John Grisham’s “The Rooster Bar” examines the national student debt crisis through the eyes of three law students.

John Grisham’s “The Rooster Bar” examines the national student debt crisis through the eyes of three law students.

Grisham’s book is very timely.  Student debt has moved from being an invisible threat to our economy to top of mind and front page news, not just for those with the debt but for all of us who can help out and are impacted by it. -Ravi Sawhney

John Grisham, the lawyer-turned-bestselling-author who brought us courtroom classics like The Client, The Pelican Brief and A Time to Kill, is introducing audiences to a new type of villain: the predatory student loan. His latest work, The Rooster Bar, examines the national student debt crisis through the eyes of three law students trapped in a for-profit loan scam—and readers can’t seem to get enough of the timely tale.

Praised as a masterful thriller by both The Washington Post and The New York Times, The Rooster Bar, which is somewhat inspired by a groundbreaking 2014 exposé on shady law school loans, is a unique find in today’s book world: a page-turner with a legit cautionary message. Its three protagonists—swindled out of their future and saddled with debt by greedy investors—serve as a warning to all American students, and it appears Grisham is hoping the novel will stir up some national debate as well. “There’s a day of reckoning coming with all of this debt and students who are unable to pay it,” Grisham remarked in a recent interview, adding, “That just strikes me as a bad way to educate people.”

The book hit shelves on October 31st (fitting given that The Rooster Bar’s true-to-life- subject is probably scarier than any supernatural Halloween story). Pick up a copy today for an entertaining and informative read.

LoanGifting Announces Support for H.R. 795 and H.R. 108

LoanGifting Announces Support for H.R. 795 and H.R. 108

 

Now is an ideal time for Congress to step in and offer help to the tens of millions in need of student debt relief. “-Ravi Sawhney

LoanGifting is asking their social-media-savvy users to help take employment student loan assistance to the next level. Members and their extended network of donors, family and friends are invited to fill out a short form at https://www.loangifting.com/advocate to voice their support for H.R. 795, the Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act, and H.R. 108, the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Act of 2017. The form includes a pre-written letter urging House and Senate representatives to step up and join the cause.

H.R. 795 (along with its Senate equivalent, S. 796) represents a bipartisan effort of over 100 Democrats and Republicans to expand tax laws and enable employers to make tax-free donations toward employee student loans. The move would take a significant bite out of the $1.4 trillion in student debt that currently threatens our nation’s economy and prevents many students and recent grads from attaining financial independence. The bill would benefit business owners as well: Studies show employer loan assistance can boost retention rates and reduce employee anxiety.

Similarly, H.R. 108 would provide tax credits for businesses that contribute to employees’ educational loans. LoanGifting suggests members make special mention of H.R. 108 when e-mailing members of Congress, particularly as the bill could use the extra push (it only has two cosponsors to date, compared to H.R. 795’s 104). If you’re already a LoanGifting user, consider visiting https://www.loangifting.com/advocate today and becoming an activist for student debt. Not a LoanGifting member but interested in crowdfunding your educational loans via an effortlessly streamlined and ridiculously efficient platform? Check out https://www.loangifting.com/ for more info.

Students Set September Record: LoanGiftings Numbers Increase by 100,000…and Counting

Students Set September Record: LoanGiftings Numbers Increase by 100,000…and Counting

Students Set September Record: LoanGiftings Numbers Increase by 100,000…and Counting

Happy “Back to School” season.

Or should we call it “Loan” season? Wherever you are in your academic journey, the fall months are often a time to reset, regroup and re-evaluate your educational status—grade-wise and tuition-wise. As we settle into autumn, you (like millions of other indebted students and recent grads) may be asking yourself, “Where’s my next student loan payment coming from?”

As it happens, thousands of students such as yourself have chosen to answer this very question by turning to LoanGifting. Over 100,000 students, in fact. In what has been a record-setting September, LoanGifting’s crowdfunding website has welcomed more than 100,000 new student loan debtors to its platform. As more and more of the 45 million Americans with educational loans begin to take advantage of LoanGifting’s powerful combination of crowd-sourced fundraising and employee-sponsored student loan benefits, the LoanGifting solution is fast gaining a reputation as the future of student debt relief.

“It’s clear millions need help with student loan repayment. LoanGifting was created for that purpose,” says Ravi K. Sawhney, LoanGifting’s founder and CEO. LoanGifting allows student debtors to connect with their extended network of friends, family and employers to help alleviate outstanding student loans by pitching in small amounts that can make a huge difference. The FinTech solution allows donations to be made directly to a student debtor’s loan account, seamlessly streamlining the repayment process and potentially making it more attractive to loan holders than more traditional methods like, say, 401k subsidies.

“The power of LoanGifting not only lies in the desire and ability for companies and society to help solve the student debt crisis, but goes beyond. Similar to a savings bond…LoanGifting contributions to loans can create a magnification of benefits. By prepaying principal today, we see as much 300% in total debt service reduction,” Sawhney observes. And, if September’s enrollment is any indication, thousands upon thousands of students saddled with debt are catching wise to the immense benefits of LoanGifting and taking steps to get in on the ground floor.

And that’s only the beginning.

With the recent launch of Student LoanBenefits, a feature that gives employers the opportunity to use LoanGifting as part of their employee packages, LoanGifting is on track to grow exponentially in the coming year. “Employers are looking for ways to help recruit candidates, retain employees, and reduce workforce stress. Recent studies show student loan benefits accomplish all three. By partnering with LoanGifting, we believe companies can help make significant progress in the fight against student debt [all] while aiding internal performance metrics,” Sawhney reports.

Class dismissed for now, students. We hope this information gave you some fresh insight into how best to design a loan repayment plan. In September, thousands of students and grads decided on an innovative debt program that works for them. Why not consider being one of the thousands more that will sign up in October?

 

 

A New Way to Knock Out Student Debt: Introducing the Crowdfunding/Employee Loan Benefit 1-2 Punch

A New Way to Knock Out Student Debt: Introducing the Crowdfunding/Employee Loan Benefit 1-2 Punch

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the average default rate on student loan debt is 11.2 percent.

It’s a pretty bleak number.

Even more distressing? Estimates indicate that no payments at all were made on the $137 billion due in loan balances in the year 2016 (a 14 percent increase in defaults compared to 2015). Clearly the current system of standard repayment isn’t working, and students are in dire need of a more effective solution if they want to avoid getting pummeled by their debt.

Not to worry, college kids and recent grads: LoanGifting has entered the ring.

LoanGifting harnesses the power of crowdfunding to offer you some much needed assistance if you find yourself reeling from a walloping educational loan. In fact, the innovative LoanGifting SaaS Fin Tech solution was designed specifically to help knock out the estimated $1.5 trillion American student loan epidemic.

LoanGifting was also developed in response to the burgeoning crowd-sourced fundraising trend, a millennial phenomenon exemplified by interactive websites such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe. And LoanGifting’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect: A recent Crowdfunding Industry Report states that $34 billion was contributed toward crowd-sourced campaigns in 2015 alone, representing a vast potential market for students seeking to reduce their debt. And it looks as though the pool of possible student loan donations can only get bigger. Between 2014 and 2015, crowdfunding volumes increased by 82 percent in North America. For platforms like LoanGifting—which arguably improves upon the basic crowd-sourced business model by syncing directly to student loan accounts—it appears the only way to go is up.

Need a real-world example?

Boom. Meet Katie Curnow, a graduate who’s using crowdfunding to hit her student debt with everything she has. Katie holds approximately $92,000 in educational loans and, as such, she’s decided to leverage LoanGifting’s collective resources to help alleviate her financial burden. With help from LoanGifting’s advanced solution and Katie’s own entrepreneurial spirit, Katie has launched an exceptional repayment campaign that comes with a brilliant twist. Her donors don’t just get the satisfaction of taking a punch to Katie’s loans; they also get handcrafted gifts or useful life lessons, depending on the donation amount. So far, Katie’s newfound crowdfunding community has enabled her to pay off approximately 12.5 percent of her student loans. You can learn more about Katie and her debt repayment plan at www.katiethanksyou.wordpress.com.

Looking for another move besides crowdfunding to add to your debt-fighting repertoire?

Take a break between rounds and consider this: Employers are also in training to help students battle their loans. In an effort that Forbes calls the “Hottest Employee Benefit of 2017,” businesses are striking at student debt by offering loan benefit plans that have numerous advantages for both managers and employees. Due to the high interest rates associated with student loans and the volatility of financial markets, student loan benefits can actually have a greater impact on financial wellbeing than the usual 401(k). Plus, the return on investment is better. Case in point: A recent poll by American Student Assistance (ASA) found that three out of five employees prefer student debt repayment programs to typical retirement plans.

And student loan benefits can boost employee work ethic as well. According to an ASA survey from 2015, 50 percent of indebted students report that loan anxiety has negatively impacted their ability to concentrate at work. It follows that employers can potentially relieve stress and improve employee productivity, satisfaction and cognitive retention by investing in a student loan repayment initiative. In addition, any business manager savvy enough to establish a loan benefit program would also be more likely to attract valuable team members; a full 76 percent of the ASA survey respondents claim repayment plans are an appealing incentive when considering job offers.

Whether you decide to take down your debt with a devastating jab (like, say, LoanGifting’s crowdfunding technique) or opt for a powerful uppercut (in the form of employee student loan benefits), you now have more ways to knock out your student loans than ever before. New solutions that provide supplemental loan repayment capabilities are already in your corner, and it’s only a matter of time before your loans are down for the count indefinitely. Start making plans to emerge victorious today.

Cue the training montage and the energizing fight song.

 

 

3 Reasons Why LoanGifting Is a More Efficient Option for Students

3 Reasons Why LoanGifting Is a More Efficient Option for Students

The secret’s out that crowdfunding is becoming the go-to option for students and recent grads facing exorbitant loans and interest fees. And, odds are, when you think of crowdfunding, you think of long established platforms such as GoFundMe.

But just because services like GoFundMe have name recognition on their side doesn’t necessarily mean they’re your best option for loan repayment planning.

Unsure about which platform is best for you? Consider these three reasons for going with the LoanGifting alternative.

It’s a streamlined, specialized service. A GoFundMe account may seem like a comfortable and familiar way to get your loan repayment off the ground, but, in fact, educational loans are just one of many categories handled by the GoFundMe service. If you should decide to list your loans with GoFundMe, you’d be placed in a pool of campaigns that deal with everything from medical bills to community sporting events. You’d risk being lost in a diverse crowd, and unknown third-party donors—a group that, by the way, GoFundMe encourages you to avoid—could be easily distracted into diverting funds to other causes. Not the most effective way to get the word out about your student debt.

At LoanGifting, we devote all time and energies to educational loans. Your story will be placed alongside similar campaigns, so generous givers looking to help finance higher education will be laser-focused on struggling students like yourself. Worried this adds to your competition? Don’t. LoanGifting’s community section provides you with a place to network with others and find donors together. You won’t have to rely solely on your friends and family, and you and your fellow students can harness your collective power to reach a wider range of potential supporters.

The money you earn goes directly toward your loans. GoFundMe’s loan repayment platform, though great in theory, still involves a middleman: You. Should you collect money from a GoFundMe campaign, the money would go into your bank account, leaving loan repayments completely in your hands. The chances of the funds being used for immediate gratification would remain pretty high, and you’d still be left with the stress of dealing with loan holders.

What if you could cut out this process entirely? At LoanGifting, we consolidate your loan data into one interface and allow you to transfer money to your loan holders directly. No worries. No phone calls. No monthly payment vouchers. Just an instant reduction of your loan principal.

Quite simply: It’s cheaper. No joke. LoanGifting’s 3% basic deduction fee is a full 2% less than GoFundMe’s 5% rate. This obviously puts more money toward eliminating your debt, which should always be your end goal. Plus, the quicker the repayment, the smaller the loan will ultimately be—a swift and elegant payment to your loan principal (as described above) can reduce your interest by a fair amount. If you were to opt for GoFundMe’s more traditional educational loan funding, you’d most likely take longer to repay, and your interest would keep racking up.

Still, selecting a loan repayment service is ultimately up to you. We wish you the best of luck as you decide and hope this brief comparison helps you narrow down your choices.

The Latest In Gifting: How Loan Contributions Can Become Your Gift of Choice

The Latest In Gifting: How Loan Contributions Can Become Your Gift of Choice

Struggling with what gift to ask for the next time your birthday rolls around? Not sure what to put on your holiday wish list? Getting married soon and don’t really need a new blender?

Why not ask your nearest and dearest to alleviate some of your debt anxiety? We promise it’s a more popular practice than you’d think.

In early 2016, organizations in the business of tracking student loan trends—such as LendEDU and Fastweb—noticed some interesting behavior among college students and recent graduates: they were foregoing traditional gifts in favor of paying off their student loans. Using crowdfunding or gift registry platforms, these savvy individuals were requesting that friends and family make small (or large, depending on the audience) contributions to amassed student debt rather than opting for the usual birthday gift card, wedding registry cookware or hideous Christmas sweater. This sensible gifting idea was so ingenuous that Fastweb estimated around $20 million toward educational loans had been raised via GoFundMe as of August 2015.

Enter a newer, sleeker, more thoughtful and efficient crowdsourcing model called LoanGifting. Our platform, which debuted in October 2015, improved upon the standard funding process by syncing your monetary gifts with your loan account—cutting out the extra paperwork and relieving the temptation to use your gift money for more immediate items that you really don’t need. Plus, a loan donation can truly be a gift that keeps on giving; the more you chip away at your debt, the less likely you are to accrue ridiculous amounts of interest.

Now, with online loan gifting more streamlined and accessible than ever, we encourage you to join the thousands of students taking charge of their finances by asking for student loan donations in place of material gifts. Next time someone says, “Hey, what do you want for your birthday?” suggest they show their generosity by giving you something bigger and more important than the latest techie gadget or a boring pair of shoes. Ask them to invest in your education and your future successes instead.

Millennial student debtors don’t think they’ll have to repay student debt

Millennial student debtors don’t think they’ll have to repay student debt

We recently surveyed millennial student debtors and over 30% believe they will not have to repay their student debt. With over $1.5 trillion in total student loan debt and a growing rate of default, many believe the government or someone else will step in to relieve this insurmountable burden. Guess again!

Even established loan forgiveness programs such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Act will likely be cancelled. Citing budget concerns, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has recommended to terminate the program which has been around for 10 years. Bottom line, if the government can’t afford to keep current forgiveness programs running there is no chance for sweeping government debt relief.

Many millennials also believe they can continually defer their student debt to avoid repayment. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but deferment cannot go on forever. Even in death, the majority of student loans remain due and payable.

Why put off for tomorrow what you can accomplish today? Yes, student loans are a burden. Yes, something should be done to fix the cost of education. But no, nothing practical is in process to fix the problem. That is why at LoanGifting, we’ve combined the repayment power of crowdfunding and employer sponsored Student LoanBenefitsTM to help fight student debt.

The sacrifices people make to meet their monthly student loan payments

The sacrifices people make to meet their monthly student loan payments

A recent survey has found that over 80 percent of Americans with student loans have been forced to make sacrifices simply to meet their monthly payment. With the student loan debt growing by $2,700 every second and totaling over $1.3 trillion, AICPA conducted a survey to see the impact it is having on American’s and their ability moving forward in life. The numbers show that 81% of adults that have student loans say it has effected them financially, as well as the personal sacrifices due to debt they have. 

Our main purpose at LoanGifting is to give students and graduates the opportunity to not be a part of the 80 percent who are struggling each month to make their payment. We know first-hand the burden student loans can have on you, which is exactly why we created our platform to begin with. 

We are working overtime to make LoanGifting the future for paying off student loans and cannot wait to show you the new features we have been working on!

As always, we will keep you updated with student loan news and our progress as we get closer to launching!

Federal Student Loans Just Got Cheaper

Federal Student Loans Just Got Cheaper

 

The 2016-17 interest rate will be the lowest in a decade.
The interest rate for undergraduate students taking out federal loans will soon dip slightly, to 3.76%, based on new Treasury rates announced today. That’s down from a 4.29% rate this year.

For graduate students and parents who take out PLUS loans, the interest rate will be 6.31%, down from 6.84%, Graduate students can also take direct loans at a rate of 5.31%, down from 5.84%

Those rates take effect July 1, and they’ll be fixed over the life of any loans that are taken out during the 2016-17 academic year.

Federal student loan interest rates have been tied to the rates on 10-year Treasury notes since 2013, when Congress decided to have the loans reset every year based on market conditions..

While the decrease is generally good news for consumers’ monthly payments, the half-point change won’t lead to a drastic decrease in your monthly bills when you’re repaying your loans. Still, it is considerably less than the price students who borrowed just five years ago paid, when interest rates were more than 6%. Jason Deslisle, who has researched interest rates as the federal education budget project director at New America, said in a tweet Wednesday that the upcoming year’s loans will be a “record low.” (Rates were slightly lower in 2003-04 and 2004-05, but those were variable rates, unlike today’s fixed rates.)

 

This post was originally posted on Time by Kaitlin Mulhere and can be found here