18 Student Loan Mistakes to Avoid

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Most students have to borrow student loans to go to college. But very few know anything about them. That’s pretty scary considering you’re likely to take on several tens of thousands of dollars in debt. And making mistakes with that much money could cost you just as much. 

Take it from me. I borrowed six figures to get a doctorate to work in a notoriously low-paying field. And thanks to taking advantage of years of deferments, forbearances, and an income-based plan designed to help borrowers with high debt and low income, I now owe twice what I originally borrowed. 

Don’t make my mistakes. Instead, learn about the most common student loan borrowing and repayment errors. That way, you can avoid an overwhelming amount of student loans and get out of debt faster.

Student Loan Mistakes to Avoid

Most student loan borrowing and repayment mistakes deal with misunderstanding what you’re borrowing, how interest works, how to pay off debt quickly, and how to avoid default. Steer clear of these top mistakes to ensure you borrow smartly and don’t end up in over your head. 

Mistake 1: Applying for Aid at the Last Minute

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the gateway to qualifying for all financial aid of any kind. That includes federal grants and student loans as well as state grants and most institutional aid — the grants, scholarships, or loans offered by your school. 

The FAFSA opens for applications every Oct. 1, and you must complete it by June 30 before the academic year you need aid for. You must complete a new FAFSA every year you plan to enroll in school.

Many colleges and universities also require additional forms, such as the CSS profile (short for the College Scholarship Service profile), which dives even deeper into your family’s financial situation. So check with the financial aid office to find out what they are, and stay on top of deadlines. 

But note that states and colleges have limited grant resources. And those resources tend to go to the students who apply early. In other words, they’re first come, first served. So the earlier you get your applications in, the better.

And while the federal government is unlikely to run out of education loan funds, if you miss the FAFSA deadline, you’ll have to resort to private loans, which are costlier and feature less favorable repayment options.

Apply as early as possible to ensure you get as much grant and scholarship aid as you can qualify for. The more grants you can get, the fewer loans you’ll need to borrow.

Mistake 2: Borrowing Too Much

It’s possible to borrow every cent you need to finance your education anywhere you want to go to school. But it’s crucial to ask whether you should. Getting in over your head with student loan debt can have catastrophic consequences. I’m living proof.

I needed a doctorate for my original career plan of teaching college. But few college professors earn enough income to manage the types of monthly payments I had along with other living expenses. That’s how I ended up in the deferment-forbearance cycle.

And it’s not easy to get out of. 

Thanks to a loophole in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program I was counting on and how colleges operate, my teaching position doesn’t qualify me for forgiveness. Additionally, discharging student loans in bankruptcy is currently so difficult it’s nearly impossible. And settling federal student loans isn’t any easier. 

The first step to reducing overwhelming student loan debt is to exhaust every other means of paying for college, including scholarships, grants, and work-study. Search online for scholarship aid using a national scholarship database like Fastweb.

And never count on options like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Historically, the government’s made it nearly impossible to get. Do your homework to increase your chances of getting it and apply for it if you qualify. But don’t base your student loan repayment strategy on it.

Additionally, consider less expensive colleges. State schools tend to give most students the best value. It only matters where you go to college for a select few graduates, such as those looking to build connections with specific financial or law firms. 

Finally, do a cost-benefit analysis. I found out the hard way all degrees don’t pay off, so as much as you want to pursue your passion, it might not be worth it financially.

Search sites like Glassdoor or PayScale to find out how much you can reasonably expect to make in your chosen field and compare that to the cost of school. As a rule, don’t borrow more than you can expect to earn as your annual salary your first year out of school. That ensures you can pay it off in 10 years or less. 

Mistake 3: Not Understanding How Loan Forgiveness Works

Historically, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program has been notoriously difficult to qualify for. The program was overhauled in the fall of 2021. But until then, only 2% of applicants who believed they qualified had their loans forgiven.

Much of that is likely due to bureaucratic mismanagement, hence the overhaul. However, the mismanagement led tens of thousands of borrowers into making payments under the wrong repayment programs. 

On Oct. 6, 2021, the government announced Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which allows previously nonqualifying payments to be counted toward loan forgiveness as long as those payments are certified before Oct. 31, 2022.

But moving forward, it’s crucial that borrowers are clear about the rules of loan forgiveness. You don’t want to find out after 10 years that your application is ineligible and you have to start all over.

To qualify for loan forgiveness, you must:

  • Have Federal Direct Loans. Private loans don’t qualify for forgiveness, nor do other types of federal loans, such as Perkins loans. If your federal loans aren’t direct loans, you can consolidate them into a direct loan to qualify. 
  • Work Full-Time for the Government or a Nonprofit. Payments only qualify while you’re employed full-time for an American federal, state, local, or tribal government or qualifying 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. That includes military service, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps but excludes labor unions and partisan political organizations.
  • Enroll in an Income-Driven Repayment Program. No other repayment options qualify. But even if your income is so low your calculated payment under the plan is $0, being enrolled qualifies you. 
  • Make 120 Qualifying Payments. They don’t have to be consecutive, but they must qualify, meaning you have to make them under an income-based plan.
  • Submit the Forgiveness Certification Form Regularly. You must fill out and submit a Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program certification form yearly and each time you switch employers. While not required, doing so ensures the payments you’re making qualify for forgiveness and allows you to make any changes you need to before you’ve made too many nonqualifying payments.

See all the rules at StudentAid.gov. 

Mistake 4: Taking Out the Wrong Type of Loan

There’s more than one type of student loan. But it’s generally best to exhaust your resources for federal aid before turning to alternatives. 

That said, while rare, some students may find the caps on how much you can borrow in federal direct loans don’t cover the total cost of attendance. 

Fortunately, graduate students and parents of undergrads can borrow PLUS loans up to the total cost of attendance. So there’s no need for many students to resort to other sources. If that’s not an option for you, students can sometimes borrow from their state government or the school they plan to attend. 

But the primary source of alternative loans for student borrowers is private student loans from banks or credit unions.

Federal student loans almost always win out over private student loans because of their lower fixed interest rates, flexible repayment options, borrower protections, and the potential for forgiveness.

But if you’re planning to borrow PLUS loans and definitely won’t qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, it’s worth it to find out whether you could get a better deal on a private loan if you have excellent credit. 

Mistake 5: Not Shopping Around for the Best Interest Rate & Terms

If you decide to borrow private student loans, always shop around for the best loan you can qualify for.

Private lenders compete for your business. So going with the first lender you find could mean leaving a better rate on the table.

Use a comparison site like Credible, which matches you with prequalified rates from up to eight lenders with only a soft inquiry on your credit report, which doesn’t affect your credit score. That way, you can compare all your student loan options in one place. 

But it’s not only interest rates that should matter to your bottom line. The best private student loan companies offer various borrower perks in addition to low rates.   

For example, most lenders reduce your interest rate when you enroll in autopay. And some reduce your rate even further with loyalty discounts for doing other business with them, such as opening bank accounts or taking out personal loans. 

Some lenders also offer perks for specific borrowers, such as special payment plans for medical and dental students during their residencies. And some even offer unique perks like free financial coaching or career planning services.  

Just remember to read all the fine print so you know exactly what loan terms you’re agreeing to before you sign. For example, it may lack options for deferment if you fall on hard times or a co-signer release option. Don’t be lured by a shiny interest rate on its own.  

Mistake 6: Not Understanding How Variable & Fixed Interest Rates Work

The rate is only one piece of the interest puzzle. How that rate works also affects how much accrues over time. 

For example, all federal student loans come with fixed interest rates set each year by law. That means the rate stays the same for the life of the loan, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on the interest rate during the year you borrowed. 

But some private student loans have variable interest rates. These fluctuate with market conditions. Although the variable rates are generally the lowest offered rates, it’s because the borrower is assuming the risk that the rate won’t go up, which is likely if you take 10 or more years to repay your student loans.

If you already have a variable-rate private loan, look into refinancing to a fixed-rate loan while rates are low. 

And once you start making payments, contact the student loan company to find out if there are any ways to lower the interest rate, like signing up for an autopay discount.

Mistake 7: Not Understanding Interest Accrual & Capitalization

Another factor to consider is when the interest begins to accrue (accumulate). On subsidized federal loans, that doesn’t happen until after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. Thus, whatever you borrowed is what you owe up until the day you’re no longer enrolled full time. 

But interest on unsubsidized federal and private loans starts the moment you get the money. So on graduation day, you owe a higher balance than you originally borrowed.

Worse, that interest is capitalized (added to the principal balance as though it were part of what you borrowed) once you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. Since interest accrues according to the principal, that means you’ll then be earning interest on the interest.

Fortunately, you can reduce or even eliminate the burden interest can cause. Make small monthly interest payments while you’re still in school. That ensures none accrues and capitalizes on graduation. 

If you have to, take on a part-time job. As long as you keep it to part-time hours, it shouldn’t interfere with your studies, and a well-chosen college job comes with numerous benefits, like teaching you the money management skills you need to pay off those loans after college. 

Mistake 8: Co-Signing a Loan Without Understanding the Consequences

In some cases, a co-signer can help a student qualify for a loan or get a lower interest rate. 

But co-signing their loan comes with a great deal of risk. You’re taking on equal responsibility for the loan. That means if they make a late payment or miss one entirely, it could impact your credit score. And if they default on the loan, the loan company will come after you for the balance.

And it doesn’t matter how responsible or well-intentioned the borrower is. No one can predict the future, and they could fall on hard times. 

There are several programs designed to help people who have trouble paying back federal loans — if they enroll in them. But private lenders are especially hard to work with. Either way, there are risks associated with co-signing for a student loan. 

If you do agree to co-sign, ask them to look for a company with a co-signer release option, which absolves you of responsibility for the debt after the student makes a certain number of on-time monthly payments.

If not getting help means they can’t attend college, a parent PLUS loan gives you more control than co-signing a private loan. You can borrow up to the total cost of their attendance, but the loan will be in your name. 

If you want, you can still agree that they’re responsible for paying you back (though that agreement isn’t legally enforceable). Plus, if you experience financial hardship, you have access to federal repayment plans and borrower protections.

However, don’t sacrifice retirement savings or go into debt paying for your kids’ college. It could leave you unprepared, potentially placing a financial burden on them later.

Mistake 9: Putting Off Making a Repayment Plan

Many borrowers get lulled into thinking they can wait until after they graduate and their six-month grace period ends before they have to start worrying about their student loans. But you need to prepare your budget long before then.

A student loan payment could easily be $400 per month (maybe more). That’s a hefty chunk of anyone’s take-home pay. But recent grads won’t make as much as established professionals in any field. 

And if you don’t think about it for the first six months post-graduation, it’s easy to establish a post-college life that doesn’t leave room for it, such as upgrading your apartment or buying a new car.

Before you graduate, find out what your monthly payment will be. You can check your student loan balance by creating a student account at StudentAid.gov.

Then, build the rest of your post-college budget around your monthly student loan payment. That ensures you won’t take on more financial obligations than you can afford. Unfortunately, that may mean living that ramen-eating college lifestyle for the first couple of years after you graduate. 

Mistake 10: Choosing the Wrong Repayment Plan

The automatic student loan repayment schedule is 10 years of fixed payments, but it’s not the best option for all borrowers.

You don’t want to string out payments for decades unless it’s necessary. But income-driven repayment plans, which forgive any remaining balance after you make 240 to 300 (20 to 25 years) of qualifying payments, may be a saving grace for borrowers with high debt and low income. 

And for those entering public service fields, an income-driven repayment plan is the gateway to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which forgives any remaining balance in as few as 120 qualifying payments. 

But even if you stick to the standard 10-year plan, you still have options. 

For example, you can repay your loans on a graduated plan, which lets you make smaller payments at the beginning. Your payments then gradually rise every two years. This plan is ideal for those who must start in a lower-paying job but expect their income to increase substantially as they gain work experience.

Use the loan simulator at StudentAid.gov to see how much you can expect to repay under different repayment plans. It shows your monthly payments, total amount owed, and any potential balance you could have forgiven under an income-driven repayment plan as well as the date you can expect to have your loans paid off.

Use this information to weigh your options. Ask yourself: 

  • Is it better to pay off your loans as quickly as possible by sticking to the standard 10-year plan? Is that realistic at your current income? 
  • How big will your payments be 10 years down the line if you opt for graduated repayment? Are you likely to make enough money for that to be practical? 
  • Is it better to make your current situation more manageable through an income-driven or extended repayment plan? 

Lowering your monthly payment will have consequences since it means more interest will accrue. But the loan simulator can give you an accurate picture of what those consequences will look like. 

Mistake 11: Only Making the Minimum Payment

The longer you sit on debt, the more it costs you thanks to the interest. So if you have any wiggle room in your budget, put whatever money you can toward your student loans to pay them off as quickly as possible. 

Even small amounts can make a big difference.

For example, if you borrowed $40,000 in student loans at 6% interest, your monthly payment would be $444. But if you paid $500 a month instead — a difference of only $56 — you’d save $1,957 in interest and have them repaid a year sooner.

If you can, opt for a side gig or cut your expenses. Additionally, put any windfalls — like tax refunds, gifts, or inheritances — toward your loans.  

But this is key: When you make any extra payments toward your loans, ensure you indicate the company should apply it to the principal. The more you pay down the principal, the less interest accumulates.

Mistake 12: Refinancing Without Considering the Pros & Cons

Refinancing is a common strategy for lowering the cost of debt, whether it’s a mortgage refinance or a student loan. But while refinancing can score you a lower interest rate, interest rates aren’t the only consideration.

When you refinance a student loan, you can only do so through a private refinance lender. That means you lose access to all the benefits of federal student loans, including federal repayment plans, borrower protections, generous deferment and forbearance options, and federal loan forgiveness. 

It may still be worth it to you, depending on the rate you can get. But it’s crucial to weigh that against all you’d be giving up.

Even if the private interest rate is lower, the future is unpredictable, and you never know if you could need those federal benefits. And you’ll lose all access to federal loan forgiveness with a refinance.

On the other hand, if you have private student loans, there’s no reason not to refinance. 

Mistake 13: Postponing Payments Unnecessarily

Both federal and private student loans have multiple options for deferment and forbearance. These allow you to temporarily suspend payments for various reasons, including full-time enrollment in school, economic hardship, military deployment, and serving in AmeriCorps. 

Sometimes, deferment or forbearance makes sense, such as while you’re enrolled in school. But prolonged use of these options just increases your overall balance because interest keeps piling up. 

Interest accrues on all but subsidized federal loans during deferments. And it accrues on all loans during forbearance. Additionally, that interest is capitalized (added to the principal balance) at the end of the deferment or forbearance. 

Only use these options when absolutely necessary. And if possible, make interest payments during periods of deferment or forbearance to prevent its accrual. 

If you’re deferring or forbearing for economic hardship and anticipate the hardship will last longer than a month or two, apply for an income-driven plan instead. 

Depending on the severity of your situation, your monthly payments could be calculated as low as $0. And some plans don’t capitalize interest and even have interest subsidies, which means the government covers the interest on your loans for a specified period.  

Additionally, those $0 “payments” count toward potential student loan forgiveness. But only periods of economic hardship deferment count toward the forgiveness clock. No other form of deferment or forbearance qualifies. And there’s a cap on how long you can defer for economic hardship.

Plus, if your financial situation changes, you can always change your repayment plan. 

Mistake 14: Missing Payments

Missing payments can result in late fees. The student loan company tacks these onto your next month’s minimum payment. So if you had a hard time paying this month, it won’t be easier next month. 

Plus, when you make your next payment, your money covers fees and interest before going toward the principal. So multiple fees could mean paying your principal down slower. And interest accrues according to the principal balance, so the higher you keep that balance, the more interest you pay.

Worse, if you miss enough payments, it can result in a default of your loans, which comes with severe consequences, such as damaged credit or wage garnishment or seizure of your tax refunds, Social Security benefits, or property. 

There’s never a reason to miss a payment on a federal student loan if you’re facing financial hardship. Simply call the company and let them know. Depending on what you qualify for, you can choose from multiple options, including deferment, forbearance, or an income-driven repayment plan.

Private lenders are tougher to work with, as fewer repayment options are available. But many are still willing to work with you if you explain the situation. Most of the top lenders have limited programs for deferment or forbearance in times of economic hardship. 

Mistake 15: Keeping Your Assigned Payment Due Date

Student loan companies allow you to adjust your monthly due date. That can be helpful if you’re having trouble stretching your dollars from one paycheck to the next.

Plus, if your bills are anything like mine, most of them are due at the same time of month. Thus, if you get paid biweekly, adjusting your due date to a different time of the month can make things easier.  

If you want a different due date, contact the company handling your student loans and ask if you can adjust your due date to one more beneficial for you. You may even be able to change it through your online account.

Ensure you get confirmation of the new date in writing. That protects you if you get hit with any late fees in error. Additionally, ask when the new date takes effect. It could take a billing cycle or two, depending on the lender. 

Mistake 16: Falling for Student Loan Scams

Many borrowers have reported receiving phone calls, emails, letters, and texts offering them relief from their student loans or warning them federal forgiveness programs will end soon if they don’t act now.

But the services these scam debt relief companies offer usually steal borrowers’ money or private information rather than grant any actual relief. 

Other student loan scams take fees for helping students apply for income-driven repayment plans or consolidate their loans. However, borrowers never have to pay to sign up for any federal repayment programs. They only need to contact the company in charge of their loan.

In general, if someone contacts you, avoid giving them any personal information. No matter who they claim to be, either tell them to send their request in writing or say you’ll call them back. Then verify their story by contacting your student loan company at their listed phone number or through their website.

Additionally, never pay an upfront fee for student loan services. The government doesn’t charge application fees for any of their loan programs. They also won’t claim an offer is only available for a limited time since all the terms are set by law every year and are available to all students.

For more red flags to watch for, check out the Department of Education’s tips on avoiding student loan scams. 

Mistake 17: Forgetting to Update Your Contact Information

You are responsible for making all your loan payments whether you received the bill or not. Additionally, the lender in charge of your loan can change, and you need to ensure you’re able to receive that information so you always know who to contact about paying and managing your loans.

Thus, it’s on borrowers to ensure the company in charge of their student loans has all their current contact information, including mailing address, email address, and phone number. That’s especially the case if you moved after you graduated or listed a parent’s address on your application forms.

Log into your student loan account to ensure your contact information is current. 

If you don’t know who services your student loans, check with your school’s financial aid office. For federal loans, you can always create an account on StudentAid.gov.

Then, each time you move, get a new email address or change your number, update that info with the company handling your student loans.

Mistake 18: Not Asking for Help

Paying off student loans can be overwhelming, especially if you’re dealing with low income or a large amount of debt. Depending on your circumstance, it could feel like you’re drowning and may never escape.

Trust me, I know how it feels. And I’m hardly alone. A simple online search reveals dozens of stories of borrowers who’ve consistently paid on their loans yet owe more than ever thanks to the compounding effects of interest, which often feels like quicksand. 

But paying late or not at all only makes the situation worse. Damage to your credit report can make it difficult for you to rent an apartment, buy a car, or even get a job. And default can leave you subject to wage garnishment, steep collection penalties, and even lawsuits.  

But hope isn’t lost. There is help. Resources exist for borrowers who need an extra hand.

The first step is to reach out to the student loan company. See if there’s a payment plan that’s manageable for you. Even if there isn’t, let them know what payment you can afford, and go from there. 

If the company is uncooperative, contact the federal student loan ombudsman. 

Borrowers can also reach out to nonprofit student loan counselors, such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or The Institute of Student Loan Advisors. These organizations work with borrowers to help them figure out the best strategies for dealing with their loans and overall financial health. 

Alternatively, if you’ve reached the point of needing to settle your student loans or file for bankruptcy, seek an attorney who specializes in student loans. For private student loan help, try The National Association of Consumer Advocates. For federal student loans, search the American Bar Association.


Final Word

The United States is currently experiencing a student loan crisis because of how the debt has impacted American lives.

It’s affected borrowers’ ability to save for retirement and buy a home. It’s also impacted people’s ability to start a family or even choose a job for passion over a paycheck.

And it can do so for decades. Many millennials who’ve entered middle age continue to face debt repayment. And many feel college wasn’t worth it as a result.

But you don’t have to be one of these statistics. I write about student loans precisely to help others avoid my mistakes. Learn from this list so you can borrow wisely and avoid overwhelming student loan debt.  

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Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She’s also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.

Source: moneycrashers.com

The Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania in 2022

  • Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone State for its role in U.S. history
  • The state’s roots are deep in manufacturing, including industries such as coal and steel
  • Living in Pennsylvania gives you access to all the riches of the state, no matter what city you call home

Pennsylvania holds a notable place in the history of this country. Not only did it help shape our formation into the United States, but its roots are deep in the coal, steel and railroad industries. Living in the Keystone State puts you among historic locations that paved the way for the development of so much of this country.

It’s a lofty reputation to hold up, but staying grounded in industry and opportunity has enabled the state to maintain itself as an attractive spot for those looking for employment. With affordable housing across the state, plenty of colleges and universities and a slew of historic landmarks, why wouldn’t you want to call this northern state home?

For all these reasons, the best places to live in Pennsylvania stretch from one side of the state to other. Some cities are easily recognizable, while others you may hear about for the very first time. Regardless, you’ve got plenty of choices when it comes to finding the perfect home in Pennsylvania.

Allentown, PA

Allentown, PA

  • Population: 125,845
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,885
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,027
  • Median home price: $187.750
  • Median household income: $41,167
  • Walk score: 59/100

A rich Dutch history gives Allentown a unique look and feel. Situated on the Lehigh River, this busy city is full of beautiful parks and gardens. It offers up a diverse collection of inhabitants with plenty to do to accommodate any lifestyle. There are plenty of job opportunities and thriving districts for the arts, theater and culture.

A day out and about in Allentown isn’t complete without a walk through the Allentown Art Museum, The Liberty Bell Museum, America On Wheels Museum and more. If the season is right, grab tickets to see the infamous Lehigh Valley IronPigs AAA baseball team go a few innings as well.

Bethel Park, PA

Bethel Park, PA

  • Population: 33,577
  • 1-BR median rent: $975
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,099
  • Median home price: $240,000
  • Median household income: $79,894
  • Walk score: 46/100

A Pittsburgh suburb, Bethel Park combines affordable housing with excellent schools and an abundance of green space. The city’s population is a combination of retirees and young professionals, but it’s also a great place for families. In addition to the parks, you’ll find plenty of bars, coffee shops and retail outlets.

With less than 30 minutes between Pittsburgh and Bethel Park, the town draws in those still commuting in for work, but who are looking for a quieter place to end each day. On weekends, locals will stay put and enjoy everything from the Montour Trail to the Hundred Acres Manor.

Camp Hill, PA

Camp Hill, PA

Source: ApartmentGuide.com/Society Hill
  • Population: 8,130
  • 1-BR median rent: $890
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,422
  • Median home price: $225,900
  • Median household income: $87,008
  • Walk score: 34/100

One of the best places to live in Pennsylvania is a small city along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Camp Hill gives you a nice amount of waterfront to explore. The town is also home to the northernmost engagement of the Gettysburg campaign during the Civil War. To honor this piece of history, you can follow the West Shore. There you’ll find historic buildings and battle sites.

For outdoor lovers, Camp Hill is a perfect home base to access hiking, biking, skiing and water activities. There are also plenty of local parks for a simple stroll.

Collegeville, PA

Collegeville, PA

  • Population: 5,043
  • 1-BR median rent: $2,060
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,655
  • Median home price: $380,000
  • Median household income: $112,500
  • Walk score: 44/100

As a suburb of Philadelphia, Collegeville got its straightforward name from Ursinus College. Academic life still plays an important role here, although the city is also a popular destination for a variety of businesses.

While there’s plenty of shopping and plenty for college students, the area’s top feature is the Perkiomen Trail. This 20-mile path follows the river, connecting many parks and historical sites. You can walk, bike and even ride horseback along the path.

Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg, PA

  • Population: 50,099
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,137
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,407
  • Median home price: $199,025
  • Median household income: $39,685
  • Walk score: 55/100

As the state capital, Harrisburg is one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania as much for its location within the state as for its history. Living here puts you near the Susquehanna River, Appalachian Trail and the cities of Hershey and Gettysburg. You can easily sample a little nature and history with so much close by.

Within Harrisburg itself, you have access to the city’s own island. Here you’ll find a beach, riverboat, arcade and more. It’s a great stop during the day. When the sun goes down, keep yourself occupied with the upscale bars and restaurants downtown.

Hershey, PA

Hershey, PA

  • Population: 13,858
  • 1-BR median rent: $915
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,075
  • Median home price: $339,900
  • Median household income: $69,688
  • Walk score: 57/100

Yes, it’s named after that chocolate bar. Hershey is often referred to as one of the sweetest places on earth because, to this day, Hershey’s still calls the city home. This not only means a variety of job opportunities working with chocolate but plenty to lure in tourists. The city also boasts Hersheypark, which has rides and a zoo, Hersey Gardens and Hersheypark Stadium.

Although the city grew up around a single company, today, it contains all the attractive elements of a smaller town one could want. Step away from the more touristy areas to find scenic hiking trails, museums, restaurants and shops.

Lancaster, PA

Lancaster, PA

  • Population: 58,039
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,269
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,453
  • Median home price: $225,625
  • Median household income: $45,514
  • Walk score: 56/100

Situated alongside Amish Country, Lancaster is home to the Pennsylvania Dutch. While you can tour Amish attractions and even immerse yourself into the lifestyle for a special experience, locals have plenty of other activities to occupy their time.

As one of the best places to live near Philadelphia, the downtown area is full of shops, theaters, restaurants and art galleries. Underground caverns provide a little adventure for those seeking something different. You can also take a ride on the country’s oldest operating railroad or see a different side of the city’s history with a ghost tour.

Perkasie, PA

Perkasie, PA

  • Population: 9,120
  • 1-BR median rent: $995
  • 2-BR median rent: $995
  • Median home price: $425,000
  • Median household income: $77,420
  • Walk score: 38/100

Another commuter town, Perkasie is one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania because it’s a great small town that’s only about an hour away from downtown Philadelphia. Once known for its factory that made baseballs for the major leagues, Perkasie today has managed to grow while holding onto its rural appeal.

A fantastic park system and revitalized downtown area provide the perfect combination of hometown activities for residents. There’s no shortage of restaurants, shops, music venues and more.

Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia, PA

  • Population: 1,603,797
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,872
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,102
  • Median home price: $260,000
  • Median household income: $45,927
  • Walk score: 84/100

The most populated and well-known city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia definitely has one of the rooms where it happened. Not only is it the original home of the Liberty Bell but it also housed our Founding Fathers as they signed the Declaration of Independence into being.

Popular in its own right, Philadelphia offers additional appeal for its proximity to New York City. Hop a train into the city for work or a weekend of fun. You can also stay close to home and snack on an authentic Philly cheesesteak as you enjoy the art and history of downtown. There’s no shortage of 300-year-old buildings, cultural attractions, quaint parks, bars, restaurants and shops.

Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, PA

  • Population: 302,971
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,435
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,890
  • Median home price: $217,000
  • Median household income: $48,711
  • Walk score: 69/100

Bookending the state, Pittsburgh is the most populated city on the opposite end from Philly. Known as the City of Bridges, Pittsburgh has long shared a connection with steel, however, the industry is only part of what makes this area so special. As a highly walkable city, you can easily explore on foot but wear comfortable shoes. With over 712 sets of city-maintained steps, you’re going to get a great workout.

If walking isn’t your thing, don’t worry, Pittsburgh has you covered. For sports fans, this affordable town is home to professional baseball, football and hockey teams. For those looking toward higher education, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are the notable tip of Pittsburgh’s collegiate iceberg.

Reading, PA

Reading, PA

  • Population: 95,112
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,475
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,540
  • Median home price: $160,000
  • Median household income: $32,176
  • Walk score: 69/100

Named after the Reading Railroad, which all you Monopoly players should know well, the town of Reading sits in the southeastern part of the state. Today, it’s uniquely known for the variety of pretzel companies that call the area home. Reading is also a combination of culture and history. It’s easy to divide your day between looking at an Egyptian mummy in the Reading Public Museum and hiking through the Nolde Forest. You can also check out Daniel Boone’s birthplace for some real American history.

With plenty of affordable, suburban housing, residents get drawn into Reading for the charms of the city itself, as well as its proximity to Philadelphia. These two cities on the list of best places to live in Pennsylvania are only about 60 miles apart.

Scranton, PA

Scranton, PA

  • Population: 76,328
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,184
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,095
  • Median home price: $149,000
  • Median household income: $40,608
  • Walk score: 58/100

Laid out more like a traditional small town, Scranton has tight-knit neighborhoods clustered around a thriving downtown. You’ll find trendy restaurants, boutiques and art galleries nestled among the historic Lackawanna County Courthouse building.

Taking into account its high population of young professionals and families, Scranton caters to its residents with plenty of special activities, including cultural festivals and monthly art walks. Scranton also pays homage to its nickname, the Electric City, with The Electric City Trolley Station and Museum. The first streetcars, successfully powered by electricity, ran here in the 1880s.

Willow Grove, PA

Willow Grove, PA

Source: ApartmentGuide.com/Willow Pointe
  • Population: 13,730
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,907
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,230
  • Median home price: $300,000
  • Median household income: $79,162
  • Walk score: 57/100

A small town with big fun, Willow Grove offers residents a quiet, laidback community that doesn’t lack the amenities you’d want close by. There are plenty of shopping and dining options that you’d expect to find in bigger cities.

As a Philadelphia suburb, Willow Grove has the nearby city going for it as far as activity goes, but it’s not without its own set of museums and historic sites to occupy residents. Visit the 42-acre grounds and home at Graeme Park or check out the indoor playground at Urban Air Adventure Park for something really different.

Find an apartment for rent in Pennsylvania

The best places to live in Pennsylvania spread to all four corners of the state. Each city has its own charm, beauty and history to explore, not to mention job opportunities and affordable housing.

Once you decide what area is right for you, begin the hunt. Look for apartments for rent in Pennsylvania to see all your options. Then, start narrowing things down by location, amenities and more. You’ll find the perfect place to call home in no time.

The rent information included in this summary is based on a median calculation of multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com as of December 2021.
Median home prices are from Redfin as of December 2021.
Population and median household income are from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The information in this article is for illustrative purposes only. This data herein does not constitute a pricing guarantee or financial advice related to the rental market.

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Understanding Your Student Loan Promissory Note

Generally speaking, promissory notes are legally binding contracts that state the terms of a loan, such as the amount to be repaid, the interest rate that will be charged, and any other important terms and conditions of that particular loan.

A student loan promissory note is no different; you’ll be required to sign one, accepting the terms of your student loan(s) before the lender disburses your money.

If a student loan promissory note sounds super important, that’s because it is. You can think of it as your student loan contract. Like any legal contract, it’s important to know the nuances of what you’re signing. Here’s what you should know about student loan promissory notes and master promissory notes.

What Is a Student Loan Promissory Note?

A promissory note is your student loan contract. It details the terms and conditions of that loan, as well as any rights and responsibilities you have as a borrower. Both federal student loans — loans backed by the U.S. government — and private student loans require that you sign a promissory note.

With private student loans, borrowers will generally be required to sign a promissory note for each student loan they borrow, because each loan’s terms and conditions may be different. Federal student loan borrowers may have the option to sign just one master promissory note.

What Is a Master Promissory Note?

Borrowers with federal student loans may be able to sign just one master promissory note. If eligible, a master promissory note covers all federal loans borrowed for a period of 10 years. There are versions of the master promissory note for both students borrowing Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans and a version for borrowers who are using Direct PLUS Loans.

Whether you’ll be able to sign a master promissory note is determined by the school you attend and the types of federal loans you have. Some schools do not offer the option to have students sign a master promissory note that covers borrowing over multiple years.

So be certain to understand what your school allows, and whether you need to sign multiple promissory notes or one master promissory note. The financial aid office at your college should be able to guide you through the process.

What Should I Look for on My Student Loan Promissory Note?

Understanding the terms and conditions of a student loan promissory note is akin to understanding the terms of student loans. Here are some important items to consider on your loan, and note:

Loan type: First, it is important to know what type of loan you have. Federal loans will have different terms than private loans, which are loans accessed through an independent bank, credit union, or other lender.

Repayment options: Federal loans come with some options to help you manage your debt post-graduation, such as student loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment. If you have federal loans and access to multiple repayment plans, take some time to understand the ins and outs of different plans.

Deferment options: Federal loans may also offer options for student loan deferment, which would allow you to suspend making payments during periods of economic hardship, immediately after you leave school, etc. Private loans may also offer some deferment options, but every lender is different, so you’ll need to check your note.

Interest rate: The interest rate is a percentage of the principal loan amount that the borrower is charged for borrowing money. Be certain to understand the interest rate on your student loans, and whether that rate is fixed or variable. Federal student loans have fixed interest rates.

Private student loans may offer variable rates. If the rate is variable, it is possible that it will increase in the future, which would also increase your monthly payments. Be especially wary of private loans that offer introductory rate offers that later expire — they could end up costing you quite a bit of money.

Additional costs: In addition to the loan’s interest rate, a student loan promissory note should include information on any additional costs, such as a loan fee (also known as an origination fee). Student loan fees will vary by lender, so be sure to check yours. Sometimes a loan fee is deducted directly from the amount that is disbursed.

Prepayment fees: Speaking of additional costs, one thing to check for is whether your student loan allows you to “pre-pay” loan payments. If you think there’s a chance you’ll want to pay your loan back faster than the stated terms, check to see whether prepayment is allowed, and if so, how additional payments are applied and whether there are any fees attached. Making prepayments on the principal value of the loan could help reduce the amount of money you owe in interest over the life of the loan.

Cosigner removal: With some loans, especially private loans, you may be required to have a cosigner. (That’s because private loans rely on your — or your cosigner’s — creditworthiness to determine the terms of your loan. Federal loans do not.) Upon graduation, some borrowers want to release their cosigner of the responsibility of having their name on the loan, so you may want to find out whether that’s a possibility.

Allocation of funds: Some loans may require that the money is spent only on designated expenses, such as books or tuition. If you’re looking to upgrade your apartment, you might not be allowed to do so using student loan funds. Make sure to check on any stipulations on how you can spend the money.

When Is the Promissory Note Signed?

In general, borrowers will need to sign the promissory note for their loans before receiving any funds. Students who are borrowing federal student loans are able to sign their master promissory note online by logging into their federal student loan account.

Private lenders may have their own policies for signing a promissory note, it’s helpful to check-in directly with the lender if you have any questions.

Understanding Your Options

If you haven’t picked up on it already, knowing how student loans work and understanding your student loan contract is the name of the game. Taking out a student loan can be a huge financial commitment and shouldn’t be done without careful consideration — which means knowing what’s on that promissory note.

Before going to sign your student loan promissory note, it’s also a good idea to spend some time thinking about your financial goals. A good place to start is by looking at how much you’ll take out in loans, total, and compare that to how much money you can expect to make after you graduate from school. Use a student loan calculator to get an idea of what your monthly payments could be given your total debt and the interest rate.

Rarely is it financially sound to take out more in loans than you absolutely need. It might seem like Monopoly money now, but this is all money that you’ll have to pay back, with interest. The repayment process can be painstaking, especially as a person early in their career or during a setback, like layoffs or a health issue. Taking out the bare minimum in student loans may mean working part-time in college, exploring more affordable college options, or continuing to apply for scholarships after you’re enrolled.

Once you’ve graduated, keep in mind that refinancing your student loans is a way for some graduates to lower the interest rates on their loans or lower their monthly payments. Refinancing is a process where your existing loans are consolidated and paid off with a new loan from a private lender.

Generally, the borrower has the option to keep the same repayment schedule or increase or decrease the amount of time left on their loan. (Increasing the duration of a loan may result in paying more interest over time, whereas decreasing the duration of a loan may result in higher monthly payments, but less interest paid overall.)

If you’re planning on using your federal loans’ flexible repayment plans or student loan forgiveness programs, refinancing with a private lender may not be the right choice for you as you will lose access to those federal benefits. However, some private lenders, like SoFi, offer protections to borrowers who lose their jobs or experience economic hardship. SoFi even provides career counseling to help their borrowers get back on track.

The Takeaway

A student loan promissory note is a contract between the borrower and the lender that details the loan’s terms and conditions and where the borrower promises to repay the loan. Federal student loan borrowers may be able to sign just one master promissory note, which will cover all federal loans for a period of up to 10 years. Private lenders generally require a promissory note for each individual loan.

Understanding the terms and conditions of your loan when signing of the promissory note can help you set your expectations for borrowing and ultimately repaying your student loans.

Whether you need help paying for school or help paying off the loans you already have, SoFi offers competitive interest rates and great member benefits as well.

See what you’re pre-qualified for in just a few minutes.


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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL MAY 1, 2022 DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs.
SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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Source: sofi.com

How To Write a 30-Day Notice Letter To Your Landlord

Sending a notice to vacate to your current landlord will help ensure a smooth and easy transition to your next place.

You absolutely love your current apartment. Everything about it has been perfect, but you realize it’s time to move on. Even though your lease has a defined end date, it’s common courtesy to notify your landlord that you’re ready to move.

Submitting a 30-day notice letter to your landlord is the proper way to get the ball rolling. Not only will it ensure everyone is on the same page about you moving out, it makes sure you’re all on the same schedule.

Why do I give a notice to vacate?

One of the hardest things to remember about leasing an apartment is that it’s a legal transaction. You sign a legal document to move in, so you need to create a document when you want to move out.

A notice to vacate is the letter you give your landlord stating your intention to terminate your lease. The specifics of how to submit this letter — and when — is usually a part of your rental agreement. Even if your lease has a set end date and that’s when you’re moving out, submitting an official letter makes your intentions clear and avoids confusion.

Is a 30-day notice letter to my landlord the norm?

While it’s pretty standard to provide 30 days’ notice of your intent to move out, not every lease sets the notification period to the same amount of days. Some landlords may want more notice, transforming your 30-day notice letter to a 45- or 60-day letter.

Your lease provides any clarification you need on when to send this letter, so it’s best to check it well before you plan on moving out.

Thinking of what to include in a letter

Thinking of what to include in a letter

What should the notice letter look like?

There are a few essential elements that belong in your notice to vacate letter and a few best practices to follow. First, make sure your letter has:

  • Your name, your current address and the date
  • The date on which you plan to move out
  • A forwarding address where your security deposit can go
  • Acknowledgment that a final inspection will occur

Additionally, it’s best if you:

  • Review your lease before writing your letter to check not only on a time frame to give notice but other requirements for moving out.
  • Type your letter rather than write it by hand. Use a pen for your signature, but typing the letter makes it easier to keep a record for yourself.
  • Keep the tone straightforward and polite. Stay on the topic of giving your notice and don’t bring up other issues or complaints.

Even if your lease doesn’t require you to send a formal letter if you’re moving out on the actual date your rental agreement ends, err on the side of caution and do so anyway. This gives you a paper trail and offers you legal protection should any issues arise down the road.

A 30-day notice letter template

This template can help you get started when it’s time to write your own 30-day notice letter to your landlord. Simply download the 30-day notice sample letter and replace the sections in parenthesis ( ) with your information.

(Your name)
(Street address and unit number)
(City, State and ZIP Code)

(Date)

(Landlord or property manager’s name)
(Property address)
(City, State and ZIP Code)

Re: Notice of Intent to Vacate

Dear (Landlord or property manager’s name),

This letter is to inform you of my official 30-day notice to vacate. I’d like to terminate the lease signed on (Month, Date, Year) for the property located at (Your address with apartment number). I will move out on (Date).

I will return my keys on (Move out date) to (Specific address) per the terms of my lease.

I’m also aware a final inspection of the apartment will take place, the results of which could potentially impact my security deposit. Please let me know, via email at (Your email address), if the full amount is not being returned. You can return my security deposit to (Forwarding address.)

Should you have any questions, or need to reach me after I move out, you can contact me at (Phone number) or (Email address).

Sincerely,

(Your name and signature)
(Apartment number)

Sharing why you’re moving out

This is an optional bit of information you can include in your letter. It’s not necessary to tell your landlord why you’re moving out, but sometimes it’s nice for them to know that it’s not the apartment driving you away.

If you’d like, add in a sentence to your letter along these lines: I’ve enjoyed living here and am moving out because of a (new job/relocation opportunity/roommate opportunity, etc.).

If you’re moving out because of an issue with the apartment and want to share it here, that’s OK, too, just try and remain diplomatic. You don’t want to use your letter as an opportunity to accuse your landlord of anything. Try something like: I’m leaving because of (a rent increase, issue with apartment). You don’t need to get really detailed, either.

Again, this additional line is completely optional and up to you entirely.

Hire a moving company

Hire a moving company

What happens after your notice to vacate?

Once you’ve submitted your official letter, it’s a good idea to reach out to your landlord and informally share your plans. You can also notify them your letter is coming and address any questions they may have without having to wait.

The next steps involve planning your move. If you haven’t found a new place to live yet, get searching. You may also want to schedule movers since you’ve now established your move-out day with your 30-day notice letter to your landlord.

What if I forget?

The biggest possible issue, should you forget to send a 30-day notice letter to your landlord, is penalties. You could end up on the hook for extra fees as high as another month’s rent. You could also end up dealing with an automatic lease renewal, which means having to break your lease to move out. This could lead to even more charges and potential problems since you’ve missed your window to easily vacate the apartment.

To avoid forgetting, as soon as you know you’re going to move, set a reminder for yourself to give 30-day notice and mark the cut-off date in your calendar. Give yourself as many ways as possible to get that letter sent.

Handling the termination of your lease right

Moving from one home to another is always full of little details. From scheduling movers to packing all your stuff, the weeks leading up to a move are busy.

Before you get into the weeds of your actual move, take the right steps to properly prepare your landlord. That all starts by giving notice of your intent to vacate. It will be the easiest and the less time-consuming thing you have to do during the move-out process and could make a big difference.

Source: rent.com

How to Use the Debt Lasso Method to Pay Off Debt Faster

Remember how we talked about the importance of committing because of later temptations? Here’s where that comes into play.
By automating your payments, you’ll be less tempted to reduce the amount when your minimum payment goes down — sort of an out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality.
And don’t limit yourself to credit card offers. Using a personal loan to pay off multiple cards has the same effect.
Before you reach the end of a zero-interest period, start looking for other offers that allow you to transfer your balance so you can avoid getting socked with the new higher interest rate on your old card.

What Is the Debt Lasso Method?

Auten and Schneider should know: They started their own debt lasso journey with ,000 in credit card debt. After years of poor financial choices, the couple was sitting on the floor of their basement apartment when they realized that their debt would never allow them to buy a house or enjoy life the way their friends were.
Yeehaw!
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Who Should Use the Debt Lasso?

Decide on an amount greater than your total minimum monthly payments that you can reliably put toward your debt every month.
So if you have ,000 in credit card debt and your gross income (before taxes and other deductions are taken out) is ,000, you’re a good candidate for the debt lasso. But if you have ,000 in credit card debt with the same salary, you may want to seek other assistance to help you pay off your credit card debt.

Pro Tip
We’ll look at all the pieces, but let’s first decide if the debt lasso method can help you.

And if you’re wondering when you’ll reach the end of your debt lasso, they include a calculator on debtlasso.com to help you figure out how long it will take to pay off credit cards based on your interest rates and debt amounts.
Stop using your credit cards. No exceptions.

How the Debt Lasso Method Works

This portrait shows a gay couple sitting on a couch together in the mountains after being married.
Developed by David Auten, left, and John Schneider, the married couple known as the Debt Free Guys, the debt lasso method involves corralling your high-interest debt into a low-interest one so you can pay down the principal balance more quickly. Photo courtesy of Studio Lemus

To determine if the debt lasso method is right for you, start by adding up how much you owe in credit card debt. Then compare that total debt to your annual income. If your debt is less than half of your income, the debt lasso method could work for you.

1. Commit

After you’ve paid down a portion of your balance, your credit card company tells you that your new minimum payment is only . Yay! But that doesn’t mean you now have to spend — you should continue paying 0 each month, sending even more money toward your principal balance.
Saving your cash for now will let you build an emergency fund in case you do lose income. And if it turns out that you end up with an extra nest egg, consider it a bonus payment as you return to the debt lasso method.
Start with the easy wins by paying off any credit cards that have low enough balances to knock out in less than six months.
You can still benefit from the lasso method by negotiating a lower interest rate with your current credit card company or transferring the balance to a card with a substantially lower interest rate than what you’re currently paying.

  1. But if you have a less-than-stellar credit score, those offers may be tough to come by. Don’t give up.
  2. Remember that you’ve committed to not using your credit cards (see Step #1). So hold onto the ones you’ve paid off. Why?

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2. Trim

Developed by David Auten and John Schneider, also known as the Debt Free Guys, the debt lasso method involves corralling your high-interest debt into a low-interest one so you can pay down the principal balance more quickly — and for less money.
You may have multiple credit cards, but we’ll keep the example simple with one card: When you began your debt lasso journey, your minimum monthly payment was , so you committed to paying 0 on your credit card — 0 extra each month.
Time to saddle up.

3. Lasso

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
So they made a two-part commitment — which you’ll also need to do if you want to use the debt lasso method:
You cannot successfully use the debt lasso method unless you’re willing to commit.
Automating your minimum monthly payments for all but your lassoed credit card will allow you to focus on paying off one debt at a time. But automating your payments can do even more to help.
But if you fall somewhere in between, the lasso could help you pay off debt in a shorter amount of time and with less interest.
Compared to the average rate on credit cards, which was 17.13% in the third quarter of 2021, personal loans offered a better deal at 9.39%, according to the Federal Reserve.
If the debt avalanche and snowball methods leave you feeling a bit cold when you think of all the interest you’ll end up paying, consider the debt lasso method.
This is no time to put your debt payment strategy out to pasture. Monitoring your accounts is an important last step, as those credit card rates can run wild if left unattended.
Each time you pay off one credit card, put your money toward paying off the next highest balance.
“That was our particular rock-bottom moment, realizing that here we were in this financial and literal hole,” Schneider said.
Although opening new accounts could temporarily hurt your credit score, Auten and Schneider emphasized that the long-term benefits of paying off debt faster can help counteract that effect.
Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder who is fully committed to corny puns. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.

4. Automate

“If you do get an offer and then you end up not being able to make your payments, then you could get stuck with an interest rate that’s 25 to 30%,” Auten said.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
Although it may be tempting to pay every dime toward your debt, don’t drain your emergency fund when practicing the debt lasso method.
The early victory not only offers a psychological benefit but also helps your credit score.
If you’ve read about other debt payoff methods, you might be wondering if the lasso method is just a balance transfer. Auten and Schneider get that question a lot.
Ready to wrangle in that credit card debt?

5. Monitor

This woman monitors her accounts online.
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Maintaining those credit lines will decrease your credit utilization, which accounts for approximately 30% of your credit score. And the higher your credit score, the better position you’ll be in when you’re ready to lasso.
Want to learn more? Auten and Schneider told us all about the debt lasso, including who it can help the most — and who shouldn’t use it.

Credit card agreements often include a clause in the fine print that allows them to raise your interest rates if you miss a payment during the zero-interest offer period. Some will even sneak in the right to recoup any money you saved previously during the promotional period at the new interest rate.
The takeaway lesson: Read the fine print.

Who Should NOT Use the Debt Lasso Method — For Now

A word of warning: If you’re in an industry where you could be furloughed or laid off suddenly, you should probably hold your horses — and your cash.
If you have a good or excellent credit score, finding a zero-interest offer where you can transfer your highest interest credit card debt should be your goal.
Committing to the process is essential, Auten and Schneider said, as it will help you later when you may be tempted to stray off course.
If you still have additional higher interest balances, prioritize paying off the credit card with the highest interest rate first.
You also might not benefit from taking up the lasso if you can realistically pay off your credit card debt in six months, since the associated fees (typically 3% to 5% of the amount being transferred) could cost you more than you’d save by taking advantage of a lower interest rate.
“The reality is that a central piece of the process is doing some sort of consolidation — whether that’s a balance transfer to a zero-interest credit card or a low-interest loan,” Auten said. “But a lot of people forget those first two pieces and the last two pieces.”
A card that doesn’t have a balance means you have more available credit, thus helping improve your credit score. And a higher credit score will help you get approved for another zero-interest credit card.

Putting all of the extra money toward your card with the highest interest rate will help you pay the least amount of interest over time. And that’s where the last step becomes crucial.

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“To get you from 20% to 25% down to a 9% to 15% — that’s a great first step,” Schneider said.

The 15 Best Neighborhoods in Detroit for Renters in 2022

Motor City is full of neighborhoods that provide gorgeous views, active nightlife and world-class culture.

While there’s no shortage of amazing places to live, actually choosing one is difficult. Luckily, the best neighborhoods in Detroit have great rental opportunities to fit just about every lifestyle. And you’ll be deeply invested in your new neighborhood — like a true Detroiter should — before you know it.

Here are the 15 best neighborhoods in Detroit.

  • Walk Score: 62/100

Bagley is a neighborhood that offers the best of many worlds. Located near University Park, along Livernois, you’ll have access to amenities on the vibrant Avenue of Fashion, one of Detroit’s top commercial strips. McNichols Road is another commercial center with bars and coffee shops. Local restaurants also abound, ranging from casual Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles to fine dining at Table No. 2.

Perfect for people who enjoy living and breathing Detroit’s energy while paying reasonable prices, living in Bagley means quality amenities, a great location and no shortage of activities.

  • Walk Score: 73/100

As the oldest Detroit neighborhood, Corktown has apartments with charm, character and an assortment of price points. Though a popular tourist destination for the shops, bars and restaurants located right on Michigan Avenue, this one strip is just a part of Corktown’s appeal.

Leave Michigan Avenue behind and explore the cutest collection of mixed-era buildings as you make your way to Mudgie’s for the tastiest sandwich in town. Other gathering spots locals flock to are Trumbull & Porter, a local and tourist hangout, and Batch Brewing Co., where they make elevated bar food and beer on site.

Downtown Detroit, MI

Downtown Detroit, MI

  • Median 1-BR rent: $2,097
  • Median 2-BR rent: $2,587
  • Walk Score: 94/100

Almost overnight it seems as if Downtown Detroit transformed from a sleepy retail and business area to a thriving city center with new apartments steadily being developed, in both new and vintage buildings.

Some of the best parks are home to Downtown Detroit. That includes Spirit Plaza and Cadillac, and most museums like the Detroit Institute of Arts. With event spaces, restaurants and pubs on every street and the riverfront, there’s no better place to live for those who move with the beat of the urban landscape (and who don’t like to drive).

  • Walk Score: 59/100

Warren Avenue bisects East English Village, a major street providing access to key bus lines that will easily take you into the downtown area and bike lanes aplenty. While community-strengthening redevelopment efforts are in progress, you can still visit the historic Alger Theatre and the classic Detroit bar Cadieux Café — the only place in the entire country where they offer feather bowling.

Heralded as one of the best neighborhoods in Detroit for years, East English Village has apartments for rent that are modest, well-maintained and affordable.

Gold Coast, Detroit, MI

Gold Coast, Detroit, MI

  • Median 1-BR rent: $699
  • Median 2-BR rent: $1,652
  • Walk Score: 62/100

Home to large apartment buildings, the Gold Coast sits along Detroit’s riverfront outside of Downtown. Located next to everything, you have your pick of the best food, bars, venues and entertainment Detroit has to offer.

Along with amenities and activities, there are great schools and tons of parks so kids will always have something to keep them interested. In this densely populated area, you’ll get the true urban experience and some amazing views from your living room window.

  • Walk Score: 48/100

Jefferson-Chalmers is officially recognized as a National Treasure, which pretty much means it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Detroit. A waterfront neighborhood, blocks of apartments line riverfront streets and even have backyard access to waterways that lead to the Detroit River and Lake Saint Clair.

A great place to hang out, Jefferson-Chalmers has a yacht club, amazing architecture, a fishing park, great shopping and more. Known for its business investment and community development, Jefferson-Chalmers is continually evolving and will remain a wonderful place to settle into.

  • Walk Score: 84/100

East of Downtown, Lafayette Park is a historic neighborhood with the largest collection of buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe in the world. It’s hailed for its progressive architecture and rare stability. It’s one of the most important and successful urban renewal zones in the entire country.

Located near many activities, it’s a short walk to Eastern Market and Downtown and a quick bike ride to the Riverfront. The area is dedicated to its residents, with some living there since its founding and newcomers who actively participate in the care of Lafayette Park.

Midtown, Detroit, MI

Midtown, Detroit, MI

  • Walk Score: 93/100

Just outside of Downtown Detroit, Midtown is a neighborhood anchored by Wayne State University, nearby hospitals and the Detroit Institute of Arts. This is an ideal place to live if you relish having the ability to walk everywhere. You’ll be near Comerica Park and Little Caesars Arena, venues for major sports teams and entertainment.

Adjacent to major areas of shopping and fine dining, it will be impossible to stay inside when Grey Ghost, City Bird and Bottom Line Coffee House are all within walking distance. A cultural district connecting major libraries and museums will also call Midtown home.

  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,762
  • Median 2-BR rent: $2,225
  • Walk Score: 91/100

A lively neighborhood and business district, New Center is full of vibrancy and diversity, as well as first-rate shopping, dining and entertainment. Dominated by Fisher and Cadillac Place, formerly the General Motors building, it’s an ideal place to work, play and live.

Living in New Center will also give you a special treat every Fourth of July weekend when Comerica TestFest occurs, a premier music and food festival. The streets of New Center transform completely as the music takes and good times take over.

Palmer Park, Detroit, MI

Palmer Park, Detroit, MI

  • Median 2-BR rent: $800
  • Walk Score: 54/100

The apartment district in Palmer Park is a part of the National Register of Historic Places. This neighborhood is one of the few that’s close to the action without breaking the bank. Apartments have eclectic architecture and many sit around Palmer Park, a gorgeous green space with walking paths, picnic areas and a fountain.

State Fairgrounds provides Palmer Park residents with a wide range of amenities and there are many bars, restaurants and brunch places springing up all the time to fall in love with.

  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,250
  • Median 2-BR rent: $1,800
  • Walk Score: 75/100

When living in Rivertown Warehouse District, you’ll see freighters, kayaks and boats cruising on the Detroit River regularly. A neighborhood with mostly apartments and condos, the river is the backyard of most residents.

Adding to Rivertown Warehouse District’s natural beauty are parks, outdoor spaces, greenways and the Riverwalk — Detroit’s crowning achievement. The Riverwalk is three and a half miles long, offering incredible views of the skyline and river. It connects neighborhoods and an island, taking you through splash pads, fishing areas, beaches and parks.

  • Median 1-BR rent: $725
  • Median 2-BR rent: $825
  • Walk Score: 59/100

Schulze is a strong neighborhood full of residents that know what makes their community great. It’s perfect for young families and professionals who don’t need proximity to the city. The Northwest Activities Center is the heart of Schulze, providing programming, events, activities and services to more than 300,000 visitors every year.

When living in this area, residents are serious about their block clubs as they keep residents in the know of everything happening in the area. Another Detroit neighborhood that aims to build and improve together, Schulze continues trending up.

Southwest Detroit, MI

Southwest Detroit, MI

  • Walk Score: 70/100

A sprawling neighborhood, Southwest Detroit is a growing and very active area united by Mexicantown, a strip of businesses lined with bakeries, shops and restaurants so popular they constructed a shared street.

Vibrant murals cover the buildings and the streets spill over with people during the holidays, enhancing the neighborhood’s already infectious vibe. Clark Park is also located in Southwest Detroit. It’s one of the cleanest and most fun parks in the city and the city is planning additional park amenities.

  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,160
  • Median 2-BR rent: $1,725
  • Walk Score: 59/100

Diverse, friendly and teeming with pride, Detroit’s University District is a neighborhood of buildings with lavish architecture and elaborate marble and stone facades. Bound by Livernois Avenue, called The Avenue of Fashion by locals, there are boutiques,. But you’ll see more art galleries and creatives spaces, with some even dubbing it Gallery Row.

Though near premier greenspaces, restaurants, parks, libraries and the Detroit Golf Club, University District is ideal for students, retirees and other residents who enjoy a quieter city lifestyle and enjoy access to high-quality amenities.

West Village, Detroit, MI

West Village, Detroit, MI

  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,095
  • Median 2-BR rent: $1,395
  • Walk Score: 75/100

If you’ve never cared for walking the beaten path, West Village, located on the east side of the city, is the best neighborhood in Detroit for you. Primarily a residential area, West Village has apartments constructed from 1890 to 1920. And the stylings are Colonial, Mediterranean Revival and Tutor architecture.

Packed with local businesses, bars and restaurants for such a small area, West Village is where Detroit Vegan Soul, Belle Isle Pizza, Marrow Detroit and Sister Pie can all be found. Ripe for development, grabbing an apartment in this ever-evolving neighborhood is a good idea.

Find the Best Detroit Neighborhood for You

A special city in the country and the world, it’s nearly impossible to choose where to move to when looking for apartments to rent in Detroit.

One thing is sure, when you do choose the best neighborhood in Detroit to make your new home, you’ll be alongside some of the friendliest, most caring neighbors.

The rent information included in this article is based on a median calculation of multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com as of November 2021 and is for illustrative purposes only. This information does not constitute a pricing guarantee or financial advice related to the rental market.

Source: rent.com