Types of mortgage loans

You’ve worked hard and now you’re ready to buy a new home. Find out about the types of mortgage loans to understand your options and make an educated decision.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

As of mid-2019, around 37% of homeowners in the U.S. owned their property free and clear, which means any mortgage they had was paid off. That leaves 63% of homeowners still making that payment every month. What you might not realize is that there are many types of mortgage loans, and those millions of homeowners have different rates and terms. Understanding all your options is one of the first steps in choosing the type of mortgage that’s right for you and your situation.

What Is a Mortgage?

A mortgage is a loan that you get to buy property, such as land or a home. Like any other loan, mortgages have components such as principle and interest. But since they’re for such large amounts, they can be more complex than other loans. Some common components involved in mortgages include:

  • Principal. This is the part of the loan that is what you borrowed—or what’s left of that amount as you pay it down.
  • Interest. Interest is what you pay to be able to borrow the principal amount. It’s usually charged as a percentage of what you owe.
  • Terms. This typically refers to the structure of your loan, such as how many years it’s for.
  • Insurance. You may need to pay homeowners’ insurance as part of your mortgage payment. This is property insurance that helps cover losses if your home is damaged or lost in a fire or other covered disaster. Depending on how much you put down on your mortgage or what type of mortgage loan you have, you may also have to pay private mortgage insurance. PMI is coverage for the lender—if you fail to pay the mortgage, it helps them recoup some of their losses.
  • Taxes. Depending on where you live, you might need to pay property taxes on your home. This can be rolled into the mortgage and your monthly payments.

The Main Types of Mortgages

Many types of mortgages exist. Find out about some of the most common below.

Government-Backed Mortgages

What is it? Government-backed mortgages are at least partially ensured by the federal government. The loans don’t come from the federal government, however. They still come from commercial lenders.

Pros: Because the loan is government-backed, it’s seen as less risky than a conventional mortgage for the lender. That means that you might be able to get approved for one of these loans with a lower credit score or smaller down payment.

Cons: Some government-backed loans mandate PMI, which can make them potentially more expensive in situations where someone has good credit and a large down payment.

Types of Government-Backed Mortgages

  • FHA Loans. Loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration can be approved with a credit score as low as 500 under certain conditions. If you have a higher credit score, you might be able to qualify for an FHA loan with only 3.5 percent down.
  • USDA Loans. These loan options typically involve the purchase of homes in qualified rural areas. Borrowers must meet certain income and credit requirements.
  • VA Loans. The VA provides a number of programs to assist veterans and their families with housing, including one type of loan directly from the VA. The VA also backs three types of loans, and these loans often require no down payment.
Government-backed mortgages

Conventional Mortgages

What is it? These are traditional commercial mortgages that aren’t backed by another entity such as the government.

Pros: If your credit is good enough and you have a large down payment, you might be able to score a low interest rate. You’ll also potentially save money because, with a 20 percent down payment, you won’t have to pay PMI.

Cons: Conventional mortgages typically require a credit score of 640 or more. You might also have to wait a longer period of time after a major negative item on your credit report—such as a bankruptcy—than you would have to wait when applying for government-backed loans.

Conforming Mortgages

What is it? Conforming mortgages are conventional mortgages that comply with standards set by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. These are two government-controlled agencies that buy commercial mortgages after they’ve been issued. The agencies pay the banks for the mortgages. The lenders then have more capital so they can fund new mortgages—it’s an effort that was started decades ago to help make homeownership more accessible.

Pros: The loans have to conform to standards, which means lenders must do some due diligence to ensure the borrower is not high risk. While that does mean you must have a decent credit score and debt-to-income ratio, it also means the loan will likely have a decent interest rate.

Cons: Conforming loans are limited to certain amounts. In 2020, the limit is $510,400 for single-family homes. The limits do vary slightly by location, with higher limits in especially expensive areas.

Jumbo Mortgages

What is it? Jumbo mortgages are those that surpass the limits set by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for conforming loans. In 2020, then, that would mean mortgages for more than $510,400 in most areas.

Pros: Jumbo mortgages allow you to get funding for expensive or luxury properties.

Cons: Because of the size of the loan and the fact that it’s not eligible for purchase by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, the underwriting process can be extensive. You may have to demonstrate excellent credit as well as produce a variety of financial documents.

Interest-Only Mortgages

What is it? This is a type of adjustable-rate mortgage (you’ll learn more about this in a moment) where you only pay toward the interest for the first few years of the loan. After the introductory period is over, you pay both interest and principle, which means your monthly payments likely go up. Your interest rate is also adjusted each year based on various economic factors.

Pros: Paying interest only can significantly lower your mortgage payment at the front end of your loan.

Cons: Your payment will go up and you won’t have a fixed interest rate. Depending on what the markets do, that could increase your costs unexpectedly.

Mortgage Interest Rates

Mortgage interest rates are typically fixed or adjustable. Which one you choose depends on your financial situation and the type of loan you can qualify for.

Fixed-Rate Mortgages

With this type of loan, your interest rate is set in the contract and doesn’t change over the years. The advantage of this is that you know exactly what you’re going to pay and what rate you have. The downside is that if you buy a home during a time when interest rates in the market are high, you might get stuck with a higher rate.

You can seek a lower rate by refinancing your mortgage, though you’ll have to pay closing costs and other fees, and your credit and income might be reviewed again. Many people do refinance to get a lower rate to save money if they have a better credit and financial situation than they did when they bought their home.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

In an adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM, your rate is variable. That means it fluctuates periodically. How often the interest rate might change depends on your mortgage contract. The downside of an ARM is that you can be surprised with large interest rate hikes. The upside is that if you buy a home when interest rates are high, you might see a lower rate if the markets swing that direction in the future.

Mortgage Terms

Terms refer to how long you take out a mortgage loan for. Many options exist, but the two most common are summarized below.

15-Year Mortgages

This means that you borrow the money for 15 years. The benefits of a short-term mortgage like this are that you pay your home off and own it outright much faster, and you do so with significant interest savings. The downside is that by squeezing the mortgage into only 15 years, you will have much higher monthly payments.

30-Year Mortgages

This is what most people consider the traditional mortgage term. The benefit is that you spread your loan out over a longer period, so you pay less each month. The downside is that by stretching out your payments, you pay more in interest over the life of the loan.

Mortgage terms

How to Get the Best Loan Terms

To save money on your home purchase, you want the most favorable terms possible. That means you want the best length of time for your needs and a good interest rate. Try these tips to achieve your goal:

  • Ensure your credit score is good or excellent. If your credit score is lackluster, you might want to consider taking time to improve it before buying a home.
  • Have a decent down payment. Putting 20 percent down on a home keeps you from having to pay PMI, for example. But even putting 10 percent down might help you get better rates than if you put only three percent down.
  • Compare lenders and rates to find the best deal. Shopping around for a mortgage within a short period of time doesn’t hit your credit hard because generally, the credit bureaus consider multiple mortgage applications within a few weeks of each other to be a single inquiry.

Mortgages can be complicated, and there are a lot of professionals who can help you figure out which one is best for you. When it comes to working on your credit score, the team at Lexington Law might be able to help you out by investigating and disputing inaccurate negative items on your credit report. Get in touch with us today to find out more.


Reviewed by Alexis Peacock, an Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Alexis Peacock was born in Santa Cruz, California and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona. In 2013, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology, graduating cum laude from Arizona State University. Ms. Peacock received her Juris Doctor from Arizona Summit Law School and graduated in 2016. Prior to joining Lexington Law Firm, Ms. Peacock worked in Criminal Defense as both a paralegal and practicing attorney. Ms. Peacock represented clients in criminal matters varying from minor traffic infractions to serious felony cases. Alexis is licensed to practice law in Arizona. She is located in the Phoenix office.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

Home Improvement Loans

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Improving your home might be a goal for many reasons. It can increase the value of the property for more profit when you’re selling or renting it out. Improvements can also make life more enjoyable for you and your family. But they can be expensive—the average cost of a small kitchen renovation is between about $13,000 and $37,500 according to HomeAdvisor, for example.

Homeowners who want to update their homes often turn to financing as a way to pay for improvements. Find out about home improvement loans and whether they might be an option for you below.

How Do Home Improvement Loans Work?

The specific terms of home improvement loans depend on which type you apply for, but the general concept is that a lender agrees to give you a certain amount of money and you agree to pay it back with interest. In some cases, the lender might require that you use the money for a specific purpose that you stated beforehand. In other cases, the funds are provided as a personal loan for you to use as you see fit.

You can get money for home improvement from a variety of lenders, including banks, personal loan companies, mortgage companies and government agencies. You could also tap your credit lines or credit cards.

How much you can borrow and the rates you’ll pay on the debt depend on a variety of factors. Those include your credit history and whether or not you’re putting up collateral such as home equity.

Types of Loans You Can Use for Home Improvements

Personal Loans

Personal loans are unsecured signature loans. That means you don’t typically put up collateral, and with some exceptions, you can generally do what you want with the loan funds. You make monthly payments as agreed upon, usually for a period of a few years.

Pros: You may be able to get a personal loan that doesn’t require collateral such as home equity. That means you don’t put your homeownership on the line with the loan.

Cons: The lack of collateral makes the loan riskier for the lender, which usually means a higher interest rate and overall loan cost for you.

Credit score requirements: You may be able to find personal loan lenders willing to work with someone with little credit history or only fair credit. However, to get decent rates on a large loan, you may need a good or excellent credit score.

Government Loans

You might be eligible for government loans and assistance programs to modify or repair your home. For example, HUD offers information about home equity conversion mortgages for seniors as well as the Title I Property Improvement Loan Program. Some homeowners may be able to borrow up to $35,000 via the 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program, and the VA offers some home refinance options for eligible veterans.

Pros: The credit requirements for government programs and government-backed loans tend to be a bit laxer than when you’re dealing with banks.

Cons: These programs might have very specific eligibility requirements and terms that you have to follow closely. For example, you may be required to use the funds for specific purposes.

Credit score requirements: This varies according to program, but you may be able to access some options with less-than-stellar credit.

Home Equity Loans

A home equity loan (“HEL”) draws on the amount of equity in your home. For example, if your home is worth $100,000 and you only owe $70,000, you may be able to get a loan for close to $30,000 based on the equity.

Pros: Home equity loans are secured by the value in your home, which makes them a less risky investment for lenders than personal loans and credit cards. That helps you get a lower interest rate, making HELs typically less expensive than other home improvement loans.

Cons: The loan is tied to your home ownership. If you default on the loan, the lender can force the sale of your home to recoup its losses.

Credit score requirements: You don’t need a stellar score to refinance your mortgage, so you might not need a great score to take out a home equity loan.

Home Equity Lines of Credit (“HELOC”)

A home equity line of credit is a revolving line of credit based on the equity in your home. The terms work a bit more like a credit card than the terms of a home equity loan do. That means you draw on the credit line as needed to cover repairs and pay it back over time. You can draw again on the funds as you pay them back.

Pros: HELOCs can be a flexible source of income, making it easy to manage costs for renovations without running up excess debt. And because they’re secured by the value in your home, they may come with more favorable terms than credit card debt.

Cons: Again, the debt is tied to your home. If you default on the line of credit, the lender can force the sale of your home to get its money back.

Credit score requirements: Credit score requirements for HELOCs are similar to those for home equity loans.

Other Ways to Pay for Home Improvements

Credit Cards

If you have a credit card with a high enough balance, you can put goods and services on it. The downside is that you might pay high interest on that debt. Alternatively, if you have a strong credit score, you might be able to get approved for a new card with a zero percent introductory APR offer. That might let you pay off your home improvement expenses over a year or two without added interest expense.

Cash-Out Refinancing

If your home has equity, you can also consider a cash-out refinance. If you owe $70,000 and your home is worth $100,000, you may be able to refinance and borrow $95,000. (The other $5,000 If your credit is better than when you bought the home or conditions are more favorable, you might even get better rates.

The $70,000 you owe is paid to the bank holding the original mortgage. You cash out the roughly $25,000 left and can use it as you see fit, including repairing your home.

Tips for Getting a Home Improvement Loan

If you’ve decided to pursue a home improvement loan, use these tips to increase your odds of getting the deal that you want.

Have Specific Terms in Mind

Plan ahead rather than reaching for the loan and then deciding what you’ll do. Define your home improvement plan and budget, and consider whether you can get funding for that much money.

Get a Cosigner If Necessary

Consider whether you might need a cosigner. Depending on what type of loan you want to apply for, a cosigner might help if you don’t have great credit or if your income doesn’t meet the requirements of the lender. Keep in mind that the cosigner will also be taking on all the obligations of the debt.

Know Your Credit Score

Finally, check your credit score and credit reports before you apply. Understanding where you stand helps you choose the financial products you’re more likely to qualify for and avoid unpleasant surprises during the application process. Getting a good look at your credit reports also helps you understand whether there are inaccurate negative items bringing your score down. If that’s the case, consider working with Lexington Law to repair your credit and potentially open more home improvement loan doors in the future.


Reviewed by Cynthia Thaxton, Lexington Law Firm Attorney. Written by Lexington Law.

Cynthia Thaxton has been with Lexington Law Firm since 2014. She attended The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Arabic. Cynthia then attended law school at George Mason University School of Law, where she served as Senior Articles Editor of the George Mason Law Review and graduated cum laude. Cynthia is licensed to practice law in Utah and North Carolina.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

Understanding How Income Based Repayment Works

If you graduated recently, you’re gearing up to launch your career and start a new chapter of your life. But graduating may also mean it’s time to start paying back your student loans, which is less exciting.

If you have unconsolidated federal student loans, you are likely signed up for the standard 10-year repayment plan. Upon graduation or once your grace period ends, you begin making payments in order to pay back your loans in 10 years.

Many grads will not make tons of money right out of the gate, of course, and that can make paying off student loans at the beginning of a career challenging. If your loan payments with the standard plan are high in proportion to your income, an income-based repayment plan might be an option.

apply and submit information to have your income certified. Your monthly payment will then be calculated.

If you qualify, you’ll simply make your monthly payments to your loan servicer under your new income-based repayment plan.

You’ll have to recertify your income and family size yearly. Your calculated payment may change as your income changes.

What Might My Payment Be?

Qualifying for income-driven repayment depends on your income—specifically how much of your discretionary income goes toward student loan payments.

For the IBR, PAYE, and REPAYE plans, the required monthly payment is generally a percentage of your discretionary income. (Discretionary income is the difference between your adjusted gross income and 150% of the poverty guideline for your family size and state of residence.)

For the IBR plan, the monthly payment is 10% of discretionary income for someone who borrowed on or after July 1, 2014. If a student took out loans before that date, the monthly payment is 15% of discretionary income.

Under the PAYE and REPAYE plans, the monthly payment is 10% of discretionary income.

An example:

•   You are single and your family size is one. You live in one of the 48 contiguous states or the District of Columbia. Your adjusted gross income is $40,000.
•   You have $45,000 in eligible federal student loan debt.
•   The 2021 HHS Poverty Guideline amount for a family of one in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia is $12,880, and 150% of that is $19,320. The difference between $40,000 and $19,320 is $20,680. This is your discretionary income.
•   If you’re repaying under the PAYE or REPAYE plan or if you’re a newer borrower with the IBR plan, 10% of your discretionary income is $2,068. Dividing that amount by 12 results in a monthly payment of $172.33.

Under the ICR plan, the monthly payment will be the lesser of 20% of discretionary income or the amount a borrower would pay under a standard repayment plan with a 12-year repayment period, adjusted using a formula that takes income into account.

For the ICR plan, discretionary income is the difference between adjusted gross income and 100% of the federal poverty guideline amount for your family size and state.

The Federal Student Aid office recommends using its loan simulator to compare estimated monthly payment amounts for all the repayment plans.

Which Loans Pertain to Which Plan?

Most federal student loans are eligible for at least one of the plans. For the details, see this Federal Student Aid chart .

Private loans are not eligible for any federal income-driven repayment plans—though some private loan lenders will negotiate new payment schedules if needed.

Potential Drawbacks of Income-Driven Repayment

Income-based repayment usually lowers your monthly payment, but stretching payments over a longer period means probably paying more in interest over time. In some cases, your minimum payment might not even cover all the interest on your loan.

Even if income-based repayment makes sense for you, you’ll need to recertify your income and family size every year.

consider refinancing instead. With refinancing, a private lender pays off loans with a new one, hopefully with a lower interest rate.

You can calculate how much you might save by refinancing your student loans with SoFi’s student loan calculator.

Maybe your income doesn’t qualify you for an income-driven repayment plan. If not, consider refinancing with SoFi.

You can refinance both private and federal student loans. Just realize that refinancing federal student loans with a private lender renders them ineligible for federal repayment plans, but if you don’t plan to use those benefits, refinancing might be a good option.

Check your rate in a snap.



IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Source: sofi.com

What To Do the Summer Before College

Congratulations, you’ve graduated from high school. Now, you’ve got just a few more weeks to soak up all that home has to offer before heading off to college.

The summer before college can be a transformative time in its own right. It’s a time to reflect, to wrap up loose ends, and to spend quality time with the people you love at the places you love one last time before heading off on your own. But figuring out just what to do in the summer before college can be a challenge.

However, there’s no need to get overwhelmed. Instead, all you need to do is make a game plan. Here are nine things to check off your before-college to-do list to ensure you have the best summer ever and feel wholly prepared for your brand-new life as a freshman in the fall.

Getting Organized

Now is the time to clear out the old so you can bring in the new. The bedroom is a good place to start.

Clear out your closet: Use the summer to clean out your closet and dresser and get rid of any clothing you may no longer need or want for college. Start by pulling every single item out and making a giant pile on the floor. Separating the clothing into piles to keep, toss, and donate can be a good organizational method. Donating gently used items to a local charity or second-hand shop will help them find a second life.

Toss old academic work: Go through notebooks, binders, and bookbags, using the same sorting method as with clothing. Cleaning out your computer and deleting any files you no longer need—perhaps moving some to cloud storage —may allow you to enter college with a clean binder and a few extra gigabytes of storage.

Start packing: To make the moving process a little smoother, try organizing your items and pack slowly over the summer instead of cramming it all into one day. Creating boxes labeled as bedding, kitchen, bathroom, academic, and miscellaneous—maybe limiting the size of that particular box, though—then adding items as you’re organizing will make moving easier when the time comes.

Cleaning up Your Social Media

Just like cleaning out your closet, it’s probably time to think about cleaning up your social media presence , too. You may have joined Facebook groups or liked pages that no longer reflect your interests or what you believe in.

On Twitter and Instagram, it may be a good idea to look back at your content to make sure what you’re sharing is appropriate for future employers to see. If not, you might want to consider deleting it.

Finally, think about your social media handles and your email address. If possible, it might be a good idea to use your full name or a combination of first initial and last name—something clean and simple. Potential employers will likely look at this information before hiring for internships or future jobs, so presenting yourself as a professional might pay off in the long run.

Spending Quality Time With Your Family

Even though your parents may have embarrassed you through your high school years and your siblings may have annoyed you since you became siblings, you’ll probably still miss them when you head off to college. Use this time to make memories with your family so you have something fond to look back on if you’re ever homesick.

Over the summer, try creating family date nights. Play board games , cook together, go to your favorite restaurants, the movies, whatever makes you all happy. As a bonus, you’ll get to visit all your favorite hometown spots along the way, too.

Connecting With Your New Roommate

If you’re living in a dorm in the fall, your college will likely connect you with your new roommate via email or snail mail. Use the few weeks before school begins to connect with him or her.

Get to know one another , make a list of dorm room items that you can share, and try making a list of ground rules before you even move in. This could help alleviate any issues before they ever begin.

Preparing Your Dorm Essentials

After chatting with your roommate and figuring out what you both need, it’s time to make a full list of dorm essentials. This list should include bedding, toiletries that fit into a basket to carry to and from shared bathrooms, a pair of slippers to use in common areas (including shower areas), and office supplies like pens, paper, notebooks, labels, rubber bands, scissors, and sticky notes.

You’ll now be responsible for doing your own laundry, so make sure to add on a laundry basket and detergent. The list can also include decorations such as desk lamps, a bulletin board, and any fun decor that fits your style.

Becoming Familiar With Your College Town

You can get familiar with your new town even before ever setting foot in it by checking out local publications including local news sites and your school’s newspaper. Make a list of restaurants you want to try and local attractions you’d like to see.

You might also consider sharing the list with your new roommate so you can explore the town together.

Registering for Classes

It could be prudent to check out class offerings before registration even opens. Familiarize yourself with the classes offered in your degree program, which ones are available to freshmen, and which electives you’d like to take. Make a list and have it handy for registration day.

Pro tip: Sign up for classes as soon as registration is open because popular classes may fill up fast.

Checking out Your Professors Online

Once you’ve got your classes lined up, it’s time to check out your future professors. Doing a bit of online research on the people who will be teaching you could help identify any potential future mentors.

Getting to know professors can make asking for recommendations for internships and jobs easier. If they don’t know you well, it might be difficult for them to recommend you.

Getting Your Finances in Order

It’s time for the most adult step of all. During the summer before college, it’s probably time to get your finances in order. Ask a parent or guardian to help you open a bank account if you don’t have one already, and ensure you have access to it from anywhere.

Now is also an excellent time to create a plan on how you’re going to finance your college education. Include any savings, scholarship money, or other financial aid that has been offered and accepted. If you need a little more assistance with financing your college education, a private student loan may help cover the gap.

A no-fee private student loan with SoFi means no origination fees, no late fees, and no insufficient fund fees. Ever. And, a private student loan with SoFi even offers flexible repayment plans to fit your individual budget. Getting this out of the way means you can sit back and relax. Just a few more weeks until the homework starts again.

Looking for financing options for your college education? Applying for a private student loan from SoFi is a great place to start.



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Home Improvement Loans

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

Improving your home might be a goal for many reasons. It can increase the value of the property for more profit when you’re selling or renting it out. Improvements can also make life more enjoyable for you and your family. But they can be expensive—the average cost of a small kitchen renovation is between about $13,000 and $37,500 according to HomeAdvisor, for example.

Homeowners who want to update their homes often turn to financing as a way to pay for improvements. Find out about home improvement loans and whether they might be an option for you below.

How Do Home Improvement Loans Work?

The specific terms of home improvement loans depend on which type you apply for, but the general concept is that a lender agrees to give you a certain amount of money and you agree to pay it back with interest. In some cases, the lender might require that you use the money for a specific purpose that you stated beforehand. In other cases, the funds are provided as a personal loan for you to use as you see fit.

You can get money for home improvement from a variety of lenders, including banks, personal loan companies, mortgage companies and government agencies. You could also tap your credit lines or credit cards.

How much you can borrow and the rates you’ll pay on the debt depend on a variety of factors. Those include your credit history and whether or not you’re putting up collateral such as home equity.

Types of Loans You Can Use for Home Improvements

Personal Loans

Personal loans are unsecured signature loans. That means you don’t typically put up collateral, and with some exceptions, you can generally do what you want with the loan funds. You make monthly payments as agreed upon, usually for a period of a few years.

Pros: You may be able to get a personal loan that doesn’t require collateral such as home equity. That means you don’t put your homeownership on the line with the loan.

Cons: The lack of collateral makes the loan riskier for the lender, which usually means a higher interest rate and overall loan cost for you.

Credit score requirements: You may be able to find personal loan lenders willing to work with someone with little credit history or only fair credit. However, to get decent rates on a large loan, you may need a good or excellent credit score.

Government Loans

You might be eligible for government loans and assistance programs to modify or repair your home. For example, HUD offers information about home equity conversion mortgages for seniors as well as the Title I Property Improvement Loan Program. Some homeowners may be able to borrow up to $35,000 via the 203(k) Rehabilitation Mortgage Insurance Program, and the VA offers some home refinance options for eligible veterans.

Pros: The credit requirements for government programs and government-backed loans tend to be a bit laxer than when you’re dealing with banks.

Cons: These programs might have very specific eligibility requirements and terms that you have to follow closely. For example, you may be required to use the funds for specific purposes.

Credit score requirements: This varies according to program, but you may be able to access some options with less-than-stellar credit.

Home Equity Loans

A home equity loan (“HEL”) draws on the amount of equity in your home. For example, if your home is worth $100,000 and you only owe $70,000, you may be able to get a loan for close to $30,000 based on the equity.

Pros: Home equity loans are secured by the value in your home, which makes them a less risky investment for lenders than personal loans and credit cards. That helps you get a lower interest rate, making HELs typically less expensive than other home improvement loans.

Cons: The loan is tied to your home ownership. If you default on the loan, the lender can force the sale of your home to recoup its losses.

Credit score requirements: You don’t need a stellar score to refinance your mortgage, so you might not need a great score to take out a home equity loan.

Home Equity Lines of Credit (“HELOC”)

A home equity line of credit is a revolving line of credit based on the equity in your home. The terms work a bit more like a credit card than the terms of a home equity loan do. That means you draw on the credit line as needed to cover repairs and pay it back over time. You can draw again on the funds as you pay them back.

Pros: HELOCs can be a flexible source of income, making it easy to manage costs for renovations without running up excess debt. And because they’re secured by the value in your home, they may come with more favorable terms than credit card debt.

Cons: Again, the debt is tied to your home. If you default on the line of credit, the lender can force the sale of your home to get its money back.

Credit score requirements: Credit score requirements for HELOCs are similar to those for home equity loans.

Other Ways to Pay for Home Improvements

Credit Cards

If you have a credit card with a high enough balance, you can put goods and services on it. The downside is that you might pay high interest on that debt. Alternatively, if you have a strong credit score, you might be able to get approved for a new card with a zero percent introductory APR offer. That might let you pay off your home improvement expenses over a year or two without added interest expense.

Cash-Out Refinancing

If your home has equity, you can also consider a cash-out refinance. If you owe $70,000 and your home is worth $100,000, you may be able to refinance and borrow $95,000. (The other $5,000 If your credit is better than when you bought the home or conditions are more favorable, you might even get better rates.

The $70,000 you owe is paid to the bank holding the original mortgage. You cash out the roughly $25,000 left and can use it as you see fit, including repairing your home.

Tips for Getting a Home Improvement Loan

If you’ve decided to pursue a home improvement loan, use these tips to increase your odds of getting the deal that you want.

Have Specific Terms in Mind

Plan ahead rather than reaching for the loan and then deciding what you’ll do. Define your home improvement plan and budget, and consider whether you can get funding for that much money.

Get a Cosigner If Necessary

Consider whether you might need a cosigner. Depending on what type of loan you want to apply for, a cosigner might help if you don’t have great credit or if your income doesn’t meet the requirements of the lender. Keep in mind that the cosigner will also be taking on all the obligations of the debt.

Know Your Credit Score

Finally, check your credit score and credit reports before you apply. Understanding where you stand helps you choose the financial products you’re more likely to qualify for and avoid unpleasant surprises during the application process. Getting a good look at your credit reports also helps you understand whether there are inaccurate negative items bringing your score down. If that’s the case, consider working with Lexington Law to repair your credit and potentially open more home improvement loan doors in the future.


Reviewed by Cynthia Thaxton, Lexington Law Firm Attorney. Written by Lexington Law.

Cynthia Thaxton has been with Lexington Law Firm since 2014. She attended The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in International Relations and a minor in Arabic. Cynthia then attended law school at George Mason University School of Law, where she served as Senior Articles Editor of the George Mason Law Review and graduated cum laude. Cynthia is licensed to practice law in Utah and North Carolina.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

7 Tips for Acing a Video Interview

Whether you just graduated school or are just seeking a new job, work interviews have modernized. Video interviews —conducted online— are increasingly common. In some industries, IRL interviews are (for now) a thing of the past—as more companies take on remote hires and millions are working from home.

And, with the rapid rise in digital job interviews, what are some ways to ace the video interview?

Here are seven tips for giving an impactful and memorable video interview—from practicing potential answers out loud ahead of time to tweaking the lighting for your camera.

There are various ways to get a first job after college. Being prepared for video interviews is one way to make a positive first impression.

Dressing for the Video Interview

For remote jobs, it’s quite possible that applicants may do a video interview through their tablets or computers. And, while the job interview location may now be a digital platform (and your couch), certain interview expectations stay the same—namely presenting yourself with professionalism and dressing for the job. Even when (especially when) you’re interviewing from home.

It may be helpful to ask about the expected dress code for a remote position. Asking questions like this may show a hirer that you’re aware that businesses have diverse expectations for professionalism. Even if they say you can wear whatever you want, you’ve shown that you’re unafraid of asking questions to grasp what’s expected of that role.

There’s an old adage— dress for the job you want, not the role you have. In a video interview, this could mean opting to dress a touch more formally—even if HR said the employees usually go for business-casual. (And, yes, you should wear pants during video interviews.)

It’s hard to feel like you’re going to shine if you’re in coffee-stained PJs.

It’s also not a bad idea to confirm the logistics of the video interview (in addition to outfit- planning). Some video interview logistics questions could include:

•   Will you get a calendar invite or event link for the interview?
•   What time zone will the interviewer be calling in from?
•   Which video conferencing platform will be used?
•   Will you need to download software to be able join the interview?

Knowing the answers to logistics can help bring more confidence to the video interview.

1. Practicing to Make Perfect

Different companies or organizations may use different platforms to host the interview—from Zoom to Google Hangouts to other programs. Don’t worry: You don’t need to become a pro at all the expert features. Still, it’s a good idea to become comfortable at:

•   Dialing in to scheduled calls
•   Checking the audio and the camera
•   Understanding what the interviewer can see
•   Ensuring the WiFi signal is strong enough for the video interview

If an interviewer mentions a program you’ve never used, it’s advisable to download and try it out well before the actual call. Opening up an unfamiliar program just before the interview only to realize it’s not compatible with your technology might create a positive first impression. So, make sure you double-check that you have all logins or passwords for the call. It’s best not to keep interviewers waiting because you failed to check the video interview details.

Try to make a mental checklist of digital distractions you’ve run across, as well. Then, see what you can do to minimize (if not outright eliminate) those common distractions before the live video interview. For example, you could turn off notifications or sounds for texts and emails during the interview time slot.

2. Setting the Surroundings

Generally, it’s a good idea to do a test call on the planned video-interview platform. This could help you assess how you and your surroundings appear via video. You may even want an extra set of eyes and ears–asking a friend or family member to do a “mock” call to ensure the audio and visuals are clear.

When prepping for a video interview, put yourself in the position of whoever will be interviewing you. Some questions to chew on:

•   What can the interviewer see of your space?
•   Are you easily visible or is more light needed?
•   Are there any distractions in the camera frame?

Some digital platforms allow users to record sessions. So, interviewees may want to record themselves talking and then watch and listen. You could run through the main things you want to say in the real video interview. Talking aloud on camera can help some people to become more aware of their own nervous tics and body language.

3. Taking Notes Beforehand

With job interviews, researching the company beforehand could give you ideas of how to connect previous work experience with the brand’s values or role’s job. One of the benefits of a video interview is that you can make these research notes quite literal.

Write out key points on a big piece of paper near your computer. Or, jot down some ideas or accomplishments on a sticky note next to your camera. It’s likely that the employer conducting the video interview will have no idea you’re looking at those pre-prepared notes—just make sure you keep your notes short, so you can naturally weave in keywords.

Talking points are a good idea. You may want to skip long sentences that sound like you’re reading.

4. Minimizing Off-Screen Distractions

Above all else, keep your on-screen image distraction-free. It’s worth remembering that the only person the interviewer wants to interact with is you–not your adorable pets, lovely roommates, or kid sister. You ask the folks you share a living space with to keep quiet or stay in their rooms during your interview. Plan ahead so the conversation isn’t distractingly interrupted by unexpected visitors.

5. Wearing Headphones

It would be a shame to have the audio cut out mid interview. Nothing can derail a smooth interview back-and-forth than the inability to hear the other person. It’s likely neither the interviewer or the job applicant wants to say, “What?” or “Can you repeat that?” during the video call.

There’s no need to invest in fancy, studio-quality headphones, thankfully—if you’re comfortable with earbuds, those should work fine. They also have the added benefit of not being visually intrusive.

6. Going Outside for a Breather

It’s hard to feel energetic and friendly if you’re cooped inside all day. A good way to minimize nerves is to get fresh air. Don’t just open up a window—put on sunscreen, maintain social distancing, and go outside. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, a jolt of sunlight and breeze can reset the mind.

7. Remembering to Be Yourself

After preparing for the logistics of a video interview, it can be easy to forget one simple thing: Be yourself. While a strong WiFi signal and well-lit space won’t hurt your chances during a video interview, it’s helpful to recall that interviews are conversations between two or more people. Be prepared and share who you are.

Getting to Work

Acing a job interview—video interview or otherwise—is just one part of navigating life after college. Being ready for a video interview is just one new way to get noticed these days.

On top of looking for a full-time or better-paying job, some grads also want to find ways to reduce their outstanding debt balances—including long-term bills, like student loan repayments.

After exhausting federal options (like income-driven repayment or loan forgiveness programs), some borrowers decide to refinance their student loans with a private lender.
Refinancing student loans could reduce monthly bill payments or the amount paid in interest during the duration of the loan.

Learn more about refinancing your student loans with SoFi.



SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

SOSL20038

Source: sofi.com

MintFamily with Beth Kobliner: 3 Ways Your Kids Will Redefine the American Dream

A friend’s 20-something son shocked his parents with his post-graduation plans: He was moving to Southeast Asia to sell selfie sticks.

Millennials in a nutshell, #amiright?

But who can blame them for taking non-traditional paths, given the poor financial hand they’ve been dealt: record levels of college debt, uncertain job prospects, stagnant wages, and more. It’s why one in three Millennials is deeply dissatisfied with their financial situation, according to a much-quoted new study from George Washington University and PwC.

Findings from a recent Harvard survey cut even deeper: half of Millennials say the American Dream is dead. Yep, that cornerstone of post-war America—the house, the car, the upwardly mobile career track—is about as relevant to them as black & white TV. To parents raised on the mythology of the American Dream, that’s grim news.

But the situation may not be as dire as it appears.

As they’ve done with everything from communications to careers, Millennials are redefining what it means to lead a “better life” (something parents see as key to the American Dream, according to a 2015 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll). This new paradigm is rooted in the experiences of people who came of age after the financial crisis of 2008, and reflects how they see the world. It offers a flexible lifestyle (one that some might see as transient) and a reworking of the traditional measures of success.

Here are three ways that our kids will make their own American Dream—and thrive.

1.  They’ll rethink what college means—and how to pay for it.

Two-thirds of parents say the American Dream includes sending their kids to college, according to a September poll from the youth media company Fusion. These moms and dads are right to think this, as college grads earn about $1 million more over their lifetimes.

For Millennials, cost and career aspirations are informing this major life decision more than ever (call it pragmatism if you want). Gone are the days of selecting a school based on its bucolic campus or dominant football program. Kids (and parents) want more value—and less debt.

That’s why it’s so critical to start the college cost conversation early—like 9th grade-early. Want an incentive? A start-up called Raise.me allows high schoolers—as early as freshman year—to earn “micro-scholarships” from over 100 colleges. Got an A in chemistry? Won the lacrosse playoffs? Volunteered at your local animal shelter? Each awesome achievement can earn your kid $500 to over $1,000 from various colleges. Even “mayor” of Millennials Mark Zuckerberg backs it: Facebook is one of Raise.me’s main supporters.

Best way to avoid the college cost guessing game? Fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)—the key to scholarships, grants, work-study, and low-rate federal loans. The form is notoriously long and complicated, but it’s getting better! Starting this year, you can access the FAFSA on October 1, 2016 (up from January 1, 2017). Why the new, early start? It means you’ll be able to auto-fill the form for the 2017-18 school year using your 2015 tax return data. (More details here.)

Parents of kids who excel in hands-on environments can encourage them to consider the growing trend of apprenticeships (a traditionally European idea that’s catching on here in the U.S.), particularly programs offered in tandem with a community college degree.

2.  They’ll understand that owning your own “home sweet home” is only sweet when you can afford it.

In 1986 (back when I was graduating from college!), 76% of young people saw owning a home as essential to the American Dream. Today that’s down to 59%, according to the Fusion poll.

That means your kid is more likely to bunk with you—or rent—than take on a mortgage she can’t afford (so don’t turn her bedroom into a home office just yet). If she does move in with you, make sure she uses this time as an opportunity to save! (And work out any financial details in advance with this helpful guide from eHow.com.)

Renting has traditionally gotten a bad rap, but it lets your kid explore—new towns, new jobs, new people!—without being stuck in one place. Take our selfie-stick seller: his Southeast Asia stint lasted less than a year before he was back in the states and settling into a new city and new gig. Like his fellow Millennials, he’ll probably rent for several years. Buying may not even cross his mind until his early 30s. A Zillow study shows the average first-time homebuyer is now 33, up from 29 in the 1970s. Of course, you’ll want to talk to your kid about the realities of owning a home, including how to sock away a chunk of money for a down payment once she’s ready.

3.  They’ll value happiness and independence over a huge paycheck.

The entrepreneurial goals of Millennials can sometimes seem a little, er, lofty (like the selfie stick plan that didn’t exactly take off), but thankfully, many are starting to pace themselves.

A study from Upwork, a company that helps businesses find freelance workers, showed that 62% (mostly Millennial) freelancers planned to work a full-time job and moonlight on the side for two years before quitting to follow their dreams. Two years may not be a magic number (a specific financial goal would be safer), but at least they’re earning—and learning—prior to taking the leap.

Today’s young people aren’t all work and no play, either. Millennials’ drive for success, salary, and even entrepreneurial goals pales in comparison to their desire to spend time with family and friends, which they rank as “one of the most important things” in their lives, according to the Harvard survey.

The takeaway? We’re raising a generation that demands independence, flexibility, and a true work/life balance. Perhaps that’s the new American Dream.

Sounds like something we can all believe in.

How do you define the American Dream for your kids? Tell me on Twitter using #NewAmericanDream.

© 2016 Beth Kobliner, All Rights Reserved

BethKobliner

Beth Kobliner is the author of the New York Times bestseller Get a Financial Life, and is currently writing a new book, Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not), to be published by Simon & Schuster. Visit her at bethkobliner.com, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook.

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Picking the Best Air Conditioner for Your Apartment

Looking to cool down your apartment? With spring and summer approaching soon, it’s important to start thinking about how to prepare for those hotter months and stay cool. While many apartments come with built-in air conditioning (AC) units, many do not. So what are your options for cooling down your space? In this article, we’ll go into detail about how to decide what is the best air conditioner for your apartment.

How do air conditioners work to keep your apartment cool?

Air conditioners have been around for a very long time, in fact, the first air conditioning system was developed in 1902.The basics of how air conditioners work are similar to how a fridge works. Air conditioners use an internal refrigerating system to take in hot air and cool it. The hot air, absorbed by the AC unit through various coils and systems, turns into a gas. From there, the unit converts it back into a liquid.

Next, the hot air pushes out the back through vents or a window and the cool air pushes into your apartment. The website HowStuffWorks.com puts it very simply: “Think of it as an endless, elegant cycle: liquid refrigerant, phase conversion to a gas/heat absorption, compression and phase transition back to a liquid again.”

air conditioningair conditioning

Important things to understand when selecting your AC unit

There are a couple of other things to consider when picking which type of AC unit to use for your apartment. You’ll want to consider things such as cooling capacity, BTUs, energy efficiency and costs.

BTUs

BTU or British thermal units is the amount of energy it takes to heat or cool one pound of water. For air conditioners specifically, the BTU refers to the amount of heat your unit can remove in an hour. Some units take more than others. For instance, a window unit takes anywhere from 3,000 to 25,000 BTUs, whereas a portable system can use anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 BTUs. Make sure to take the time to research this before deciding on which unit is best for you. Learn Metrics has created a more in-depth chart for understanding different BTUs for different sized apartments.

Cooling capacity

When picking out your AC unit keep in mind its cooling capacity. The size of the area you want to cool will greatly impact your choice. Different units cool different area sizes. Take portable units for example — these are usually only able to cool the area they sit in. Window units on the other hand are a better option if you are looking to cool down an entire apartment.

Energy costs

The cost that it takes to run an AC unit is something else to consider. The price can greatly change depending on how big your unit is and how big of an area you’re trying to cool. On average it can cost anywhere from $14.40 per month to $211.20 to run different types of AC units.

Best air conditioner options for your apartment

Now you know how air conditioners work, how do you know which type is right for your apartment? Here are a couple of different options that you can choose from.

1. Portable air conditioner

Portable units are one option when looking for an AC unit. They come in various sizes and work in many different rooms. Often referred to as “portable swamp coolers” or “evaporated cooling” these two systems work similarly to other AC units but primarily rely on water. Another difference is their setup. For instance, some require their own voltage plug and most require you the ability to vent the hot air out of a window.

Another great question to ask when thinking about portable units is, “Can you use a portable air conditioner in an apartment?” The answer depends on your apartment complex and its rules. In certain apartments they are not allowed, so make sure to check with your apartment before you invest in one. Here are some pros and cons of portable AC units.

Pros:

  • Move room-to-room
  • Cost-efficient
  • Come in various sizes
  • Great if you have a strict HOA or landlord and can’t install a window unit

Cons:

  • Sometimes are less energy efficient
  • Can be noisy

AC unit in a window against a brick wall AC unit in a window against a brick wall

2. Window units

Window units are very popular throughout Europe and make another great option for your apartment AC unit. Set in a window, they function much like other AC units and are capable of cooling medium-sized spaces. Here are some of their pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Inexpensive
  • Come in various sizes to fit your windows
  • Can come with a heating system

Cons:

  • Not portable and stay in the window you place them in
  • Not energy efficient

3. Wall-mounted

Wall-mounted units are a great option for people who are living in older buildings that tend to get very hot during summer. Here are the pros and cons of these AC units.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Don’t take up a window or block the view
  • Energy efficient

Cons:

  • Don’t cool the whole space
  • Must be cleaned and maintained regularly

Happy woman holding a remote under an air conditioning unit Happy woman holding a remote under an air conditioning unit

4. Personal AC unit

Personal AC units are great for cooling down a single person in a smaller space. They are typically very small — meant for bed stands or desks and are not meant to cool the entire space down. These typically only need a plug and water, however, they do not cool as well as bigger units. Here are their pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Great for personal use
  • Move from room-to-room
  • Easy to use and install

Cons:

  • Not energy efficient
  • Need cleaning after each use to avoid germ growth

Man with his face in front of a fan Man with his face in front of a fan

How to keep your apartment cool without an AC unit

If none of these options work for you, there are other ways to keep yourself cool this summer. Here is a list of other options to consider:

  • Installing fans
  • Purchasing dark blinds to block the sun
  • Putting cooling sheets on your bed
  • Switching out your light bulbs to ones that produce less heat
  • Opening your windows at night
  • Cooking outside

Stay cool as a cucumber

While the summer heat is great for outdoor activities and vacations, it’s not so great for your apartment. Keeping your place cool throughout these hot months is essential. There is nothing worse than being uncomfortable in your own living space. The good news is there are many different options to consider when thinking about the best air conditioner for your apartment.

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A Look into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is a government program that was created with the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 .

The goal was to help professionals working in public service who have more federal student loans than their public sector salaries allow them to easily repay.

It’s aim is to ensure that the best and the brightest don’t feel as though they have to leave these important jobs to join corporate America just so they can pay down their student debt.

an income-driven repayment plan .

There are four income-driven repayment plans to choose from; There’s Pay As You Earn, income-based repayment, income-contingent repayment, or Revised Pay as You Earn. This will likely allow you to pay less per month toward your loans than you would on the standard plan.

There are separate eligibility requirements for these plans, so be sure to check if you qualify.

3. Certifying your employment. To do this, print out an Employment Certification form and get your employer to fill it out and send it in for approval. The Federal Student Aid website suggests filling this form out annually or at least every time you switch jobs.

You can also use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Help Tool to find qualifying employers and get the forms that you’ll need to fill out.

4. Making 120 qualifying monthly payments on your student loans while you’re employed by a qualified public service employer. What if you switch employers? So long as you are still working for a qualifying employer, you’ll still qualify.

5. After you make the final payment, you can apply for forgiveness. You fill out an application , send it in, and wait. Then (hopefully!) you can celebrate your loan forgiveness.

The Current State of the Program

Because the program was created in 2007, the first people to qualify to have their loans forgiven applied for forgiveness in September 2017. But while the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the program could cost just under $24 billion in the next 10 years , and the U.S. Government Accountability Office believes that more than four million student loan borrowers qualify for the program, some aren’t aware that it exists. And even more graduates have gotten bad information from loan servicers that rendered them ineligible.

In 2018, just 1% of applicants were approved for loan forgiveness through PSLF. In November 2020, the US Department of Education released updated information indicating that 2.4% of applicants have been approved for PSLF.

Pros and Cons of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The Advantages of the Program Are Pretty Straightforward:

1. Your balance of student loans are forgiven after a set time, which can be a relief. This works as a kind of bonus to make up for the low pay people working in the public sector may earn.

2. The amount forgiven usually isn’t considered income, so you aren’t taxed on it (that means you don’t have to save additional money to account for the IRS bill). There are other loan forgiveness programs that will forgive your loans, but you might see a big tax bill when they do.

3. You get rewarded for being a do-gooder (just like your mom promised you would). It will feel great to know that you’re making a difference, and your government appreciates it enough to give you a break on your federal student loans.

4. You may pay less monthly because you’re on an income-driven plan. This means paying out less of your hard-earned cash every month.

The Disadvantages of the Program Are That:

1. The program is only open to those with certain types of employers. And it’s contingent on you staying with a qualifying public service employer for 10 years, which might not be a guarantee.

2. Some people aren’t aware of the program, which is partly because of a lack of education by employers, loan servicers, and schools.

3. There are a lot of hoops to jump through to get your loans forgiven. Sounds fun, right? Plus, if you don’t jump through a hoop properly, you could jeopardize your forgiveness.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. This program is available to full-time teachers who have completed five consecutive years of teaching in a low-income school. This program also has strict eligibility requirements that must be met in order to receive forgiveness.

These federal forgiveness programs do not apply to private student loans. If you are looking for ways to reduce your interest rate or monthly payments on private student loans, refinancing with a private lender could be an option.

It is important to mention that refinancing your federal student loans with a private lender may make you ineligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program should you choose that route.

The Takeaway

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program can be one way for eligible borrowers to have their federal student loans forgiven. The program has stringent requirements that cna make successfully receiving forgiveness through PSLF challenging.

Refinancing is another option that can allow borrowers to secure a competitive interest rate on student loans. Refinancing federal loans eliminates them from borrower protections.

Interested in seeing if you qualify for a lower interest rate? Check out SoFi’s student loan refinancing to find out.



IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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Source: sofi.com

The New FICO Score That Could Help Car Buyers

Buying a car with bad credit is possible—it’s just going to cost you. You’ll probably have a higher interest rate and require a bigger down payment, and you may have a much smaller selection to choose from than someone with a better credit history.

Here’s how to go about buying a car with bad credit and what you’ll need to be aware of to avoid being overcharged.

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1. Check Your Credit
2. Improve Your Score
3. Fix Credit Errors
4. Know What You Can Pay
5. Make a Bigger Down Payment
6. Get a Shorter Loan
7. Work with a Bad Credit Car Dealer
8. Get Preapproved
9. Get a Co-signer
10. Comparison Shop
11. Read the Fine Print
12. Refinance

Buying a Car With Bad Credit

If you have poor or bad credit, buying a vehicle requires some common steps that people with good credit don’t necessarily need to worry about. Consider taking these steps when buying a car with bad credit.

1. Check Your Credit

If your credit is poor, you may be stuck paying a higher interest rate until you can improve your credit scores. Your credit score is a huge factor when it comes to the interest rate and credit financing you will receive for your auto loan—or if you’ll be approved at all. You’ll want to go into this process knowing what your score is and what your options are.

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Check your credit from all three major credit bureaus several months before you begin your car shopping journey so you have time to rebuild your credit if possible. Track your credit history to determine the areas where you can most improve before applying for a car loan.

2. Improve Your Score

There is no official minimum credit score you need to buy a car, but a higher score will open up more options and better rates. According to Experian, the average credit score for used car purchases at the end of 2018 was 659.

If your score is below 660, look for ways to improve your score before applying for a car loan. Your free Credit Report Card from Credit.com will help you determine the most efficient ways to improve your score: paying off debt, clearing up errors or taking care of old collection accounts could bump you over that coveted 700 threshold. Delaying the car finance process to improve your poor credit score and rebuild your credit can save you money in the long run.

3. Fix Credit Errors

If you find mistakes on your credit reports, fixing those errors could bring your score up quite a bit. If possible, give yourself at least 30 days to dispute credit report mistakes before you start car shopping and looking for an auto finance company or submit a loan application. If you think this is your best option, you can try DIY credit repair, or work with a credit repair service such as those from Lexington Law.

4. Know What You Can Pay

Whether or not you’re able to improve your credit score, you should know what you can afford to pay before you start shopping—and stay committed to your budget. Auto loan calculators are helpful tools to use when you are trying to determine how much car you can afford. These calculators can also provide you with an estimate of what you will be paying for the entire term of the auto loan, interest included.

〉 Try it now: Auto Loan Calculator

5. Make a Bigger Down Payment

If your score is still on the low side and you don’t have more time to rebuild your credit before purchasing a car, be prepared to put a large chunk of money down. If you’re able to put down more money, you can borrow less money—which will usually mean more savings overall. How much you have to put down on a car with bad credit depends on how low your score is (and why) as well as the price of the car and the dealer you’re working with. In general, at least $1,000 or 10% of the purchase price is recommended.

If you’re unable to put any money down, your options will be severely limited. You may be able to buy a car from a private seller who is willing to take payments, but this scenario is unlikely.

6. Get a Shorter Loan

Longer loans are generally considered a higher risk: there’s more time for you to potentially default on the loan, so the interest rates tend to be higher. The monthly payments will be higher for shorter loans, however, so make sure you are able to fit this into your budget with some room to spare.

7. Work with a Bad Credit Car Dealer

If you need a car now and have a credit score that falls below the 600 range, you may need to go to bad credit car dealerships that specialize in no-credit or poor-credit buyers. These dealerships will work with your credit history to get approval, but interest rates will likely be high and terms may be unfavorable.

8. Get Preapproved

Getting preapproval for auto financing from a bank or credit union could better prepare you for the car shopping process. This preapproval process analyzes your income, expenses, credit score and credit report and determines if you qualify for an auto loan from the lender and how much the lender would be willing to lend. Submitting your paperwork early and learning what obstacles you face could spare you a lot of headaches later when going through the loan approval process.

9. Get a Co-signer

If you have a poor credit score, it may be helpful to get a co-signer for your loan application. Not all lenders offer this option, so consider this carefully before moving forward.

10. Comparison Shop

Always shop around for your loan. You never know what options are available until you look. Look for the best possible terms and make sure that you can actually afford the payments so you don’t end up negatively affecting your credit even more. It’s also a good idea to compare rates from other lenders like banks or credit unions before settling on a loan straight from the dealership.

11. Read the Fine Print

The fine print can make a big difference in the overall purchase price of the vehicle, especially if your credit means a high interest rate. Make sure there’s no prepayment penalty so you’re not fined for paying off a loan quicker than agreed, and avoid pricey add-ons that increase the sales price.

12. Refinance

Auto loan refinancing could help lower your auto loan rates and your monthly payment, which could end up saving you hundreds over the life of the loan. For loan refinancing, you typically want a strong history of making on-time payments for at least 12 months. However, keep in mind that the loan refinancing will also take your credit history and current credit scores into account as well. So, as always, continue working diligently to improve and rebuild your credit rating.

Key Takeaways

Whether or not you can get a car loan with bad credit depends on many factors. If you follow these tips, you may be able to get an auto loan and save money even with poor credit scores.

You can view your credit score and get an easy-to-understand Credit Report Card for free at Credit.com or via the mobile app for iPhone and Android. Start by taking a look at what factors are having the most impact on your scores and credit rating so you know what to address first.

Source: credit.com