Provided By: Duane J. Silbernagel, CFP®
A college income-share agreement, or ISA, is a contract between a student and a college where a student receives education funding from the college today in exchange for agreeing to pay a percentage of future earnings to the college for a specified period of time after graduation. The idea behind ISAs is to minimize the need for private student loans, to give colleges a stake in their students’ outcomes, and to give students the flexibility to pursue careers in lower-paying fields.
Purdue University was the first college to introduce such a program in 2016. Under Purdue’s ISA program, students who exhaust federal loans can fund their education by paying back a share of their future income, typically between 3% to 4% for up to 10 years after graduation, with repayment capped at 2.5 times the initial funding amount.1 A handful of other colleges also offer ISAs; terms and eligibility requirements vary among schools.
ISAs are considered friendlier than private student loans because they don’t charge interest, and monthly payments are based on a student’s income. Typically, ISAs have a minimum income threshold, which means that no payment is due if a student’s income falls below a certain salary level, and a payment cap, which is the maximum amount a student must pay back relative to the initial funding amount. For example, a payment cap of 1.5 means that a student will pay back only 1.5 times the initial funding amount. Even with a payment cap, a student’s payment obligation ends after the stated fixed period of time, regardless of whether he or she has fully paid back the initial loan.
1 U.S. News & World Report, September 26, 2018
How much money should a family borrow for college?
There is no magic formula to determine how much you or your child should borrow for college. But there is such a thing as borrowing too much. How much is too much? One guideline is for students to borrow no more than their expected first-year starting salary after college, which, in turn, depends on a student’s particular major and/or job prospects.
But this guideline is simply that — a guideline. Just as many homeowners got burned in the housing crisis by taking out larger mortgages than they could afford, families can get burned by borrowing amounts for college that seemed reasonable at the time but now, in hindsight, are not.
Keep in mind that student loans will need to be paid back over a term of 10 years (possibly longer). A lot can happen during that time. What if a student’s assumptions about future earnings don’t pan out? Will student loans still be manageable when other expenses like rent, utilities, and/or car expenses come into play?
What if a borrower steps out of the workforce for an extended period of time to care for children and isn’t earning an income? There are many variables, and every student’s situation is different. A loan deferment is available in certain situations, but postponing loan payments only kicks the can down the road.
To build in room for the unexpected, a smarter strategy may be for undergraduate students to borrow no more than the federal student loan limit, which is currently $27,000 for four years of college. Over a 10-year term with a 5.05% interest rate (the current 2018-2019 rate on federal Direct Loans), this equals a monthly payment of $287. If a student borrows more by adding in co-signed private loans, the monthly payment will jump, for example, to $425 for $40,000 in loans (at the same interest rate) and to $638 for $60,000 in loans. Before borrowing any amount, students should know exactly what their monthly payment will be. And remember: Only federal student loans offer income-based repayment (IBR) options.
As for parents, there is no one-size-fits-all rule on how much to borrow. Many factors come into play, including the number of children in the
family, total household income and assets, and current and projected retirement savings. The overall goal, though, is to borrow as little as possible.
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Thank you for your interest.
Duane Silbernagel is a Financial Advisor in Lincoln City, Oregon offering securities through Waddell & Reed, Inc., Member FINRA and SIPC. He can be reached at (541) 614-1322 or via email at DSilbernagel@wradvisors.com.
This article is meant to be general in nature and should not be construed as investment or financial advice related to your personal situation. The article was written by an independent third party, Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. (Copyright 2019) and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. Waddell& Reed is not affiliated with www.newslincolncounty.com website and is not responsible for any other content posted to this website. (05/19)