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.
A whole new world of FSA
The Federal Student Aid (FSA) office — the arm of the Department of Education that deals with student loans and the like — lifted the curtain Monday on improvements to their website, including new tools and information for the almost 45 million U.S. student loan borrowers out there. Mark Brown, the FSA’s chief operating officer, pointed specifically to new features such as…
- Aid Summary: Your new FSA dashboard will now display “a whole lot more detail,” including “much more information about the grants and loans you’ve received and … your remaining grant and loan eligibility.”
- PSLF tracker: If you’re enrolled in (or hoping to enroll in) the notoriously-difficult-to-qualify-for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, you’ll be happy to hear that the new dashboard also lists your progress toward forgiveness, assuming you’ve submitted an Employment Certification Form. While the FSA already features a PSLF help tool, extra information can’t hurt, given how complicated it can be to complete this program.
- Loan Simulator: Student Loan Hero has a host of advice on how to pick the best repayment plan for your situation, and now the FSA has a tool of its own to walk you through the options. A replacement for the site’s old Repayment Estimator, the Simulator will offer feedback on the different programs based on whether “you want to pay down your loans as quickly as possible, get the lowest possible monthly payment, or reduce the interest that you’ll pay in the long run,” Brown wrote on the Department of Education blog Homeroom.
- Online payments: The FSA has also launched a pilot program to allow borrowers to make their monthly payments via the FSA website. Anyone with a loan serviced by Great Lakes or Nelnet will now be able to make their payments through the government site, with plans to expand this to all federal student loan servicers.
How it affects YOU: With student loan servicers frequently coming under criticism for the advice they offer (or fail to offer), it’s definitely a positive to have more information available. These new features all sound very promising, and hopefully they will each deliver results as advertised. The move appears to be part of the NextGen project to completely revamp federal student loan servicing, so more changes may be coming soon — we’ll keep you posted as they are announced.
One thing to note, though, is that advice from the federal government will likely focus on government solutions, so it’s always worth taking a look at some of Student Loan Hero’s information on private options (such as refinancing), especially if you already have private student loans.
Also in the news …
- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke in favor of capping federal Direct Grad and Parent PLUS student loans, as called for in the administration’s budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, Politico reported Thursday. While grad students and parents can currently borrow up to the cost of attendance, DeVos said: “There’s 800,000 students today who have borrowed more than $200,000. Many of them are going to have a difficult if not impossible time repaying that.”
- Colorado’s new student loan repayment assistance program for teachers has drawn a tremendous response, with 3,200 educators and administrators applying for 100 spots, the Colorado Sun reported Monday. The program hands out up $5,000 for up to five years for teachers working in the state’s rural districts or in other hard-to-fill jobs.
- President emerita of Vassar College, Catherine Hill, wrote in an op-ed for Insider Higher Education on Monday that requiring all students to fill out the FAFSA would help lower-income students get aid and could also improve the government’s ability to make good financial aid policies.
- Discover Financial Services says it’s cooperating with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to improve its compliance with a consent order from a 2015 settlement, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday. The compliance plan addressed the CFPB allegations at the time that Discover had “overstated minimum amounts due on billing statements and denied consumers information needed to obtain income tax benefits,” the Bloomberg report said.
- South Carolina courts are coming under fire for going easy on debt collectors in terms of the amount of evidence required to prove a debt is valid, the Post and Courier reported late last week.
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.