Can You Discharge Federal Or Private Student Loans Through Bankruptcy?

Posted on July 22, 2014 by:

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Brown cat in wires of desktop computer

Piglet gets away from the vacuum by hiding behind the computer. You may not have as easy an escape route from your loans.

Helping people understand student loans is our job at SALT™, and few are better at it than Betsy Mayotte—the director of regulatory compliance for American Student Assistance®(our parent company). We told borrowers to “Just Ask” her questions, so check out her answers below (as well as her cat—because if Piglet can’t make student loans better, what can?).

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Discharging Loans In Bankruptcy

I have Sallie Mae as my loan company, and [my loan] is through the U.S. Department of Education. Is this considered a private loan or federal? If I filed for bankruptcy, would it be possible to discharge this loan? I am unemployed, and I have no money to pay my debt.

Regardless of whether you have a federal or private loan, I’m afraid it is likely not eligible for discharge through bankruptcy—as education debt can only be discharged in cases of long-term and extreme financial hardship. Therefore, you’ll want to examine all your debt carefully and talk to a professional before deciding that bankruptcy is right for you.

The good news is that it sounds like you have a federal loan, which means you have many other repayment options available without declaring bankruptcy. First, ensure you are currently utilizing an unemployment deferment to prevent your loan from going past due while you seek full-time employment. Once you find full-time work, if the payment amount is not affordable, look into one of the many lower payment options available for federal student loans. Income-based repayment is an option that will actually adjust as your income does to ensure the payments stay affordable.

Please let me know if you have additional questions.

Paying Off A Tuition Balance

I was just informed that my school will not let me attend classes this fall unless I pay a balance of $4,000 that I owe from last year. How do I get a student loan to pay for this?

I’m afraid that schools can only approve federal student loans before the end of the period of time they will cover, so those won’t be an option for you. Some private student loans will allow limited funds for past due balances not more than 6 months or a year old for students still enrolled at the school. Your school should be aware of lenders that work with them for this purpose.

Another option might be to request a payment plan and pay the balance off over the school year. It may mean getting a part-time job, but if you are able to swing this and the school allows it, you’ll likely be able to pay the amount you owe with little or no additional interest.

Have a student loan question you need an answer to? Just Ask.

(Note: The questions and answers above are real; however, they have been edited for grammar and clarity, but not by Piglet.)

Money-Saving Ideas For Furthering Your Education Post-Undergrad

Posted on July 21, 2014 by:

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Four cupcakes with white and brown frosting and decorations of a pencil, a chalkboard, a book, and an apple.

Going to graduate school is a sweet move—if you have a way to pay for it.

I have been job searching since graduating. Now, I’m feeling the pressure to find work from my parents, but more so from my wallet—thanks to student loan payments kicking in.

I’ve begun weighing options that can help me land work, including going back to school. But, with a tight budget, furthering my education seems hard. So, I rounded up some less common ways to keep learning post-undergraduate without completely breaking the bank.

If you’re in the same boat, check out this quick information to see if these options may work for you.

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1. See If Your Work Will Pay For It

If you have found a job, check out if they offer any compensation for post-graduate courses. Your work might pay for your higher education for a number of reasons, like the skills you’d gain would be in their best interest or they simply offer this benefit to their employees.

Employers can pay for your schooling in a few different ways, including paying up to a certain dollar amount, paying an amount based on your GPA, or just paying in full in general. Ask your employer if they offer this, and find out how their compensation works. Be ready to negotiate if they have any flexibility.

2. Get A Certificate Or License Instead

Furthering your education doesn’t always have to be about getting a degree. Degrees can cost tens of thousands of dollars. However, you may be able to achieve your educational goals without one. Not all jobs require a degree—you’d be surprised what professions require only a certification or license.

As I’ve previously said, I am interested in working for a book publishing company. The jobs I want don’t require additional education; however, getting a certification would put me above other applicants.

Someone who previously worked in the publishing industry told me a certificate was just as good as a master’s in the field—at a fraction of the cost. I might be able to get a certification for around $3,000, while going for my master’s could cost over $20,000.

3. Join The Military

Although each branch has its own way of paying for your schooling, many times the military will help you pay for continuing your education. Another bonus from joining the military is that as long as you and your loans qualify they could help you pay your student loans as well. SALT™ has a great eBook that covers the financing options available for service members, veterans, and their families.

Of course, be sure that you don’t enlist just to further your education or to get help paying back your loans. Do your research before you sign up. Remember, you are serving your country and could be moved around a lot, depending on the branch and your job in the military.

4. Volunteer With Peace Corps/AmeriCorps

Volunteer opportunities like the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps can provide financial aid and scholarships to further your education. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, it seems most times you need to have been a previous volunteer to qualify.

On the bright side, this information is very useful for previous volunteers or college students planning to volunteer. Further research for other volunteer opportunities that offer some sort of funding for higher education might be required.

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Hopefully, this information will help you save some money if you decide to continue your education for a graduate degree. There are probably even more options, so be sure to do your research and decide which is best for you.

Know of any other ways that you can save money while pursuing higher education? Tell us in the comments!

(Photo: clevercupcakes)

4 Surprises You Could Find When Looking Up Your Student Loans

Posted on July 11, 2014 by:

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Brown dog in front of laptop

This is what Courtney looked like when NSLDS told her she had multiple loans.

There’s something you should know about me and my financial aid application process. Both my parents studied accounting in college. They’ve both done taxes for a living. Because of this, when my mom offered to fill out my FAFSA, I said YES. Leave it to the expert! No monotonous form-filling-out for me!

I’m starting to regret taking the easy way out.

***

When I told Ryan that I didn’t know a lot about my student loan situation (just that I had one), he suggested I check out NSLDS®. NSLDS, or the National Student Loan Data System, is a government website that holds information about students’ federal loans and grants.

I figured I would just see my one student loan when I logged in, but that’s not what I discovered. Here are four surprises I found:

1. You Need A PIN To Get In

To access NSLDS, you need the PIN you used to sign the FAFSA; I had no idea what this was. I guess it may have been helpful to at least look over my mother’s shoulder while she filled out the FAFSA.

As fun as it has been to be blissfully unaware of my financial aid situation, it’s time to be independent. I don’t want to be completely reliant on my parents for my PIN or any other financial information.

Lesson learned: Whether or not you’re the one filling out the FAFSA, you’ll need that PIN throughout the life of your loans, so pick one you can remember. If you or your parents can’t recall it, you can easily retrieve your PIN online.

2. One Loan Can Look Like Three Loans (Wait, No …)

After consulting my mother for my PIN, I log on to NSLDS and see three unsubsidized Stafford loans. Wait … three? I thought I only had one, and its amount increased each year. Is it time to panic?

Here’s how unsubsidized Stafford loans work: Freshman year, I got a base amount plus some more unsubsidized funds. Each year since, I got a different loan with a different interest rate and a larger base amount. I’m on track to graduate next year, which means I’ll have four student loans in total—not one.

I know how much money I owe; I just didn’t realize how it was split. NSLDS confirmed the amount I have to pay back, so if you aren’t sure how much you owe, visit NSLDS. If you think you owe a certain amount, and NSLDS says you owe significantly more, that’s definitely something you should look into.

3. The Interest Really Piles Up

Because my loans are unsubsidized, I have to pay all the interest that accrues on them—including during my time in school. NSLDS is kind enough to show how much I’ve accumulated thus far, and yep, the interest on my loan from freshman year is pretty hefty.

For unsubsidized loans, it’s especially beneficial to start paying off your debt while you’re in school—before the interest gets added to your loan’s balance (and you get to pay interest on top of your interest). So, the more you pay now, the less you have to pay later.

4. Your Parents May Not Know Best

Logging on to NSLDS was an eye-opening experience. While I knew roughly how much I owed, seeing the exact number reminded me of the work I have to do to pay it off. Finding out how much interest my loans have accrued made me want to start repaying now.

That being said, I could have gotten a head start if I had been more involved in my financial aid process. I’m grateful for the help I got, but I wish I had tried to fill out the FAFSA by myself and paid more attention to the loans I received.

If you’re like me and you’re not totally comfortable filling out financial paperwork on your own, it’s worth sitting next to your parent while they do. You’ll pick up some useful information, and next time you’ll have a better chance of completing these forms on your own.

If your FAFSA days are over, you can still take control of your loans. Log on to NSLDS and see what your debt looks like. You can even add your loan info directly to SALT™. Once you know what you’re facing, you’ll be able to make a repayment plan and tackle your debt.

Did you find anything surprising when looking up your student loans? Tell us in the comments!

(Photo: My Name Is Gigi)

Upcoming College Scholarship Deadlines: August 2014

Posted on July 8, 2014 by:

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Red sneakers on grass

Lace up your sneakers and apply for a scholarship this month.

August is historically a slow month for scholarships.

Generally, scholarship providers do not like to put their deadlines in August because most students are just starting classes again and don’t have a lot of time to apply for scholarships. As such, August presents a perfect opportunity for you to apply for scholarships without a ton of competition!

This batch of scholarships includes a few awards that almost any student can apply for. Good luck!

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The Gene And John Athletic Fund Scholarship

Scholarship Deadline: August 1, 2014

This organization provides scholarships to LGBTQ athletes who are also pursuing a college education.

From my research, it appears as though undergraduate and graduate students can apply. There doesn’t appear to be any citizenship requirements either, so international LGBTQ students should feel free to apply for this scholarship as well.

The only stated eligibility requirements are the following:

  • Must be an LGBTQ athlete looking to continue their education or actively pursuing a sports career (either professional or recreationally)

Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation

Scholarship Deadline: August 1, 2014

The Patsy Takemoto Mink Foundation is offering five $5,000 scholarships to low-income women with children who are pursuing their education. To apply for this scholarship, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must be a woman
  • Must be at least 17 years of age
  • Must be a mother, with minor children
  • Must be pursuing a vocational degree/certificate, an associate’s degree, a first bachelor’s degree, or a professional/master’s/doctoral degree
  • Must be enrolled in a not-for-profit, accredited institution or program during the 2014-2015 academic year
  • Must be low income (annual family income less than $20,000 for a family of two; less than $24,000 for a family of three; less than $28,000 for a family of four)

The ARTBA’s Student Transportation Video Contest

Scholarship Deadline: August 1, 2014

A $500 prize goes to the student (or team) that creates the best 2- to 4-minute video examining any aspect of transportation in the United States. To apply, you must be currently enrolled in any post-secondary (college, graduate school, community college, etc.) program.

The Eve’s Addiction Scholarship

Scholarship Deadline: August 15, 2014

This scholarship is an essay contest open to almost any student. To apply, you must complete a 500-word essay on the following topic:

“How can the web give a company a competitive advantage?”

Additional eligibility requirements include:

  • Must be a high school senior, undergraduate, or graduate school student
  • Must be enrolled in a degree program in fall 2014 or spring 2015

Domo Scholarship For Business Management

Scholarship Deadline: August 31, 2014

Domo is awarding $2,500 scholarships to two college students who study business management. The scholarship requires you to complete a brief survey and write a 200-word essay in order to apply.

To qualify for this scholarship, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must be attending a U.S. based 4-year college or university
  • Must be studying business
  • Must demonstrate an interest in analytics

Happy hunting!

For more information on college scholarship deadlines in 2014, including our scholarship of the month feature, check out our post on Upcoming 2014 College Scholarship Deadlines.

(Photo: Wikimedia)

Scholarship Of The Month: The Goedeker’s General College Book Scholarship

Posted on July 3, 2014 by:

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Stack of textbooks

Textbooks are expensive (especially if you have to buy a lot of them). Fortunately, this scholarship can help.

This month’s featured scholarship is open to all currently enrolled college students—and its prize is something all currently enrolled college students could likely use:

$500 to help cover the costs of expensive college textbooks!

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There is no official application for this scholarship. Instead, the scholarship asks that you submit your essay, proof of GPA, your contact information, a recent photo, and proof of college enrollment via email.

The essay needs to be 300 words minimum. Meaning, you can (and should) write a much longer and comprehensive essay (around 500 words). If you have a solid career goals scholarship essay already handy, then use that essay as a base and make edits to better reflect the requirements of the Goedeker scholarship.

Here are the details, as well as some answers from the scholarship provider about what they’re looking for in an applicant.

Website: The Goedeker’s General Book Scholarship

Award Amount: Up to $500

Deadline: July 31

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Any student that is enrolled in an accredited college is eligible to participate
  • Must be enrolled for the spring 2014 or registered for the fall 2014 semester

Q&A With The Goedeker’s General Book Scholarship

Q: Tell us about your motivations to start this scholarship program.

A: Goedeker’s started the annual book scholarship because we understand how difficult it is to pay for college tuition and textbooks. With tuition increasing faster than student aid, it has become almost impossible to graduate from college without utilizing some form of student loans. We believe that every person who desires a higher education should have a chance; that is why we are offering a textbook scholarship.

Q: What is the scholarship judging process like? Are the judges volunteers? Employees?

A: After the deadline, a few selected employees will read and analyze each essay based on creativity, grammar, spelling, originality, and organization of thought. The submission requirements determine whether you make the cut; the essay determines who will win. We will bring the best entries together to determine the final winner and two honorable mentions.

Q: What are some characteristics that you look for in an ideal applicant?

A: The ideal applicant will show promise and desire to excel as a student and in whatever they do outside of school. We are looking for someone who follows directions, has goals for their future, and who dreams of making a difference.

Q: What is the biggest mistake you see applicants make when applying for your scholarship?

A: The biggest mistake we see is failure to follow directions. The requirements are clearly noted on the scholarship page. When part of the application is missing or the applicant does not include the proper subject heading, the entry automatically goes into the non-qualified folder.

Q: What are some characteristics that make an applicant stand out?

A: A stand-out applicant has a creative essay that makes me think, “Wow. This person is amazing!” Whether it be through extracurricular activities, volunteerism, or personal hardships, I want to see why they deserve this scholarship more than anyone else.

Q: Do you have any advice for the students who apply for this award?

A: Edit, edit, and edit again. Poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation are going to be the ultimate factors in who wins the grand prize. One essay may have better content, but if there are grammatical errors all over the place, the other will win.

Find even more scholarship opportunities in our post on Upcoming 2014 College Scholarship Deadlines.

(Photo: cutendscene)

4 Student Loan Changes In July That You Should Know About

Posted on July 1, 2014 by:

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Fireworks

July is a month for fireworks, for Independence Day and the student loan industry.

They say that there’s nothing certain except for death and taxes, but in the student aid world, we can almost always count on changes coming to our programs every July 1 (remember last year?). This year is no exception.

So, what’s going on, and how will it affect you? Here are the four big changes that you should know about.

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1. Interest Rates

Any new loans that you borrow as of July 1 have different interest rates than your loans from last year. Interest rates for undergraduate Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans are 4.66%, graduate Direct loans are 6.21%, and Grad or Parent PLUS loans are 7.21%.

Consolidation loans are a little different, as their interest rates don’t change based on the year (unless you have an older variable rate loan). These are calculated to be the weighted average of your underlying loans when you consolidate rounded up to the nearest 1/8th% and won’t change annually.

2. Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

The specifics of IBR for new borrowers who haven’t borrowed Direct Loans before or have a zero balance as of July 1, 2014, have changed. If you qualify for IBR, your payments will be capped at 10% of your discretionary income and any remaining balance you have after 20 years may be forgiven but would be taxable (see above quote about death and taxes). You can learn about the specifics of IBR for current loans here.

These numbers may sound familiar. The Pay As You Earn Repayment plan offers the same benefits but is limited to students who borrowed in a very small window of time. This IBR plan will significantly increase the amount of people who will be able to apply for the coveted terms of Pay As You Earn.

3. Rehabilitation

Hopefully, you will never have to go down the road of rehabilitation because that means that your student loan is in default. In the event that you do need to know about rehabilitation, the regulations for how much your payments will be for 9 months to get your loan out of default are changing as of July 1.

Your loan holder will collect your income and family size information from you to calculate what the Department of Education believes to be a reasonable and affordable rehabilitation payment. This will be 15% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), which exceeds 150% of the poverty guideline for your state and family size divided by 12 months (now that’s a mouthful!). Why not try estimating what your payment would be here instead?

If your 15% payment seems too much to handle, you can work with your loan holder to complete a financial disclosure that will (hopefully) be a better representation of your actual financial circumstances to come up with an affordable payment for you.

4. Closed School Discharge

The last major change that borrowers may want to be aware of is an expansion to the closed school discharge eligibility criteria. Currently, to be eligible to have your loans discharged because your school closed (the entire school, not just your location), you would have needed to have been enrolled within 90 days of the school’s closure date. For applications received as of July 1, 2014, that window expands to 120 days.

This is another one of those cases where I hope that you never have to pursue the option, but this change increases the amount of people who may take advantage of a loan discharge when their school closes unexpectedly.

Until Next Year…

Well, if you aren’t behind on your monthly student loan payments or you aren’t planning on taking out any new loans, then these changes really won’t affect you. Here’s to seeing some beneficial changes for you next year!

Do these changes affect you? Let us know in the comments.

(Photo: Wikimedia)

Can You Defer Student Loan Payments If You Have An Internship?

Posted on June 24, 2014 by:

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Cat with small model of Statue of Liberty

Piglet and Godzilla have a lot in common, if you consider “Mothra” to be the “student debt” of monsters. (And we do!)

Helping people understand student loans is our job at SALT™, and few are better at it than Betsy Mayotte—the director of regulatory compliance for American Student Assistance®(our parent company). We told borrowers to “Just Ask” her questions, so check out her answers below (as well as her cat—because if Piglet can’t make student loans better, what can?).

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Payment Postponements For Internships

Hello! I have a question about deferring my student loans. When I was attending my exit counseling, I did not know at the time that I would be having a yearlong internship in the Church of the Brethren Archives in Elgin, IL. My question is, since this is an internship, do I qualify for a deferment?

I’m afraid that unless you have federal student loans made prior to July 1, 1993, you would not be eligible for an internship deferment; however, there are other options.

The economic hardship deferment is something you may qualify for if your internship is full time and your earnings are less than 150% of the poverty level for your state and family size. Another option would be income-based repayment. This plan will keep your payments at no more than 15% of your income, minus an allowance for family size. You can read more about this plan here. You would apply for both of these options directly through your federal loan holders, and you’ll want to make sure you submit the necessary paperwork to all of them.

If you have private student loans, I’m afraid your options may be even more limited as many don’t offer deferments or lower payment options. You’ll need to contact your private loan holders directly to find out what your options are.

Loan Forgiveness For Social Workers

I just graduated from college with my BS in social work. I am working for the YMCA full time making $12 per hour. I work with high-risk teens in a rural community in Northern New Mexico. I have a $5,000.00 loan that I got in January 2014 to complete my education. My payments will start in 6 months; can my loan be forgiven because I work with a high-risk population? Who should I contact, and how can I receive help?

There are forgiveness programs available for the type of work you do; however, it is very likely that you will have this $5,000 loan paid off before you can take advantage of them.

This e-book from SALT™ covers all the forgiveness programs we could find—in particular, you should look at Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and income-based repayment. Income-based repayment/Pay As You Earn will keep your payments affordable by ensuring they never go above 10% of your income. Opting for either of these plans will also help qualify you for PSLF.

Unfortunately, you need to make 120 payments to qualify for PSLF. Since you only owe $5,000, I believe you will likely pay that amount off well before you would qualify for forgiveness. Even without a payment plan, your payments would be no more than $50 per month with this balance. Considering this low balance, you may want to consider just paying it off as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of interest you will pay over time.

Have a student loan question you need an answer to? Just Ask.

(Note: The questions and answers above are real; however, they have been edited for grammar and clarity, but not by Piglet.)

4 Must-Know Facts About Obama’s New Student Loan Plan [EXCERPT]

Posted on June 12, 2014 by:

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President Obama signing paperwork.

On Monday, the president signed the executive action.

This week, we lost another bill aimed at reforming student loan policy, as the “Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act” introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) didn’t get enough votes in the Senate to move forward.

The failure of this bill led to a lot of posturing from both sides of the aisle. But that rhetoric has yet to lead to what struggling student loan borrowers need most: actual help right now. Fortunately, relief may be on its way for some borrowers—courtesy of an executive action signed by President Obama.

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This past Monday, the president issued this order to expand the current Pay As You Earn repayment program so more borrowers with federal student loans would be eligible. But will these changes help you … and by when?

In her latest blog entry for U.S. News & World Report, our own Betsy Mayotte answers these questions and provides some other facts you should know about the president’s new “plan” for helping student loan borrowers. Check out the excerpt below, and click through the read the full article.

President Barack Obama announced some big news this week that stands to help many student loan borrowers​​​​​​​​​​​​​​.

Most people met the president’s proposed changes with excitement, even though it seemed like many didn’t exactly understand what the changes were or, even more importantly, how the changes may apply to them. So, let’s answer some big questions about the president’s executive action.

View Complete Article

Want to learn more about the Pay As You Earn program? Check out saltmoney.org

(Photo: Wikipedia)

The Student Loan Relief Bill That You Should Know About

Posted on June 9, 2014 by:

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Elizabeth Warren

Senator Warren has introduced multiple pieces of legislation aimed to help student loan borrowers.

As part of the democrats’ new “Fair Shot” agenda, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) reintroduced legislation last month aimed at easing the burden of student loan repayment.

This bill will reportedly come up for a vote soon, perhaps as early as this week. In advance of that, let’s talk about one of its features that could help for just about every type of borrower: the ability to refinance private and federal student loans at the current low interest rates.

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Refinancing Federal Student Loans

Warren’s previous proposal to lower interest rates, The Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, proved to be a total non-starter. That bill proposed lowering student loan interest rates to 0.75%, to match a short-term rate specifically reserved for banks to borrow money and stabilize the economy.

This new bill does not lower rates to a level that low, which I would prefer. However, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. As currently proposed, this new legislation would allow borrowers to refinance their undergraduate federal Stafford loans to an interest rate of 3.86% and their graduate Stafford loans to 5.41%—the same rates available for new borrowers through the end of this June.

Starting July 1, these rates climb to 4.66% and 6.21% for undergraduate and graduate loans, respectively, so the savings would be immediate. However, going back even further, these loans had fixed rates as high as 6.8% as recently as 2008. Shaving 3% off those rates would obviously benefit these borrowers greatly.

Refinancing Private Student Loans

Another potential benefit of Warren’s bill is its proposal to allow borrowers to refinance their private loans into federal loans. Doing this would not only give borrowers the benefit of combining their entire loan balance into a single monthly payment, but it would also allow them to take advantage of repayment options (like income-based repayment) that would otherwise be unavailable to them.

Private loans currently represent only a fraction of the student loan market, yet according to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, they are responsible for the lion’s share of complaints when borrowers fall on hard times. Unfortunately, it seems that private loan borrowers who are already in default will not be able to take advantage of the relief available with this bill.

The Sticking Point(s)

With such great benefits for borrowers, this bill should easily gain bipartisan appeal, right? Of course, when passing legislation, things are never that easy.

One issue here is that this bill will try to pay for the program with the so-called Buffett Rule, which sets a minimum tax bill for the nation’s top earners. In the currently divided Congress, the Buffett Rule probably makes this bill a no-go for most Republicans. Plus, it is unclear if this plan would actually be able to cover the inevitably high price tag for such a significant change in student loan legislation.

In addition, the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act is supposed to occur this year (though, obviously, not by June, as Senator Tom Harkin had hoped). As has been the case in the past, Congress can postpone this process and most definitely will given the current lack of momentum in Congress, but it will do this eventually. But, as a result, changes may not take place until reauthorization happens.

As I mentioned before, reauthorization is a major event that could be politically appealing to both sides of the aisle. With that looming and legislators continuing to propose solutions, I like to think that we will see some sort of student loan refinancing in the future—even if it’s not from this bill.

Unfortunately, time is not on our side. New student loan interest rates are definitely going up on July 1. Anything to help reduce the burden for borrowers of both private and federal loans is a welcome change. Let’s hope it happens.

With the vote for this bill arriving soon, we’ll have to wait and see if it does.

(Photo: Wikipedia)

(Update 6/11/14: This bill was brought to the senate floor today and failed to garner enough votes to proceed. At a press conference after the vote, Sen. Warren said, “We’re not giving up.”) 

Upcoming College Scholarship Deadlines: July 2014

Posted on June 5, 2014 by:

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Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920

Have a webcam and a story? That may be all you need to win a scholarship!

As I put together this list of scholarships, I realized that video is becoming more and more popular in the scholarship world—a few of this month’s options are video contests or allow students to submit a video essay.

For students who are not the best writers (or those of you who have writing anxiety), a video essay could be a great alternative. You might find it easier to record your thoughts via video than writing a cohesive essay. Something to think about as you browse some July scholarships options!

***

IP Video Contest

Scholarship Deadline: July 1, 2014

To apply for this $5,000 scholarship, you must submit a short video on the patent system and why you think it is important. The videos are judged according to the following age groups: 13-15 years old, 16-18 years old, and anyone over 19 years old.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Must be enrolled as a full-time student
  • Must be attending an accredited secondary, college level, or trade school
  • Must reside in the United States or territories of the United States

Spokeo Connections Scholarship

Scholarship Deadline: July 1, 2014

Spokeo is offering a $1,000 scholarship to students who write a 1,000- to 1,600-word essay on the topic of social connections.

Students can choose from the following three topics:

Topic #1: “At Spokeo we are all about connecting people. If you could have a direct connection with anyone living today, who would it be? How would you use this connection to make the world around you better?”

Topic #2: “In the fast pace of 2014, we can connect with people across the globe in seconds but sometimes at the expense of our personal relationships. How do you use technology to keep your family connected?”

Topic #3: “In today’s world, we rely on access to data to complete a number of crucial everyday tasks. What does open access to data mean to you? What opportunities does open access hold for the future?”

To apply for this scholarship, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must have a 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Must be either a recently graduated high school senior who will enroll as a freshman at a 4-year or 2-year college or university in the spring of 2014 OR a student currently enrolled on a full-time basis at an accredited 4-year or 2-year college or university

The Joshua Gomes Memorial Scholarship

Scholarship Deadline: July 15, 2014

This $1,000 scholarship is open to students who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The essay is a standard 500-word career goals essay. I browsed through the actual application, and everything else about this scholarship looks pretty simple.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Must be HIV positive or have AIDS
  • Must be accepted into or enrolled in a U.S. college, university, institute, or technical college
  • Must be accepted into or enrolled in full-time undergraduate or graduate study

From Failure To Promise Scholarship

Scholarship Deadline: July 31, 2014

This scholarship is an essay contest based on the book From Failure to Promise: An Uncommon Path to Professoriate. In order to apply for this scholarship, you must have read the book and write a 1,000-word minimum essay that addresses both of the following questions:

“How has this book positively impacted your pursuit of success and promise?”

“What is your commitment to improving the lives of global citizens once you’ve reached your destined promise?”

Here is my suggestion: Read the description of the book, and decide whether you have relevant life experiences or a point of view that would make a compelling essay. If not, skip this scholarship because it’s likely not worth the money to buy the book, read it, and then write a long essay if you don’t think stand a chance of winning.

On the plus side, the harder the scholarship, the fewer applicants it will have. I highly doubt that thousands of students are buying this book just for the scholarship; thus, the odds may be in your favor to win if you make the effort to apply.

To apply for this scholarship, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a high school senior, undergraduate student, or a graduate-level student
  • Must have a 3.0 GPA
  • Must be pursuing a degree at an accredited college or university in the United States or Canada

Other Scholarships Worth Noting

Brian White Academic Scholarship

Scholarship Deadline: July 1, 2014

Open to students 17 years or older, studying at an accredited college or university in the U.S. You must submit a 400- to 600-word essay on the following prompt: “Should DWI/DUI offenders be imprisoned on the 1st offense? What if the offender’s decision to drive drunk resulted in the injury of an innocent person?”

The PC HealthBoost Scholarship Award In Computer Technology

Scholarship Deadline: July 31, 2014

Open to all undergraduate students. Must write a 750- to 1,500-word essay or submit a 2-minute video on one of the following prompts:

Topic #1: “What makes your computer a necessary tool in your college career or life?”

Topic #2: “Present a real-life problem you have experienced with your computer and ways you troubleshooted the problem in the past.”

Topic #3: “Creative ideas about computer maintenance and repair”

My Mentor Was Me Scholarship Video Challenge

Scholarship Deadline: July 31, 2014

Open to all undergraduate students studying at an accredited college in the United States. Must submit an original video identifying and describing the impact that a mentor has had on your pursuit of success and the importance of mentor-mentee relationships.

The Christopher W. Keyser Undergraduate Scholarship

Scholarship Deadline: July 31, 2014

Open to all undergraduate students with an interest in the legal or criminal justice fields, studying at a 4-year college and pursuing a degree in the following areas of study: criminal justice, pre-law, English, history, political science, journalism, or communications.

Happy hunting!

For more information on college scholarship deadlines in 2014, including our scholarship of the month feature, check out our post on Upcoming 2014 College Scholarship Deadlines.

(Photo: Emerson Alecrim)