Debt Column


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What to do when you realize there’s no way in hell you can pay your student loans

What to do if you realize there's no way in hell you can pay back your student loan debtEver feel like there’s no way you’ll ever pay back your student loans, even if you work 80 hours a week and never paid a dime to anyone but Sallie Mae? Or sell off your organs one-by-one on the black market? Or … well you get the idea.

According to the Federal Reserve, there are more than 500,000 Americans walking around these days with $150,000 or more in student loan debt. Assuming typical terms, they’re probably looking at a monthly payment of more than $1,500 a month.
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 Debt 
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3 ways veterans get screwed financially, and how to fight back

Veterans face special financial challenges associated with their service.On Veterans Day, when we think of the sacrifices made by those who serve in the armed services, we often think of the physical and psychological trauma associated with war. But one thing that’s often overlooked is the financial mess that many veterans face either during their years of service or afterward when trying to transition into civilian life.

Here are three ways military veterans and those currently serving are getting screwed financially, and how they can fight back.
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Struggling financially? The stress might hurt your decision-making

Stress reductionOne of the tenets of the “American Way” is that anyone can “make it,” no matter how dire their circumstances. While this is a comforting thought, the reality might not play out quite so nicely. According to research from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, there are indications that financial stress can reduce the ability to make good long-term decisions.


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 Debt 
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Know Your Rights: Don’t Succumb to Unfair Debt Collection Practices

debt collectionEarlier this month, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau vowed to crack down on unfair debt collection practices. The announcement followed on the heels of a fine levied by the FTC against a debt collection agency for its unfair and illegal practices. Between the record fine of $3.2 million, and the announcement that the CFPB is about to get really serious about cracking down, it’s even more important than ever that consumers know their rights as debtors.

While the argument can be made that those in debt should repay what they owe, it also doesn’t seem right that those in debt should be subjected to harassment. In some cases, debtors are trying to put together a plan to pay down debt, and the constant nagging from debt collectors doesn’t help.

If you are in debt, and collectors are starting to hound you, know your rights under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

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How to Pay Down Debt & Establish a Solid Financial Foundation

Credit Card DebtNotes from Jim: I’ve been fortunate in my adult life to have avoided credit card debt. As a result, I don’t have first hand knowledge of what it’s like to have to repay high interest debt and establish a solid financial foundation. So to help me get that perspective, I worked with Amber of Coupon Connections to come up with a post that I think is helpful for readers looking to make that transition. Please let me know what you think in the comments!

Prompt debt payment is necessary in good money management.

Of the many things that were taught to us in the 12+ years of education, personal financial management was not among them. Yes, we were taught how to count, add, subtract, multiply and divide. But, unless you voluntarily studied financial management, you were never really taught extensively about interest rates, compound interest, risk management, etc.

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Beware Student Debt Relief Scams

GraduationBack in 2010, a Federal Reserve report showed that outstanding student loan debt surpassed outstanding credit card debt. And not too long ago, outstanding student loan debt passed the $1 trillion mark.

Students attending university often have to take out federal and private student loans in order to pay for the rising cost of education. With so much student loan debt out there, there are shady characters popping up to offer debt relief.

Students who don’t understand that they have forbearance and deferment options, as well as income-based repayment on federal loans, might find themselves in worse trouble if they are caught up in student debt relief scams.

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 Debt, Education 
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Where Can You Find Private Student Loans?

College GraduationWhen I went to graduate school at Syracuse University, I had a small scholarship, and federal student loans. However, even with these resources, I still didn’t have quite enough money to pay tuition for my Master’s program.

So I turned to a private student loan to supply the deficiency.

“After students have considered scholarships, grants and federal student loans, their next step is to find private student loans,” says Beatrice Schultz, a licensed College Planning Relief specialist and co-founder of Westface College Planning.

“Private loans come from many sources, including public banks, private group, or individual lenders,” she continues. “All will require a co-signer, ideally with good credit.”

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Do You Qualify for Student Loan Income-Based Repayment Plans?

Graduation HappinessLate in 2011, according to estimates by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, total student loan debt in the United States passed the $1 trillion mark.

That’s a lot of student debt.

Many graduates struggle to find jobs, or work in low-paying jobs that don’t come close to allowing them to afford their student loan payments. It’s a lot of work to pay for college, and many students keep paying for years following graduation.

However, there are options. And you don’t have to just rely on forbearance or deferment. The federal government offers a Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plans for those who have a high amount of debt relative to income.

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