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Home for the Holidays | Local News



Dreams come true every day, but they do not happen on their own. It requires determination, sacrifice, hard work, and perseverance. Plugging firmly into that formula of never-give-up mindsets lead Abbi Morales-Cox to security.

She and her family have plenty to be grateful for this holiday season. They are in the midst of celebrating their first Christmas in a newly-constructed home, one they all helped to build locally with the Habitat for Humanity nonprofit organization. The chance to be a homeowner was one opportunity Cox explored to provide a better life for her children.

Many times throughout her young life, the 33-year-old mother of two said she struggled when faced with obstacles, some of which seemed too rough to handle.

Completing high school, for instance, was one of those times. She was a mother at age 18, but dropping out of Shelbyville High School (SHS) her senior year was not an option.

Cox signed a pledge in the eighth grade to do community service, make good grades, and graduate. She joined students from across Indiana as a 21st Century Scholar, a program that started in 1990 for multiple reasons, including a way to raise educational aspirations of low- and moderate-income families insuring students could attend college after high school graduation.

Accepting her diploma in 2005 made Cox the first member in her family to graduate from high school. She is the youngest of 10 siblings and stepsiblings.

She was also the first member of her family to attend college. Cox’s studies were considered pre-physical therapy, she said, while attending the University of Indianapolis and Ivy Tech. After earning an associates degree, she completed the Bridging the Gap Interpreting course through St. Vincent Health’s Rural and Urban Access to Health in Indianapolis and has been a rehabilitation technician and Spanish interpreter at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis for four years.

“I’m the first in my family to travel outside the U.S., too,” she said. “I lived in Mexico (Vera Cruz) for one year.”

It was a tough time in her life, according to Cox, who kept the details to herself.

Another first for bettering her life and the lives of her children, said Cox, happened on April 21 this year when they moved into their home on Easter Sunday.

“We were so relieved to move into the house,” she said. “The house we had been renting was tilted and the foundation was crumbling. This one is such a relief. This is a home we can rely on. It lets me know my future is going to be okay.”

Cox had completed an application in November 2017 to be considered for a house to be built by Habitat and community volunteers. She was selected to be a homeowner in November of 2018. Before the build started on March 2, 2018, however, she was required to participate in financial education classes to learn about budgeting, credit repair, checking, savings and other accounts, loans, estate planning and more.

Setbacks in construction popped up along the way, which pushed the completion of construction back to this past April, she said.

She and her children, 14-year-old Adan Granados, who is a SHS freshman, and Addi Cox, 11, a fifth-grader at Coulston Elementary School, along with her husband of one year, Polo Morales, assisted with the construction, donating many, many hours in “sweat equity” to move in and secure a 20-year mortgage.

“This makes us feel secure as a unit,” she said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s wonderful. We love our house, and with it being a house that we built with our own hands makes it extra special. There’s nothing we would change. I’m just super excited about this. I’ve never had a place that I could call my own.”

And, this is the first time, according to Cox, that she has had financial stability.

“We’re a happy family for the first time,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to find all the loose ends and to know how to put them together. My husband has put all of the pieces together and tied up the loose ends for us. It helps having a good father figure here.”

Cox seems content to have gotten beyond many of the bumps in her journey of life so far.

“God giving me my kids when I was young gave me a way to have a better life,” she said. “My kiddos push me to be better. I want the best for them. And, my husband makes me better every day. He keeps me grounded and keeps me knowing what’s important. He keeps me in line.”

Dreams of what the future will bring continue to be a part of Cox’s thoughts. While she said she’s happy working in Indianapolis, Cox, as a mother and wife, would like to work closer to home.

“I want to be useful to our town and use my Spanish,” she said. “I love my job, but that drive takes its toll and time away from my family.”

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



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



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



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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