December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Posted in Misc at 8:32 AM by Joe From Boston

It’s New Year’s Eve here, and another blizzard is descending on Boston.  To all my readers – please drive safe and if you choose to imbibe, drink responsibly.  It’s been a heck of a year here at the Student Loan Network.  Thanks to all my colleagues, past and present, and to you my readers for braving the dangerous seas with me.

And so, in the immortal words of the Scotsman Robert Burns:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

December 29, 2008

New IRS Rule for 529 Plan for 2009 Only

Posted in Misc at 12:49 PM by Joe From Boston

Got a 529 plan? Good news! You can change your investments twice a year now. According to

” The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a notice establishing a special rule under which a tuition program can permit investments in a Section 529 account to be changed twice a year in 2009, more frequently than the current rules stipulate. This will allow families to adjust their asset allocations in response to turmoil in the stock market. Under the notice, Section 529 programs and their participants may rely on the rule pending the issuance of final regulations under section 529. The Treasury Department and the IRS are also inviting comments on the special rule and any other comments relating to section 529. This special rule will be instituted during 2009 only and is not a permanent change. “

December 19, 2008

A Country-wide White Out

Posted in Misc at 9:46 AM by Joe From Boston

Up here in Boston we’re bracing for the blizzard that is going to hit in about 3 hours – the same storm that snowed on Las Vegas!

So, please drive safe everyone, good luck digging your self out and of course, enjoy the snowball fights!

December 17, 2008

New secretary of education announced

Posted in Misc at 12:18 PM by Joe From Boston

FYI: President-elect Barack Obama has nominated Arne Duncan, head of the Chicago public schools, to lead the Department of Education as Secretary of State.

December 16, 2008

Irony: Bailout application less than 1/2 length of FAFSA!

Posted in FAFSA, Misc, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process at 12:59 PM by Joe From Boston

In an ironic twist of fate that will have many investors gritting their teeth, the AP is reporting that the application banks must fill out is only 2 pages long!

“Ever need a college loan? You’ve probably pored through the notorious eight-page FAFSA application. A likely home buyer? Try the fivepage Uniform Residential Loan Application.

But what if you’re a bank looking for a few billion from the federal government’s new Capital Purchase Program?

Two pages.

That’s all the nation’s financial institutions had to fill out to request money from the government’s $700 billion Trouble Asset Relief Program. In fact, the first page only requires bank contact information.

For some lawmakers and watchdog groups, the simple request form has become a symbol of a government financial bailout plan in need of more accountability and oversight.

“When student lenders and mortgage companies ask more questions in lending thousands of dollars than the federal government does when it injects billions of dollars worth of capital, we should all be concerned,” said Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee.”

December 12, 2008

PBS Online Newshour – 2 specials on the risign cost of colleges

Posted in Graduate Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Saving for College, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process at 7:47 AM by Joe From Boston

This is must-read stuff for those of you struggling to pay, or those of you preparing to pay in the near future.

  • Part 1:
    Rising Tuition, Credit Crunch Threaten Affordability of Higher Education -“A new study on American higher education gave all but one state a failing grade on affordability, and warned that college could soon be out of reach for most Americans.”
  • Part 2:
    Colleges Students Squeezed by Rising Costs, Less Aid -“More college students and their families are struggling to afford tuition at public institutions due to increasing costs and state funding cuts in education. John Tulenko of Learning Matters Television takes a look at the impact of rising higher education costs in the second of a two-part series.”

December 10, 2008

Bill Gates to the Rescue

Posted in Misc at 2:31 PM by Joe From Boston

Bet you thought the above sentence would never apply to you, eh?

Well, if you’re a low-income student struggling to finish your higher education, then perhaps it does!

According to a recent New York Times article, “the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday announced nearly $70 million in grants as part of an ambitious initiative: to double the number of low-income students who earn a college degree or vocational credential by age 26”

Most of the money will not go directly to students, but to programs that help keep lower-income students in schools.

“And the lack of a higher education degree or credential is particularly debilitating in a recession, said Anthony Carnevale, the director of the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.

“The people who survive the [recession] have always been and continue to be the ones with postsecondary education,” Dr. Carnevale said, adding that the unemployment rate for people without a college education was generally four times as high as for those with a two- or four-year degree.”

December 5, 2008

Online classes growing rapidly

Posted in Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process at 7:13 AM by Joe From Boston

According to the Boston Globe, more than 20% of college students are taking at least one online class. – That’s a 13% increase over last year and a far bigger increase than overall college attendance in general.

“The sixth annual survey, considered the leading barometer of on-line enrollment, found that the number of students taking online courses more than doubled between 2002 and 2007, the year the survey targeted. Almost 4 million students now take courses on-line, about 84 percent of them undergraduates.”

I suspect that failing economy is a large reason.  Taking online classes is often cheaper and you don’t need gas money.  Plus, it can help you graduate a semester sooner, saving tuition costs in the long run!

Interested in online classes?  Visit the Edvisors website to search for online programs.

December 3, 2008

You’re going to need help with the new, “simpler” FAFSA – and here’s a free eBook to help!

Posted in FAFSA at 7:47 AM by Joe From Boston

Trust me, you will want some guidance.  And since the Department of Education has released it so late, Financial Aid Officers are struggling to understand the changes before loads of students’ data arrives of their doorstep.

So, how is the FAFSA “simpler”?

  • it’s 10 questions longer
  • Most of those questions have multiple parts
  • it’s color coded – sort of
  • the “workbooks” are gone – they’re now even more confusing as they make up the new 10 questions

So, here’s a free eBook from that offers line-by-line guidance to the new form in language that makes it easy to understand.

Good luck!  You’ll need it!

December 1, 2008

Should private student lenders profit from the Bailout?

Posted in Misc at 9:39 AM by Joe From Boston

Not according to consumer advocacy groups.  According to the Washington Post, “Student advocacy groups are urging the Treasury Department to prevent a new $200 billion consumer-lending program from benefiting private student lenders, which they say are largely unregulated and prey on students with risky, high-interest loans.”

Remember, these are the loan programs that were the focus of the conflict-of-interest scandal last year.

While Federal loans offer wonderful consumer protections, private loans are largely unregulated and cannot be dissolved even in bankruptcy.

These advocacy groups are recommending that private student lenders not be bailed out, or if they are bailed out then force regulations upon them that protect consumers from predatory lending.