We know that taking on loans to fund your education is a big deal. And, we want you to be successful - not just with your student loans - but with your financial life. CSU-Pueblo has partnered with SALT to bring you a variety of free tools to help you do just that!
SALT is an online tool that:
- Helps you keep track of your student loan debt
- Shows you the difference between different payment plans
- Helps you forecast your debt and monthly payment
And, SALT even gives you access to borrower counselors via email and phone to help you get your loan questions answered!
But SALT is more than about student loans. It's about all things financial savvy. Activating your SALT membership allows you take advantage of other members-only features, like:
- Interactive money management tools that show you how to take control of your finances
- My Money 101 - a self-paced, online resource that teaches you practical money management strategies for budgeting, credit cards, banking and more
- Access to thousands of jobs and internships to jumpstart your career
- Exclusive benefits and partner company discounts that help you save and spend smart
- A scholarship search engine to help you find more free money for school
Here's the best part - CSU-Pueblo is providing all of SALT's services to our students and alumni as a gift - free of charge! Register now at www.saltmoney.org/csupueblo.
Being financially literate is a necessity in today's world. Taking the time to evaluate your spending and borrowing choices today can put you on the road to financial independence in the future. Just a few of the financial topics you should be familiar with are budgeting, debt management, credit cards, credit reports, taxes, identify theft, saving & investing, and making major purchases. We also have highlighted other resources that may be helpful to you such as financial literacy programs and other relevant topics.
Free Online Information
Increase your financial I.Q. by attending free weekly or monthly webinars, or visit knowledge centers that make it easy to learn about financial basics. Each month offers a variety of different topics.
The following pages aim to educate students who have withdrawn student loans and are focused on paying them back: It is important to take starting salaries into account when determining how much student loan to utilize. Take the time to research and utilize resources available to help make a reasonable assumption as to what potential earnings could be in a chosen field or profession.
The following definitions may help you in understanding common terms associated with borrowing and student loans -
- Capitalization: Adding interest that has accrued onto the principal balance. Subsequent interest then begins to accrue on the new principal. Capitalization occurs primarily with unsubsidized loans where the borrower has the option to pay on the interest while in school or have the interest capitalized when the loan goes into repayment.
- Consolidation: Combining one's loans by the process of selling and transferring all loans to one holder.
- Default: Status assigned to a loan when monthly payments are more that 270 days overdue. This status will significantly affect credit status and will make students ineligible for future Title IV funding.
- Deferment: Period of time (under specific conditions) to postpone repayment of student loans without cost or penalty.
- Disbursement: The release of loan funds to the school.
- Entrance Counseling: A requirement that must be completed prior to receive the first disbursement of a federal education loan. Your rights, responsibilities, loan terms, and loan conditions will be reviewed. This can be completed online.
- Guarantee Agency: A state or private non-profit agency that administers a student loan insurance program.
- Guarantee Fee: A fee charged for guaranteed student loans that is actually default insurance and is deducted from the loan amount. This fee will not exceed 1%.
- Forbearance: Period of time when loan payments can temporarily cease due to hardship, but interest will continue to accrue. Most forbearances are granted at the discretion of the lender or service agency.
- Grace Period: Six to nine-month period from the date of graduation, withdrawal, or a drop below half-time status to the beginning of the repayment period.
- Master Promissory Note: A note that is good for 10 years at CSU-Pueblo from the time the note is signed. The amount of loan you borrow each year will be indicated on your award letter and each loan will require certification by our office.
- Ombudsman Office: An office created by the Department of Education to assist student loan borrowers to resolve loan disputes and problems. The Ombudsman Office may be contacted by:
- Phone: 1-877-557-2575
- Fax: 202-275-0549
- Mail: US Dept of Education, FSA Ombudsman Group, 830 First St, N.E., Mail Stop 5144, Washington, DC 20202-5144
- Origination Fee: This fee may be charged to borrowers by the lender. The lender is required to pay this fee to the federal government to help reduce the costs of the program. The percentage is determined by federal law.
- Rehabilitation: The process of bringing a loan out of default and removing the default notification from the credit report.
- Repayment Options: Loans are typically required to be repaid within 10 years; however, you may contact your loan servicer to inquire about other repayment options.
- Servicer: The entity designated to track and collects a loan on behalf of the lender.
The easiest step towards a path to financial responsibility is preparing a budget. Tracking your spending habits helps you to identify where your money is going, make adjustments when necessary, and make sure that you have enough to pay for your necessities. Budgeting also helps you make long-term plans to meet your financial goals like paying for a Spring Break trip, buying a car, or purchasing your first home.
- Mint.com - Free personal finance software.
- BudgetPulse - More free, on-line budgeting software.
- Buxfer.com - Yet more free, comprehensive, on-line money management tools.
- Budgeting For The Budget-less - Get help starting a budget and learn tips on how to stick to it.
- Budgeting While In School - Great budgeting worksheet specifically for the college student.
- ECMC - Financial information about budgeting and preparing to pay back your loan.
- Budgeting Worksheet - Printable budgeting worksheet from Nelnet.
Debt and Money Management
Effectively managing debt and payment is a crucial skill to master in today's world. Getting a handle on this early can prevent major financial problems in the future. Borrowing can be one of the most rewarding opportunities in life (e.g. giving you the ability to purchase your first home, etc.), but it can easily turn into the biggest mistake, too. If you borrow, remember it is your responsibility to know the details of your debt and the payments.
- Student Loan Debt Clock - Running total of student loan debt and tips to stay out of trouble
- www.aie.org - Loan payment estimator
- American Student Assistance - Non-profit agency with information on student loan repayment and options
- National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators - Creative tips for cutting college cost
- MSN Money - A collection of helpful articles about managing debt
- CNN Money - A topical breakdown of common personal financial issues
- Bankrate - Tips on debt management and helpful personal financial calculators
- Spendster - Debt managing tips, stories and videos from other students, and several financial calculators
Federal Student Loan Repayment Information
There are many resources available to students for information regarding loan repayment. A few select websites and resources are highlighted below that may be useful when entering repayment or for those who want more information about repayment options.
Financial Awareness Counseling Tool
The Financial Awareness Counseling Tool allows students to personalize five interactive modules about loans, budgeting, repayment, default, and financial planning. To import your personal information you will need your Federal Student Aid ID & password. FACT is not required, but is encouraged to provide you with additional information regarding successful repayment of your federal student loans.
Proper use of credit cards is possible, but takes discipline. Most college students today are aware of the dangers of improper credit card use including years of payments and lots of money lost to interest charges. Take the time to research and understand the proper use of credit cards before making that step. If you already own and use a credit card, it is never too late to put good practices into place.
- Credit Card Terminology - What's the difference between an APR and a finance charge anyway?
- Common Credit Card Mistakes - 10 mistakes to avoid when it comes to credit cards
- Credit Card Statements - Learn how to read a credit card statement with this interactive sample statement
- True Cost Calculator - Just how much will that pizza really cost you?
- Credit Card Repayment Table - "I have to make payments for HOW long??"
- So You Think You're Ready For A Credit Card? - Take this quiz to find out how much you really know
- Choosing The Right Card - Tips and questions to ask when selecting a credit card
- What the New Credit Card Rules Mean To You - The Credit CARD Act of 2009 and the impact to students
- Can't Pay Your Bill? (Yep, You Still Have To Pay Even If You Don't Answer The Phone...) - A step by step breakdown of what to do when you can't make your payment and dealing with your creditors
- Credit Cards - Good overview of credit cards
- Federal Reserve Consumer's Guide - Great overview and lots of credit card information
News and Articles
Credit Reports and Scores
Did you know your credit score plays the main role in determining if you are eligible for a loan to purchase a home or car, will affect the interest rate you pay, and even play a role when you apply for a job!? Your score is influenced by information contained in your credit report - all sorts of information that lenders use to judge your credit-worthiness. Currently, there are three main credit report agencies - Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, and each has its own credit report on you. (Different lenders use different reporting agencies in making a credit decision.) It's important to understand how to read your report, and to periodically check all three to make sure that the information is entirely accurate. When requesting your report, however, be wary of offers for "free" credit reports as usually the fine-print requires you to sign up for some time of service (for a fee) to view your report. You can view a copy of your report from each agency for free once a year through www.annualcreditreport.com without a charge.
- www.annualcreditreport.com - Order a copy of your credit reports for free from each of the credit bureaus
- Credit Reports "Your Financial Report Cards" - What lenders look for & what information is on a credit report
- A Sample Credit Report - View an interactive, sample credit report
- Experian - Website to Experian, one of the three credit bureaus
- Equifax - Website to Equifax, one of the three credit bureaus
- TransUnion - Website to TransUnion, one of the three credit bureaus
- Errors On Your Credit Report? - Guided process with an example dispute letter for errors on a credit report
- How Is A Credit Score Calculated? - How your credit score is calculated and tips on how to increase it
- Credit Score Estimator - Lots of credit related content and a credit score estimator
- Federal Reserve Consumer Information - Helpful Q&A regarding credit reports and scores
- CreditFairy.org - Provides information that you can use to take "charge of your credit"
News and Articles
If you receive money for work, it is taxable. Depending on how much you make, you may or may not be required to file a tax return. But, even if not required, many people benefit financially by filing a tax return. Tax credits for education, deductions, earned income, and over-paying taxes from your paycheck throughout the year could provide a nice refund check once a year. And, in the past there have been stimulus payments from the IRS for several hundred dollars for tax filers. The IRS webpage is a valuable resource and surprisingly easy to navigate. It has everything you need to know, including how to file for free.
- www.irs.gov - Official website of the Internal Revenue Service, tons of useful information
- An Overview of Tax Benefits When Paying for College - Tax benefits you could be eligible for as a student
What is identity theft? According to the US Department of Justice, "Identity theft and identity fraud are terms used to refer to all types of crime in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain." Each year, millions of people (including students) are victims of identity theft. However, there are steps you can take to make yourself less likely to be a target. It is strongly encouraged to take the time and find out to common ways that criminals can collect your information to help protect yourself.
- Federal Trade Commission - Link to the official FTC website with tips on how to avoid being a victim of identity theft, how to know if you are, and what to do if it happens to you
- 10 Things You Should Know About ID Theft
- Tips To Avoid ID Theft
- More Tips To Avoid ID Theft
- US Department of Justice - Information from the Justice Department on ID Theft
Saving and Investing
When thinking through saving and investing, be sure to consider your goals and your time-frame for when you'll need your money as it can affect the best route to get to where you want to be. Saving for a vacation next year looks a lot different than saving for your retirement in 40 years! Not sure where to start? Start with an emergency fund - it's a good idea as a student to have at least $500 set aside in case the unexpected happens. Remember, though, saving and investing takes discipline and often delaying an immediate "want" for future rewards.
- Investing for Retirement - A collection of articles from MorningStar regarding retirement and investing
- Saving - A general collection of tips for all sorts of saving goals
- Savings Guide - Good guide about savings
News and Articles
- Auto-Financing - Articles and tips about purchasing a car (and some specific ones for buying your first).
- AFSA Education Foundation - Information from AFSA (American Financial Services Association), NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association), and the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) on "Understanding Vehicle Financing."
- Keys to Vehicle Leasing - Information from the FTC and Federal Reserve Board on leasing a vehicle.
- Buying A Home - Steps and tips to home purchase from the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
The following sites are complete, comprehensive programs that cover various financial literacy topics. Each has a different presentation style and varying degrees of depth for each topic, so you should be able to find one that fits your current need.
- EducationCents - Free, comprehensive financial literacy curriculum, plus a chance at a SCHOLARSHIP
- CashCourse CSU-Pueblo - Tips, calculators, and various financial topics
- Smart About Money - An online collection of recourses on a host of financial topics
- Great Lakes Knowledge Center - Offers a broad range of topics, including student loan repayment
- NSLP Financial Literacy Online - Financial literacy courses specific for students planning for college
- 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy - Financial topics divided into different life stages
- Money Management 101 - A great starting point course to lay the foundation for financial success
- MyMoney - Full of "life event" specific suggestions, resources, and tools
- NerdWallet - Lots of interesting articles and tips on managing your finances
- Financial Avenue - Offers a range of online courses to help students and adults gain life-long knowledge about the basics of personal money management
- Live Life Smart Guide - Helpful tips to your money and student loans, with interactive worksheets
- Bureau of Labor Statistics - Great information regarding the education and training needed for your chosen profession, average expected earnings (used in determining how much you can afford to borrow), expected job prospects, etc.
- O*Net - More detailed information on careers, employment outlooks, salaries, etc.
- SaveUp - Website that rewards you for saving and paying down debt
- HelloWallet - A collection of financial services, including asking advice of a professional
- Paybacksmarter.com - Easy to follow estimate of loan payments based on different repayment options
- Practical Money Skills Financial Calculators - Lots of varied calculators to help you better manage your finances
- National Endowment for Financial Education
- Forty Money Management Tips Every College Student Should Know