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Student Loan Statistics

Student loan debt has been on the rise, especially during the last decade. Statistics show that 2017 has been the worst year yet for student debt. In fact, as of 2017 Americans owe more than $1.4 trillion for the debt they obtained for their school-related expenses. When compared to the nation's credit card debt, student debt outweighs it by about $620 billion. Students that graduated in the year 2016 had an average loan debt of more than $37,000, which was a whopping six percent increase from those who graduated with a degree in 2015. There are more than 44.2 million Americans walking around with student debt hanging over their heads, and of these people, 11.2% of them are delinquent in paying back their debt. The average monthly payment for those repaying their loans is $351. That is quite a hefty payment for young people who have just freshly graduated college, especially being that many of them find it difficult to find lucrative employment even though they have a degree. (Data via federalreserve.govWSJ, newyorkfed.org herehere and here and clevelandfed.org here)

Who has Student Loan Debt?

It is important to understand that there are many types of colleges to choose from, including private and public colleges as well as those that are for-profit and those that are nonprofit. Still yet, statistics show that student debt plaques graduates from all of these schools. 66% of students earning a degree from a public college leave with student debt, while 75% graduating from private nonprofit colleges have debt and an astonishing 88% of those graduating from for-profit colleges have debt. It should also be noted that students who receive Pell Grants are likely to obtain a higher amount of loan debt. In 2012, 88% of students who received Pell Grants ended up having an average loan debt of more than $30,000. Of those who did not receive a Pell Grant, 53% of them had only about $26,450 in student debt. Data via Ticas.org Out of the $1 trillion debt for student loans, about 40% of it has been incurred by students who received graduate and professional degrees. Here is a quick overview of the average amount of student debt obtained by students according to the fields they go into: Data via 2012 Newamerica.org study

What is Student Loan Debt?

When a person acquires student debt, this means the student has borrowed money to pay for educational expenses, such as tuition, books, supplies, transportation to and from school, housing, and more. Because college tuition costs have been on the rise over the past decade most students are finding they must acquire a large amount of student debt to pay for their degrees. Within the United States, the majority of student debt is services by Sallie Mae, which is a publicly traded company. As you can imagine, some degrees are worth acquiring student debt, while many are not. So why would a person choose to earn a degree if the debt incurred can be so enormous? Well, to put it simply it is because the money that can be earned from a degree can go well beyond paying off the debt. Also, a degree can lead to a person being able to obtain a job that is both personally and occupationally fulfilling. It is imperative to understand that taking on student debt is only to your advantage if you actually complete the degree program. Many students find themselves with excessive student debt for programs they do not complete; therefore, leaving them with no degree to pursue their occupational dreams.

What is the Student Debt Crisis?

All consumer debts besides those related to housing are overwhelmed by student debt. What has caused this crisis to occur? Well, it starts with the fact that tuition costs have significantly risen over the past few years; however, this is not the only factor. In fact, predatory student loan practices have caused students to get in over their heads, and this combined with an absence of consumer protection for college students also plays a huge role in the crisis. Student debt would likely be greatly lessened if it were able to be removed from a person's credit through bankruptcy, but unfortunately, it is not. Even worse is that Congress led by Joe Biden in 2005 passed a law that chained students to their loan debt until death with no availability for the debt to be cleared through bankruptcy; this law made it legal for the government to go far beyond garnishing wages to make up for the debt. Those with student loan debt have the risk of having their Social Security payments garnished as well as their assets seized to repay the debt. And if you think the government hasn't used this law to their advantage, you need to think again. More than $1 billion has been collected from Social Security to help lower the nation's student debt. Predatory student loan lending practices have a major impact on the student debt crisis. Lenders are encouraged to tell students that they should borrow as much as they can to pay for the school expenses, using any leftover monies to cover additional living expenses that tie into their daily living. All of this leads to students borrowing an unnecessary amount of money. For example, if a student needs to borrow $4,540 for a semester, the lender will encourage him or her to borrow $7,000+. This might seem enticing to the student as he or she can use the leftover money to purchase a car or for other purposes and the repayment of the loan won't take place until a few years down the road when the student has graduated. What happens, though, is that the student incurs a massive amount of debt and is extremely overwhelmed when the repayment time period rolls around.

How does the Student Debt Crisis affect Families?

As you can imagine, when Social Security, assets, and wages are garnished and seized, this can be detrimental to families who rely on their monies to support their standard of living. According to the founder of Student Loan Justice, Alan Collinge, "The human cost of this phenomenon cannot be understated. Families and individuals are being financially destabilized and wrecked. Family formation, home and other purchases are being delayed or cancelled, people are actually fleeing the country and even committing suicide as a result of this predatory debt."

How Much Time does It Take to Earn a Degree?

The length of time that it takes to earn a degree will of course depend on the type of program you are wanting to complete. Take for example a dental hygienist program. This type of degree typically takes two years to earn, however, there are 17-month programs available. In fact, many two-year programs can be completed in anywhere from 15 to 18 months. It will help to shorten the length of time that it takes to earn a degree if you double up on classes and take summer courses. You will want to remember, though, not to overwhelm yourself with too many studies as this can cause your grades to suffer and add much stress to your life. Here is an overview of common degrees and how long it takes to earn them: Data via CNN.com

Is the Student Loan Debt Worth Getting a Degree?

You may find yourself asking if getting a degree is actually worth it in the end. The truth is, though, only you can answer that question. However, here are a few other questions you should be asking yourself: Do you actually plan on using the degree? If you are earning a degree only because you think it is the right thing to do, you will want to reconsider. There are many people who go to pursue and establish successful careers without having to get a degree. Just because you have a degree does not mean you have to use it, and if you do not actually plan on using it, then you will be wasting money on the expenses incurred? Are you sure you know what you want to do? If you are unsure as to the career field that you want to go into, it is highly suggested that you wait until you have more clarity. You do not want to obtain debt for a degree that you are not sure you will end up using. It is not uncommon, though, for young students to be unaware of what they want to get a degree in. If this happens to be you, you can always start off by taking courses that can be applied to any type of degree; these courses are considered general studies and are basic classes that are needed for any program that you go into. Do you plan to go to work once you earn your degree? In order to pay back any debt that you acquire for college while you are earning a degree, you will of course need to get a job once you graduate; this is why it is essential to assess whether or not you plan on going to work once you graduate. If you plan on taking time off from working, then you will probably want to do this before you go into debt for getting a degree. Most student loan lenders require repayment to start back within six months of graduation.

Which Degrees Pay the Most Money?

Looking to know which degrees pay the most money? If so, take a look at these and keep in mind that regardless of the length of time it takes to earn each degree, the more experience you have under your belt, the higher your wages are going to be:

Top-Paying 2-Year Degrees

Top-Paying 4-Year Degrees

Top-Paying Graduate Degrees

Top-Paying Degrees

Data collected from Payscale and here

Which Degrees are the Most Expensive to Earn?

When it comes to saving money on a degree, you should most definitely opt for one that is not well-known for being expensive. Here's a quick look at the most expensive degree fields. Please keep in mind, though, that you may be able to significantly lower the cost of earning these degrees if you choose another school. Still yet, these degrees are going to be expensive anywhere you choose to earn them. Data from Finances Online

Are Wages Stagnant as of 2017?

Even though the unemployment rate throughout the nation is lower than it ever has been since before 9/11 -- it is at 4.3% -- wages are still stagnant. Years ago, low unemployment was a factor that caused wages to rise up, yet over the past few years, the opposite has taken place. Why is it that this stagnation has taken place? Well, according to Bloomberg Businessweek's economics editor, Peter Coy, there are two primary reasons. First, even though you may not get many people to admit it, workers are content with what they are making right now. And secondly, bargaining power has been thrown out the window. There has been a drastic decline within the civilian workforce that is backed by labor unions, so gone are the days of unions going up against employers to raise their income. Individuals when they go into negotation with employers in regards to their salaries, they don't have a full workforce behind them to help sway the employers. The second factor comes at the hands of globalization. Many people have lost their bargaining power because jobs are being outsourced to cheaper sources.

7 Hot Career Fields that aren't Worth the Student Loan Debt

Check out these hot career fields that simply aren't worth going to school for. If you do, you will end up with an enormous amount of student debt and the jobs you can acquire with the degree will likely not pay well enough for you to pay your debt off within a reasonable amount of time. Instead, you will have a large amount of debt hanging over your hand for the rest of your life.

1) Corrections Officer

The median salary of a corrections officer is about $39,630; this is a 30-year earning of $2,337,376. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a corrections officer, you will only obtain an 18% return on your student debt investment.

2) Painter/Illustrator

The median salary of a painter/illustrator is about $37,819; this is a 30-year earning of $2,230,563. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a painter/illustrator, you will only obtain a 17% return on your student debt investment.

3) Daycare Center Teacher

The median salary of a daycare center teacher is about $27,910; this is a 30-year earning of $1,646,131. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a daycare center teacher, you will only obtain a 13% return on your student debt investment.

4) Religious Educator

The median salary of a religious educator is about $47,957; this is a 30-year earning of $2,828,502. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a religious educator, you will only obtain a 22% return on your student debt investment.

5) Catering Manager

The median salary of a catering manager is about $42,533; this is a 30-year earning of $2,508,595. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a catering manager, you will only obtain a 20% return on your student debt investment.

6) Human Services Worker

The median salary of a human services worker is about $22,738; this is a 30-year earning of $1,341,086. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a human services worker, you will only obtain a 10% return on your student debt investment.

7) News Reporter

The median salary of a news reporter is about $37,393; this is a 30-year earning of $2,205,438. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a news reporter, you will only obtain a 17% return on your student debt investment.

Five Career Fields that are Worth the Student Loan Debt

These five career fields are unlike the ones listed above and are definitely worth going to college for. They have a high growth rate and provide a great ROI (Return on Investment) in regards to the salaries they provide.

1) Engineering

Known for being one of the top-paying career fields, engineering is an industry with an expected 3% growth rate through the year 2024. Best of all, you don't have to go to school for a master's to go into engineering. Starting salaries for those with a bachelor's in engineering is about $64,891.

2) Communications

Known for having a bad reputation because of the fierce competition found in this industry, communications is actually a worthwhile career field to invest in. You don't even have to go to college for four years to get a degree in communications, and the starting salary in this industry is around $47,000.

3) Math and Science

Getting a degree in math and sciences is a great choice to make. There is not a lot of competition in this field and as technology continues to become more advanced, there is a greater need for workers in this industry. Starting salary for a person with a degree in math and sciences is about $55,087.

4) Computer Science

With a degree in computer science you will have many options in relation to career fields. Organizations located all throughout the globe have a need for people specializing in computer science, and this includes both small mom-and-pop shops and Fortune 500 companies. Over the next seven years this field is expected to grow by at least 12%. The starting salary for those entering in the computer science industry is around $61,321.

5) Economics

There is a high demand for workers in the field of economics. Fortunately, this is a field in which wages are not staying stagnant. This industry is expected to grow by 6% through the year 2024. Do keep in mind, though, that a career in economics will most likely mandate a master's degree. However, the starting salary for an economics specialist is about $52,100. Data from HuffingtonPost

What are the different ways to cover school expenses?

If you are considering taking out a student loan to cover the cost of going to college, it is pertinent to understand your various options. You should also consider any other options you have in regards to paying for all of the accompanying expenses. Here's an overview of six ways to pay for college:
  1. Student loans: There are different types of student loans to take advantage of, but you will need to speak with a professional lender to determine which one is best for you. Do keep in mind, that regardless of the one you opt for, you should borrow only the amount of money that you are in need of. Different types of student loans include subsidized Stafford Loans, unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Direct Consolidation Loans, Perkins Loans, PLUS Loans, private education loans, and health professions student loans.
  2. 529 Savings Plan: A 529 Savings Plan allows you to save for college according to a savings account that can grow tax-free. Best of all, as long as the monies are pulled from the account and used directly toward college-related expenses, you will not have to pay any federal taxes on them. Qualified college-related expenses include room and board, tuition, textbooks, and fees. In the United States, two-thirds of the states will give residents one or more tax breaks for investing in a 529 Savings Plan.
  3. Prepaid Tuition: Offering the same benefits as a 529 Savings Plan, a Prepaid Tuition Plan allows you to lock in tuition rates in advance. If you do not use the money you invest into the account for college-related expenses, you will have to pay the same tax penalty rate as you would with a 529 Savings Plan.
  4. Roth IRA: A Roth IRA needs to be invested into as early as possible. The money in the account will grow tax-free and as long as you withdraw the money for educational expenses, you will not penalized with the 10% early-withdrawal fee.
  5. Custodial Accounts: This type of account allows you to gift up to $13,000 a year to your child without triggering the gift tax penalty. Once the child reaches a pre-determined age -- usually somewhere between the ages of 18 to 21 -- he or she then owns the account and can use the monies to pay for college-related expenses. In fact, your child can use the funds for all types of expenses, such as buying a car or a home.
  6. Scholarships: You should always do your best to apply for scholarships and grants to help pay for college expenses. Many students are able to save thousands of dollars every year by taking advantage of grants and scholarships. And while many people think scholarships are only given out to those who excel in academics or sports, there are actually many other reasons entities will give away scholarships, such as the JIF Most Creative Sandwich Scholarship.

What are Ways to Save Money On School Expenses?

When it comes to saving money on college expenses, you first need to take into consideration the money you are going to be out in regards to tuition. Your tuition is going to be the most major expense, so it makes sense that you will want to choose a college that is affordable. If you are wanting to go to a four-year university, you should consider first completing your undergraduate degree at a community or vocational school; both of these schools tend to be far less expensive than universities, which allows you to obtain your undergraduate degree for about a third of the price as you would pay elsewhere. Think about it. If you go to a university at $23,000 a year for four years, that's $92,000. If, however, you go to a community college for two years at $11,000 a year and then complete two more years at a university to obtain your masters degree at $23,000 a year, that's only $68,000. You will be saving $24,000. Another way to save money on going to college is to opt for off-campus housing. Room and board often costs upward of $10,000 a year. If you stay off campus, though, you can likely rent a house with other students at $300 a person, which means you will only be spending $3,600 on housing. Plus, since you will have to cover your rent upfront, you won't have to worry about paying it back once you have earned your degree. This means your overall student loan debt when you graduate will likely be anywhere from $28,000 to $45,000 less if you choose to live off campus.

What are the Benefits of having a Degree?

The benefits of having a degree should never be overlooked. According to Education Corner, high school graduates have an average income of about $30,000 a year. College graduates with a bachelor's degree, however, make upwards of $50,000 a year. And those who choose to earn a Master's or Doctorate degree usually earn at least $70,000 per year. Over one's lifetime, most degrees will pay for themselves and translate into significant earnings. The benefits of earning a degree extend far beyond monetary value, as well. Those with a degree are likely able to acquire jobs with entities who offer health insurance, retirement plans, and more. Having a health and retirement plan is essential to the stability of your family and can provide great peace of mind. Photo by Richard Walker." ["post_title"]=> string(71) "Student Loan Debt vs. Entry Level Pay: An In-depth, Up-to-Date Overview" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(36) "student-loan-debt-vs-entry-level-pay" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-09-12 19:04:26" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-09-12 19:04:26" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(35) "http://studentloanreport.org/?p=130" ["menu_order"]=> int(5) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [1]=> object(WP_Post)#611 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(148) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "1" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-08-21 13:05:18" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-08-21 13:05:18" ["post_content"]=> string(17589) "This comprehensive guide to student loans is a useful asset for prospective college students of all ages. Learn about the changing nature of student loans, what to expect from a lender, what path is best for you as a student, and how to minimize and plan for debt as much as possible. We will discuss the different types of loans available to borrowers, the repayment plans available after college is complete, and how to get your loans out of default through consolidation and rehabilitation.

Current State of Student Debt

There is much talk in Washington and across the US of total student loan reform. This has many people on edge, wondering if their funds will be cut short before they can finish their degree, or worried that they will have to now cover tuition with high taxes. In 2016, student debt became known as the 1.3 Trillion dollar crisis, behind only mortgage debt. Before the 2016 election, there was a push for “free college,” but now most time, energy, and bills are focused on legislation to shorten repayment periods, lower interest rates and consolidate the lenders into one organization instead of many. According to statistics from the New York Federal Reserve, there are more than 44 million people borrowing currently. The average student graduating now has $37,172 in student loan debt.

On the horizon

Currently, there is legislation proposed to alter the terms of repayment for student loan users. The law has stated for some time that the debtor cannot charge payments that are more than 10% of the borrowers income, but after paying 10% of their income for 20 years, the student loans will be forgiven. The Trump Administration has proposed new legislation that would slightly raise the amount of money being taken per month and substantially reduce the time in which the money would be collected. The new proposal is for the standard repayment plan to take 12.5% of income, or an eighth of all earnings. Through this proposal, payments would end after only 15 years, at which time, all the remaining student loan would be forgiven. This is probably to the benefit of both lenders and debtors. In the end, debtors will likely pay less money. This is especially true because the term of their repayment includes fewer of the highest-earning years. However, student loan issuing organizations will probably make a more consistent profit in the long run. It is impossible to deny that losing a full eighth of one's income will have some major effect on one's lifestyle. However, the repayment period has been reduced by a full quarter. This is certainly a benefit worth considering. In a similar vein, the Trump Administration and education secretary Betsy DeVos has been considering methods to consolidate and streamline the student loan process. DeVos proposed that all student loan issuing agencies be consolidated into one large Private Bank, which would take over the task of Student Loans Collections. This proposal was found unsuitable, and has been withdrawn, but it does carry it with it certain possible benefits. Interest rates might go down and service might improve. Similar proposals relating to fixed interest rates and variable interest rates are introduced as legislation and progress, uncertainly, towards implementation. Government works at a glacial pace, and the constant barrage of headlines give the illusion that enormous things are happening every day. This is not the case with legislation. It is submitted, edited, reviewed, revised and amended. by the time the specific rules reach the consumer, the varying layers of interpretation and implementation create a situation that is incredibly difficult to predict. That is why it is generally better to proceed slowly. It is virtually certain that you will be better off paying your student loans earlier. Over time, one can reasonably expect that the American laws will evolve to be less harsh for student loan debtors. Payments will probably become easier, interest rates will probably improve, and more forgiveness programs will be constructed.

Do Your Research Before You Apply for Loans!

Don't go into this blind. Read as much as possible about your options. Think of it as practice for the hours of research you will inevitably have to do when you start or finish your degree! Before you take out a loan, it is wise to learn about all of the different interest rates associated with each, as well as your eligibility for different grants. Write up a loose budget proposal, just to get an idea for how things will go and what to expect, along with an expected time line to graduate. One unfortunate dynamic that many professors and advisers (academic and financial) witness is students not putting their 100% effort into the college experience. A good way to avoid this failure is to have a solid idea of what line of study you want to pursue before enrolling. If you choose a major and decided to transfer later, this could cost you or your family big bucks. Have 2 or 3 first choices for colleges to enroll in before applying for aid unless you are sure you have a guaranteed acceptance into one.

Loans and Grants

After doing your budget, you can decide how much, if any, you or your family can contribute to the cost. Gather all of your identification, residency, and income information. A digital copy of your tax return from your tax service provider is a great way to avoid having to fill out endless financial questions on your applications. (Check out our guide on grants and loans available to college students).

FAFSA

The next step to getting student aid is to complete the FAFSA, short for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Get familiar with this website as you will have to fill out this application every year that you plan to take classes. You must do this every year between the months of October and June to be considered for yearly funding. Fill out the FAFSA honestly and thoroughly. Choose the option to upload your tax return into the FAFSA system when prompted in the income section. Most people are eligible for financial aid, so don't stress out too much.

Pell Grant For Low Income Undergraduates

It is smart to exhaust any grant possibilities that you may qualify for before taking out high interest loans. The Pell Grant is a great way to get started with your college career if you have not earned a Bachelor's Degree yet. The current maximum Federal Pell Grant amount is $5,920 a year. Getting the entire amount depends on:

Unsubsidized versus Subsidized Loans, “Stafford Loans”

Know the Difference, or pay the price! Most people qualify for one loan or the other or both. You must be enrolled at least half time to qualify. Your school must participate in the Direct Loan Program, and you must be enrolled in a program that produces a certificate or degree when completed.

Direct Subsidized Loan

Direct Subsidized Loans have better terms than Direct Unsubsidized and are only given to undergraduate students who can show financial need. Your college sets the limit on the amount you can borrow, and that amount cannot exceed your financial need. The United States Department of Education pays the interest on your Direct Subsidized Loan when you are enrolled in school at least half time (6 credit hours), during your deferment period (the six months after you graduate), and during any later deferments you may arrange later through your provider.

Direct Unsubsidized Loan

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to both undergraduates, graduates, and professional degree students. You do not have to demonstrate financial need to qualify for one. Like the subsidized loan, your college determines how much you can borrow depending on your cost of attendance and your overall financial aid package. Unlike the subsidized loan, you are responsible for paying ALL of the interest during all of the periods. If you do not pay the interest while in college, it will accrue and be added to your principle value.

FFEL Loan

FFEL or the Federal Family Education Loan is sometimes referred to as the only federally guaranteed loan, and it is the popular choice for many parents applying with their children. However, only about three quarters of all colleges participate in the FFEL program. You can have your choice of lenders through the FFEL, while this is not so in the Direct Loan program. Both the FFEL and Direct Loan Programs offer Stafford, PLUS, and Consolidation Loans.

Repayment plans

There are a number of repayment plan options that should be thoroughly researched and planned for before accepting your loans.

The Standard Repayment Plan

The Standard Plan is the basic repayment plan for the Direct and FFEL loans. In this plan your payments are fixed, meaning that they stay the same. You make payments for an average of ten years unless you later get your loans consolidated, in which case the terms change. In this plan your payments will be higher than in the other plans, but it will save you money in the long run since it will reduce your interest payments by paying your debt in the shortest amount of time possible. If you do not take initiative to choose another plan, this is the one that will be assigned to you. You can change your payment plan at anytime by contacting your provider.

The Graduated Repayment Plan

The Graduated Repayment Plan begins with low payment amounts and then gradually increases every two years for a period of ten years. Any loan that you choose to consolidate will no longer qualify. Under this plan, as a general rule, your payments can never be less than the amount of your interest payments and can never be more than three times larger other loan payments.

The Extended Repayment Plan

This plan allows you to repay your loans over an extended period of up to 25 years, instead of the usual 10-15 years. In order to qualify for this plan you must have no outstanding balances from the time you obtained your Direct or FFEL Loans until present. You also must have more than $30,000 in debt to qualify. To be more clear, if you have $10,000 of debt from the FFEL program and $40,000 from the Direct program, only your Direct Loan debt will qualify for this plan.

Income-driven Repayment Plan

If you feel that your federal student loan payments are too high when compared to your income, the Income-driven Repayment Plan may be helpful to you. The majority of student loans qualify for one or more of the income-driven repayment plans. Note: if your income vs. expenditure is low enough, your may even qualify for payments as low as $0 per month. This plan exists to help make your payments more affordable based on the size of your family and your overall income. There are four different versions of this plan that you need to be aware of. Each should be researched thoroughly before a choice is made. The REPAYE and PAYE Plans are Pay As You Earn Repayment Plans. IBR is short for Income-Based Repayment Plan. ICR stands for Income-Contingent Repayment Plan. In all of these versions, your payment is a percentage of your discretionary income and that percentage varies between each plan. Defaulted loans do not qualify for any of the IDR plans.

Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan

In this plan your payments increase and decrease depending on your annual income for a maximum of ten years. This plan is helpful for people who need lower payments.

Stay in Close Contact with your Loan Provider

Not sure who owns your loans? Find out to avoid stress and confusion at The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). If you are having financial hardships after graduating, there are options to keep you out of default and preserve your credit score. Maintaining contact with your loan providers is your smartest move even if you are unable to make payments. Once you are in default, it makes things more complicated, but even that can be remedied. This may all sound intimidating, but it is important to note that the reason you are going to school is to potentially make more money doing something you love. Don't let the loans intimidate you.

Getting Out of Default Through Loan Consolidation and Loan Rehabilitation

There is a surge of companies right now offering loan consolidation services. Don't fall for the scam! It is very easy to do this on your own over the phone or online through your provider's website.

Loan Consolidation

Consolidation is a great way to lower your interest rates and your monthly payments. It may also help you to avoid confusion since afterward you will no longer have 2-4 loan providers, but just one with one stable interest rate. After consolidation, the length of your repayment period will depend on the amount of your total debt. At anytime, you have the option to consolidate federal student loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan. It is basically taking out a single loan to pay for all of your smaller loans. To consolidate you must either make three voluntary and consecutive payments on-time or you must sign a new agreement to pay the new Direct Consolidation Loan under an income-driven repayment plan. If your loans are in default, the only way to consolidate is to include at least one other loan that is not in default. If all of your loans are delinquent, you cannot get out of default by consolidation. Your other options to get out of default are payment in full (which is not feasible for most people) or something called loan rehabilitation. Note: For any of these plans, it is necessary to verify your income somehow, either through paycheck stubs or tax returns. If you are a parent who took out loans for your child's education and now wish to consolidate, the only income-driven plan available to you is the ICR or Income-Contingent Repayment Plan.

Loan Rehabilitation

Loan Rehabilitation is another way to get your loans out of default. The other options being full payment of the entire loan or the consolidation method which we discussed above. To rehabilitate a loan, you must agree in writing to make payments for ten months for a total of nine payments. These payments need to be voluntary, on-time, and consecutive. You need to negotiate an amount with your loan provider that is affordable based on your income. This amount is usually 15% of your annual income unless there are special circumstances. Depending on your annual income, this amount could actually be as low as $5.

Remember, you can only rehabilitate a loan once! So don’t mess up.

All those pesky problems that come from having loans in default will vanish after just nine months of dependable payments. Once your loans are out of default, you then have the option to choose from a number of more reasonable repayment plans for your personal situation. If your wages or tax returns were being garnished, that will stop once your loan is rehabilitated. You will also be eligible at that point to take out more student loans and finish your degree if your plan is to go back to school. Rehabilitating delinquent loans to take out more loans to finish a degree may sound risky, but if you can make more money with that degree, it may be a smart risk for you to take. Photo by Hans Splinter." ["post_title"]=> string(38) "A Comprehensive Guide To Student Loans" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(23) "student-loan-guide-2017" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-09-12 17:59:20" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-09-12 17:59:20" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(35) "http://studentloanreport.org/?p=148" ["menu_order"]=> int(6) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [2]=> object(WP_Post)#664 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(158) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "1" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-09-04 03:00:11" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-09-04 03:00:11" ["post_content"]=> string(24673) "Deciding to refinance your student loans is a big financial decision. Knowing which bank to choose can be pretty challenging in a landscape where the small differences can mean big things down the road. Here's some helpful information about some of the biggest names in student loan refinancing. We looked at 11 of the top names in student loan refinancing and got down the the small differences that set them apart. Our analysts tracked each company based on a comprehensive set of criteria including interest and loan terms in order to help you make an informed student loan choice.

Loan Rates & Financial Terms

Each lender has a similar structure with how they handle interest rates and fee structures. They'll all require a minimum loan amount from $1,000 to $10,000 and most of the top lenders offer a discount for automatic payments. While the differences in interest rates may not seem like much, those amounts can add up to a lot of money over time. Check out our Student Loan Calculator to see for yourself. That's why it's so important to shop carefully to find the best loan that you can qualify for with your circumstances.
Top Picks Variable Rates Fixed Rates Terms Soft Credit Check Min. Lending Amount Max. Lending Amount Auto-Pay Interest Rate Reduction Average Savings
SoFI 2.79%-6.72% 3.35%-6.74% 5,7,10,15,20 yes $5K No Max yes 0.25% $316/month
Laurel road 3.76%-6.42% 4.20%-7.20% 5,7,10,15,20 yes $5K No Max yes 0.25% 20200
Common Bond 2.79%-6.72% 3.35%-6.74% 5,7,10,15,20 yes $5K $500K yes 0.25% 24200
Lend Key 2.66%-6.20% 3.25%-7.26% 5,7,10,15,20 yes $7.5K $125 Undergrad/$175K grad yes 0.25% 15270
Citizens Bank 2.78%*8.63% 3.74%-8.24% 5,10,15,20 yes $10K $90K Undergrad/$350 grad yes 0.25% $132/month
Earnest 2.81%-6.46% 3.35%-6.46% 5 to 20 yes $5K No Max yes 0.25% 21810
College Ave Student Loans 4.13%+ 4.65%+ 5, 7, 10, 12, and 15 year loans yes $5K $150K Undergrad/250K Medical Grad yes 0.25%
EDvestinU 3.97%+ 4.34%+ 15, 20 yes 7500 $200K yes 0.25%
iHelp 3.75%+ 4.75%+ 44119 yes 1000 $10K-$150K Undergrad/ up to $250K Graduate No 18668
Mefa 4.02%+ 4.95%+ 15 yes $10K Any Amount No. $191/month
Risla NO. 3.49%+ 42134 yes 7500 Yes 0.25%

Benefits & Eligibility

Not all lenders treat all situations the same. Some use a credit score to determine approval while others are comprehensive based on your debt to income ratio as well. While they will all take federal and private student loans, some will only refinance you for certain types of programs and degrees. What you find when you compare all of the details is that while some lenders may be easier to qualify and provide a transparent and hassle free refinancing process, you pay for convenience and access.
Top Picks Unemployment Protection Interest-Only Payment Option Discharge Due to Death Transfer PLUS Parents to Graduate Prepayment Penalty Refi Parent PLUS Loans State Residency Previously Defaulted Loans Eligible
SoFI yes - up to 12 months No Yes Yes None Yes Any except residents of NV (OH, TN some restrictions) No
Laurel road yes - up to 12 months No Yes Yes None Yes Any No
Common Bond yes - up to 12 months No Yes Yes None Yes Any except LA, ME, RI, or NV Yes
Lend Key yes - up to 12 months yes - up to 4 years Yes No None No Any except ME, ND, NV, RI, WV No
Citizens Bank yes - up to 12 months No Yes No None Yes Any Yes
Earnest yes - up to 12 months No Yes No None Yes Any except AL, DE, KY, MS, NV, RI Yes
College Ave Student Loans No Yes - for first 2 years No None Yes Any If in collection, no. If still with original lender, Yes.
EDvestinU No Yes None Yes AL, KY, MS, NV, SD,
iHelp No Yes Yes - unless there is a cosigner None Yes Any No
Mefa No No Yes - unless there is a cosigner None Yes Any No
Risla Yes (and permenant disability) None Any

Finding the Best Rate for Your Situation

Default on a previous loan? Didn't finish school? You may still be eligible for some great refinancing products. Most banks wont require a cosigner but check to make sure that you don't get a better rate by using all of your available resources. Saving money over the long term is the goal of a successful refinancing and every penny and percentage point matters.
Top Picks Eligible Degrees Eligible Loans Min. Credit Score Min. Annual Income No Cosignor Required Ability to apply with a Cosigner Cosigner Release Offered (Existing Loans) Cosigner Release Offered (Refinanced Loans)
SoFI Undergrad & Graduate Private & Federal Good or Excellent score needed No Min Yes - if approved Yes Yes Yes
Laurel road Undergrad & Graduate Private & Federal 680 No Min Yes - if approved Yes Yes Yes
Common Bond Undergrad & Graduate Private & Federal 660 No Min Yes - if approved Yes Yes Yes
Lend Key Undergrad & Graduate Private & Federal 680 $24K Yes - if approved Yes Yes Yes
Citizens Bank Undergrad & Graduate Private & Federal 680 $24K Yes - if approved Yes Yes Yes
Earnest Undergrad & Graduate Private & Federal 660 No Min Yes - if approved Yes Yes Yes
College Ave Student Loans BA or Higher Private & Federal comprehensive $75K (Household) Yes - if approved Yes Yes yes - if approved after 24 months of consecutive, on-time payments
EDvestinU no degree required Private & Federal 750 $30K (borrower or cosigner) for $100 K or less, $50K for $100K or more Yes - if approved Yes Yes yes - if approved after 24 months of consecutive, on-time payments
iHelp no degree required Private & Federal comprehensive $24K (household) Yes - if approved Yes Yes yes - if approved after 24 months of consecutive, on-time payments
Mefa no degree required Private & Federal comprehensive $24K Yes - if approved Yes Yes No
Risla comprehensive $40K Yes - if approved Yes Yes yes - if approved after 24 months of consecutive, on-time payments

Additional Information

Top Picks Borrower Can Apply While Still Enrolled in School Borrower Must Currently be Employed Minimum GPA Required Avg. Time to Apply Apply on Mobile Device Interest is Tax Deductible Personal Reference Required Year Established
SoFI Yes Yes- Or signed job offer No Min Less than 10 mins Yes Yes No 2011
Laurel road Yes Yes- Or signed job offer No Min Less than 10 mins Yes Yes No 2006
Common Bond Yes Yes- Or signed job offer No Min Less than 10 mins Yes Yes No 2011
Lend Key No Yes No Min Less than 10 mins Yes Yes No 2007
Citizens Bank No Yes No Min Less than 10 mins Yes Yes No 1828/2014 (for refi student loans)
Earnest Yes Yes- Or signed job offer No Min Less than 10 mins Yes Yes No 2013
College Ave Student Loans No No No Min Less than 10 mins No Yes No 2013
EDvestinU Yes No No Min Less than 10 mins Yes Yes Yes 1962
iHelp Yes yes - min 2 years No Min Less than 10 mins No Yes 2 for borrower - 1 for cosigner 2009
Mefa Yes NO No Min Less than 10 mins Yes No. 1982
Risla Yes NO No Min Less than 10 mins Yes

Sofi

SoFi offers some of the lowest interest in the market, if you’re approved, you will likely have a hard time finding a lower interest rate anywhere else. However, they have strict credit criteria and target borrowers with good jobs, good income and good credit history. SoFi is unique among lenders because it offers unemployment insurance at no additional cost. If you lose your job through no personal fault (you cannot quit), SoFi will suspend your monthly payments until you find a new job for up to 12 months. The interest accrued during this period, would be added to your loan, but this gives borrowers a sense of power when faced with unexpected life challenges. SoFi also offers an entrpreneur program to help graduates who dream of owning their own business. Under this program, loans can be deferred for 6 months so you can focus on growing your business. SoFI provides access to networking events, mentors and investors to help you on your professional journey. (SoFi Review)

Laurel Road

Laurel Road is the product of a bank, rather than a student loan company. Since banks face greater scrutiny in their lending practices, borrowers face a much lower likelihood of dishonest activity when applying for a loan. Laurel Road does not offer the lowest advertised rates, but when borrowers apply with several lenders to find the best rate options, Laurel Road often offers the best rate. Laurel Road also has a number of unique services if you are medical professional. This includes a residency and fellowship repayment option that allows you to pay just $100 per month until you become an attending physician. Finally, Laurel Road offers a $150 bonus to new customers. Borrowers should still focus on finding the right lender for them, but the new customer bonus is a nice perk for going through the steps to refinance. (Laurel Road Review)

CommonBond

For borrowers who are looking for a lending company that makes a difference, CommonBond might be the lender for you. They are committed to Social Good, for every fully funded degree through CommonBond, they fund the education of a student in need abroad for a year through Pencils of Promise. CommonBond also helps eligible graduates find new jobs and hires them for short-term consulting projects. CommonBond provides it’s borrowers with access to the CommonBond community by connecting them to events in their cities, networking opportunities, and lifestyle perks. CommonBond also offers Unemployment Protection, called CommonBridge, the program allows borrowers to temporarily postpone payments if they run into financial difficulties. They’ve got your back, while you get your finances back in order. Borrowers can also choose between fixed interest rates, variable interest rates, or a hybrid rate that is a 10-year loan with 5 years of a fixed rates followed by 5 years of variable rates. (CommonBond Review)

LendKey

LendKey offers borrowers innovative technology to match them with community banks and credit unions to provide transparent, accessible and low-cost borrowing options. Through their lenders, borrowers will be able to refinance their student loans, both federal and private, including graduate loans, into one convenient loan helping to you simplify your finances. LendKey also offers the longest period of Unemployment protection (18 months) while in-between jobs. Many of their lenders also offer various repayment options, including interest-only payments for the first four years. LEndKey also promises that borrowers will be serviced by their fully trained customer care team from the moment you start your application until your final payment. (LendKey Review)

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank is a full-service retail bank that operates primarily in the northeastern United States, but offers student loan refinancing to residents across the U.S. through Citizens One, the bank’s lending division that operates nationally. As with any lender, the lowest rates are available to borrowers with good credit; others will receive a rate based on their credit profile. Unlike some lenders, Citizens offers refinancing to some borrowers who have not completed their bachelor’s degree. While you may not refinance while attending school, those who have stopped attending school and do not plan to complete their degrees are eligible to apply for refinancing through Citizens after making twelve full, on-time payments. Perhaps one of the biggest draws of refinancing with Citizens is for borrowers hoping to consolidate their finances. Since Citizens offers everything from credit cards to mortgages, it has the ability be your bank for life. (Citizens Bank Review)

Earnest

Unlike most lenders, which require borrowers to choose a set term for repaying their loans (typically somewhere between five and 20 years in five-year increments), Earnest borrowers can choose their exact loan term — and exact monthly loan payment. Earnest offers borrowers Precision Pricing, a sliding scale that allows them to choose the dollar amount they’d like to pay each month. Borrowers who opt for Earnest student loan refinance options can call and speak with an Earnest employee, rather than someone at a third-party servicer, to resolve any questions or issues that may arise. Most lenders pass their clients to a third-party after thirty days, but Earnest pledges not to do so. This ensures that borrowers will always have direct access to the source of information about their loan, which can often result in faster resolution times. (Earnest Review)

College Ave

Ease and flexibility are hallmarks of College Ave. Student loans are all College Ave does. Its student loan product comes with great interest rates, and a variety of terms and repayment options, so you can find the right fit for you. Perhaps the nicest perk is the fact you are able to choose how long you’ll take to pay off your loan. They also offer borrowers a number of different and flexible repayment options. College Ave borrowers can choose between interest only payments, flat payment, and full principal and interest payments, or defer their payments if they need more time to get the money together. College Ave’s qualification requirements are quite high compared with some lenders, and not all creditworthy borrowers meet them on their own. Applying with a co-signer is a good way to ensure you’re able to get the best rate if you don’t qualify on your own. It’s worth noting, however, that your co-borrower will be responsible for the loan balance if, for whatever reason, you are unable to repay it. (College Ave Review)

EDvestinU

EDvestinU is a great option for community-minded borrowers because it is a nonprofit loan program offered by the New Hampshire Higher Education Loan Corporation. Any proceeds made by EDvestinU goes directly back into New Hampshire public high schools in the form of scholarships and education access programs. Another benefit of refinancing through EDvestinU is that they accept refinancing applications from any U.S. Citizen or permanent resident who has used student loans to pay for a Title IV, degree-granting institution, regardless of whether or not they have graduated. If your financial profile has changed significantly since you’ve started school, it might be worth applying to refinance before graduating. For those students who choose to refinance while in school, keep in mind that there is no grace period for EDvestinU loans, so even EDvestinU encourages borrowers to wait to apply for refinancing until the end of their grace period.

iHelp

What sets iHelp apart from other lenders is that they partner with thousands of community banks nationwide. Bringing your dollars back to your local community. So, when you refinance your loans, the community banks are providing the funds, but iHelp is the organization who will service your loan — and the party you’ll interface with should any questions or concerns arise. With this unique model, borrowers can take out loans from local banks, but benefit from loan servicing by a national organization known for personalized service. iHelp may not be the best option for borrowers with excellent credit, as their rates are not the most competitive in the market. As with some other lenders, iHelp offers the option of cosigner release at any time after two years of consistent payments. The borrower will need to meet certain credit requirements before cosigner release will be granted, including a minimum income and credit score, and a maximum debt-to-income ratio.

MEFA

Unlike some refinancing lenders who focus on the benefit of saving money over the life of the loan, MEFA (Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority) emphasizes that their borrowers see lower monthly payments when they refinance. Unlike most lenders, MEFA has no maximum loan balance. MEFA’s eligibility requirements for student loan refinancing do not include having completed a degree, so borrowers who have put school on hold and are repaying their loans may be able to refinance into lower rates with MEFA — or at the very least, into a longer loan term and therefore lower monthly payments. Like most lenders, MEFA allows borrowers to apply with a cosigner, which can help the applicant qualify for a loan or even secure a lower interest rate. Unlike many lenders, however, MEFA does not offer cosigner release, which is typically an option after a number of on-time payments have been made. This means that MEFA cosigners will be legally tied to the loan until it is fully repaid. (MEFA Review)

RISLA

RISLA (Rhode Island Student Loan Authority) is a non-profit state organization that offers not only student loans and student loan refinancing, but also resources such as college planning services, an internship finder, and a scholarship search. RISLA also offers the option of income-based repayment to borrowers who demonstrate financial hardship, which is unique among refinancing lenders. Qualifying borrowers must pay no more than 15 percent of their monthly discretionary income towards loan payments, and any loan balance remaining after 25 years of repayment will be forgiven. Keep in mind that switching to IBR will increase the amount of interest you pay, so it’s a great safety net in case of unexpected financial burdens. Lastly, RISLA will refinance loans from any U.S. college, even for borrowers without a degree.
Disclaimer: While we feel our reviews are accurate and represent a solid informational resource, please consult a professional advisor when making important financial decisions.
" ["post_title"]=> string(57) "A Review of Top Companies to Refinance Your Student Loans" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(39) "student-loan-refinance-companies-review" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-09-13 04:11:33" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-09-13 04:11:33" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(35) "http://studentloanreport.org/?p=158" ["menu_order"]=> int(7) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } [3]=> object(WP_Post)#665 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(138) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "1" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-08-21 13:05:17" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-08-21 13:05:17" ["post_content"]=> string(18498) "There is no question that a college degree matters more today than it has at any point in recent history.  Higher education, and especially a four-year degree, has become the new minimum standard for the vast majority of jobs created today, replacing the previous minimum standard of just a high school diploma.  Unlike high school, however, a college education in the United States is tremendously expensive, averaging $10,000 per year for state schools and over $30,000 per year for private schools -- and this just covers the cost of tuition, leaving students on the hook for housing, books, and a small library of miscellaneous fees.  Few students, or families of students, have the wherewithal to afford such large sums up front, making it necessary to turn to government and private loans to cover the costs of their education.  This, in turn, has led to spiraling levels of student debt, which has overtaken credit cards in US households as the main source of debt.  The average American owes just under $40,000 in student loan debt, amounting to a national total of a trillion and a half dollars owed for the privilege of a college education -- debt that must be repaid regardless of whether or not a student graduates, and whether or not they find a good job.  Worse still, many students take out debt when they are too young or inexperienced to understand the life-long obligations this decision will incur.  About two-thirds of graduating students carry loan debt, while the average amount of this debt has grown by 50% in the past decade. Student loan debt is a much fiercer obligation than other types of debt.  It cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and delinquency often results in the loans falling onto the shoulders of family members.  Furthermore, some interest rates can be positively brutal, especially since the federal government lifted caps on interest rates in 2006, resulting in some unlucky students having to repay nearly twice as much money over the course of their lives. Despite government policies in place to ease student loan repayments, many borrowers who qualify for these policies often do not understand or do not participate in them, or are rewarded for earning less rather than more, or do not get enough assistance to prevent their personal finances from being affected.  All told, it represents a huge stress on the financial and mental health of millions of Americans. Refinancing student loan debt can be a way out of the woods for many people who worry about the money they owe.  By refinancing, it's possible to get a lower interest rate, minimizing the harsh mathematics that make the repayments in total exceed the original value of the loan, often by significant amounts.  Refinancing leads not only to lower payments but also better credit and, in turn, more options to find jobs or housing that may not be available to those with poor credit or delinquent debt.  Refinancing or consolidating loans can ultimately result in Americans getting out of debt sooner.

Why Interest Rates Matter

Any time you borrow money, whether it is for education or for a new car or just to cover bills until your next payday, you must agree to the interest rate terms set out by banks or lending agents.  Interest is, and always has been, part and parcel of taking out a loan.  However, interest rates of even a small percentage mean you'll have to repay a lot more money.  A person who takes out $100,000 to pay for school with a 7% interest rate over ten years will repay an additional $40,000 over the life of the loan; they'll have to fork over even more money if they do not make each repayment on time and in full.  Refinancing this loan with just a slightly lower rate, dropping from seven percent to six percent interest rates, will save the borrower ten thousand dollars over the lifespan of their debt load. Students who took out federal loans, rather than private loans, may believe that they are receiving the best possible interest rates, especially when the government itself propagates this idea.  It's rarely true, however, especially in terms of refinancing.  Since private lenders are not necessary beholden to the government's mandates, it's possible for them to provide a refinanced interest rate lower (sometimes much lower) than the original value.  Prior to the Student Loan Certainty Act in 2013, interest rates for student loans stayed high at the same time that interest rates for other loans, like mortgages, dropped to historic lows.

Consolidation vs Refinancing

While there are two popular options for managing student loan debt; consolidation and refinancing, these two options are not the same thing.  While both can provide relief for high loan interest rates, potentially saving thousands of dollars, one may be better than the other depending on the situation and the finances involved.  Consolidation is a popular debt relief process for people with multiple credit cards or mortgages, combining the loans together into one package that is easier to understand and manage. A direct loan consolidation is only available through the federal government and only applies to federal student loans.  The new interest rate is based on the weighting of the previous interest rates.  A private consolidation through a private lender, by contrast, will give you an interest rate that depends on your credit health and history.  In this sense, a direct loan consolidation is similar to refinancing, but can potentially be done for all loans and not just select ones. Which option is better for a person with lots of loan debt and high interest rates?  When you have multiple loans and/or multiple loan providers, consolidation can be just as great a mental relief as a financial relief.  Dealing with one bill per month rather than several, and on several different terms, can go a long way towards keeping your thoughts positive and forward-facing.  What's more, consolidation might give a person that most valuable resource of all, time, by extending or contracting the duration of the loan as needed.  Consolidation allows a person to extend the length of the loan up to thirty years, a major cushion for those who may be facing budget crunches.  Finally, consolidation allows any person to switch from variable-rate interest (which can fluctuate up, as well as down, according to the underlying benchmarks) to a fixed-interest rate, keeping repayments consistent rather than subject to changes beyond a person's control. Consolidation, however, is not a magic bullet and is not necessarily the best option for everyone.  The largest drawback is also tied to the largest benefit: by extending the duration of a loan, a person may have shorter payments in the meantime but will pay more, and potentially much more, over the lifespan of their loan.  For a person who has the good fortune to improve their financial situation year-over-year, this isn't too great a sacrifice to make, but for a person who has less options for career advancement and financial improvement, it can be a major drag on their wallet. Furthermore, consolidation may cause you to lose particular benefits initially applied to a repayment plan.  For example, some loans come with interest rate discounts depending on successful repayments or credit improvements.  These can be lost with a consolidation, as they may only apply to one loan out of many.  Some loans come with principal rebates that decrease the amount owed after benchmarks (such as 24, 33, or 48 months).  These too can be sacrificed in the process of consolidation.  Additionally, any credit gains made on the back of these loan repayments may be lost after consolidation. There are a few limits to consolidating loans.  Multiple loans can be bundled together immediately after graduation, or if you have to take a leave from school (including dropping below a certain credit limit in any given semester).  Loans can only be consolidated when in repayment or the grace period after graduation; loans that are past due or in delinquency may not be eligible for consolidation.  Finally, you can only consolidate any given loan if it is packaged with another loan, potentially creating a situation where the drawbacks of one loan are negated at the cost of the other loan's benefits.

The Case for Refinancing

Refinancing student loans usually puts a person further ahead than consolidation alone, because there is no guarantee that consolidation will provide a better interest rate that reduces payments over the long run.  What's more, many students adopt a mindset of choosing an interest rate and forgetting about it, selecting the rate upon graduating and then never taking a second look at it, losing huge sums of money over the long run as their credit and personal finances improve and allow them access to a better rate.  Refinancing is not a particularly difficult process provided that the borrower has the credit and repayment history to justify a lower rate. Some (but not all) federal loans can be refinanced by some (but not all) private lenders.  Some federal loans have forgiveness options (such as working in public services for a period of 120 loan repayments) whose stipulations may be rendered void by refinancing, and may be a better option altogether than refinancing or consolidating loans.  Even so, most refinancing options provide immediate tangible relief for loan debt. By far the most important factor when considering refinancing is the amount of money that you can save over the long and short term.  Giving up benefits can be painful, but dropping your interest rates by even a single percentage point can result in thousands of dollars of savings.  A student loan calculator that measures balance, term, and interest will help understand the raw numbers behind the decision by calculating your total obligation under your current repayment plan compared to the savings that could be achieved by refinancing.  ParentPLUS and GradPLUS loans receive the greatest benefit by refinancing because their interest rates can soar as high as 9%.  While a calculator may not be able to tell a person exactly what rate they can qualify for, it gives them an idea about how much money they could save by dropping into different interest rate brackets. A competitive rate makes refinancing with private lenders much more appealing than consolidation.  Private lenders will check credit scores to calculate the interest rate they can offer, but this is considered a "soft check" that does not affect the credit score itself, making it possible to shop around for the best interest rate without any credit risk.   Private lenders, furthermore, have much greater flexibility and can offer fixed or variable rates as needed.  Those looking for either the option to shorten the lifespan of their loan, or to reduce their monthly payments, can find a solution to their issue.  What's more, a private lender can provide further services, such as credit improvement strategies, career support and professional advice, or even financial planning to make certain that plans align with financial health.

Questions To Answer

Refinancing represents a major decision even if the process itself is not that complex.  The very first question that a person considering refinancing should answer is what their goal is.  It's easy to wish away loan debt, but much harder to draw together a comprehensive plan to get out of debt in the short- or long-term.  Carefully consider financial health, career paths, and other money-related goals (such as purchasing a home or starting a family) before planning how you'd like to repay your loans. Next, consider the total amount of money owed.  A relatively small amount of student debt (say, less than five thousand dollars) could possibly be re-paid in a year or two even if this path would demand major financial commitments; it's better to have less spending money in your pocket if the payoff is decades without debt.  Conversely, a much higher level of debt may need to be carefully managed over a far longer term.  Larger loan debt may not be preferable, but it does provide a lot of flexibility for the term and duration of loan repayments. Ask yourself how much money you want to commit each month to student loan repayments.  Federal guidelines state that "affordable" repayment amounts to 10% of discretionary income, but there are not many people out there who can afford to give up one dollar in each ten they make.  Start by identifying the necessary expenditures in life (namely rent, groceries, and bills) and take a look at the money left over.  Next, look at previous loan payments you've managed to make and ask yourself what path you'd like to follow: saving more money on payments, paying more debt down, or staying at a stable level.  If you can live frugally, you can take major steps towards repaying your loans.  However, it's ultimately better to be happy with your finances than it is to be debt-free. Next, take a long look at your credit score.  Not many people have the credit score they'd like and you may be able to save more money in the long run by taking the time to improve your credit score before pursuing a loan refinance.  Even if you've not done as well as you'd hoped meeting repayment deadlines, you can boost your credit score by paying down other debts and opening new credit cards -- provided, of course, you can pay the balance in full each month.  Remember that a credit score at or above 740 will get you access to the best possible interest rates, not just for loan refinancing, but also for mortgages and auto loans. Finally, consider whether or not you need a co-signer.  You may have already had a co-signer for the original student loans, but in the event that your credit score has not improved enough, you can benefit by having a co-signer who agrees to be the insurance policy for repayments.  Just be certain that the co-signer them self has good credit and is willing to take on the (not trivial) financial risk of a default.

The Future of Loans

On the surface, loan providers seem to be made in the shade with lemonade -- their services are in constant demand, millions of new customers come about each year, and their profit margins are quite healthy.  The overall health of the loan industry, however, isn't as sterling as you might think.  Sweeping proposals are threatening to upend the traditional business structure of student lending.  Now that one party controls all branches of the government, it's much easier to pass student loan reform.  President Trump's proposals for loan reform would raise the credit limit cap from the current 10% to 12.5%.  While this change would result in higher monthly payments, it would also allow for debt forgiveness after 15 years of repayment rather than the standard 20-year repayment schedules. Trump is also expected to try to combine lending and repayment options to streamline the process.  The government currently offers two repayment plans (for undergraduate and graduate debt) and Trump has stated the need to roll both into one plan for both types of debt.  Furthermore, his Department of Education has stated that it will be a priority to consolidate all nine federal loan servicing companies into one entity. One area of bipartisan agreement between both parties is an agreement that the government should do more to offer subsidies and offsets to encourage employers to assist in paying down their workers' student loans.  Many companies already have some student-loan repayment subsidies as employee benefits.  A new bill would allow more companies to deduct money contributed to employee student loan repayments, with employees receiving as much as $5,000 per year in tax-exempt benefits to pay back their loans. The Federal Reserve's ability to raise and lower interest rates (independent of politicians on Capitol Hill) can potentially make more of a difference to student loans than any other change.  The Federal Reserve is anticipating three separate rate hikes through 2017 and potentially more in 2018 as the dollar grows stronger.  These will not affect students with fixed-rate interest, but variable-rate interest loans will likely see rates rise.  Those concerned about the long-term fluctuation in interest rates should consider refinancing with a fixed-rate interest, especially if they can lock in a lower rate before the Federal Reserve carries through the next rate hike.  The decision to raise or lower interest rates generally follow 10-year Treasury bonds; pay close attention to these bonds' value during the upcoming spring and summertime, when they will consider moving the needle.

Conclusion

More students than ever are signing up for loans that will cover the cost of their education but require years or even decades of repayment.  Student debt in the United States has hit critical levels, eclipsing one trillion dollars in total, and many people with student loan debt worry that they will never be able to repay what they owe.  Refinancing loan debt offers an excellent solution to cut down on the interest rates that tack on additional costs to the principal of the loan.  However, refinancing is not a blanket solution for everyone.  Some would do better consolidating their loans, while others enjoy privileges or even forgiveness depending on the origin and stipulations of their loan.  Even so, refinancing is a simple process that can save tremendous amounts of money over the lifespan of a loan.  Anyone with significant loan debt, or concerns about their ability to meet their financial obligations, should look to refinancing as a valuable tool to cut interest rates down to lower their payments and allow them to get completely out of debt at the earliest possible juncture." ["post_title"]=> string(50) "A Comprehensive Guide to Refinancing Student Loans" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(30) "student-loan-refinancing-guide" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-09-12 20:36:04" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-09-12 20:36:04" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(35) "http://studentloanreport.org/?p=138" ["menu_order"]=> int(14) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } } ["post_count"]=> int(4) ["current_post"]=> int(-1) ["in_the_loop"]=> bool(false) ["post"]=> object(WP_Post)#613 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(130) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "1" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2017-08-21 13:05:16" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-08-21 13:05:16" ["post_content"]=> string(27278) "

Student Loan Statistics

Student loan debt has been on the rise, especially during the last decade. Statistics show that 2017 has been the worst year yet for student debt. In fact, as of 2017 Americans owe more than $1.4 trillion for the debt they obtained for their school-related expenses. When compared to the nation's credit card debt, student debt outweighs it by about $620 billion. Students that graduated in the year 2016 had an average loan debt of more than $37,000, which was a whopping six percent increase from those who graduated with a degree in 2015. There are more than 44.2 million Americans walking around with student debt hanging over their heads, and of these people, 11.2% of them are delinquent in paying back their debt. The average monthly payment for those repaying their loans is $351. That is quite a hefty payment for young people who have just freshly graduated college, especially being that many of them find it difficult to find lucrative employment even though they have a degree. (Data via federalreserve.govWSJ, newyorkfed.org herehere and here and clevelandfed.org here)

Who has Student Loan Debt?

It is important to understand that there are many types of colleges to choose from, including private and public colleges as well as those that are for-profit and those that are nonprofit. Still yet, statistics show that student debt plaques graduates from all of these schools. 66% of students earning a degree from a public college leave with student debt, while 75% graduating from private nonprofit colleges have debt and an astonishing 88% of those graduating from for-profit colleges have debt. It should also be noted that students who receive Pell Grants are likely to obtain a higher amount of loan debt. In 2012, 88% of students who received Pell Grants ended up having an average loan debt of more than $30,000. Of those who did not receive a Pell Grant, 53% of them had only about $26,450 in student debt. Data via Ticas.org Out of the $1 trillion debt for student loans, about 40% of it has been incurred by students who received graduate and professional degrees. Here is a quick overview of the average amount of student debt obtained by students according to the fields they go into: Data via 2012 Newamerica.org study

What is Student Loan Debt?

When a person acquires student debt, this means the student has borrowed money to pay for educational expenses, such as tuition, books, supplies, transportation to and from school, housing, and more. Because college tuition costs have been on the rise over the past decade most students are finding they must acquire a large amount of student debt to pay for their degrees. Within the United States, the majority of student debt is services by Sallie Mae, which is a publicly traded company. As you can imagine, some degrees are worth acquiring student debt, while many are not. So why would a person choose to earn a degree if the debt incurred can be so enormous? Well, to put it simply it is because the money that can be earned from a degree can go well beyond paying off the debt. Also, a degree can lead to a person being able to obtain a job that is both personally and occupationally fulfilling. It is imperative to understand that taking on student debt is only to your advantage if you actually complete the degree program. Many students find themselves with excessive student debt for programs they do not complete; therefore, leaving them with no degree to pursue their occupational dreams.

What is the Student Debt Crisis?

All consumer debts besides those related to housing are overwhelmed by student debt. What has caused this crisis to occur? Well, it starts with the fact that tuition costs have significantly risen over the past few years; however, this is not the only factor. In fact, predatory student loan practices have caused students to get in over their heads, and this combined with an absence of consumer protection for college students also plays a huge role in the crisis. Student debt would likely be greatly lessened if it were able to be removed from a person's credit through bankruptcy, but unfortunately, it is not. Even worse is that Congress led by Joe Biden in 2005 passed a law that chained students to their loan debt until death with no availability for the debt to be cleared through bankruptcy; this law made it legal for the government to go far beyond garnishing wages to make up for the debt. Those with student loan debt have the risk of having their Social Security payments garnished as well as their assets seized to repay the debt. And if you think the government hasn't used this law to their advantage, you need to think again. More than $1 billion has been collected from Social Security to help lower the nation's student debt. Predatory student loan lending practices have a major impact on the student debt crisis. Lenders are encouraged to tell students that they should borrow as much as they can to pay for the school expenses, using any leftover monies to cover additional living expenses that tie into their daily living. All of this leads to students borrowing an unnecessary amount of money. For example, if a student needs to borrow $4,540 for a semester, the lender will encourage him or her to borrow $7,000+. This might seem enticing to the student as he or she can use the leftover money to purchase a car or for other purposes and the repayment of the loan won't take place until a few years down the road when the student has graduated. What happens, though, is that the student incurs a massive amount of debt and is extremely overwhelmed when the repayment time period rolls around.

How does the Student Debt Crisis affect Families?

As you can imagine, when Social Security, assets, and wages are garnished and seized, this can be detrimental to families who rely on their monies to support their standard of living. According to the founder of Student Loan Justice, Alan Collinge, "The human cost of this phenomenon cannot be understated. Families and individuals are being financially destabilized and wrecked. Family formation, home and other purchases are being delayed or cancelled, people are actually fleeing the country and even committing suicide as a result of this predatory debt."

How Much Time does It Take to Earn a Degree?

The length of time that it takes to earn a degree will of course depend on the type of program you are wanting to complete. Take for example a dental hygienist program. This type of degree typically takes two years to earn, however, there are 17-month programs available. In fact, many two-year programs can be completed in anywhere from 15 to 18 months. It will help to shorten the length of time that it takes to earn a degree if you double up on classes and take summer courses. You will want to remember, though, not to overwhelm yourself with too many studies as this can cause your grades to suffer and add much stress to your life. Here is an overview of common degrees and how long it takes to earn them: Data via CNN.com

Is the Student Loan Debt Worth Getting a Degree?

You may find yourself asking if getting a degree is actually worth it in the end. The truth is, though, only you can answer that question. However, here are a few other questions you should be asking yourself: Do you actually plan on using the degree? If you are earning a degree only because you think it is the right thing to do, you will want to reconsider. There are many people who go to pursue and establish successful careers without having to get a degree. Just because you have a degree does not mean you have to use it, and if you do not actually plan on using it, then you will be wasting money on the expenses incurred? Are you sure you know what you want to do? If you are unsure as to the career field that you want to go into, it is highly suggested that you wait until you have more clarity. You do not want to obtain debt for a degree that you are not sure you will end up using. It is not uncommon, though, for young students to be unaware of what they want to get a degree in. If this happens to be you, you can always start off by taking courses that can be applied to any type of degree; these courses are considered general studies and are basic classes that are needed for any program that you go into. Do you plan to go to work once you earn your degree? In order to pay back any debt that you acquire for college while you are earning a degree, you will of course need to get a job once you graduate; this is why it is essential to assess whether or not you plan on going to work once you graduate. If you plan on taking time off from working, then you will probably want to do this before you go into debt for getting a degree. Most student loan lenders require repayment to start back within six months of graduation.

Which Degrees Pay the Most Money?

Looking to know which degrees pay the most money? If so, take a look at these and keep in mind that regardless of the length of time it takes to earn each degree, the more experience you have under your belt, the higher your wages are going to be:

Top-Paying 2-Year Degrees

Top-Paying 4-Year Degrees

Top-Paying Graduate Degrees

Top-Paying Degrees

Data collected from Payscale and here

Which Degrees are the Most Expensive to Earn?

When it comes to saving money on a degree, you should most definitely opt for one that is not well-known for being expensive. Here's a quick look at the most expensive degree fields. Please keep in mind, though, that you may be able to significantly lower the cost of earning these degrees if you choose another school. Still yet, these degrees are going to be expensive anywhere you choose to earn them. Data from Finances Online

Are Wages Stagnant as of 2017?

Even though the unemployment rate throughout the nation is lower than it ever has been since before 9/11 -- it is at 4.3% -- wages are still stagnant. Years ago, low unemployment was a factor that caused wages to rise up, yet over the past few years, the opposite has taken place. Why is it that this stagnation has taken place? Well, according to Bloomberg Businessweek's economics editor, Peter Coy, there are two primary reasons. First, even though you may not get many people to admit it, workers are content with what they are making right now. And secondly, bargaining power has been thrown out the window. There has been a drastic decline within the civilian workforce that is backed by labor unions, so gone are the days of unions going up against employers to raise their income. Individuals when they go into negotation with employers in regards to their salaries, they don't have a full workforce behind them to help sway the employers. The second factor comes at the hands of globalization. Many people have lost their bargaining power because jobs are being outsourced to cheaper sources.

7 Hot Career Fields that aren't Worth the Student Loan Debt

Check out these hot career fields that simply aren't worth going to school for. If you do, you will end up with an enormous amount of student debt and the jobs you can acquire with the degree will likely not pay well enough for you to pay your debt off within a reasonable amount of time. Instead, you will have a large amount of debt hanging over your hand for the rest of your life.

1) Corrections Officer

The median salary of a corrections officer is about $39,630; this is a 30-year earning of $2,337,376. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a corrections officer, you will only obtain an 18% return on your student debt investment.

2) Painter/Illustrator

The median salary of a painter/illustrator is about $37,819; this is a 30-year earning of $2,230,563. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a painter/illustrator, you will only obtain a 17% return on your student debt investment.

3) Daycare Center Teacher

The median salary of a daycare center teacher is about $27,910; this is a 30-year earning of $1,646,131. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a daycare center teacher, you will only obtain a 13% return on your student debt investment.

4) Religious Educator

The median salary of a religious educator is about $47,957; this is a 30-year earning of $2,828,502. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a religious educator, you will only obtain a 22% return on your student debt investment.

5) Catering Manager

The median salary of a catering manager is about $42,533; this is a 30-year earning of $2,508,595. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a catering manager, you will only obtain a 20% return on your student debt investment.

6) Human Services Worker

The median salary of a human services worker is about $22,738; this is a 30-year earning of $1,341,086. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a human services worker, you will only obtain a 10% return on your student debt investment.

7) News Reporter

The median salary of a news reporter is about $37,393; this is a 30-year earning of $2,205,438. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a news reporter, you will only obtain a 17% return on your student debt investment.

Five Career Fields that are Worth the Student Loan Debt

These five career fields are unlike the ones listed above and are definitely worth going to college for. They have a high growth rate and provide a great ROI (Return on Investment) in regards to the salaries they provide.

1) Engineering

Known for being one of the top-paying career fields, engineering is an industry with an expected 3% growth rate through the year 2024. Best of all, you don't have to go to school for a master's to go into engineering. Starting salaries for those with a bachelor's in engineering is about $64,891.

2) Communications

Known for having a bad reputation because of the fierce competition found in this industry, communications is actually a worthwhile career field to invest in. You don't even have to go to college for four years to get a degree in communications, and the starting salary in this industry is around $47,000.

3) Math and Science

Getting a degree in math and sciences is a great choice to make. There is not a lot of competition in this field and as technology continues to become more advanced, there is a greater need for workers in this industry. Starting salary for a person with a degree in math and sciences is about $55,087.

4) Computer Science

With a degree in computer science you will have many options in relation to career fields. Organizations located all throughout the globe have a need for people specializing in computer science, and this includes both small mom-and-pop shops and Fortune 500 companies. Over the next seven years this field is expected to grow by at least 12%. The starting salary for those entering in the computer science industry is around $61,321.

5) Economics

There is a high demand for workers in the field of economics. Fortunately, this is a field in which wages are not staying stagnant. This industry is expected to grow by 6% through the year 2024. Do keep in mind, though, that a career in economics will most likely mandate a master's degree. However, the starting salary for an economics specialist is about $52,100. Data from HuffingtonPost

What are the different ways to cover school expenses?

If you are considering taking out a student loan to cover the cost of going to college, it is pertinent to understand your various options. You should also consider any other options you have in regards to paying for all of the accompanying expenses. Here's an overview of six ways to pay for college:
  1. Student loans: There are different types of student loans to take advantage of, but you will need to speak with a professional lender to determine which one is best for you. Do keep in mind, that regardless of the one you opt for, you should borrow only the amount of money that you are in need of. Different types of student loans include subsidized Stafford Loans, unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Direct Consolidation Loans, Perkins Loans, PLUS Loans, private education loans, and health professions student loans.
  2. 529 Savings Plan: A 529 Savings Plan allows you to save for college according to a savings account that can grow tax-free. Best of all, as long as the monies are pulled from the account and used directly toward college-related expenses, you will not have to pay any federal taxes on them. Qualified college-related expenses include room and board, tuition, textbooks, and fees. In the United States, two-thirds of the states will give residents one or more tax breaks for investing in a 529 Savings Plan.
  3. Prepaid Tuition: Offering the same benefits as a 529 Savings Plan, a Prepaid Tuition Plan allows you to lock in tuition rates in advance. If you do not use the money you invest into the account for college-related expenses, you will have to pay the same tax penalty rate as you would with a 529 Savings Plan.
  4. Roth IRA: A Roth IRA needs to be invested into as early as possible. The money in the account will grow tax-free and as long as you withdraw the money for educational expenses, you will not penalized with the 10% early-withdrawal fee.
  5. Custodial Accounts: This type of account allows you to gift up to $13,000 a year to your child without triggering the gift tax penalty. Once the child reaches a pre-determined age -- usually somewhere between the ages of 18 to 21 -- he or she then owns the account and can use the monies to pay for college-related expenses. In fact, your child can use the funds for all types of expenses, such as buying a car or a home.
  6. Scholarships: You should always do your best to apply for scholarships and grants to help pay for college expenses. Many students are able to save thousands of dollars every year by taking advantage of grants and scholarships. And while many people think scholarships are only given out to those who excel in academics or sports, there are actually many other reasons entities will give away scholarships, such as the JIF Most Creative Sandwich Scholarship.

What are Ways to Save Money On School Expenses?

When it comes to saving money on college expenses, you first need to take into consideration the money you are going to be out in regards to tuition. Your tuition is going to be the most major expense, so it makes sense that you will want to choose a college that is affordable. If you are wanting to go to a four-year university, you should consider first completing your undergraduate degree at a community or vocational school; both of these schools tend to be far less expensive than universities, which allows you to obtain your undergraduate degree for about a third of the price as you would pay elsewhere. Think about it. If you go to a university at $23,000 a year for four years, that's $92,000. If, however, you go to a community college for two years at $11,000 a year and then complete two more years at a university to obtain your masters degree at $23,000 a year, that's only $68,000. You will be saving $24,000. Another way to save money on going to college is to opt for off-campus housing. Room and board often costs upward of $10,000 a year. If you stay off campus, though, you can likely rent a house with other students at $300 a person, which means you will only be spending $3,600 on housing. Plus, since you will have to cover your rent upfront, you won't have to worry about paying it back once you have earned your degree. This means your overall student loan debt when you graduate will likely be anywhere from $28,000 to $45,000 less if you choose to live off campus.

What are the Benefits of having a Degree?

The benefits of having a degree should never be overlooked. According to Education Corner, high school graduates have an average income of about $30,000 a year. College graduates with a bachelor's degree, however, make upwards of $50,000 a year. And those who choose to earn a Master's or Doctorate degree usually earn at least $70,000 per year. Over one's lifetime, most degrees will pay for themselves and translate into significant earnings. The benefits of earning a degree extend far beyond monetary value, as well. Those with a degree are likely able to acquire jobs with entities who offer health insurance, retirement plans, and more. Having a health and retirement plan is essential to the stability of your family and can provide great peace of mind. Photo by Richard Walker." ["post_title"]=> string(71) "Student Loan Debt vs. Entry Level Pay: An In-depth, Up-to-Date Overview" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(36) "student-loan-debt-vs-entry-level-pay" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2017-09-12 19:04:26" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2017-09-12 19:04:26" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(35) "http://studentloanreport.org/?p=130" ["menu_order"]=> int(5) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } ["comment_count"]=> int(0) ["current_comment"]=> int(-1) ["found_posts"]=> string(1) "6" ["max_num_pages"]=> float(2) ["max_num_comment_pages"]=> int(0) ["is_single"]=> bool(false) ["is_preview"]=> bool(false) ["is_page"]=> bool(false) ["is_archive"]=> bool(true) ["is_date"]=> bool(false) ["is_year"]=> bool(false) ["is_month"]=> bool(false) ["is_day"]=> bool(false) ["is_time"]=> bool(false) ["is_author"]=> bool(false) ["is_category"]=> bool(true) ["is_tag"]=> bool(false) ["is_tax"]=> bool(false) ["is_search"]=> bool(false) ["is_feed"]=> bool(false) ["is_comment_feed"]=> bool(false) ["is_trackback"]=> bool(false) ["is_home"]=> bool(false) ["is_404"]=> bool(false) ["is_embed"]=> bool(false) ["is_paged"]=> bool(false) ["is_admin"]=> bool(false) ["is_attachment"]=> bool(false) ["is_singular"]=> bool(false) ["is_robots"]=> bool(false) ["is_posts_page"]=> bool(false) ["is_post_type_archive"]=> bool(false) ["query_vars_hash":"WP_Query":private]=> string(32) "00332bcfbc41e790ac751ef9c80e74b1" ["query_vars_changed":"WP_Query":private]=> bool(true) ["thumbnails_cached"]=> bool(false) ["stopwords":"WP_Query":private]=> NULL ["compat_fields":"WP_Query":private]=> array(2) { [0]=> string(15) "query_vars_hash" [1]=> string(18) "query_vars_changed" } ["compat_methods":"WP_Query":private]=> array(2) { [0]=> string(16) "init_query_flags" [1]=> string(15) "parse_tax_query" } }

Student Loan Debt vs. Entry Level Pay: An In-depth, Up-to-Date Overview

Reports

Student Loan Statistics

Student loan debt has been on the rise, especially during the last decade. Statistics show that 2017 has been the worst year yet for student debt. In fact, as of 2017 Americans owe more than $1.4 trillion for the debt they obtained for their school-related expenses. When compared to the nation’s credit card debt, student debt outweighs it by about $620 billion. Students that graduated in the year 2016 had an average loan debt of more than $37,000, which was a whopping six percent increase from those who graduated with a degree in 2015.

There are more than 44.2 million Americans walking around with student debt hanging over their heads, and of these people, 11.2% of them are delinquent in paying back their debt. The average monthly payment for those repaying their loans is $351. That is quite a hefty payment for young people who have just freshly graduated college, especially being that many of them find it difficult to find lucrative employment even though they have a degree.

(Data via federalreserve.govWSJ, newyorkfed.org herehere and here and clevelandfed.org here)

Who has Student Loan Debt?

It is important to understand that there are many types of colleges to choose from, including private and public colleges as well as those that are for-profit and those that are nonprofit. Still yet, statistics show that student debt plaques graduates from all of these schools. 66% of students earning a degree from a public college leave with student debt, while 75% graduating from private nonprofit colleges have debt and an astonishing 88% of those graduating from for-profit colleges have debt.

It should also be noted that students who receive Pell Grants are likely to obtain a higher amount of loan debt. In 2012, 88% of students who received Pell Grants ended up having an average loan debt of more than $30,000. Of those who did not receive a Pell Grant, 53% of them had only about $26,450 in student debt.

Data via Ticas.org

Out of the $1 trillion debt for student loans, about 40% of it has been incurred by students who received graduate and professional degrees. Here is a quick overview of the average amount of student debt obtained by students according to the fields they go into:

  • Master of Education: students graduated with an average debt of $50,879
  • Master of Arts: students graduated with an average debt of $58,539
  • MBA: students graduated with an average debt of $42,000
  • Law: students graduated with an average debt of $140,616
  • Master of Science: students graduated with an average debt of $50,400
  • Medicine and health sciences: students graduated with an average debt of $161,772

Data via 2012 Newamerica.org study

What is Student Loan Debt?

When a person acquires student debt, this means the student has borrowed money to pay for educational expenses, such as tuition, books, supplies, transportation to and from school, housing, and more. Because college tuition costs have been on the rise over the past decade most students are finding they must acquire a large amount of student debt to pay for their degrees. Within the United States, the majority of student debt is services by Sallie Mae, which is a publicly traded company.

As you can imagine, some degrees are worth acquiring student debt, while many are not. So why would a person choose to earn a degree if the debt incurred can be so enormous? Well, to put it simply it is because the money that can be earned from a degree can go well beyond paying off the debt. Also, a degree can lead to a person being able to obtain a job that is both personally and occupationally fulfilling. It is imperative to understand that taking on student debt is only to your advantage if you actually complete the degree program. Many students find themselves with excessive student debt for programs they do not complete; therefore, leaving them with no degree to pursue their occupational dreams.

What is the Student Debt Crisis?

All consumer debts besides those related to housing are overwhelmed by student debt. What has caused this crisis to occur? Well, it starts with the fact that tuition costs have significantly risen over the past few years; however, this is not the only factor. In fact, predatory student loan practices have caused students to get in over their heads, and this combined with an absence of consumer protection for college students also plays a huge role in the crisis. Student debt would likely be greatly lessened if it were able to be removed from a person’s credit through bankruptcy, but unfortunately, it is not. Even worse is that Congress led by Joe Biden in 2005 passed a law that chained students to their loan debt until death with no availability for the debt to be cleared through bankruptcy; this law made it legal for the government to go far beyond garnishing wages to make up for the debt. Those with student loan debt have the risk of having their Social Security payments garnished as well as their assets seized to repay the debt. And if you think the government hasn’t used this law to their advantage, you need to think again. More than $1 billion has been collected from Social Security to help lower the nation’s student debt.

Predatory student loan lending practices have a major impact on the student debt crisis. Lenders are encouraged to tell students that they should borrow as much as they can to pay for the school expenses, using any leftover monies to cover additional living expenses that tie into their daily living. All of this leads to students borrowing an unnecessary amount of money. For example, if a student needs to borrow $4,540 for a semester, the lender will encourage him or her to borrow $7,000+. This might seem enticing to the student as he or she can use the leftover money to purchase a car or for other purposes and the repayment of the loan won’t take place until a few years down the road when the student has graduated. What happens, though, is that the student incurs a massive amount of debt and is extremely overwhelmed when the repayment time period rolls around.

How does the Student Debt Crisis affect Families?

As you can imagine, when Social Security, assets, and wages are garnished and seized, this can be detrimental to families who rely on their monies to support their standard of living. According to the founder of Student Loan Justice, Alan Collinge, “The human cost of this phenomenon cannot be understated. Families and individuals are being financially destabilized and wrecked. Family formation, home and other purchases are being delayed or cancelled, people are actually fleeing the country and even committing suicide as a result of this predatory debt.”

How Much Time does It Take to Earn a Degree?

The length of time that it takes to earn a degree will of course depend on the type of program you are wanting to complete. Take for example a dental hygienist program. This type of degree typically takes two years to earn, however, there are 17-month programs available. In fact, many two-year programs can be completed in anywhere from 15 to 18 months. It will help to shorten the length of time that it takes to earn a degree if you double up on classes and take summer courses. You will want to remember, though, not to overwhelm yourself with too many studies as this can cause your grades to suffer and add much stress to your life. Here is an overview of common degrees and how long it takes to earn them:

  • Radiology Tech: two years with median annual wage of $50,260
  • Fashion Designer: two years with median annual wage of $62,810
  • Computer Specialist: two years with median annual wage of $71,510
  • Registered Nurse: two years with median annual wage of $62,810
  • Paralegal: two years with median annual wage of $44,990
  • Occupational Therapist: two years with median annual wage of $45,05
  • Petroleum Engineer: four years with median mid-career salary of $157,000
  • Chemical Engineer: four years with median mid-career salary of $108,000
  • Purchasing Manager: four years with a median mid-career salary of $97,000
  • Financial Analysts: four years with a starting salary of $47,500
  • Information Systems Managers: four years with a starting salary of $50,900

Data via CNN.com

Is the Student Loan Debt Worth Getting a Degree?

You may find yourself asking if getting a degree is actually worth it in the end. The truth is, though, only you can answer that question. However, here are a few other questions you should be asking yourself:

Do you actually plan on using the degree? If you are earning a degree only because you think it is the right thing to do, you will want to reconsider. There are many people who go to pursue and establish successful careers without having to get a degree. Just because you have a degree does not mean you have to use it, and if you do not actually plan on using it, then you will be wasting money on the expenses incurred?

Are you sure you know what you want to do? If you are unsure as to the career field that you want to go into, it is highly suggested that you wait until you have more clarity. You do not want to obtain debt for a degree that you are not sure you will end up using. It is not uncommon, though, for young students to be unaware of what they want to get a degree in. If this happens to be you, you can always start off by taking courses that can be applied to any type of degree; these courses are considered general studies and are basic classes that are needed for any program that you go into.

Do you plan to go to work once you earn your degree? In order to pay back any debt that you acquire for college while you are earning a degree, you will of course need to get a job once you graduate; this is why it is essential to assess whether or not you plan on going to work once you graduate. If you plan on taking time off from working, then you will probably want to do this before you go into debt for getting a degree. Most student loan lenders require repayment to start back within six months of graduation.

Which Degrees Pay the Most Money?

Looking to know which degrees pay the most money? If so, take a look at these and keep in mind that regardless of the length of time it takes to earn each degree, the more experience you have under your belt, the higher your wages are going to be:

Top-Paying 2-Year Degrees

  • Computer Engineering
  • Economics
  • Management Information Systems
  • Construction Management

Top-Paying 4-Year Degrees

  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Systems Engineering
  • Actuarial Mathematics
  • Chemical Engineering

Top-Paying Graduate Degrees

  • Nurse Anesthesia
  • Strategy
  • Chemical Engineering
  • General and Strategic Management

Top-Paying Degrees

  • 2-Year: Political Science — $86,100, 20+ years experience
  • 4-Year: Petroleum Engineering — $185,000, 20+ years experience
  • Masters: International Business — $158,000 20+ years experience
  • MBA: Strategy — $175,000 20+ years experience
  • PhD: Statistics — $172,000, 20+ years experience

Data collected from Payscale and here

Which Degrees are the Most Expensive to Earn?

When it comes to saving money on a degree, you should most definitely opt for one that is not well-known for being expensive. Here’s a quick look at the most expensive degree fields. Please keep in mind, though, that you may be able to significantly lower the cost of earning these degrees if you choose another school. Still yet, these degrees are going to be expensive anywhere you choose to earn them.

  • Public Policy and Law at Trinity College: $308,490
  • MBA at Columbia University: $317,030
  • Music at Bard College: $271,375
  • Music and Technology at Connecticut College: $219,950
  • Film Studies at Wesleyan University: $218,370
  • History and Law at Sarah Lawrence College: $402,962
  • Law at Vanderbilt University: $375,620

Data from Finances Online

Are Wages Stagnant as of 2017?

Even though the unemployment rate throughout the nation is lower than it ever has been since before 9/11 — it is at 4.3% — wages are still stagnant. Years ago, low unemployment was a factor that caused wages to rise up, yet over the past few years, the opposite has taken place. Why is it that this stagnation has taken place? Well, according to Bloomberg Businessweek’s economics editor, Peter Coy, there are two primary reasons. First, even though you may not get many people to admit it, workers are content with what they are making right now. And secondly, bargaining power has been thrown out the window. There has been a drastic decline within the civilian workforce that is backed by labor unions, so gone are the days of unions going up against employers to raise their income. Individuals when they go into negotation with employers in regards to their salaries, they don’t have a full workforce behind them to help sway the employers. The second factor comes at the hands of globalization. Many people have lost their bargaining power because jobs are being outsourced to cheaper sources.

7 Hot Career Fields that aren’t Worth the Student Loan Debt

Check out these hot career fields that simply aren’t worth going to school for. If you do, you will end up with an enormous amount of student debt and the jobs you can acquire with the degree will likely not pay well enough for you to pay your debt off within a reasonable amount of time. Instead, you will have a large amount of debt hanging over your hand for the rest of your life.

1) Corrections Officer

The median salary of a corrections officer is about $39,630; this is a 30-year earning of $2,337,376. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a corrections officer, you will only obtain an 18% return on your student debt investment.

2) Painter/Illustrator

The median salary of a painter/illustrator is about $37,819; this is a 30-year earning of $2,230,563. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a painter/illustrator, you will only obtain a 17% return on your student debt investment.

3) Daycare Center Teacher

The median salary of a daycare center teacher is about $27,910; this is a 30-year earning of $1,646,131. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a daycare center teacher, you will only obtain a 13% return on your student debt investment.

4) Religious Educator

The median salary of a religious educator is about $47,957; this is a 30-year earning of $2,828,502. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a religious educator, you will only obtain a 22% return on your student debt investment.

5) Catering Manager

The median salary of a catering manager is about $42,533; this is a 30-year earning of $2,508,595. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a catering manager, you will only obtain a 20% return on your student debt investment.

6) Human Services Worker

The median salary of a human services worker is about $22,738; this is a 30-year earning of $1,341,086. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a human services worker, you will only obtain a 10% return on your student debt investment.

7) News Reporter

The median salary of a news reporter is about $37,393; this is a 30-year earning of $2,205,438. If you attend a private college to earn a degree to become a news reporter, you will only obtain a 17% return on your student debt investment.

Five Career Fields that are Worth the Student Loan Debt

These five career fields are unlike the ones listed above and are definitely worth going to college for. They have a high growth rate and provide a great ROI (Return on Investment) in regards to the salaries they provide.

1) Engineering

Known for being one of the top-paying career fields, engineering is an industry with an expected 3% growth rate through the year 2024. Best of all, you don’t have to go to school for a master’s to go into engineering. Starting salaries for those with a bachelor’s in engineering is about $64,891.

2) Communications

Known for having a bad reputation because of the fierce competition found in this industry, communications is actually a worthwhile career field to invest in. You don’t even have to go to college for four years to get a degree in communications, and the starting salary in this industry is around $47,000.

3) Math and Science

Getting a degree in math and sciences is a great choice to make. There is not a lot of competition in this field and as technology continues to become more advanced, there is a greater need for workers in this industry. Starting salary for a person with a degree in math and sciences is about $55,087.

4) Computer Science

With a degree in computer science you will have many options in relation to career fields. Organizations located all throughout the globe have a need for people specializing in computer science, and this includes both small mom-and-pop shops and Fortune 500 companies. Over the next seven years this field is expected to grow by at least 12%. The starting salary for those entering in the computer science industry is around $61,321.

5) Economics

There is a high demand for workers in the field of economics. Fortunately, this is a field in which wages are not staying stagnant. This industry is expected to grow by 6% through the year 2024. Do keep in mind, though, that a career in economics will most likely mandate a master’s degree. However, the starting salary for an economics specialist is about $52,100.

Data from HuffingtonPost

What are the different ways to cover school expenses?

If you are considering taking out a student loan to cover the cost of going to college, it is pertinent to understand your various options. You should also consider any other options you have in regards to paying for all of the accompanying expenses. Here’s an overview of six ways to pay for college:

  1. Student loans: There are different types of student loans to take advantage of, but you will need to speak with a professional lender to determine which one is best for you. Do keep in mind, that regardless of the one you opt for, you should borrow only the amount of money that you are in need of. Different types of student loans include subsidized Stafford Loans, unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Direct Consolidation Loans, Perkins Loans, PLUS Loans, private education loans, and health professions student loans.
  2. 529 Savings Plan: A 529 Savings Plan allows you to save for college according to a savings account that can grow tax-free. Best of all, as long as the monies are pulled from the account and used directly toward college-related expenses, you will not have to pay any federal taxes on them. Qualified college-related expenses include room and board, tuition, textbooks, and fees. In the United States, two-thirds of the states will give residents one or more tax breaks for investing in a 529 Savings Plan.
  3. Prepaid Tuition: Offering the same benefits as a 529 Savings Plan, a Prepaid Tuition Plan allows you to lock in tuition rates in advance. If you do not use the money you invest into the account for college-related expenses, you will have to pay the same tax penalty rate as you would with a 529 Savings Plan.
  4. Roth IRA: A Roth IRA needs to be invested into as early as possible. The money in the account will grow tax-free and as long as you withdraw the money for educational expenses, you will not penalized with the 10% early-withdrawal fee.
  5. Custodial Accounts: This type of account allows you to gift up to $13,000 a year to your child without triggering the gift tax penalty. Once the child reaches a pre-determined age — usually somewhere between the ages of 18 to 21 — he or she then owns the account and can use the monies to pay for college-related expenses. In fact, your child can use the funds for all types of expenses, such as buying a car or a home.
  6. Scholarships: You should always do your best to apply for scholarships and grants to help pay for college expenses. Many students are able to save thousands of dollars every year by taking advantage of grants and scholarships. And while many people think scholarships are only given out to those who excel in academics or sports, there are actually many other reasons entities will give away scholarships, such as the JIF Most Creative Sandwich Scholarship.

What are Ways to Save Money On School Expenses?

When it comes to saving money on college expenses, you first need to take into consideration the money you are going to be out in regards to tuition. Your tuition is going to be the most major expense, so it makes sense that you will want to choose a college that is affordable. If you are wanting to go to a four-year university, you should consider first completing your undergraduate degree at a community or vocational school; both of these schools tend to be far less expensive than universities, which allows you to obtain your undergraduate degree for about a third of the price as you would pay elsewhere. Think about it. If you go to a university at $23,000 a year for four years, that’s $92,000. If, however, you go to a community college for two years at $11,000 a year and then complete two more years at a university to obtain your masters degree at $23,000 a year, that’s only $68,000. You will be saving $24,000.

Another way to save money on going to college is to opt for off-campus housing. Room and board often costs upward of $10,000 a year. If you stay off campus, though, you can likely rent a house with other students at $300 a person, which means you will only be spending $3,600 on housing. Plus, since you will have to cover your rent upfront, you won’t have to worry about paying it back once you have earned your degree. This means your overall student loan debt when you graduate will likely be anywhere from $28,000 to $45,000 less if you choose to live off campus.

What are the Benefits of having a Degree?

The benefits of having a degree should never be overlooked. According to Education Corner, high school graduates have an average income of about $30,000 a year. College graduates with a bachelor’s degree, however, make upwards of $50,000 a year. And those who choose to earn a Master’s or Doctorate degree usually earn at least $70,000 per year. Over one’s lifetime, most degrees will pay for themselves and translate into significant earnings.

The benefits of earning a degree extend far beyond monetary value, as well. Those with a degree are likely able to acquire jobs with entities who offer health insurance, retirement plans, and more. Having a health and retirement plan is essential to the stability of your family and can provide great peace of mind.

Photo by Richard Walker.

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