How loan forgiveness affects students with private financing

Peninsula Premier Admin

President Joe Biden’s forgiveness of $10,000 in federal student loan debt won’t help the millions of Americans with private student loans, some of which come with very high-interest rates. Still, experts say those people should be taking several steps right now to ease their financial burden.Kristine Rego was the first in her family to go to college which means she was the first to take out student loans. By the time she graduated in 2009, she found herself $90,000 in debt, a mix of federal and private loans.”Private loans have been really difficult to deal with,” Rego said. “The interest rates are really high.”Despite making her payment every month for over a decade, Rego still owes almost $40,000 total. Thanks to the federal loan forgiveness, that will get cut by $10,000, but she won’t be getting any help with the nearly $15,000 she owes on two private loans, including one she’s paying 12% interest on.”The starting balance was $3,300,” she said. “As of today, I still owe $3,100 on that loan.”Here’s what happened: After Kristine borrowed the $3,300 in 2006, she didn’t have to make payments while she was in school. But interest was accruing. By the time she graduated, that one loan’s balance ballooned to more than $5,000. Making the minimum $50 payment every month, some months as little as $2 or $4 went to principal with the rest being consumed by interest.”In 14 years, I’ve paid off that loan — the initial balance — probably three times over,” she said.Boston sister station WCVB asked Betsy Mayotte for advice. She’s the president and founder of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors or TISLA, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit which provides free, impartial student loan advice. “Especially when people first get out of school, they find the lowest payment they can get, which is probably all they can afford at that moment. And then they set it and forget it,” Mayotte said. “Even though interest rates are going up, if I had double-digit interest rates, I’d be looking into refinancing that private loan to see if I could get a lower interest rate.”Video above: Already paid your student loans? How to get recent payments refundedMayotte said refinancing might let you combine several high-interest private loans into one new loan, with rates as low as 5 to 8%.Next, she says, pay as much as you can every month, preferably more than the minimum. And keep reassessing it.”Everybody get in the habit of once a year, preferably at tax time, to take a moment and review your student loan strategy,” Mayotte said.She doesn’t recommend refinancing federal student loans because she says turning them into private loans provides fewer protections in the event of an economic downturn. She also says to avoid using home equity for student loans because it puts your house at risk.Instead, other options include a personal loan — which might have a better interest rate — or a zero percent introductory credit card offer, as long as you can pay the balance in full before the zero percent rate runs out.Rego says she plans to dump her high-rate loans.”A lower interest rate would allow me to get ahead,” Rego said.When it comes to federal forgiveness, Mayotte said it’s important to remember that nobody should be doing anything on that right now.There are a lot of scammers hoping to prey on people around student loan forgiveness, but the feds still have not released their guidance on what steps people will need to take. And for many, forgiveness could happen automatically.

President Joe Biden’s forgiveness of $10,000 in federal student loan debt won’t help the millions of Americans with private student loans, some of which come with very high-interest rates. Still, experts say those people should be taking several steps right now to ease their financial burden.

Kristine Rego was the first in her family to go to college which means she was the first to take out student loans. By the time she graduated in 2009, she found herself $90,000 in debt, a mix of federal and private loans.

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“Private loans have been really difficult to deal with,” Rego said. “The interest rates are really high.”

Despite making her payment every month for over a decade, Rego still owes almost $40,000 total. Thanks to the federal loan forgiveness, that will get cut by $10,000, but she won’t be getting any help with the nearly $15,000 she owes on two private loans, including one she’s paying 12% interest on.

“The starting balance [for that one loan] was $3,300,” she said. “As of today, I still owe $3,100 on that loan.”

Here’s what happened: After Kristine borrowed the $3,300 in 2006, she didn’t have to make payments while she was in school. But interest was accruing. By the time she graduated, that one loan’s balance ballooned to more than $5,000. Making the minimum $50 payment every month, some months as little as $2 or $4 went to principal with the rest being consumed by interest.

“In 14 years, I’ve paid off that loan — the initial balance — probably three times over,” she said.

Boston sister station WCVB asked Betsy Mayotte for advice. She’s the president and founder of The Institute of Student Loan Advisors or TISLA, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit which provides free, impartial student loan advice.

“Especially when people first get out of school, they find the lowest payment they can get, which is probably all they can afford at that moment. And then they set it and forget it,” Mayotte said. “Even though interest rates are going up, if I had double-digit interest rates, I’d be looking into refinancing that private loan to see if I could get a lower interest rate.”

Video above: Already paid your student loans? How to get recent payments refunded

Mayotte said refinancing might let you combine several high-interest private loans into one new loan, with rates as low as 5 to 8%.

Next, she says, pay as much as you can every month, preferably more than the minimum. And keep reassessing it.

“Everybody get in the habit of once a year, preferably at tax time, to take a moment and review your student loan strategy,” Mayotte said.

She doesn’t recommend refinancing federal student loans because she says turning them into private loans provides fewer protections in the event of an economic downturn. She also says to avoid using home equity for student loans because it puts your house at risk.

Instead, other options include a personal loan — which might have a better interest rate — or a zero percent introductory credit card offer, as long as you can pay the balance in full before the zero percent rate runs out.

Rego says she plans to dump her high-rate loans.

“A lower interest rate would allow me to get ahead,” Rego said.

When it comes to federal forgiveness, Mayotte said it’s important to remember that nobody should be doing anything on that right now.

There are a lot of scammers hoping to prey on people around student loan forgiveness, but the feds still have not released their guidance on what steps people will need to take. And for many, forgiveness could happen automatically.

Contributed by local news sources

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