With tuition costs higher than ever, student loans have become a thorn in the side of more than 44 million borrowers. Collectively, we owe nearly $1.5 trillion — and this debt burden doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
Nonprofit organization Student Debt Crisis and social impact startup Summer surveyed nearly 7,100 adults with student loans in 2018 to learn how their debt impacts their daily lives. The survey was released Nov. 1.
Among the key findings: More than 4 in 10 student loan borrowers are struggling to make their next payment, and many say they aren’t getting the advice they need from their servicers.
Throw in college debt’s role in draining bank accounts and even causing major psychological stress, as cited in the study, and it’s clear that student loans are having major negative consequences on many borrowers’ lives.
Borrowers struggling to make monthly payments
Student loans help you pay for your degree, and a college degree leads to higher-paying jobs, right? Well, this survey found the average borrower’s total debt load is higher than what they make in an entire year.
According to these findings, the average total debt per borrower was $87,500, while the average annual income was $60,000. It’s no wonder that 44% of borrowers said making their next student loan payment would be a struggle, and 1 in 5 said they would not be able to pay their upcoming bill.
Among this group, 18% said they were already in default on at least one of their student loans, a situation that could harm their credit and even lead to wage garnishment. This finding lines up with a recent (and startling) report from the Brookings Institution, which predicts that 40% of borrowers may default in the next five years.
Borrowers aren’t getting helpful information about their loans
Not only are borrowers struggling to pay back their loans, but their loan servicers aren’t helping the situation. Borrowers are confused about what they owe and to whom they owe it, with 35% reporting difficulty accessing information about their loan amounts and repayment status.
About 1 in 3 borrowers said their loan servicers were unhelpful, while a similar number used “untrustworthy.” What’s more, 59% of borrowers received unclear guidance about their repayment options, and 42% had trouble switching repayment plans when they ran into financial hardship.
Without effective guidance and education, borrowers will have an even harder time managing their student debt.
Borrowers have less money in their bank accounts
With student loans eating up a significant part of your paycheck each month, it can be difficult to save. According to the survey, 65% of borrowers have less than $1,000 in their bank account.
What’s more, many borrowers say their student loan bills are higher than other monthly expenses. More than half pay more for student loans than for health insurance, and 1 in 3 borrowers pay more for student loans than for rent each month.
With burdensome student loan bills, it’s unfortunate but not surprising that the majority of student loan borrowers are unable to grow their savings.
Borrowers say student debt stands in the way of their financial goals
Millennials are waiting longer to get married, have kids and buy houses, and student loans might have something to do with it. According to this survey, 56% of respondents said their debt has prevented them from buying a home, 19% said it has caused them to delay marriage and 26% said it has stood in the way of having children.
Fifty-nine percent said student loans prevented them from making a large purchase, 42% said they couldn’t buy a car and 80% said it got in the way of saving for retirement. A separate recent study has found that 1 in 3 Americans have less than $5,000 saved for retirement. This new finding suggests this retirement situation might not improve much while the student loan crisis persists.
8 pieces of advice for conquering your student loans
Given all the hardship and confusion around student loans, borrowers are seriously stressed out. Most borrowers — 86% — said their debt was a major cause of stress, and one-third of respondents said it was their biggest source of stress.
But while your student loans might be a struggle, they don’t have to ruin your life. Here are some tips for taking control of your student debt so that it doesn’t end up controlling you.
- Seek out information from reputable sources. Unfortunately, your loan servicer might not give you all the information you need. Learn about your options from Federal Student Aid, Student Loan Hero or other reputable sources. By educating yourself, you can make better choices about your loans.
- Get on the right repayment plan for your budget. Federal student loans come with a variety of repayment plans, including income-driven plans that adjust your monthly payment based on your budget. If your bills are too high, consider lowering them with a different repayment plan. And if you have private student loans, find out if your lender offers flexible repayment options or even forbearance until you get back on your feet.
- Set up automatic payments so that you never miss a bill. Auto-pay can be especially helpful if you have multiple loans and are having trouble keeping track of bills and due dates. Plus, some lenders offer a 0.25% interest rate reduction for setting up auto-pay.
- Consider loan forgiveness or repayment assistance programs. Look into forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and loan repayment assistance programs to see if you could qualify for any.
- Find ways to increase your income and decrease your spending. Managing student loans might require some careful budgeting. Consider searching for a higher-paying job, setting up a side hustle or reducing your monthly spending so that you can more easily afford your student loan bills.
- Look for an employer that offers student loan assistance. If you’re open to switching employers, look for a company that offers student loan assistance as part of its benefits package.
- Throw extra payments at your loans to pay them off faster. If you can afford them, extra payments could help you pay off your debt ahead of schedule. Make sure your loan servicer is applying your payment correctly.
- Consider refinancing student loans at a lower rate. Once you have a strong credit score and steady income (or can apply with a cosigner), you could refinance for new repayment terms and potentially qualify for a lower interest rate.
Be proactive about your student loans so that they don’t cause undue stress and hardship in your life. By informing yourself about your options, you can find a repayment plan that works for your budget. Keep chipping away at your debt so that eventually your student loan bills will be out of your life for good.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 5 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
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. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (“APR”)
There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.
For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
ELIGIBILITY & ELIGIBLE LOANS
Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).
Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.
All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to https://www.laurelroad.com/refinance-student-loans/refinance-parent-plus-loans/ for applicable terms and conditions.
For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.
The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.
The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.
POSTPONING OR REDUCING PAYMENTS
After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.
If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of March 4, 2020 and is subject to change.
2 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Splash Financial loans are available through arrangements with lending partners. Your loan application will be submitted to the lending partner and be evaluated at their sole discretion. For loans where a credit union is the lender, or a purchaser of the loan, in order to refinance your loans, you will need to become a credit union member.
The Splash Student Loan Refinance Program is not offered or endorsed by any college or university. Neither Splash Financial nor the lending partner are affiliated with or endorse any college or university listed on this website.
You should review the benefits of your federal student loan; it may offer specific benefits that a private refinance/consolidation loan may not offer. If you work in the public sector, are in the military or taking advantage of a federal department of relief program, such as income based repayment or public service forgiveness, you may not want to refinance, as these benefits do not transfer to private refinance/consolidation loans.
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 May 1, 2020.
Fixed APR: Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rate options range from 2.88% (without autopay) to 7.27% (without autopay) and will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed rate options without an autopay discount consist of a range from 2.88% per year to 6.21% per year for a 5-year term, 3.40% per year to 6.25% per year for a 7-year term, 3.45% to 5.08% for a 8-year term, 3.89% per year to 6.65% per year for a 10-year term, 4.18% per year to 5.11% per year for a 12-year term, 4.20% per year to 7.05% per year for a 15-year term, or 4.51% per year to 7.27% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. The fixed interest rate will apply until the loan is paid in full (whether before or after default, and whether before or after the scheduled maturity date of the loan).
Variable APR: Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Variable rate options range from 1.99% (with autopay) to 7.10% (without autopay) and will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Our lowest rate option is shown with a 0.25% autopay discount. Our highest rate option does not include an autopay discount. The variable rates are based on the Variable rate index, is based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of April 27, 2020, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.43763%. The interest rate on a variable rate loan is comprised of an index and margin added together. The margin is a fixed amount (disclosed at the time of your loan application) added each month to the index to determine the next month’s variable rate. Variable rate options without an autopay discount consist of a range from 2.01% per year to 6.30% per year for a 5-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.35% per year for a 7-year term, 2.09% per year to 3.92% per year for a 8-year term, 4.25% per year to 6.40% per year for a 10-year term, 2.67% per year to 4.56% per year for a 12-year term, 3.44% per year to 6.65% per year for a 15-year term, 4.75% per year to 6.93% per year for a 20-year term, or 5.14% per year to 7.10% for a 25-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate may be between 9.00% and 16.00%, depending on loan term. The floor rate may be between 0.54% and 4.21%, depending on loan term. 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.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 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 3.21% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.67% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 3.21% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.67% 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 May 22, 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 5/022/2020. 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.
© 2018 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.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). 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 0.8100000000000002% effective April 10, 2020.
|1.99% – 6.65%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 7.10%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.21% – 6.67%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.21% – 6.67%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.22% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate|