It’s June – Are You Ready for Student Loan Decisions?

It's June – Are You Ready for Student Loan Decisions?

You're not done yet!


If you're the parent of a high school senior, you may think the worst is behind you. Your child has chosen a school, applied, and been accepted. Financial aid packages are disbursed.

Now you just drink lemonade and wait for fall, right?

I wish that were true. Unfortunately, there's another gauntlet ahead of you – student loans.

Federal Loans Often Aren't Enough

A student can take out a maximum of $5,500 in federal student loans their freshman year. Altogether, the max for federal loans totals $27,000 over four years, and $31,000 total over an entire career.

I don't think I have to tell you that many schools cost $27,000 for a single year, once you factor in room and board, books, transportation, and fees.

Hopefully the school you selected isn't too expensive and provided a generous aid package. However, even in the best case, you're probably facing a funding gap.

Where do you turn when federal loans aren't enough?

Parent Plus Loans

Many schools tout federal Parent Plus loans as the answer to a parent's concerns. However, these funds are not always the best source of money to pay for school.

Benefits of Parent Plus Loans

There are several benefits of using a Parent Plus loan. If your credit isn't excellent, you likely won't get a good rate from a private lender. Also, Parent Plus loans have a fixed interest rate and flexible payback terms if you fall into trouble.

If you're concerned about your ability to pay back your parent loans, a Parent Plus may be a good choice.

Disadvantages of Parent Plus

The biggest disadvantage of Parent Plus loans is that if you do have good credit, they are very expensive in terms of interest.

The actual fixed interest rate isn't that high, but with a 4% origination fee removed from the principal every time it's disbursed, the effective interest rate is much higher.

Before you choose a Parent Plus loan, make sure you compare it with private loans options. Pay attention to the full cost of each loan, including fees, duration, and interest payments.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are available from national banks and local banks and credit unions. If a bank in your town doesn't offer a private student loan, don't worry – you can apply with a variety of reputable loan providers online.

These providers include Sallie Mae, Discover, Citizen's Bank, College Ave, Commonbond, and more. Don't be shy – shop around!

Many of these lenders will only approve you for money one year at a time. Don't worry – you don't have to pay four payments a month for years to come. Instead, consolidate student loans after your student graduates.

The biggest advantage to private student loans is that you can compare providers and find the best rates. The biggest disadvantages include needing excellent credit and facing less flexibility with repayment if you have financial trouble.

Other Options: Home Equity and Investment Savings

If you have home equity and/or investment savings, you may consider using those to pay for college. You want to do this very carefully so that you don't put yourself into a bad position financially.

Home Equity

Many parents find that a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a better option than a home equity loan. You have access to credit for multiple years, which can be helpful if you're looking at the big picture of paying for school until graduation.

A HELOC also allows you to use only the amount of money you need. You can pay it off as you go, using the same credit line again and again.

Investment Savings

It can be tempting to dip into your retirement or investment savings to help you children pay for school. This should be a last-choice option unless the investment account was intended for school, like a 529 plan.

If you do choose a 529 plan, by the way, make sure it's well-managed and not loaded with fees.

You never want to put yourself in a position where you're compromising your future so that your child can attend school. A university education is not the golden ticket it once was, and there are always less expensive options. Your retirement should never be sacrificed for college tuition.

How Will You Pay for College?

There are a lot of options, but all of them have significant advantages and disadvantages. The real key is to choose a school that's affordable – even if it means starting at a local two-year college, or living at home during university.

Only you can make the choice that's right for your family. Just be sure that everyone – including you – still has a financial future after graduation.

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Nintendo Direct E3 Highlights

Nintendo announced some new game titles on June 11th, 2019, and here's what I'm most excited for!


I always look forward to Nintendo Directs, especially since I got a Switch. I like knowing what games are coming up and when. This direct was particularly exciting because my favorite game, Animal Crossing, finally announced its next sequel!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons will be here for the Nintendo Switch by March 2020. A lot of people are disappointed that it won't be here until next year, but I'm still excited nevertheless. The extra months will probably be spent perfecting the game and adding in final details, and I'm more than okay with all of that! I'm just glad that this title finally has an official release date.

Similarly, I'm also looking forward to the next Zelda game. Unlike Animal Crossing, this one didn't get an official release date yet, but Nintendo did confirm that it's still very much in the works. I'm willing to wait for "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild," personally. As I said before, video games take time. It would've been nice to at least get a teaser, but I'm not too disappointed overall. I'll still be the first in line for the new Zelda game once it DOES come out.

Finally, I'm also super looking forward to Luigi's Mansion 3! I adore the full Mario series, especially Luigi's Mansion! I already knew about the game, but what I didn't know about until the E3 Nintendo Direct was the online mode feature. This was Nintendo's first time announcing it, and I'm so excited to be able to play Luigi's Mansion 3 with my friends. This game IS coming out this year, unlike the other two, although the exact day is still pending. I'm hoping it'll be sooner than later!

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What Do You Do if A Loved One Needs an Intervention?

When stepping in can save a life.


I watch the A&E; TV show Intervention on a regular basis, and the stories are both sad and frightening. There are so many things that can trigger someone to become an addict, and once they begin it's very, very hard to stop.

So what if you have a loved one that needs help? How do you pull off your very own intervention?

Form a Group

Who's going to participate in the intervention? Who's going to help plan it? There should be a specific group, although not everyone who helps with planning has to participate.

It can be helpful to have a professional present at the intervention, or you could choose to consult a professional during the planning but not have them physically attend. It depends on how big the group is and how likely you are to need an outside perspective.

Having one or more non-family members present can be helpful, though, especially if things get heated. A more neutral point of view can help keep everyone calm.

Know the Situation

Even though you may be angry at your addicted friend or loved one, remember that there's always a reason that they began taking drugs. Drugs tend to be an escape mechanism from pain.

What painful events has your friend or loved one faced? Have they been abused? Dealt with death or divorce? Had a bankruptcy or other financial embarrassment?

Knowing the core of the matter can help you be compassionate instead of angry, and if you address these core problems you may be able to get through an addict's defensiveness.

Find a Good Treatment Facility

Part of the strategy of a good intervention is to not give the addict a chance to change their mind once they agree to treatment. They should be moved as quickly as possible to the treatment facility.

Finding a good facility can be difficult since it shouldn't be too close to home. Everlast Recovery can be a great option since it's set in a beautiful location in California.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can also be a very valuable resource. It's essential to have a facility selected before the intervention.

Plan Statements and Consequences

There to need to be clear, and often severe, consequences if an addict decides to stay on drugs. Perhaps they will be cut off from the family, or you will report them to social services so their children can be in a safer environment.

Have each person make notes about specific instances of problems, how they feel about the behavior, and how much they want the addict to get help. Some members of the team may want to simply write out their statement as a letter.

Do a Practice Run

Of course, the addict should not know about the intervention until it happens. However, the rest of the group should have one or more practice runs so that they can rehearse their statements. It's also important to practice emotional control.

You can have someone from the planning group stand in for the addict, and you may want to work through more than one scenario about how he or she might react.

Having a calm, united front will be vital on the day the actual intervention occurs.

Hold the Intervention and Follow Up

The intervention should be secret from the addict until the last minute. Once the person does or doesn't agree to go to treatment, the consequences should be immediate. This means an immediate trip to the facility or immediate negative consequences from family and friends.

Don't shy away from carrying out your ultimatums. When you're serious, they may reconsider!

Having a family or friend struggling with addiction is very hard. An intervention may save their life. Don't wait another day – get started!

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