Tales from the Wallet: Refinancing Student Loans (Guest Post)

refinancing student loansHave you refinanced your student loans, or are you looking into it? We’ve talked about tackling huge school debt, paying down debt vs. saving, getting financially prepared for grad school, creating a money roadmap, and switching from a lawyer’s salary to a student lifestyle, but we haven’t discussed refinancing student loans. Today, Blonde Lawyer (the name she uses to comment on Corporette posts) shares her experience of refinancing with SoFi, one of a growing number of peer-to-peer lending companies (CommonBond is another) that offer student loan refinancing. The author is including a referral link of her own, but Kat / Corporette is not being compensated in any way for this post — it sounded like an interesting topic for readers to discuss, and hopefully this one reader’s experience will be a launchpad for discussion.  Thank you for writing this, Blonde Lawyer!  Here’s a recent WSJ article and a Reuters article for further reading on the topic. 

I have noticed that a lot of Corporette readers are interested in potentially refinancing their student loans. I suggested to Kat that this would make a good “Tales from the Wallet” post and offered to write about my experience refinancing with SoFi. Hopefully there are other posters who refinanced with one of the other major players that can write about their experiences too.

So a little bit about me: I graduated law school in 2009. I went to an in-state school with in-state tuition. I paid my tuition 100% with Stafford loans ($59,500) and also took out living expense loans ($34,072) through a private loan company for a grand total of $93,572 in loans. After graduation, I was most worried about my $34,072 in private loans. My husband co-signed them and they were not dischargeable if I died or became disabled. The interest rate was a variable 8.61% with a 19% cap!!! I had one other issue with this company. I had selected a standard 10-year repayment for all my loans, but once the private loans entered repayment, the math wasn’t adding up to me.

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Tales from the Wallet: Financially Preparing for Grad School

financially preparing for grad schoolWe had a great discussion a few weeks ago about wedding finances, and now it’s time for the next post in our Money Milestone series:  grad school. We’ve talked about how to adjust your new student budget once you get to grad school, how to pay off student loans, how to juggle grad school and a full time job, and even whether you should get an MBA — but not this. Some of the best tips came from folks on the Corporette FB page and some of my personal FB friends, so a huge thank you to everyone! (Check out U.S. News & World Report’s Paying for Graduate School Guide for some additional advice.) (Pictured: J.Crew Factory Magic Wallet, $14.50.)

Before Grad School

  • Live like a student before you go. Keep your expenses down while you’re saving up — and create a new budget. This helps you save more, and also prevents culture shock once you have to dial back your lifestyle when you get to grad school.
  • Manage what you’ve already borrowed. Form a strategy to pay down your existing debt. In some cases you may even want to postpone applying to grad school until you have more of a handle on your finances and achieve a higher credit score (which can earn you lower interest rates). Consider deferring your undergraduate loans if it makes sense for your financial situation.
  • Make sure you know the numbers. In a recent post, Above the Law mentioned a new, “brutally honest” student loan calculator that shows you your future monthly payments in comparison to your expected salary after earning the degree.
  • See if your current employer offers tuition reimbursement. It may be slow going but you can pay for a grad school degree through this method alone!
  • Set up a 529 plan for yourself. While you’re saving, you get a deduction on your state taxes, and you can then use that account to pay for your grad school expenses. If you have money left over in the plan, you can roll it over into your kids’ plans. (Rules vary widely by state.) Resist the urge to raid your 401(k) for tuition costs.

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Alumni Mentoring and Networking: What Works, What Doesn’t

Alumni networking | CorporetteHave you found great mentors through alumni events? What is the best alumni event (or networking event in general) that you’ve ever attended? I attended a great Northwestern networking and mentoring event last week through an alumnae group I’m involved with, Council of 100, and in our small group sessions the topic got around to general networking events organized by the school — what NU was doing that was good, what it was doing that was bad, and so forth. To be honest, neither of my institutions — Northwestern and Georgetown — have really great alumni networking systems in place. Students reach out to alumni for informational interviews, but there is no established system (at least that I’m aware of) for students to discover alumni that may be off the beaten path (like, say, me). One of the great ideas I thought we came up with was to have an alumni database organized not just by company, but by favorite professor or class at the college — then you could look up people who were like you and see what paths their careers had taken.

Anyway, I’m curious, ladies — have you found mentors through alumni events? What is your school doing right (or wrong)? Are you involved in alumni events?

(Pictured: Board of Governors Dinner, May 2010-2, originally uploaded to Flickr by Alan C.)

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N.B. PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS ON TOPIC; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course I highly value all comments by my readers, I’m going ask you to please respect some boundaries on substantive posts like this one. Thank you for your understanding!

Summer Associate Series: Ending an Internship Positively

How to End Your Internship Gracefully | CorporetteHow can you end an internship positively?  This week in our Summer Associate Series,* as the summer starts to wind down (for some, at least!), I thought we’d take a look back at some of our best posts on how to wrap up your summers, whether they be as summer associates or interns.  (If you do still have a few weeks of work left, though, you may want to check out our post on how to get the work you want, and how to network when you’re at the bottom of the ladder.)

Readers, what are your best tips for interns on how to end on a strong note?  How important is the home stretch in terms of making an impression?

(*Name aside, we hope this series will be helpful to ANY intern, whether you’re a law student or another woman interning in a conservative office for the summer.)  Check out our previous posts on general summer associate style, what to wear for the creative summer associate events, general business etiquette tips, and business lunch etiquette tips.

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Tales from the Wallet: Should You Get an MBA?

should you get an MBAShould you get an MBA? If you’ve ever pondered getting your MBA but wondered if it was worth the investment of time and money, today’s guest post is for you. We’ve talked about how to prepare your finances for grad school, as well as the pros and cons of changing careers, but we truly haven’t talked about this — so I’m thrilled to welcome the personal finance blogger behind Well Heeled Blog, a young woman who just finished her MBA. Welcome to Corporette! – Kat.  (Pictured: Ted Baker London ‘Neon’ Leather Card Wallet, $55 at Nordstrom.)

I recently graduated from a 2-year, full-time MBA program at one of the “15 schools that make up the Top 10 MBA.” I once heard a dean use that phrase and think it’s a humorously apt way to describe the way schools jockey for that much-vaunted “top 10.” designation.

Once you include the money I spent out of pocket and the opportunity cost of two years of foregone earnings and benefits (minus the living expenses I would have had to spend, MBA or not), this degree cost me at least $250,000. That’s enough for a house in many parts of the country, and a hefty down payment in even the priciest areas such as San Francisco or New York City.

Was my MBA worth it? I’m a long-time Corporette reader and occasional commenter, and I’ve seen several questions on MBAs and finances. The decision to pursue an MBA isn’t solely about the ROI in dollars and cents–there are plenty of non-financial benefits such as a grounding in business education, a wider and deeper network, and the opportunity to devote two years to furthering your professional and personal growth. Still, the fact remains that an MBA is an expensive proposition for most people, and this proposition can expand your career horizon while at the same time limiting your future financial choices. Here are my thoughts about the financial implications of an MBA now that I have completed my degree–what I would (and have) told friends who are thinking about pursuing an MBA, especially through a full-time program:

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Best Reading for MBA Students

Which are the best books and blogs to read if you’re a woman MBA student? Reader M wonders…

I love your blog and find all of the fashion and career advice incredibly helpful. You address a lot of corporate issues and a lot of legal and I was just wondering if you knew of any blogs that deal with business school specifically. I’ll be starting a full-time MBA program in the fall and I’m looking for some advice on what to expect and how to get the most out of it.

Great question, M! I know of a few, but thought I’d open this up to the readers…

  • Forbes Woman. I find it easiest to just like their Facebook feed to see Forbes stories that are more targeted for women — they’re really helpful, good articles (and usually at least one makes it into our Weekly News roundup). They also have a list of the Top 100 Websites for Women (which we’ve been honored to appear in for a few years now!).
  • Forte Foundation. This women-focused, non-profit consortium of major corporations and top business schools has a ton of information about the MBA, from the consideration stage, to the application process, to the student years, and beyond.  They offer free newsletters, and for paid members, podcasts and videos.

And… beyond that I’m stumped — there’s a lot out there, but I’m curious to hear from the readers which are their favorites! There are obviously blogs like Poets and Quants and Clear Admit for the admissions process, and hopefully blogs like Corporette (as well The Daily Muse and Levo League) and organizations like 85 Broads are helpful after you’re out, as well as alumni groups.  Once you know your focus blogs like The Glass Hammer (for women in financial services) might be helpful as well.

Readers — which are your favorite blogs and websites for MBA students, as well as women who hold MBAs?