5 Personal Finance Tips for Millennials

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So people keep calling you a millennial (some say it with a nicer tone than others). Amongst a variety of other defining characteristics, you have the unique (albeit unwelcomed) experience of graduating into a recession. Cons? Lower starting salaries and a lack of options. Pros? You’ve seen what irresponsible money management can do and you don’t want to make the same mistakes.     You’re also a victim of the tuition bubble, burdened with hefty student loan payments and a 30-year payoff plan that might as well be a mortgage. Now before you get out the violin, keep in mind that your generation is also relentlessly optimistic, savvy and smart, making you a force to be reckoned with in the workplace (conceal your ego though, please). If nothing else, we can assume your … [Read more...]

The Dangers of 5 Popular Ways to Pay for College

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For many families, sending a child to college is a quintessential part of the American dream. But these days, you'd better start saving when they're still in diapers if you want to make higher education a reality. With the cost of college continuing to go through the roof, a growing majority of students are left searching for ways to subsidize the expense.   It has been said that education is the greatest investment, but to what lengths must you really go? When your savings, income, and even financial aid and grants  still aren't enough, alternative options are becoming increasingly necessary. While each has the potential to help pay the bills, they also come with inherent risks that often out-weigh rewards.   1. Credit Cards   Families often effectively … [Read more...]

12 Ways to Keep Student Loans to a Minimum

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In 2012, the Institute for College Access and Success reported that two-thirds of the 2011 graduating class had student loan debt - and the average amount was $26,600.   As pointed out by FICO experts, student loan debt is a growing problem for two major reasons: consumers are carrying more student loan debt than ever before, and more federally-backed student loans are being offered to consumers with questionably low FICO Scores.   Plus, with the unemployment rate for the under twenty-five crowd hovering at twice the national average, $26,000 in student loans can become a huge burden post-graduation.   It is possible, however, to graduate college with a bright future and very little – or even no – student loan debt. It just takes more work and planning … [Read more...]

Dark Clouds Looming Over Student Loan Industry

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My earlier blog post quantified some of the trends we have been seeing in the US student loan industry, namely the precipitous increase in student loan debt.   Our ongoing analysis has found another disturbing trend: recent vintages of student loans have noticeably lower FICO® Scores than earlier vintages.   This chart illustrates the score distribution trend for consumers who have recently opened a new student loan.     Here we see a clear shift toward lower scores. In fact, the median score has dropped 17 points from 659 to 641.     These findings indicate that in recent years, student loan lenders have made student loans available to more consumers with lower credit quality. Since private student loan lenders were … [Read more...]

Student Loan Debt and FICO Score Trends

  As students incur more student loan debt, lenders and investors in student loans are asking how this is affecting US consumers’ FICO Scores. New FICO research provides interesting insights.   With education costs rapidly outpacing inflation, more consumers are taking out student loans to pay for their education. Looking at a large data sample from a credit reporting agency, we found that 6.2% of US consumers had two or more open student loans on their credit report in 2005. By 2012, that number grew to roughly 11.8%.   Consumers also have a greater amount of student loan debt today. In 2005, consumers with an open student loan on file had an average student loan debt of $17,236. In 2012, that number increased 54% to $26,549. This has outpaced growth for … [Read more...]

The Hidden Costs of College

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With all the recent buzz about student loans, the skyrocketing price of higher education is a hot topic – but the financial impact of college goes far beyond just tuition. Plenty of secondary expenses aren’t factored into college "sticker prices," and many of them don’t become apparent until after students get to campus. From parking to Greek life, students should take note of these expenses when figuring out a sustainable budget for the school year:   Dorm Room: Most college dorm rooms come with a bed, a desk, and a few drawers. Students are responsible for providing everything else: lamps, rugs, pillows, bedding, hangers, etc. Take advantage of back-to-school sales and reach out to your roommate/s to split the cost of shared items. Go to your school’s Facebook page and see if … [Read more...]

College Students: Study These Tips to Build Good Credit

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Is a friend or someone in your family going off to college soon? Here's some credit advice to pass along to the college-aged loved ones in your life:     One card is enough. Students should establish a responsible credit history before adding additional cards. Browse good choices for student cards.   Be diligent with payments. Be sure to emphasize credit decisions can have a critical financial impact later in life. Understand the effect of late payments.   Keep a low balance. Start early, and encourage the habit of using only a small portion of available credit. Read more about the effect of amounts owed.   Learn about credit. Add Credit 101 to the curriculum. Read this free booklet "Understanding Your FICO Score" for a great intro … [Read more...]

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