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Federal vs. Private Student Loans

 By Tara Carter Student loans are on the minds of many around this time of year as prospective students and their parents face the decision to either apply for federal, or private student loans to pay for tuition and other college fees. In most cases, it’s better to use federal student loans due to their Read more >

How are Student Loan Amounts Determined and Distributed?

By Tara Carter You’ve just graduated high school, and now it’s time to start thinking about college. Along with many other determining factors, cost seems to be at the top of everyone’s list when determining where they want to go to school. For many, paying for college out-of-pocket isn’t an option. So, as an alternative, Read more >

What to Do If You Lose Your Financial Aid

By Devon Delfino When you first started college, you might have assumed that your financial aid package would be solid for the next four years. But now spring has rolled around and you’ve been blindsided: You’ve learned you’ll be getting less money next year. There are five major reasons you could lose financial aid: Your parents Read more >

Earned it: the Working Students Act.

Working your way through college is a reasonable response to paying for an education. But, it can end up costing students when it comes to federal financial aid.   Federal law sets a cap on how much students can earn before the amount of federal need-based aid they are entitled to is reduced. This cap Read more >

Finding acceptance: Is your first-choice school the right choice?

Choosing the right college has always been hard. But as costs have increased and the need to borrow has grown—so much that 69% of students graduating from college in 2014 had student loans —your first-choice school may not be the best choice for your long-term financial health. When you are borrowing to attend school, the Read more >

What’s next? Looking to 2016.

With some 40 million Americans impacted—nearly all of them of voting age—student loan debt emerged as a key political campaign issue in 2015. Most of the presidential candidates now have proposals offering varying degrees of relief to address it. As Election Day nears, and voters continue to press the issue, the potential for substantial change Read more >

Not doing enough: loan service providers under investigation

When loan providers are assigned to each of your federal student loans, your lender—the U.S. Department of Education—expects these providers to help you manage your repayment with minimal financial disruption to your long-term financial security. This would include providing high-touch servicing and counseling regarding your repayment options. If that doesn’t sound like what you’ve experienced Read more >

Courting the student debt vote.

With the sheer number of voters now impacted by student debt—40 million, representing $1.3 trillion in outstanding loans—it’s easy to see why it has emerged as a primary campaign issue after decades of registering fleeting mentions. Though student debt impacts every generation, it’s regarded as the primary “pocketbook” issue for Millennials. Individuals in this age Read more >

Know whose advice you’re taking.

Let’s face it: The sheer numbers and dollars associated with student loans attract the attention of everyone from legitimately concerned financial professionals—like our agency members—to the moderately unscrupulous and outright scam artists. Whether you are a recent graduate still enjoying your six-month grace period on repayment, an enrolled student or a borrower struggling to make Read more >

Worth it!

The numbers are intimidating: 40 million Americans owe roughly $1.2 trillion in student debt as of mid-June. As Kyle McCarthy observed in a Huffington Post article, 40 million is more than the entire population of Canada. These figures are especially intimidating for current students. With close to two-thirds of students using loans to pay for Read more >

Who is the NFCC?

Founded in 1951, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) is the nation's first and largest nonprofit dedicated to improving people's financial well-being.

NFCC members help millions of consumers like you through community-based offices located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Each NFCC member agency has earned our seal by adhering to high standards and ethical practices designed to help you achieve financial stability.

Funding for operations and services comes from an ever-changing combination of federal, state and local government grants, as well as donations from financial industry participants and private donors.

For more on the NFCC, visit

Thank you to our funders.

The Sharpen Your Financial Focus program is an initiative of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) in partnership with a broad cross-section of supporters. Together, we are committed to increasing the financial well-being of Americans. This initiative is partially funded by Bank of America, Chase, Synchrony, Wells Fargo and other major financial institutions. We thank all funders and partners who make this program possible. For more information, visit

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Bruce McClary
Vice President of Communications