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SoFi Review: Refinancing My Student Loans

You know those times when you hear of something that could make a drastic improvement in your life? Then you think, “That sounds awesome, I’ll do that later”. You have every good intention of taking care of that awesome thing but you actually forget to do it. Then you remember again, and forget again, and so on.

I go through these types of situations weekly, sometimes daily. If I don’t write a note down on a piece of paper or set a reminder in my iPhone or Google Calendar, then it almost never gets done. One of the things I think about on a weekly basis is the outrageous 6.5% interest rate on my student loans. It’s been there for a long time now. I’m finally sitting down and doing something about it.

Student loan debt is over $1.5 TRILLION dollars as of 2018 and it continues to get higher. As higher education costs continue to rise, so does this major problem of student loan debt. What do we do about it? For some, it takes 20 years to pay off that loan or even to get to that forgiveness point. For others, there’s refinancing options. Let’s talk about one of the major players in the game right now, SoFi.

Getting started with the refinancing process with SoFi is pretty easy. It only takes about five minutes and I didn’t have to look up any of the information they were asking. The forms were simple and easy to understand and everything was modern and user friendly. Within a few minutes, I received a few different offers to consider.

How The Application Process Goes

Online Pro-Approval

Quick three minute process lets you know if you qualify before you complete the full and boring application.

Select Your Loan

SoFi gives you two options: variable interest rates and loans with fixed interest rates.

Upload Documents

Once you have selected your loan option, you will need to upload verifying documents. Screenshots or smart phone scans are ok!

Sign Acceptance Forms

Review the documents and electronically sign so you can start saving.

Set Up Autopay

Get the .25% extra savings on your interest rate just for enrolling with autopay!



It only takes 2 minutes

 

 

SoFi application process

With the SoFi calculator, you can see how much you are going to save before you even start the application process.

Sofi Student Loan Calculator

How To Choose The Best Offer For You

The first instinct for most people would be to jump on the lowest interest rate fixed offer. If it’s a lower rate than what I’m paying now and it assures me that the rate can’t jump any higher. It makes me feel better about saving my money. However, the lower interest rates come with a shorter repayment period. The shorter repayment period means less time in debt, but is also means larger monthly payments and it might throw off your entire monthly budget. You need to sit down and look over your monthly bills as a family and discuss what would be the best option for you.

As of August 2018, the student loan refinancing rates at SoFi start at 2.48%.



It only takes 2 minutes



Overcoming The Stress Of Student Loan Debt

It’s easy to feel financially stuck in a cycle of debt when you have a huge outstanding student loan balance. From 2004 to 2018, student loan debt increased by 64% with the average American student now owing over $37,187. For some, that amount is even much larger. For example, attending a private undergraduate university or continuing onto graduate school can easily set you back almost six-figures in student loans. As of 2018, outstanding student loan debt is over 1.5 trillion dollars.

When you make a big purchase or when you receive a large credit card bill, you might feel guilty or experience anxiety as you start to think about the thousands you already owe in student loans. Student loan debt can be a huge financial stressor that affects your everyday work performance and personal happiness.

It can be difficult to want to spend money during the holidays, enjoy vacation days, take risks at work, or even want to start a family when you know you still owe thousands of dollars. Even with a stable income, you might feel like buying a new car or buying your first home is out of reach. Don’t let student loan debt hold you back from professional and personal growth. Here are three tips to help you overcome the stress of student loan debt.

Stick to a Realistic Budget

Create a realistic budget that includes your monthly student loan payments as well as all living expenses, debts, and bills. Be honest about how much you spend on groceries, going out, household bills, gifts, shopping, etc…You probably won’t like compiling these numbers and seeing just how much you actually spend a month, but being honest about your budget is an important step in taking control of your debt. When you create and stick to a realistic budget, you don’t let debt get out of control, and you don’t feel deprived on an everyday basis.

Often times, your emotions get so tied up in money that you forget that budgeting is really just about making accurate math calculations. Simply put, your student loan debt is just a number and with every monthly payment, that number decreases. It can help to visualize your budget on a spreadsheet either online or on paper.

Review Your Loan Status Once A Year

Just like spring cleaning or tax season, you should set aside a time once a year to review your student loan debt and finances. By allocating a specific time of year to review your student loan finances, you help relieve the stress of debt in a variety of ways. For one, you are in control of your finances whenever you make the decision to sit down and face the numbers. Pick a time of year that makes sense for you. For example, I love Thanksgiving, so I schedule my yearly student loan check-in just before the holiday in mid-November. I know that I have to sit down one day in mid-November to review my student loan payments and my finances before Thanksgiving; Otherwise, I can’t enjoy my favorite holiday.

Get offers for lower-interest rate debt consolidation loans

By reviewing your student loan debt, you also reflect and celebrate the progress you have made. You spent a year of paying off a portion of your student loans, and it’s something to be proud of every year. Another benefit of reviewing your loan status is that you keep the door open for other options. If your financial situation has changed for better or worse, and you want to consider new options or repayment plans for paying off your student loans, this yearly check-in is the time to make your move. Don’t hesitate to call your lender to clarify your plan and options if your financial situation has changed. It’s easy to experience anxiety about student loans during the year, but when you do a yearly check-in, you can confidently tell yourself, “it’s all under control.”

Reach Out for Help

Sometimes, the emotional burden of student loan debt can take too much of a toll on your professional and personal life. Maybe you’ve missed some payments, or maybe you’re recently unemployed and don’t know what to do with stacks of bills quickly piling up. You might not see the light at the end of the tunnel or any viable path to dig yourself out of both student and other personal debt. If you feel that student loan debt affects your everyday happiness and ability to work, seek support from friends, family, or mental health professionals.

Though you might feel that your student loan debt is too personal or a very private problem, you have to remind yourself that millions of Americans deal with it everyday and they all empathize with your stress. Paying off student loan debt is a long term process, so the sooner you address its negative impact on your life, the better for you and your personal finances.



LendKey Student Loans: An In-Depth Review

LendKey partners with a network of credit unions and community banks to give you the best rates and pricing to help you refinance your student loans and help you get out of debt faster. LendKey provides you with lower monthly payments and lower interest rates to consolidate your student loans into one monthly payment.

One key thing that makes LendKey stand out from the other lenders is how they use the smaller credit unions and community banks to offer lower interest rates. They have a high customer satisfaction level and strive to put people over profits. The customer service aspect of LendKey is phenomenal and has a longstanding reputation.

The LendKey Basics

The application process is very similar to any other online student loan consolidation lender. It only takes 2 minutes. First, you input all your basic personal information to kick off the application process. Then you tell all your loan information and where you went to school. Once submitted, it starts the credit check process which does a “soft hit” on your credit report to check your interest rates. By using LendKey, you will be connected with smaller credit unions and community banks to offer you the best interest rate possible to fund your loan. Without the overhead of advertising costs, the smaller lenders are able to pass along the savings to you.

What Are The LendKey Interest Rates?

The biggest advantage to using LendKey is the low interest rates. At the time of this writing, LendKey offers the lowest student loan refinancing interest rates starting at 2.49%. The fixed rates start at 3.15%. Fixed rates stay the same throughout the life of the loan. Variable rates can change depending on the current state of the market. Other factors that affect your interest rate include credit score and salary. With the national average federal student loan interest rate at 6%, you can definitely see why using a private loan lender can save you money and lower your monthly payment.

CHECK YOUR RATE

How To Apply For Student Loan Refinancing with LendKey

1) Provide Personal Details

To start the application process, LendKey needs to gather some personal information. This includes Name, Address, Annual Income, School, Loan Amount & Type. Once you finish step one, you will submit you information and LendKey will do a “soft hit” to check your credit score.

2) See your options

After your credit score is retrieved, you will be presented with multiple offers that contain different rates and terms. Below is an example I got when I put in my information for $25,000 in federal student loans and $75,000 salary. Keep in mind, your interest rates will vary by salary, loan amount, credit score and possibly geographical location.

LendKey Student Loan Interest Rates

3) Choose your refinancing option

It’s now time to choose the student loan refinancing option that you would like to go with. Once you’ve decided on a loan term length and interest rate, make sure it’s a monthly payment that you can afford and not get yourself into a bind trying to make the payments. You still want to have money leftover for basic essentials.

4) Finalize the account

Once you have selected the loan refinancing option that you want, you will enter your social security number and email to create your account. LendKey then does a “hard hit” on your credit. They will then review all information again before confirming your loan and contact you with the details.

LendKey Student Loan Refinancing Pros

  • Over 300 credit unions and community banks
  • Longstanding customer satisfaction and personal service
  • Lowest variable interest rates starting at 2.49%
  • No origination fees
  • No prepay penalties
  • Unemployment protection up to 18 months

Frequently Asked Questions About LendKey

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about LendKey. If you are looking for student loan refinancing and have specific questions about LendKey, please ask in our comment section below.

Does LendKey charge any refinancing fees?

LendKey does not charge any origination fees or service fees to use their service. Also, there are no prepayment penalties. The only costs involved are the monthly interest payments with the loan.

What is the maximum amount LendKey will refinance?

The minimum amount of student loans to refinance is $5,000 and the maximum is $300,000.

Do you get discounts for auto pay?

Most lenders offer a .25% discount on interest rates if you set up automatic payments. LendKey is no different and offers the same interest rate discount. For example, if you got approved for a 3% interest rate and signed up for automatic monthly payments, your interest rate would be 2.75%.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking to refinance federal loans, private loans, or both, then LendKey offers very competitive rates starting out at 2.49%. Using LendKey simplifies the student loan repayment process and helps to lower your monthly payments and save money. The average savings is over $16,000 by using LendKey. Are you drowning in student loan debt? LendKey could help you save thousands.

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FAFSA Error Affects Thousands of Students’ Financial Aid

If your financial aid package for the upcoming school year seems off, you may want to have it checked. An error on the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as FAFSA, made some applicants appear far better off financially than they actually are.

financial aid

The error on the online form causes some low-income filers appear to be millionaires, which can have a dramatic impact on what, if any, federal financial aid they can receive.

Jeff Baker, policy liaison at the Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid told student-aid administrators at the Chronicle of Higher Education that the error has already impacted thousands of borrowers, and is likely to impact even more.

“It’s a serious problem,” Baker said at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators’ annual meeting. “We have to fix it.”

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For-Profit Colleges Under Fire

Earlier this year, President Obama and his administration made waves when they announced new steps to address concerns about student loan debt. They announced new regulations that would require career colleges to do a better job of preparing students for gainful employment. If the schools do not meet the new regulations, they could lose access to federal student aid.

books and money

In a release about the new regulations, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “Higher education should open up doors of opportunity, but students in these low-performing programs often end up worse off than before they enrolled: saddled by debt and with few – if any – options for a career.”

“The proposed regulations address growing concerns about unaffordable levels of loan debt for students enrolled in these programs by targeting the lowest-performing programs, while shining a light on best practices and giving all programs an opportunity to improve.”

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The U.S. Department of Education Should Think Before It Tweets

This week the U.S. Department of Education gave us an excellent example of what NOT to tweet out to the many college students who will be hoping for student aid this school year. It also showed it’s about as good at social media as the average “cool” parent.

bad tweet (600x360)

In what can only be described as an attempt to be hip gone awry, Federal Student Aid, @FAFSA, tweeted to its followers a still from the movie “Bridesmaids” accompanied with the quote, “Help me. I’m poor.” While a funny quote that I’ve often used myself when feeling particularly broke, it’s probably not appropriate when coming from the Education Department. Especially when sent out with the caption, “If this is you, then you better fill out your FAFSA: fafsa.gov.”

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“Hacking Your Education” Smartly Challenges the Benefits of a College Degree

“You wasted $150,000 on an education for $1.50 in late fees at the public library?”

In Dale J. Stephens’ book Hacking your Education, he makes a case for an alternative post-high school route. The book is his love letter to other free thinking people who have ever questioned their college education. It begins with a disclaimer: This is not a book about dropping out but rather about becoming empowered to make your own decisions. For a college dropout who bucked educational convention, he sure did his homework.

Stephens, a 20 year old wunderkind, has taken the time to productively analyze the quandaries frustrated college students have, but are too lazy to take to task.

The author has taken the principles of the unschooling movement, a philosophy started in the 1970s that encourages learning through real life experiences, and ushered them into the Internet and social media age. He has oodles of thorough advice on how to connect with like minded individuals in an attempt to foster your passions. Stephens accurately points out the loads of free, open to the public presentations on a wide variety of topics at university campuses everywhere. “Hacking Your Education” is all about identifying resources and sapping them dry. Read the rest of this entry »



Obama Administration to Reduce Student Loan Payments

President Barack ObamaThis afternoon, President Obama addressed a crowd in downtown Denver at the University of Colorado. Central to the President’s speech was the new “Pay As You Earn” proposal that the White House announced yesterday. The proposal aims to reduce monthly payments for student loans, by consolidating loans and capping payments. Starting next year, students will be able to cap their loan payments at ten percent of discretionary income, and after 20 years the debt will be forgiven. Current laws cap student loan payments at 15 percent of discretionary income with loan forgiveness after 25 years. According to a White House press statement, the proposal will benefit 1.6 million students at no cost to taxpayers.

“It can put more money in your pocket once you graduate,” Obama said in today’s speech, emphasizing that’s important for all Americans to have an equal opportunity to have access to higher education. “It’s important for our country’s future.”

In conjunction with the “Pay As You Earn” proposal, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will release a Financial Aid Shopping Sheet that will help students better understand the types of loans and finical aid that’s available to them before they go into debt.  “College graduates are entering one of the toughest job markets in recent memory, and we have a way to help them save money by consolidating their debt and capping their loan payments. And we can do it at no cost to the taxpayer,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the White House statement.

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Government Sues for Student Loan Repayment

Rising college tuition costs force an abundance of students to rely on Federal student loans. When it comes to repaying those loans, American borrowers are defaulting at an increasing rate. The United States Department of Education is taking action to get their money by suing persons who owe large loan repayments to the government.

“Defaulting” on a loan occurs when a borrower fails to make payments as determined by the loan agreement. This is different from “deferring” a loan; an option used by many students to postpone the repaying of a loan. It is not uncommon for student loans to come with a deferment option for a certain period of time. When deferment time is up and the borrower does not pay, the loan becomes “delinquent”. After a period of delinquency, the loan goes into “default”. When a loan defaults the lender has legal power to obtain their money. In the case of federal student loans the lender is the United States Government.

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Pell Grants May Receive Less Funding

There have been some budget cuts proposed for the 2012 Department of Education by President Obama. Under these budget cuts, $100 billion would be taken from the Federal Pell Grant program along with other programs for higher education.

Currently, over nine million students classified as low income receive grant benefits from the Pell Grant Program. With the budget cuts, students will still be able to receive the current maximum of $5,550 per academic year. All students that qualify for Federal Pell Grants do so through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the FAFSA. If a student’s family income information indicates, they may qualify for a Federal Pell Grant. With the new budget there is a possibility of the criteria being changed to be more stringent. This would mean that some students who previously received grants may no longer be eligible.

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