Advertiser Disclosure

College Students and Recent Grads, Pay Down My Debt

3 Steps to Handle Being Mistreated by a Student Loan Servicer

Written By

mortar board cash

A college diploma no longer promises a guaranteed path to success. A harsh reality that hits after the excitement of finally completing college dwindles down and the pressure to find a good paying job sets in. Deciding on whether or not you should embark on an extended vacation after four grueling years of study should be a no brainer, but the reality of student loan repayment quickly extinguishes any thoughts of lying on a beach.

Borrowers know that time is of the essence. The six-month grace period post-graduation is crucial in building a solid financial future. However, some borrowers aren’t able to find a job within that six-month time span, and if they do, their entry-level pay may barely cover living expenses. The last thing borrowers need in times of financial hardship is maltreatment by their student loan servicer. In fact, servicers are required by law to work with struggling borrowers, yet some do the complete opposite.

The alarming part of all this is that a majority of borrowers aren’t even aware of the fact that they’re being mistreated. In fact, in the midst of supervising for compliance with federal consumer financial laws, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that one or more student loan servicers were:

  • Allocating payments to maximize late fees
  • Misrepresenting minimum payments
  • Charging illegal late fees
  • Failing to provide accurate tax information
  • Misleading consumers about bankruptcy protections
  • And abusing the ever-popular debt collection calls to consumers at illegal times.

If you believe that you’re a victim of mistreatment by your student loan servicer then you’ve already started the three-step process.

Step 1: Identify problems

You have successfully identified your issue and are ready to start the resolution process.

Step 2: Gather relevant evidence

Just saying that you have an issue isn’t enough; you need relevant proof to support your claims. Relevant evidence includes:

  • Promissory Notes that outline the any agreements made between you and your loan servicer
  • Bills
  • Canceled checks
  • Correspondence between you on your loan servicer via phone, email or snail mail

Step 3: Make Contact

Now that you’ve identified your problem and gathered relevant evidence to support your case, you can now contact your loan servicer. If you’re not sure who your loan servicer is, you can find out at http://www.nslds.ed.gov. Prior to making contact with your servicer keep the following tips in mind:

  • Take detailed notes of all conversations and be sure to follow up in writing so there is a physical record of what has been said and done.
  • Request a copy of your customer service history. Some loan servicers make available copies of the notes that customer service representatives make on their accounts.
  • When you speak with someone on the phone, take down the representative’s name, when the call took place, and what was said.
  • Save the originals of all receipts, bills, letters, and e-mails regarding your account. Be sure to provide copies of the originals if you are asked for them. Send letters via certified mail, with return receipt requested.
  • No matter how frustrating the situation, always be polite and courteous.
  • Request for a response at a reasonable times, and be sure to tell the customer service representative how you can be reached.

Problem not solved?

To be sure that you’ve done everything in your power to resolve your student loan problem take this self-resolution test.

For Federal Student loans: If after completing the self-resolution test you find that you are in need of further assistance, contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group to request a consultation. They will collect information about your case and offer assistance in identifying a suitable resolution.

For Private Student Loans: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently started accepting student loan complaints. They will forward your issue to the company, provide you with a tracking number and keep you updated on the status of your complaint.

Need more help?

Although there is little recourse for private student loan issues, you can still get help with federal student loans through the Federal Student Aid’s Myeddebt.com. Through this portal, you can get information on how much you owe on your defaulted federal student loans, your payment history, and options for resolving your issues. You can also access forms to request a hearing, review, or discharge of your debt, as well as forms to submit a complaint.

Ignoring your own debt won’t make it go away, so do yourself a favor and seek help as soon as possible.

newsletter-1Want regular updates about the best financial products available? Then sign up for our Price Checker Newsletter. Twice a month, we’ll deliver the best-of-the-best right to your inbox.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Disclaimer

Student Loan
earnest

Refinance with Earnest

Refinancing rates from 3.21% APR. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.

Advertiser Disclosure

Earning Cashback

Apple Pay: The Future of How to Buy Everything?

Written By

 

Last week, Apple released iOS 8.1 and along with it, its new mobile payments platform, Apple Pay. Apple Pay isn’t the first of its kind; companies like Google have provided the option to pay using your phone for years. Apple Pay however, is the first mobile payments service available to those that have the iPhone 6, or 6 Plus.

Right now, Apple Pay supports Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, in addition to a handful of national banks. If you have a smaller bank or credit union, chances are you’re out of luck for now. However, Apple says that 500 more banks will be on board by next year and notably Barclays, Navy Federal Credit Union, USAA, US Bank and PNC will be on-boarded later this year.

Getting set up on Apple Pay is easy

Once you’ve installed iOS 8.1 on your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, you simply add your credit cards to the service. Adding your card is as simple as taking a picture of it. The iPhone 6 camera will grab your card number and expiration date automatically. Once you’ve snapped a picture of your card, you just confirm the information, add the security code from the back of your card and you’re good to go!

Some banks like Bank of America may require a quick call to customer service to confirm. But all in all, that’s really all there is to it.

Start paying using your phone

Once you’ve gotten Apple Pay set up, and added your cards onto the service, all that’s left to do is test it out.

According to Apple, there are 220,000 stores and retailers that support Apple Pay. The mobile payment platform also works with mobile shopping apps.

Purchasing an item at Apple Pay’s launch partner stores, like Duane Reade drugstores and Macy’s, is as simple as holding the iPhone 6 in front of the credit card terminal and using your thumb to authenticate the purchase.

If you’re a city dweller, you’ll even be able to use Apple Pay to pay for cab rides. Apple Pay is fast and seamless, you don’t have to open an app, enter a PIN, or even wake your iPhone up from sleep mode. You just wave it in front of the pay terminal and authenticate the purchase with the Touch ID button.

Credit card security concerns

With countless retailers being hacked for our personal data, consumers naturally have reservations about this innovative new way of making purchases. However, with Apple Pay, the credit card data and fingerprint authentication are stored on a secure chip on the iPhone itself, making it much harder for a hacker to access any personal information.

Your name, credit card number, and security code are never shown to the retailer where you are shopping. In fact, Apple Pay could be making a difference in credit card security altogether. Only time will tell, but if so, this could be the most revolutionary part of the whole platform.

Technical difficulties

With all new technological advances, there are glitches.

According to CNN Tech reporter Samuel Burke, some users have reported being charged twice for single transactions made with the mobile payment service. Burke himself claimed that he was double billed for every Apple Pay purchase made with his Bank of America card. Multiple Twitter users reported the same problem, and coincidently seem to be banking with BofA.

Bank of America claims Apple Pay is responsible for the technical issue. However, in a recent statement, Bank of America apologized for the glitches and agreed to reimburse all duplicate charges made with Apple Pay. Apple on the other hand have no way of authenticating these reported duplicate charges because for security reasons, the company does not store any of its user’s personal data. Apple assured iPhone 6 users that a quick fix to this problem is underway.

The bottom line

Apple’s mobile payments service has some success, and some failures. Though Apple Pay is simple to use, there are still many places where mobile payments systems aren’t accepted, so don’t plan on leaving home without your wallet anytime soon. Until then, do get used to paying with your phone because the convenience of a mobile wallet will soon eclipse the use of cash and credit cards in the near future.

Want regular updates about the best financial products out there? Then sign up for our Price Checker Newsletter. Twice a month, we’ll deliver the best-of-the-best right to your inbox.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Advertiser Disclosure

College Students and Recent Grads

10 Questions Every Student Should Ask the Financial Aid Office

Written By

mortar board cash

 

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into the college of your dreams, unfortunately, that acceptance letter didn’t state that you’ll be attending college tuition free. Perhaps your parents saved up for you to attend or maybe you plan on taking on a part-time job. Either way, tuition plus those extra expenses that come along with being a student are a bit too much to bear.

Luckily, you’ve got options. Colleges have financial aid offices, which may feel for some like a magical place you can go to receive money. If you both qualify and uphold your end of the bargain, you can actually receive money to cover most, if not, all of your educational expenses. But, don’t just walk in there blindly and expect a handout.

To save yourself from an overwhelmingly long wait, schedule a formal interview with your financial aid officer. This way, you have ample time to ask all the necessary questions needed to be sure that your specific needs are met.

According to Patrick Wong, a financial aid representative at Brooklyn College, students should be prepared to ask the financial aid office at their school 10 important questions to maximize the odds of receiving financial aid or obtaining scholarships.

1) What is the total cost of the program including books, fees, tuition and housing?

“Once a student receives a financial aid offer, knowing the true cost can help the student compare the bottom line at any of the schools they’re considering,” Wong explained.

Don’t assume the sticker price on the college’s website is showing you the full picture of what it costs to attend the school. Wong insists that students inquire about student fees, room and board, average book costs per semester, and miscellaneous items that will appear on your student bill.

2) Does your college have a full-need financial aid policy?

The majority of U.S colleges and universities are committed to meeting the full amount of demonstrated financial need for all admitted students. This aid may be met through grants, scholarships, work-study, and loans (federal or institutional). However, if your college doesn’t offer a full-need policy, you may need to find alternate funding sources, such as private student loans to help cover left over expenses.

3) Is there one application for financial aid?

Many schools use one form to determine your eligibility for any and all financial aid available, but according to Wong, not all schools work this way.

“Some colleges require individual applications for separate awards, such as department grants or alumni scholarship programs. Ask the financial aid office to ensure that you aren’t missing any opportunities,” says Wong.

4) Is there a deadline to apply for financial aid?

You definitely don’t want to be the one that misses out on receiving money for school because you were unaware of the deadline.

“There are many deadlines to meet during the college application process, so it’s easy to get confused or even miss a date if you’re not careful,” explains Wong.

Although the federal deadline for filling the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FASA) is June 30th of each year, every state and college has its own deadline. Be sure to ask the college’s financial aid office for deadlines concerning the FASA and any scholarship applications you may be submitting.  It will be best to set reminders in your phone calendar or write down deadlines on a desk calendar to remind yourself of impending due dates.

5) How do I know if I qualify for financial aid?

There are a number of factors that determine whether or not you qualify for aid like: the number of people in your household, number of students in college, price of the college, parents’ income, income taxes paid and so forth. Wong suggests that students use the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Calculator to determine their eligibility to receive aid.

6) What types of scholarships are available?

Depending on the college, grade point average, and other factors, you may be eligible for need-based, merit-based, or other types of scholarships.

“Some schools will offer generous scholarships based on your academic and athletic abilities, as well as participation in certain clubs, organizations, and societies,” says Wong.

Be sure to ask sure to ask if the awards are competitive or given to any admitted student who meets the criteria.

7) Are scholarships renewable?

If any one of the available scholarships is renewable, it’s important that you inquire about what you must do to keep the awards. Wong insists that students ask about required enrollment (full-time or part time), expected grade point average, and other stipulations that may result in the loss of the award.

8) How will outside scholarships affect my financial aid?

Some colleges offer a very attractive financial aid package the first year, only to reduce the aid offer the following year. Knowing this upfront will help you determine the long term costs of attending the school of your choice.

9) When will my financial aid offer be mailed to me?

“It’s good to know when to expect offer letters so that you can give yourself time to review and consider all possibilities,” says Wong.

All too often, students will accept admission to one college, only to receive a better financial aid offer from another later. Save yourself the regret by waiting for all prospective offers before making a decision. Remember, you can always change your mind after sending in your deposit – and sometimes even after decision deadlines depending on the school. You may have to sacrifice your deposit, but a few hundred dollars is likely worth changing your mind if it saves you thousands in the long run.

10) Will you match another college’s financial aid offer?

Hey, doesn’t hurt to ask right? If you find that you really love one college, but another is offering a better financial aid package, check to see if the financial aid department will match the offer.

“Depending on the type of year, the college may have access to additional funding and may be able to offer you more generous package, so go ahead and ask,” insists Wong.

Knowing how you’re going to finance your education is the most important part of your college career. By visiting the financial aid office and asking the right questions, you can attend the college of your dreams for a lot less than the advertised sticker price.

Have questions? Get in touch with us via Twitter (@Magnify_Money) or email ([email protected]).

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Disclaimer

Private Student Loan

Need a student loan?

Apply in as little as 3 minutes or less with College AVE.

earnest