Friday’s need-to-know money news

Medical expenses and bankruptcyToday’s top story: Should you pay your medical bills with a credit card? Also in the news: How to avoid grad school debt, getting your bank account back in black, and should colleges be held partly responsible for student loan defaults?

Should You Ever Pay Your Medical Bills With a Credit Card?
Putting co-pays on credit cards.

Grad-School Debt Is Growing. Here’s How To Avoid It
Will your graduate degree pay off in the long run?

Is Your Bank Account in the Red? Here’s What to Do Now
How to get back in black.

Should Colleges Pay for Student Loan Defaults?
Are they partly responsible?

5 Ways to Turn Inertia Into Financial Momentum
Time to get moving.

Don’t pay for student loan help

Customer Support liarI just got another recorded call from a woman who cheerfully told me that my student loans had been “flagged” to qualify for a new federal program, just approved by Congress, to help me pay my debt. The fact that I’ve never had a student loan is, surely, just a minor detail.

People fall for these scams all the time, paying good money to get help they could have found for free. Right now, there’s a free student loan hotline you can call to get your questions answered and find out about your options. It’s available today, tomorrow and Thursday from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. Eastern. Check it out at The Borrowers Hotline.

If you miss the hotline window, you can find answers to your questions at the U.S. Department of Education and at Student Loan Borrower Assistance, a site run by the National Consumer Law Center.

 

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How to protect your Social Security number from identity thieves. Also in the news: How to conquer your student debt, the benefits of the Earned Income Tax Credit, and tax tips from the experts.

3 Ways to Protect Your Social Security Number From ID Theft
Think of your Social Security number as the combination to a safe.

Four New Ways To Conquer Student Debt
You can do it!

Earned Income Tax Credit Could Pay Off
If you didn’t make a significant amount of money last year, this tax credit could come in handy.

Countdown to Tax Day: WalletHub’s 2015 Expert Tips
Only twelve days left to go!

Q&A: Credit cards vs student debt. Which should be paid off first?

Dear Liz: I have $8,000 in savings. Should I use it to pay the accrued interest on federal student loans that go into repayment soon? Or should I pay credit card debts of $662 at 11.24%, $3,840 at 7.99% and $3,000 at 6.99%?

Answer: Pay off the credit card debt. The interest isn’t tax deductible, and balances you carry on credit cards just eat into your economic well-being.

Your student loans, by contrast, offer fixed rates, a wealth of consumer protections and tax-deductible interest. You needn’t be in any rush to pay them off, particularly if you’re not already saving adequately for retirement and for emergencies. Federal student loans offer the opportunity to reduce or suspend payment without damaging your credit scores should you face economic difficulty and the possibility of forgiveness. Those aren’t options offered by credit card issuers.

If your student loan payments exceed 10% of your income when you do go into repayment, you should investigate the federal government’s “Pay as You Earn” program, which offers more manageable payments for many people, especially those with large debts and small incomes.