How can you manage student loan payments?

Submitted by Edward JonesPrint Story | Email Story
If you have student loans, you likely received a "payment vacation" over the past few years, due to legislation related to COVID-19. But if you're like millions of other borrowers, you may have recently been required to resume your payments. How will this affect your overall financial situation?
 
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the effect on your monthly cash flow. But the amount of pressure you feel will depend on your income and the size of the required payments. If these payments do represent a real challenge, you may need to adjust your budget and spending habits as best you can. However, there might be other steps you can take to help ease the burden or possibly reduce the repayment time. 
 
Here are a few suggestions to consider:
 
  • Sign up for autopay. Falling behind on your student loan payments can lead to late fees, and if you were to become truly delinquent, you could face even bigger troubles, such as wage garnishment. To avoid these problems, you can enroll in autopay, in which you move money automatically from a checking or savings account to your student loan provider. In addition to staying current on your loan, you might earn a .25 percent rate reduction, which is offered by many lenders and loan services to those who enroll in autopay. 
  • Refinance your loan. With a steady income, a reasonably good credit score and a manageable number of other debts, you might be able to refinance your student loan and reduce your interest rate, which will enable more of your monthly payments to go toward the principal. 
  • Look for employer benefits. Some employers — typically the larger ones — offer student loan repayment help to employees, so check with your human resources department. 
  • Make extra payments. If you feel strapped just making your regular student loan payments, you may not be able to make extra ones. But if you can afford to add to your payments consistently, you could pay off your loan earlier than you had thought. But just because you make an extra payment, the money doesn't necessarily go toward reducing your principal — student loan services generally apply payments first to late fees and then to accrued interest. If you pay online, you should have an option to apply extra payments to the principal. Your loan servicer could also provide you with other ways of paying more toward principal.
  • Choose a payoff strategy. If you have multiple student loans, and you can make more than the minimum payments, you may want to be strategic in how you pay off your loans. You could choose the "snowball" method by getting rid of the smallest loans first — a technique that can give you feelings of momentum and satisfaction. Or you could take the "avalanche" approach by first going after the loans with the highest interest rates. Either route could save you more money in the long run. 
It can certainly be challenging to deal with student loan debt. But with patience and diligence, and by exploring all your repayment options, you may be able to help yourself make progress toward putting these loans to rest.
 
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MountainOne Marks 175 Years Since Founding

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Board Chairman Daniel Bosley calls the meeting to order.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — MountainOne ended a successful 175th anniversary year approaching $1 billion in assets and a future that looks to be "busy."
 
"So with all this you might say we're busy, except for MountainOne, we're not allowed to say we're busy. You've got to work, you're supposed to be busy, right?" said President and CEO Robet Fraser after ticking off a list of positives. "So we're not busy. We're fulfilled, and this year is going to be incredibly fulfilling."
 
The banking institution held its demisemiseptcentennial, or maybe it was a septaquintaquinquecentennial, business meeting on Wednesday night. Whatever the preferred Latin is for 175 years, MountainOne was marking a significant milestone with more than 120 guests and bank members at Norad Mill and another grouping at the Weathervane Golf Course in Weymouth. 
 
Fraser, speaking via livestream from the South Shore, joked that "we have this unique business model where we give you the money — but you have to give it back."
 
That's been the standard since April 1848 when Isaac Hodges, Thomas Robinson and William Brayton founded the North Adams Savings Bank on Main Street. 
 
The first merger occurred in 1962 between North Adams Savings and Hoosac Savings banks, later becoming simply Hoosac Bank in 1998; Hoosac acquired True North Financial and Coakley, Pierpan, Dolan & Collins Insurance a year later; in 2002, MountainOne Financial Partners is formed as holding company for Hoosac and Williamstown Savings and MountainOne begins its South Shore adventure with the merger of South Coastal Bank; a year later, all three banks change their names to MountainOne. The investment and insurance arms also come under the MountainOne moniker and the newest affiliate, a Longmeadow insurance agency, was acquired in February.
 
"When I think about MountainOne, I think of one organization that was comprised of three different banks, two insurance agencies and investment division," said Fraser. "And we've been able to come together and be incredibly successful working with each other. 
 
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