Pros and Cons of Having a Car on Campus During Your Freshman Year

Car on Campus

As college drew nearer, I had visions of throwing all my belongings into the back of my Toyota Tacoma and driving off into adulthood. My parents had another idea—leaving the truck at home.

They said that not having a car on campus would save me time, money, and the occasional headache. It would allow me to focus on adjusting to university life and spending my weekends around the school. This turned out to be pretty solid advice, but the right decision for me won’t necessarily be the right choice for you. You need to weigh the pros and cons to determine what’s best.

First, though, you need to find out your school’s car policy. Some schools discourage students from having cars on campus. Others, such as Georgetown University, don’t even allow on-campus parking.

Northern California’s Santa Clara University, as another example, bars first-year students who live on campus from bringing their wheels with them. The school explains that keeping freshman on their feet makes them more involved in on-campus activities, and it also reserves parking space for upperclassmen.

Then again, many colleges do encourage you to bring your car. In fact, 48% of students have a car on campus, according to a 2016 survey from U.S. News & World Report. And at 14 of the 215 schools surveyed, at least 90% of students have a car.

If your school allows you to bring a car to campus, weigh these three cons first.

1. You’d Have to Pay Auto Insurance Premiums

The simple fact is that if you bring your car to college, you’ll need to insure it. Most of us know that student car insurance can be costly. Leaving your car in the driveway at home, however, could save you or your family some money.

If you’re included on your family’s insurance coverage, your parents could drop you to an “occasional” driver on the policy. That would decrease the policy’s monthly premiums. Ask your insurer about its “resident student” discount or a “student away at school” discount. There might be a 100-mile minimum requirement for the distance between your permanent address (your home) and your school to qualify.

If you have individual insurance coverage and decide to leave your car at home, you could pause or reduce your coverage. Canceling your plan would create a gap in coverage, though, potentially raising your future premiums.

2. You’d Be Footing the Bill for Parking Costs

Having a car on campus means having to park it on or near campus. There are two ways this can become costly: parking passes and parking tickets.

Even if you live off campus, you may still have to buy a pass to park on campus. It might not be cheap either. Parking permits at University of California Santa Cruz, for example, can set you back $583 per year.

Short of buying a pass, you might be tempted to break parking regulations on campus—and you’re not alone there. The average college student receives two parking tickets per year, according to Best Value Schools.

Your school’s parking enforcement might charge lower fines than your city’s police department. They’re $25 across the board at SUNY Cortland, for example. But still, the charges could pile up if you’re not careful.

Research your school’s policies and costs. There’s a wide range of possibilities. Consider New Jersey schools as an example. Rutgers University issues 5.5 tickets per driver, William Paterson University distributes 0.12, and Princeton University doesn’t ticket drivers at all, according to’s research.

3. You May End Up Being Your Friends’ Chauffeur

Almost 30% of millennials say affording rent and other necessities is among their top sources of money stress. And cars can bring more than their share of money troubles. Insurance, parking, gas, maintenance, emissions checks, and more are all part of car ownership and use.

But there are more cons than those that hit your wallet. If you’re a freshman driving, having a car could help you make friends, but ask yourself if you want to be the driver each time you go off campus in a group. You might rather be the one asking for occasional rides.

But a car can do worse things than cramp your style—it can put you in an unsafe situation. If you have a car, and you drive to bars with friends, you run the risk of getting behind the wheel after drinking too much. It might not always be cheaper to take public transportation or reserve an Uber, but it’s much safer.

If these cons don’t sway you, then know there are some advantages to having a car in college.

1. It’s the Best Form of Transportation Available

If your school has a sprawling campus or satellite campuses, driving from class to class might be less of a luxury and more of a necessity. There are other possible reasons for needing a car

  • You need to commute regularly for an off-campus job or internship.
  • There is no viable bus, train, or similar option to get you where you need to go.
  • The distance between your residence and classes is too far to bike.

If you decide that having a car on campus is worth the trouble, consider creating a carpool to make it worth your while. You could find classmates who live in your dorm and offer rides in exchange for something else.

2. You Can Work Your Wheels into Your Side Hustle

Having a car on campus affects your wallet in negative ways, like with insurance and parking—but it can also make you money. Some of the best side hustles require a car.

Consider one or more of the following:

  • Be a rideshare driver for a company like Uber and Lyft.
  • Treat your car like a moving billboard with help from Carvertise.
  • Rent your car out to neighbors or classmates using Turo.

If you already use your car to make money or you’re looking into it, do the math. See if your potential earnings would covers costs for parking, insurance, and the occasional oil change. Better yet, see if you could turn a profit.

You can perform the same calculation for office jobs or internships that require a commute.

3. It’s the Cheapest Way to Return Home

Freshman and college students generally live by the academic calendar. Aside from having the summer off, there are spring and winter breaks and occasional long weekends. A student’s top option is typically returning home.

No matter where you see yourself taking breaks from school—whether it’s at Mom and Dad’s or a friend’s place—map the route ahead of time. If it’s a few states away, you might be booking flights for each trip. If you live within a road trip’s distance from home, however, having a car might be your best choice—and you may decide that putting up with parking on campus is worth having the ability to drive home at a moment’s notice.

Decide Whether to Take Your Car to Campus

On a daily basis, full-time college students spend 1.4 of every 24 hours traveling, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you know you’ll be taking a car to college, you should include the cost of gas and parking when figuring out the real cost of your classes. Choosing how you travel could save you time, but it could also save you money or trouble.

Research your school’s policies and think critically about whether you need your car on campus.

The less time you spend behind the wheel, the more time you can use on your college experience.


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How Does Student Loan Forgiveness Work?

It's important you understand your student loans, and that starts with learning the meaning of the terms you're likely to encounter in the student-loan worl

The student loan forgiveness process can be murky at best.

Which loans are eligible for forgiveness—federal loans or private loans? And when are they eligible? Should you hire a lawyer to help you with the process of reducing or eliminating your student debt? Can all of your debt be forgiven or just some of it?

These are just a few of the questions faced by those who have mountains of student debt. And just to complicate matters further, there’s a lot of myths and misinformation out there about student debt forgiveness.

To help clear things up, we asked financial experts to walk us through the student loan forgiveness process—and answer some of the most common questions student loan holders have.

What Kind of Loan Do I Have?

When it comes to student loan forgiveness, the first challenge is often determining the source of your loan. It’s not unusual for people to be unsure about whether they have private loans, federal loans, or some combination of both.

Michelle Waymire, a financial advisor and founder of Young + Scrappy, has some advice for people in this situation: analyze your records.

“Most people need to go back and figure out what type of loans they have because a lot of people don’t know the difference,” she says. “And it isn’t necessarily easy to find out because loan servicing companies don’t have a lot of incentive to help you figure out how to get your loan forgiven.”

The easiest place to start is the National Student Loan Data System, which is a database of all federal student loans. This is where you can obtain a list of all the federal student loans you may have, Waymire explains.

If your loans aren’t listed here, they are likely private loans and not federal ones. If you’re seeking loan forgiveness, you should know that according to the experts, the overwhelming majority of student loan forgiveness applies to federal loans.

How Can My Credit Report Help?

After exploring the National Student Loan Data System, the next step is to pull your credit report, says Waymire.

This will allow you to identify any private student loans you may hold. Many sites or services will charge you for a credit report, but you can obtain a free credit report at

Does My Job Make a Difference?

There are two main approaches to loan forgiveness, depending on whether you’re employed in the private or public sector.

As a private sector worker, the road to loan forgiveness is longer and harder. You’ll need to make at least two decades of on-time payments through an income-driven repayment plan before you’re eligible for forgiveness of the remaining debt. However, according to Waymire, “if you still have anything you owe at the end of that period, the balance is forgiven.”

So if you work in the private sector, and you eventually want to apply for loan forgiveness, an income-driven repayment plan is the first step.

What Is Income-Driven Repayment?

There are four types of income-driven repayment plans offered by the federal government. Each is designed to offer some student loan relief during the repayment process.

These include the Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE Plan); the Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE Plan); the Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR Plan); and finally, the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR Plan).

“Each of these has different characteristics and time horizons for forgiveness,” Waymire explains, but the bottom line is that all of these plans are designed to help those with federal loans whose payments are too high compared to their income. Most federal student loans are eligible for one of the four plans.

Am I Eligible for Income-Driven Repayment?

It’s also important to note that once you’ve participated in an income-based repayment plan for two decades or more, and you can apply for forgiveness, there are no restrictions on the type of job you hold in order to qualify for relief of the remaining debt.

Those wishing to apply for an income-driven repayment plan must complete an application with the Federal Student Aid office of US Department of Education.

Am I Eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF)?

Public Service Loan Forgiveness is designed for public service workers, or those who work for government organizations at any level (federal, state, or local), as well as those working for 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations. Those employed in the public sector can qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

However, for your payments to qualify, you must meet certain conditions. This often involves the following:

  • Making payments in an income-driven repayment plan (ICR, IBR, PAYE, or REPAYE)
  • Having only Federal Direct Loans —Perkins loans obtained through your school and older FFEL loans do not qualify.
  • Working full time at a paying job for either the government or a nonprofit

How Can the PSLF Program Help Me?

The advantage of the PSLF program is that with it, loan forgiveness takes far less time for public service workers than it does for private sector workers. In fact, according to Waymire, “You just have to repeat the qualifying payments 120 times, but they don’t have to be consecutive.”

In other words, if for some reason you lose your qualifying government or nonprofit job and eventually you find another qualifying position, the gap in acceptable employment will not count against you. The key is to reach 120 payments total while working at any qualifying job, whether it is one consistent position or various ones throughout the course of your career.

What Kind of Payments Qualify for PSLF?

To get credit for qualifying payments, you must submit documents annually to the Department of Education verifying your income, family size, and employment, says Waymire.

If you want to qualify for this program now or in the future, you must submit an employment certification form as soon as possible. Too often, people wait to complete this form, only to learn the payments they’ve been making on their loans were not qualifying payments.

Qualifying payments, for example, must be on time (or no later than 15 days after the due date) and must be for the full amount shown on the monthly bill, not a percentage or portion of the total. In addition, payments made while your loan is in a grace period, deferment, or forbearance will not count as qualifying.

What Are My Options for Private Student Loan Forgiveness?

If you have private student loans, not federal student loans, then your options are more limited. But according to Joe DePaulo, CEO and co-founder of College Ave Student Loans, “some private loans do include forgiveness,” such as “if the student borrower dies or suffers a permanent disability after taking on the loan.”

However, he adds, complete forgiveness isn’t the only answer for those struggling with repayment. If you’re having difficulty repaying your loans, don’t ignore the problem or assume there are no options. Instead, DePaulo suggests reaching out to loan servicers to discuss your situation and develop a plan to get back on track.

Should I Get a Lawyer?

Unfortunately, most experts agree that an attorney can do little to help with the federal student loan forgiveness process.

“If it’s a federal loan, a lawyer might be able to help you understand the process,” says Galen Bargerstock, founder of Government & Civil Employee Services, “but they’re not going to be able to negotiate with federal government.”

Are Refinanced and Consolidated Loans Eligible for Forgiveness?

Another perplexing hurdle student loan holders often face is the lingering effect of consolidation and refinancing.

If you’ve consolidated student loans in the past, you may not be eligible for loan forgiveness in the future, but it depends on exactly what you consolidated and refinanced and with whom. Those who have refinanced student loans with a private lender, and in the process consolidated or bundled both federal and private loans, lose the ability to later seek forgiveness of the federal loans or even income-driven repayment plans.

Waymire says that “for this reason, it’s best to only refinance if you have high interest rates or you aren’t otherwise eligible for the benefits that federal loans provide.”

Can I Be Taxed on My Forgiven Loans?

If your student loans are successfully forgiven, be aware that your eliminated debt is typically considered taxable income—meaning you’ll owe more in taxes than you otherwise would.

“For example, if your salary is $45,000 per year and you get $35,000 in student loans forgiven, then you’re required to pay income tax on $80,000 rather than on your usual salary,” explains Waymire. “Many people don’t see this coming, aren’t prepared, and end up in debt with the IRS.”

The one caveat here is that for public employee student loan forgiveness, the eliminated debt is not considered income by the IRS, so it will not be taxed.

The big takeaway? If you’re planning on seeking student loan forgiveness, and you’re a private sector worker, it’s worth it to hire a tax professional who can conduct a financial analysis to determine how much money you should set aside for the eventual tax bill.

What Are My Next Steps?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your student loans, and you’re interested in student loan forgiveness, you can get started with a free credit report at You can also find more information on student loan forgiveness, including how loan forgiveness may impact your credit score, and some other loan forgiveness programs you may not know about.

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3 Warning Signs Your Student Debt Is an Emergency

For the first time since 2014, the interest rates on federal student loans are going up.

The average monthly student loan payment is more than $350. This can be a strain on anyone’s budget, but for some, it’s unsustainable and things can go downhill—fast.

If this sounds like an all-too-familiar struggle, you may have a student loan emergency on your hands. Here’s how to know for sure and what you can do to fix it.

3 Red Flags of a Student Debt Emergency

When your debt has become too much of a burden, you should prioritize paying off your student loan early. If you see any of the warning signs below, it may be time to take action.

1. You’re Uncomfortable with Your Balance

Douglas A. Boneparth, the president of Bone Fide Wealth and co-author of The Millennial Money Fix, emphasizes the fact that the numbers themselves, while important, aren’t the only part of the equation that matters.

In other words, it’s not just the balance you carry, but the way you feel about the balance. Some student loan borrowers, Boneparth continues, deal with high student loan balances but refuse to de-prioritize other goals. For example, even though Boneparth and his wife had six-figure debt, they also wanted to start a family—and that meant buying a home so they could get established in the right community for the next phase of their lives.

If you have a high balance but also other financial priorities, it’s okay to stick to your current payment plan so you can manage both. But if your balance makes you uncomfortable and even too scared to think about other priorities, then that’s something you should examine inwardly.

No one can tell you if your debt load is too high. It’s up to you to decide if you’re comfortable with your balance and repayment plan or if you want to accelerate your debt payoff.

2. Your Interest Rates Are in the Double Digits

Sometimes, the problem with student loans lies with the interest rate, not the balance. And if your interest rate is high, then it’s time to either get a lower rate or work on paying it off faster.

High interest rates are a game changer because they keep your monthly payments expensive and increase the total cost of your debt. The sooner you can lower your interest rate or pay the debt off, the more you can mitigate the problem.

If you refinance your student loans, you can reduce your interest rate and your monthly payments. In fact, the purpose of refinancing is to achieve a lower interest rate—and you’ll get new repayment terms at the same time.

When you choose your new terms, you can opt for lower monthly payments or a shorter repayment plan. So you can either take advantage of the flexibility of lower payments or use the shorter repayment plan as an impetus to get out of debt faster.

One thing to remember, though, is that refinancing federal student loans means buying them out with private student loans. You’ll no longer have access to benefits such as income-driven repayment plans, which could make it more difficult to meet your payments—bringing me to the next red flag.

3. You Can Barely Manage to Make Your Monthly Payments

Student loan debt might not be a problem if the bill is manageable, but if you have to choose between food and student loans, then it’s an emergency.

People with federal student loans can get help with an income-driven repayment plan, which caps your monthly payment at a certain percentage of your income. If that’s not enough, you can also turn to deferment or forbearance to temporarily stop or reduce your payments—options that are also sometimes available on private student loans.

If you decide to briefly pause or lower your payments, look for ways to improve your overall financial situation during the break. Deferment or forbearance can certainly help you when you’re running behind, but they can also keep you in debt for longer.

To increase your cash flow, consider taking on a roommate, working a side gig, or putting in a few extra hours of work when you can. If possible, consider making the switch to a more lucrative position in your field, in which case deferment or forbearance can offer you a little breathing room when you’re between jobs. And if you’re simply new to your career and know your income will grow as your experience does, then deferment or forbearance can give you some reprieve until your next pay raise.

There’s a Bright Side to Student Loan Debt

If you stay current on your loan payments, student debt can have its positives. For example, student debt can help your credit score when you consistently pay on time.

It contributes to your payment history to build, maintain, or repair your credit. So as long as you pay on time, there’s a bright side: you’re building a positive credit history as you go.

But whatever you do, don’t turn away from your debt because it scares you. It’s never fun to see a large balance or count the years left on a repayment plan, but ignoring the debt won’t make it go away. In fact, ignoring it and neglecting your payments can cause far greater problems if the loan goes into default, which can completely wreck your credit score.

As you chip away at your student loans, keep an eye on your credit score for free at You can also sign up for a detailed credit report card at no cost to you.

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10 Ways to Manage Your Student Loans

Manage Student Loans

Student loans are a hot topic these days, with everyone wondering the same thing: How are current college students or recent college graduates going to repay theses debts?

While millions of Americans have been navigating these waters for years, new graduates may be nervous about the total bill for their degree. Education is still a wise investment to make, and paying these loans back is very doable.

Here are a few tips to help you manage your student loans and keep them from overwhelming you:

Choose a career field that will pay you back

For those who aren’t 100 percent sure what line of work they want to go into, a career in public service can be rewarding, in more ways than one. No only will you get the benefit of the opportunity to improve your community, but working for a local, state, or federal government agency makes you eligible to apply for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. If you qualify, some of your student loan debt may be forgiven. Additionally, since the public sector is about to experience a mass exodus in the form of baby boomer retirement, there’s predicted to be millions of vacant jobs in the coming years for millennials to fill.

Add a little to your monthly payment

If and when you can afford it, add $10-20 to each monthly payment you make. This amount will be applied directly to your principal amount, as opposed to paying off some of your interest. This also creates a small avalanche effect of its own, since reducing the principal amount also reduces the interest accrued.

Get a part-time job

It’s not ideal, but if you’re already employed full-time, and your loans are still overwhelming, there might be some part-time jobs out there that can help ease that burden. The side-hustle economy is booming, and there are hundreds of jobs out there that can be done on your own time and at your own speed.

Expand your job search

If you’re not finding full-time work in your area that pays enough to help you manage your student loans, consider expanding your job search… across the ocean. A lot of other countries, such as Japan, Korea, and China, are looking for native English speakers to educate students. These jobs pay well and often offer paid room and board, so you can send as much money home to your student loans as you want.

Cut out wasteful spending

Instead of buying a morning cup of coffee every day on your way to work, make your coffee at home instead. At the end of each month, calculate the money you didn’t spend on daily coffees (or other similar luxuries) and consider adding that amount to your student loan payment that month.

Consolidate your loans

Professional loan consolidation or credit repair may be a good option for those who have multiple loans from various lenders, and may be paying several different interest rates. Loan consolidation can be done in a variety of ways, but if you’re not sure where to begin, a specialist can help you.

Find employers that offer tuition assistance

Many different industries that didn’t exist twenty years ago have taken root in America, and they’re looking for the best talent, which makes them competitive with their benefits packages. Many employers will now offer tuition assistance or reimbursement. Try asking a new or prospective employer if they would consider putting this in your benefits package. The worst they can do is say no!

Apply the ‘avalanche’ method

If you have multiple loans, make the largest payment to the one with the highest interest rate each month, paying it down in a shorter amount of time. When this is paid off, move to the next highest interest rate, then the next, and so on. While already a popular method of paying off large sums of credit card debt, this can also help those who have multiple loans at varying interest rates.

Refinance through a different lender

If all you want is to simply lower the monthly amount of your student loan payment, try refinancing through a different lender. New loans generally get lower interest rates, so take advantage of this.

Bump your payments incrementally

During the first year of student loan repayment, you may not be able to pay more than the bare minimum due, and that’s ok. But if you get a raise, and you can afford it, use the raise to bump up your payment a small amount. Do this every year and before you know it, you’ll cut months or even years of repayment off your loan.


If you’re concerned about your credit, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly,’s free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter grades—plus you get two free credit scores updated each month.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.


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How to Stand Up to Your Student Loan Servicer

How to Stand Up to Your Lender

Perhaps there’s a bit of irony in the name “student loan servicer.”

You can easily find stories about the sometimes less-than-satisfactory customer service that student loan services provide. In fact, as of April 1, 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) had received about 44,000 complaints about student loan servicers since it began collecting complaints in March 2012.

Borrowers report frustrations with loan servicers when contacting customer service and complain that miscommunication sometimes resulted in costly errors, like missed or mis-processed payments. Payment issues like these result in borrowers paying more out of pocket, and they can also affect borrowers’ credit scores because payment history is the most important part of credit profiles.

An Indianapolis woman recently experienced these frustrations firsthand. Chris Boehm, a doctor of veterinary medicine, was six years into repaying about $138,000 in loans for four years of vet school. She never encountered problems until her loan was sold from one student loan servicer to another.

After five months of payment issues, including an accidental double payment, a missed payment, forbearance, and a huge jump in monthly payments, Boehm finally reported that her problems were solved—just before she filed a complaint with the CFPB. There are thousands of stories like this one, but many of them aren’t resolved so easily.

Although consumers may find comfort in the CFPB’s mandate to improve student loan servicers, the best advocate you have at your disposal as a borrower is yourself. Boehm and her husband dedicated time to calling customer service representatives and documenting loan payment activity to prove her case that error after error had affected her account, and it wasn’t her fault.

To avoid finding yourself in a similar situation, learn from Boehm’s story and follow in her steps.

1. Pay Attention to the Details

Boehm’s story began when her new loan servicer, Nelnet, debited her account twice for one monthly payment—the first of many Nelnet problems to come. When the previous servicer sold Boehm’s loan, she had set up automatic payments, so she knew something was wrong once she saw the double charge. She called customer service and spoke to a representative who told her she could do nothing but let the double payment stand, but at $714 a month, there wasn’t room in the budget. She instead filled out some paperwork to reverse the second payment.

Here’s what Nelnet didn’t tell Boehm: the reversal shut off her automatic payments. Although the servicer later told Boehm that she should have seen a notice about the auto-debit cancellation when she reversed the second charge, she didn’t. She also couldn’t find the notice online after the fact.

When the next payment due date came and the payment wasn’t automatically taken from her bank account, she paid close attention and paid the bill immediately. She also set up the automatic payment again.

“Thank God I printed the receipt for that,” Boehm says. When she made her request online to set up the auto-debit system, the site displayed a timestamp, which she printed. The next month rolled around, and again, no auto-debit occurred. This time, she didn’t notice right away and ended up paying her loan payment late.

2. Document Everything

Boehm later found out her loan went into forbearance, pushing her next payment forward two months. At this point, she had started printing every bit of information that popped up when managing her loan. Even when payments are suspended due to forbearance, loans accrue interest, and Boehm saw her monthly payment jump up by $50. About $300 in capitalized interest (which is essentially the sum of any interest payments you failed to pay) was added to her balance because of the forbearance, but the added $50 didn’t make sense to Boehm.

“We ran it through an amortization program, and it should have only cost $3 or $4 a month, not $50,” Boehm says. “That $300 mistake was worth like $12,000 over the life of the loan.”

She again called customer service, and a representative explained the situation and told her she could write a letter to Nelnet’s correspondence department. In that letter, she cited the company’s mission, vision, and core values: “Customers are #1” and “We strive to provide consistent, clear support for all of our customers.” She then outlined her requests in detail:

  • Reverse the interest added to the loan principal
  • Erase the forbearance from the account
  • Revert the payments back to the amount before the incident
  • Resume the auto-debit process

Boehm sent her letter along with documentation of her account transactions and activity, and eight days later, the extra interest was removed. Boehm’s next payment was automatically deducted and the situation was solved—after at least five phone calls, a letter, and four payment periods after her first attempt.

“If you have your documentation to show the payments you made or the notes of what was agreed to, that’s going to go a long way to helping you fix the problem,” says Gerri Detweiler,’s director of consumer education.

“The other thing to keep in mind is if this mistake has damaged your credit, and they won’t fix it, you may have a basis for a credit damage lawsuit.”

Boehm said her credit wasn’t affected, but Detweiler makes an important point: late payments reported to credit bureaus—which give significant weight to payment history—will hurt your credit scores.

3. Don’t Let the Lenders Get You Down

Despite a story like Boehm’s, Nelnet reviews of customer service aren’t the worst.

In the CFPB’s most recent review of the largest student loan servicers, Nelnet had the third-highest complaint average over a three-month span (between November 2016 and Jan 2017).

Interestingly, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services reviews in the CFPB report were better than Nelnet’s, and Nelnet is in the process of acquiring Great Lakes to ostensibly “enhance borrower experience.”

“When someone doesn’t have the experience that we hope to live up to, we’re disappointed,” says Ben Kiser, a spokesman for Nelnet, which serves more than six million borrowers. “We’re very happy that it was resolved.”

Boehm’s story speaks to some of the most common complaints borrowers have with student loan servicers: payment problems and poor customer service. Boehm was lucky to have been able to clearly state her case. And although it took time and effort to fix the error, her later interactions with Nelnet representatives were better.

“The young lady who called me was really apologetic,” Boehm says. “That felt really nice. I felt like I was banging my head against the wall every time I called.”

Boehm said the most frustrating part of the process wasn’t the service—it was the fact that she had no control over who she worked with. The Boehms had never experienced issues with their other loans, making the whole thing seem that much more unreasonable. With a credit history including eight mortgages (they moved a lot), a student loan in repayment, and a home equity line of credit, she was surprised by how frustrating the process was.

“It’s kind of crazy,” says Boehm. “If someone is treating you poorly, you should be able to choose your loan servicer.”

In reality, that’s often not the case. Remember the Boehms’ story and follow this advice: pay attention to the details, document everything, and don’t let borrowers get you down. While the CFPB continues to watch servicer activity, it’s up to you to protect yourself.

More on Student Loans:

Image: Michele Piacquadio

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5 Little-Known Ways to Get Your Student Loans Forgiven

Student loans are a huge burden but they don't necessarily have to be. It's possible to lower your monthly student loan payment with the right tips.

If you feel burdened under the weight of student loan debt, we have some good news: you may be able to get those student loans forgiven. In 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a report estimating that up to one in four Americans may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, but only a small percentage are actually using it.

Most student loan forgiveness programs aren’t a secret—but it might seem like they are because so few people take advantage of them. If you’d like to wave a magic wand and make your student loan debt disappear, here are five ways to help make that happen.

1. Loan Forgiveness Programs for Health Care Professionals

If you’re a doctor or a nurse, you could get a significant amount of your student loans forgiven in exchange for your service. Here are a couple programs to check out.

  • The Health Professionals Loan Repayment Program: This program is for health-care professionals who serve in the military. You could get up to $50,000 of student loan debt forgiven for each year of military service.
  • Maine Dental Loan Repayment Program: Get up to $20,000 of your student loan debt paid for if you’re a dental professional who sets up shop in an underserved area in Maine. Other states offer similar programs for medical professionals in underserved areas.

2. Perkins Loan Cancellation and Discharge

Those who took out a Perkins loan to help pay for college and work in a qualifying career could have their entire debt wiped out after five years. All Perkins loan borrowers are eligible for potential loan cancellation or forgiveness. Here’s a look at some of the professions that qualify.

  • Active Duty Military Service: If you served in a hostile fire or imminent danger pay area before August 14, 2008, you could have up to 50% of your loans forgiven. Those who began serving on or after that date may qualify for 100% loan forgiveness.
  • Full-Time Public Service: Police officers, firefighters, and other law enforcement personnel may be able to have 100% of their loans forgiven. Attorneys that work in a community or federal public defender organization may also qualify for total loan forgiveness.
  • Educators: Teachers of certain subjects, special education teachers, and teachers serving low-income students may all be eligible for loan forgiveness up to 100% of the loan. Librarians and speech pathologists in Title I schools may also be eligible.

3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs

There are a number of loan forgiveness programs available for teachers who work in underserved areas. Some are state specific, and others are federal programs. Find out if you qualify for either of the federal programs for teachers.

  • Teacher Cancellation: As noted above, teachers who work full-time at a low-income school may be able to have their Federal Perkins Loan cancelled. This option is also available to teachers of certain subjects like math, science, or bilingual education.
  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness: This program was designed to encourage people to enter the education field. If you’ve been a full-time teacher for five consecutive years in a designated school or agency, you may be able to have up to $5,000 of Direct and Stafford loans forgiven. Secondary teachers who teach math or science, as well as special education teachers in elementary or secondary schools, may have up to $17,500 of Direct and Stafford loans forgiven. Unfortunately, PLUS loans are not eligible for this forgiveness program.

4. Forgiveness Programs for Volunteering

Some student loan forgiveness programs are related to volunteer work instead of your nine-to-five profession. If you’ve got a penchant for community service, then you might be able to get a little help with your student loans from these organizations.

  • AmeriCorps and VISTA: When you volunteer for AmeriCorps or VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), you can qualify to suspend your student loan payments for the duration of your service. You can also earn time that will help you qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
  • Peace Corps: If you want to volunteer across the globe, the Peace Corps can help you make a difference and move you closer to paying off those student loans. Volunteers receive forbearance of loan payments during their service, and they earn over $8,000 of readjustment allowance and partial Perkins loans cancellation upon completing their service.

5. Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

While no one plans to be disabled, it’s reassuring to know that student loan help is available if you have a terrible accident or become ill. In the worst cases, your entire student loan debt can be wiped out, eliminating this extra worry during an already trying time. There are three ways to demonstrate that you are “totally and permanently” disabled.

  • Military-Related Disability: Veterans can qualify if the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has determined that you cannot work because of an injury incurred during your military service.
  • Social Security Disability: People who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may also qualify to have their student loans discharged.
  • Medical Disability: If a doctor determines that you’re unable to work due to a mental or physical disability, then you may be able to get your student loans discharged. The disability has to have lasted for more than 60 months or be expected to last for more than 60 months.

The Bottom Line

If you’re having trouble paying off your student loans, it’s important to find a workable solution so you don’t default on them. Even if you file for bankruptcy, it can be difficult to have your student loans cancelled, and falling behind on your payments can hurt your credit and may even lead to wage garnishment. If you’re worried that your student loans might be affecting your credit, get a free credit report so you can see exactly what’s going on. Get your free credit score now to make sure your student loans aren’t getting you in trouble.

Student loan forgiveness programs are not an instant solution. For example, one important thing to note is that if you do have your student loans forgiven, you will then owe taxes on the amount forgiven. This is because the IRS counts forgiven student loans as income. So while you might be able to escape your student loans, you should still budget to pay the associated taxes. But loan forgiveness programs can help you rebuild your financial peace of mind. Most people don’t realize that they might qualify for a student loan forgiveness program. Don’t end up in a bad situation where you risk default without looking into the options that are available.

More on Student Loans:

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How Student Loan Debt Affects Your Mental Health

Lenders can sell your loans whenever they want, so it’s important to have some safeguards in place. Here's what you need to know.

Feeling stressed about money isn’t uncommon, but for many people with student loans, the burden takes a toll physically and psychologically.

According to a Student Loan Hero survey of more than 1,000 student loan borrowers, respondents reported experiencing anxiety, insomnia, headaches, social isolation, and more as a result of their student loan debt.

How Student Loan Debt Stress Can Affect You

Starting your career with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt can make the goal of financial security seem unattainable. Among those who responded to the survey, 61% feared their worries over student debt were spiraling out of control.

Respondents also reported the following physical and psychological symptoms due to stress:

  • Social isolation (74%)
  • Headaches (72%)
  • Sleepless nights (65%)
  • Muscle tension (56%)
  • Apprehension or dread (55%)
  • Irritability (55%)
  • Restlessness (53%)
  • Depression (52%)
  • Tenseness (51%)
  • Nausea (50%)
  • Jumpiness (21%)

These debilitating effects can leave you feeling helpless about your student debt. What’s more, they can permeate your life and leave you less productive at work, more isolated from your family and friends, and less happy in general.

If you’ve felt any of these effects of student loan debt, here are three tips on how to get back on track.

1. Get On a Better Repayment Plan

If your student loan payments are pushing you to your limits, you might be able to find relief through an income-driven repayment plan or by refinancing your loans.

Income-Driven Repayment

If you have federal student loans, the Department of Education offers four income-driven repayment plans that can help lower your monthly payments to 10% to 20% of your discretionary income.

These plans extend your repayment term to up to 25 years, so you might end up paying more in interest in the long run, but you’ll get the relief you need now.

Keep in mind that private student loans don’t qualify for these repayment plans. If you have private loans, contact your lender to see if it offers relief for financial hardship.


Whether you have federal or private student loans, you might be able to refinance them to get a lower interest rate, a lower monthly payment, or both.

Several student loan refinancing companies offer low variable- and fixed-interest rates. But even if you don’t qualify for those rates, lenders also offer various repayment terms that can help you get more flexibility in determining your monthly payment.

For example, if you had $30,000 in student debt with a 6.00% APR and 10-year repayment term, your monthly payment would be $333. If you refinanced your loans with a 4.00% APR and the same repayment term, your payment would drop to $304. If you didn’t manage to get a lower interest rate but extended your repayment term to 15 years, your payment would still drop to $253.

Again, extending your repayment term could mean you’ll pay more interest over the life of the loan. But if your goal is to get relief now, it’s a viable short-term solution. And you can always refinance again in the future.

2. Get the Rest of Your Finances in Order

Massive student loan debt can be daunting enough. But if the problem is compounded by other financial woes, focusing on your student loans alone might not be enough.

For example, if you have bad credit, review your credit report to see if there are any areas you can start working on immediately. Delinquent accounts can damage your credit score the longer you’re late on payments. If you have any delinquent accounts, get them paid up to avoid worse consequences.

If things are really bad, consider working with a credit repair company to get the help you need and get back on track.

If you’re having trouble with student loan payments, create a budget to see if there are areas where you could cut back so you can manage your payments more easily.

To get started, calculate your income and monthly expenses. Then set goals for your monthly spending to make sure you can set aside extra cash for your student loans. Consider using a budgeting app to make the process go more smoothly.

Lastly, take stock of your other debt. If you have high-interest credit card debt, consider consolidating the debt with a low-interest personal loan or 0% balance transfer card. With less of your monthly payment going to interest, you’ll pay down your debt more quickly.

3. Seek Help if You Need It

If you’re suffering from the negative psychological effects of student loan debt, don’t rule out professional help. A financial therapist can help you put your student debt troubles into perspective and provide you with healthy ways to cope with your student debt and other financial issues.

The most important thing is that you have a plan. Using these tips can help you get started, but it’s up to you to set goals and follow through.

As you take steps to address your student debt and the psychological issues that come with it, you can develop the confidence to gain more control over your money—and your life.

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4 Financial Factors to Keep in Mind When Budgeting for College


In the US, the amount of student debt has reached over $1.4 trillion. The bad news for students currently planning on attending college is that tuition isn’t getting any cheaper. Insofar as there’s good news, students are being more financially cautious when planning for college, researching their student loan options, opting to stay in state, or even taking time to earn residency for out-of-state public schools. But college costs aren’t just about paying the university itself. Here are some expected and some less obvious costs students need to budget for when heading to college.

1. Factor in Student Loan Interest

You already know to think about tuition (and perhaps how it compares to the amount of financial aid your top choices offer), but one thing many students don’t really think about until the first bill comes in is how much student loan interest can add to the overall cost.

For the average loan rate of $30,000 at 4% interest, the interest adds over $7,000 for the life of the loan. And that’s if you make all your payments on time—many students end up with loan amounts far higher than that. Some students learn the hard way that they’ll be paying about as much in interest as the amount they took out—or more. You don’t want to be taken by surprise when you get your first bill, so make sure you factor interest in early on.

2. Look into All of a School’s Required Expenses and Fees

Though tuition is the biggest expense, colleges routinely require a large number of other expenses. Textbooks and supplies can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Further, many schools expect students to live on campus and purchase a meal plan their first year, and these annual on-campus housing and meal plans can cost about $9,000.

According to the New York Times, mandatory fees are on the rise, and they cost students at four-year public colleges nearly $1,700 during the 2015–2016 school year. These fees range from understandable to seemingly arbitrary—schools charge for everything from dropping a class to “student success fees.” In fact, mandatory fees have risen 30% more than tuition since 1999, so make sure you look into what fees will tack on to your overall college expenses.

3. Consider Transportation

Wherever you go to college, you’ll need to get around. Some schools are located in areas with thriving public transportation or have compact enough campuses that you can bike or walk most of the time. In these cases, you should simply check how much public transportation costs (it could be free or heavily discounted for students), and consider bike maintenance expenses in your budgeting if relevant.

If your school is located somewhere where a car is necessary (or if you want the option of driving home on the weekends), then you have a number of additional expenses to consider—in addition to the car itself, of course:

  • Parking—Many colleges charge hefty parking fees (often to discourage crowding the campus with cars). However, some housing will include parking spaces or garages.
  • Insurance—If you’re staying in state for school, you can stay on a parent’s insurance policy (as long as your primary residence is still your home address). Make sure you consider coverage beyond the state-required liability coverage, and always make sure to compare quotes to find the best coverage at the best rate.
  • Gas—Pro tip: If your friends are bumming rides to the grocery store or elsewhere around campus, ask them to chip in for gas.
  • Maintenance—Take preventative care of your car, get regular check-ups, and keep supplies like jumper cables and an ice scraper in your trunk.

Don’t forget the wonders of modern transportation options. Consider ridesharing or check out car2go or Zipcar for on-demand driving alternatives.

Also, if you’re heading a longer distance from home to go to school, you’ll need to factor flights into your yearly expenses.

4. Don’t Forget the Fun Stuff

Yes, you’re there to learn, but college is full of new experiences, so don’t neglect budgeting for those as well.

Big sports fan? Season student tickets to football, basketball, hockey, etc. can cost a chunk of change. Into theater or music? College campuses draw great talent on small and big stages alike, and ticket prices can run a wide range.

Cold or hot beverage? Pitch in for a tailgate beer or two, and anticipate needing LOTS of caffeine. And ice cream can help get you through exams, so put a little change aside for these treats, too.

Spring break can also be expensive. Whether it’s a trip to the beach or the ski slopes, if a springtime trip is in your future, set some travel funds aside.

Bonus Build Good Financial Habits Now (and Thank Yourself Later)

In addition to budgeting, you can start building other good financial habits for long-term benefit.

Start earning. Think about work options—but don’t be overly ambitious. Working during your college years can help offset your expenses, but if you try to work too much, you risk letting your studies slip and not getting your money’s worth for tuition. Don’t assume you can pull off a full-time job and still finish in four years when you’re working out your budget. Consider a more realistic goal of 15–20 hours a week, and if you decide to do work-study, apply fast before the jobs get snatched up.

Start building credit.

College is the perfect time to seriously start building your credit so you can more easily navigate post-college life.

Consider getting a student credit card and responsibly using it so you build your credit during your four years. Start with a small credit line and choose a card that rewards you for making your payments on time. When you build your credit during college, you’ll be set up to smoothly maneuver the post-grad life experiences that require good credit, including finding housing, purchasing a car, saving on insurance, or starting your own business. Your credit score is partly affected by your track record of making credit payments over time, so you’ll be glad you started building your credit early.

College is expensive, and even if you do everything right, there’s still a good chance you’ll have loans hanging over your head for a while after graduation. It’s worth making cautious decisions based on financial considerations when choosing your college and budgeting for the next four years, but know that if you keep up with your studies, it will likely all pay off.

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Baby Boomer Student Debt by State

Teenage girl with hands on face victim of cyber bullying

Millennials aren’t the only ones racking up billions of dollars in student debt.

Turns out, in three out of every four states, “the total outstanding student debt held by borrowers over age 60 increased by more than 50 percent [since 2012].” This data comes from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which also found that from 2012 to 2017, the number of baby boomers with student debt has increased by “at least 20 percent in every state.”

What’s even more shocking is the actual dollar amount of total baby boomer student debt for each state—Texas comes in at $6,760,220,000, and it didn’t even make the top three.

See how much baby boomer student debt your state has accumulated. (Hint: at the very least, it’s in the hundreds of millions of dollars.)

50. Wyoming

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $111,834,100

49. Alaska

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $147,871,000

48. North Dakota

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $185,125,700

47. South Dakota

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $266,013,100

46. Idaho

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $325,985,500

45. Montana

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $346,712,800

44. Vermont

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $347,352,700

43. Hawaii

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $387,892,000

42. West Virginia

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $416,178,800

41. Utah

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $467,623,300

40. Nebraska

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $521,516,000

39. Delaware

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $536,479,200

38. Maine

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $588,882,100

37. New Mexico

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $603,955,600

36. Rhode Island

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $609,235,400

35. Arkansas

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $620,612,800

34. Mississippi

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $672,880,700

33. Kansas

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $718,827,000

32. Nevada

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $735,935,000

31. New Hampshire

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $807,447,200

30. Kentucky

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $865,166,500

29. Iowa

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $881,100,300

28. Oklahoma

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $1,050,950,000

27. Louisiana

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $1,177,845,000

26. Oregon

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $1,249,198,000

25. Alabama

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $1,299,578,000

24. South Carolina

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $1,538,660,000

23. Wisconsin

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $1,542,771,000

22. Tennessee

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $1,653,585,000

21. Missouri

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $1,717,022,000

20. Arizona

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $1,854,555,000

19. Minnesota

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $1,873,396,000

18. Connecticut

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $1,902,854,000

17. Colorado

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $1,915,617,000

16. Indiana

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $2,029,478,000

15. Washington

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $2,056,024,000

14. North Carolina

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $2,489,550,000

13. Virginia

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $2,748,123,000

12. Georgia

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $3,345,422,000

11. Michigan

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $3,421,531,000

10. Maryland

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $3,559,640,000

9. Massachusetts

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $3,668,714,000

8. Ohio

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $4,637,882,000

7. New Jersey

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $4,742,573,000

6. Illinois

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $5,103,916,000

5. Texas

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $6,760,220,000

4. Pennsylvania

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $6,830,725,000

3. Florida

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $7,132,025,000

2. New York

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $9,181,882,000

1. California

Total student balance for borrowers age 60 and older: $11,274,120,000


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4 Ways to Find the Perfect Mentor for You—for Free

Don't let your parents' bad habits become yours. Here's how to do money the right way.

About 86% of CFOs say having a mentor is important to career development, according to a 2016 survey performed by Accountemps.

So if having a mentor is so important, why do only 26% of workers have one?

Unless your company offers a mentorship program, you probably haven’t found one, either. Fortunately, finding a mentor for free is easy enough if you’re willing to put in the work. There is no one perfect mentor out there for everyone, and there is no one perfect way to find mentors. But we do have some tips that can help.

So if you’re ready to find a mentor, here are four different ways to find the best mentor for you, for free.

1. Make a Connection at Your School or Workplace

The most natural way to find a mentor for free is to ask someone on campus (if you’re still in school) or in your office (if you’ve already graduated).

If you’re still in school, you will want to take advantage of your college networking offerings. If you have a job with more experienced colleagues, see if you can develop a rapport with one. Ideally, you’ll meet someone who holds a position you want down the road and is willing to work with you as your mentor.

The benefits of working with someone in your immediate network is that they can potentially go beyond helping you develop your skills. They could also help you navigate the office environment or work toward a better job.

Some companies offer mentoring programs that match seasoned professionals with entry-level newbies. In fact, 71% of Fortune 500 companies offer such a program, according to a 2015 white paper by mentoring-software maker Chronus.

Take advantage of a formal program if your school (via its alumni association) or company offers one. If it doesn’t, become buddies with potential mentors in your social and professional circles by taking the time to get to know them.

As you might have learned from a bad first job, offering to buy a cup of coffee or contribute on a side project could get your foot in the door.

2. Make a Connection Online

You should make mentoring connections online even if you have options a few desks away. But if you’re short on approachable or helpful senior colleagues, this step becomes even more important.

The most common advice is to look for someone who is where you want to be in five or ten years. But beyond that, it’s also good to consider people who aren’t in your field. A former professor, for example, might be able to think more outside the box because they’re less aware of conventional wisdom that could lead you astray.

The people you’re connected with might ask for a fee. If that’s the case, consider these free ways to find mentors online instead:

  • Perform an online search for industry conferences.
  • Use a free website like com.
  • Find a com group near you.
  • Send LinkedIn invites (while LinkedIn tests its matchmaking service).
  • Email contacts asking for side projects and volunteer opportunities.

Be on the lookout for mentoring groups that specialize, such as those for minorities, women, students, and career-changers. The National Mentoring Partnership allows you to search for programs in your area.

Just don’t take anyone at face value. “Nowadays, if you spend more than five minutes online, you’ll see that everyone and their cousin has advice,” New York City–based career coach Carlota Zimmerman said. “Be very leery. The difference between a mentor and a busybody is that a mentor has been in your shoes, made their own mistakes, and earned their wisdom.”

3. Offer as Much Value as You Receive

Asking someone to be your mentor might seem like a grand proposal. So don’t ask. Work to develop the relationship instead.

Perhaps the fastest way to speed up the relationship is to create a two-way street between you and your potential mentor.

“It’s important to note that people who have attained a measure of success value their time and will not mentor just anyone,” said David S. Patterson, the president of The Kineta Group, an executive search and consulting firm. “They do not necessarily need something in return for the mentorship, but they do need to make sure that whoever they mentor will not waste their time.”

Offering to apprentice on your potential mentor’s next project could go a long way. A mentor who can put you to work is just as valuable as, if not more valuable than, one who simply lets you pick their brain.

The most value you can offer to your potential mentor is to become the professional they wouldn’t hesitate to hire or recommend to a colleague. Imagine if you went from a research assistant on a pro bono project to becoming a full-time employee. Your mentor might become your boss.

Don’t discount small opportunities to provide value. As a younger professional, maybe you can trade your technical expertise to a mid-career professional in exchange for career navigation tips.

4. Foster Your Connection over Time

Once you’ve zeroed in on potential mentors, you need to maintain the relationship. The onus will be on you.

Think about what value you want from your mentor and how much time you can dedicate to the mentoring process. You may want to set up recurring in-person or online meetings to keep in touch. Remember that these meetings are your responsibility, so you’ll want to prepare for each conversation by compiling notes on what you want to discuss. Because your mentor is giving you their time, you should be leading the discussion.

It’s also wise to review your mentoring relationships every so often to ensure that you are getting what you need out of the relationship. If you don’t feel like you’re getting the value you want, it might be time to cut the cord and dedicate more time to other mentors.

Be Open to All Sorts of Mentors

Ideally, all professionals would easily find mentors who could help them grow as individuals. But by seeking out people you can truly relate to, you might come up empty at first. Don’t stop searching. Consider other types of mentors, too.

“Mentors don’t have to be people you know,” author and speaker Shawn Anderson said. “They can be people you study, too. My two biggest life influences and mentors are people I have never met.”

Anderson said he learned his sense of personal accountability from reading Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and adopted his professional style from author Og Mandino. So maybe your next best mentor isn’t your boss or a new connection on LinkedIn. Maybe it’s someone in your family, someone who lives on your block, or even someone you read about.

If you’ve seen successful professionals share their early-career learnings, you’ve probably heard them rattle off the names of all sorts of mentors. Most successful people had help from different types of mentors. Don’t be afraid to ask for it—free of charge.

And for the rest of business needs that don’t come free, there are loans to help. Check out our Small Business Loan Center for more information on finding financing as an entrepreneur or small-business owner.

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