Archive for 'Student Loans'

Student Loans: Here's How to Find the Best Options

Student debt has surpassed credit card debt for the first time in U.S. history, and the amount of outstanding student loans is expected to exceed $1 trillion in 2011. College seniors graduated with an average of $25,250 in student loans in 2010, up 5 percent from the previous year, according to The Project on Student Debt.

The issue has prompted U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to call on higher education officials to work with greater urgency and creativity in reducing college costs, and spurred the Occupy Wall Street movement to set up a campaign focused on student debt.

Sourcebooks, a leading provider in college-bound resources for students and educators, recognizes the need for sound financial advice and guidance when it comes to the college search process. The publisher recently formed a new education division, Sourcebooks EDU, which made its first acquisition on Friday of managingcollegecost.com and myfinancialfit.com. The online financial aid resources were founded by veteran admissions and guidance counselor Frank Palmasani, to help families conquer college costs.

“The economic impact of the student debt crisis is one of the big unknowns that we are facing today in this country,” Palmasani said. “The Financial Fit College Search Program is intended to engage students, parents, and high school counselors in a unified quest of finding affordable college options. The ultimate goal is to help families manage their college costs without excessive debt.”

Every year, thousands of college-bound students and parents face the complexity and anxiety associated with filing for and receiving their college financial aid packages, as well as making decisions that will affect them financially for years to come. In a process fraught with myths and misinformation, families often find out at the last minute that the colleges of their choice come with unexpectedly high financial burdens.

“Frank starts with the college search process and provides tools to support families all the way through choosing and paying for college,” Sourcebooks CEO Dominique Raccah said. “Guidance counselors are telling us they cannot act as financial advisors and have no resources available to direct families to as they begin the college process. We’re finally going to be able to provide help.”

Managingcollegecost.com is a free, subscriber-based website that utilizes Palmasani’s vast and varied 25 years of experience to create a valuable resource for students, parents, and college admissions counselors. As users navigate the site, they will see features and links, along with 33 videos dealing with a wide range of issues pertaining to the financial aid process. Palmasani’s blog keeps parents up-to-date on the financial aid timeline while teaching them how they can help their student select the best AND most affordable option.

Building on this vision, Palmasani also created myfinancialfit.com, a subscription-based website designed to help families match their affordability threshold with the net price of colleges. Myfinancialfit.com offers a 10-item confidential and anonymous questionnaire that evaluates tax credits, cash flow, available savings, and reasonable borrowing, and then provides families with a college affordability range.

Sourcebooks EDU plans to make these tools more widely available, as well as enhance these resources with additional video, content, webinars, seminars, books, interactive ebooks, and software tools.

About Frank Palmasani
Frank Palmasani, founder of managingcollegecost.com and myfinancialfit.com, began learning about the financial aid process in 1976, his first year as a high school counselor. In 1981, he moved to the college level eventually becoming a director of admissions. After a twelve-year stint, he returned to the high school arena to a position that he continues to enjoy today, serving as a guidance counselor. Palmasani also has also delivered seminars on the college financial aid and planning process to an estimated 100,000+ people since 1985.

About Sourcebooks
Sourcebooks is an independent publishing house dedicated to sharing our passion for books in a wide variety of genres.  We publish over 300 new titles each year, and are honored to have 28 New York Times bestsellers. Sourcebooks is one of the largest woman-owned book publishers in the country. Visit www.sourcebooks.com for more information.

CONTACT: Liz Kelsch of Sourcebooks, +1-630-536-0595, liz.kelsch@sourcebooks.com

Web Site: http://www.sourcebooks.com

Credit Counseling Now Available for WikiLoan Users

WikiLoan, Inc. (OTCBB: WKLI), a peer-to-peer lending platform, announced today that the Company has signed a deal with Progrexion Marketing, the exclusive marketing firm for Lexington Law, to provide credit counseling for WikiLoan users with poor credit history.

The deal allows the company to offer a value added service to the users who are not credit worthy, while receiving generous affiliate commissions.

“More than 85% of users applying for peer-to-peer loans are not credit worthy.  Instead of flatly rejecting the majority of our users, we believe that getting them back on the road to financial independence is an important way to build credibility and loyalty for our brand.  In addition, Lexington Law has a new program that notifies us when our users meet the baseline credit score for our program that should allow us to convert our users to paying customers,” said Marco Garibaldi, WikiLoan, Inc. CEO.

About WikiLoan

WikiLoan is a Social Network with a focus on finance.  At WikiLoan.com, family and friends can borrow and lend money among themselves at rates suitable to their respective needs.  The company’s website provides repayment schedules and documentation for loans, along with proprietary administrative tools, which enable users to securely pull credit reports and automate the loan repayment process.

About Progrexion Marketing

Progrexion Marketing is the exclusive marketer of Lexington Law.  Progrexion provides a credit counseling affiliate program through Lexington Law that has a history of quality services and a long commitment to credit correction research and development, with 20 years of experience assisting over 1/2 million clients in their credit counseling and repair efforts.

This release contains various forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which represent the company’s expectations or beliefs concerning future events of the company’s financial performance.  These forward-looking statements are further qualified by important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements.  These factors include the effect of competitive pricing, market acceptance of the company’s products and the effects of government regulation.  Results actually achieved may differ materially from expected results included in these statements.

Investors may contact:
Ben Hansel
(720) 288-8495
benh@ttfsco.com

Web Site: http://www.wikiloan.com

Debit Card Use Rising: New Survey

Debit Card Use Rising: New Survey

Throughout the national economic crisis, many consumers have chosen to use debit instead of credit when paying for goods and services, as reported in Credit-Land.com 2009 research. Personal finance expert Carmen Wong Ulrich, author of “The Real Cost of Living,” said recently on “The Early Show” that these introductory rates are being offered strategically, in an attempt to coax Americans back into using their credit cards more frequently. “Then the rates jump, [to] anywhere from 14 to 20 percent, so it becomes incredibly costly,” cautions Wong Ulrich. “You have to know how to use these cards.”

“Our credit card usage has gone way down [since the economic downturn]. And our revolving balances have gone way down,” explained Wong Ulrich. Credit card companies would like to see this trend reverse, and are doing what they can to boost the appeal of credit cards. By transferring balances from high interest credit cards to low interest credit cards, consumers can save themselves a lot of money in interest charges, but only if they pay off the entirety of their outstanding balance before the teaser rate expires.

Roman Shteyn, a financial guru and CEO at Credit-Land.com, advises people to outline a payment plan that will enable them to settle their transferred balance within the time frame of the teaser rate and adjust their budgets accordingly.

“Some credit card companies are offering 0% interest on transferred balances for up to 21 months with no annual fee. That gives you nearly two years to pay off your balance and get out of debt. It’s an amazing opportunity to save money,” says Shteyn.

The consumer trend research team at Credit-Land.com determined the top four balance transfer credit cards favored by consumers.

They are: the Citibank Citi® Platinum Select® MasterCard®, offering a 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months; Discover® Card’s Discover® More Card, which has an 18-month promotional 0% APR on balance transfers; the Platinum Prestige Credit Card by Capital One®, which has 0% APR on transferred balances until December 2012; and Chase’s Chase Freedom® Visa, which offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months plus a $100 cash-back bonus.

If utilized correctly, a balance transfer credit card may seem an excellent tool for a financially struggling individual to pay down some of her personal debt. Denial of an application may become an inquiry mark on your credit history, which you may prevent by knowing your realistic credit potentials.

Contact Details:

Roman Shteyn
Credit-Land.com Inc.
2751 S Ocean Drive
Suite 1202 South
Hollywood, FL 33019
Phone: 1-888-281-1556
Email: press@credit-land.com
Website: http://www.credit-land.com/

Web Site: http://www.credit-land.com

College Students Facing Enormous Financial Challenges

College Students Facing Enormous Financial Challenges-Image by York College of PA via Flickr

 NSLP, a private not-for-profit serving post-secondary institutions, today released an action plan for developing a campus financial education program. The report, titled Financial Capability Now: Why College Students Can’t Wait, provides a framework for student financial success.

The report recommends:

Create a multidisciplinary success team that includes the stakeholders on your campus and engages them to improve the financial capability of students.

  • Identify the financial topics relevant to students. Each campus and student population has a different need, and those needs may change as students progress through their education.
  • Identify the best and most accessible strategy for your campus, and select a delivery method that works for your school.
  • Once you begin your program, promote it to your students in order to get them to participate throughout their college career.
  • Assess the impact of your financial education program. Gather data related to programs and services to highlight the impact on financial capability and to support the need for continued resources moving forward.

The data released today supports the mounting body of evidence that proves financial education is critical for students in higher education. A study by Hartford Financial Services Group shows that only 24 percent of students feel well prepared to deal with the financial challenges that await them after graduation. Financial education improves a student’s financial knowledge, cultivates their money management skills, and increases confidence around financial decision-making.

“In study after study we’re seeing the same thing—students want to increase their financial capability,” says Kate Trombitas, NSLP vice president of financial education. “It is time for campuses to work creatively and collaboratively to respond to this need. This report makes it clear that students can’t wait for this critical piece of education; colleges need to respond.”

In addition, many students rely on credit cards to pay for textbooks and tuition when financial assistance fails to cover their expenses. Therefore, along with mounting student loan debt, young adults also face growing credit card debt. Overwhelming debt creates stress that many students are unable to manage. Financial education not only helps relieve stress related to excessive debt, but it also can be proactive in providing students with the resources they need to make informed choices before they borrow.

While some schools have implemented financial education programs on their campuses, the report explains why schools need to go beyond simply offering a program to their students.

“Schools must assess the impact of their programs to ensure they are meeting the unique needs of their student population,” Trombitas says. “When it comes to financial education programs, one size does not fit all situations. More than collecting information about how many students they serve in their programs, schools need to collect qualitative data about what students say about their financial issues. Schools must accurately gauge the effectiveness of their programs.”

This report encourages schools to act now to ensure a better financial future for students, schools and our communities. Download the report here.

ABOUT NSLP

Headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, NSLP is a private, not-for-profit company with a 25-year legacy in the higher education marketplace. A former Top-10 student loan guarantor, NSLP continues to be a passionate leader and advocate for student success; providing colleges and universities nationwide with financial education, delinquency prevention, default aversion, financial aid related support, and Title IV training and compliance programs. NSLP collaborates with schools to develop programs that will ultimately help our future generations thrive financially.

CONTACT: CONTACT: Susan Helmink, +1-402-479-6802, SusanH@NSLP.org

Web Site: http://www.nslp.org

Student Loan Payments Go to Bottom of the Pile

With student loan repayment receiving much attention, the crux of the issue is joblessness. The long duration of a poor U.S. economy with near zero job growth is continuing to take a deepening toll on young adults. Faced with the highest joblessness since the end of World War II, young Americans are forced to deal with an increasingly limited number of opportunities for jobs and are delaying major financial and life decisions based on the economy – 27% say they will delay paying off student loans or other debt due to economic factors.

“The heart of the matter here is that young Americans need jobs in order to repay any debts, including student loans, and to plan for the future,” said Paul T. Conway, President of Generation Opportunity and a former Chief of Staff at the US Department of Labor. “The poor economy and a lack of jobs are the central reasons why millions of young Americans have delayed their dreams of buying a home, getting more education, saving for retirement, getting married, or starting a family. Millennials know that more rhetoric from elected leaders and new federal programs are no substitute for employment opportunities and simply having a job. Elected officials in both parties should put as much energy into allowing the private sector to create jobs for the next generation as they do preparing for the next election.”

Generation Opportunity commissioned a poll with the polling company, inc./WomanTrend (April 16 – 22, 2011, +/- 4% margin of error) and a highlighted result for all young Americans ages 18-29 appears below:

  •  77% of young people ages 18-29 either have or will delay a major life change or purchase due to economic factors:
    • 44% delay buying a home;
    • 28% delay saving for retirement;
    • 27% delay paying off student loans or other debt;
    • 27% delay going back to school/getting more education or training;
    • 26% delay changing jobs/cities;
    • 23% delay starting a family;
    • 18% delay getting married.

ABOUT GENERATION OPPORTUNITY

Generation Opportunity is a non-profit, non-partisan 501 (c)(4) organization that seeks to engage everyone from young adults, to early career professionals, college students, young mothers and fathers, construction workers, current service men and women, veterans, entrepreneurs, and all Americans who find themselves dissatisfied with the status quo and willing to create a better tomorrow.

Generation Opportunity operates on a strategy that combines advanced social media tactics with proven field tactics to reach Americans 18-29. The organization’s social media platforms – “Being American” on Facebook and “The Constitution” on Facebook – have amassed a total fan base of more than 1.8 million. Both pages post links to relevant articles and reports from sources ranging from the federal General Accountability Office (GAO), to The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Brookings Institution, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and The Heritage Foundation.

Read about Generation Opportunity here; visit “Being American” on Facebook here and “The Constitution” on Facebook here.

For our Spanish-language page – Generacion Oportunidad – click here.

Matthew Faraci
202-997-1636

http://generationopportunity.org/

Credit Score Half Truths and Outright Lies

Credit Score Half Truths and Outright Lies

Credit Score Half Truths and Outright Lies-Image via Wikipedia

Despite the importance of credit scores impacting everything from the ability to get a home loan to being hired for a job, a new Visa Inc. survey finds that many Americans don’t know what determines a credit score.  Among the findings, 60% of those surveyed incorrectly believe employment history factors in to a credit score and 17% who think gender has an impact.

Of particular concern, 42% of Americans fail to regularly check their score. Knowing your score allows you to makes changes, if needed, to improve it in advance of a major financial decision, such as applying for a mortgage. “Credit scores are the equivalent of our financial grade point average,” said Jason Alderman, Senior Director of Global Financial Education, Visa Inc. “Understanding your credit score is vital so that you can take steps to improve it. Not checking your score at least once a year is like driving with your eyes closed – you are risking a financial collision.”

Below are the percentages of respondents who incorrectly thought these factors are included in determining credit scores:

  • Employment history: 59.9%
  • Interest rates on debt: 58.7%
  • Assets / savings: 53.1%
  • Age: 38.6%
  • Where you live: 25.3%
  • National origin: 21.6%
  • Ability to speak English: 21.6%
  • Gender: 17.2%
  • Race: 15.7%

“If people believe that unchangeable factors like race, gender and national origin impact their credit score, then there is little incentive to make changes with things that truly do make a difference, like paying bills on time,” said Alderman.

An individual’s credit score is a number (between 300 and 850) assigned by a credit bureau that helps lenders decide how creditworthy that person is – the higher the score, the lower the risk. The most commonly used scoring system is the FICO score. A good FICO score can mean saving tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime in reduced interest rates on home and auto loans.

FICO scores are calculated from different data in your credit report including payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit used. FICO scores do not include factors such as age, national origin, gender, race, religion, education level, or marital status.

The best way to improve a credit score is to pay bills on time. Working to reduce the amount of debt that is owed is also imperative. Additionally, it’s also important that when applying for and opening new credit accounts, you do so only as needed.

The survey results are based on 1,006 telephone interviews conducted among adults aged 18 or older nationally from September 8-11, 2011 in cooperation with GfK Roper OmniTel. To learn more about credit scores and how to protect or improve a credit score, visit www.whatsmyscore.org, a financial literacy program run by Visa Inc. The site also features a free FICO Score Estimator that can help consumers approximate their score.

About Visa
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world’s most advanced processing networks—VisaNet—that is capable of handling more than 20,000 transactionmessages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank, and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa’s innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: Pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com.

CONTACT: Angela Waugaman, for Visa Inc., +1-703-683-5004, ext. 133, or Steve Burke, for Visa Inc., +1-703-683-5004, ext. 108

Web Site: http://www.whatsmyscore.org

New Cash Back Credit Card Program Released

New Cash Back Credit Card Program Released

New Cash Back Credit Card Program Released-Image via Wikipedia

In this tough economic climate where every penny counts, DailyMarkets.com’s cash back credit cards section helps consumers find the best cash back cards in the market that offer the most generous rewards

DailyMarkets.com, a financial website based in New York that helps people save smarter and invest smarter, has just launched a new section on Cash Back Credit Cards to help consumers find the credit cards that will reward them with the most cash back when they make purchases with their cards.

Cash back cards are credit cards that give cash rebates when certain purchases are made on the card, and in this weak economic climate, they are becoming increasingly popular as they help people save on everyday expenses, be it groceries or gas. Some credit cards offer rotating categories in which cardholders can earn up to 5% cash back every 3 months, and others offer a fixed cash back percentage that cardholders will earn on all their purchases or those made in certain spending categories, such as travel, gas, dining and more.

“By using a cash back credit card, you will save money automatically when you make your day-to-day purchases on your card, since you will earn cash rebates for each purchase you make and for every dollar you spend,” says Grace Cheng, founder and CEO of DailyMarkets.com. “Cash back credit cards will help you save and even earn money when you make your regular purchases without you having to increase your spending by a single dollar.”

Many cash back cards offer a signing bonus when new cardholders make their first purchase on their card. Some of these bonus cash back cards at DailyMarkets.com have a signing bonus of up to $300 cash back.

“In our Cash Back Credit Cards section, there is even an exclusive deal for readers of DailyMarkets.com that offers $300 bonus cash back as a signing bonus and gives you cash back for every single dollar you spend,” says Grace Cheng. “There is also an exclusive credit card offer that gives new sign-ups $100 bonus cash back, and a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers.”

DailyMarkets.com also has a section featuring rewards credit cards, which lists the best and most popular cards that offer generous rewards programs based on rewards points, cash rewards or airline miles.

In DailyMarkets.com’s Best Credit Cards section, consumers can quickly and easily find the latest credit card offers in the US, along with detailed reviews and star rating of each card. DailyMarkets.com also has a personalized credit card search tool that helps people find the credit cards that will benefit them the most, be it cards that offer the most credit card rewards or lowest interest rates according to their spending patterns.

About DailyMarkets.com

DailyMarkets.com is a New York-based personal finance and investing site founded in 2008 by Grace Cheng who was named as one of the ‘new kids in cyberspace’ by Financial Times in 2007. DailyMarkets.com has an exclusive personal finance section, with a special emphasis on educating US and Canadian consumers about credit cards and helping them find the best credit card for their needs. Consumers can browse through the huge selection of credit card offers such as cash back credit cards, balance transfer cards, rewards credit cards, business credit cards, airline miles credit cards, and more. Consumers can also check out the list of Best Credit Cards 2011. For more information, visit DailyMarkets.com.

CONTACT: Pedro Pla, +1-646-755-9754

No Fee Debit Cards are Out There

No Fee Debit Cards are Out There

No Fee Debit Cards are Out There-Image via Wikipedia

Despite recently announced new fees from some other banks, First Financial Bankshares, Inc. (NASDAQ: FFIN) today announced its commitment to keeping debit cards free of monthly charges.

Debit cards are extremely popular with our customers and with merchants, and we have no plans to start charging a monthly fee for use of these cards,” said F. Scott Dueser, Chairman, President and CEO.  “Free debit cards are just part of a highly competitive package of banking services we offer our customers, including free online banking, free online bill payment and the choice of a free personal checking account.”

About First Financial Bankshares

Headquartered in Abilene, Texas, First Financial Bankshares is a financial holding company that operates 11 separately chartered banks with 53 locations in Texas, stretching from Hereford in the Panhandle to Huntsville, north of Houston.  The Company also operates First Financial Trust & Asset Management Company, N.A., with seven locations and First Technology Services, Inc., a technology operating company.  With more than a century of tradition, First Financial Bankshares is nationally recognized as a top-performing and financially secure banking company providing superior products, excellent service and personal attention.

The Company is listed on The NASDAQ Global Select Market under the trading symbol FFIN.  For more information about First Financial Bankshares, please visit our website at http://www.ffin.com and follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/First_Financial.

Certain statements contained herein may be considered “forward-looking statements” as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.  These statements are based upon the belief of the Company’s management, as well as assumptions made beyond information currently available to the Company’s management, and may be, but not necessarily are, identified by such words as “expect”, “plan”, “anticipate”, “target”, “forecast” and “goal”.  Because such “forward-looking statements” are subject to risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.  Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the Company’s expectations include competition from other financial institutions and financial holding companies; the effects of and changes in trade, monetary and fiscal policies and laws, including interest rate policies of the  Federal Reserve Board; changes in the demand for loans; fluctuations in value of collateral and loan reserves; inflation, interest rate, market and monetary fluctuations; changes in consumer spending, borrowing and savings habits; and acquisitions and integration of acquired businesses, and similar variables.  Other key risks are described in the Company’s reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which may be obtained under “Investor Relations-Documents/Filings” on the Company’s Web site or by writing or calling the Company at 325.627.7155.  Except as otherwise stated in this news announcement, the Company does not undertake any obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements because of new information, future events or otherwise.

CONTACT: F. Scott Dueser, Chairman, President & CEO of First Financial Bankshares, Inc., +1-325-627-7155

Web Site: http://www.ffin.com

Credit Card Companies Issue 5.4 Million New Sub-Prime Cards

Credit Card Companies Issue 5.4 Million New Sub-Prime Cards-Image via Wikipedia

 Equifax Credit Trends Report Shows Continued Year-Over-Year Growth Over 2010 Levels, Highest Levels in 3 Years —

Total bankcard originations for January-June 2011 are up by 27 percent over the January-June 2010 timeframe, continuing a sustained growth trend for the year, according to Equifax’s latest National Credit Trends Report.

More than 18 million new bankcards have been originated between January-June 2011. While this total represents a 3-year high for this timeframe, it is still considerably lower than the more than 34 million new bankcards originated during the pre-recession January-June 2007 timeframe.

Continuing a trend reflected by January-May 2011 data, the number of bankcard originations for subprime* borrowers exhibits a sustained increase over 2010 levels, and now accounts for more than 31 percent of all bankcard originations. With 5.4 million new subprime bankcard originations during January-June 2011, the total is now up 64 percent over January-June 2010 levels.

The increase in number of new bankcards coincides with an increase in credit limits as well, as January-June 2011 new bankcard credit limits maintain a 27 percent increase over January-June 2010 levels, and new subprime bankcard credit limits maintain an increase of 68 percent for the same timeframe.

Other key findings include:

  • Increasing levels of credit ($45 billion credit increase since Feb. 2011) coincides with decreasing numbers of bankcard delinquencies.
  • The number of bankcard delinquencies is declining to pre-recession levels, but the average size (dollar amount) of bankcard delinquencies is increasing.

“The latest Credit Trends data clearly indicates a continuation of increasing numbers of bankcard originations and higher new bankcard credit limits,” said Michael Koukounas, Senior Vice President – Special Client Services for Equifax. “While bankcard origination numbers are still far from their pre-recession levels, bankcard delinquency levels have actually declined below pre-recession levels and I expect a continuation of this trend in the near term.”

*defined as those with Equifax credit scores less than 660

About Equifax

Equifax, Inc. is a global leader in consumer and commercial information solutions, providing businesses of all sizes and consumers with information they can trust. We organize and assimilate data on more than 500 million consumers and 81 million businesses worldwide, and use advanced analytics and proprietary technology to create and deliver customized insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives of consumers.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Equifax operates and has investments in 17 countries, and is a member of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500® Index. Its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol EFX. For more information, please visit www.equifax.com.

CONTACT: Daryl S. Toor, +1-404-885-8858, Daryl.toor@equifax.com, or Tim Klein, +1-404-885-8555, tim.klein@equifax.com

Web Site: http://www.equifax.com

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