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Lender Troubles Trickle Down to Students

Jan 17, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

It’s no secret that student lenders have had a rough ’07. After an investigation by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo revealed that student lenders had been forming illegal agreements with colleges that promoted their services, the spotlight was cast on negative aspects of student borrowing.

Even though newly established ethics codes are likely force the lending industry to clean up its act, students are not likely to have better borrowing experiences.  The poor housing market has not only affected those looking for mortgages, but also those in need of student loans. To be eligible for loans and loan consolidations, students will soon need proof of greater savings and higher credit scores. According to a CNN report, even students who show promise may see their interests rates increase by an estimated 1 percent.

At the same time, the rewards they receive for paying on time are expected to decrease. After the Higher Education Access Act of 2007 minimized student lender subsidies offered by the government, numerous lenders minimized their student benefits. The savings students were used to receiving for good payment track records are expected to curtail or disappear altogether. 

As always, students have other options. Debt can pose a heavy burden on college graduates, so loans should be used as a last resort. Instead, students can use scholarships to diminish the costs of a postsecondary education. By conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com, students will have access to a database containing information on more than 2.7 million college scholarships and grants. Just about everyone can find awards they are eligible to receive.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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New NASFAA President Ready for Organization Cleanup

Jan 15, 2008

by Scholarships.com Staff

In the wake of a student loan scandal that has made families weary of financial aid officials, lenders and the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), the financial aid industry is eager to demonstrate a willingness for change--especially NASFAA.

The massive financial aid organization representing students and financial aid officials at more than 3,000 schools across the nation has made it clear that they are reevaluating the way their organization is run. Like numerous colleges, NASFAA has adopted a new code of ethics that will govern the way they work with student lenders and students.

In addition to the code, NASFAA has announced the appointment of a new president and CEO to replace Dallas Martin, the president who, after 32 years of work, retired amidst scrutiny of ill relations with lenders. Newly appointed President Dr. Philip R. Day has previously served as the chancellor of City College of San Francisco. He has also been the president of Beach Community College, Cape Cod Community College and Dundalk Community College. In a NASFAA news report, Dr. Day stated that he was, “committed to advancing NASFAA’s mission.”

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Tour de Scholarships.com

Dec 19, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

The whole “college graduates earn $1 million more than non graduates over their lifetime” stat is getting a bit trite. I’ll give you a few more if you’re not convinced that college is a worthwhile investment.

College graduates enjoy greater career security

College graduates can offer their children a more secure financial future

College graduates are healthier

College graduates are more likely to contribute to society

Anyway, you get the picture. The problem isn’t that the whole “follow your dreams” thing makes no sense. The problem is affording those dreams and affording the time and preparation it takes to follow them. Most of us don’t make enough money to loll around devoting our days to perfecting our sculpting skills and sharpening our 3 point shots. Even those with less risky dreams can’t always afford to test the waters, especially if the schooling required to get those jobs is too expensive and time consuming. That’s why so many students find themselves having to compromise their initial career goals after realizing their dream jobs won’t allow them to pay off student loans. Let’s just say that the need for qualified teachers isn’t caused by a disinterested public.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to be gloomy. I swear there’s a silver lining. Financial aid in the form of government grants and outside scholarships is readily available to students in difficult situations. Without a cloud of college debt hanging over your head, “The Road Not Taken” may suddenly become an option. The financial aid information found at Scholarships.com will help you familiarize yourself with the FAFSA, government grants, corporate scholarships, private scholarships, the ins and outs of student loans and myriad other financial aid opportunities. Whether you’re interested in preliminary information or ready to get down to business by finding scholarships, we can help you do it.

If you’re not convinced, you can take a tour of our site. Visit our homepage, and take a sort of “Tour de Scholarships.com” if you will. We can help you see how conducting a free college scholarship search will help you find scholarships and grants that, based on the information you provide, you're eligible to receive. Find New York scholarships, scholarships for graduate students, scholarships for minorities, poetry scholarships, music scholarships—you name it, we’ve got it. With information about more than 2.7 million scholarships and grants, Scholarships.com offers more than you’ll know what to do with. If you’re not convinced yet, just take the tour. Like the search, it’s free. You’ve got nothing to lose, and a world of financial aid opportunities to gain.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Cuomo Settles With Lenders over Athletic Department Contracts

Dec 12, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

Yesterday New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced his settlement with student loan consolidation company Student Financial Services Inc. (SFS) over offers of kickbacks to athletic departments. The lender had given money to school athletic departments in exchange for the right to use their official symbols on forms and advertisements.  The school contracts allowed for the use of school and team names, colors, mascots and logos, thereby creating the impression that SFS was the official lender of the school. According to the settlement, SFS agreed to break ties with these colleges and universities, most of which were Division 1 NCAA schools.

“Student loan companies incorporate school insignia and colors into advertisements because they know students are more likely to trust a lender if its loan appears to be approved by their college,” stated Cuomo.  “We cannot allow lenders to exploit this trust with deceptive, co-branded marketing.”

Under the new code, SFS agreed to end its loan-related contracts with 63 schools, including Georgetown University, Florida State University and the University of Kansas, as well as with five sports marketers, including ESPN Regional Television, Inc. The lender also agreed to tout the importance of informed loan decision making by organizing campaigns to be featured in the schools’ leading newspapers. The lender would no longer be able to pay for student referrals nor could it organize contests with financial prizes for students.

Cuomo’s settlement is part of an ongoing investigation aimed at ridding financial aid offices of illegal and immoral lender marketing tactics. So far, the attorney general has settled with twelve student lenders for such relations and collected $13.7 million in lender money to go to the National Education Fund, a fund dedicated to educating students about their financial aid options.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Athletics , Sports

Don't Borrow More Than You Need

Nov 21, 2007

by Administrator

Limiting the amount of money you borrow is a basic principle of good money management. College students who are able to finance their education through federal student loans, are fortunate to have access to low interest rate educational funding that puts earning a degree within their reach.

However, just because money is available to borrow does not necessarily mean that you should borrow it. If you are eligible for more student loan money than you really need, you may want to limit the amount you borrow. After all, even though the interest on a federal student loan tends to be lower than on other types of debt, it is still debt.

Additionally, you shouldn’t stop looking for scholarship resources just because you are able to access student loans. If you can get a scholarship to cover some of your expenses, you can reduce the amount of money you need to borrow and will ultimately have to repay. Many scholarship programs are available only to upper division students, so you should definitely keep your eyes open for funding opportunities even after you enroll in college.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Scholarships.com Financial Aid Calculators

Nov 9, 2007

by Kevin Ladd

Worrying about the application process is hard enough. When you add tuition costs, necessary savings, and loan interest rates into the equation, the numbers equal a headache. Don’t worry; we’ll give you a hand. Take advantage of the free financial aid calculators provided by Scholarships.com, and take things one day at a time—we’ll crunch the numbers for you.

College Cost Worksheet Calculator

Before accepting college offers, you should know how much an education at your school of choice will cost you. Not everyone has unlimited funds, and assuming that loan payments will take care of themselves after graduation is not the greatest policy. To help you estimate the costs of a college education, we have created a college cost worksheet. Just type in some estimates and find out what you should expect. To search for a college and find the cost estimates by school, you can also use our free college search.

Savings Planner Calculator

To secure a sound financial future, students should search for scholarships and set money aside for college. By using our savings planner calculator, you can find out where you will stand by the time freshman year rolls around. If you are still far behind, you may want to scrooge up, get a head start on scholarship applications and consider a part-time job.

Future College Cost & Savings Calculator

College is expensive, and even those who save are likely to encounter big school costs. Most students will need to make large contributions while attending school. With the help of our Future Cost Savings Calculator, you can estimate just how large your yearly contributions will have to be. We have already taken into account the estimated yearly increases in tuition.

Monthly Loan Payment Calculator

Sometimes loans are unavoidable. If you plan to borrow for an education, you should at least know what to expect when your bill arrives. Having to give up your career of choice in favor (or disfavor) of one that’s less desirable but higher paid can be disappointing. To avoid any problems, figure out how much you can afford to pay each month, and use our calculator to help you do it.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Federal Student Loans

Nov 6, 2007

by Kevin Ladd

Loans don’t incite pleasant feelings in students, in anyone on the borrowing side. It doesn’t help that the media has made it a point to discuss, extensively, what appears to be the newest trend… mortgage loan defaulting. Student loans aren't as large as mortgages, but for a growing number, they are catching up.

Regardless of cost, there are a lot of dedicated students out there, and until the college-financing system undergoes a major overhaul (cross your fingers but don't hold your breath), loans may be inevitable. Before taking out loans, students should complete a FAFSA and conduct a free scholarship search. Those who still need money should apply for federal loans. Only after exhausting government loans should one consider private student loans

As a result of the recently passed College Cost Reduction and Access Act, there will be a decrease in interest rates on federal college student loans. That's great news for students with large financial aid needs, but loan rates have not yet been changed. Even before government rates become less expensive, it is in a student's best interest to see what the government has to offer before looking elsewhere. Below are the federal student loan options available to those in need.

Stafford Loans- Students who are interested in taking out a Stafford Loan (or other types of federal student loans) will need to fill out a FAFSA. The amount that a student can borrow will depend on a student’s year in school as well as on whether the Stafford Loan is subsidized or unsubsidized (only a portion of the amount may be subsidized). Stafford Loans disbursed after July 1, 2006 are fixed at a 6.8 % interest rate, but lower rates are in the works.

  • For the 2007-2008 school year, dependent undergraduate students attending college full time may borrow between $3,500 and $5,500 (borrowing limit increases after each completed year).
  • Independent undergraduates or dependents whose parents were denied a PLUS Loan may borrow between $7,500 and $10,500 (again, freshmen may take out less than seniors).
  • The maximum amount of a professional or graduate student loan is a bit larger—as is graduate tuition. This year, students may borrow up to $20,500, regardless of their year in graduate school.

PLUS Loans- The Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students or PLUS Loan is offered to, as the name suggests, parents of undergraduate students. Recently, the loan has also been made available to graduate school students. PLUS Loan amounts may not exceed the total cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received. If the student’s estimated cost of attendance (amount determined by each school) is $6,000 and the student receives $4,000 in aid, only $2,000 may be borrowed. To take advantage of this loan, students must max out their Stafford Loans, and doing so is in a student’s best interest anyway. PLUS Loans have higher interest rates than Stafford Loans; those disbursed on or after July 1, 2006 are fixed at 7.9% for Direct PLUS Loans and at 8.5% for FFEL PLUS Loans.

Perkins Loans- Although Perkins Loans are made with government money, they are normally classified as campus-based aid because they are administered by schools. Perkins Loans are offered to students with exceptional need, and only a limited amount is available. Once a school runs low on Perkins Loan funds, students will not receive as much (the same holds true for federal-work study opportunities). This is why students are generally advised to submit their FAFSA early. The earlier they apply, the greater their chance of receiving some forms of aid. The loan amount received through the Perkins Loan program depends on the amount a school has, on already-received aid and on the financial needs of the student. Students who qualify can borrow up to $4,000 each year and pay it off at a 5% student loan rate.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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New Lender Regulations Approved by Department of Education

Nov 2, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

After months of investigations into the legality of practices within the student loan industry, new regulations have been approved by the Department of Education. The guidelines came shortly after the passage of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act which increased financial aid and decreased lender subsidies. The new rules, however, are more targeted at the behavior of student lenders and financial aid officials.

Department regulations now state that colleges offering preferred-lender lists must suggest at least three different lenders. In the past, some schools mentioned only one lender, the one they had an exclusive contract with. The investigation also found that certain schools listed a number of lenders, but the choice was illusory. Because some lenders sold their loans to others on the list, the options were smaller than they appeared.

Approved mandates also cleared up some ambiguities between state and government laws regulating lender and school relationships. Lenders are generally pleased that the Department of Education has made clear their rules, when discrepancies arise, supersede rules laid down by the state. (Not that this wasn't already the legal rule of thumb.

Numerous schools and lenders have already agreed to abide by a new code of ethics and have donated millions to loan-education funds—even some who denied wrongdoing—after being accused of misdeeds by Andrew Cuomo, the Attorney General spearheading the investigation.  Citibank and Sallie Mae each agreed to pay $2 million while Education Finance Partners agreed to pay $2.5 million in settlements. New York University, Syracuse University and the University of Pennsylvania, among others, also settled and agreed to return some money to student borrowers. Knowing that Mr. Cuomo is not the loan king, although he sure has proven himself, will assuage some lender and college frustrations, but not by much.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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NASFAA Questions Student Lender Auctions

Oct 26, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

A recent evaluation released by NASFAA, an organization representing the interests of financial aid professionals, brings into question the effectiveness of a new student lender auction system. The recently-passed College Cost Reduction and Access Act created, among other things, a new auction system wherein student lenders would bid on exclusive market rights in each state. While the law concentrated on cuts in student lender subsidies and increases in free student grants, the auction system aimed at lowering taxpayer burdens was also enacted.

When the system goes into effect in 2009, lenders interested in participating in the government's subsidized FFEL Plan would have to compete for the lowest subsidies. Those who won the bid would get exclusive state lender rights. Only lenders who would choose to take part in the government’s FFEL program would be effected, and only rights to PLUS loans would be auctioned.

However, the NASFAA report questions whether an auction would really be as effective as it initially seems.The statement suggested that the auction program was based on the rash assumption that lenders who bid for loan rights would be willing to greatly lower subsidy expectations, and that taxpayers would really benefit from lower subsidies. This assumption, based on the report, may prove to be faulty. State competition could be lower than expected, and some states could problematically benefit more than others. After a few years, the competition is likely to decrease altogether, and lenders may simply choose to opt out of the program.

Doubt was also cast upon the assumption that student borrowers would not be affected by the auction system. Based on the report, it is more likely that lenders will get rid of certain student benefits once they have exclusive rights to a state. Borrower services that could be affected include default prevention, financial literacy and electronic processing. The report disputes the claim that very few students are eligible for benefits. Instead, it suggests that most students qualify for at least some helpful services or benefits.

How an auction would in effect change the financial aid system and affect taxpayers remains to be seen. However, a "Bill Gates is about to take over the world" scenario is unlikely. First of all, a total overhaul is not going to occur; PLUS loans will be used to test out the system. Based on the results, a general idea of what could happen in such situations should be obtained. Secondly, the auction would repeat after two years, and it’s unlikely that lenders will get comfy enough to cause a ruckus. Because two lenders will be chosen per state, some competition is likely to keep them in line. Let us also remember that PLUS loans are not the only loans on the planet. If FFEL PLUS loans become too pricy, students could look to competing loans and lenders. FFEL program winners will still have a reputation to upkeep.

Ultimately, the government has the last word on this one. We'll see if that’s a good thing.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Student Lenders Reap Millions in Excess Subsidies

Oct 22, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

In recently published (previously-known) financial aid news, student lenders were found to have made millions by accepting excess subsidies from the government. By finding loopholes in government regulations, the student lender Nelnet, one of the biggest offenders, was able to collect $278 million in excess payments between 2003 and 2005. Based on calculations released by the Washington Post, other lenders accepted an estimated $300 million in excess subsidies between 2003 and 2006—paid for by taxpayers.

Because students applying for government aid are restricted in how much they can borrow, the government offers subsidies to lenders who borrow to students. In exchange for the money, lenders offer students loans at rates that, although usually higher than those offered by the government, tend to be lower than those offered by unsubsidized lenders.

When average student loan interest rates were higher, the government guaranteed lenders a 9.5 percent interest rate for loans. Once average loan rates fell, many lenders continued to take in large subsidies.

And although the government lowered some subsidy sums after rates fell, they continued to guarantee a 9.5 percent rate on loans previously funded with tax-exempt bonds. To extend the pool of loans still eligible for larger subsidies, Nelnet divided tax-free bonds among various pools. They would then claim that pools of loans at least partially composed of tax-free bonds were eligible for 9.5 percent subsidies.

The government did little to stop them in the past, and it is doing little to punish them now. According to the Washington Post, the Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings did admit that the government shouldered some of the responsibility for the “confusion”. However, she indicated no intent to pursue full accounting, nor did she suggest that reimbursement from lenders would be sought.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Cuomo Subpeonas Lenders Over Marketing Tactics

Oct 12, 2007

by Scholarships.com Staff

The battle to offer students the best chance of getting out of college with both a diploma and a fighting chance at earning a living wage while paying off their student loans continues. Even those who have already reached an agreement with the New York attorney general are being subpeonad for what Cuomo terms "deceptive corporate marketing practices".

It is difficult to say whether students deserve special consideration with respect to corporate marketing practices, which, it seems to me, have been deceptive by definition for at least the last four or five decades without being placed under this kind of scrutiny. Shouldn't everyone be entitled to marketing that is not deceptive? Or should we all just continue to accept that marketers are not your friends and they tell you what they need to in order to get you to buy what they want to sell?

Of course, the initial scope of the investigation was and remains critical, as every student should be able to assume that their advisor, regardless of the institution they attend, is not a marketer. It is vital that those in the financial aid offices in all of our schools give only objective information to students that will get them through school with as little debt as possible.

Of course, there are those who claim Cuomo's crusade will ultimately harm students by causing them to distrust their advisors when the majority of them have been giving, and continue to give, good, objective advice. While I believe this to be true, I also believe it is never a bad idea to do independent research on something so important and that this statement is condescending, to say the least. Apparently students across the board, if forced to research loans for themselves, will fare poorly and pay more in loans than if they listened to those at their college or university financial aid office. In this argument it is never considered a possibility that, given the opportunity, a student and his parent might find the best possible solution to funding their education. If I were an aspiring college student or a parent of such a student, I would find this very insulting.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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