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Make good choices: the pros and cons of income-based repayment plans

Thanks to changes in recent years, the U.S. Department of Education now offers all student loan borrowers budget-friendly repayment options tied to their take-home pay. But, that affordability does have a cost. The lower monthly payments result from the extension of the repayment period. This means you trade reduced financial stress today for a higher 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 >

A shared problem: student debt affects everyone

The federal student loan programs began with a mission of making higher education available to all Americans, regardless of income. Several decades later, that mission is a literal reality as even wealthy families now participate in the federal student loan programs. From 1992 to 2012, the percentage of students from high-income families with student loans Read more >

The demise of the Perkins Loan Program

At a time when there is growing support for the federal government to do more to help students afford higher education, it recently cut a popular and long-standing financing option. The Senate let the Perkins Loan Program expire as of September 30, 2015, turning back a move by the House of Representatives to extend it by Read more >

A new source of relief for student loan borrowers

Beginning this December, student loan borrowers will have a new repayment option to consider, and it could lead to significant relief for an estimated 5 million borrowers.   The new program, Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), enables borrowers to cap their monthly payments at 10 percent of their discretionary income regardless of when they Read more >

Other people’s money: benefiting from the kindness of strangers

Even when you take advantage of federal student loan programs and choose the repayment options that suit your budget needs, just having student loan debt can seem overwhelming. But, a growing number of your fellow borrowers are pursuing relief from that feeling through crowdfunding.   Because it never hurts to ask. Crowdfunding uses online sites Read more >

The emotional side of student loan debt

For many borrowers, having student loan debt just doesn’t make them feel right. In fact, a 2013 study from the University of South Carolina found a direct correlation between a student’s rising loan balances and stress-related issues.   Similarly, a 2012 study involving graduate students concluded that feelings of anxiety and even shame related to Read more >

Could employer contributions to student loans become a thing?

Tuition reimbursement programs have been available for decades and are widely considered a valuable perk, especially for those pursuing advanced degrees or career-enhancing certifications. But they don’t benefit those employees who’ve acquired an education on their own dime, often taking on substantial student loan debt to qualify for their position within the company. A recent Read more >

7 things to do when repaying loans

When the future you’ve planned and studied for arrives, it often comes with student loan repayment notices.   Welcome to reality. Starting your career and your loan repayments within months of each other can seem like a rude awakening, so here are seven tips to help relegate your student loan payment into just another routine 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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