The realities of paying off student loans

College graduates in Ohio are entering the workforce with high hopes, bright futures, and years’ worth of student loan debt.

The average annual cost of tuition in Ohio was $14,804 for the 2016-2017 academic year, according to CollegeCalc. That’s $1,218 higher than the U.S. average and ranks Ohio as the 20th most-expensive state or district in which to attend college.

With the cost of college continually growing, student loans have become essential for attendance. According to an Ohio Credit Union League Consumer Survey, 43 percent of Ohioans who went to college used student loans to help pay for their degree. Another 26 percent have children who leveraged student loans.

Of those surveyed, 23 percent say they plan to pay off their loans in one to five years following graduation. Another 38 percent expect to have their loans paid off within 10 years, and 39 percent of respondents said they felt their loan payments were going on “forever” and wondered “if they’ll ever be paid off.”

This response isn’t surprising considering the average 2016 college graduate has $37,172 in student loans, according to Student Loan Hero. All that money can take a decade or more to pay off. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau considers a standard payment term on a student loan to be roughly 10 years, although borrowers with more than $30,000 in federal student debt could be eligible for payment plans of up to 25 years.

A NerdWallet study suggested student loan debt will hamper most new grads into their 60s and 70s, contributing to a longer working life. Most won’t be able to retire until age 75.

To circumvent this fate, here are some tips to help you pay down student loan debt:

  • Start paying as soon as possible. Use the six-month grace period, meant to give recent graduates time to look for a job before repayment begins, to get a jump start on payments. The sooner you can begin repaying student loans, the more money you’ll save.
  • Pay above and beyond. Paying more than the monthly minimum balance will save you money in interest over the life of your loan. Even rounding up to the next whole or even number takes money directly off the principal.
  • Allocate extra money. Your tax refund check is an easy place to start finding extra cash. You may also consider bonuses, an inheritance, settlement, or even birthday checks.
  • Set achievable milestones. Set-up a payment plan with achievable milestones throughout and reward yourself when you reach each milestone. Begin by paying off the highest-interest loan. When that’s paid off, celebrate with a small “splurge.”
  • Consolidating and refinancing your loans can help pay off loans faster. Credit unions typically offer lower interest rates on loans.


To learn more about credit unions in your community and what financial assistance they offer, visit and find a credit union in your area.

Credit Union Blogs – NerdWallet’s Picks

We were thrilled to read, NerdWallet selected our Blog as a top pick among Credit Union blogs. is a great website loaded with information.  Take a moment to review the article featuring Hopewell Federal Credit Union and be sure and sign up for their mailing list.

Credit Union Blogs – NerdWallet’s Picks.

A credit union could be your best source for a mortgage

Great article from…

Financial institutions have pulled back on mortgage lending since the housing bubble burst, but credit unions have increased their mortgage lending substantially. According to, credit unions originated 60 percent more first mortgages during the first nine months of 2012 compared to the first nine months of 2011.

Click here to read the full article

Shop at Home for the Holidays

Thinkstock (r) / liquidlibrary

Does the thought of making your way through crowded malls and shopping at 20 different stores only to wait in long check-out lines have you feeling like the Grinch? Shopping online during the holiday season can save time and minimize stress, but know a few simple rules before you dive into the world of online purchasing.

1. Only buy from familiar companies. Confirm the seller’s contact information in case you have questions or problems in the future. Know exactly what you’re buying. Carefully read the product description. Remember–if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

2. Protect your privacy. Read and understand the company’s online privacy policy and keep any personal information, passwords, or PINs (personal identification numbers) private. Look for these signals indicating that you have entered a secure Web page:
* A screen notice that says you’re visiting a secure site
* A closed lock or unbroken key in the bottom corner of your screen
* The first letters of the Internet address you are viewing change from “http” to “https”

3. Pay safely. After you review all terms of the sale, such as cost for shipping, delivery date, and return policy, you are ready to buy. Credit or charge card payments offer consumers the most protection. Finally, print all transaction records and any other useful information pertaining to your purchase.

Although online shopping allows you to virtually load your sleigh with just a few mouse clicks, practice safe browsing this holiday season.

Is a Credit Union Better Than a Bank?

Is a CU better than a bank? Jack Otter of CBS Moneywatch weighs in…

Click here to watch the video

What to Do With a Tax Refund

It’s tempting to blow your tax refund on an impromptu shopping spree or the latest tech gadget, but don’t drop those dollars just yet. Before you spend your refund, think about where that money would really be best used.

Before you even think about splurging, put 50% of your tax refund toward paying off debt. Apply it to your mortgage principal, make a larger-than-usual monthly credit card payment, or pay off part of a student loan.

Another option: Nail down any big-ticket items coming up. A tax return can provide a nice chunk of cash to pay for that expensive dental work you’ve been putting off, overdue car repairs, or a semester’s worth of college textbooks. You even could use your refund as part of a down payment on a new car.

Saving money for the long term is another smart decision. Stash part of your refund in an emergency fund, share certificate, or IRA (individual retirement account) at Hopewell Federal Credit Union.

You also could use your return to add equity to your home. Tackle those repairs you’ve been meaning to get around to, or make over your yard with some landscaping. Using your tax refund as a base, you could even take out a small home equity loan from Hopewell Federal Credit Union to cover projects you need done now.

After you’ve covered your other financial bases, treat yourself. Put some of your refund toward a trip you’ve been dying to take, sign up for a gym membership, or enroll in a class to learn a new skill.

However you choose to use your tax return, think about it first, look at your options, and make the best financial decision you can. If you need help setting priorities, meet with a Hopewell Federal Credit Union financial adviser today.