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Can you get a better rate even with bad credit?

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If you would like to refinance your current home loan but lack the credit score to snag a low rate, this article is for you. Here, we’ll suggest ways you can improve your current interest rate, even if your credit is less than perfect.

Can you refinance your mortgage with bad credit?

The short answer is maybe. It’s certainly not out of the question. If you’re looking for a conventional refinance, you’ll likely need a credit score of 620 or higher. Don’t let that discourage you if you’re not quite there, though. A mortgage lender will also consider factors like how much you earn and your cash reserves (to determine whether you can cover financial emergencies). Even if your credit score is low, a lender may be willing to take the risk as long as other aspects of your application are strong.

But first, you need to know where to start.

Speak with your current lender

Let your current lender know that you’d like to refinance and find out if it offers options that will work for you. The best thing about working with your current lender is that it knows your mortgage file and can quickly determine whether you’d qualify for any of their refinance programs, even with bad credit.

Your current lender may help by changing your loan terms. For example, it may be willing to refinance your loan to a longer term. You’d end up paying more in total interest over the life of the loan if you extend it, but it will lower your payments and, hopefully, give your budget a little breathing room.

Also, if you’re still carrying private mortgage insurance (PMI) on your loan because you put less than 20% down when you purchased the property, find out how close you are to hitting the 20% equity mark. Once you have 20% equity in the property, your mortgage lender will drop PMI. Here’s how that works:

  • Get your home appraised. A home appraisal typically runs between $300 and $450. You have to pay for the appraisal, but it could take as little as two months to recoup the cost once PMI is dropped.
  • Figure out how much you still owe. Let’s say the appraisal comes in at $325,000, and you currently owe $250,000. That means you owe less than 80% of what the home is worth (giving you more than 20% equity) and are eligible to drop PMI. ($250,000 ÷ $325,000 = 0.769, or just shy of 77%).
  • Ask your lender to drop PMI. Provide your mortgage company with the appraisal and a written request to drop your PMI payments.

Seek a government-backed loan

Government-backed loans — like FHA, VA, and USDA mortgages — are designed for everyday people who may not have much cash to get into a home. Though regular mortgage lenders distribute them, these loans are backed by the U.S. government. Lenders know that if you default on the loan, the government will make them whole. Simply put, if you want to refinance but your credit score is nothing to write home about, a government-backed loan may be your best option. While these loans do have minimum credit qualifications, they are typically lower than a traditional mortgage.

FHA

If you currently have an FHA mortgage, the FHA streamline option allows you to refinance without a credit check or income verification. The catch is that your mortgage must be current. If you’re hoping to switch from a conventional loan to FHA, you’ll need to undergo the typical credit check.

VA

Loans backed by the Veterans Administration are for active and former military members and their families. Although you will likely need a credit score of at least 620 to qualify (depending on the lender), a VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan (VA IRRRL) allows you to refinance an existing VA loan as long as you’ve made at least the last 12 payments on time. (This requirement varies by lender.) Lenders may also have guidelines regarding how long you’ve held your current mortgage. Unfortunately, there is no cash-out option available with a VA IRRRL.

USDA

Home buyers with an income of up to 115% of the median income for the area where they hope to buy (or refinance) a property may be eligible for a USDA loan. The home in question must be located in an area designated as USDA eligible.

If you have a current USDA loan, their streamlined assist program lets you refinance without a credit check. You qualify as long as you’ve made the last 12 months’ worth of payments.

Add a cosigner

Though we’re putting this option out there for your consideration, convincing a cosigner to refinance a mortgage is not as simple as it sounds. Not only do you have to talk someone into taking responsibility for your mortgage if you miss payments, but some lenders want the cosigner to be on the title of the home. In addition, if your credit score is very low, a cosigner may not help. That’s because mortgage lenders use the lowest median credit score between you. No matter how high your cosigner’s credit scores are from the big three credit reporting agencies, the lender will be more interested in your median score. Let’s say your three scores are 600, 590, and 580. It’s that middle score (590) they’ll use to make a credit decision.

That said, if your median score is right on the cusp of the lender’s minimum required score, having a cosigner with excellent credit may be enough to inspire the lender to refinance your mortgage. For example, if the minimum required score is 660, and your median score is 650, you may have a shot.

There’s no credit score so low that it can’t be rehabilitated. So as you work through your refinancing options, take steps to raise your credit score. You might not be able to do it overnight, but you can do it.In the meantime, if you’re not sure where to get started, look at the best mortgage lenders for bad credit. They can point you in the right direction.

A historic opportunity to potentially save thousands on your mortgage

Offer from the Motley Fool: Chances are, interest rates won’t stay put at multi-decade lows for much longer. That’s why taking action today is crucial, whether you’re wanting to refinance and cut your mortgage payment or you’re ready to pull the trigger on a new home purchase. 

Our expert recommends this company to find a low rate – and in fact he used them himself to refi (twice!). Click here to learn more and see your rate.

We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?

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When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances

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Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit

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Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.

 

 

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