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Not doing this when you apply for student loans could cost you

USA Today – Kellie Ell

“More than half of students read less than 25% of their student loan documents, according to a new study. Many skipped reading them altogether. Those are the results of the 2017 State of Student Loan Debt in America survey, which polled current college students and their parents on their attitudes about managing student loan debt and found that most of America’s college students are flummoxed by the lengthy student loan process.”(more)

Retirement plan: 70% of young parents are making this big money mistake

USA Today – Kathleen Elkins

“According to a new survey from Personal Capital, 70% of Millennial parents say they would prioritize their kid’s college education over their own retirement. Most financial advisers would call that a big mistake. You don’t want to “derail your retirement for your child’s college education when they can get a loan or scholarships,” certified financial planner Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz tells CNBC.”(more)

How freezing credit after Equifax will shut you out of some student loans

USA Today – Susan Tompor

“Here’s something student loan borrowers don’t want to hear: The Equifax data breach now could cast a shadow on applying for some college loans, too. After the Equifax data breach hit in early September, many consumer watchdogs —including the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. PIRG — advocated that consumers consider putting a freeze on their credit report if they felt their Social Security number and other data had been compromised.”(more)

College reality

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

In a few weeks tens of thousands of young Americans will leave home and begin the “college experience”. As they descend on campuses across the country, they will be greeted by impressive buildings, acclaimed alumni, elaborate social functions, and luxury hotel-like accommodations. In addition to getting used to their new “homes”, these newly minted adults will be asked to select majors that prepare them for post college employment.

Interestingly, the university structure and incentives may not always be aligned with what is best for students.

Universities are broken into departments. Each department is responsible for running a profitable business or demonstrating that there is enough demand for its offerings that it would be foolish for the university to close the department. Departments like engineering generally have large research budgets, so they are less concerned about student enrollment than departments like the humanities and social sciences that have fewer research dollars.

As might be expected, the departments with fewest research dollars generally work hardest to convince students to select majors within their purview. Until 15-20 years ago, this model worked well, because it was possible to obtain high quality employment with a wide variety of university degrees.

Technology has improved access to information so much that many jobs related to compiling, organizing, and disseminating information have already been or are being eliminated. Careers that have been hardest hit are law, social sciences, and the humanities.

Since there are fewer job opportunities for people with these degrees, many college graduates find it difficult to procure jobs that pay a premium over what was available to them before they attended college.

This shift creates a dilemma for the parents of a child who did not develop a proclivity for math in high school. Does the parent have the resources to send the child to college so he/she can graduate without debt and go on to a job that he/she most likely could have obtained without attending college? Is it better to consider a high paying trade like plumbing or electricity, rather than expending money on college? Or is it wiser to encourage the child to go to a community college and learn math, so he/she has the skills to obtain a college degree with higher earning potential?

It is a tough decision, but is something that should be discussed before a family blindly spends large sums of money on a college education that does little to improve a child’s long term earning potential.

Graduating? Here’s What to Know About Your Student Loans

The New York Times – Ann Carrns

“Whether the speaker at your college graduation is the Apple chief executive Tim Cook (M.I.T.) or the actress Eva Longoria (Knox College), the event signals the end of your undergraduate career — and moves you that much closer to having to repay your student loans. Most federal student loans come with at least a six-month grace period, a time during which you don’t have to make monthly payments. For spring graduates, that means repayment is likely to begin sometime in November or December. That gives new graduates some breathing room — to find a job, rent or buy an apartment, or buy a car — before starting to make payments. But many borrowers, despite studying hard to earn a degree, are uneducated about the type of loan they have, how long it will take to repay, what their monthly payment is likely to be and other important details, according to research from Prudential Financial. So they may be caught off guard when it comes time to begin repayment.”(more)

What science says about avoiding student debt

USA today – Jen Zettel

“Researchers at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab study how people pay for college, whether college is considered affordable and how public policy affects universities, students and their families. The lab is composed of people from various disciplines — economists like Anderson, sociologists, public policy analysts — who ask questions about college in Wisconsin and find the answers. A few of the Wisconsin HOPE Lab’s findings.”(more)