Should You Use Plastic to Pay Off Student Loans?

July 17, 2013 
student loan news

Although current and former students may be tempted to use credit cards to make their student loan payments, experts say this approach rarely makes sense financially. Federal loan interest rates are at 6.8 percent, and private student loans average between 8 percent and 12 percent; but credit card interest averages almost 15 percent once promotional rates expire. Also, paying off student loans with credit cards with the intention to file for bankruptcy afterward would be considered fraud under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Most lenders also do not accept credit card payments, although the U.S. Department of Education and some private programs will do so in certain cases -- though with a service or convenience fee. Consumers with a federal student loan should consider an income-based repayment plan before using credit cards, as such plans limit the monthly payment to 15 percent of discretionary income over the poverty line for the family size. A consumer also may be able to get a court to erase the debt because of circumstances that limit earning ability now and over the long term and create undue hardship if forced to repay. Jason Iuliano, a doctoral program student at Princeton, found that only 0.1 percent of student debtors filed for bankruptcy; but of those who did, nearly 40 percent were successful. Even so, consumers who accept a promotion by a credit card company that invites them to use it to pay student loan debt should be prepared for a lawsuit if they then later attempt to discharge the debt via bankruptcy.

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