Posted on

10 Tips for Being a Smart Student Loan Borrower

RHS 2017

New Jersey Society of CPAs Develops Student Loan Checklist

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, With approximately $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the United States as of the first quarter of 2019, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, students and their parents need to more carefully understand loan terms and how to combat the rising cost of borrowing. As the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA) looks to inform the public about making sound financial decisions, its Student Loan Task Force developed a borrower checklist.

Continue reading 10 Tips for Being a Smart Student Loan Borrower
Posted on

New Jersey Ranks 14th in the 2019’s States with the Most Student Debt

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, With several candidates for the 2020 presidential election proposing the cancellation or refinancing of America’s massive student debt load, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on 2019’s States with the Most and Least Student Debt as well as accompanying videos.

To determine the states that are friendliest toward student-loan debtors, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 12 key metrics. The data set ranges from average student debt to unemployment rate among the population aged 25 to 34 to share of students with past-due loan balances.   

Continue reading New Jersey Ranks 14th in the 2019’s States with the Most Student Debt
Posted on

CPAs Agree U.S. Student Loan Debt is a Financial Crisis

student loans

Student Loans Weapons of Mass Financial Destruction

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

ROSELAND NJ, More than 80 percent of 623 certified public accountants polled in June by the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA) said they either “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that student loan debt at $1.6 trillion in the United States is a financial crisis. More than 75 percent of respondents considered student loan debt in New Jersey to be a “major problem.”

Continue reading CPAs Agree U.S. Student Loan Debt is a Financial Crisis
Posted on

75% of Millennials Net Worth is at the Mercy of Student Loans

RHS 2017

The statistics are in and if you’re a millennial, you have every reason to worry. It’s a well-known fact that student loans are a burden to the current generation. This is despite the millennials owning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. On the other hand, it’s these loans that made it possible for them to acquire tertiary level education.

A recent release showed student loans are now just shy of $1.5 trillion ($1.48). To put this into perspective, it is 1.5 times the credit card debt owed by Americans.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why millennials are unable to find that ever-elusive financial freedom. According to a study done by MagnifyMoney, a millennial with a student loan is worth a mere 25 percent of what a fellow millennial without a loan is worth.

With such disparity, it’s also clear where their income disappears to. Graduating may bring lots of joy, but the journey to the top of the hill is only beginning. Take a look at how fellow millennials struggle with student loans.

The Net Worth Divide

The rift in the net worth of people with student loans and those without continues to widen as the years go by. For example, in 1989, less than 35 households with student loans had only 13% less in net worth, compared to their counterparts without the burden.

Fast forward to 1998, and this figure is almost triple, with the rift widening to 36%, which means the household with a student loan averaged at $68,687 in net worth while those without averaged at $108,146.

Almost two decades later, the gap between the two households stands at a whopping 75%. Those with student loans average $29,087 while millennials without average $114,376. This means those without loans pocketed more than $85,000 than those shackled with loans.

While a college degree can command a lucrative salary, the income will only go toward clearing the debt thereby hindering you from achieving financial freedom.

A Dry Bank Account

Student loans are great since they finance your dreams. However, reality checks in after graduation. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a job, and the income will go toward offsetting the debt. This is the point where your dream of financial freedom dims.

According to studies, those with student loans use a huge chunk of their paycheck to pay off their loans, thus drying their bank accounts. These graduates have an average of $5,500 while those without holds almost double that amount, $10,180.

This creates a chain reaction where these millennials end up taking on more credit card debt as a result of reduced liquid cash. In fact, they form 55% of those with student debts, while those without makeup 32%. Furthermore, they also have huge balances, $2,888 compared to $1,476 for those without.

Reduced Retirement Savings

The chain reaction continues. Since the millennials have less money in their bank accounts, it’s only logical for them to cut down spending on various household items. Even doing so may not be enough to cover the monthly expenses.

This means no left-over to put away as savings for your retirement. The debt-free millennials have an average of $39,905 stashed away on retirement savings. This is $18,745 more than their counterparts with $5000 quick realistic loans, who have $21,160 saved.

However, you can change the narrative by starting to save for your sunset years as early as possible. Remember, these savings work like compound interest. Even a small contribution toward your IRA or 401(k) has the power to grow over time.


If saving for retirement is a struggle, then you can already imagine what kind of effort a millennial with a student loan will need in order to own a home.

The Joint Center for Housing from Harvard revealed that close to 21 million households used over 30% of their income to pay rent.

This is even as income remains stagnant, and rent costs continue to soar, making it difficult for one to realize the dream of owning a home. With student loans, the dream is even further away than expected thereby reducing the number of millennial graduates owning homes—34 percent compared to their counterparts at 36 percent.

Even if they managed to buy a home, their value is much lower, and a massive mortgage is staring right back at them. Those without loans have home values standing at 5% more than those with them. In figures, this $165,000 versus $157,000.

Since it’s difficult to raise the down payment required to pay for a home, these homeowners end up taking on more debt to finance their dream. According to the research done by MagnifyMoney, this translated to an average mortgage of $104,000 compared to $98,000 for those without debts.

The Solution

Taking on loans at a young age may not be the best strategy. However, the best way to tackle this problem is by finding ways to clear the debt as soon as possible. Here are some:

  1. Make extra payments. Take a deeper look at your budget and cut down on expenses. The excess money can go towards making extra payments. This will save you the money you’d have paid in interest.
  2. Ask for a raise at work. Sometimes, the solution to your woes lie in a salary increase. If this doesn’t work, you can change jobs altogether. You can also consider starting a side job to supplement your main income.
  3. Apply for the loan forgiveness program, This is a viable option, especially if you work in the public sector, for example as a teacher.
  4. You can also look for private and state-based programs, which can help you repay the debt. Some employees also offer student loan matching programs, which can help you clear your loan.
  5. Student loan refinancing is also a worthy option. With this method, you have the chance to repay the loan at a reduced interest rate. However, this will only work if you have good credit and income. This will, in the long run, save you the money you’d have paid in interest. Moreover, you’ll be able to clear the loan faster.

While student loans may help you get a college education, the aftermath may be more difficult to handle when the government starts demanding what you owe them. Nevertheless, it’s not the end of the road because there are methods you can use to achieve financial freedom, as highlighted in this article.

Posted on

Ways to Apply for a Student Loan

RHS 2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, You’ve just cleared high school and are looking into joining college. You’ve be told about taking a student loan, and since your parents credit is incredibly awful, your only option is to take it in your name.

So you did what lots of other students do when looking out for a loan – visit the government student loan site. But since the site doesn’t break the process into simple, easy-to-understand chunks, you end up getting confused. In which case, you found it hard understanding the terms used, the kind of loans being offered and how best you can access them or if there’s some other place you should visit to get the loan.

Well, don’t fret – this post covers all the possible ways you can access a student loan.

Look at the Possibility of Going to School without a Student Loan

A student loan is NOT free money, but a loan you’ll be required to pay after you graduate—and with an interest of course. So if there’s remotely a chance that you can still foot your school fees and your upkeep without relying on loans, then go for it.

For US based students, you have the option to access Pell Grant through FAFSA. Read this bearing in mind that grants don’t require you to pay back.

Also try looking at the possibility of securing a scholarship or securing a part time job to help you out.

Lastly, you might want to settle for a school with the lowest tuition fee. Do this and some time in future when your friends and family will be struggling with repaying their student loans, you’ll be looking back and thanking yourself for the decision you made.

But if you really must take a loan, here are a number of ways to apply for them:

Applying for a Private Student or Federal Loan

The application process to follow will vary depending on the type of student loan you wish to apply

Application Process for Federal Student Loan

To apply for a federal loan, you have to start by filling out the Free Application for Student Aid (FASFA) form. This form can be downloaded at Once filled, the form should be sent back to FASFA for evaluation.

Here’s a number of things to keep in mind while filling out the form:

  • Filling the form is absolutely free. You’ll NOT be charged for downloading and submitting the form.
  • You’ll be required to complete a FASFA form every year you apply for a loan.
  • Make a point to get the form as early as possible (starting from October 1st) to increase the chances of getting the loan.

Application Process for a Private Student Loan

Private student loans are mostly offered by banks, financial institutions, or a Mammoth Investor. Which is to say, you’ll be applying for it directly to the lender.

Instructions on how to apply for the loan:

  • Start by visiting the bank’s site and learn more about the loan. Check out for their interest rates, their repayment options and the highlighted benefits associated with the loan.
  • If satisfied, go ahead and fill out the application form. The instruction to follow should be provided on site, so no need to worry on how to go about it.

You’ll also be required to choose a repayment option that best suits you and the type of interest you’re most comfortable with.

  • You may be asked to include a cosigner. Don’t hesitate to add one as this increases your chances of being awarded the loan.
  • Lastly, the lender will go ahead and check your credit score and later on getting back to you with the decision they’d have made.

Getting a loan shouldn’t be that much of a tough task. If anything, there exist several avenues to access one. So if one fails, just knuckle up and check out for the next available option.

Posted on

50 Top Ranked Colleges That Pay Off the Least

RHS 2017
For a special few Americans, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg, completing college was unnecessary — perhaps even a hindrance — to their vision and success. Most people, however, consider college to be fundamental to achieving their goals and doing well in life

In fact, the number of people attending degree-granting postsecondary institutions has grown to 17 million – a 30% increase since 2000, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Not all college degrees translate to financial success, however. In addition to nearly 70% of students graduating with debt in recent years, many graduates of even the country’s top-ranked schools are earning comparatively low salaries in the working world.

The average median salary for graduates who completed a four-year degree at one of the 206 schools the U.S. News & World Report considers to be the best national universities and national liberal arts colleges is nearly $54,000 a decade after graduating. Graduates from the 50 schools that produce the highest earners bring in nearly $70,000 on average.

On the other end of the spectrum, graduates from 84 schools report a median annual earnings of less than $50,000 a decade after entering school. Graduates from 15 schools report median earnings of less than $40,000 a year, and graduates from three less than $30,000.

In addition to being unable to promise high wages for students later in life, many colleges frequently increase tuition. Barely two decades ago, average tuition for a four-year private college or university was less than $15,000. Today, nearly three-quarters of the top ranked schools charged over $40,000 in tuition and fees in the 2016-2017 school year. This includes 33 of the schools that produced the lowest-earning graduates.

Click here to see the top ranked colleges that pay off the least.
Click here to see our detailed findings and methodology.

Posted on


RHS_ Graduation_theridgewoodblog


A significant decline in the number of NJ high school graduates who will be seeking college degrees should be a major concern for the next governor and other leaders

Daryl G. Greer

New Jersey will experience about a 20 percent decline in the number of high school graduates through 2030, according to a recent report, “Knocking at the College Door,” by the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education (WICHE.) That will mean a drop to 90,000 from a current high of about 111,000 graduates annually, and more of these students will be from lower- income families and less-prepared academically for college.

That has important economic consequences for colleges, students, businesses, and the state — which need to be considered, now.

Historically, 70 percent to 80 percent of New Jersey high school graduates enroll in college. Obviously, fewer students paying tuition places stress on colleges’ financial operations. This is especially true, because about 70 percent of public colleges’ revenue comes from student tuition and fees. Add to this increasing competition for New Jersey students from surrounding states, such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Massachusetts, which also face declining enrollments. Pile on another dilemma in a no-growth environment: New Jersey already leads the nation as the number one net exporter of college-bound students. We lose about 30,000 students annually to other states. Regional competition for well-prepared New Jersey students who are able to pay for college will be at an all-time high. Not every university in the state can compete effectively for students in this environment.

Posted on

Most Millennials Are Finding It Hard to Transition Into Adulthood: Report



Millenials watch a video calling on the millennial generation to help end the problem of extreme poverty around the globe at the IMF/World Bank Group’s Spring summit on April 10, 2014. Miguel Juarez Lugo / Zuma Press file

By his twenties, Kyle Kaylor imagined he would be living on his own, nearing a college degree, and on his way to a job that fulfilled him.

Instead, at 21, he found himself out of school, living with his parents, and “stuck” working as a manager at a fast food restaurant scraping to make hand-to-mouth.

Launching into adulthood has been tricky, he said.

“It became too difficult financially to be in school and not working,” says Kaylor, who dropped out of Lincoln Christian University, in Illinois, after one semester because of a money crunch. “And without schooling, you can’t get a job that you can survive on, so I had to move back home,” he said.

Posted on




At 9.1 percent, New Jersey’s default rate is 11th in the country, particularly good news given that students tend to carry a heavy debt burden.

Students from New Jersey’s colleges and trade schools default on their federal loans at a relatively low rate overall, although the proportion of defaults exceeds the national average at four of 10 schools.

This news comes as a package of bills designed to help New Jersey students — particularly those who borrowed through the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority — deal with loan repayment problems and the high cost of college in general awaits further action in the Legislature.

Data from the website Student Loan Report put the state’s default rate at nearly 9.1 percent, the 11th lowest in the nation for borrowers who had to begin repayment in the 2013 fiscal year, the most recent year for which data is available because the U.S. Department of Education uses a three-year period to define defaults. Of nearly 90,000 students who borrowed money while at a New Jersey school, 8,153 were in default, defined as nine months of nonpayment.

The national default rate was 11.3 percent, a drop from 11.8 percent the previous year and the third year in a row of declines, from 14.7 percent in 2010. Nationally, more than 5.2 million borrowers entered repayment status in 2013 and nearly 600,000 of them have defaulted.

One reason for the state’s relatively low default rate could be that many students take out New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students loans through HESAA. According to the authority’s 2015 annual report, it distributed more than $163 million for 10,686 students in and out of state that fiscal year. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, New Jersey is one of three states — the others are Texas and Minnesota — with significant state student loan programs.

Posted on

New Jersey college loan Program will no longer Require Repayment of Student loans in the event of a student’s death

RHS Grad

HESAA Loan Program revises its rules to benefit grieving families.

February 1,2017

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

UPPER MONTCLAIR NJ , A student loan program that had placed parents of deceased students in an unthinkable situation has now been changed. The Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) program previously required parents of a deceased child to continue to pay their NJ CLASS / HESAA loans as a co-signer. However, New Jersey legislators have recently amended the program’s terms and conditions.
John Crosby, CFP®, ChFC, CAS, CLTC, CRPC®, and Advocacy Chairperson for FPANJ, was thrilled at the change in the loan program.
“This change came a result of all the advocates fighting for the same Terms and Conditions available for Federal Student loans in the event of death or disability of the borrower or co-borrower. We are grateful for everyone who testified on behalf of families who were devastated by the impacts of the HESAA rules.”
 An article in the New York Times that detailed one family’s nightmare in dealing with their son’s death and his student loans through HESAA finally spurred discussion among New Jersey State Senators. In August 2016, Crosby had spoken to several of the legislators and those that officially testified to explain the process of borrowing, the liabilities of the co-signer vs. co-borrower and their un-forgivable legal obligations. Some had called the program “predatory” and “loansharking,” and testimony led to a unanimous vote by the Higher Education Committee to approve S-743, requiring HESAA to forgive the student loan of someone who dies before completely repaying it.
Crosby has counseled clients in similarly tough situations with HESAA. The program also had been characterized with extraordinarily stringent rules that can easily led to financial hardship. Loan repayments could not be adjusted based on income, and few breaks are given for unemployment or other hardship.
A memo from HESAA Executive Director Gabrielle Charette provides further details on all of the changes that are being made in the program.
“This is truly the power of advocacy for the greater good,” Crosby said. “FPANJ continues to act as a resource in educating legislators on topics like these. Now we are just happy that parents in this situation can start to move forward in healing.”