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Should You Use a Personal Loan to Pay Off Student Loans?

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Repaying student loans can be a long and stressful process, and an opportunity to take a shortcut can seem appealing. One option that interests some borrowers is to take out a personal loan and use the money to pay off your student debt.

By swapping your student loans with a personal loan, you might be able to change your monthly payment amount, consolidate your bills and save money by lowering your interest rate. Those are all potentially helpful benefits, but a personal loan isn’t likely the best way to go about it.

Learn more, including the pros and cons of using a personal loan to pay off student loans, along with other options that could help you manage and pay off your student loans.

Can you use a personal loan to repay student loans?

If you get approved for a personal loan, whether or not you can use the money to pay off your student loans depends on the agreement you have with your lender. Some lenders explicitly say you can’t use their personal loans to pay for educational expenses or refinance student loans.

However, if your loan contract doesn’t have these provisions, you may be able to use the funds to pay off some or all of your student loans. You’ll then need to repay your personal loan based on your new loan terms.

4 benefits of using a personal loan to pay off your student debt

Many of the potential benefits borrowers could reap by using a personal loan to pay off student loan can be achieved by using any type of lower-rate loan to pay off your student loans. If you do decide to use the personal loan option, compare your rates and terms from multiple lenders to ensure you get the best deal.

1. You might have fewer loan payments

If you use a personal loan to pay off more than one student loan, you’ll have fewer loans to manage each month. Consolidating your debt can make it easier to track your bills and stay on top of your finances. However, if you use automated payments to pay your student loans (which may come with an interest rate discount) then managing payments may not have been especially difficult before.

2. You could lower your interest rate

You may be able to qualify for a personal loan that has a lower interest rate than your student loan, which can help you save money. However, there are also companies that offer student loan refinancing, and their rates often start lower than personal loan rates.

3. You can release a cosigner

Borrowers with private student loans may have a cosigner who helped them qualify for the loan or get a lower interest rate. The cosigner will no longer be tied to the debt once you repay the student loan with your personal loan. Assuming you qualified for the personal loan without a cosigner, the new debt will be entirely yours to repay.

4. It may be easier to discharge the debt in bankruptcy

It can be especially difficult to get student loans discharged in bankruptcy. A personal loan might not be treated as an educational loan during the bankruptcy, which could make it easier to get the debt discharged.

However, if you paid off your student loans using a personal loan with the intention of then declaring bankruptcy, that could be considered fraud and the debt may not be dischargeable.

6 cons of using a personal loan to pay off your student debt

The cons stack up higher than the pros in this case. Some people may benefit from using a personal loan to pay off student loans, but for most borrowers, it probably isn’t the best idea.

1. Many of the pros could be achieved with student loan refinancing

You should consider all your funding options if you want to pay off your student loans by getting a new loan. And if you can qualify for a low-interest personal loan, you may also be able to get approved for student loan refinancing.

You’ll receive many of the same benefits, such as consolidating debts, lowering interest rates and releasing a cosigner if you use a private student loan refinancing lender. Additionally, your new private student loan could still be eligible for some student loan repayment assistance programs and tax benefits, and you may be able to get an even lower interest rate than you could get on a personal loan.

2. Personal loans aren’t eligible for student loan repayment assistance programs

Federal and private student loans may be eligible for a variety of student loan repayment programs. These include employer-based programs that are offered to employees as a benefit and government-funded programs that may be available if you work in a public service or high-need area, including nurses, doctors, volunteers, military members, and attorneys.

These programs often stipulate that they only help repay student loans, so if you transfer your student debt into a personal loan you’ll likely become ineligible.

3. Personal loans aren’t eligible for forgiveness, cancellation and discharge programs

In addition to missing out on assistance programs, if you currently have federal student loans, they may be eligible for federal forgiveness and discharge programs. These include the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, Perkins loan cancellation or closed school discharge. Private student loans, refinanced student debt, and personal loans aren’t eligible for these programs.

4. Personal loans won’t qualify for the student loan interest tax deduction

The interest you repay on your student loans could qualify you for a tax deduction that can lower your taxable income by up to $2,500. Personal loan interest payments don’t qualify for this deduction.

Eligibility and the deduction amount can depend on your income, tax filing status and whether someone else claims you as a dependent on his or her tax return. You can use one of the IRS’ interactive tax assistant tools to see if you currently qualify for the deduction.

5. Your monthly payments could increase

Personal loan lenders offer a variety of repayment terms, but many likely won’t offer a repayment term of more than five or seven years. This is much shorter than many student loans’ 10- to 20-year terms (or sometimes longer), and as a result, your monthly payment may be much higher.

6. You may have to pay origination fees

Some personal loan lenders charge an origination fee, often a percentage of the amount you borrow. The fee may be taken out before the loan is disbursed. For example, with a 5% fee on a $10,000 personal loan, you’ll receive $9,500 and then have to repay the full $10,000.

The origination fee should be included in the personal loan’s APR, which you can compare with your current student loans’ rates and the potential APR from other lenders.

3 better ways to repay student loans

1. Check out your repayment plan options

If you’re considering refinancing your student loans to lower your monthly payments, look at all your current repayment plan options first. With federal student loans, you may be eligible for a variety of income-driven plans that can lower your monthly payment based on your discretionary income.

If you’re looking to pay off your federal student loans as quickly as possible, you may want to choose the option with the shortest repayment period — the 10-year standard repayment plan. Although your monthly payments may be higher than they’d be on an income-driven plan, you’ll pay off the loan sooner and pay less interest overall.

Private student loans may not have alternative repayment plans to choose from, although some lenders temporarily lower your payment amount, interest rate or let you stop making payments during a financial hardship (such as losing your job). These options can make it easier to manage your loans in the short term but will cost you more money in the long run.

With federal and private student loans, you can always prepay your loan without having to worry about a prepayment penalty.

2. Look for repayment assistance programs

There are a variety of student loan repayment assistance programs (LRAPs) that may give you extra money for your student loans or make direct payments to your loan services.

Student Loan Hero has a list of companies that may offer an LRAP as an employee benefit. MagnifyMoney also has in-depth guides to loan repayment options for nurses and attorneys.

Note: MagnifyMoney and Student Loan Hero are both owned by LendingTree.

3. Consider refinancing your student loans

Once you’ve graduated, built a good credit history and have a steady income, you may qualify for student loan refinancing. Similar to using a personal loan to pay off student loans, student loan refinancing involves using a new student loan to pay off your current student loans.

Refinancing student loans isn’t without its own list of pros and cons. For instance, your new loan will be a private student loan and it won’t be eligible for federal forgiveness, cancellation or discharge programs. You may not want to refinance federal student loans if you think you’ll ever need these benefits or options.

On the other hand, student loan refinancers may offer you lower interest rates, often don’t charge origination fees and have comparable loan terms to current student loans. You can also compare lenders and loan offers before refinancing, as your new private student loan rate, term and benefits can vary depending on which lender you use.

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.

Louis DeNicola
Louis DeNicola |

Louis DeNicola is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Louis at [email protected]

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The Most (And Least) Charitable Places in the U.S.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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In order to find the most charitable places in America, researchers analyzed data for the 100 largest metro areas.

Giving to charity is a good thing, generally speaking. Not only may you support a cause you care about, but it could help lower your tax burden if you itemize deductions.

However, despite these benefits, our researchers found that certain places in the U.S. are more charitable than others. They compared 2017 itemized tax returns and analyzed data for the 100 largest metro areas to determine which places in the U.S. were the most charitable.

Key findings

  • Ogden, Utah, is the most charitable place in the U.S., followed by Birmingham, Alabama and Memphis.
  • In Birmingham, more than 89% of tax returns itemized deduction donations to charity.
  • Southern metro areas tended to be the most charitable. Seven of the top 10 most charitable places are in the South.
  • Religious centers tended to be more charitable than non-religious. The religious South and Utah tended to be the more charitable, while the less-religious Northeast tended to score the worst in our metrics. One obvious explanation for this is that church donations are tax-deductible for people who itemize.
  • Springfield, Massachusetts was the least charitable metro area in the study. People itemizing their tax returns there gave just 2% of their income.
  • Springfield’s neighbors were also stingy when it came to giving to charity. Worcester came in second-to-last. Here, tax returns with itemized deductions showed an average of 1.8% of income donated to charity.
  • The poorest who gave to charity tended to be the most generous, although the poorest tended to donate the least often, a fact that has not changed over time. According to 2016 data, Americans who earned at least $1 but less than $10,000 donated 14% of their income on average, though just 58.5% of them had charitable deductions.
  • The rich are more likely to have charitable deductions but tend to give a smaller portion of their income.

Rankings: The most charitable U.S. metro areas

This map shows how the 100 largest metro areas in the U.S. ranked according to the percentage of people who took charitable donation deductions on their tax returns in 2017. Areas represented by a blue dot are the most charitable, while those represented with orange dots are the least charitable. Purple and red dots represent areas that fall in the middle of our rankings.
The most charitable metro areas are located in states that are known for being heavily religious — Utah and the Bible Belt in the Southeast. The Northeast tends to be less religious and is blanketed with metro areas that have low donation rates.

Utah is a standout state when it comes to charitable giving, with two metro areas in the top 10. Ogden claims the top spot, and Salt Lake City comes in sixth place. Most of the rest of the top 10 is made up of metro areas in the Southeast: Birmingham, Ala. (second), Memphis, Tenn. (third), Atlanta (fourth), and Augusta, Ga. (fifth).
Springfield, Mass., is at the very bottom of our list rankings, with Worcester, Mass., following in the 99th slot. The rest of the bottom five includes: Scranton, Penn. (98th), Allentown, Pa. (96th), and Providence, R.I. (95th). Portland, Ore., represents the west coast as the 97th least charitable metro area on the list.

How charitable Americans are at different income levels

The following graphic shows how rates of charitable giving differ at various income levels. Each blue bar shows the percentage of tax returns on which itemized charitable donations were claimed at each income level. Each purple bar shows the average percentage of one’s income those charitable donations make up in each income bracket.

Overall, 81.9% of people itemized charitable deductions on their tax returns, and those donations make up an average of 3.4% of their income. Those who make more money tend to give to charity more often. Of people making $200,000 or more per year, 91% claim charitable deductions, while only 58.5% of those making less than $10,000 do so.

It’s not those who make the most who give the biggest portion of their income to charity, though. Those who make less than $10,000 a year give the biggest portion of their earnings (14%). Americans who make $100,000 to $199,000 give the smallest proportion of their income at just 2.7%.

Changes in charitable giving by year

In order to determine how charitable Americans are over time, we looked at charitable donations over a 12-year span. The following graphic reveals charitable giving as a percentage of income across various income levels.

Overall, the average percentage of income that’s claimed as a charitable donation has remained at fairly consistent levels between the years of 2004 (3.6%) and 2016 (3.5%). It dipped to a low of 3% in 2008, in the midst of the Great Recession.

Lower income brackets tend to have more ups and downs in charitable giving. In 2004, those making $5,000 or less donated an average 19.4% of their income to charity. But in 2007 and 2012, that average dropped to 14.6%.

Those in the highest income bracket on the graph ($10 million or more) made a significant jump in charitable donations in the last two years we analyzed, with their charitable donations going from 7% to 9.1% of their income.

5 tips if you’re donating to charity

While your intentions to donate to charity may be purely altruistic, if you’re making them, you may as well get credit for them if you can. Here are five things to keep in mind when making charitable contributions:

  • Research charities before donating. Sites such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar provide information about charity missions, as well as how they operate and spend money.
  • Ask for verification of an organization’s tax status before donating. In order for your donation to be tax deductible, it must be made to an organization that qualifies under IRS guidelines as tax-exempt.
  • Remember: You can only claim charitable donations if you itemize your taxes. You won’t qualify for a deduction if you take the standard deduction. If your deductible expenses including charitable donations are greater than the standard exemption ($24,400 for married couples and $12,200 for single taxpayers in 2019) then itemizing can save you money. (If you’re unsure whether itemizing your taxes makes sense, you may need to seek out a pro.)
  • Request and keep your receipts. While you don’t need to submit them with your tax return, if you ever get audited, you want to have them on hand.
  • Keep these two dates in mind. Remember that even though taxes must be filed by April 15 each year, charitable deductions must be made by the end of the calendar year (December 31) in order to be claimed on your taxes for that year.

Methodology

In order to find the most charitable places in the U.S., researchers analyzed data for the 100 largest metro areas. Specifically, we compared them across the following three categories:

  • Percent of itemized returns with charitable donations. Data comes from the IRS and is for the 2017 filing year.
  • Percent of adjusted gross income given to charity. This is the total deducted amount from charitable donations divided by total adjusted gross income for itemized returns. Data comes from the IRS and is for the 2017 filing year.
  • Average itemized charitable donation. This is the total amount donated to charity divided by the number of returns deducting charitable donations. Data comes from the IRS and is for the 2017 filing year.

We then created a score averaging the three percentile ranks each metro scored in each metric. Each metric was given the same weight. For the over-time data, we looked at the percent of adjusted gross income given to charity for each income bracket from 2004 to 2016.

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.

Julie Ryan Evans
Julie Ryan Evans |

Julie Ryan Evans is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Julie here

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Marcus by Goldman Sachs Review: GS Bank Takes on Online Savings, CDs, and Personal Loans

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs savings account

A very high interest rate and no fees make this one of the best savings accounts out there.

APY

Minimum Balance Amount

1.90%

None

  • Minimum opening deposit: None. However, you’ll need to deposit at least $1.00 if you want to earn any interest
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: None

This is a great account for almost anyone. However, before you click that “Learn More” button below, there are a couple of things to know.

No ATMs. First, Marcus by Goldman Sachs doesn’t offer ATM access to your savings account. You’ll either need to deposit or withdraw money by sending in a physical check, setting up direct deposits, or by moving the money to and from your other bank accounts via ACH or wire transfer.

No checking account. Second, Marcus does’t offer a corresponding checking account. That means you can only use this account as an external place to park your cash from your everyday money flow.

Keeping a separate savings account does have its benefits. For example, it’s harder to tempt yourself to withdraw the cash if you’re a chronic over-spender. But, it also means that there might be a delay of a few days if you need to transfer the money out of your Goldman Sachs online savings account and into your other checking account.

How to open a Goldman Sachs online savings account

It’s really easy to open an online savings account with Marcus by Goldman Sachs. You can do it online or over the phone as long as you’re 18 years or older, have a physical street address, and a Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

You’ll be required to sign a form which you can do online, or by mail if you’re opening the account over the phone.

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How their online savings account compares

Marcus’ online savings account can easily be described with one word: outstanding.

You’ll get a relatively high interest rate with this account, which is among the best online savings account rates you’ll find today. In fact, these rates are currently over seven times higher than the average savings account interest rate.

Even better, this account won’t charge you any fees for the privilege of keeping your money stashed there. It’s a tall order to find another bank that offers these high interest rates with terms this good.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs CD rates

Sky-high CD rates, but watch out for early withdrawal limitations.

Term

APY

Minimum Deposit Amount

6 months

0.60%

$500

9 months

0.70%

$500

12 months

2.10%

$500

18 months

2.10%

$500

24 months

2.10%

$500

3 years

2.15%

$500

4 years

2.20%

$500

5 years

2.25%

$500

6 years

2.35%

$500

  • Minimum opening deposit: $500
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $500
  • Early withdrawal penalty:
    • For CDs under 12 months, 90 days’ worth of interest
    • For CDs of 12 months to 5 years, 270 days’ worth of interest
    • For CDs of 5 years or over, 365 days’ worth of interest

Marcus’ CDs work a little differently from other CDs. Rather than having to set up and fund your account all at once, Goldman Sachs will give you 30 days to fully fund your account.

Once open, your interest will be tallied up and credited to your CD account each month. You can withdraw the interest earned at any time without paying an early withdrawal penalty, but heads up: If you withdraw the interest, your returns will be lower than the stated APY when you opened your account.

If you need to withdraw the money from your CD, you can only do so by pulling out the entire CD balance and paying the required early withdrawal penalty. There is no option for partial withdrawals of your cash.

Finally, once your CD has fully matured, you’ll have a 10-day grace period to withdraw the money, add more funds, and/or switch to a different CD term. If you don’t do anything, Marcus will automatically roll over your CD into another one of the same type, but with the current interest rate of the day.

How to open a Goldman Sachs CD

Marcus has made it super simple to open up a CD. First, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old, and have either a Social Security Number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

You can open an account easily online, or call them up by phone. You’ll need to sign an account opening form, which you can do online or via a hard-copy mailed form. Then, simply fund your CD account within 30 days, and you’re all set.

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How their CDs compare

The interest rates that Marcus offers on their CDs are top-notch. In fact, a few of their CD terms are among the current contenders for the best CD rates.

If you’re interested in pursuing a CD ladder approach, Marcus is one of our top picks because each of their CD terms offer above-average rates. This means you can rest easy that you’ll get the best rates for your CD ladder without having to complicate things by spreading out all of your CDs among a handful of different banks.

The only downside to these CDs compared with many other banks is that you can’t withdraw a portion of your cash if you need it. It’s either all-in, or all-out. However, once out, you’re still free to open a new CD with the surplus cash, as long as it’s at least the $500 minimum deposit size.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs personal loan

Personal loans offered by Marcus have low APRs, flexible terms, and no fees.

Terms

APR

Credit Required

Fees

Max Loan Amount

36 to 72 months

6.99%-28.99%

Not specified

None

$40,000

Marcus by Goldman Sachs® personal loans can be used for just about anything, from consolidating debt to financing a large home improvement project. They offer some of the best rates available, with APRs as low as 6.99%, and you’ll not only be able to choose between a range of loan terms, but you can also choose the specific day of the month when you want to make your loan payments.

While there are no specific credit requirements to get a loan through Marcus, the company does try to target those that have “prime” credit, which is usually those with a FICO score higher than 660. Even with a less than excellent credit score, you may be able to qualify for a personal loan from Marcus, though, those that have recent, negative marks on their credit report, such as missed payments, will likely be rejected.

Applicants must be over 18 (19 in Alabama and Nebraska, 21 in Mississippi and Puerto Rico) and have a valid U.S. bank account. You are also required to have a Social Security or Individual Tax I.D. Number.

No fees. Marcus charges no extra fees for their personal loans. There is No origination fee associated with getting a loan, but there are also no late fees associated with missing payments. Those missed payments simply accrue more interest and your loan will be extended.

Defer payments. Once you have made on-time payments for a full year, you will have the ability to defer a payment. This means that if an unexpected expense or lost job hurts your budget one month, you can push that payment back by a month without negatively impacting your credit report.

How to apply for a Marcus personal loan

Marcus by Goldman Sachs offers a process that is completely online, allowing you to apply, choose the loan you want, submit all of your documents, and get approved without having to leave home. Here are the steps that you will complete to get a personal loan from Marcus:

  1. Fill out the information that is required in the online application, including your basic personal and financial information, as well as how much you would like to borrow and what you will use the money for.
  2. After a soft pull on your credit, and if you qualify, you will be presented a list of different loan options that may include different rates and terms.
  3. Once you have chosen the loan you want, you will need to provide additional information to verify your identity. You may also be asked for information that can be used to verify your income and you will need to provide your bank account information so that the money can be distributed.
  4. You will receive your funds 1 – 4 business days after your loan has been approved.

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How their personal loans compare

Marcus offers low APRs and flexible terms with their personal loans, but their main feature is that they have no fees. If you are looking for a straightforward lending experience with no hidden fees or costs, Marcus will be perfect for you since you won’t even have to worry about late fees if you happen to miss a payment.

While Marcus offers some great perks, you may be able to get a lower rate if you choose to go with another lender, such as LightStream or SoFi. Both of these lenders offer lower APR ranges and they don’t charge origination fees, though, LightStream will do a hard pull on your credit to preapprove you.

LendingClub and Peerform both have lower credit requirements than Marcus, but they also charge origination fees and, being P2P lending platforms, you will need to wait for your loan to be funded and you run the risk that other users might not fund your loan.

Overall review of Marcus by Goldman Sachs‘ products

Marcus has really hit it out of the park with their personal loans, online savings, and CD accounts. Each of these accounts offers some of the best features available on the market, while shrinking the fees down to a minuscule, or even nonexistent, amount. Their website is also slick and easy to use for online-savvy people.

The only thing we can find to complain about with Marcus is that they don’t offer an equally-awesome checking account to accompany their other deposit products. Indeed, it seems like Marcus has turned their former hoity-toity image around: Today, they’re a bank that we’d recommend to anyone, even blue-collar folks.

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.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here