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  • Learn About Credit Unions
    • Historical Timeline of Credit Unions

      As not-for-profit depository institutions, credit unions were created to serve members as credit cooperatives.

    • How is a Credit Union Different than a Bank?

      In the United States, credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members rather than to maximize corporate profits.

    • How to Find a Credit Union in Your Area

      Once you select a specific credit union, you can view more details about that credit union, including contact information, branch locations, services offered, and recent financial statements.

    • How to Join a Credit Union

      Anybody can join a credit union. Each credit union serves what’s called their “field of membership” – that’s the commonality between the members.

    • How to Start a Credit Union

      If your group is eligible, NCUA's staff will assist you with preparing an application for a charter and see that your group receives guidance in getting your federal credit union started.

    • Is a Credit Union Right for Me?

      Because credit unions are not-for-profit financial institutions, their focus is serving the financial needs of their members and not making a profit.

    • Credit Union and Bank Interest Rate Comparison

      In general, credit unions offer higher savings rates, meaning that your money grows faster, and lower rates on loans, meaning that you will owe less over the lifetime of the loan.

    • Learn More About Your Credit Union

      NCUA makes financial information about credit unions available to the public through Financial Performance Reports (FPRs).

    • Low Income Credit Unions

      Credit unions provide valuable access to financial services for people underserved and unserved by traditional financial institutions.

    • Understanding Differences in Federal vs. Privately Insured Credit Unions

      Federally-chartered credit unions are regulated by the National Credit Union Administration and insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.

    • What is a Credit Union?

      A federal credit union is a cooperative financial institution chartered by the federal government and owned by individual members.

  • Protect Your Finances
    • Consumer Protection Update

      Watch the latest NCUA Consumer Protection Update video to learn about important updates and changes that may affect you as a consumer."

    • Credit Reports and Credit Scores

      It’s a good idea to monitor your credit report on a regular basis to make sure that the information is accurate. You can also verify that no one has stolen your identity to make fraudulent charges.

    • Share Insurance Coverage

      Federally insured credit unions offer a safe place for you to save your money, with deposits insured up to $250,000, per individual depositor.

    • Online Financial Safety Tips

      When performing transactions on your credit union's website, it's wise to make sure that the website is legitimate and that your deposits are federally insured.

    • Prevent Identity Theft

      If you believe that someone has stolen your identity, you should contact any credit union, bank or creditor where you have an account that you think may be the subject of identity theft.

    • Frauds and Scams

      NCUA reports on frauds and scams aimed at credit union members. In this section, we provide an overview of recent activity.

    • Scams Targeting Seniors

      America's growing senior population is vulnerable to a broad range of financial crimes. In this section, NCUA provides tips on how seniors can protect themselves from fraud.

    • Tips for Young Adults

      Credit unions offer young adults desirable, affordable financial services, as well as the advantage of personal service developed to help them grow their savings. Many credit unions offer services within schools or have student-run branches.

    • Pocket Cents

      Learn about the history of money, different currencies used around the world, the power of dividends and how to be smart about preparing for your financial future with Pocket Cents from NCUA.

    • Understand Your Privacy Rights

      Federal privacy laws give you the right to stop (opt out of) some sharing of your personal financial information. The law permits your financial companies to share certain information about you without giving you the right to opt out.

  • Financial Tools and Resources
    • Brochures and Graphics

      These brochures and graphics may be linked, downloaded, or printed.

    • Calendar of Events

      View a listing of upcoming events, designations, and opportunities for each month.

    • College Scorecard

      Plan your entire financial aid packages online for all of the schools that you are considering.

    • Consumer Loan Calculator

      Explore your consumer loan, including the effect of adjusting number of payments, principal and interest rate on your monthly payment.

    • Consumer Resources

      Use these references and tools to make better informed financial decisions.

    • FAQs

      Locate answers in the Knowledge Base to a wide variety of frequently asked questions.

    • Games and Activities

      Test your financial knowledge with these games and activities for all ages.

    • Glossary

      Become an educated consumer by taking the mystery out of commonly used financial terms.

    • Lesson Plans and Resources

      Educators and parents can use these plans and resources to teach youth, tweens, and teens about saving, spending, budgeting, and the value of money.

    • Mortgage Loan Calculators

      Compare monthly payments and the amount of equity you would build with several kinds of fixed and adjustable rate mortgages.

    • Personal Budgeting Worksheet

      Take a close look at your income and expenses with this helpful worksheet that can identify where you might have room to save.

    • Savings & Retirement Calculator

      Get estimates based on your actual Social Security earnings record with this calculator.

    • Share Insurance Estimator

      Are your deposits insured? Find out with NCUA’s electronic Share Insurance Estimator.

    • Videos

      View NCUA's Consumer Report and Consumer Protection Update videos on current financial hot topics.

  • Credit Unions and You
    • Dealing with Debt

      Bill payer services, or debt consolidation services, can help consumers preserve their credit scores by merging debts and establishing a workable schedule to pay down money owed to creditors through a single monthly payment.

    • Buying A Car

      It's important to know how to make a smart deal. Your credit union can discuss car loan options with you.

    • Paying off Credit Cards

      Read your statement carefully for information about how long it would take to pay off your account balance if you only pay the minimum payment. It can take years, even decades, to pay it off.

    • Home Ownership and Mortgage Options

      Once you are ready to buy a home, consult your credit union about competitive interest rates and to find out about your mortgage options, including the term of the loan and the conditions.

    • Mortgage Modifications

      NCUA encourages credit unions to work constructively with residential mortgage borrowers who may be unable to meet their contractual payment obligations.

    • Preparing for Retirement

      Between longer life expectancies and fewer employers offering traditional pension plans, it’s a good idea to take an active role in planning for retirement.

    • Saving for College

      Whether you are saving for your own education or for your children’s, it’s wise to start planning for college as soon as possible.

    • Short Term Loans

      Payday loans (a.k.a. deferred advance loans, cash advance loans, check advance loans, post-dated check loans, or deferred deposit check loans) are loans borrowers promise to repay from their next paycheck or salary deposit.

Pocket Cents
  • Youth

    Have you ever thought about why money is worth anything? It's just paper and ink, or a small piece of stamped metal. To do a lot of things we need to use money. Money can give you choices and independence. Have you ever thought about how you could earn your own money? Or, how much money you should you save? The way you manage your money could determine if are able to buy food, a movie ticket, a pair of jeans, just about everything. Learn about the history of money, why we use it, how to save it, and how to protect it.

  • Teens and Tweens

    You may be thinking about your first checking or savings account, your first job, or even your first car. Soon, you will have the opportunity to pursue your dreams. You could go to college, launch your career, or start a business. No matter what you decide, you will need money to make it happen. It's never too early to learn smart financial habits. Whether saving a portion of a weekly allowance or understanding the deductions on the pay stub from a first job, good money management skills can last a lifetime. In this section, you will not only learn how to prepare financially for life after high school, but also how to avoid scams and common money mistakes.

  • Young Adults

    Are you prepared to make wise and informed financial decisions? Do you know how to recognize predatory credit offers? Can you balance a checkbook? Do you have a savings plan? Smart financial choices you make today could help you can achieve that new car purchase, or sail through an apartment lease or mortgage application. However, money mistakes when you're just starting out can leave you in debt and ruin your credit score. Learn how to live within a budget, handle credit and debt, and build a solid financial foundation for your future.

  • Parents And Educators

    How do you teach kids about money? It may be as simple as talking about your job, taking a trip to the grocery store, or opening a savings account at a credit union to deposit allowance and birthday money. The bottom line is that it’s never too early to start teaching children smart financial habits and the value of money. Educating, motivating, and empowering kids to become regular savers will enable them to keep more of the money they earn. Whether at home or in the classroom, this section will provide you with the tools and resources to teach kids how to grow into financially responsible adults. The reward could mean a life free from the anxieties of debt.

  • Seniors

    Did you know that seniors account for almost 30% of all fraud victims? Whether you are looking for information for yourself or for a loved one, in this section you will learn how to defend against these scams, as well as, find information on reverse mortgages, prepaid funerals, emergency savings, and long-term care. Additionally, you will find articles that will help with money management, post-retirement planning, and maximizing government benefits.

  • Marriage and Family

    You may have a retirement account. But, do you really know how much you should be saving? Do you budget to save, and not just when you have extra money left over in your paycheck? Have you thought about saving for college? Does your family have an emergency fund? Anyone can learn how to save money and invest in their future. In this section, you will learn how to take control of your financial future, including how to defend against fraud and scams, tips on buying a car or home, how to handle credit and debt, and information about credit reports.

  • Servicemembers

    Are you financially ready? Servicemembers and military families face unique financial challenges, whether on active duty, returning to civilian life, or living as a veteran. In recent years, servicemembers have joined the ranks of those who are considered most vulnerable to predatory lenders and identity theft. Most military families today are not saving adequately for retirement, and many do not have an emergency fund. In this section, you will learn how to protect yourself from financial vulnerabilities, as well as, how to budget, save, and handle debt and credit. Additionally, learn about free financial resources, benefits, and special protections offered by the U.S. government for servicemembers and their families.

Student Loans

An education beyond high school is an investment in your future. It can be expensive and often requires you or your family to take out loans to help pay for it. If you’re considering student loans to help you pay for school, you’re not alone – many students need loans to cover their full cost of attendance. In 2010, 67% of bachelor's degree recipients used loans to pay for their education. But the more money you borrow now, the higher your monthly loan payments will be after graduation.

If you have to take out student loans, comparing your options can help you find the student loan best suited for your needs.

Student loans fall into two categories, federal loans and private loans.

  • Federal loans, which are subject to oversight and regulation by the federal government, include:
    • Direct Loans, where the U.S. Department of Education is the lender;
    • Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), where private lenders make loans backed by the federal government; and
    • Federal Perkins Loans.
  • Private loans, sometimes referenced as “alternative loans,” are offered by private lenders and do not include the benefits and protections available with federal loans.

For most borrowers, federal student loans are the best option. When you start to pay back your federal loans, the interest rate will be fixed, which will help you predict your payments after graduation. And in some cases, the federal government will pay the interest on your loans while you are in school – these loans are called subsidized loans.

Other student loans are generally private student loans. The most common private student loans are offered by financial institutions. Their interest rates are often variable, which means your interest rates and payments could go up over time. Private loans can also be more expensive – rates have been as high as 16% over the past couple of years. And when it is time to repay, private loans don’t offer as many options to reduce or postpone payments.

For most people, federal student loans are a better deal than private student loans, so you’ll want to take advantage of federal options first.

If your grants and federal loans are not enough to cover the cost of your education, you should consider the following options:

  • Search for scholarships. Look for state and local grants and scholarships using one of the many free scholarship search options available. Servicemembers, veterans, and their families may be eligible for GI Bill benefits and/or military tuition assistance.
  • Cut costs. Consider getting one or more roommates or a part-time job, possibly through Federal Work-Study.
  • See what your family can contribute. Your parents may be able to get tax credits for their contributions. Parents can also explore the federal Direct PLUS Loan program.
  • Shop around for a private loan. Remember these loans generally have higher interest rates and less repayment flexibility compared to federal student loans. You generally should turn to private loans only after you have explored all other grant, scholarship, and federal loan options. If you can show you have a very high credit rating, you may find an affordable private student loan, though you will likely need a co-signer, who will be legally obligated to repay the loan if you can’t or don’t. Look for the one with the lowest interest rate and flexible repayment options.

First, make sure you need a private student loan. These loans generally are not as affordable as federal student loans and offer little repayment flexibility.

Here are some factors to consider:

  • Talk to your school’s financial aid office to get a form certifying that you need additional aid to cover the cost of attendance – most lenders require it.
  • Shop for lower interest rates and loans that offer flexibility if you have trouble making payments.
  • Some private lenders may advertise very low interest rates – remember, only borrowers with the best credit will qualify for these rates. Your rate could be much higher.
  • In 2011, over 90% of private student loans required a co-signer, so make sure you have someone like a parent or another relative lined up. Your co-signer will be legally obligated to repay the loan if you can’t or don’t. You may want to consider loans that offer “co-signer release” after a number of on-time payments.

Private Loans

Private companies may offer you loans and other forms of financial assistance for your education. They often use direct mail marketing, telemarketing, television, radio, and online advertising to promote their products.

Paying for your education is a serious long-term financial obligation; that’s why comparing the costs of different ways of financing your education is so important. Private loans tend to have higher fees and interest rates than federal government loans. Private loans also do not offer the opportunities for cancellation or loan forgiveness that are available on many federal loan programs. So it makes good financial sense to exhaust your federal loan options (as well as grants and scholarships) before considering loans from any private companies. To learn more about federal government loans, visit www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov .

How to Spot Deceptive Private Student Loan Practices

If you are considering a private student loan, it’s important to know whom you’re doing business with and the terms of the loan. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and U.S. Department of Education (ED) offer these tips to help you recognize deceptive private student loan practices.

  • Some private lenders and their marketers use names, seals, logos, or other representations similar to those of government agencies to create the false or misleading impression that they are part of or affiliated with the federal government and its student loan programs. ED does not send advertisements or mailers, or otherwise solicit consumers to borrow money. If you receive a student loan solicitation, it is not from ED.
  • Don’t let promotions or incentives like gift cards, credit cards, and sweepstakes prizes divert you from assessing whether the key terms of the loan are reasonable.
  • Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you know with whom you are dealing. Private student lenders typically ask for your student account number — often your Social Security number (SSN) or Personal Identification Number (PIN) — saying they need it to help determine your eligibility. However, because scam artists who purport to be private student lenders can misuse this information, it is critical to provide it or other personal information only if you have confidence in the private student lender with whom you are dealing.
  • Check out the track record of particular private student lenders with your state Attorney General (www.naag.org), your local consumer protection agency (www.consumeraction.gov), and the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org).

Special Considerations for Consolidation of Federal Loans

Student loan consolidation is combining several loans into one with a new repayment term and interest rate. This is generally offered in connection with federal loans. Here’s how to help identify potential problems related to loan consolidation:

  • Avoid lenders and marketers who use high-pressure sales tactics. Some marketers pitch that “your interest rates may go up if you do not consolidate immediately!” Whether and when interest rates for consolidating your loans will change depends on what type of loans you have.
  • Look at your loan documents to determine whether the interest rates are fixed or variable:
    • If all of your education loans have fixed interest rates, there may be no deadline to consolidate.
    • If some or all of your loans have variable interest rates, when you consolidate into a fixed loan it may affect the interest rate of your loan. ED publishes new variable rates for some federal loans each July 1st. The annual rate changes can raise or lower the interest rate offered on a consolidated loan because the consolidation interest rate will be the weighted average of all loans consolidated.

Whether or not you have a targeted timeframe, take your time to determine whether consolidating is right for you.

  • Some lenders impose restrictions on promised discounts. Some may disclose these limits only in the fine print. Read the fine print in your loan documents to find these types of conditions:
    • Some lenders lower the interest rate on your consolidated loan, but only if you opt for automated payments from your checking account.
    • Other lenders discount the interest rate on your consolidated loan, but only if your loan has at least a specified minimum loan balance.
    • Still others agree to lower the interest rate on your consolidated loan, but only if you remain current on your payments for the life of the loan. You may want to consider loans with more immediate discounts, a shorter on-time payment period for interest rate discounts, or an additional discount for signing up for automatic payments.
  • Some lenders sell consolidated loans to other companies. Because benefits of consolidated loans — like promised discounts — may not transfer, you may lose benefits if the lender sells your loan. Ask the lender whether the terms of your loan will change if it is sold.
  • Be cautious about consolidating federal loans and private loans into one private loan. The result of consolidating all loans into one non-federal private loan means that you lose all the benefits and protections provided in the federal loan programs.
  • Consolidating a Perkins loan may not be in your best interest. You may lose unique deferment and cancellation rights available to Perkins loan borrowers. For more information about these rights visit www.myeddebt.com/borrower.
  • Frequent consolidation after borrowing may impact timelines you need to meet to qualify for these benefits.

For More Information or to File a Complaint

To learn about federal student loans, contact:

U.S. Department of Education
Federal Student Aid Information Center
P.O. Box 84
Washington, DC 20044-0084
800-4-FED-AID (TTY: 800-730-8913)
www.FederalStudentAid.ed.gov

Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, administers the federal student financial aid — grants, loans, and work-study programs — available for education beyond high school. Federal Student Aid interacts with postsecondary schools, financial institutions and other participants in the student aid programs to deliver services that help students and families plan and pay for college.

Notify the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman at 1-877-557-2575 or www.ombudsman.ed.gov if you have a complaint that you cannot resolve with your lender.

Helpful Resources

 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Choose a Student Loan and Action Guide

 

U.S. Department of Education - College Affordability and Transparency Center
College Affordability and Transparency Center

  • Which colleges have the highest and lowest tuition and net prices?
  • How much do career and vocational programs cost?
  • Apply for financial aid
  • Search for Colleges

Additional Articles:

Understanding Student Loans

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Understanding Student Loans in Real Terms  

Undestanding Student Loans in Real Terms

We have all heard the statistics: Tuition keeps rising, while student debt continues to increase. In fact, the United States now has more total student loan debt than credit card debt. The good news? Borrowers are eager to provide students with loans to make their college aspirations a reality. The bad news? Those same students will graduate with thousands in loan payments. Unfortunately, students often do not recognize the full impact of taking on additional debt. Let's get nerdy and put an average debt loan in terms anyone can undrestand.

Average Student Debt

Let's start with some background on student debt.

The average credit card debt in the U.S. is: $15,956. The average student debt in 2010 was $25,250, with public schools at $22,420 and private non-profit schools at $30,690.

Students Accumulating Debt

2/3 of all students graduate with student loan debt.

Interest Rates

Federal loans: 3.4% Stafford Subsidized, 5% Perkins and %6.8 Stafford Unsubsidized.

Private Loans: 3.4% to 13.5%, at 9.5% Average

Note: Variable Interest Rate private loans can vary from 3-17%

Repayment Costs

So how much will your payments be? Out of $25,250, $19,695 is to private loans, and $5,555 is to Federal loans. This is the mix of Federal/Private loans with conservative 5.1% Effective Interest Rate.

In 10 years at 5.1% interest rate, it will cost $282 monthly, with a total interest paid of $8,559.

In 20 years at 5.1% interest rate, it will cost $183 monthly, with a total interest paid of $18,634.

How much is $183/month, really? You can lease a brand new car every three years. You can buy a new iPod every month for 20 years (that's a todal of 240 iPods). You can buy one iPod and 38K songs - 106 days of music (that's rougly 152,640 minutes - that's right, non-stop). You can be invested in a 401K, and worth over $100,000 after 20 years. You can buy a tropical island (Yes, really. $30,000 will get you a ncie spread even Robinson Crusoe would admire). You can skydive twice a week for 20 years (that's over 2000 jumps).

But don't avoid college just because of debt. The average college graduate with a bachelor's degree is expcted to earn $1.2 million more over the course of their lifetime than those with just a high school diploma.

Average Salary

The average Bachelor's Degree Salary is $51,171, with $33,000 take-home pay (approx.), with 8.8% student loan payment and 30% taxes (approx.). $3,100 of your gross annual salary will be needed to cover $2,000 in loan payments (after taxes).

Student Debt is not all bad, but it's important to be aware of your future obligations and understand that responsible planning now can save you a lot of money later.

Via: NerdWallet

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