REDLANDS: Sweet Memories sells nostalgia candy and toys

An industry veteran, Minotti works full-time as operations manager for a candy wholesaler in Los Angeles. He said that after purchasing the 900-square-foot business in Redlands and paying rent, he and his partner had $1,000 left over to buy candy. They added more shelves, curbside castoffs like the old TV that still works and furnishings culled from Craigslist. Today theyve made enough to invest $15,000 to fatten their collections of vintage confections, novelties and toys, which include glass-bottled sodas made toy store in Eugene with sugar rather than corn syrup, banana-flavored bubblegum cigars, fake mustaches, Necco Wafers, Laffy Taffy, Slinkys, fake vomit, party poppers and disappearing ink. About 90 percent of our candy is made in America, Minotti said. Prices range from a 25-cent candy to more than $100 for a piece of Mexican or Haitian folk art. Their best-seller is a $22 Airzooka gun which fires blasts of air across the room. Wilkinson, who tastes everything, said that theres really no contest between the best of several of their more disgusting novelties: a tequila-flavored sucker embedded with a real meal worm or the chocolate-covered insects, each fetching $1.75.
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New toy shop for Knaresborough

New toy shop for Knaresborough

Mayor Carole Reid cut the ribbon and officially opened the new shop in the heart of Knaresborough on Friday 21st June 2013. The new owners of the shop are best friends, Sarah Claydon and Scott Butcher. Sarah Claydon, Scott Butcher with the Mayor of Knaresborough, Carole Reid Scott, aged 37, has turned his back on 16 years in the motor trade industry. Sarah, aged 30, is a mum of one, previously working as a teaching assistant/ mid-time meal supervisor and an assistant atan after school club. Sarah said: We both are originally from Kent and relocated to Knaresborough just four weeks ago after visiting the town. We had planned to move to Harrogate for better schooling, but after visiting Knaresborugh we fell in love withits friendly community feel, charm and scenery. We opened the toy shop because we wanted to run a business that suits us both. Above all, we are both big kids! Dont forget to say hello to Poppy the Jackahuahua when you visit though. They stock a range of toys from birth upwards which includes popular and as lesser-known brands. The ranges include skate boards, scooters, Furbys and Skylanders Giants Scott said: We are looking forward to getting involved with the local community and events. This is starting with Knaresboroughs Medieval fair on Sunday 30th June 2013. We have a special one-day-only sale of swords and shields in honour of this event so the kids (and adults!!!) can become a knight for the day. The inside of Castle Courtyard is also home to Bonneys in the courtyard, Shake Em, Fayre Trader, Hallieva Mexicana, Affinity and The Tourist Information Centre.
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Couple put heart, mind in toy store

Everything needs to be developmental, says Sari, who personally orders almost every item in the store. Our theory is we will carry some trend but we dont do the hot toys that are advertised on TV. The vast majority of items for sale in the Doll House and Toy Store are not battery-operated. According to Sari, We do a lot of old-fashioned, nostalgia toys [such as traditional metal jacks], old hands-on, creative play, active play toys that are good for the child. We like to do a lot of things that create out-of-the-box thinking. A lot of our games are thought process theyre not throw the dice and you win. Last year, The Arizona Republic awarded the store the Critics Pick for the Best Kids Toys. The Powazeks moved to the Valley from Las Vegas in 1977 when they wanted to start a family. Sari, an elementary school teacher in Las Vegas, had always dreamed of opening a toy store. Within a few months of the Powazeks move to the Greater Phoenix area, that dream came true. As Sam tells it, he agreed to stick around for a couple of years to help get the business started before returning to his corporate business career. Almost 36 years later, were still having fun, says Sam, who never ended up returning to his previous profession. What started in September 1977 as a 600-square-foot store in downtown Scottsdale expanded to the current location at the Scottsdale Promenade, where the store has been located since 2004. One of the Powazeks simple joys involves seeing adult customers toy store in Eugene who came into the store when they were kids come in with their own children. We have a lot of kids who come back, says Sari, smiling. On one occasion, Sam and Sari recall having a family of five generations come into the store together with the youngest being just a few months old. In addition to helping their customers understand how to use or put together their doll houses, games, etc., the Doll House and Toy Store offers group and one-on-one classes. It also has regularly scheduled programs, such as music and arts and crafts sessions. Upcoming art classes, conducted by Caring Nannies, include painting an easel for Fathers Day on July 11, making a puppet on July 18 and making a giant flower on July 25. Cost is $2 per session. The Doll House and Toy Store is the oldest family-owned miniature doll and toy store in North America.
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Credit Card Debt Forecast Signals Ominous Warnings to Consumers

China signals will cut off credit to rebalance economy

There are a couple scenarios. We could continue to spend beyond our means until debt levels become unsustainable, charge-off rates bounce back from record lows, credit availability tightens and the economic recovery is put in jeopardy. Or, we can come to the realization pre-recession spending was buoyed by income levels affected by the housing bubble and readjust our perception of necessities, budgeting and paying off debt. Which would you prefer? Its pretty much a no-brainer, but that doesnt mean the process will be easy. Reining in spending requires making tough choices and breaking bad habits. However, the current credit card landscape lends itself to consumer improvement. More specifically, credit card offers with a zero introductory annual percentage rate are abundant and becoming increasingly attractive. According to data by CardHub.com, the average credit card offering zero percent interest on new purchases has an introductory rate of around 10 months 2.53 percent longer than offers that were on the market at the end of 2012. The same is true of the average zero percent balance transfer term on credit card offers. When considering the average indebted household owes a balance of $6,591, according to CardHubs 2013 credit card study, a middle-of-the-road balance transfer card could be worth as much as $1,000 in avoided fees and finance charges. High-end outliers can be worth even more. For example, the Slate Card from Chase offers zero percent interest rate for the first 15 months and charges neither an annual fee, nor a balance transfer fee. Suppose you have an average credit card balance and a card with a 17 percent interest rate. If you can afford to pay $275 per month to your credit card company, the Slate Card could help you climb out of debt in a quick fashion. However, transferring a balance to a credit card alone wont solve one’s debt problems. Consider these tips for getting your personal finance house in order and keeping it in shape moving forward: 1. Maximize your credit standing. Good credit cards on the market like the Slate Card from Chase require an applicant has an above-average credit score to qualify. Since some of these cards provide zero percent interest on new purchases for up to 18 months and hundreds of dollars in initial rewards bonuses, it pays to have good credit. You can estimate where you currently stand, but the credit-building process will be the same regardless of your starting point.
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Is a hotel credit card right for you?

In other words, they just don’t care. If you’re among those consumers, I can explain to you how strong credit scores can save you money, and point out that your credit reports may contain mistakes that are raising your interest rates and causing you to lose out on the best discounts on your auto or homeowner’s insurance. I’ll tell you that monitoring your credit scores can alert you to changes to your credit reports which, in turn, may help you catch identity theft faster if you become a victim. Maybe you’re not worried about any of that right now. That’s fine. But someday that may change. And if you wait until then, it may be too late. Why Your Credit Score Matters Let’s say you find a house for sale and fall in love. In today’s hot real estate market in much of the country today, you may need to get preapproved for a mortgage ASAP so that your offer will be considered seriously. What happens if you find a mistake that takes 30-60 days to clear up? Or how about if you are a victim of a natural disaster and need access to credit to make repairs while you wait for your insurance company to write a check? Are you really going to want to deal with your credit report then? You could lose your job and find that you need access to low-cost credit to start that small business you have always dreamed of owning. Starting a business is time-consuming enough without adding another item to your to-do list. Perhaps you’ll have to relocate to be closer to family or a new job, and you’ll have to get a mortgage to finance your new home while you try to sell your current one. Who knows? The point is, life happens. And when something does come up that throws a wrench in your plans, will you really want to find yourself worrying about checking — and perhaps working on — your credit reports and scores? Do yourself a favor and get your free credit reports and free credit score now, when you aren’t pressed for time or under the gun to get approved for a loan. By the way, in the same survey, 7% of consumers over the age of 25 who had never checked their credit scores said they didn’t want to pay the associated fees.
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Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria By Koh Gui Qing and Langi Chiang BEIJING | Fri Jul 5, 2013 7:21am EDT BEIJING (Reuters) – China said on Friday it would cut off credit to force consolidation in industries plagued by overcapacity as it seeks to end the economy’s dependence on extravagant investment funded by cheap debt. In a statement from the State Council, or cabinet, Beijing laid out broad plans to ensure banks support the kind of economic rebalancing China’s new leadership wants as it looks to focus more on high-end manufacturing. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have flagged for some time that the rapid growth of the past three decades needs to shift down a gear, and analysts said Friday’s announcement was a signal that they intended to press on with reforms despite evidence of a sharper-than-expected slowdown. “The guideline shows China’s policymakers will focus more on economic restructuring to stabilize the economy rather than providing more liquidity to support economic growth,” said Li Huiyong, an economist at Shenyin Wanguo Securities in Shanghai. The slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy has started to put pressure on credit card debt relief some businesses. On Friday, China Rongsheng Heavy Industries Group (1101.HK), China’s largest private shipbuilder, appealed for financial help from the government and big shareholders, after cutting its workforce and delaying payments to suppliers. Analysts said the company could be the biggest casualty of a local shipbuilding industry suffering from overcapacity and shrinking orders amid a global shipping downturn. New ship orders for Chinese builders fell by about half last year. The State Council said it would ensure credit kept flowing to businesses that it thought had competitive products, but it would work with banks to oversee a gradual winding down of other businesses. “The government will adopt differentiated policies based on the varied situations in the industries plagued by overcapacity,” it said. It did not mention any specific industries or companies and there was no suggestion it was referring to Rongsheng. CASH CRUNCH Friday’s announcement was the latest sign that China’s policymakers are determined to bring debt-fuelled expansion under control, after the central bank allowed a cash crunch last month that sent short-term lending rates to record highs. Ma Tao, an analyst with CEBM Group, an institutional investment research firm in Shanghai, said sectors such as construction materials, steel and aluminum suffered from overcapacity, as well as high debt and financing costs. “The recent credit crunch also served as a catalyst for their cash flow problems to emerge as liquidity has not been eased,” said Ma. The State Council also said that, in future, so-called wealth management products issued by banks would have to be linked to specific projects, rather than being mixed together with banks’ other pools of credit. Such a move would prevent some of the riskier lending practices in the shadow banking market that the central bank has been trying to address. Explosive credit growth, particularly in the opaque shadow banking system, is seen by analysts as one of the biggest risks to China’s economy, along with a frothy property market and the run-up of debt by local governments. Underlining the last of those risks, a senior official said on Friday that the government did not know precisely the extent of local governments’ debt, and warned that it could be more than previous estimates. Estimates of local government debt range from Standard Chartered’s 15 percent of the country’s GDP at end-2012 to Credit Suisse’s 36 percent. Fitch put the figure at 25 percent when it downgraded China’s sovereign debt rating in April. Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said China had not released official figures since a 2010 auditing report that put local government debt at 10.7 trillion yuan. “Currently, nationwide surveys, I think this number will rise,” Zhu said, defending the debt as mostly geared toward fuelling infrastructure projects. (Additional reporting by Shao Xiaoyi and Michael Martina in Beijing, Clement Tan and Umesh Desai in Hong Kong and Ruby Lian in Shanghai; Writing by Alex Richardson; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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‘I Don’t Care About My Credit Score’

Every mundane purchase you make could be bringing you closer to a free resort stay in Hawaii. Post to Facebook Is a hotel credit card right for you? on USAToday.com: http://usat.ly/1602zSo Incorrect please try again A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Tweeted! A tweet has been posted to your Twitter account. Sent! A link has been sent to your friend’s email address. Is a hotel credit card right for you? George Hobica, Special for USA TODAY 7:48 a.m. EDT July 2, 2013 Every dollar you spend on mundane purchases using a branded loyalty credit card could be bringing you that much closer to a free hotel stay in an exotic locale. (Photo: Digital Vision. Getty Images) Picking up a gallon of milk at the store? Taking in the car for that long overdue oil change? Every dollar you spend on mundane purchases such as these no matter where, no matter when could be bringing you that much closer to a free resort stay in Hawaii. (Or maybe you see yourself somewhere else on your next vacation. That’s cool. We don’t judge.) Hotel chains around the globe are also in the credit card business, and, considering how many travel reward credit cards are out there, you can bet it’s a competitive scene. WHICH PAY BEST?: Travel rewards credit cards Whether you’re a frequent traveler or merely strive to be one, every dollar you put on a credit card can and should be earning you travel rewards. It’s that simple. Stay disciplined and use the card for every possible purchase, whether it’s coffee at your favorite cafe or a tank of four-dollar gas, and you’d be surprised at how quickly the rewards can rack up. To tempt you in, these cards tend to have great signing bonuses some greater than others, of course that get you on your way to free hotel stays almost instantly. Sounds great, you say, but what’s the catch? Unlike general rewards cards, with the branded cards, loyalty is a must to get the most out of your spending. Second, make sure there isn’t an overly steep annual fee for the card if you’re not going to offset it with rewards, then maybe a more general reward card (or at least one without an annual fee) is best for you. And, of course, read the fine print.
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5 myths about credit counseling

Logo: Couple talking to bank manager (Image Source, Getty Images)

“There are plenty of companies that will charge you a lot to do very little, or nothing at all,” Weston says. “But some can provide a legitimate serviceby helping people through a process that they could do themselves, but may not want to.” Doing it yourself It’s possible to repair your own credit, over time, by squaring your debts and keeping your financial nose clean. But a credit counseling agency can ease the process — especially if you’re deeply indebted — by negotiating those lower interest rates and fees. With that kind of help, repayment should be less stressful and faster. “Faster,” however, is a relative term. It will take time. Depending on how much you owe, it could take up to several years to satisfy your financial obligations. It works only if you work it. One of the things you’ll have to do if you go through an agency is cut up your credit cards — and sometimes that really hurts. Cunningham says that clients sometimes shed actual tears as they wield the scissors. No pain, no gain. Readers: Have you ever gone to credit counseling? More on MSN Money: DATA PROVIDERS Copyright 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved. Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc . Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc . Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc . Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics . IPO data provided by Hoover’s Inc . Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc . Feedback ABOUT SMART SPENDING Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter . Editor Bev O’Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians.A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007.She’s a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things. Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can’t help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She’s written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others.
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Credit Counseling Programs And Services Offering Powerful Help With Debt In 2013

More >> Credit cards arent all bad Paying with credit sometimes is a smarter move than using debit. Take a look at how credit cards can benefit you. More >> Paying with credit sometimes is a smarter move than using debit. Take a look at how credit cards can benefit you. More >> Financial advice for newlyweds If you are saying “I do” (or recently did), it’s time to get serious not only about your relationship, but about your future financial outlook as a couple. More >> If you are saying “I do” (or recently did), it’s time to get serious not only about your relationship, but about your future financial outlook as a couple. More >> Here are six ways to make and save a little extra cash each month. More >> Here aresix ways to make and save a little extra cash each month. More >> By Andrew Housser The demand for credit counseling has risen over the last decade. After Congress changed credit card rules with the Credit CARD (Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure) Act in 2009, credit card companies started recommending counseling for consumers who are having problems making minimum payments. As well, counseling is now a required step before filing for bankruptcy. As with all things involving money, there are pros and cons to seeking the assistance of a credit counselor. The basics, though, start with understanding the “credit counseling” term. Some credit counseling agencies are non-profit, while some are for-profit. In most cases, credit counseling agencies set consumers up with a debt management plan (DMP) that often reduces the consumer’s monthly payment obligation. The agencies can do this because they maintain pre-arranged agreements with credit card companies that debt settlement allow them to lower interest rates on existing debt to a creditor-issued “concession rate.” Benefits of Credit Counseling Counselors teach smart money skills. A true credit counseling agency will spend at least an hour reviewing your entire debt situation and overall financial position. This initial interview should be free of charge.
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Determine if credit counseling is right for you

&copy George Doyle / Stockbyte / Thinkstock

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / PRURGENT Buried in debt? Living paycheck to paycheck? Worried about debt collectors? Can’t seem to develop a workable budget, let alone save money for retirement? If this sounds familiar, considering the services of a credit counselor can be a smart decision. Choosing a Credit Counselor Many reputable consumer credit counseling providers are non-profit and offer services at local offices, online, or on the phone. If possible, it is recommended to find an organization that offers in-person counseling. Many universities, military bases, credit unions, housing authorities, and branches of the U.S. Cooperative Extension Service operate non-profit credit counseling programs. A persons financial institution, local consumer protection agency, and friends and family also may be good sources of information and referrals. Questions to Ask Here are some questions to ask to help a person find the best credit counselor: What services do they offer? Many organizations may offer a range of services, including budget counseling, savings 101, and debt settlement or debt negotiation services the process of settling ones debt for a significantly reduced amount. In addition to helping solve ones immediate problem, will they help them develop a plan for avoiding problems in the future? What are their fees? Are there set-up and/or monthly fees? Getting a specific price quote in writing is recommended.
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7 Real People Who Are Winning Their Fight With Debt

<img src='http://l.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/Qb3.IC1fujdGpUL8kIPpCA–/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7cT04NTt3PTM3NQ–/http://l.yimg.com/os/publish-images/finance/2013-07-02/53b65aa7-05d8-4a44-84cf-aa5ee3fd7094_brown.jpg&#039; width='200px' style='float:left;padding:5px' debt advice />

Maybe you’re too embarrassed to fess up to your issues or you can’t afford a financial advisor. So you might pick up a $20 self-help book or enroll in a $200 debt makeover course online. Save your money. Some of the greatest advice out there can come from the person standing next to you in line at the grocery store. To prove our point, we’ve rounded up 7 truly inspiring stories of real consumers who faced their debt head-on and managed to come out on the other side. 1. Carrie Smith, 28, found herself $14,000 in debt at age 25. She dug her heels in and paid it off in a year. Carrie SmithWho she is: Smith is an ex-small business accountant who dedicates her time to helping entrepreneurs manage and make more money. Her debt wake-up call: “Three years ago … I started thinking about what my life would be like as I got old and grey. I just finalized a painful divorce and found myself with a mountain [$14,000] of debt. Not exactly what I pictured for myself at 25 years old,” she says. How she paid it off: She started by tackling her credit card debt, as it carried the highest interest rates. For motivation, she made a timeline of her progress and used the free debt payment tool http://www.readyforzero.com to come up with a payment plan she could handle. Then, there were sacrifices: Giving up cable, a gym membership, tanning/salon visits, vacations, dining out, and going to the movies. To up her income, she freelanced as a writer. 2. With a Master’s degree under her belt, Kari Gordon went into denial about her $30,300 loan balance. It took four years but she finally paid it off. Kari GordonWho she is: Kari , 30, lives in the greater New York City area and works at a non-profit. Her debt wake-up call: “When I finished graduate school, I was in student debt denial. When the first bill arrived, I stuck it in my bill basket and pretended it wasnt there for a week … For several months after I got that first bill, I paid the $350 minimum payment. With each electronic debit from my checking account I hated myself and hated my decision to take out student loans. Being in debt made me miserable!” How she paid it off: Gordon will be the first to tell you there is no secret to paying down debt . She broke her debt down into more manageable amounts and made a strict budget. With time, she was promoted at work and took up extra work babysitting, filling out online surveys and freelance writing. She also got a roommate, started cooking meals at home and got rid of her car. 3. Grayson Bell, 29, financed $50,000 for his small business with three credit cards and hit rock bottom during the recession.
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Seeking SBI’s help to defer debt repayment: Orchid

Like this story, share it with millions of investors on M3 Seeking SBI’s help to defer debt repayment: Orchid K Raghavendra Rao, chairman and managing director, Orchid Chemicals says the company has approached State Bank of India to delay the repayment of its USD 300 million debt. Post your opinion here Like this story, share it with millions of investors on M3 Seeking SBI’s help to defer debt repayment: Orchid K Raghavendra Rao, chairman and managing director, Orchid Chemicals says the company has approached State Bank of India to delay the repayment of its USD 300 million debt. In an interview to CNBC-TV18, Rao adds that most of the money received from Hospiras acquisition of Orchid’s active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacturing facilities will be used for repaying a part of the debt. The company has approached the lead of the banks consortium for the restructuring of the loan.”We are asking for a postponement of the payment of the debt to the bank by talking to the consortium of bank. So, we would be looking to postpone some of the repayments and the dues that would be coming up in the next few quarters,” adds Rao. Below is an edited transcript of Raos interview to CNBC-TV18. Q: Walk us through what exactly this debt recast plan is and how much of your debt goes into some kind of restructuring? A: We are doing the deal with Hospira for one of our assets being sold for about USD 200 million. Most part of that will go for repayment of debt. But after that also we are left with around USD 300 million of debt. So, we are looking for rescheduling a part of that debt, which is due for repayment in the near future, so that the company can run better post deal. Q: What kind of terms of reschedulement are you looking for and have you reached out to your banks already, I know that you have got an no objection certificate (NOC) with regards to that asset sale that you were talking about but on this have you received any word from them? A: It is too early to say what kind of a reschedulement we are talking about. We have gone to State Bank of India (SBI) to help us in restructuring of balance debt. Most part of this USD 200 million from the deal, for which NOC has been given by the bank, will be going for repayment of debt. So, it is a combination of deal money going for debt repayment and balance debt being recashed. Q: By restructuring do you mean an extension though because you are already suffering from extremely high interest cost? A: By restructuring, I mean postponement of the payment of the debt to the bank by talking to the consortium of bank. So, we would be looking to postpone some of the repayments and the dues that would be coming up in the next few quarters. Q: Who are your key bankers at this point in order of who has the highest exposure with you versus who has the least? A: SBI has the highest exposure and they are leading this restructuring programme.
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Debt Relief Firms Are Charging for Free Programs

Thats the finding of an inquiry by the National Consumer Law Center , which advocates on behalf of borrowers. The center had secret shoppers call 10 student debt relief companies in March to seek information. Researchers also reviewed the Web sites of 10 more companies, examined actual contracts and studied online complaints. (The report didnt name the companies.) The student debt-relief industry has sprung up in part, the center says, because federal student-loan assistance programs often involve red tape that frustrates borrowers who could benefit from them. Government programs are unnecessarily complex, and borrowers too often confront an impenetrable bureaucracy that prevents them from accessing their rights, the report found. The government offers various programs to help student borrowers with federal loans, including repayment plans pegged to the borrowers income as well as the option to consolidate multiple loans into a single, often lower payment. An article in The New York Times found that student borrowers were vulnerable to debt collectors in part because the various assistance programs available to them were too complex. Debt-relief companies are stepping in to that vacuum, but they often promote the options as unique services they offer, when in fact they are government programs. It is deceptive, the centers report concludes, that most companies fail to disclose that their programs are actually federal government programs that an individual can access on her own, at no cost. The companies charge initial fees as high as $1,600 and monthly fees from $20 to $50, even though it is unclear what services, if any, the consumer is buying on a monthly basis. While they promote a range of services, most of the companies offer only loan consolidation, which not all borrowers may be eligible for. A review of many of the sites found that they required borrowers to fill out the same information required by the federal governments Direct Loan consolidation form, which is available online and can be submitted at no charge. Most of the companies require payment up front, a practice that appears to violate federal and state laws that mandate that debt relief companies must complete their services before charging customers. In addition, some of the company representatives the centers researchers spoke with said borrowers had to reveal their federal student loan PIN in order to move ahead with service. That raises serious privacy concerns, the center says, and violates Education Department recommendations about disclosure of student PINs. Given the difficulty of navigating the federal student loan assistance programs, the center found, some borrowers may think it is worthwhile to hire someone to help them. But the center made several recommendations so to avoid abuses by the companies advertising such services. (Several steps could be achieved by enforcement of existing state and federal consumer laws, the center noted.) The federal government should simplify its own assistance programs so they are easier for borrowers to use. Fees charged by private debt relief companies should be clearly disclosed. Firms should be prohibited from requiring student PINS, which grant access to the National Student Loan Data System. Have you used a private debt-relief company to help with your student loans? What was the outcome? A version of this article appeared in print on 06/29/2013, on page B4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Free Assistance At Steep Prices.
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With Student Loan Debt Surpassing $1 Trillion, Brown Outlines Bill to Help Americans with Costly Private Student Loan Debt

“Why should our students and graduates be the last to benefit from historically low interest rates? Helping graduates refinance their private student loan debt into more affordable terms frees up funds for them to buy houses, start businesses, or contribute to their communities. It makes sense for our students and graduates and it makes sense for our economy,” Brown said. “Too many Ohioans are still paying for college decades after they graduate – through private loans with high interest rates. My bill would allow borrowers to refinance their costly private loans into more affordable loans. These borrowers could see their interest rates cut in half, lowering their payments at no cost to taxpayers.” Last year, outstanding student loan debt reached more than 1 trillion and 81 percent of the undergraduates with high student debt had private loans. This excessive student loan debt dampens home purchases, slows small business startups, diverts retirement savings, and limits opportunities for economic expansion in rural communities. Private loans typically have higher interest rates – that can top 18 percent – and are more difficult to refinance and offer fewer payment options than loans administered by the U.S. Department of Education. Many students turn to private loans because federal loan limits do not meet their need. The current federal loan limit for undergraduate students is 31,000. “The burden of the ‘debt for diploma’ system makes it harder for students to get ahead as they struggle to repay their loans. Student debt also negatively impacts the overall economy, as those with high levels of debt often must delay home purchases, pay higher mortgage rates and put off retirement savings; actions which ultimately lead, through a ripple effect, to a considerable wealth loss over a lifetime,” says Robert Hiltonsmith, Demos Policy Analyst and author of a series of upcoming Demos reports quantifying the cumulative wealth effects of private and public student loans.”Private student lending is particularly problematic because these high-interest, adjustable, market-determined loans are more likely to be borrowed by economically disadvantaged students and those attending for-profit institutions. And at an average interest rate of 10%, more than double the federal rate, many of these students need relief to avoid having these loans torpedo their financial futures.” Specifically, the Refinancing Education Funding to Invest (REFI) for the Future Act would: * Authorize the Department of the Treasury to find creative solutions that will eliminate inefficiencies in the private student loan market and accommodate reasonable refinancing opportunities for private student loan borrowers. * Encourage greater competition, innovation, and participation of private capital in a currently stagnant private student loan refinancing market, including: * Require regular reporting and oversight. * Expire no later than five years after enactment. * Create opportunities for private student loan borrowers to take advantage of the current low interest rates will ensure that borrowers pay rates that reflect their credit risk so that they may pursue economically productive activities like buying a home or starting a small business. Brown is also turning up the pressure on his colleagues to block interest rates from doubling for more than 360,000 Ohio students who rely on subsidized Stafford loans. Unless Congress acts by July 1, 2013, interest rates will jump to 6.8 percent. Brown is inviting Ohio college students, graduates, and their families to tell him their student loan stories by visiting his website brown.senate.gov/CollegeLoanStories so Brown can share stories from Ohioans on the Senate floor.
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Credit Card Debt Forecast Signals Ominous Warnings to Consumers

Yet after a disappointing first quarter, Americans are expected to end the year with nearly $47 billion in new credit card debt to add to the roughly $82 billion incurred during 2011 and 2012 combined. So, where do we go from here? There are a couple scenarios. We could continue to spend beyond our means until debt levels become unsustainable, charge-off rates bounce back from record lows, credit availability tightens and the economic recovery is put in jeopardy. Or, we can come to the realization pre-recession spending was buoyed by income levels affected by the housing bubble and readjust our perception of necessities, budgeting and paying off debt. Which would you prefer? Its pretty much a no-brainer, but that doesnt mean the process will be easy. Reining in spending requires making tough choices and breaking bad habits. However, the current credit card landscape lends itself to consumer improvement. More specifically, credit card offers with a zero introductory annual percentage rate are abundant and becoming increasingly attractive. According to data by CardHub.com, the average credit card offering zero percent interest on new purchases has an introductory rate of around 10 months 2.53 percent longer than offers that were on the market at the end of 2012. The same is true of the average zero percent balance transfer term on credit card offers. When considering the average indebted household owes a balance of $6,591, according to CardHubs 2013 credit card study, a middle-of-the-road balance transfer card could be worth as much as $1,000 in avoided fees and finance charges. High-end outliers can be worth even more. For example, the Slate Card from Chase offers zero percent interest rate for the first 15 months and charges neither an annual fee, nor a balance transfer fee. Suppose you have an average credit card balance and a card with a 17 percent interest rate. If you can afford to pay $275 per month to your credit card company, the Slate Card could help you climb out of debt in a quick fashion. However, transferring a balance to a credit card alone wont solve one’s debt problems. Consider these tips for getting your personal finance house in order and keeping it in shape moving forward: 1. Maximize your credit standing. Good credit cards on the market like the Slate Card from Chase require an applicant has an above-average credit score to qualify. Since some of these cards provide zero percent interest on new purchases for up to 18 months and hundreds of dollars in initial rewards bonuses, it pays to have good credit. You can estimate where you currently stand, but the credit-building process will be the same regardless of your starting point. The best approach is to open a credit card that has no annual fee and make on-time payments to get positive information flowing into your credit report on a monthly basis. 2. Build an emergency fund . Setting up a financial safety net should be a high priority. Without one, you may be a major emergency expense or an income disruption away from running into serious financial trouble even if you do manage to get debt-free. A number of experts recommend people have an emergency fund equal to their minimum monthly expenses times at least three months (preferably six months). You can work your way toward that goal by making incremental monthly deposits.
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Debt crisis shrinks international use of euro

PDT 0 comments FILE – In this May 10, 2006 file photo a one euro coin is seen on a one dollar note in Frankfurt, central Germany. The European Central Bank says Tuesday, July 2, 2013, international use of the euro slipped last year because of the debt crisis among countries that use it. The euro’s share among the currency reserves held by central banks fell from 25.1 percent to 23.9 percent in 2012. Meanwhile, countries held more reserves in currencies of nations with strong economies, such as Australia and Canada. (MICHAEL PROBST, FILE/AP Photo) FRANKFURT, Germany International use of the euro slipped last year because of the debt crisis in Europe, but the U.S. dollar held its own as the world’s leading currency for reserves held by central banks. Currencies not traditionally used as reserves, such as the Canadian and Australian dollars, gained in favor as those countries enjoyed steady growth and lower debt than major economies. The European Central bank said Tuesday that the euro’s share among the currency reserves held globally by central banks fell to 23.9 percent in 2012 from 25.1 percent the previous year. The dollar’s share was little changed at 61.9 percent. The ECB said the financial crisis that has afflicted the 17-country eurozone was a factor discouraging use of the euro for reserves, which are often held in the form of government bonds. Lending across borders in the eurozone has dropped, diminishing the liquidity that reserve holders like to see. Lower liquidity means there are fewer buyers and sellers readily found. The eurozone countries have struggled with heavy levels of public debt – Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus have needed financial rescue and even large economies like Spain and Italy have worryingly high debt. Concern over that debt eased only after the European Central Bank came up with a plan to buy the government bonds issued by countries that promise to reform. In its annual report on international use of the euro, the ECB also found that there was less borrowing in euros internationally by companies because they could get lower interest rates by selling bonds denominated in U.S. dollars. Countries hold reserves of foreign currency so they can influence their own currencies’ exchange rates in case they rise or fall too rapidly. They can do this by buying or selling currencies on foreign exchange markets.
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Jefferson County Files to End Bankruptcy, Adjust Debt

As of March, it hit $764 billion, up from $736 billion in February, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said on its website on Friday. Outstanding short-term foreign debt, due within one year, rose to $565.68 billion from $540.93 billion at the end of last year. The country has over $3 trillion in cash reserves. More than enough to service its borrowing or wipe it out entirely and still have a few trillion left over for a rainy day. China is not a large overseas borrower, but is seen increasing its use of foreign capital markets in the years ahead as the economy matures. By comparison, the U.S. total debt obligations are over $17 trillion. It is unclear exactly what are Chinas overall debt obligations. Investors have bee mildly concerned over Chinas debt levels, from federal to municipal to corporate debt. This year, for the first time ever, a Chinese solar company defaulted on a $531 million debt. Suntech Power is now in bankruptcy protection. Over the last week, China investors got another scare with the Peoples Bank of China Bank of China , their central bank, said it would not be helping out small to mid-sized lenders who took on too much credit risk. The market panicked. Stocks fell. And then the Bank said that it would indeed help with liquidity where needed, and has even offered banks some cash protection over the last forty eight hours, according to published reports quoting Central Banker Zhou Xiaochuan . On Saturday, the Chinese Banking Regulatory Commission smoothed over the liquidity crunch concerns when it added its voice to the chorus and said that there was adequate reserves set aside at banks to cover problems with non-performing loans. Commission chairman Shang Fulin said the recent liquidity crisis which sent money market rates soaring to 11% in a country used to rates around 3% would not affect the stable operation of Chinese banks. He acknowledged that some banks needed to improve their liquidity and risk management and promised to strengthen regulation for wealth management products and commercial banks. He urged banks to improve transparency of the wealth management products being offered, which suggests an ongoing concern in the capital city with municipal level shadow banking and investment that invests pension fund money into government pet projects and assets that have zero return. All is clearly not well in debt solutions China banking. But many close China watchers at banks like Barclays Barclays Capital believe the country can weather this. They have faith in China regulators and Beijing leaders to keep financial problems under control. Huang Yiping, chief economist for Barclays in China, described the economic policy framework of Premier Li Keqiang as no stimulus, de-leveragingand structural reform. These are key components of what Huang calls Li-Economics. We think Li- Economics is exactly what China needs to put its economy on a sustainable path, which we estimate is around 6 to 8 percent annual growth for the next 10 years, Huang said during the Global Think Tank Summit in Beijing this week. China has resisted calls for more stimulus. The markets have been betting on it and never got it.
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China Foreign Debt Approaches $1 Trillion

municipal bankruptcy later this year by cutting $1.2 billion in principal payments to investors holding defaulted sewer-related debt. Less than $100 million of the countys $4.2 billion in debt will be paid with no changes to the terms of the original lending documents. Sewer warrant holder JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) will collect 31 percent of what it is owed, while some general obligation bondholders will lose the right to collect penalty fees and a higher, default interest rate. The sewer warrant reductions mark the first time U.S. investors holding municipal debt have been forced as part of a bankruptcy case to take losses on the principal owed to them. The plan solves both of the problems that prompted the commission to file the largest Chapter 9 bankruptcy case, Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. In addition to struggling with the sewer debt, the county missed payments on general-obligation bonds backed by taxes. The plan is based on a settlement announced last month that included JPMorgan, seven hedge funds and a group of bond insurers, which together hold about $2.4 billion of the debt. The group will split about $1.84 billion, with JPMorgan taking the biggest cuts, collecting $375 million of the $1.22 billion it is owed, according to the plan filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Birmingham, Alabama. Sewer Fees None of the countys more than $3 billion in sewer-related warrants will be fully repaid, with most, except for JPMorgan, getting back about 80 cents on the dollar. That debt is tied to sewer fees that havent been high enough to cover the interest and principal payments. Even some creditors being fully repaid with their normal interest rate were affected by the bankruptcy. Under the proposal, school warrant holders owed about $720 million were classified as impaired because they would see minor changes to the terms of their agreements. General obligation bondholders owed more than $100 million would give up the right to collect penalties and so-called post-petition interest triggered by the countys bankruptcy. About $95 million in general obligation bonds are considered unimpaired, which means they wouldnt see any change in their rights under the proposed plan. 18 Months The settlement ended more than 18 months of bankruptcy court battles between the county and its biggest creditors over how much the jurisdiction can afford to pay on more than $3 billion it borrowed to expand and improve the countys sewage system. By filing its so-called plan of adjustment, the county begins a process designed to end in November, when U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Bennett will hold a hearing on whether to approve the proposal. Bennett will consider the plan after creditors who arent part of the settlement have a chance to object. The county asked Bennett to hold a hearing Aug.
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Debt crisis shrinks global demand for euro

The euro’s share among currency reserves held globally by central banks fell to 23.9 per cent. International use of the euro slipped last year because of the debt crisis in Europe, while the US dollar held its own as the world’s leading currency for reserves held by central banks. Currencies not traditionally used as reserves, such as the Canadian and Australian dollars, gained in favour as those countries enjoyed steady growth and lower debt than major economies. The European Central Bank (ECB) said Tuesday that the euro’s share among currency reserves held globally by central banks fell to 23.9 per cent in 2012 from 25.1 per cent the previous year. The dollar’s share was little changed at 61.9 per cent. The ECB said the financial crisis that has afflicted the 17-country eurozone was a factor discouraging use of the euro for reserves, which are often held in the form of government bonds. Lending across borders in the eurozone has dropped, diminishing the liquidity that reserve holders like to see. Lower liquidity means there are fewer buyers and sellers readily found. The eurozone countries have struggled with heavy levels of public debt – Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus have needed financial rescue. Even larger economies like Spain and Italy have worryingly high debt. Concern over that debt eased only after the European Central Bank came up with a plan to buy the government bonds issued by countries that promise to reform. Less borrowing in euros In its annual report on international use of the euro, the ECB also found that there was less borrowing in euros internationally by companies because they could get lower interest rates by selling bonds denominated in US dollars. Countries hold reserves of foreign currency to help backstop their own currencies’ value in case of a financial crisis and for trade purposes. The country issuing the reserve currency can benefit because demand from abroad supports its exchange rate and can mean lower borrowing costs for the government, as has been the case with the US dollar in its role as the leading reserve currency. Demand for dollars in the form of US Treasury bonds by other countries, such as China, helps keep down the interest rate that the US government pays to borrow. Money that is not spent on interest can be spent on other things, or saved. A key finding of the report was that non-traditional reserve currencies such as the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar are in greater demand because of their growing economies and better public finances. There have been concerns about government debt not only in Europe but also in the countries that issue the world’s other traditional reserves United States, Japan and Britain. The category of ‘other’ currencies saw its share of officially disclosed reserves increase from 5.7 per cent to 6.1 per cent, ahead of both the yen at 3.9 per cent and the pound sterling at 4.0 per cent. The ECB said that the ‘other’ category’s share is the highest since the early 1970s, when the earlier international currency system set up at the Bretton Woods conference in 1944 collapsed. The ECB said, however, that the use of such non-traditional currencies might slow if major economies start reducing debt and deficits. Such currencies are also of limited use, the ECB said, because they are less liquid there are fewer debt securities and other ways of holding them available, meaning finding a seller or a buyer can be more difficult. The ECB said the Chinese currency, the renminbi, had shown impressive gains in foreign trade, with the share of trade in goods settled in renminbi rising from near zero to almost 10 per cent in 2012. The ECB said the renminbi’s widespread use as a reserve currency was hindered by China’s lack of fully developed financial markets and by its investment and foreign-exchange controls. – AP
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Jimmy Haslam Debt Put at $4 Billion; NFL Browns Not Affected, Yet

In the last few weeks, however, several asset sales have been announced and there has been progress towards more – a sign that the emirate is able to make some of the tough commercial decisions required by the restructuring plans. Instability in the global debt markets during this period has blocked any further rally in Dubai debt prices, but they may gain support from news of the asset disposals. “The fact that concrete action is being taken, and being managed with relatively little visible turbulence, is seen as a positive by the investment community,” said Biswajit Dasgupta, head of treasury and trading at Abu Dhabi asset manager Invest AD. “The debt burden will come down as a result of these. But equally, there is a sense of greater discipline going forward in that projects will be subjected to more rigorous scrutiny for commercial viability.” STRATEGY Dubai’s state-linked conglomerates snapped up a spectacular array of assets around the world, from stakes in high-profile companies to real estate, before the global financial crisis of 2008 triggered a crash in the emirate’s property market. Many firms restructured their debt by extending maturities while promising full repayment through asset sales. Chief among these was Dubai World, which in a $25 billion restructuring deal signed in March 2011, set a two-tranche repayment schedule with lenders over five and eight years. The plan depends heavily on asset disposals to raise money; it envisioned the conglomerate raising $1.3-$2.3 billion in this way by 2012. That did not happen and until last month, Dubai World had not actually sold any major assets – a source of some worry to its bankers. Many bankers believed Dubai, hoping to fetch higher prices, was waiting for the global economy to recover further from its crisis before selling assets. This strategy could backfire if the recovery did not materialise. Some worried that Dubai managers might simply be unwilling to let go of their prize assets, for fear of booking losses on those bought at the top of the market; in that case, their stubborness could jeopardise the restructuring programmes. Others feared Dubai’s partial recovery from its property slump might have lulled it into a false sense of complacency. But since last month, several actions have suggested such fears are misplaced. A unit of Toronto-based investment firm Brookfield Asset Management bought logistics warehouse developer Gazeley from Dubai World subsidiary Economic Zones World (EZW), the Canadian firm said. Dubai World had purchased Gazeley from Wal-Mart Stores in 2008 for an estimated 300 to 400 million pounds ($453-604 million).
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Jefferson County Files to End Bankruptcy, Adjust Debt

Should the plan win final court approval, the county will refinance its sewer-related debt, raise sewer rates and exit bankruptcy. Hedge Funds Hedge funds owed about $872 million will collect more than 80 cents on the dollar, according to the agreements. The hedge funds will also help backstop the refinancing to ensure that the county can raise all of the money it needs. The funds include Brigade Capital Management LLC, Claren Road Asset Management LLC, Fundamental Advisors LP and Monarch Capital Master Partners LP, according to court records. Insurers, including Assured Guaranty Municipal Corp., Syncora Guarantee Inc. and Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., will get $165 million. They claimed to be owed $315 million. The county will also pay as much as $25 million in any claims filed against the insurers by creditors seeking to recover losses, according to the agreements. Under the plan, the county will raise sewer rates 7.4 percent annually for four years. Those rates may go slightly higher if interest rates rise before the refinancing is completed. Warrant holders who are owed more than $500 million arent part of the deal. They will have a choice of collecting 65 cents on every dollar they are owed, or 80 cents on the dollar if they give up their right to collect money from the insurers. Political Corruption The bankruptcy is tied to a sewer refinancing tainted by political corruption. In 2009, JPMorgan agreed to a settlement with the U.S. debt management Securities and Exchange Commission over payments its bankers allegedly made to people tied to county politicians to win business. JPMorgan, based in New York , paid the county $75 million in that settlement and has given up more than $657 million in swaps claims it held. Jefferson County supplanted Orange County, California , as the largest municipal bankruptcy. Orange County entered court protection in 1994 after losing $1.7 billion on interest-rate bets. While its petition initially listed more debt than Jefferson County, much of that liability was reduced in the early weeks of the case. Thanks partly to lawsuits against the financial firms, Orange County creditors were paid in full. The case is In re Jefferson County, 11-bk-05736, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Alabama (Birmingham). To contact the reporters on this story: Steven Church in Wilmington, Delaware, at schurch3@bloomberg.net ; Dawn McCarty in Wilmington, Delaware, at dmccarty@bloomberg.net To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net Jefferson County Files to End Bankruptcy, Adjust Sewer Debt Butch Dill/Bloomberg Residents stand outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama. Jefferson County supplanted Orange County, California, as the largest municipal bankruptcy.
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MIDEAST DEBT-Dubai steps up asset sales to cut debt pile

Cleveland Plain Dealer sports columnist Terry Pluto noted the Wall Street Journal report in a story on Sunday, as some are now wondering if Haslam’s ownership of the NFL teams may now be in jeopardy. Editor’s Note: Do You Support Obamacare? Vote in Urgent National Poll “Standard and Poor’s Corp. is a financial services company that provides research on stocks and bonds,” Pluto wrote. “Yes, nearly every NFL owner turns a profit every year, and that may be true of the Browns. But all that debt? It is indeed ‘significant,’ as reported by Standard and Poor’s.” Pluto said it appears the problems with the investigation of Pilot Flying J have not affected the Browns yet. “He does have veteran NFL executive Joe Banner to run the teams daily operations, and that helps,” Pluto wrote. “Banner has hired a strong coaching staff, especially the experienced coordinators to help rookie head coach Rob Chudzinski. In the short term, Haslams problems have no impact on the football team. But long term, who knows?” In June, two regional sales managers and a sales representative reached plea agreements and pleaded guilty to mail fraud, while two other employees pleaded guilty in separate hearings, according to Cleveland’s WEWS-TV . Those employees have agreed to cooperate in FBI investigation into conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud, former federal prosecutor Subodh Chandra told WEWS-TV. “From a business standpoint, this is not good news for Mr. Haslam or his organization,” Chandra told the television station. “What remains to be seen is this is just how high up did the alleged corruption go?” Editor’s Note: Get the Navy SEALs Cap Celebrate Our Heroes Pilot Flying J has been trying to save face at each stage of the investigation, saying it has taken steps to correct a gas rebate problem, which is at the heart of the investigation, the television station said. We are disappointed in the actions of these employees towards our customers,” said a Pilot Flying J statement after the June plea deals. “We assure our customers that our five-step plan to correct any wrongdoing and to make certain these actions do not happen again is ongoing.” Related stories:
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Comb: Student debt crisis goes beyond interest rates

Student borrowers who fall behind on student loan payments by 90 days or more – 30 percent of all student loan borrowers today, according to the Federal Reserve – face an uphill battle acquiring additional credit. Meanwhile, even those who manage to stay current on their student loan payments may be denied credit due to prohibitive debt-to-income ratios. For the first time in a decade, individuals under age 30 with student debt are less likely than individuals with no student debt to have mortgages and car loans. Thats bad news for a nation dependent on consumer spending to sustain our economic recovery. The sadder news is that it should never have gotten to this point. Although hard to imagine now, amid the current partisan bickering thats brought most policymaking to a standstill, Congress in years past actually did an outstanding job of creating flexible options to assist federal student loans borrowers throughout the repayment process. Unfortunately, these options often go unknown and underutilized. As the President of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators recently stated in testimony before Congress, nearly all of those who default on their federal student loans could have avoided it through the governments deferment, forbearance, and income contingent options. In my organizations day-to-day work helping student borrowers, the most heartbreaking phrase we encounter is I wish I had known there were ways to avoid late fees, accrued interest, damaged credit, etc. The student loan industry is heavily regulated and in some cases overly complicated, making it difficult for borrowers to even understand what their options are or to recognize if their account is being serviced properly. For example, there are currently no less than five income related repayment options, with similar names and terms but very different outcomesand no one available to really help the consumer weigh their decisions. The clock is ticking on efforts to stop the doubling of interest rates on federal student loans for the neediest students. On July 1, unless Congress can come to agreement, the interest rate on newly originated subsidized Stafford Loans will rise from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. With the average student today leaving college just shy of $30,000 in debt, its imperative that lawmakers do all they can to ease the financial burden for the next generation of college-goers. But controlling interest rates for future borrower is only part of the solution to the student loan problem. Thirty-seven million Americans are already struggling under the yoke of existing student loan debt and our nations economy is paying the price. Student borrowers who fall behind on student loan payments by 90 days or more – 30 percent of all student loan borrowers today, according to the Federal Reserve – face an uphill battle acquiring additional credit. Meanwhile, even those who manage to stay current on their student loan payments may be denied credit due to prohibitive debt-to-income ratios. For the first time in a decade, individuals under age 30 with student debt are less likely than individuals with no student debt to have mortgages and car loans. Thats bad news for a nation dependent on consumer spending to sustain our economic recovery. The sadder news is that it should never have gotten to this point. Although hard to imagine now, amid the current partisan bickering thats brought most policymaking to a standstill, Congress in years past actually did an outstanding job of creating flexible options to assist federal student loans borrowers throughout the repayment process. Unfortunately, these options often go unknown and underutilized. As the President of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators recently stated in testimony before Congress, nearly all of those who default on their federal student loans could have avoided it through the governments deferment, forbearance, and income contingent options. In my organizations day-to-day work helping student borrowers, the most heartbreaking phrase we encounter is I wish I had known there were ways to avoid late fees, accrued interest, damaged credit, etc. The student loan industry is heavily regulated and in some cases overly complicated, making it difficult for borrowers to even understand what their options are or to recognize if their account is being serviced properly. For example, there are currently no less than five income related repayment options, with similar names and terms but very different outcomesand no one available to really help the consumer weigh their decisions. We launched our Face the Red campaign to spread the word that student loans dont have to be scary; taking control of the debt is possible when you have the right information at the right time to make the best repayment decisions. The silver lining in the student debt mess, then, is that averting a meltdown wont require major changes in legislation or creation of a sweeping new program; it simply requires finding mechanisms to help borrowers navigate the solutions that already exist. What students and graduates desperately need are information and counseling programs, delivered one borrower at a time if necessary, that help them borrow wisely and manage education debt without limiting their educational aspirations or crippling their long-term financial outlook.
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