Swimming Pool Financing: What to Know and Best Pool Loans

Who doesn’t love a relaxing dip in the swimming pool on a sweltering, hot day? And when that swimming pool is in your backyard, it’s even better.

You could bring your friends together over the summer by hosting pool parties. You could teach your kids to swim right at home. If you rent out your place on Airbnb or Vrbo, you could fetch top dollar for the additional amenity.

Sounds like a dream.

If your house didn’t already come with a pool when you moved in, there’s still a possibility of turning your pool fantasies into reality if you have enough space.

And if you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars upfront to spend on a pool construction project, there’s always pool financing.

What Is Pool Financing?

Pool financing is when you borrow money from a financial institution or lender to cover the costs of building a pool. Pool construction typically costs anywhere from $17,971 to $46,481 with the average cost being around $32,059, according to HomeAdvisor.

Of course, the cost will vary based on the size, the type of pool, your location and where you plan to build the pool on your property. Adding a small plunge pool to a cleared, flat space in your backyard will cost considerably less than adding a resort-style pool with waterfalls and a jacuzzi to your property that requires you to cut down multiple trees and level the land.

Besides the personal enjoyment that comes along with having a pool, this addition to your home could boost your property value and make your home more desirable to future buyers, renters or short-term guests.

The high cost to install a pool means that many people rely on pool financing. There are several ways to go about getting a loan for a pool.

Options for Pool Financing

If you want to add a pool to your property, but don’t have the cash upfront, you have several options.

You could get a personal loan (sometimes referred to as a pool loan), a home equity loan, a home equity line of credit or a cash-out refinance. Some pool builders or retailers offer in-house loan programs through their partner lenders. You might also consider using a credit card as your method of financing.

Personal Loans (AKA Pool Loans)

Pool loans are unsecured personal loans offered by banks, credit unions and online lenders. You may be able to get a pool loan through the financial institution where you already have existing accounts, or you might choose to get financed from an online lender or financing consultant company that deals exclusively with pool loans and home improvement loans.

One of the benefits of personal loans is that you don’t have to offer up any collateral. If you stop making payments and default on your loan, you don’t have to worry about your house being foreclosed — though the lender still could sue you. If approved for an unsecured personal loan, you can usually receive funds within a couple of days, much quicker than some other financing options.

Because you don’t have any collateral backing the loan, however, these financing options can come with higher interest rates. Interest rates can start around 3% and go up to about 36%.

A borrower’s credit score, credit history, income and existing debt load all affect the interest rate.

Personal loan terms generally range from about two to 12 years — though some pool loans can have terms up to 20 years or more. You can get loans from $1,000 to over $200,000 to fund simple above-ground pools or elaborate in-ground pool projects.

Home Equity Loans

Home equity loans are essentially when you tap into the equity you have in your home and take out a second mortgage. If you have a significant amount of equity, you could finance your pool project this way.

Home equity loans generally have lower interest rates than personal loans because your home is used as collateral. If you default on your loan, the lender could foreclose on your home.

Also, with home equity loans you’ll face additional fees, like a home appraisal cost and closing costs, so be sure to factor that into your decision making.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

A home equity line of credit or HELOC also taps into the equity you have in your home, but it’s a revolving line of credit that you can use for several years instead of a loan that provides you with one lump sum of cash.

With a HELOC, you can pull out funds as needed to finance your pool construction and other home improvement projects. While you’ll only pay back what you borrow, the interest on HELOCs are usually adjustable rates rather than fixed rates. That means your monthly payments can increase during your repayment period.

Cash-Out Refinance

A cash-out refinance is essentially when you replace your existing mortgage with a new mortgage that exceeds what you owe on the house and you take out the difference in cash.

You can then use that lump sum to pay for your pool, and you’ll pay it back throughout the course of your new mortgage — over the next 10 to 30 years depending on your loan terms.

A cash-out refinance might make sense if you’re able to get a lower interest rate than your current mortgage. However, just like with a home equity loan or HELOC, your home is being used as collateral, and you’ll face additional fees involved in the refinancing process.

In-House Financing from the Pool Builder

Some pool companies may directly provide you with pool financing offers, so you don’t have to search for financing on your own. The pool companies typically aren’t offering the loan to you themselves, but they’ve partnered with a lender or network of lenders to provide you with financing options.

This type of financing is the same as applying for a personal loan or pool loan. The benefit is that you get a one-stop-shop experience instead of having to reach out to lenders individually. Your pool contractor may even be able to assist you through the loan process.

The downside is that you could potentially miss out on a better deal by only getting quotes from the pool company’s partnered lenders.

Credit Cards

Because of their high interest rates, credit cards are usually not recommended as options for financing a new swimming pool. However, there can be situations where it’d make sense.

If you’re able to open a zero-interest credit card and pay the balance back before the zero-interest period expires, paying with a credit card can be a great option — especially if it’s a rewards card that’ll give you points, airline miles or cash-back for spending or a bonus just for opening the account.

If you choose this financing option, be sure that you’ll be able to pay off the balance in a relatively short period of time. Most credit cards only offer zero-interest periods for the first 12 to 21 months. After that your interest rate could go up to 18% or more.

Pool Loan Comparisons

Getting quotes from multiple lenders will help you select the best deal for your pool construction project. Here’s what a few top lenders are currently offering.

Lyon Financial

Best for Long Loan Terms

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Pays the pool contractor directly
  • 600 minimum credit score
  • Offers military discounts

Lyon Financial is a financing consultant that has been in business since 1979 and works with a network of lenders to provide loans for pool and home improvement projects. Unlike personal loans that provide the borrower with the funds upfront, Lyon Financial disburses the funding directly to the pool builder in stages as the project progresses.

Lyon Financial

APR (interest rates)

As low as 2.99%

Maximum loan amount

$200,000

Loan terms

Up to 25 years

HFS Financial

Best for Large Pool Loans

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Provides loans up to $500,000
  • Most loans are funded within 48 hours
  • No prepayment penalties

HFS Financial is a financing company that partners with third-party lenders to provide homeowners with the money to construct pools on their property. Use their “60 second loan application” to kick off the loan process. Funds are typically dispersed within 48 hours.

HFS Financial

APR (interest rates)

As low as 2.99%

Maximum loan amount

$500,000

Loan terms

Up to 20 years

Viking Capital

Best for Customer Service

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Supports a network of pool builders
  • 650 minimum credit score
  • Offers military discounts

Viking Capital is a family-owned business that has been in operation since 1999. The company acts in the capacity of a financial consultant, and partners with a network of lenders to provide multiple loan offers for pool construction projects.

Viking Capital

APR (interest rates)

As low as 5.49%

Maximum loan amount

$125,000

Loan terms

Up to 20 years

5 Steps to Securing Pool Financing

Follow these steps to secure a loan for your pool.

1. Determine What Monthly Payments You Can Afford

Before you dig into your pool financing options, you should be clear on what monthly payment you can afford. Having a pool is a luxury. You don’t want a pool construction project to jeopardize your ability to pay your bills and meet your needs.

Figure out how much disposable income you have to work with by comparing your monthly earnings to how much you typically spend each month.

Don’t forget to factor in maintenance and additional utilities usage when estimating how much you can afford to go toward pool costs.

2. Check Your Credit History

When you’re financing a pool, having a good or excellent credit score will help you secure a loan with a low interest rate. Ideally, your credit score should be 700 or above.

Some lenders may offer you financing if you have fair or poor credit, however you may have to pay a lot more over time due to higher interest rates.

To boost your credit score before applying for a pool loan, follow these steps.

3. Get Cost Estimates for Your Pool

Talk with pool builders to get estimates on the total cost of your desired pool project. Get estimates from multiple pool companies so you have a better idea of what options exist.

If the estimates come in higher than you expected, consider scaling down the size of your pool project or using different materials.

Make sure any additional work — like constructing safety fencing — is included in your estimate.

4. Choose What Type of Financing Your Prefer and Shop Around For Lenders

After you figure out what options are available within your budget, it’s time to decide on what type of financing you prefer.

Will you be applying for an unsecured loan or do you plan to tap into your home equity or refinance your mortgage? Are you going to purchase a small above-ground pool that you could pay off in 15 months using a zero-interest credit card?

Once you know what type of financing you’ll go with, reach out to multiple lenders so you can compare offers and choose the best deal. You may be able to use a competitor’s lower offer to get a lender to reduce their offer even further.

5. Complete Loan Application and Sign Off on All Paperwork

The final step to get your pool project financed is to complete any additional paperwork and sign off on the dotted line. Expect to provide information about your income and other existing debt.

Your credit score may take a dip after taking on new debt, but it should rebound as you make regular, on-time payments.

Alternatives to Pool Financing

Taking on debt for a new pool doesn’t have to be your only option.

You could put off your pool construction project for a few years and save up for the expense in cash. Open a high-yield savings account to use as a sinking fund and don’t make withdrawals from the account until you’ve reached your savings goal.

If you think you’re outgrowing your current home — or are looking to downsize — wait until you’re ready to move and then look for a new home with an existing pool.

Or if you’re okay with not having a pool in your backyard, you’ll save money by visiting public pools or renting private pools from Swimply on occasion. This is a good option if you think you wouldn’t get much regular use of having your own pool.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many years can you refinance a pool for?

You can finance a pool over 20 to 30 years, depending on the type of financing you secure. If you need decades to pay back the loan, you might consider refinancing your mortgage or taking out a second mortgage. Private, unsecured loans typically need to be repaid sooner, however some have loan terms of 20 years or more.

What is the best way to finance a pool?

It all depends on your individual circumstances and preferences. If you’ve built up a ton of equity in your home and want to spread your debt payments over a lot of time, you might lean toward a home equity loan or HELOC. If you’ve got excellent credit and would qualify for a low-interest personal loan (unsecured loan), that might be the better option.

What credit score do you need for pool financing?

Ideally, you’ll want to have a credit score of 700 or higher to get the best interest rates for pool financing. Some companies, however, will accept lower credit scores. As a result, your loan may have a higher interest rate.

What is a good interest rate for a pool loan?

An interest rate around 5% is a good deal for a pool loan. You may be able to find rates even lower if you have excellent credit.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

<!–

–>

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How Much is an iPod Worth?

In a file photo dated 2015, an iPod, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle are displayed at an Apple store in New York.

In this 2015 file photo, from left, an iPod, iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle are displayed at an Apple store in New York. AP Photo by Mark Lennihan

Apple announced that it’s discontinuing the iPod, so is now a good time to sell your old iPod?

Apple introduced the first iPod in 2001, revolutionizing the way we listen to music, and Apple products can surprisingly hold their value. From Apple’s vintage original to the final 7th generation iPod Touch, here’s how much your old iPod is worth.

How Much Is an iPod Worth?

Your iPod’s value will depend on the model, age, condition and storage capacity. At the lower end are iPods with heavy cosmetic damage, while on the higher end are iPods in excellent condition, often with large storage capacities.

There are five categories of iPod: the Classic, Mini, Nano, Shuffle and Touch. You can go to Apple’s support page if you need help identifying your iPod model.

The estimated prices are subject to change and are based upon data found as of the publish date. The sale prices are based on sold and completed listings from online auction and e-commerce sites, including eBay and Amazon.

If you have a broken iPod, you should assume that the estimated value is even less, but you can try selling it as-is for a lower price.

Value of the iPod Classic

Price range: $30-$1,000

The most valuable iPod Classics are the original 1st generation, a piece of Apple history, and the final two generations, which are still usable today. All sell particularly well if they are still in their original packaging.

Apple released six versions of the iPod Classic over its lifetime, with the last model announced in 2007 and discontinued in 2014.

iPod Classic

Generation Condition/Packaging Selling For
1st Good to excellent condition $200 to $500
1st Original packaging $1,000
2nd Good condition At least $150
2nd Perfect condition with all the accessories $300
3rd Good condition $50 to $100
4th Good condition $36 to $60
5th and 6th Good to like new $60 to $180

Value of the iPod Mini

Price range: $20-$150

The Apple iPod Mini was a successful, scaled-down iPod that introduced the famous Click Wheel. The only decent price you can get for the iPod Mini is if you have it with the original box in excellent condition.

iPod Mini

Generation Condition/Packaging Selling For
All Good condition $20 to $60
All Original box, excellent condition As high as $150

Value of the iPod Nano 

Price range: $20-$350

The Apple iPod Nano was the successor to the iPod Mini, featuring smaller-capacity solid-state flash memory. The iPod Nano’s design changed wildly over the seven generations it was offered from 2005 to 2017.

Starting with a Click Wheel, the Nano eventually became a touch-screen device. The 1st generation iPod Nano is seen as a collector’s piece when it’s a sealed, new in-box device.

iPod Nano

Generation Condition/ Packaging Selling For
1st, 2nd and 3rd Sealed, new in box Up to $350
1st, 2nd and 3rd Used $20 to $60
4th and 5th Good condition $30 to $100
6th and 7th Good condition Starting at $25
6th and 7th Sealed in original boxes Up to $250

Value of the iPod Shuffle

Price range: $10-$160

Designed as a cheaper alternative, the iPod Shuffle lacked a screen, forcing the user to rely on a shuffle feature that randomly played music. The shuffle lasted from 2005 to 2010 and had six different generations.

As with the others, the most valuable Shuffles are in their original boxes.

iPod Shuffle

Generation Condition/ Packaging Selling For
1st Original box $50 to $160
1st No box $10 to $25
2nd Good to sealed in box $15 to $70
3rd Good to sealed in box $15 to $80
4th Good $30
4th New, in-box Up to $150

Value of the iPod Touch

Price range: $20 to $600

The iPod Touch was introduced in 2007 and continued selling up until 2022. The last generation to be produced included up to 256 GB of storage and Apple’s A10 Fusion SoC. Values can range wildly, depending on the age, condition and storage.

Apple is continuing to sell the iPod Touch 7th generation for up to $400 while supplies last, but don’t expect them to last for too long.

iPod Touch

Generation Condition/ Packaging Selling For
1st Good condition with original box & all accessories $20 to $50
1st New, in box Up to $600
2nd Good condition $20 to $50
3rd Good condition $20 to $50
4th Good condition $25 to $80
5th New in box, larger capacity Up to $100
6th Good condition $30 to $120
7th Used, good condition $130 to $330

Where Should I Sell My iPod?

If you are looking to sell your old iPods, start with online classifieds such as Facebook Marketplace or the OfferUp app for Android or iOS.

You can list your vintage iPods there for free, and they do not collect any fees if you sell the devices in person. If you list the devices as shippable, you’ll need to pay applicable fees as well as the cost of shipping (if you don’t charge your buyer).

You can also sell your old iPod on eBay. It charges fees to its sellers, but you will get a broad audience to sell your device. Take clear photographs and list your iPod at a competitive price.

For the best chance of selling your old device, research what other people are selling the same iPod model for in your condition and storage size.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is an old iPod worth anything?

iPods can be worth as little as $10 and as much as $1,000, depending on its model, age, condition and storage capacity.

What is an iPod Touch worth?

Apple’s iPod Touch can be worth anywhere from $20 to $600, depending on the generation. While a new, in-box 1st generation sells for as much as $600, other models fetch prices that barely cover their shipping cost. 

What iPods are worth the most?

The iPod with the most value is a sealed, in-box iPod 1st Generation from 2005. The original iPod can sell for around $1,000 in a well-preserved state. A sealed, in-box iPod Touch 1st Generation for $600. A sealed, in-box iPod Nano 1st Generation for $350.

But I heard ‘this’ iPod is worth thousands?

There are rare models that have sold for thousands of dollars in the past. In general, the market has changed since many of these iPods were originally sold.

Michael Archambault is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder specializing in technology.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

The Best Student Loans of May 2022

College costs are overwhelming for a lot of families. So students turn to student loans to cover them. Most students, following expert recommendations, start with federal student loans, but those aren’t always enough to cover costs.

When federal student loans don’t cut it, you can turn to private student loan lenders to fill in the gap.

Unlike federal student loans, private student loans offer a variety of options for interest rates, loan amounts and terms that could make picking one daunting. So we’ve pulled together a list of some of the best student loans available to make it easier for you to compare and vet your options.

Federal student loans have been in the news a lot lately as the U.S. Education Department has

Keep reading below the table for more details on every lender, plus all the information you need to find the college funding plan that’s right for you and your family.

Interest rates accurate as of late April 2022 and subject to change. Variable rates listed are margins added to a base rate such as LIBOR or SOFR, which could add around 0.30% to 1%.

Best Student Loans at a Glance

Lender Variable APR with Autopay Fixed APR with Autopay Loans for
Credible 0.94% – 11.98% 3.02% – 14.08% Undergrad and grad, refinancing
Earnest Starting at 0.94% Starting at 2.99% Undergrad and grad
College Ave 0.94% – 11.98% 3.24% – 12.99% Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing
Sallie Mae 1.13% – 11.23% 3.50% – 12.60% Undergrad, grad and career training
SoFi 1.05% – 11.78% 3.47% –11.16% Undergrad and grad, refinancing
Ascent .47% – 11.31% 4.36% – 12.75% Undergrad, grad, career training and bootcamp
LendKey Starting at 1.57% Starting at 3.99% Undergrad and grad, refinancing
Citizens Bank n/a 3.48% – 10.78% Undergrad and grad, refinancing
PNC Bank Starting at 1.09% Starting at 2.99% Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing
Purefy 1.74% – 7.24% 2.43% – 7.94% Refinancing
Sparrow 0.99% – 11.98% 2.99% – 12.99% Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing
Student Loan Authority n/a 2.99% – 4.61% Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing
Chicago Student Loans n/a 7.53% – 8.85% Undergrad (juniors and seniors)
Funding U n/a 7.49% – 12.99% Undergrad
Discover 1.79% – 11.09% 3.99% – 11.59% Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing
Splash Financial 1.74 – 8.27% 1.99% – 8.27% Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Credible

Best for Comparing Loan Rates

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Compares rates from top lenders
  • See multiple offers without hard credit check
  • Variable APR as low as 0.94%

Through Credible’s loan marketplace, you can fill out an application to see pre-qualified rates for multiple lenders in one place. Select options that work for you, like deferred or interest-only payments while you’re in school, fixed or variable rates, and loan terms that fit your plan. Once you choose a loan offer, you can finish your application and sign your loan agreement with the lender directly.

Credible

Variable APR

0.94% – 11.98%

Fixed APR

3.02% – 14.08%

Loans for

Undergrad and grad, refinancing

Earnest

Best for Flexible Repayment Options

5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • 9-month grace period
  • Skip one payment/year
  • Pay monthly or every two weeks

Earnest offers an easy-to-use, modern platform to find loans for undergrad, grad school and professional degrees with a nine-month grace period before beginning repayment after school. Loans come with an option to defer one payment every 12 months with no extra fees or interest. Apply online, and get an offer within 72 hours.

Earnest

Variable APR

Starting at 0.94%

Fixed APR

Starting at 2.99%

Loans for

Undergrad and grad, refinancing

College Ave

Best for Affordable In-School Repayment

3.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Variable APR as low as 0.94%
  • Parent and cosigned loans available
  • 4 repayment options

College Ave is a mainstay in student loans and refinancing. Apply for loans to cover undergrad, grad and professional degrees, and career training programs. The online application is quick and easy, and borrowers tout the company’s customer service, so you’ll be on top of your loan from application to repayment. Choose how you repay while you’re in school to save money and fit your budget.

College Ave

Variable APR

0.94% – 11.98%

Fixed APR

3.24% – 12.99%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Sallie Mae

Best for College Financial Planning

2 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Faster applications for returning borrower
  • Scholarships available
  • Credit cards and banking options

Sallie Mae is a private lender and platform for financial products for students. The business no longer originates or services federal loans, as it’s most known for. Apply for private student loans, credit cards and savings accounts designed for students. With Multi-Year Advantage, returning borrowers have fast applications and high approval rates to make it easier to get your money each year.

Sallie Mae

Variable APR

1.13% – 11.23%

Fixed APR

3.50% – 12.60%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training

SoFI

Best for SoFi Banking Clients

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • No fees
  • Unemployment protection
  • Earn rewards to repay loans faster Summary

SoFi is well known for student loan refinancing, and it offers other types of loans including in-school student loans with no hidden fees. As a SoFi member, you get access to perks, including subscriptions to products like Grammarly, Evernote and Coursera, to support your education. With unemployment protection, you get forbearance on loans for up to three-month increments if you lose your job.

SoFi

Variable APR

1.05% – 11.78%

Fixed APR

3.47% –11.16%

Loans for

Undergrad and grad, refinancing

Ascent

Best for Graduated Repayment

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Graduated repayment available
  • Hardship repayment options
  • Bootcamp loans available

Ascent offers student loans and scholarships for your full academic career. Apply online with no application fees to see your prequalified rates without a hard credit check. Use loans to pay for everything from a traditional undergrad or grad program to career training and even career-boosting bootcamps.

Ascent

Variable APR

1.47% – 11.31%

Fixed APR

4.36% – 12.75%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad, career training and bootcamp

LendKey

Best for Loan Reconnaissance

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Work with community banks and CUs
  • Student loans and refinancing options
  • Rates as low as 1.57%

LendKey is a student loan servicer and a platform for finding the best student loan and refinancing options from partner community banks and credit unions. LendKey’s platform streamlines the process, so you get the benefit of working with a community-oriented institution without the headache of multiple application processes.

LendKey

Variable APR

Starting at 1.57%

Fixed APR

Starting at 3.99%

Loans for

Undergrad and grad, refinancing

Citizens Bank

Best for Citizens Bank Customers

3 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Loyalty discounts
  • Cosigner release option
  • Multi-Year Approval

Citizens Bank is an established financial institution with more than 40 years of experience providing student loans and other financial services. With multi year approval, you can get approved for new loans year after year with a faster application and no hard credit check. Citizens Bank customers can get an interest rate discount up to 0.25 percentage points.

Citizens Banks

Variable APR

n/a

Fixed APR

3.48% – 10.78%

Loans for

Undergrad and grad, refinancing

PNC

Best for Undergraduate Loans

2.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Established traditional bank
  • Cosigner release option
  • Student loans and refinancing options

PNC Bank is one of the largest banks in the United States, with nearly 200 years of experience in financial services. Student loans and refinancing are among its vast services. The PNC Solution Loan is designed specifically for undergraduates, to bridge the gap when federal student loans don’t cover all your expenses. It also offers graduate and professional loans.

PNC Bank

Variable APR

Starting at 1.09%

Fixed APR

Starting at 2.99%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Purefy

Best for Refinancing Student Loans

3 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Student and parent loan refinancing
  • Compare multiple lenders
  • No hard credit check

Purefy is for anyone out of school, repaying student loans and looking for ways to save money. Use the platform to compare student loan refinancing options from multiple lenders side-by-side. The platform is free to use, and you can see prequalified rates in minutes. You can refinance private or federal loans through its partner lenders.

Purefy

Variable APR

1.74% – 7.24%

Fixed APR

2.43% – 7.94%

Loans for

Refinancing

Sparrow

Best for Easy Student Loan Repayment

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Compare offers from multiple lenders
  • App to automate loan repayment
  • Manage private and federal loans

Sparrow is a platform for student loans, refinancing and repayment in one place. You can fill out a single application to see prequalified offers from multiple partner lenders for private loans or refinancing. Then use the app to manage and automate repayment of your private and federal student loans in one place.

Sparrow

Variable APR

0.99% – 11.98%

Fixed APR

2.99% – 12.99%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Rhode Island Student Loan Authority

Best for Income-Driven Repayment

5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Income-based repayment available
  • Fixed interest rates
  • Less-than-halftime students eligible

RISLA is a nonprofit organization offering student loans and refinancing for borrowers all over the U.S. Its loans have more borrower protections than most private student loans: You have income-driven repayment options, a fixed interest rate and two repayment terms to choose from (10 or 15 years). Limited loan forgiveness is even available for students who complete internships.

Rhode Island Student Loan Authority

Variable APR

n/a

Fixed APR

2.99% – 4.61%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Chicago Student Loans

Best for Equitable Lending

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Merit-based approval and interest rates
  • No cosigner needed
  • Income-based repayment options

Chicago Student Loans by A.M. Money works with limited schools around the Midwest, but if your school is eligible, this is a great option for equitable lending. Approval and interest rates are determined based on your academic achievement, not your credit or income. And income-based repayment plans are available if you can’t afford your monthly payment.

Chicago Student Loans

Variable APR

n/a

Fix APR

7.53% – 8.85%

Loans for

Undergrad (juniors and seniors)

Funding U

Best for Merit-Based Lending

5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Approval by GPA and non-credit factors
  • No cosigner needed
  • More than 1,000 eligible schools

Funding U makes undergraduate loans based on a student’s GPA, not their family’s credit history. It uses a credit check to set interest rates, but also factors in your GPA and year in school — the rate goes down as you progress nearer to graduation! Funding U works with more than 1,460 nonprofit colleges and universities.

Funding U

Variable APR

n/a

Fixed APR

7.49% – 12.99%

Loans for

Undergrad

Discover

Best for Rewards for Good Grades

3.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • No origination or late fees
  • Cash reward for good grades
  • Variable APR as low as 1.79%

In addition to its full suite of financial services, Discover offers student loans for undergrads, grad students and professional degrees with no origination or late fees. You’ll get rewarded for good grades: Get a 1% cash reward for each new loan if you have a GPA of at least 3.0 for the term(s) the loan covers.

Discover

Variable APR

1.79% – 11.09%

Fixed APR

3.99% – 11.59%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Splash Financial

Best for Refinancing Undergrad and Med School Loans

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Compare offers from multiple lenders
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • Exclusive interest rates from partner lenders

Splash Financial lets you compare in-school student loans and student loan refinancing (and personal loans) from multiple lenders with a simple and quick online application. In addition to its search function, Splash partners with its lenders to offer exclusive interest rates — with fixed rates as low as 1.99% — to help you get the best deal possible.

Splash Financial

Variable APR

1.74 – 8.27%

Fixed APR

1.99% – 8.27%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Types of Student Loans

The first thing you need to know before applying for any student loans is the difference between federal and private student loans. These two types of loans are treated differently and offer significantly different options for repayment and forgiveness down the line, so know what you’re signing up for before you borrow.

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans are backed by the U.S. government and make up the vast majority of student loans borrowed every year in the country.

Application: You apply for federal loans along with other types of federal student aid for college through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a form you fill out every year to demonstrate your family’s financial situation. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) approves basic undergraduate loans and grants based on financial need, not creditworthiness, so students can apply for federal financial aid without a cosigner.

Types of loans: The government makes four types of student loans: Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, Direct PLUS for parents or graduate students, and Federal Perkins Loans for students with exceptional financial need. It also awards grants and work study awards based on financial need. PLUS loans are granted based on creditworthiness, but might still be easier to get than some private loans.

Interest rates: Federal student loan interest rates are standard and not based on a borrower’s credit history. Congress sets them each year for loans disbursed that year, and you keep that rate for the life of your loan. For example, the interest rate for 2021 was 3.73% for Direct undergraduate loans, 5.28% for graduate student loans and 6.28% for PLUS loans.

Repayment plans: The required repayment for federal student loans starts six months after leaving school (or going less than half time), and the standard repayment plan splits monthly payments evenly over 10 years. Subsidized loans don’t accrue interest while you’re in school, while unsubsidized loans do.

Federal student loans are originated and serviced by private institutions, but they’re backed by a guarantee from the federal government, so ED sets repayment terms. You can opt into a graduated payment plan or income-driven repayment, both which would extend your time to repay and could give you a more affordable monthly payment (as little as $0).

Only federal loans are eligible for forgiveness under programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and for national forbearance periods like we’ve seen during the pandemic. The pause on loan payback has been extended six times since the start of the pandemic.

Refinancing options: Even though you receive one lump payment (if you get a refund) each semester, you might have multiple student loans to your name. You can combine them with a Direct Consolidation Loan, a student loan consolidation option creates one balance and one monthly payment, and sets the interest rate at the average of all the loans. This isn’t a money-saving step, but could make repayment simpler.

You can also refinance federal student loans using a private refinancing option, which could save you money if you have strong credit and can keep up with payments. This would pay off your federal loan balances and replace them with a private loan. It removes the repayment and forgiveness options that come with federal loans.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are consumer loans made by private banks, credit unions and financial institutions. They’re treated differently from other types of private loans, but don’t come with as much flexibility as federal loans.

Application: You apply for private student loans directly with the lender or servicer providing the loan. Lenders approve loans based on creditworthiness, just like other credit products, so you have to have a strong credit history or apply with a creditworthy cosigner to be approved. Most (but not all) lenders include an option to release the cosigner after a few years of steady payments.

Types of loans: Private student loan lenders typically offer student loans for undergraduate students, graduate students and professional degrees. Some also offer loans for career training or alternative education like bootcamps. The loans all offer the same basic terms, but interest rates and loan amounts usually vary based on the degree covered.

Interest rates: Private student loan interest rates are set based on creditworthiness and can range from less than 1% to 12% or more depending on the prime rate. Fixed rates are set when you take out a loan and stay the same for the life of the loan, while variable interest rates fluctuate up and down when the Fed adjusts the prime rate.

Repayment plans: Private lenders don’t offer the same amount of protection in repayment as the federal government, but they usually offer a variety of repayment options so you can choose a plan that helps you save money without being overwhelmed by payments. You usually get to choose whether to pay off interest and/or principal while in school, or defer all payments until six months or more after school.

Many private lenders offer forbearance options of a few months at a time, so you can pause payments due to financial hardship without defaulting on your loan. They don’t, however, offer income-driven repayment, so your monthly payment is unaffected by your ability to pay it.

Private student loans aren’t eligible for forgiveness under federal plans, but you might be able to discharge them in bankruptcy under limited circumstances.

Refinancing options: If your financial situation improves, you can apply to refinance your student loans with the same or a different private lender. This pays off your existing loans and replaces them with a new loan with better terms, like a lower interest rate or lower monthly payments.

Should You Take out a Federal or Private Student Loan?

Nearly every expert will tell you to use private student loans as your last resort to pay for school. First exhaust free funding, like grants, scholarships and work study. Then take on federal student loans. Then, if your costs aren’t covered, take out private student loans to fill the gap.

That’s because private loans are the riskiest of all those options.

Federal student loans may be subsidized to save on interest, and they come with flexible repayment plans that offer relief when your income is low. And they’re eligible for forgiveness for student loan borrowers who qualify. Most private loans don’t have those options.

However, private student loans could come with significantly lower interest rates than federal student loans if you have good credit. Federal loans come with standard rates between 3% and 7% and don’t reward good credit (or punish bad credit).

After exhausting free funding, the most ideal route is to borrow a subsidized federal loan — which won’t accrue interest while you’re in school — then consider refinancing once the repayment period starts, you’ve built a strong credit history and feel confident in your ability to make monthly payments for the term of the new loan.

Even most private student loan lenders encourage borrowers to look into federal funding before taking out a private loan while you’re in school. They’re generally designed to fill gaps for students who aren’t eligible for enough in federal student loans to cover their costs to attend college.

Student Loan Costs to Consider

When you evaluate private student loan offers, you’ll probably focus on the interest rate, because that has a significant impact on the long-term cost of the loan. But there are other costs to consider.

Before accepting any loan offer or signing the agreement, make sure you know how much you’ll pay (if anything) in these common costs:

  • APR: Annual percentage rate is commonly called the interest rate (though they’re a little different). It’s usually the most prominently advertised feature of student loans. Student loan interest rates tend to fall between 3% and 11% and can be fixed or variable — the latter means they’ll change with the prime rate. A higher credit score can get you a lower interest rate and vice versa.
  • Origination fee: Some lenders charge a fee to receive your loan, though that’s less common with student loans than other types of loans. Origination fees are usually around 2% or 3% of the loan amount. They come out of the amount disbursed to the school, so you likely won’t notice them unless you’re very particular about math.
  • Late fee: Most loan agreements come with a fee for late payments, usually a percentage of the payment due. Many student loan lenders are doing away with late fees and building in options for flexible repayment, so shop around to compare your options!

What Is a Cosigner?

A cosigner is someone who shares the responsibility of a loan with the borrower. If you — the borrower — can’t qualify for a loan on your own because of bad credit or no credit, you could apply with a cosigner with good credit to qualify.

You receive the funds, but you both bear responsibility for repaying the loan, and repayment or default impacts both credit scores.

Cosigners are common for private student loans, because many people entering college are young and have almost no credit history. You can cosign with a parent, guardian or other creditworthy person, who basically guarantees the loan in case you don’t repay.

Student loans often come with an option for cosigner release, so the cosigner doesn’t have to stay tied to the loan for years after the student’s left school and gone off on their own. Cosigners can usually be released after around 12 to 36 months of on-time payments, with proof of the borrower’s income.

Who Can Take out a Private Student Loan?

Any student can usually apply for a student loan from a private lender, but creditworthiness determines whether you’ll be approved.

Lenders generally have basic requirements for student loans, as well, including:

  • You must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting institution.
  • You must be the age of majority in your state (usually 18 or 19).
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or resident.

Some lenders make exceptions for these, though. For example, Ascent offers a Bootcamp Loan, which wouldn’t come with the enrollment requirement. Some lenders also make loans for international students who aren’t U.S. residents.

How to Get a Private Student Loan

Follow these steps to apply for a private student loan.

  • Weigh your options. Before turning to private loans, fill out a FAFSA to see your options for federal financial aid. This doesn’t commit you to taking out a federal loan, and it has no affect on your credit score; it just gives you all the information you need to make a decision. If federal aid won’t cover your costs, look into private loans.
  • Find a cosigner. If you don’t have strong credit, get a cosigner on board before you apply. Use a site like Credit Sesame or Credit Karma to check your credit score and history for free to see where you stand.
  • Get pre-qualified. Lenders let you fill out a little information about yourself — usually all online — and run a soft credit check to give you an idea of the interest rate and loan terms you could qualify for. That lets you compare offers before submitting to a hard credit inquiry that impacts your score. Marketplaces like Credible and LendKey let you see and compare several pre-qualified offers with one application.
  • Choose a lender. Choose the loan offer that looks like the best fit for you, and finish your application with the lender. You can usually do this part all online, too. The lender will run a hard credit check and might need more information from you, like proof of income. You could get a decision as soon as the same day or after a few days, depending on the lender’s process.
  • Accept your loan. Once approved, you can review and sign your loan agreement — remember to note any fees! — and accept your funds. Lenders send student loan funds directly to your school to pay for tuition and fees, and the school will send you a refund for any extra amount.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Student Loans

We’ve rounded up the answers to some of the most common questions about where to get the best private student loans.

What Type of Loan is the Best Value to Students?

Which student loan options are best for you depends on your family’s financial situation. Private student loans can be an optimal option financially, because of potentially low interest rates and short repayment terms. But they’re only available to students with good credit or creditworthy cosigners. Federal student loans are available based on financial need and come with a host of repayment and forgiveness options that could protect low-income borrowers in the long run.

What Type of Student Loan Has the Lowest Interest Rate?

Private student loans can have interest rates as low as 1% but might be as high as 12% or more, depending on your credit. Federal loan rates are set by Congress for all borrowers and fall around 3% to 5% for undergraduate loans. If you (or your cosigner) have good credit, a private student loan could get you the lowest interest rate.

What is the Biggest Student Loan You Can Get?

The size of your student loan depends on what kind of loan you take out. For private student loans, it’s determined by your credit and the term of the loan you want. Some private lenders set caps on student loan amounts, and some will lend up to your full cost of attendance. For federal loans, your loan amount is determined based on your cost of attendance and expected family contribution. If you demonstrate financial need, your federal loan might go beyond tuition, and you could receive a refund to help cover living expenses. Undergrads can borrow a max of between $5,500 and $12,500 each academic year, and grad students can borrow up to $20,500. 

Contributor Dana Miranda is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® who has written about work and money for publications including Forbes, The New York Times, CNBC, Insider, NextAdvisor and Inc. Magazine.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

25 Cheap Mother’s Day Gifts Under $20 Including Shipping

Away from Mom this Mother’s Day?

Whether you live across the country or state from dear old Mom and can’t treat her to brunch, you likely want to send more than a text.

Whatever’s keeping you and Mom apart this Mother’s Day, May 8, there are plenty of ways you can show her you love and miss her. Not only that, but you can do it all while going easy on your wallet.

To help, we’ve put together a list of 25 Mother’s Day gifts under $20 you can order online. And that $20 includes shipping — free for some items.

Mother’s Day Gifts That Will Help Her Get Outdoors

Fresh air, exercise and flowers — all three are a nice way to celebrate Mom. Well, exercise if she likes that sort of thing!

1. Pickleball Glove for Mom

Pickleball is the hottest team sport these days. If your mom is seriously into this sport, you can pick her up a brand-name pickleball glove on Amazon for somewhere between $18 and $20. If you have Prime membership, shipping is free, keeping you under budget.

2. Annual Flower Bulbs

Does Mom love gardening?  Give her a gift that keeps on giving with annual bulbs. Plant these flowers once, and they will bloom year after year. Bulbs that need a freeze to bloom (iris, daffodils, tulips) are typically put in the ground in the fall before it gets too hard for digging so that they blossom in spring. The following bulbs can be planted in the spring to bloom in the summer.

Gladiolus Flower Bulbs

Gladiolus are beautiful and you can get a lot of them even on a budget. You can pick your color, ordering a bag in white or purple for  $13.95 on Walmart’s platform. Shipping is free.

Lily Flower Bulbs

You can get about three lily bulbs for under $20. Some options from Walmart sellers include Pink Tiger Lilies and Sumatra Oriental Lilies.

These options run between $13.95 and $15.99 and come with free shipping.

3. Gift Certificate to a Local Garden Center

Maybe Mom doesn’t have space for a garden, but does love having flowers and plants around. In this case, consider getting her a gift certificate to her local garden center for $20.

There’s an added bonus to sending your card on Mother’s Day; when she goes shopping after the holiday, excess inventory will be marked down dramatically, giving her more bang for her buck.

4. Twisted Mandala Planters

Perhaps Mom’s got all the plants she needs. What she could really use is a planter — especially for indoor use.

The Geometric Twisted Mandala Planter from FunctionalAM on Etsy is a beautiful option. You can get sizes from 3 inches to 6.5 inches for $8-$20 depending on which option you choose. And shipping is free.

A blue butterfly stands out amongst a group of red butterflies.
Getty Images

5. Butterfly Habitat

Butterfly habitats may be marketed towards children, but Mom can enjoy one, too! This kit from Target is $19.99, and comes with a habitat and voucher for live caterpillars — which ship separately. Your order should qualify for free shipping.

Mom will be able to watch the caterpillars as they build their chrysalises and grow into butterflies, eventually releasing them into the wild. Bonus points for sending a card with a cheesy analogy about how she helped you grow into a butterfly, and what a great job she did.

Sweets & Culinary Mother’s Day Gifts

Mother’s Day is a great time to shower your mom with sweets. Or, if Mom’s great in the kitchen, it’s a fun time to celebrate those skills with gifts.

6. Personalized Recipe Cards

Mom’s a great cook. Everyone’s always asking her for recipes. Pick her up a set of personalized recipe cards on Etsy so she’ll get full credit when she shares her skills. This set costs $9 and costs $4 to ship to the U.S.

7. Heart-Shaped Pan

Check out this heart-shaped pan from Ecolution on Amazon. Whether your mother’s making pancakes or eggs, she’ll appreciate that Ecolution’s products are eco-friendly yet durable. You’ll appreciate that it clocks in at just $11.93 and ships free with Prime membership.

8. Fruit Infusion Pitcher

This fruit infusion pitcher is great for making mimosas and flavored water alike. It is $19.99 on Amazon.com and ships free with Prime membership.

9. Chocolate

Believe it or not, you can get a fair amount of good chocolate for under $20. The G-Cube from Godiva comes with an assortment of 22 flavors, and costs $12. With shipping, you can expect to pay around $19.95.

10. Delivery from a Local Bakery

Ask your mom about her favorite local bakery recommendations. Then, place an order for delivery with them on Mother’s Day. This allows you to not only get mom a gift, but also support small businesses in her community.

If the delivery fee would put you over budget you can find another way. You could request curbside pickup or she could take a quick trip inside to pick up her present.

Self-Care Gifts for Mother’s Day

We all need a little more self-care. Help Mom relax with these soothing Mother’s Day gift ideas until you can see each other again.

11. Comfortable Sleep Mask

Help Mom get some better shut eye. These cute, silk satin sleep masks from Beyarina from Walmart not only comes in under budget at $13.95, for a total of $19.98 after shipping.

12. Amethyst Yoni Soap Bar

This Amethyst Yoni soap bar from Organically Bath & Beauty is pH balanced for sensitive skin costs about $15.30 to send to Mom after accounting for shipping costs.

13. Best Mom Ever Sugar Body Scrub

This cute product from Joon X Moon will help remind mom that she’s the best ever, all while basking in the glow of champagne-scented exfoliation. It’s available at Target for $10, and there are a few ways you can get it to her. Shipping isn’t really an option as it only ships with orders of $35+.

But, you can purchase it at the Target near where Mom lives through Target’s Pickup or Drive Up services. Or, if you already have a Shipt membership, you can get it delivered to Mom’s house from her local store for just $7, bringing your total to $16.99.

Need more ideas to celebrate your mom? We’ve got two dozen DIY spa ideas to help her relax and rejuvenate. 

A woman puts cucumbers over her eyes as she sits up with a charcoal facial mask on her.

Getty Images

14. Luxe Face Masks

Charmed Bath & Body offers several different face masks available via Etsy. You can choose from:

  • Matcha
  • Rose clay.
  • White clay
  • Charcoal
  • Turmeric

It should cost you around $15.79 in all to purchase and ship one of these mask powders for Mother’s Day.

15. Aromatherapy Humidifier

If Mom’s really into essential oils, consider this aromatherapy humidifier on Amazon. You can pick between one that’s LED lit or one that’s wood printed. Prices range from $14.99-$19.99, and shipping is free for Prime members.

16. Mother’s Day Coloring Book

Give Mom an opportunity to de-stress with this Mother’s Day coloring book from Amazon. Each page comes with intricate drawings to color in and encouraging and cute quotes about motherhood.

This book is $14.99 and ships free for Prime members.

17. Blue Light Glasses

All of our devices — phones, PCs, TVs — give off blue light. Staring at blue light can cause migraines, damage our vision and even throw off circadian rhythms, our natural sleep-wake cycles.

Help Mom out with some self-care she didn’t even know she needed with these blue light blocking glasses from Nordstrom. They’re only $15 and shipping is free.

18. White Noise Machine

If her circadian rhythms are messed up, a white noise machine can help Mom get to sleep easier. Sharper Image’s Sound Soother Revo is available at Target for $14.99. While the $5.99 shipping fee may take you slightly over budget, you can get free shipping if you purchase with your Target RedCard. Plus you’ll save 5% off your order.

19. Essential Oil Diffuser Bracelet

This Jack & Rose diffuser bracelet will set you back just $15 and the shipping is free with Amazon Prime. The locket-style bracelet comes with eight color pads that can be changed to match an outfit or a mood. If she’s already into essential oils, all she has to do is squeeze a few drops on the cotton pads and be surrounded by that aroma when she wears the bracelet.

Does she need essential oils? A three-pack starter set of eucalyptus, lavender and tea tree oils is often on sale on Amazon for $5.99. That may put you a tad over your budget, but isn’t she worth it?

Sentimental Mother’s Day Gifts

These sweet, mom-centric products will highlight your relationship as you take a trip down memory lane.

20. Tell Me Your Story Book (Grandma Edition)

This is a cute idea if your mom has grandkids. Have them gift her this memory journal. It’s available for $7.96 on Amazon with free shipping for Prime members.

21. Tell Me Your Story Book (Mom Edition)

Don’t have kids, but love the memory book idea?

Fear not. There is a version of these products for children to give directly to their moms — no procreation required. This daily journal of childhood memories will run you $12, once again with free shipping for Amazon Prime members.

22. You & Me Mom Journal

Want to make the memory journal thing a two-way street?

This journal from Uncommon Goods can be sent back and forth between you and your mother. Each page has prompts encouraging the two of you to reflect on your life memories and love together over the years. It will run you $13, and should come in just under $20 after accounting for shipping costs.

23. Photo Book

There’s nothing moms love more than pictures of their kids and grandkids . Photo books can often be cumbersome to create, or come with deceptive discounts and “deals” that don’t account for exorbitant shipping costs.

You can get around all that by creating a book with Google Photos. You can easily import all the pictures already on your Google account, and can create a 20-page, soft-cover photo book that’s sure to put a smile on her face for just $14.99 without any shipping charges.

24. Photo Puzzle

Two things moms love in one: Photos and puzzles! Pick your image, and NannyGoatsCloset on Etsy will send you your own puzzle for $13.99 plus $3.95 for shipping.

25. And Then There’s … Cash

You’re shopping on a tight budget, so your wallet is probably thin right now. She might not want to admit it, but money might be tight for your mom, too.

Instead of buying her physical presents, consider sending her the cash in the form of a gift card or a check, not an actual bill. Be sure to send a card or heartfelt note along with it.

Pittsburgh-based writer Brynne Conroy is the founder of the Femme Frugality blog and the author of “The Feminist Financial Handbook.” She is a regular contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Here’s Exactly What to Do if You Can’t Pay Rent

In this era of rapidly increasing housing costs, many renters know the familiar dread when the first of the month is coming and they know they can’t cover the rent.

But now’s not the time to bury your head in the sand.

By exercising your negotiation muscle, you may be able to strike a deal with your landlord that prevents the worst-case scenario: getting kicked out of your home. And in those crunch times, it’s always a good idea to look at your budgeting and spending to see where you could find a little extra cash to put toward rent.

Negotiating a Deal With Your Landlord If You Can’t Pay Rent

When you think you can’t pay rent for the upcoming month, it’s best to talk to your landlord sooner rather than later.

Here’s what you should do.

First, Know Your Rights

Matt Koz, finance director for the Tenant Resource Center in Madison, Wisc., recommends that renters do their due diligence to research the eviction laws in their area.

The federal eviction moratorium enacted in response to the pandemic ended in August 2021, but some states, cities and counties passed their own laws protecting tenants and granting them new rights.

Being educated about the tenant laws in your state doesn’t just give peace of mind about whether your landlord can evict you during a crisis. It can also help you decide how to best proceed when reaching out to your landlord.

For example, Koz said there could be laws where you live that make it disadvantageous to pay partial rent, if you were thinking of suggesting that to your landlord.

“In some cases, it may be better not to offer terms and wait to see what recourse is available to you,” he said.

Approach Your Landlord with Empathy

You may just think of your landlord as a faceless entity that takes the biggest single chunk of your money every month. But a little kindness can go a long way.

“Lead with empathy,” advises Michael Thomas, an Accredited Financial Counselor and faculty member at the University of Georgia. “It’s very easy to become self-absorbed when we’re experiencing a financial shock.”

He says taking the time to ask how your landlord is doing and working to establish a relationship can make them more willing to work with you. Understanding where each person is coming from can lead to a resolution that’s best for both parties.

Provide Realistic Solutions

Offering up a solution to your situation can show your willingness to work with your landlord.

You might propose to make a partial payment with a promise to pay the remainder of the rent by a certain date. If you don’t know when you’d be able to make the remaining payment, Koz said it’s reasonable to make an agreement based upon a specific occurrence.

For example, you might ask if you can pay the remainder once your kids’ school starts and you can pick up more hours at work.

Instead of suggesting a partial payment, you could ask to skip paying for one month and spread that payment over the remainder of your lease if you think you’ll be able to pay the following month.

Another option: Ask your landlord to apply your security deposit to the upcoming rent payment, agreeing to replace it at a later date. Or if you paid your last month’s rent upfront when you first signed your lease, you could ask to apply that money to next month’s rent.

Pro Tip

When trying to come up with a rent solution for the upcoming month, make sure you’re not creating a worse financial situation for yourself later on.

Something else you might consider is bartering. For example, you could agree to do landscape work for your landlord’s properties in exchange for a break on rent.

When trying to strike a deal, Thomas suggests coming up with at least three plausible solutions that work for your budget.

“Go with your best-case scenario first,” he said.

If your landlord won’t agree to that, ask for their input on mitigating the situation before presenting your other options.

Get Agreements in Writing

If you and your landlord are able to agree on an alternative plan for paying rent, make sure to get that deal in writing.

“If [your landlord] were to come back and say we didn’t agree to that, [you can say]: Actually we did and here’s proof,” said Pamela Capalad, a New York-based Certified Financial Planner and founder of Brunch and Budget.

Putting things in writing also helps eliminate misinterpretations of your agreement, she said.

However, when signing a lease addendum or other paperwork, don’t rush into a contract with terms you don’t understand.

“If you’re not sure what you’re signing, you can always try to contact a tenants rights organization or an attorney,” Koz said. “Whatever you sign is something that you’re held to. If you don’t meet the terms of that agreement, you’re back where you started.”

Don’t Go (Further) into Debt

You may experience shame over not paying rent or fear over potentially losing your home, but try not to let that lead you to making drastic decisions.

“The thing I would recommend, if you can avoid it, is to not take out loans to pay rent,” Capalad said.

It can be comforting to put things in perspective and realize you’re not the only one who can’t pay your rent right now, she said.

4 Measures to Take If You Can’t Pay Rent

If your landlord won’t budge on requiring you to pay your rent in full, here are a few ideas for coming up with the money.

1. Seek Housing Assistance

Look into local housing assistance or eviction prevention programs for emergency funding to help keep you in your home.

The United Way’s 211 network is a great way to connect to resources in your community. Other charities, like Modest Needs, may also be able to help. Your landlord may even know of housing assistance options in your area.

2. Bring In a Roommate

If you can find a good roommate, you can split housing expenses and lower your financial obligation. Just make sure you properly vet the potential roommate and your landlord approves of the new tenant.

Subleasing your place could be another route to take, provided your landlord allows it and you have somewhere else you can crash in the meantime.

3. Sell Something

Make some extra dough by selling things you don’t regularly use. Put that money toward the rent.

Check out these 14 websites for selling things online.

Wondering what to sell? We’re glad you asked. Vintage china, gold jewelry, ’90s collectibles or your old vinyl record collection can all bring in some serious cash.

4. Get Another Gig

Get money for rent by securing a second source of income.

Consider a side gig, like a food delivery driver or a pet sitter, where you’re paid based on how much work you take on. These jobs often pay faster than traditional jobs that run on a biweekly schedule.

Nicole Dow is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

<!–

–>



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

What to Know About Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Ever wonder what life would be like if you could make your student loans disappear?

It’s possible, but it isn’t magic.

Or immediate.

Or easy.

Or likely. (Sorry.)

But considering the mounting pile of outstanding student debt in the U.S. — at $1.75 trillion,  student loans were the largest non-mortgage source of household debt in 2021 — you should consider every option for wiping out yours, right?

If your student loans have become more than you can handle, seeking forgiveness or discharge of your debt could be an option. Check out this guide to student loan forgiveness so you’ll know all your options.

What Are Student Loan Forgiveness Programs and How Do They Work?

Student loan forgiveness programs are government-backed avenues for having your loans forgiven, depending on your situation. The programs are only available for borrowers with federal loans who meet certain criteria.

Before we dig into individual programs, let’s cover the ground rules.

First, a word about words: Forgiveness, discharge and cancellation essentially mean the same thing when you’re thinking about your student debt. They mean you no longer have to pay the remaining balance on your federal loans. But the terms are usually applied in different circumstances:

  • Forgiveness is usually used in cases where you qualify because of your job or employer.
  • Discharge typically refers to other reasons for not paying the debt, such as your financial situation.
  • Cancellation is a more general term that often covers both.

Forgiveness programs generally fall into two categories: eligibility based on employment and eligibility unrelated to employment.

We’ve broken down the programs by work and non-work qualifications. We’ve also included “scam alerts” throughout because there are plenty of unscrupulous individuals and companies out there who prey on borrowers overwhelmed by student loan debt.

With that in mind, let’s dive in.

Student Loan Forgiveness Based on Your Job

If you’re committed to a life of helping others, whether it’s by working for the government or a non-profit or by choosing a public service profession, you could qualify for student loan forgiveness.

You’ll have to ensure that your loans qualify, stay current on your payments throughout the process and stick with a job that qualifies for loan forgiveness. If you change career tracks and switch to a non-qualifying job, you’ll be responsible for paying the remaining amount you owe.

Pro Tip

Scam alert! It’s illegal for anyone — including companies that offer to “help” you repay your student loans — to ask for your federal student aid user name and ID. Never give out that info.

Here’s a brief rundown of programs that offer forgiveness based on employment:

1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is probably the most well known, but for all the wrong reasons.

In the past, the program was poorly managed and only accepted a very small percentage of applicants – as of November 2020, only 2.6% were approved for forgiveness, while 35% had yet to be processed.

The PSLF program got a reboot in 2021, however. Previously ineligible loans and repayment plans became eligible, including FFEL (Federal Family Education Loans). And some overly restrictive rules were done away with.

To qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you’ll need 10 years worth of qualifying loan payments under your belt. Use the PSLF Help Tool to find out if you meet other requirements to qualify.

Pro Tip

Scam alert! When it comes to federal student loan repayment applications, there’s nothing a company can do for you that you can’t do for free on your own.

2. Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness

No one goes into teaching for the money. But when student loans leave you thousands of dollars in debt, scraping out the payments on a teacher’s salary can be downright overwhelming.

Fortunately, there’s a specific Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness program for those who work in underserved communities and/or subject areas.

To qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness, you need to have one of the following loans:

  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans (aka Direct Subsidized Loans)
  • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans (aka Direct Unsubsidized Loans)
  • Federal Direct Consolidation Loans

You’ll also need to be employed as a full-time teacher at a low-income school for five complete and consecutive academic years. At least one of those years needs to be after the 1997-1998 school year. You can search the school directory at the Student Financial Aid website to find out if you work at a participating school.

Forgiveness will be dependent upon where you teach, what you teach and how long you teach, and the maximum amount you can receive is $17,500.

3. Nursing Student Loan Forgiveness

Getting a healthcare-related degree isn’t cheap – and the related debt can be quite a burden – so nursing student loan forgiveness offers some help.

In addition to a couple of specific loan-forgiveness programs for nurses, you can also find debt relief through programs at some hospitals. Eligibility requirements can include holding an advanced degree, having a specific loan type or working in a specialized department.

Other medical professionals, including doctors, can find student loan relief at the national and local level through the Association of American Medical Colleges.

A military active member hugs his wife and kids while sitting on their couch at home.
Getty Images

4. Military Student Loan Forgiveness

It won’t be easy, but joining the military after college is another way to have your student debt forgiven.

If you served in a hostile fire or imminent danger pay area, you qualify for the National Defense Student Loan Discharge, which is part of the Perkins loan cancellation program (the Perkins loan program ended in 2017).

Loans are discharged according to the following classifications:

  • Up to 50% for four years for borrowers whose active duty service ended before Aug. 14, 2008.
  • Up to 100% for five years for borrowers whose active duty service includes or began on or after Aug. 14, 2008.

After a year of service, you can also qualify for the Armed Services Education Loan Repayment Program. The benefits vary based on which branch you serve, but they’re all designed to help armed forces members get out of student loan debt much faster. Here’s the list of benefits for each branch. 

Other potential forgiveness options include Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, outlined above, and the Total and Permanent Disability Discharge.

5. Perkins Loan Forgiveness

The Perkins loan program ended in  2017, but you’re still on the hook for paying off any of the Perkins loans you took out. If you work in public service — including teaching, law enforcement and the military — you could qualify for a partial or total discharge of your Perkins loan.

Depending on your career, you could receive 100% loan cancellation for five years of service, which is distributed in annual increments.

Student Loan Discharge That Isn’t Based on Employment

Not taking the employment path to loan forgiveness? Then you’ll likely be seeking forgiveness based on your economic status or a catastrophic circumstance.

6. Income-Driven Repayment Program Cancellation

Income-driven repayment plans set your monthly student loan payment at an amount meant to be affordable based on how much you earn. At the end of the repayment period, any remaining debt is forgiven.

But it’s not as simple as it sounds.

For one thing, you’ll pay more in interest over the life of your loan on an income-driven repayment plan compared to a standard loan repayment plan. And forgiveness will take a while: Income-driven repayment plans span 20 to 25 years.

Still, these plans can make paying on your student loans more manageable and help you avoid defaulting.

To qualify, you’ll need to apply for one of these plans. Each has its own rules.

  1. Pay As You Earn Plan (PAYE)

    Any borrower with eligible direct federal loans can apply. FFEL Program and Perkins loans are eligible if they’re consolidated. You’ll be eligible for discharge after 20 years of repayment.

  2. Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan

    Any borrower with eligible direct federal loans can apply. FFEL Program and Perkins loans are eligible if they’re consolidated. You’ll be eligible for discharge after 20 years of repayment for undergraduate loans or 25 years if the debt includes graduate loans.

  3. Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan

    Any borrower with eligible direct federal loans, including FFEL Program loans, can apply. Perkins loans are eligible if they’re consolidated. You’ll be eligible for discharge 20 years if you took out your first loan after July 1, 2014, and 25 years if you took out your first loan before July 1, 2014.

  4. Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan

    Any borrower with eligible direct federal loans can apply. FFEL Program loans, Perkins loans and Plus loans made to parents are eligible if they’re consolidated. You’ll be eligible for discharge after 25 years of repayment.

7. Parent Plus Loan Forgiveness

Because Plus loans for parents are so restrictive in terms of repayment options, receiving forgiveness is particularly difficult. In fact, it’s nearly impossible until you consolidate them, thus making them eligible for an Income-Contingent Repayment plan.

But if you’re a parent who’s still dealing with your own student loans, this is not the time to combine forces, as your own student loans have more options for payment plans and forgiveness.

Pro Tip

Scam alert: Loan forgiveness typically takes years. Steer clear of a company that promises you fast loan forgiveness or says it has “special access” to federal programs you’ve never heard of.

“If parents have loans for their children and their own loans for their own education, they should never ever combine them together in a consolidation loan,” said Heather Jarvis, an attorney who specializes in student loans. “[The student loans] would essentially be contaminated by the parent loans.”

For more details, check out this step-by-step explanation about how to wipe out your Parent Plus loans.

A person with a disability sits on a park bench with a friend as they look at a book with their book bags next to them.
Getty Images

8. Student Loan Disability Discharge

Struggling with student loans is stressful enough without also dealing with a disability.

If you develop a total and permanent disability after taking out federal student loans, you are eligible to have your debts forgiven. If you’re a military veteran, the discharge will be automatic, but if you’re a civilian, the process can take three years to qualify for the discharge.

Here’s how a TPD discharge could wipe out your student loan debt.

9. Student Loan Death Discharge

It’s not a pleasant topic to consider. But if a borrower dies owing federal student loans, the loan gets canceled, according to the Federal Student Aid Office of the U.S. Department of Education. Parent Plus loans are discharged if the parent or the student dies.

Check out this article for more info about what happens to student loans when you die.

10. Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharge

You may have heard that student loans cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. That’s true… most of the time. But if you’re able to prove that repaying your federal student loans would result in an “undue hardship,” you could qualify for a student loan bankruptcy discharge. Don’t get too excited. It’s extremely rare.

11. Closed School Discharge

If your school closes before you’re able to complete your program, you may be eligible for a 100% discharge of your federal direct loans, FFEL program loans or Perkins loans. You’ll need to ask your loan servicer for a loan discharge application.

For more details about the program, check out the Department of Education’s closed school discharge program.

12. False Certification Discharge

If you think your school falsely certified your eligibility for federal student aid, you could qualify for a false certification discharge.

13. Unpaid Refund Discharge

If you withdrew from a school, but the school didn’t return the funds to your loan servicer, you could be eligible for an unpaid refund discharge.

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs FAQ

What are examples of student loan forgiveness programs?

How does student loan forgiveness work?

With student loan forgiveness, discharge and cancellation, you are no longer required to make loan payments. You’ll need to qualify first, and – in most situations – you’ll need to have a proven, loan payment record over a long period of time. 

How do I apply for student loan forgiveness or discharge?

Each loan forgiveness program has different qualifiers and applications. Visit the Federal Student Aid website to find out if you qualify and how to apply. 

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Senior staff writer Robert Bruce contributed to this article. 

<!–

–>

Source: thepennyhoarder.com