, the U.S. Department of Education provides an option to consolidate all your loans into one single loan. Consolidation loans can lower monthly payments, but also make it easier to keep track of payments, as you’ll only have to pay one instead of multiple loans. Student loan refinancing Refinancing and consolidation may appear to be the same thing, but there is a small difference, which could make a big difference in the long run. Debt consolidation only combines multiple loans into one, whereas debt refinancing seeks to combine multiple loans in order to find lower rates and more agreeable terms. Refinancing pays all your loans at once, creating one new loan with lower interest rates. Loans can’t be refinanced on a federal level, but many private lending companies offer student loan refinancing services. Top student loan refinancing and consolidation companies on BestCompany.com: 1. Credible Credible is a third-party student loan refinancing company, meaning that once you fill out a short application, you’ll be connected with multiple loan rates from various lenders. Although Credible doesn’t provide refinancing loans directly, it offers APR rates as low as 3.5 percent. Refinancing through Credible is not available to currently enrolled students, but is a great option for those who have graduated, or are no longer enrolled. A credit check is required to qualify for student loan refinancing through Credible, but an initial soft credit check is performed, which will not affect your credit score. Customer reviews on BestCompany.com are overwhelmingly positive, awarding Credible with 4.4 out of 5 stars overall. Many customers applaud its simple and easy online application, low rates, and great customer service. Credible Customer Review: Kellie Rae from East Troy, Wisconsin "Credible was fast and easy to use. It offered me the lowest interest rate to refinance my student loans compared to the other companies I tried. They will save me over $13,000 in interest and help me pay off my debt quicker." Read more verified Credible customer reviews. 2. Docupop Docupop specializes in assisting federal loan borrowers find the fastest and easiest way to find the perfect student loan repayment or student loan forgiveness program. Once a borrower enters their information into Docupop’s system, a list of repayment plans will be generated. Docupop offers a fixed APR rate for any program chosen by the borrower. Within the industry these rates are competitively low, ranging from 3.76 percent to 6.31 percent. It is important to note that Docupop only offers student debt consolidation services, not refinancing services. Most lenders offer both. This means that you can combine all your debt into one, but you may not get lower rates or terms. The majority of Docupop customer reviews on BestCompany.com are positive, with customers talking most about how quick and easy the application and approval process is. Docupop Customer Review: Richard from Hollywood, South Carolina "They have been able to handle my student loans with no stress being put on me." Read more verified Docupop customer reviews. 3. SoFi SoFi is quickly becoming one of the largest student debt consolidation and refinancing companies. In addition to competitively low rates, ranging from 2.99 to 6.238 APR (with AutoPay), Sofi offers unemployment protection, and efficient customer support. The application process is quick and easy and there are no limits on how much can be borrowed to consolidate or refinance a loan. However, a minimum credit score of 650 is required to qualify for SoFi, which might be difficult for students who have not yet built up their credit history. SoFi customer reviews on BestCompany.com are positive, awarding the company 4 out of 5 stars. Customers most frequently comment on the ease of applying and then consolidating debt, in addition to great customer service and great rates. SoFi Customer Review: Steph from Gulfport, Mississippi "I wish more things in life were as easy as using SoFi. Thanks for making my experience effortless." Read more verified SoFi customer reviews. Student loan forgiveness Student loan forgiveness is only a possibility for federal student loans, and refers to no longer being required to pay all or some of your loan. The most common and well-known type of student loan forgiveness is Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). PSLF forgives the remaining balance on direct loans. A borrower qualifies if they have made 120 monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer — a government or nonprofit organization. It generally takes at least 10 years before an individual can qualify for PSLF. Graduate school Perhaps you’ve recently finished your bachelor’s degree and are jumping straight into graduate studies, or perhaps you’re deciding to go back to school later in life to further your career opportunities with an additional degree. Whatever your reasoning, there are financial considerations to be had when looking into graduate school. The cost of graduate school generally falls between $30,000–$40,000 per year. This cost doesn’t include room and board, rent, books, and other personal expenses. There may also be existing debt from your undergraduate studies to consider in this equation. Overall, graduate school is a large financial investment. Federal student loans are available to graduate students, offering up to $20,500 each year. However, with all costs considered and existing debt, a larger loan through a private lender could be more advantageous. If you have existing debt, refinancing or consolidating your debts could also be a good way to reduce not only the number of payments you need to make, but could lower your interest rates, saving you money in the long run. The bottom line When it comes to financing your undergraduate or graduate studies, there are financial options available to you, providing the means to pay for all of your expenses, but to also have the peace of mind that you’ll be able to pay off your debts. Federal student loans are a good option, especially for undergraduate students, who have never taken out a loan before and do not have an established credit score. The ability to postpone loan payments until after you’re done with school can relieve pressure while pursuing your studies, but it is important to make a plan to pay off your debts, setting you up for future financial success and independence. Private student loans are a great option for consolidating or refinancing your loans, but may not be the best option for a first loan, particularly for undergraduate students. However, if you’re looking for a loan that could cover all your college expenses, a private student loan would be a better option, offering larger loan amounts with lower rates. When approaching a student loan or your student debt, don’t be discouraged. The numbers involved with student debt may seem overwhelming at first, but you have options. It may take some time and discipline, but whether or not you choose federal or private student loans, you can be debt free before you know it.
Guest Post by Ryan Inman Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a federal program that forgives the student loan debt of borrowers that meet its requirements. The program started in 2007, and because this is a 10-year program the first round of applications started in late 2017. After the first wave of applications was processed, the staggering low approval rates made national news. As of February 2020, 1,730 of the 140,102 borrowers who applied had their loans forgiven. The current approval rate of 1.2 percent is not much higher than it was three years ago. In order to receive Public Service Loan Forgiveness, student loan borrowers must meet three rules for 120 payments: Right type of student loan Right repayment plan Right employment Many doctors with student loans from medical school see Public Service Loan Forgiveness as a way to help them pay off their high six figure debt, while pursuing a career they love. Most accept lower paying jobs in hospitals and academia, and have an income-driven payment that doesn’t cover the interest that accrues on their student loans every month. For doctors, having a Public Service Loan Forgiveness application denied puts them in a worse situation than when they graduated because their loans have grown, sometimes by more than $100,000, due to having a payment that didn't keep up with their interest charges. Low approval rates were attributed to borrowers who submitted inaccurate applications, borrowers who were on the wrong repayment plan, and borrowers who had the wrong types of loans. Key Takeaway: Understand the loan requirements. 14% of applications were denied due to having the wrong type of student loan. 23% of applicants didn’t file their paperwork properly or submitted multiple applications. 59% of applications for Public Service Loan Forgiveness were denied because the borrower hadn’t earned the full 120 qualifying payments needed. What types of student loan qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness? As of February 2020, 14 percent of applications were denied due to having the wrong type of student loan. When the PSLF program was enacted in 2007, only 21 percent of outstanding loans were direct loans. Because a large portion of borrowers had Federal Family Education Loans when this program was rolled out, many did not know that they were not making qualifying payments towards the program. Borrowers could consolidate their FFEL loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for PSLF, but consolidating resets the 120 qualifying payment count required for the student loan forgiveness program. Many people were not aware of this workaround until they tried to apply. Had they consolidated years ago, they could be well on their way to qualifying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. How do errors affect the application process? By June 2019 over 90,000 unique borrowers submitted applications for the PSLF program, but over 111,000 applications were submitted. As of February 2020, 23 percent of applicants didn’t file their paperwork properly or submitted multiple applications. Over 140,000 unique borrowers submitted applications, but over 178,000 applications were submitted. For every borrower that applied for forgiveness, there was an average of 1.3 applications submitted by February 2020, up from 1.2 in June 2019. This increasing rate of applications to borrowers tells us that more borrowers are needing to submit multiple applications due to errors or missing information in their previous applications. In February 2020, 59 percent of applications for Public Service Loan Forgiveness were denied because the borrower hadn’t earned the full 120 qualifying payments needed. What types of repayment plan qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness? To meet the final requirement to be approved for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, borrowers needed to be on an income-based repayment plan for all 120 payments. Many borrowers were not aware of this requirement due to a lack of guidance or misinformation from their loan servicer. Borrowers on the Graduated Repayment Plan, Extended Repayment Plan, a Consolidation Standard Repayment Plan, or a Consolidation Graduated Repayment Plan were not eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness under the original rules. Congress passed a temporary policy to set aside a separate fund and application process, to help borrowers who discovered they were on the wrong repayment plan. Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness, TEPSLF, set aside $350 million in 2018 for borrowers denied Public Service Loan Forgiveness due to being on the wrong repayment plan. As of February 2020, $55 million of the $350 million Congress set aside was used. The funds are finite, are on a first-come, first-served basis, and will eventually run out. However, for borrowers who were not on one of the four income-based repayment plans, this expansion could help them qualify for forgiveness if they were denied under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness application. Current statistics of applications Public Service Loan Forgiveness applications as of February 2020: Total applications — 178,642 Unique borrowers applying — 140,102 Pending applications — 12,338 Approved applications — 2,828 Approved applications by employment type Government — 75% Non-Profit — 25% Reasons for denied applications Qualifying payments were not met — 59% Missing information — 23% No eligible loans — 14% Applications with loans discharged — 1,730 Total balance discharged — $108,126,451 Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness applications as of February 2020: Total applications — 27,791 Approved applications — 1,500 Reasons for denied applications Did not meet 120 payment requirement — 46% Borrower had not made a payment in the last 12 months — 19% Repayment plans of approved applications Income-Driven Repayment Plans — 64% Graduated Repayment Plan — 17% Fixed Payment, Extended Term — 14% Standard Repayment — 4% Other — 1% Applications with loans discharged — 1,297 Total balance discharged — $55,425,848 of $350,000,000 Limit What should you expect going forward? By submitting the employment certification form annually, borrowers can ensure their qualifying payment is tracked in real time. If this is submitted every year, borrowers can catch errors within a year, instead of 10 years later. As of February 2020, over 2.8 million employment certification forms had been submitted. Roughly 44 percent of the submissions were denied; however, only 10 percent of applications were denied because of something other than missing information on the application. There’s $118 billion of student loans with approved employment certification forms, for just over 1.2 million borrowers. Many factors led to an extremely low approval rate for PSLF program applicants in the first years of applications. However, the approval rate is trending upwards giving hope to borrowers still working towards the loan forgiveness program. For now, borrowers pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness should confirm their loan type qualifies for forgiveness, continue to monitor their progress through annual employment certification, as well as an annual review of their repayment plan to ensure they are still on track. For borrowers denied forgiveness on both the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness, another 10 years of payments on an income-driven repayment plan might actually cost them more than refinancing their loans into private student loans or just paying them off. Unfortunately, this is the reality of many borrowers who thought they were on track for the forgiveness program. Ryan Inman is the host of the Financial Residency podcast and President of Physician Wealth Services, a fee-only financial planning firm that works exclusively with physicians across the country. He helps physicians create a life they love by helping them gain control of their money, the same way you make a patient feel better about their health.
The numbers of Americans with master’s degrees and doctoral degrees have doubled since 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With more and more American adults attaining higher education, you might be wondering: should I go back to school for another degree? Maybe you feel like your career progress has stalled. Maybe you're looking to change fields. Maybe you want to increase your salary. Key Takeaway: Think carefully about these questions. Would an advanced degree further my career goals? How would an advanced degree affect my pay? How would I pay for an advanced degree? What kind of degree program would I attend? Would an advanced degree further my career goals? A degree won’t have the same effect on every person or every career. You’ll need a professional degree to become a doctor or a lawyer, and becoming a college professor will probably require a PhD. But for other careers, getting a graduate or postgraduate degree may not be necessary or even helpful. For example, if you're a newspaper reporter looking to advance your career, a master’s degree in journalism may not be helpful to you. But a master's in political science could help you specialize as a political reporter. Part of your decision-making process should also include how much work experience you have. If you graduated with a bachelor's degree less than a year ago, a master's in business administration probably isn't for you — yet. Those degrees are typically meant for students with at least three years of work experience. If you're not sure where returning to school fits into your long-term goals, try talking to someone with a career similar to the one you want. “Request informational interviews at companies you think you’d like to work for," suggests Frankie of Frank Money Talk. "Ask them about your plans to see if they can provide a reality check. They could save you years and tens of thousands of dollars.” How would an advanced degree affect my pay? Earning a bachelor’s degree increases a person’s lifetime earnings by about $1 million, compared to high school graduates, according to a report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. The report also found that earning a master's degree adds another $400,000 to a person's lifetime earnings, compared to someone who earned only a bachelor's degree. And earning a doctoral or professional degree increases lifetime earnings even more. But just like career goals, getting an advanced degree won't affect everyone's pay the same way. For example, a study by Poets & Quants found that students who earned MBAs concentrated in finance economics and business and marketing doubled their salaries. On the other hand, graphic designers who earn graduate degrees only increase their salaries from about $42,000 to $52,000, according to data from CareerBliss. Before you pursue further higher education, think about how much an additional degree would increase your pay versus the cost of the degree. “Use government sites such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics to evaluate whether you are entering a growing career field,” Frankie says. “Use employment sites to estimate what income can be expected based on experience." How would I pay for an advanced degree? The cost of a graduate degree varies depending on the college you attend and your course of study, but the average is $30,000 to $40,000 per year, according to Peterson's, a leading educational services company. Make sure when you’re calculating your potential costs, you’re not thinking only about tuition. “There are supplemental costs such as books, parking and commuting,” Frankie says. “There are time commitments away from family. There are late nights and potentially unbalanced work/school/life balance.” Also don’t forget about any current student loan debt from your undergraduate degree you may be paying off. If that’s an issue for you, consider refinancing or consolidating your existing loans with one of the top student debt companies before getting another degree. Once you have a good idea of what your costs are going to be, think about where you’re going to get the funds to pay for those expenses. Keep in mind that if you’re going to quit work or reduce your work hours, that will eat into your available income. “Don’t forget about grants and other financial aid specific to re-entry students,” Frankie adds. “Also speak with your employer about tuition assistance or reimbursement.” What kind of degree program would I attend? You don't just have to decide on your field of study. Depending on what school you want to attend, there are usually lots of options for types of programs. One option is the traditional full-time student experience. If you're currently working full-time, this will require you to leave work or cut back your hours for at least the duration of the graduate program. If a full-time program isn't an option, some schools offer executive programs meant to accommodate students who are working simultaneously. Another option is earning your degree through online courses, which offer the most flexibility.
A year of college in the United States costs an average of $23,091, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. American students today often pay for higher education through some combination of scholarships, part-time employment, and other financial assistance — including federal student aid. Key Takeaway: Read the fine print for details. Aid can be used for tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, and transportation. FAFSA forms are due on June 30. More information can be found on studentaid.gov. What is federal student aid? Federal student aid is financial help from the government available to students enrolled at an eligible college or career school. What can you use federal student aid for? Aid from the federal government goes toward tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, and transportation. How do you qualify for federal student aid? Students must complete the FAFSA form to apply for federal aid. You can find the FAFSA on the studentaid.gov website. Some of the financial aid eligibility requirements include demonstrating financial need, being a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, and being enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an eligible degree or certificate program. What happened to studentloans.gov? In December 2019, the U.S. Department of Education combined resources from several locations into studentaid.gov. Studentaid.gov contains the FAFSA, student loan consolidation, entrance counseling, exit counseling, a Master Promissory Note, PLUS loan applications, and income-driven repayment plan applications. What information do you need to apply for federal student aid? Students will need their Social Security number; driver’s license number (if they have one); federal tax returns; records of untaxed income; and information on their cash, savings and checking account balances, investments, and other assets. Dependent students will also need their parents’ Social Security numbers; tax returns; records of their untaxed income; and information on their cash, savings and checking account balances, investments, and other assets. Students that aren’t U.S. citizens will also need their Alien Registration number. When is the FAFSA deadline? Online FAFSA forms are due by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on June 30, 2020 for the 2019–2020 school year and June 30, 2021 for the 2020–2021 school year. Also keep in mind that each college and state may have its own deadline. What federal student aid programs are available? Federal financial aid can take the form of grants, loans, or work-study programs. How does federal student aid work? After a student fills out the FAFSA, they receive their aid offer and accept the offers they want to use. If the student decides to take out loans, their college’s financial aid office will put their financial aid toward the amount the student owes the school. Then, the school sends the student what's left over for other costs. Borrowers don't have to begin repaying their student loans until they drop below half-time attendance or six months after leaving college. Students who participate in a work-study program will receive payments directly from their college once per month. What are the types of federal loans you can receive? The Department of Education offers direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, and direct PLUS loans. What is a direct subsidized loan? Direct subsidized loans are for eligible undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need, such as low-income students. Students who qualify pay no interest as long as they're in school at least half-time and for the first six months after they leave school, or during a period of deferment. Eligible students can receive up to $5,500 annually at an interest rate of 4.53 percent for subsidized loans disbursed between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020. What is a direct unsubsidized loan? Direct unsubsidized loans are not based on financial need and can go to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Unlike with direct subsidized loans, students who qualify for unsubsidized loans pay interest during all periods. Unsubsidized loans can provide up to $20,500 annually at an interest rate of 4.53 percent for a loan disbursed between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020. What is a direct PLUS loan? Direct PLUS loans are available to graduate students, professional students, and parents of dependent undergraduate students to pay for education costs that aren't covered by other financial aid. Like direct unsubsidized loans, eligibility does not depend on financial need, but borrowers will need to submit to a credit check, and those with poor credit will need to meet additional requirements. The interest rate for direct PLUS loans is 7.08 percent for loans disbursed between July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020, and borrowers can receive up to the maximum cost of attendance, minus any other financial aid the student receives. What is a direct consolidation loan? Direct consolidations loans are a way for students to combine all their eligible federal student loans into a single loan. This allows the borrower to make a single monthly payment, simplifying their debt. What's a Master Promissory Note? A Master Promissory Note is a legal document that contains the terms and conditions of your loan from the Department of Education. When you sign the document, you promise to repay your loan. What is a work-study program? Work-study programs are one time of financial aid the Department of Education offers based on financial need. They are available to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Students who receive a work-study award work part-time while enrolled in school. Jobs may be on on- or off-campus and typically focus on civic education and the student's chosen field, when possible. What are the benefits of using federal student aid? Interest rates on federal student loans tend to be lower than those on private student loans. Direct subsidized and direct unsubsidized loans don't require a credit check. If you qualify for a direct subsidized loan, the Department of Education pays the interest on the loan until you drop below half-time or have been out of college for six months, or during a period of deferment. Federal student aid can also be used to supplement other scholarships or grants you might have that don’t quite cover the cost of your educational expenses. How do you contact federal student aid customer support? Studentaid.gov has a contact center with answers to frequently asked questions. You can contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243, [email protected], or via live chat The center is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time and Saturday through Sunday 11 a.m. through 5 p.m. Eastern Time.
For the month of May, Best Company Finance (@BestCoFinance) has been posting tips and tricks on avoiding, leveraging, and managing student debt on our Twitter account, including advice for the FAFSA, scholarships, private loans, and loan payoff. In case you missed it, here are some expert highlights and hints you can use to pay for college. Plan ahead—way ahead It’s never too early to start thinking about college, and our experts agree. With college costs so high, prospective students have to be creative and unconventional.To cut costs, consider concurrent enrollment in high school: “Find out if you can take college classes while still in high school. Many high schools have established partnerships with local colleges to allow students to take college-level courses. These are generally offered at no charge, or at a discounted rate, as part of the high school curriculum.”Freedom Debt Relief Get a clear picture of what degree you’re aiming for: “The ‘average’ for public college is four and a half years to graduate. Because more than 50 percent of college freshmen change majors, it’s also important to talk about career selection before college begins.”Patti Black, Bridgeworth, LLC If you’re still young or know someone who is, suggest searching for and planning for scholarships ahead of the game: “There are many scholarships open to elementary and secondary school students, not just high school seniors. Plus, half the scholarships have deadlines in the fall, so if you wait to search for scholarships and to apply, you'll miss half the deadlines.”Mark Kantrowitz, SavingForCollege.com “If you are fortunate to have the foresight, think about getting involved in student clubs, sports, extracurricular activities, and community service as early as possible.” Sylvia Wu, Keeping Up with the Changs“The strategy with scholarships that's worked best for my students is casting a wide net . . . the most lucrative scholarships are usually the most competitive. Receiving a few scholarships, each for $1,000, is the same as one for $5,000. But it's much easier to qualify for the five scholarships that are less competitive.”Dennis Shirshikov, FitSmallBusiness.com Hunt for the best deals, and try before you buy: “The best way to minimize the need to spend excessive amounts of assets or debt on college is proper college selection.”Jim Anderson, Making College Worth It Apply for the FAFSA and the CSS All prospective students should file for the FAFSA — even if they doubt they’ll be offered funding: “Make sure you complete your FAFSA because there might be scholarships or grants available which do not consider financial circumstance as a qualifying criterion. As a result, if you don’t file your FAFSA because you don’t think you’ll qualify, you might miss out on money.”Riley Adams, YoungandtheInvested.com“Even if you don't qualify for need-based financial aid, the FAFSA is the key to getting federal student loans.”Robert Farrington, TheCollegeInvestor.com Know what files the FAFSA will pull to qualify you for eligibility; it pulls financial records from one year prior to the October 1 opening date. For example, for the 2020–2021 FAFSA, filers who apply October 1, 2019, and on, will report their income for 2018: “Families really need to understand how FAFSA works before sophomore year of high school. Reason: so families don't mess up their chance at getting the most grant money because they unknowingly increased their income or assets for the FAFSA calculation.”Jim Anderson, Making College Worth It Don’t forget the CSS Profile: “Some schools and states require you to fill out the CSS Profile as well as the FAFSA. Don't leave money on the table and make sure to fill out both.“Lindsey Conger, Moonprep.com Crowdfund your education . . . sort of Many family members, friends, and institutions can help you reduce college costs: “Look into tuition reimbursement programs offered by local employers. For instance, a high school student who is interested in a career in broadcast journalism may be able to take an entry-level position at a local station, which will help pay for college courses. Go local. Room and board costs can be significant. Living at home, even if for a couple of years, and attending a local school, can save big. Or, consider living off campus to share rent and utility costs with roommates. Check into family discounts. If you have a relative who works at a college . . . it’s possible you might qualify for a family discount. Consider the service. While not for everyone, military service is an option for some teens. If they are willing to give several years of service to one of the military branches, college classes will be covered.”Freedom Debt Relief“There are scholarships everywhere, based on everything from your gender, ethnicity, religion, professional associations, and much more. Your parents' employer might even have a scholarship program available to you. So do your homework and leave no stone unturned.”David Bakke, MoneyCrashers.com Plan your payback Be smart about what loans you take out. Federal loans have fixed rates, more deferment options, and consolidation plans: “When it comes to loans, they should be a last resort. And if you need to borrow, always borrow federal loans before looking at private student loans.”Robert Farrington, TheCollegeInvestor.com Ask for help so you don’t end up paying more than you need to: “When you graduate college, meet with a Financial Adviser to review your student loan repayment plan. They will advise you if it is best to consolidate your loans, [look into] refinance options, or if you qualify for a loan forgiveness program based on your career path.”Jacqueline Devereux, SproutCents Take advantage of any bonus income to wipe out debt: “Throw all windfalls into your loans. Got a raise? Birthday money from Grandma? Extra cash from a side gig? Put it towards your loans.”Holly Peterson, Elite Retirement Strategies Consider your post-college education plans: “If you intend to collect more debt in graduate school, it is crucial you choose a lower cost school in undergrad. If you go on to become a doctor or lawyer, you may be eligible for special mortgage loans that take [into] consideration your extensive educational debt and high current/future earnings.”Chelsea Mariah Stellmach, KaiZenith Admissions Continually reassess your payment plan: “Consider loan consolidation — carefully. Consolidation can lock in a low fixed rate, extend the repayment period significantly and lower the payment — sometimes cutting it in half. While it can help if you’re truly cash-strapped, remember it’s important to pay off the debt as quickly as possible. If for any reason you cannot pay your student loan bill, immediately contact your lender. A lender would rather work with you to figure out some alternative payment plan than risk a defaulted loan. . . Damage from defaulting can prevent borrowers from buying a home or car or getting a job, apartment, or insurance for years to come.”Freedom Debt Relief College can be a gateway to opportunity, but only if you keep your finances in check. Think outside the box and search for more expert advice to keep yourself financially healthy while preparing for your future.
It is a widely accepted belief that some of the most well-known universities, including those in the Ivy League sector, are ones guaranteeing a top-notch salary after graduation; however, in a groundbreaking effort to get our nation up to par with where student debt lies with individuals holding MBA's, SoFi has created the first ever Return on Education (ROEd) MBA rankings. In easy to digest information, SoFi breaks down which universities offer MBA programs with the highest salary to the worst salary-to-debt ratio. The results are based on a 21-month period of 240,000 student loan refinancing applications and can be represented as the "most objective, factually accurate and defensible data that can't be found or replicated anywhere else," as stated by SoFi. The University rendering the highest salary rate is Columbia University with the average salary base at $183,472, although they are ranked number eight according to US News due to the 1.5 times salary-to-debt ratio with graduates accumulating an average debt of $121,213. Ranked at number one is Sanford University. The average salary is slightly lower than Columbia at $177,590, with graduates having to pay back an average of $76,987. MBA schools on the list for the best salary-to-debt ratio include New York Institute of Technology where graduates earn an average salary of $126,068 but only accumulate an average of $50,308 during the course of their program. The University of Kansas comes in at number 10 on this list with graduates holding an average debt of $46,245, but earning an average of $97,086 - meaning they earn 2.1 times their debt amount. Claremont Graduate University ranks in as the worst school for salary-to-debt ratio within their MBA programs. Graduates earn an average salary of $93,666 but have an astonishing payback amount higher than the earned salary at $95,625. The well known Kaplan University is also among the worst schools where the average salary is lower than the average outstanding student debt, ranking in at number 8. Graduates earn an average of $65,201, yet accumulate an average debt of $91,429. This colorful infographic provides insight to students considering graduate school and answers some questions on whether or not they are prepared to take on the debt associated with MBA programs at their University of choice. Be sure to check out our top recommended student debt companies.