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Hard Work Not Working for Nearly Half a Million Arkansas Households

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark., March 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Despite news that our economy is one of the strongest in history, the reality is that 474,000 Arkansas households — 41% of households in the state — are trapped by low wages and rising costs and are unable to afford basic needs.

The ALICE in Arkansas report, released today by Entergy Arkansas and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, paints a surprising picture of the scale of financial barriers experienced by nearly half a million households across the state. Around every corner and in every community, people are struggling to make ends meet. These are hardworking individuals — our neighbors and our loved ones, our teachers and childcare providers, health aids and dental hygienists, mechanics and store clerks — that keep Arkansas’ economic engine running, but they aren’t always sure that they can put food on their own tables. 

ALICE in Arkansas is the most comprehensive depiction of financial need in Arkansas to date. It upends conventional views of financial stability based on unemployment and job reports. Standing for Asset Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed, ALICE households have incomes above the Federal Poverty Line but struggle to afford basic household necessities, such as housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Entergy will co-release the ALICE in Arkansas Report at 11 a.m. March 10 at a press conference at the State Capitol. “When two out of five households in the state can’t make ends meet, the system is broken,” says Sherece West-Scantlebury, CEO of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. “Working harder – when ALICE is already working two or three jobs – won’t fix it and only diverts attention away from the kinds of decisions and policies required to make good on the American Dream promise.” 

Based on the Federal Poverty Line (FPL),17 percent of Arkansas households lived in poverty in 2017 and another 24 percent were ALICE households. That’s a combined 41 percent, or 473,955 households, with income below the ALICE Threshold in 2017. Results of the report show that the total number of Arkansas households that cannot afford basic needs increased 20 percent between 2007 and 2017. During that same time, the cost of basic household necessities in Arkansas increased by 32 percent, far more than the increases in overall inflation and wages. 

“The ALICE report highlights the hardships for families whose income puts them above the limit for public assistance but struggle with the cost of child care, health care, and the children’s extra expenses,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “This report emphasizes the need to continue our effort to create high-wage jobs and the importance of Arkansas Works health coverage for struggling families.”

The report is a project of United For ALICE, a grassroots movement of some 600 United Ways in 21 states, corporations and foundations, all using the same methodology to document financial need. ALICE Reports provide county-by-county and town-level data, and analysis of how many households are struggling, including the obstacles ALICE households face on the road to financial independence.

For ALICE, a basic setback — like a car repair or even a minor illness — has the potential to escalate and leave a family vulnerable and spiraling, according to the data.

“At Entergy, we recognize that many hardworking people can’t make ends meet or afford basic needs — including electricity. We support ALICE in Arkansas and this report that helps shine a light on the large number of households struggling and why,” said Laura Landreaux, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas, LLC. “We invest millions in our communities to help improve the quality of life for customers. We believe that we can only be as strong as the communities we serve.” 

Across the state, the share of households earning below the ALICE Threshold ranged from 26 percent in Benton County to 64 percent in Lee County. Other findings in the report include: 

  • The average Household Survival Budget (a calculation created for the ALICE report) for an Arkansas family of four is $46,812 — significantly higher than the federally recognized family poverty level of $24,600. (The Single Household Survival Budget is $18,240, with the FDL set at $12,060.)
  • Low-wage jobs continue to dominate the landscape in Arkansas, with more than half (51 percent) of all jobs paying less than $15 per hour.
  • In the Household Survival Budget, child care represents an Arkansas family’s greatest expense, at a state average of $761 per month for two children.
  • ALICE lives in every county in Arkansas — urban, suburban, and rural — and includes women and men who are single, married, young and old. White households make up the largest demographic — 69% — mirroring Arkansas’ majority-White population. But while there are fewer Black and Hispanic households, they are disproportionately likely to be ALICE.

“At Entergy, we know ALICE well. As many as 74% of the calls handled by our call centers annually are from households that face some level of financial hardship,” said Patty Riddlebarger, Entergy vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility. “These are households that struggle month to month and that are often just one calamity away from financial ruin.”

The ALICE in Arkansas report can provide a basis for policies that help make the Arkansas economy work for everyone. “We need smart decisions and policies that put working families first and benefit the entire state,” says West-Scantlebury. “If Arkansas households earned at least the ALICE survival budget, we’d have $8.4 billion more in taxable wages and $6.9 billion more in consumer spending. Not only is that more money back in your pocket, but it’s more revenue — $2.2. billion to be exact — to invest in small businesses, schools, hospitals, and public transportation.” 

To view a copy of the report, visit http://www.ALICEinAR.org/.

Additional quotes about ALICE in Arkansas can be found at the bottom of this email. 

About the Winthrop Rockefeller FoundationThe Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation exists to relentlessly pursue economic, educational, social, ethnic, and racial equity for all Arkansans. We believe that building pathways to opportunity requires broad systemic change. This comprehensive approach may take longer to prove impact, but we believe that it has a greater chance to be impactful and sustainable. We look for levers that offer the greatest promise to increase prosperity from one generation to the next. For more information, go to www.wrfoundation.org. 

About EntergyEntergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,500 employees. For more information, go to entergy-arkansas.com.ALICE Advisory Board members available for interviews and quotes about ALICE in Arkansas:

“While there are some positive economic indicators in Arkansas, especially near all-time low unemployment, the ALICE measures reveal that these economic benefits are not reaching all households,” explains Stephanie Hoopes, PhD, author of the report and national director of United For ALICE. “In Arkansas, as across the country, the wages in many jobs that ensure our economy runs smoothly are not keeping up with the basic cost of living.”– Stephanie Hoopes, PhD. National Director, United For ALICE and author of the ALICE in Arkansas reportUnited Way of Northern New Jersey

“The federal poverty guidelines are no guide to finding ALICE in Arkansas. ALICE’s story is as common as it is complex, and it is a story that looks different from different eyes: for cash poor white folks, for POC, women, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants and people with disabilities–each person living the ALICE story has their own constraints that are preventing them from living a life of choice, a life of security and of freedom. They are cooking our food, caring for our elders, and we need an economy that respects these heroes who keep Arkansas’ economic engine running.”– Stephen Coger, DirectorArkansas Immigrant DefenseSpringdale, Arkansas

“The ALICE study definitively supports what we have seen time and time again in our work: that Arkansans are increasingly burdened by systems of economic injustice that disproportionately oppress people of color and the poor. DecARcerate sees these realities on a daily basis, as we work to address the often unbearable burden of fines, fees, and bail. ALICE families are trapped in debt spirals that make it nearly impossible for them to exit the criminal injustice system. In order to address these harms and create an equitable landscape for all Arkansans, we must provide everyone in our state with equal access to resources and dismantle systems that continue to divide and marginalize.”– Zachary Crow, DecARcerate DirectorLittle Rock

“Creating pathways to entrepreneurialism is key to a strong, diverse economy. Yet the ALICE in Arkansas report shines a bright light on the barriers that keep ALICE from accessing those pathways. The only way we can truly innovate Arkansas’ economic ecosystem is if we are strategic and deliberate about removing the real barriers preventing ALICE from actively engaging.”– Christopher Jones, Ph.D., Executive DirectorThe Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub Little Rock

“Far too long, the narrative around the economy has focused on the extremes. The ALICE report disrupts this narrative as it demonstrates that ALICE is someone you know, she is the average working Arkansan. ALICE is working for Arkansas; it is time that Arkansas works for ALICE.”– Anna Beth Gorman, Executive DirectorWomen’s Foundation of ArkansasLittle Rock

“The ALICE report brings into sharp focus the families we see every day in our communities: working Arkansans struggling to achieve economic mobility. For nearly 40 years, Southern Bancorp has provided the basic foundations for wealth building, from access to capital to credit repair and financial education. Yet so much more is needed. Without widespread acknowledgment of the realities facing ALICE households, and a commitment to repair the policy environment around them, working Arkansans will continue to be limited in their ability to not only survive but thrive.”– Janie Ginocchio, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Southern BancorpLittle Rock

“ALICE families–often made up of the heroic professionals like teachers and health aids that are the backbone of our economy–are trapped in an inequitable economic system that is not designed to fairly reward them for their hard work. ALICE serves as a lens to help us uncover the historical and continuing patterns of discrimination and disinvestment that stall upward economic mobility for thousands of Arkansas workers and their children. The ALICE in Arkansas report serves as a framework for activating the kind of courageous, inclusive leadership we need to secure Arkansas’ future.”– Donald Wood, Executive Director Just Communities of ArkansasLittle Rock

For more information or to set up interviews, contact Joelle Polisky at 615-526-0358

Cision View original content to download multimedia:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hard-work-not-working-for-nearly-half-a-million-arkansas-households-301020829.html

SOURCE Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation



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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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