May 2, 2014

Insurance Options for Students and Recent Graduates

Posted in Graduate Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Saving for College, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , , at 10:00 AM by Joe Cronin

Now that summer is coming, you might want to consider insurance options for your son or daughter who is heading off to school next fall.  Your best bet to start, read this article on:

Choosing an International Student Insurance Plan

There are many factors to consider.  Start with listing out your priorities, needs, and special circumstances.  Talk to your school officials, your insurance agent, and friends.  Then do your research.  Most importantly, read the terms of the policy you are considering buying very carefully.  Many policies will appear to cover one thing but when you read the exclusions, that one thing is excluded…

Some sites for student insurance to help in your research:

If you choose a plan that is not one offered by your school, you will likely be asked by the school to complete a waiver. To be eligible for a waiver of the university-sponsored insurance, the student’s insurance plan must meet some or all of the following criteria.  Your school’s list may be different so check with them…

To be eligible for a waiver:

  1. The plan must cover a minimum of $500,000 US in medical benefits due to illness, accident, or injury per plan year.
  2. The plan must have a deductible of no more than $5,000 US per covered person per plan year. (Note: Plans without a deductible meet this requirement.)
  3. The plan must cover prescription medications both in the hospital and out of the hospital to a minimum of $100,000 US per plan year.
  4. The plan must have no restrictions for coverage of any pre-existing health condition.
  5. The plan must cover biologically-based mental health conditions at the same level as other medical conditions.
  6. The plan must cover care related to pregnancy and delivery, including newborn care for the first 30 days of life.
  7. The plan must not exclude care for a self-inflicted injury, intercollegiate athletics, and recreational activities.
  8. The plan must be in force for the duration of the academic year, or through the end of the month in which graduation occurs or the student’s academic program ends.

Above all do your research so you can make an educated decision.

September 12, 2012

Student Loan Repayment and Consolidation

Posted in Graduate Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News tagged , , , , , at 4:44 PM by Joe From Boston

We often get questions about repayment of student loans and loan consolidation options.  Here is a quote from the Student Loan Network website:

Student loan repayment should be seriously considered prior to taking on debt. Typically, it will take students 10 to 20 years after graduation before they are able to repay their student loans in full.”

Review all of your loan documents to insure you know how much you owe.  Talk with your lenders about repayment plans.  Do a budget and figure out where you are spending your money and if there are ways you can save.

The general advice is to make sure you pay off your high interest debt first. Generally federal loans have more favorable repayment terms than private loans – so weigh your options carefully.  Finally, consider consolidating your loans to reduce the number of payments you have to make.  (note: you will want to keep your private and federal loans in separate consolidation.  Consolidating private loans with federal loans may eliminate the benefits of the federal loan programs).

For more information, visit:

August 28, 2011

How do I Fill the Gap between what College Costs and the Financial Aid Awarded?

Posted in Graduate Students, Grants, Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Saving for College, Scholarships, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , , , , at 12:48 PM by plusloans

Struggling with finding the last dollar to pay that college tuition bill???  Here is a good overview of the challenges and some options to manage them…

It is no secret that college is expensive and tuition costs are continuing to rise. We put together the infographic below to examine the costs associated with a college education, including the hidden costs you may not be factoring in like health fees, gas money, entertainment and all the Red Bull you’ll consume during finals. The graphic also outlines how funding occurs and how students can fill the gaps left in paying for college. Feel free to share with your fellow students, friends and family!


July 18, 2011

Give Your Grad a Hand: 5 ways to help your child post-graduation

Posted in Graduate Students, Misc, Student Loan News at 2:18 PM by plusloans

The first years after graduation can be stressful on students, but the stress cast on parents is often overlooked. Parents are faced with the ever-growing problem of how to help their kids land on their feet, and effectively start their own lives. While many are tempted to simply pay the student’s way, this is not always the best option for either parents or students. Parents need to start thinking about retirement, and may not be able to afford those extra years of financial support, and students need to learn financial independence. The problem is, what can parents do? Here are some ideas…

1. Teach Financial Literacy

It’s amazing how many students graduate without any idea what a 401K is or how to use a credit card correctly. These are some basic, teachable (and free) steps that can really provide a foundation for recent grads.

  • Using basic accounts – Most students have checking/savings accounts well before college, but should still be aware of the basics. Are there minimum balances? What happens if you overdraft? Little tips like these can pay off big in the long run, and prevent avoidable fees while money is tight.
  • One thing my parents taught me when I got my first credit card was don’t buy anything that you can’t afford right now. This has been a huge help, and while I may not get everything I want right away, I have never had an outstanding balance on my card. People may think, “well, what’s the point of having one, then?” To this, I would answer, beginners should be exceptionally careful, using the card only for what’s affordable (except, of course, for an emergency). This will help set a good foundation for lifetime credit use and help grads to avoid even more debt.
  • How to save – Students hear tons of financial terms thrown about, (ROTH IRAs, 401Ks, Savings Bonds, etc.) but in most cases, have no idea what any of these things are. Sitting down with your grad to talk about different savings/investing options can be a huge benefit in the long term.

2. Stop the Pressure

With the job market at a low point (though better than last year) finding a job is incredibly stressful for many students. It’s important to keep them motivated during their application process, but do not pressure them or force them to take a job they don’t want. This, of course, is easier said than done, with student loan payments looming on the horizon. To help motivate them, think about setting goals or time limits. Knowing that they have only a certain amount of time to find a job can really help speed the process along.

On a side note: Today, more recent grads than ever are living at home after graduation. If this happens, remember that the house rules in high school may no longer apply. Your child is more adult than kid, and many fights can be avoided by bending some of the old rules, and realizing that your grad may be frustrated with answering to parents again. While this may not help with the finances, it will make this stressful time easier on everyone!

3. Keep Them Healthy

Since the Obama Administration’s recent law, grads are able to remain on parents’ health insurance until the age of 26. Saving students from the high cost of health insurance (or accidents sans-insurance!) can help while they begin to get their life in order.  If they need insurance, consider: Graduate Student Insurance Plans.

4. Give Them Credit

College graduates are faced with a lot of firsts – first car, first apartment, first student loan payments, and having a solid credit history can help their future. After teaching basic credit card usage, parents can help students and grads attain their first card, which can now happen in 2 ways:

  1. Co-sign for a card – This provides independence, but with security. Just make sure that if you do co-sign, your child remains on top of payments, and be willing to help out a little should payments falter.
  2. Obtain a secured credit card – These require an initial deposit, and the amount of the deposit becomes the credit limit. These are great because you cannot spend more than you have, and teaches smart charging! A downside is that it’s more expensive up front, but you may save in the long-term.

5. Teach Them to Cook

Yes, really. Buying takeout every night, besides being unhealthy, can also really impact your child’s wallet. By teaching your grad to cook, they could save a lot of money on expensive take-out once they’re on their own!

July 1, 2011

Where to find Student Loans

Posted in Graduate Students, Private Loans, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News tagged , , , at 9:07 AM by plusloans

Usually at this time of the year, students have applied for all the scholarships, grants and federal loans they are going to get.  There is often a gap between what they have received in aid and what they are going to pay.  A last minute option are student loans.  Before applying we suggest you do two things: Review our Lenders and compare student loan offers.

Surprisingly, many people are unaware that there are privately funded student loans to help pay for college.  In short, they offer students the option of borrowing to cover the cost of education including tuition, fees, room and board as well as other related expenses.

July 8, 2009

New GI bill – benefits vary by state???

Posted in Graduate Students, Grants, Legislation Affecting Students, Saving for College, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , at 12:52 PM by Joe From Boston

Yup, you read that right.

The feds decided to provide veterans with a stipend equaling the cost of the most expensive public state school.  Which is great if you live in New Hampshire – that’s $25K.

In California, it’s a whopping $0.  Turns out, it’s illegal to charge tuition at public schools in California (though the thousands of dollars in fees seems to be legal… but that’s another story).

I grant you, it’s still a lot better than the old bill – it provides full in-state undergraduate tuition and fees as opposed to the old monthly stipend.

But what sounds like a great deal – providing the equivalent about to a private school- turns out to be a crappy lottery depending on where you live.  I’m in Massachusetts.  Veterans here will get about $2200 a year which is useless in a state that has some of the highest tuition and cost-of-living expenses.

Veterans are being penalized by states that have worked hard to keep tuition low.

And what about veterans pursuing graduate degrees?

Looks like Congress created a monster… again…

July 1, 2009

July 1, 2009 – Big Changes Take Effect Today

Posted in Graduate Students, Legislation Affecting Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Saving for College, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process at 1:13 PM by Joe From Boston

Welcome to the next fiscal year, and along with it come some great changes for borrowers.

  • The maximum Pell Grant amount  increases to $5,350 for the 2009-10 school year, a 13% increase from last year.
  • The fees to originate a new loan fall by half of a percentage point. Next year, it will fall by that much again. The changes will free more money for those students to use for tuition.
  • “IBR” plans come into effect – income based repayment.  Borrowers may be eligible to reduce their monthly payments based on their income.   Also, teachers or those working in other forms of public service can reduce their payments based on their public service salary.

May 19, 2009

New Income-Based-Repayment Plan for Student Loans July 1, 2009

Posted in Consolidation, Graduate Students, Legislation Affecting Students, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News tagged , , , , , , , at 7:30 AM by Joe From Boston

While this won’t help parents as it doesn’t apply to PLUS Loans, this will help your students. Starting July 1, 2009 a new Income-Based-Repayment (IBR) plan will be offered to students for Stafford, GradPLUS and Consolidation loans that are not used to pay back Parent PLUS Loans.

According to the Team FFELP IBR Workgroup, “A borrower must have a partial financial hardship to qualify for an income-based repayment plan. A borrower who at one time had a partial financial hardship, but ceases to have a partial financial hardship may remain in the IBR plan.”

Partial Financial Hardship is calculated with the equation:
Standard Payment > 15%[AGI – (150% Poverty line applicable to family size)]

This means, partial financial hardship occurs when the standard repayment plan based on a 10-year repayment period at the time the borrower initially starts repayment is greater than 15 percent of the difference between the borrower’s adjusted gross income and 150% of the poverty line for the borrower’s family size.

Family size is defined as members of your household, such as spouse, children, grandparents who live in your residence with you and receive more than half their support from you. So a parent with Alzheimer’s that you take care of would count, but a roommate would not. It does include unborn children that will be born over the next year.

To qualify, you will need to authorize your loan company to receive the current year and past 3 years worth of tax returns from the IRS using IRS Form4506-T.  Contact your lender to learn more!

February 17, 2009

Stimulus bill – the final version

Posted in Graduate Students, Grants, Legislation Affecting Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Scholarships, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged at 2:26 PM by Joe From Boston

With President Obama set to sign the bill (likely today), here’s what’s in the final draft, according to

Concerning provisions of interest to higher education and student lending, the measure would:

  • Provide $15.6 billion in Pell Grant appropriations.
  • Increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500 for 2009-10 for a maximum of $5,350; funding is also reflected to be sufficient to increase the maximum Pell Grant for 2010-11 by $500 to a maximum of $5,550.
  • Allocate $200 million additional funding for Federal Work Study programs.
  • Not subject private activity bonds issued in 2009-10 to the Alternative Minimum Tax and clarifies refunding exemption for bonds.
  • Increase the Hope Scholarship tax credit and make it partially refundable (40 percent).
  • Provide $74 million to the Department of Education for student aid administration and audits and investigations.
  • Create a $53.6 billion state stabilization fund.

The bill does NOT include an increase in the unsubsidized Stafford loan limit.

February 6, 2009

Are you an independent student?

Posted in FAFSA, Graduate Students, Grants, Parent PLUS Loans, Saving for College, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process at 8:23 AM by Joe From Boston

Independent students receive consideration for more financial aid as it’s assumed they have no parents or family to help support them. The Department of Education has its own criteria about who is or is not an independent student, and answering these questions helps determine your status.

Claiming on yourself as an independent on your taxes DOES NOT COUNT.

If you answer Yes to any of these questions, then you will be considered independent, however you may have to provide additional documentation to verify your claim.

  • Are you 24 or older?
  • Are you married?
  • Are you pursuing an advanced degree?(e.g. Masters, PhD)
  • Are you active duty military or a veteran?
    • Reservists who have never served on active duty do not qualify
  • Do you have a child and provide at least half their support?
  • Do you provide someone else with at least half their support? For example, taking care of an elderly relative?
    • Just being roommates doesn’t count. You have to support them financially.
  • Were you a foster child or ward of the court after the age of 13?
  • Were you legally emancipated?
    • “Emancipated minor” is a formal legal status that must be declared by a court of law. Simply moving out of your parents’ household does not count. A judge must legally declare you emancipated. The court order must still be in effect at the time you file your FAFSA.
  • Are you in legal guardianship as determined by a court?
    • Like legally emancipated, this is a formal legal judgment by a court of law.
  • Are you homeless or at risk of being homeless?
    • The determination of homelessness can be made by one of three legal entities:
      • A high school or school district liaison.
      • A director of an accredited HUD homeless shelter
      • A director of a runaway/transitional living program or homeless youth basic shelter.
    • Homeless is strictly defined as lacking fixed, regular, adequate housing. This includes living in shelters, hotels, cars, or couchsurfing anywhere you can.
    • Unaccompanied means that you’re not in the physical custody or care of a parent or guardian. This status only applies to students under the age of 21.
    • This question adds an additional twist. A director of a runaway or homeless shelter can make the determination that you are self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, which means you’re living on your own, paying your own way, and are at risk of homelessness.
    • You will need to provide documentation of your homelessness from any of the entities listed above.

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