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Bad credit is not something that can be solved overnight. Although you can work to repair your credit, progress usually takes time. Sometimes, you do not have time to wait for your credit to improve…
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Debt consolidation is one of the most effective ways to effectively manage debt. It can greatly improve your debt-to-income ratio and help you get back on your feet. You will have more money in your pocket and less debt to worry about, and while your options are a little more limited if you have bad credit, you can still get a consolidation loan.
In this guide, weâll look at the ways that a debt consolidation loan will impact your credit score, while also showing you the best ways to consolidate credit card payments and find a credit card consolidation plan that suits your needs.
What is a Debt Consolidation Loan and How Does it Work?
A debt consolidation loan can help you to manage credit card debt and other unsecured debts by consolidating them into one, manageable monthly payment. You get a large loan and use this to clear all your current debts, swapping several high-interest debts for one low-interest loan.
Youâll consolidate multiple payments into a single monthly payment, and, in most cases, this will be much less than what youâre paying right now.
The problem is, creditors arenât in the business of helping you during your time of need. Theyâre there to make money, and in exchange for your reduced monthly payment, youâll get a loan that extends your debt by several years. So, while you may pay a few hundred dollars less per month, you could pay several thousand dollars more over the lifetime of the loan.
Why Consider Debt Consolidation for Bad Credit?
You can use a debt consolidation loan to consolidate credit card debt, clear your obligations, reduce the risk of penalties and fees, and ultimately improve your credit score. Whatâs more, you may still be accepted for a debt consolidation loan even if you have a poor credit score and a credit report with several derogatory marks.
Itâs an option that was tailormade for borrowers with lots of unsecured debt, and it stands to reason that anyone with a lot of debt will have a reduced credit score. Of course, it still helps if you have a high credit score as that will increase your chances of getting a low-interest debt consolidation loan, but even with bad credit, you can get a loan that will reduce your monthly payment.
How Does Debt Consolidation Affect Your Credit Score?
A debt consolidation loan can impact your credit score in a number of ways, all of which will depend on what option you choose:
- A balance transfer can reduce your score temporarily due to the maxed-out credit card and a new account.
- If you use a consolidation loan to clear credit card balances, you will diversify your credit report, which can benefit up to 10% of your credit score.
- If you continue to use your credit cards after clearing them, your credit utilization will drop, and your credit score will suffer.
- A new consolidation loan account will reduce your credit score because itâs a new account and because the average age of your accounts has decreased.
- Debt management will reduce your credit utilization score by requiring you to cancel credit cards. This accounts for 30% of your total credit score.
The good news is that all of these are minor, and the short-term reductions should offset in the long-term. After all, youâre clearing multiple debts, and that can only be a good thing.
A debt consolidation loan will not impact your score in the same way as debt settlement or bankruptcy.
Alternatives to a Debt Consolidation Loan
A debt consolidation loan isnât your only option for escaping debt. There are numerous options for bad credit and good credit, all of which work in a similar way to a debt consolidation loan.
These may be preferable to working with a consolidation loan company, especially if you have a lot of unpaid credit card balances or youâre suffering from financial hardship.
How Does a Debt Management Program Work?
Debt management is provided by credit unions and credit counseling agencies and offered to individuals suffering financial hardship and struggling to repay their debts. A debt management plan typically lasts three to five years and works with unsecured debt only, which includes medical debt, private student loans, and credit cards, but not mortgages or car loans.
A debt management plan ties you to a credit counseling agency, which acts as the middleman between you and your creditors. The agency will help to find a monthly payment you can afford and then negotiate with your creditors. You make your monthly payment through the debt management program and they distribute this to your creditors.
Debt management specialists are experts in negotiation and know how to get creditors to bend to their ways. They understand that lenders just want their money and are keen to avoid defaults and collections, so they remind them that failing to negotiate may increase the risk of such outcomes.
Debt management programs are not free. You will be charged a small up-front fee in addition to a monthly fee. However, the amount of time and money they save you is often worth the small charge.
The only real downsides to a debt management plan is that youâll be required to cancel most of your credit cards, which will impact your credit score, and if you miss a single payment then creditors will revert to previous terms and your progression will be lost.
A Balance Transfer
You donât need a debt consolidation loan to consolidate your debt. You can also use something known as a balance transfer credit card.
A balance transfer allows you to consolidate credit card debt onto a single card. These cards offer you 0% interest for up to 18 months and allow you to transfer multiple credit card balances.
As an example, letâs assume that you have the following credit card balances:
- Card 1 = $5,000
- Card 2 = $2,000
- Card 3 = $3,000
- Card 4 = $5,000
That gives you a total credit card balance of $15,000. If we assume an APR of 20% and a minimum payment of $500, you will repay over $20,000 in 42 months, with close to $6,000 covering interest alone.
If you use a balance transfer credit card, you will be charged an initial balance transfer rate of between 3% and 5%, after which you will not be required to pay any interest for up to 18 months. Continue making those same monthly payments, and youâll repay $9,000 before that introductory period ends, which means your debt will be reduced to just $6,000 and can be cleared in 14 months with less than $800 in total interest.
This is a fantastic option if you have a strong credit score, otherwise, you may struggle to find a credit limit high enough to cover your debts. However, itâs worth noting that:
- Your credit score may take an initial hit due to the new account and maxed-out credit card.
- The interest rate may be higher, so itâs important to clear as much of the balance as you can before the introductory period ends.
- You may be charged high penalty fees for late payments.
- You canât move credit card debt from cards owned by the same provider.
What About Debt Settlement?
Debt settlement works in a similar way to debt management, in that other companies work on your behalf to negotiate with your creditors. However, this is pretty much where the similarities end.
A debt settlement specialist will request several things from you:
- You pay a fee (charged upon settlement).
- You move money to a secure third-party account.
- You stop meeting your monthly payments.
They ask you to stop making payments for two reasons. Firstly, it will ensure you have more money to move to the third-party account, which is what they use to negotiate with creditors. They will offer those creditors a lump sum payment in exchange for discharging the debt, potentially saving as much as 90%, on top of which they will charge their fee.
Secondly, the more payments you miss, the more unlikely it is that your account will be settled in full, at which point the lender will be more inclined to accept a sizable settlement.
Debt settlement is not without its issues. It can reduce your credit score, increase the risk of litigation and take several years to complete. However, itâs the cheapest way to clear your debts without resorting to bankruptcy.
You can do debt settlement yourself by contacting your creditors and negotiating reduced sums, but you will need to have a large sum of cash prepared to pay these settlements and youâll also need a lot of patience and persistence. There are also companies like National Debt Relief that can help, as well a huge number of lesser-known but equally reputable options.
Who is Eligible for a Personal Loan for Debt Consolidation?
In theory, you can use a personal loan as a debt consolidation loan. In other words, instead of working with a debt consolidation company and allowing them to set the rates and find suitable terms, you just apply for a personal loan, use it to pay off your debts, and then focus your attention on repaying that loan.
This can work very well if youâre using it to repay credit card debt. The average credit card APR in the US is 16% to 20%, while the average personal loan rate is closer to 6%. A personal loan acquired for this purpose will give you more control over the total interest and repayment term.
However, while you may pay less over the term, itâs unlikely that youâll reduce your monthly payments. A debt consolidation loan is designed to provide an extended-term so that the monthly payment will be reduced, and unless you choose a loan with a long term, you wonât get the same benefits.
The biggest issue, however, is that you need a very good credit score to get a loan that is big enough to cover your debts and has interest that is low enough to make it a viable option. This is easier said than done, and if youâre drowning in debt thereâs a good chance your credit score will not be high enough to make this feasible.
Is it Time for Bankruptcy?
If you have mounting credit card debt, personal loan debt, and private student loans, and youâre struggling to make the repayments or clear more than the minimum amount, you may want to consider bankruptcy.
It should always be seen as the last resort, as it can have a seriously negative impact on your credit score and make it difficult to get a home loan, car loan, or low-interest credit card for many years. However, if youâre not confident that debt settlement will work for you and believe youâre too far gone for debt management and consolidation, speak with a credit counselor and discuss whether bankruptcy is the right option.
You can learn more about this process in our guides to Filing for Bankruptcy and Rebuilding your Credit After Bankruptcy.
Debt Consolidation for Bad Credit Homeowners
If you own your home, you have a few more options for debt consolidation. When you use your home as collateral against a loan itâs known as a secured debt. It means the lender can repossess your home if you fail to meet the repayments. This also eliminates some of the risks associated with lending, which means they offer more favorable interest rates and terms.
Home Equity Loan and HELOC
An equity loan is a large personal loan secured against the value tied-up in your home. You can acquire an equity loan when you own a large share of your property, in which case youâre using that share as collateral.
Interest rates are very favorable, and you can receive a consolidation loan that clears all your debts and leaves only a small monthly payment and easily manageable debt in their place.
A home equity line of credit (HELOC), works in much the same way, only this time youâre given a line of credit similar to what youâd get with a credit card. You can use this credit to repay your debts, after which you just need to focus on repaying the HELOC.
An equity loan and a HELOC provide the lowest possible interest rates of any debt consolidation loan. However, failure to meet your monthly payments will damage your credit score and place your home at risk.
Cash-Out Refinancing for Consolidation
Cash-Out refinancing replaces your current mortgage with a new, larger mortgage. The difference between these two home loans is then released to you as a cash sum, allowing you to clear your debts in one fell swoop.
Cash-Out refinancing is often used to fund a childâs college education or a new business, but itâs becoming increasingly common as a form of debt consolidation, helping American homeowners to clear credit card debt and other unsecured debts.
Reverse mortgages work in a similar way to home equity loans, but with a few key differences. Firstly, they are only offered to homeowners aged 62 or older. Secondly, there is no monthly payment and no other recurring obligations.
A reverse mortgage is only repaid when you sell the home or die. There are also some obligations with regards to maintaining the home and living in it full time, but you donât need to pay any fees and can use the money gained from this mortgage to clear your debts.
Summary: Consider Your Options
A debt consolidation loan is a great option if youâre struggling with debt. You can try a debt management plan if you have bad credit, a balance transfer if you have great credit, and debt consolidation companies if youâre somewhere in the middle.
But as discussed already, these are not the only options. The debt relief industry is vast and caters for every type and size of debt. Do your research, take your time, and make sure you understand the pros and cons of each option before you decide.
How to Get Debt Consolidation Loans When You Have Bad Credit is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.
At some point, most people experience an unexpected crisis that shakes their financial world. It could be losing a job, receiving a huge medical bill, or having a car break down at the worst possible time. But surviving a pandemic is a situation you probably never thought you would face.
No matter what challenge you’re facing, you’re not the first.
Along with the public health toll, the COVID crisis has put millions of people out of work. For those struggling financially, here are eight critical rules to help you manage money wisely, stretch your resources, and bounce back from this unprecedented health and economic disaster.
8 rules for managing a financial hardship
Here are the details about each rule to manage a financial setback during the coronavirus crisis.
Rule #1: Accept your situation and use your resources to seek help
The key to successfully navigating a financial setback is to be realistic. If you’re in denial and don’t face money troubles head-on, you can quickly compound the damage.
Instead of focusing on the problem, getting angry, or letting stress overwhelm you, channel your emotions into finding solutions. Start talking about your challenges with people and professionals you trust, such as a money-savvy family member, financial advisor, legitimate credit counselor, or an attorney.
Instead of focusing on the problem, getting angry, or letting stress overwhelm you, channel your emotions into finding solutions.
The following financial associations have certified volunteers who can offer free help and advice:
- National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
- The Financial Planning Association
- Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education
Rule #2: Get a bird’s eye view of your finances
To fully understand your situation, create a list of what you own and owe; this is called a net worth statement. Compiling your data in one place helps you evaluate your financial resources, make decisions more efficiently, and have essential information at your fingertips if creditors or advisors ask for it.
First, list your assets:
- Retirement accounts
- Real estate
Then list your liabilities:
- Car loans
- Student loans
- Credit card debt
Include the estimated values of your assets, the balances on your debts, and the interest rates you pay for each liability. You could jot down this information on paper, enter it in a computer spreadsheet, or create a report using money management software.
When you subtract your total liabilities from your total assets, you’ve calculated your net worth, which is an indicator of your financial health. It’s not uncommon to have a low or negative net worth when you’re in financial trouble.
RELATED: 10 Things Student Loan Borrowers Should Know About Coronavirus Relief
Rule #3: Understand your cash flow
An essential part of bouncing back from a financial crisis is keeping an eye on your monthly income and expenses. Create a cash flow statement that lists your expected income and typical expenses, such as rent, utilities, food, prescriptions, transportation, and insurance. Again, you can create this report manually or by using budgeting features in a financial program.
Understanding where your money goes is the only way to prioritize expenses and cut all non-essential spending.
Understanding where your money goes is the only way to prioritize expenses and cut all non-essential spending. Making temporary sacrifices will help you recover as quickly as possible with less long-term damage to your finances.
Rule #4: Shop your essential expenses
As you review your spending, it’s an excellent time to comparison-shop your essential expenses. Evaluate your highest costs first, such as housing, vehicles, and insurance, since they offer the most significant potential savings.
For instance, you may be able to move into a less expensive home, purchase or lease a cheaper vehicle, and shop your auto insurance to find better deals. Ask your utility provider about assistance programs that offer energy-saving improvements at no charge.
Rule #5: Communicate with your creditors
If you haven’t been in contact with your creditors, start a dialog with each one immediately. You’ll come out ahead and get favorable treatment from creditors if you are proactive and honest about your financial troubles. Ask them for solutions, such as deferring payments for several months, setting up a reduced payment plan, or refinancing a loan to reduce your financial burden.
You’ll come out ahead and get favorable treatment from creditors if you are proactive and honest about your financial troubles.
Creditors are likely to ask about details regarding your financial situation, so have your net worth and cash flow statements on hand when you speak to them. Be ready to complete any required assistance applications quickly.
Rule #6: Prioritize your debts carefully
Based on guidance from creditors and finance professionals, prioritize your bills and debts carefully. Your goal should be to conserve as much cash as possible without skipping essential payments. Always pay for necessities first: food, prescription drugs, and auto insurance.
Debts related to child support and legal judgments have severe consequences and should be prioritized
Use your net worth statement to rank your liabilities from highest to lowest priority. For instance, debts related to child support and legal judgments have severe consequences and should be prioritized. Keeping up with an auto loan is a high priority if you rely on your vehicle for transportation. Federal student loans are in automatic forbearance through September 30, and the relief may get extended through 2020.
Your unsecured debts—medical bills, credit cards, and private student loans—are lower priorities. Never pay these debts ahead of rent, a mortgage, or utilities when you have a cash shortage.
Rule #7: Don’t let collectors force you to make bad decisions
Prioritizing your debts means some may be paid late or not at all. If a debt collector contacts you about a low-priority debt, such as a medical bill or credit card, don’t allow them to persuade you to pay it before your highest priority bills.
Collectors may try various aggressive tactics, such as threatening to sue you or ruin your credit. A lawsuit could take years, and a creditor is more likely to negotiate a settlement with you. Remember that a creditor or collector can’t send you to jail for civil debts.
If you are behind on bills, that fact is likely already reflected on your credit reports. By the time a collector contacts you, the damage is already done, and paying the bill won’t improve your credit in the short-term.
Rule #8: Take advantage of local and federal benefits
If your income and savings have entirely dried up, use these resources to learn more about local and federal benefits.
- FeedingAmerica.org has a map showing local food banks
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the federal food program you may qualify for based on where you live, your income, and family size
- MakingHomeAffordable.gov can help you find a housing counselor or see if your mortgage is backed by the federal government and qualifies for forbearance
- Benefits.gov has a questionnaire that helps you discover the benefits you’re eligible for
- Medicaid.gov is the federal health insurance program you may qualify for based on where you live, your income, and family size
- Healthcare.gov is the federal health insurance marketplace where you may find plans with substantial subsidies if you earn too much to qualify for Medicaid
Financial challenges can cause you and your family to experience a flood of emotions, including anger, fear, and embarrassment. As difficult as it might be to put a financial crisis into perspective, it’s critical. No matter what challenge you’re facing, you’re not the first. There are millions of people who are dealing with COVID-related financial hardships.
Face the fact that your recovery could take a while. Do everything in your power to manage your budget wisely by getting organized, seeking ways to earn more, and spending less. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from creditors, seek free advice from professionals, and take advantage of every local and federal benefit possible.
Attending college or university is a dream for a ton of people. Yet higher education can be expensive, seemingly putting that dream out of reach for many students and families.
Tuition at American schools has steadily increased for decades, so it can be hard for your average student to afford it. But it’s not only tuition costs that you need to consider: fees, room and board, off-campus living, meal plans, textbooks, living essentials and other supplies all cost money.
Fortunately, there are many different types of financial aid available to help you meet the total costs of attending school.
Grants, scholarships and government programs can all be used to aid your pursuit of higher education. Student loans, including private and federal loans, are also commonly used to fund college. But taking on debt requires more financial planning than other types of aid.
If youâre ready to find the right loan for you and your unique financial situation, weâve got you covered. Weâll go over everything and anything we think you need to know about subsidized student loansâthe basics, how theyâre different from unsubsidized loans and much more.
Student Loans and Rising Education Costs
Having a plan for how youâll pay for college is pretty important. That’s mostly because the tuition continues rise:
- According to The College Board, tuition and fees for a public four-year institution in the academic year of 1989â90 were $3,510, in 2019 dollars.
- For the academic year 2019â2020, those costs exceeded $10,000. In the same time span, tuition and fees for a private four-year institution rose from $17,860 to nearly $37,000.
- In the last 10 years alone, tuition and fees for four-year public schools have increased $2,020, while costs for four-year private schools have grown $6,210.
But as we mentioned, total costs include a lot more than tuition, and these other cost items have shown the same upward trend:
- Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows college textbooks costs increased 88% from 2006 to 2016.
- Average dorm costs at all postsecondary institutions were $6,106 in 2017, per data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Boarding costs, including meal plans, were $4,765. A decade earlier those costs, respectively, were $4,777 and $4,009.
- Costs rose 24% for students living off-campus at public four-year universities between 2000 and 2017, according to The Hechinger Report.
The growth in college costs has occurred rapidly, outpacing wagegrowth. This has made a degree unaffordable for many. Thatâs where student loans come in.
The biggest source of these loans is the federal government. According to Sallie Mae, more than 90% of student loan debt today is tied to federal student loans. While the government offers several loan types, often based on financial need, private lenders such as banks and credit unions also make student loans available.
What is a Subsidized Loan?
To better understand your loan options, let’s explore the specifics of one of the government’s most popular offers: the subsidized student loan.
Officially, a subsidized loan is a type of federal loan offered through the U.S. Department of Education’s Direct Loan Program and referred to as a Direct Subsidized Loan. They are made exclusively to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need and can be used to pay for college, university or a career school.
Subsidized loans work like most other student loans. They allow college goers to borrow money as they learn, paying the principal and interest back later. Most loans donât require repayment while you attend school, and provide a grace period of six months after graduation for you to find a job.
The most notable feature of subsidized loans is that the government pays the interest while you attend school at least part time. This is a quality thatâs pretty much unique to federal subsidized loans.
The government will also pay the interest during the grace period and during periods of loan deferment. You eventually assume responsibility for paying the interest, and principal, once you enter the repayment plan.
The bottom line for subsidized loans is they carry a lower lifetime cost, because the government pays interest while youâre at school.
Who’s Eligible to Take Out a Subsidized Loan?
Subsidized loans arenât available to everyone, however. In addition to meeting basic requirements for getting a loan from the federal Direct Loan Program, applicants for subsidized loans must:
- Demonstrate financial need.
- Be an undergraduate student.
- Be enrolled at least half time.
Anyone considering a subsidized loan must fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This is how the government will establish whether you demonstrate financial need that is sufficient for taking out a subsidized loan.
What Else Should You Know?
There are two other main points to discuss about subsidized loansâloan limits and time limits. Ultimately, your school will decide how much you can borrow. But there are annual limits to what you can borrow through subsidized loans, as well as a maximum for the entirety of your college career.
- In your first undergrad year you can borrow up to $5,500 through federal loan, no more than $3,500 of that amount can be through subsidized loans.
- In your second year you can borrow up to $6,500, no more than $4,500 through subsidized loans.
- In your third year you can borrow up to $7,500, no more than $5,500 through subsidized loans.
- The limits for your third year apply to your fourth year, and any year after that for which you are eligible to borrow through federal subsidized loans.
Factors influencing what you can borrow include what year you are in school and whether you are a dependent or independent student.
Importantly, you can only receive subsidized loans for 150% of the published time of your degree program. That means if you attend a four-year bachelor’s program, you can only receive a subsidized loan for six years.
What’s the Difference Between Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans?
Unsubsidized loans are the other type of loan the government offers. While unsubsidized loans and subsidized have some similarities, unsubsidized loans have some major differences.
Interest rates for both subsidized and unsubsidized loans are controlled and set by Congress. This makes the interest rates for government student loans among the lowest you will be able to find.
While the federal government pays interest on subsidized loans, youâll be solely responsible for paying interest on unsubsidized loans. Youâll have to pay interest while youâre in school and during the grace/deferment period. Here are some other key differences:
- Unsubsidized loans are available to undergraduate students, as well as graduate and professional students.
- Students don’t need to demonstrate financial need to apply for an unsubsidized loan.
- There is no maximum time limit for how long you can receive unsubsidized loans (compared to the 150% rule for subsidized loans).
- Annual and aggregate loan limits are generally higher for unsubsidized loans.
Private Loans vs. Federal Student Loans
Interested in how private loans stack up to government loans? In a nutshell:
- Private loans can have variable interest rates, which may make them lower in some cases than even fixed interest rates on government loans.
- Annual loan limits don’t apply to private loans, as you and your lender will work out a package that is best for you.
- Being approved for a private loan means submitting to a credit check, or having a parent as a consigner.
- Often, private loans require payment while you attend school, and may not have the allowance for forbearance and forgiveness as government loans do.
Taking the Next Steps Toward Taking Out a Student Loan
If you or your child is nearing college age, itâs time to start thinking about how youâll pay for higher education. It’s a good idea to look into a few options, including student loans, scholarships, grants and other sources.
If you want to get started on applying for a subsidized loan, get started on your FAFSA form. And if you’re taking a closer look at private student loans, you can find help here.
The post What to Know Before Taking Out a Subsidized Loan appeared first on Credit.com.