Welcome to Student Loan News, a weekly summary of developments and events affecting college debt in the U.S. Join us each Friday for a look at goings-on that could impact your own student loan situation.
New student policy group seeks wide reforms
Student government leaders from colleges across the country have formed a new organization — the Student Policy Alliance — aimed at addressing higher education issues, including school costs and student loans.
Its policy goals for helping student borrowers include “protecting subsidized student loans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness [amid calls for ending those programs], simplifying repayment plans and maintaining low interest rates” on federal student loans. The group also wants strong oversight of student loan servicers and a change in bankruptcy rules to allow easier discharge of student loans.
It also wants to see the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) simplified and the formula for the Expected Family Contribution (how much students are responsible for paying out of pocket) updated. Other policy goals deal with on-campus issues, including fighting racial discrimination, sexual assault, food insecurity and other pressing problems.
Student body presidents announced the formation of the Student Policy Alliance as they met in Washington, D.C., this week for their annual summit, Politico reported, although work on the organization began last summer. According to its website, the campus leaders involved represent a combined 6.1 million students.
How it affects YOU: The alliance is currently “organization based,” meaning its members are student governments and other coalitions, rather than individuals. However, it is asking individual students to come forward with their ideas and personal stories that connect to the policy issues it focuses on. If you agree or disagree with any of the Student Policy Alliance goals, you can use their online forum to sound off, or to share your own experiences “so policymakers understand the real impact of policy on real students.”
State-level student loan measures roll on
It’s time to check back in on how state governments around the country are working to protect student loan borrowers. As part of an ongoing trend, the following state governments have taken recent legislative action on the college loan front:
- Student loan borrowers in the state of Maine look set to get a raft of new protections, thanks to the creation of a “Student Loan Bill of Rights.” The legislation passed the State Senate unanimously on Monday and was sent to Gov. Janet Mills, who is expected to sign it, according to the Maine Beacon news website. Provisions under the bill include creating an ombudsman to help resolve complaints about servicers and requiring those servicers to be licensed by the state (although servicers on contract with the federal government will be exempt from this, the Associated Press reported.)
- California has moved a step closer to passing its own student borrower bill of rights. Comprehensive legislation to oversee student loan servicers was passed by the State Assembly and moved to the Senate, where it was taken up by the relevant committees last week. Language in the bill would, among other things, allow borrowers to sue servicers and create an annual state “report card” for the industry, the Daily Democrat of Woodland, Calif., reported.
- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new law to end the practice of revoking professional licenses for those who default on student loans. Forbes reported that the move was widely supported.
How it affects YOU: With partisan gridlock dragging on progress at the federal level, state governments have emerged as a frontline when it comes to student loan reform. State lawmakers also tend to have fewer constituents than their federal counterparts, so they might be more responsive if you reach out with your concerns — look for your state government’s website here to get the contact info you need.
Also, don’t forget to check out our database of states’ many student loan repayment assistance programs. (Though since these programs can come and go over the years, make sure to hit the internet search engine of your choice and do some investigating of your own too.)
Also in the news…
- A coalition of civil rights groups and student borrower advocates issued a public letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last week, urging action against discrimination in the student loan system. As an example, they cited unequal access to income-driven repayment. As the National Law Review noted, the letter was linked to previous comments from the CFPB director saying that oversight of student loan servicers was difficult due to Department of Education policy.
- The head of the Office of Federal Student Aid has resigned from the board of a foundation holding about $30 million in federal student loans, Politico said. An earlier Politico report had flagged the potential conflict of interest after Gen. Mark Brown (ret.) was appointed in March.
- In a report last Friday, financial publisher and advisor Kiplinger urged caution when taking out Parent PLUS loans. It said the federal loans had less competitive interest rates than some other sources of funding, possibly including home equity lines of credit.
News can be useful, but if you want some deeper advice, take a moment to sign up for the Student Loan Hero weekly digest email and get valuable financial knowledge sent straight to your inbox … for free!
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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of Feburary 1, 2021.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
6 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.99%-5.15% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.17%-4.47% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.