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Millennials – How to Travel Using Your Loan Savings

July 10, 2018

Our customers have reported that they are saving an average of $309 every month and should see an average of $20,936 in total savings after refinancing their student loans with Education Loan Finance*! What could you spend your loan savings on? Millennials are traveling more than any other generation right now, so it’s likely that a good trip is at the top of your list. If you are using possible loan savings to travel, here are some ideas of where to go to put those savings to good use with an affordable vacation this year:

Ready for a new passport stamp?

According to a study done by Hitlist, Phuket, Thailand is one of the most-desired travel destinations for millennials. You can actually book 3-star hotels there for as low as $20 per night. Head there to see some of the most beautiful islands and bluest oceans in the world.

Lisbon, Portugal is rich in history and is one of the least expensive cities in Europe. Eating at local restaurants and using public transportation are good ways to keep the budget low. To discover the best local restaurants, ask someone local, whether that is a guide or someone that has lived or traveled there before. You can search online for restaurants and reviews as well, but it is often more authentic to explore the city and observe where locals are stopping in for a bite. Be prepared for the staff at these restaurants to not speak English.

If you are looking to stay in a budget hotel, check out websites like Trip Advisor or Budget Places to find and compare options and read reviews. As for flights, try to be open to flying on different days of the week. A flight on one day versus another can make a big difference in price.

When searching for a place to go or a place to stay once you’ve decided on your destination, think about communication. Most cell phone providers have international service that you can purchase at an extra cost, but if you’re looking to save money, try to find a city or country that has a lot of available Wi-Fi for free, especially in the hotel/hostel/Airbnb you book. You can use apps like WhatsApp or Skype to make calls and text once connected to Wi-Fi.

Remember that traveling in foreign areas can be dangerous and you always want to be aware of what’s around you and how to stay safe. Here is a list of safety tips to consult when traveling both abroad and within the U.S.

Looking to relax on a beach?

Inexpensive beach vacations are available in countries all around the world. If you are able to buy a ticket for an international flight, try some inexpensive beach towns like Corfu, Greece or Valle Gran Rey, Spain. In the Caribbean, go for Curacao or Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico was devastated by hurricanes in 2017, but most hotels have reopened their doors. Since tourism is a huge industry there, taking a vacation and spending money at restaurants and shops can help the island continue to bounce back. If you are trying to stay within the U.S., places like Gulf Shores, Alabama or Galveston, Texas are good options. Be sure to check weather patterns and on/off seasons. If you are comfortable with slightly cooler weather, most beach towns will be less expensive during those parts of the year.

Want to stay within the U.S.?

If you don’t have a passport, don’t want to spend long hours flying, or just want to save on airfare, you can find many exciting destinations right here in the United States. Three of the most-desired vacation spots for millennials were in the U.S.: Cambridge, Massachusetts; Portland, Oregon; and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Cambridge is just outside of Boston and is the home to Harvard University. Portland is famous for its parks and gardens. You can take in a college football game in Ann Arbor or visit one of its many breweries. To keep costs low, since it’s possible you’ll be using your loan savings to travel, look for an Airbnb. These are often priced lower than traditional hotels.

Open to spontaneity?

Try out this website called Pack Up & Go. This travel service plans your entire 3-day trip in the U.S. for you – and you don’t know where you’re going until you leave! You start by selecting your price limit, then fill out a survey that asks you questions like what your hobbies are, where you’ve been in the last few years, and what you prefer to do when you travel. A trip is booked for you, all the documents you need are sent in a sealed envelope, and then you open it on the day you are to depart. You can travel solo by plane or train starting at $1,000 or take a road trip with friends starting at $400. Pack Up & Go gives you the option to start cheap and spend money while you’re there or even take more than one trip.

Love a cruise?

Cruises are often thought of as a budget-buster, but that is not always the case. There are plenty of cruises for those looking to spend less. Cruises allow for the opportunity to visit several countries, islands, or cities all in one trip. Have kids? There are Disney cruises available for a family of four for less than $3,000 total. Traveling solo? There are plenty of cruise options from Norwegian’s Sail Away program that are on the cheaper side. A tip for money-saving: book excursions outside of the cruise line’s options; they’re often much less expensive.

Searching for adventure?

Millennials often look for an adventurous experience when deciding on a vacation. Affordable adventures are all over the world. If you like snowy mountains where you can ski or snowboard, check out the budget page on Ski.com.

Cairo, Egypt is another top destination for millennials, where you can take a safari, ride a camel, cruise on a quad bike, visit the Giza Pyramids, each for less than $100. Hostels there can be as cheap as $10 per night, so you can focus on spending your money on your experiences. You can head to Peru to hike and explore Machu Picchu for affordable prices. If you love surfing, Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia may be the choice for you. Affordable hotels and hostels are common, and all you need is your surfboard.

Creating Additional Savings

Traveling can be a great experience, but with no additional funds you can feel rather grounded. Keep the adventures to your travel and don’t include them in your financial decisions. The more financially responsible you are, the more likely your 10 year later self will thank you. In order to gain savings be sure to consider refinancing any student loan debt you may have for a possible lower interest rate. Remember you could save $309 a month*!

Check Out These Personal Finance Apps

* Average savings calculations are based on information provided by SouthEast Bank/ Education Loan Finance customers who refinanced their student loans between 8/16/2016 and 10/25/2018. While these amounts represent reported average amounts saved, actual amounts saved will vary depending upon a number of factors..

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2019-03-26
What you Need to Know About College Scholarships: Part I

Paying for College? Here’s Where to Find College Scholarships   So you’re going to college. That’s great! But now you need to find a way to pay for it. Lots of people have a successful college career by borrowing student loans for college, but scholarships for college can help lessen the amount you need to borrow. Here are some things you need to know about college scholarships and how to find them.  

When should I search for college scholarships?

  One of the most important things to know about searching for scholarships for college is that you should start early to make sure you’re meeting deadlines. The sooner you start looking for aid, the better. You want to be top of the pile when it comes time to apply, and you don’t want to miss out because you were late on a deadline. If you are late to apply to a scholarship deadline, chances are they won’t accept your submission.   If you know what degree you want and where you’ll be going to school, it cuts out the guesswork. Your degree and school will heavily impact how much you’ll pay for college.  Any amount of schooling that can be paid for by a scholarship will be the best option. If you’re earlier in the process, here are some helpful figures on the average cost:  

What does it cost to go to school?

  School costs vary widely depending on multiple factors. Factors that impact schools costs include your degree, choice of school, and the type of field you’re going into. You may also be able to work while going to school, which can lower the cost.  

Degree Type

Average Cost - Public Average Cost - Private
Associate’s Degree - Two Year[1] $3,570 $14,587
Bachelor’s Degree - Four Year[2] $102,352 $250,576–$341,184 (For-profit vs. Not-for-profit)
Master’s Degree[3] From $30,000 to $120,000, depending on the program and school
Doctorate[4] From $15,000 to $50,000, depending on the program and school
   

What should I look for in a college scholarship?

  Scholarship qualifications can vary significantly based on the person or organization that created it. You might have to keep up a religious commitment or affiliation, meet performance requirements, or prove you are completing projects or work. Most commonly scholarships require that you need to maintain a certain grade point average and enrollment status. Don’t be surprised if other stipulations apply to a scholarship. It’s important to know the details when considering if you should apply or accept scholarships for college. Secondly, you also need to look into how you are allowed to use the funds. Some scholarships cover strictly academic fees. Others scholarships may be used for room and board or general living expenses. Know the restrictions on funds before you accept any financial aid. The last thing you want to do is risk losing the money or having to pay it back. Finally, be sure to find out what the worst case scenario might be. If you change programs or don’t achieve the grade you needed, what happens? It’s nothing that should scare you away from scholarships, but you need to know. Knowing if you’ll be on the hook later if something goes wrong is important.  

Federal Scholarships

The U.S. Department of Education has lots of tips on finding federal student aid and federal scholarships. Be sure you start your scholarship search for college at studentaid.ed.gov. In order to avoid taking out student loans for college, checking with government programs is a must. An added bonus is that the details and requirements are pretty clearly laid out. Using the U.S. Department of Education website is usually a quick search that’s easier to do, so we’d recommend starting your scholarship search there.  

College Scholarship Categories

There are lots of different categories of scholarships. Here are some of the main ones you might qualify for. Narrowing down your search to a category can really help you focus on what applies to you and make your search more effective.   Scholarships for Academic Excellence (or even average performance) As you can imagine, the top academic scholarships are highly competitive and only apply to the tip-top of high-performing students. Very few of us fall into that category. The good news is that whether you’re an ace or have more typical grades, you can still search for scholarships based on the level you’ve achieved in school and see if you qualify.   Athletic Scholarships Are you good at a sport or activity? Search for those scholarships! From chess to volleyball to football and soccer, there are scholarships for lots of different types of athletes.   Legacy Scholarships Your parents might have a connection to a university or organization that offers scholarships. Ask around the family and see if you can make that connection.   Military Scholarships Most people are aware that the military offers money for college. There are lots of options from military reserves up to enlisting for a few years of full-time military membership. Check out this list of military scholarships and aid for active duty service members and veterans.   Scholarships for Parents Single parents, working parents, and young parents are just some of the people who might qualify for this type of scholarship. Lots of organizations and schools want to promote education for all members of the community, and sending parents to school (or back to school) might make you their prime applicant.   Scholarships for Minorities Scholarships for minorities often come from community organizations, colleges, and institutions, or even national and global groups that want to promote education for your ethnic or cultural group. Search this type of scholarships for college to learn more.   Scholarships for Women Similarly to scholarships for minorities and parents, women often face barriers to attending school at higher rates than men. Scholarships for women offer extra help to make sure educating women is a priority.   Creative or Writing Scholarships Essay contests, portfolio reviews, and performance arts-based scholarships exist for students in the arts. They often vary based on the school and focus of study, but there are many available. Don’t pass up searching for scholarships if you’re going into the arts or humanities, or even if you are a good essay writer and want to search for writing opportunities that might help you get a scholarship for college.   Community Service Scholarships Community service covers a huge array of possibilities. If you’re passionate about helping your community, see if you can get involved with some projects, start one of your own, or search community service scholarships now to see what you could be doing that would make you eligible.   Unusual Scholarships From scholarships for tall women to people with red hair to fans of HAM radio, there are all kinds of unusual scholarships for college out there. Check out lists like this one at Scholarships.com to see what you might qualify for that you never would have thought of!  

Look for Upcoming Parts to This Guide

If you’re looking for scholarships for college because you want to save on your student loans for college, we’ll be posting more information soon to help guide you!  

Jobs to Reduce Student Loans for College

  NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.     [1] https://www.studentdebtrelief.us/news/average-cost-of-college-2018/ [2] https://www.campusexplorer.com/college-advice-tips/E66537B4/Costs-Of-A-Bachelor-s-Degree-Program/ [3] https://www.bestmastersdegrees.com/best-masters-degrees-faq/how-much-does-a-masters-degree-cost [4] https://study.com/articles/How_Much_Does_a_Doctorate_Degree_Cost.html
2019-03-11
Medical Match Day Finance Tips

Congratulations you’ve worked hard been through multiple interviews and finally, your hard work has paid off! You’ve been matched and you’re getting ready for residency. It’s so exciting to jump into residency and see what having this career will really be like. You’ll have the ability to learn from experienced professionals in your field of interest. Getting yourself prepared for your residency can feel stressful, but it doesn’t need to be. Here are some financial tips to help you get settled and make good choices for your future.  

Set Up Loan Payments

Once you are done with school, you should start paying on student loans. Residency can take several years to complete. It’s likely that your residency isn’t paying you what a full-time position in your career will so all the medical school debt that’s accumulated, can be difficult to sort through. If you find yourself with a large amount of federal
student loan debt, look into income-based repayment plans. We would recommend this as a temporary solution until you’ve completed your residency program.  This will assure that you’re making student loan payments towards your medical school debt, but that those payments are not impossible to complete. You may eventually qualify for public loan forgiveness on your federal student loans. If you qualify to get on an IBR plan in residency after completing the program you may only have a few years remaining.     If you also have private student loans there is no need to worry. Most private student loan lenders will work with you to offer some type of payment plan. You may want to consider refinancing your medical student loan debt. In order to qualify for student loan refinancing, you may need to add a cosigner due to income you’ll be making in your residency. Regardless of which route you chose, in the first few months after graduation, you’ll want to have your payment plan set up. Don’t let this task fall off your radar—in-school deferment ends shortly after graduation for most kinds of medical school debt.  

How to Reduce Medical School Debt

   

Make a Budget

The average income for first-year medical residents is about $55,000, according to a recent report. That money may not go very far with your loan payments and other living expenses. It’s crucial to set your budget and stick to it. Many medical professionals suggest living with roommates, carpooling, using public transit, and setting a budget to keep other spending at a minimum.    

Look Into Your Benefits

If you’re starting off pretty frugal until you get accustomed to your new budget, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about saving for the future. When it comes to saving for retirement, the sooner the better. Employer matches and retirement programs should be on your list of things to do early in your residency. Take advantage of match money for retirement if your employer offers it. Match money from your employer is free money! Don’t miss out on that opportunity, and check out the rest of your benefits while you’re at it. There are usually several perks and programs you can look into that might help make your transition to residency more comfortable.  

Set Up Housing

Speaking of housing arrangements, there is conflicting advice on whether or not it makes sense to buy a home vs. renting while in residency. Since most residents spend long hours working and don’t have time for household maintenance or upkeep, buying a home can be a difficult choice. Plus knowing that you might not choose to live in the same place long term cause many experts to advise renting. Look at your unique situation and make sure you’re weighing all of these factors when you decide what to do for housing.   As far as finding somewhere to live, location will probably be top of your list. After working long hours and several days in a row, having a long commute is the last thing you want. If the area near your work is not cost-effective, look for ways to get connected with a good roommate or two. Research the area before you relocate and stick to your budget for housing costs so that you don’t end up being rent-poor or house-poor.  

Practice Self-Care and Routine

Residency can be engrossing. You’re so involved in your work role and in living the life of a busy resident, that it’s not uncommon to let self-care fall by the wayside. Remember, you can’t care for others if you haven’t cared for yourself. Make sure you’re doing what you can to stick to healthy habits, even if there are days you’re low on sleep or not making the best food choices. Getting rest on your time off, enjoying your hobbies even in small doses, and exercising or meal planning can help make sure you’re cared for even with a busy schedule.   Enjoy your new life adventure!  

Ways to Save on Student Loan Debt During Residency

  NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.  
2019-03-08
Student Loan Refinancing: How To Avoid Predatory Lending

No one wants to get scammed, but it can be hard to feel confident about whether you’re working with a reputable source or not. In an era when we have access to so many different options and there are countless financial entities available at our fingertips, there are definitely some things to keep in mind so that you don’t end up getting a raw deal.  It’s not uncommon if you’re interested in student loan refinancing, or have been approached by a company to want to see if they’re legit before you move forward. Here are some tips on how to avoid being a victim of predatory lending.  

Check your sources.

It’s not uncommon to find random financing offers around the internet. Maybe you read about it on Reddit, saw a social media post, or even direct mail. Companies regularly send postcards and mailers to try to get your attention. The marketing material can look pretty convincing, too! Don’t let a slick landing page or a nice mailer fool you. You generally want to find suggestions from sources you trust, like a financial expert, or trusted online sources. A good resource would be the Better Business Bureau. You can see online complaints, information about the company, and all provided by an unbiased source. A second site that provides unbiased online reviews is Trustpilot. Websites with unbiased reviews and legitimate accreditation or backing can be an ideal source to verify credibility.  

Never trust dishonest marketing.

It may sound extreme, but we’ve heard of examples where someone was approached by an entity that attempted to look like the government. These scare tactics are used frequently enough by scammy companies for one reason - they work. These companies use this scare tactic because when you think the government is trying to get in touch and you’re in trouble, you answer! These options work similarly to the IRS scams that are always happening with the IRS calling your phone, but in reality, the IRS doesn’t actually call anyone. If the company tried to look like a government program and later you find out they’re not, drop them. A legitimate company won’t send fake notices or use a misleading URL in order to get your business.  

Listen to the old adage.

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. There’s a reason that this simple advice is so often passed down. Really amazing offers are rare. If something sounds like there’s no way they could offer you such incredible terms or that great of a deal, there is likely fine print that’s missing. Fact check the offer and look for comparable data. Your alarm bells should go off if you’re looking at a company whose reputation is dubious. This especially proves true if they’re claiming to get you unheard of service or savings.  

Requirements to Refinance Student Loans

 

What do I owe you?

There are lots of scams across all kinds of industries. One of the most common is when a person tries to get you to pay something up front with the promise of services to come. Lending is no different. If you have to pay a fee or anything before you can see the offer, chances are that this is a scam. Companies often will offer to facilitate student loan discharge for someone with a permanent disability. The process of applying for student loan discharge if you have a qualifying disability is free. Any company offering to do it for a hefty up-front fee is scamming you!  

Avoid anyone who is too aggressive.

Sometimes a company will aggressively pursue potential borrowers and push them to select a consolidation option that’s not in the borrower’s best financial interest. They might be a legitimate company but will leave out crucial details in order to sign you up. A good general rule of thumb is to be aware of the interest rate and terms. Understand how a lower payment can extend the life of your loans, thus increasing the overall amount due. Always get all the details, so you know the financial implications of your decision.  

Give it a gut check.

Sometimes your intuition is your best tool. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to hit pause until you can find more information. Be wary of any company that’s asking for too much personal information before you are sure that they’re legit. Keep an eye out for things that just don’t seem right, like misspellings or a digital presence that seems fishy. You should never be faulted or made to feel bad for giving yourself time to look into the details and read everything over. If you feel like you’re being hurried through or your questions aren’t being answered stop and take a breather to do a gut check. All of your concerns should be addressed with ample information so that you feel confident about the process and decision. If that’s not what you’re experiencing, you should back away.  

Use your village.

There are lots of reputable companies out there, and it’s pretty easy to find them by reading unbiased reviews. Do your research and continue learning more about how their process will help you. Use resources available to you to vet companies before you reach out. If you utilize the resources available to you, you’ll be less likely to encounter an unreputable company on the prowl.

You should never be badgered or threatened.

No reputable company is going to make threats against you or repeatedly harass you to sign up. As a consumer, you have certain protections and any company that violates these should be investigated. If you’re facing this treatment from any lender, would like to see more information on various types of financial products and your rights, visit the FDIC website.    

Check Out Our Guide to Student Loan Refinancing

  NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.