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.
Still no rules for student loan 401(k) match
A 401(k) plan might be of little use if you need every spare cent to pay off student loans — and perhaps partly for this reason, more and more employers are offering a student loan repayment assistance as a workplace benefit. According to an Employee Benefit News report released on Wednesday, the popularity of the student loan repayment plan is rising sharply — it cites data showing the number of companies offering this perk “has nearly doubled” over the past year.
And now some employers are looking to match student loan payments with funds into a 401(k), so that those with school debt can also save for retirement. Under this scheme, the employer would contribute to their workers’ 401(k) accounts based on those workers’ student loan payments, even though the employees themselves pay nothing to the 401(k). There was a lot of excitement around this idea, especially after the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance last year to a company starting such a program.
But that guidance was just for the company in question, and since then, no formal regulations have been issued. Human resources publication Workforce reported on Monday that recent meetings on the subject between the IRS and trade groups have yet to yield any big progress on this issue. As a result, a wave of new student loan 401(k) matching programs may have to wait, possibly until Congress to pass relevant laws, the report said.
How it affects YOU: Even if you have a raincloud of student loans following you around, you might still find ways to squirrel away a little something for your golden years. And it’s often worth it, since starting early,even with tiny amounts of money, can result in dramatically more funds when you do retire.
Fortunately, it’s no longer uncommon for employers to offer to match a portion of your student loan payments directly, even though you don’t get to put any of that into a tax-advantaged 401(k). And anyway, there are other methods to get things set up for the older, future you, including making micro-investments with your spare change, via apps like Acorns, Stash and Finhabits.
Also in the news …
- A new government report suggests thousands may be cheating on their income-driven repayment plan by claiming a lower income or larger family size that is true. The report said it found more than 95,000 cases with “borrowers who reported zero income yet potentially earned enough wages to make monthly student loan payments,” as well as two cases in which borrowers claimed a family size of 93.
- Up to 80,000 California students studying online could lose their federal financial aid until the state complies with a 2016 rule governing online education, Politico reported on Thursday.
- A pair of U.S. senators have introduced a bill to create a special student loan forgiveness program for farmers. While farming is often a well-paid position, a 2017 farming survey found that student debt is the second-biggest concern for young farmers, after land access.
- A new study from the Center for Responsible Learning says that student loan debt is increasing the overall racial inequality in America.
- Google search results favor four-year universities over community colleges, with for-profit schools also less likely to show up, according to a report from the American Enterprise Institute.
- The Associated Press reports that Virginia’s governor may soon roll out a proposal for free community college in the state.
- Back in April, Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her plan for mass student loan forgiveness, and this week she introduced a bill to bring that plan to reality, joined by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) on the House side, Politico reported on Wednesday. (That said, chances of passage are very slim at this point).
- A bankruptcy court in central Florida has launched a program to help people filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy to work out a repayment program for their student loans, the Orlando Sentinel reported last week. Unlike most other debt, federal student loans typically cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
- Follow-up: We reported last week that thousands of fake student accounts were created at as many as 62 colleges due to a software glitch. But the developer that created the software said that the fake-account problem wasn’t related to their program and had also happened at other schools, not just those that used their product.
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!
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.99% – 5.64%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.09%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 6.77%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|1.99% – 5.41%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews! |
1 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 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% 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 July 31, 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 7/31/2020. 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.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 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 September 10, 2020.
5 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 0.16% effective August 10, 2020.