Financial Planning

Financial Planning

by Financial Planning with Mass Mutual by Jagat Rathee

Financial Planning is key to the safety and security of the family you love the most as we keep working but seem to forget the importance of planning. Please contact me to meet to learn. Thank you Jagat Rathee 908-421-1106

6 ways to handle stress while studying abroad

6 ways to handle stress while studying abroad

by Nomad Credit

Studying in USA is fun and exciting journey in itself. However, it has its adverse effects too. At times students deal with other side effects of studying abroad and dealing with stress is one of them. Symptoms associated with depression can be easy to list, especially while adjusting to a completely new environment like studying abroad in a foreign country. Some of the more recognizable symptoms are: A) Inability to Get out of Bed/Motivate Yourself B) Lack of or Too Much of an Appetite C) Unavoidable Negative Thoughts D) Erratic Mood Swings E) Lack of Focus or Pervasive Forgetfulness F) Difficulty Sleeping or Sleeping Too Much G) Irritability H) Physical Pain I) Lack of Interest in Things You Once Loved J) Difficulty in Upholding Self Care K) Intense Anxiety (Anxiety and depression often coexist) As depression can be difficult to diagnose and treat, especially while abroad, it is important to not only check in with yourself regularly but also identify hobbies, people, and places that will be able to help you during your time of need. Some items to consider both before and during your time include the following: 1) Prepare in Advance by Facing Your Issues: If you know that you are prone to anxiety and/or depression, prepare ahead by speaking with a therapist or psychiatrist at home and start looking into it in advance 2) Participate in Creative Expression: Writing, drawing, singing, acting, and other creative hobbies are all excellent ways to reflect and make decisions with a calm and clear head. 3) Speak Honestly with Others: Be open about your issuesIf to those you can trust and who is close to you. You never know when someone is able to help. 4) Maintain Proper Diet & Exercise: Staying in bed ensures that you will dwell on negative thoughts and do less and less to help yourself. Get out of bed and start wokring out and each healthy food. 5) Seek Professional Help: Be sure to study up on your program or university’s insurance benefits and locate the nearest medical professionals for both everyday care as well as emergencies. Many colleges in the USA offers such benefits and usually fully covered by your school or work place’s benefits program. These are the few tips to deal with stress when you are alone while studying abroad.
65 Questions to Prepare for the F1 Visa Interview

65 Questions to Prepare for the F1 Visa Interview

by Stilt - Loans for immigrants and the underserved

If you decide to study abroad in the United States, you will be hit with some us student visa interview questions we recommend you be prepared for in your interview. There is a long way to go to get your F1 visa and we want to explain the part of the process that puts some people on edge.


When applying for your F1 student visa, you will have to do an interview at the United States consulate or embassy in your country. We prepared a student visa interview guide for you so that you can go to your interview super prepared and not worry about faking it or being nervous about it. It is important to prepare for your interview in advance so that you can enter smooth sailing no matter what your interviewer throws at you.


Make sure to prepare for your interview because there are a lot of students that fail this interview simply because they didn’t put in the work to get ready for it. Many ended up getting asked unexpected questions they were not ready to answer and were not able to give the correct or clear responses to what can be very difficult questions.


Below we go over what the F1 interview looks like, and what kind of us student visa interview questions you can expect to receive!


What is an F1 Visa?


If you are a student, looking to pursue your dreams of studying in the United States, F1 Visa is one of the most common terms you could have heard of. Essentially, this visa could open the door to higher education in the States.


For starters, this is a non-immigrant visa that is usually granted for a period of 5 years. This visa is issued to academic students enrolled in universities, colleges, high schools, language training programs, and other academic institutions.


It is important to mention here that the eligibility criteria and qualifications set for obtaining an F1 visa are quite difficult.


First and foremost, you would have to prove that you have intentions to return home after your education is completed. If your visa interviewer knows that you want to become a permanent resident in the States, your application will be rejected.


That being said, your application must be backed by an official acceptance to a school or educational institute in the US. Talking about financial requirements, you must have sufficient financial backup to cover you living and study costs in the country.


Lastly, an important requirement of the application process is knowing that you possess ties to your home country, including family ties or assets or bank accounts and the likes.


F1 Visa Acceptance Rate


Although a lot of students want to study in the US, they are often laid back by the tough F1 visa acceptance rate. This is because the chances of getting a visa approval here are very low.


However, over the last few years, the visa acceptance rate has been on the rise which has enabled a lot of students to pursue their foreign study dreams. Let us understand how this analysis stands at present.


In the fiscal year 2015, a total of 987,831 visa applications were accepted. This also includes the J1 and M1 visa applications. This seems like a pretty big number. But, considering the fact that 259,722 more applications were eventually rejected, getting through the F1 visa application process is not easy.


Let us move one year ahead from then. In 2016, there was a total of 644,204 visas issued to students wishing to study in the USA. Coming to 2017, there was a 17% drop in the approval rate for pursuing students. The year ending September 2017, the total count of issued visa stood at 393,573. This indicates a 39% drop from the numbers we encountered in the fiscal year 2016.


Over the last 4-5 years, the US government has been scrutinizing the visa applications far too strictly. This statistical change, however, is dependent on the schools and their categories. While some high-end schools and institutions receive better responses for visa applications, some other schools fall back in this regard.


The F1 Student Visa Interview Questions


During the interview, visa officers are trying to figure out whether you are actually coming to the United States to study or not. They do those interviews because, unfortunately, a lot of people apply for an F1 student visa and don’t plan to study in the United States – they just plan to immigrate and overstay their visa. Many F1 applicants will pretend to go to the US to pursue studies so that they are granted passageway into the country. The important parts covered during the interview include questions about the college and university, bank and finances, family and relatives, work and job prospects and other miscellaneous questions that might seem irrelevant during the time of the interview.


Student Visa Questions, Part 1: College & University


In this part, the visa officer is going to ask you questions about the college or university you have applied to. Please note those are just example questions, but they will help you to get prepared.



  1. What is the name of the college or university you are planning on going to and why did you choose to go to this specific university or college?
  2. To how many universities did you apply to and why?
  3. What are the names of the universities you have applied to?
  4. Did you get accepted by all of them?
  5. What are the names of the universities you got accepted to?
  6. What is the name of the university where you completed your undergraduate or graduated degree, and where is it?
  7. Do you know your undergraduate Academic GPA or Percentage?
  8. Let us know more about your university: Where is it, which degree did you study or which degree are you planning on studying?
  9. Tell us the name of the professors you are in contact with from the US university.
  10. In what year did you get your Bachelor’s degree and from which university?
  11. What are the reasons for you coming to study in the United States?
  12. How long are you planning to stay in the United States?
  13. Why did you apply to this university and not to another one? And how do you know about this university?
  14. Tell us more about your academic background.
  15. Are you also planning to study a Ph.D. in the US after having completed your master’s degree?
  16. The major which you are taking is also available at other universities, why did you decide to go to this university and not to one of the others?


Student Visa Questions, Part 2: Bank & Finance


This part is a really important one and you have to be prepared for all of these us f1 visa interview questions. The visa officers want to know if you will be able to financially support your studies in the United States, as we all know to lived and studying in the United States can be overwhelmingly expensive. It is very important that you answer all of the questions in a way that visa officers are expecting. For this part, you need to bring your bank statements, transactions, passbook, latest transactions, and other finance-related documents.



  1.    Who is paying for your education?
  2.    How are they able to pay for it? What is their professional background?
  3.    Tell us more about your father’s/mother’s job and income and how long they have been working for the company.
  4.    What is the monthly income of the person who is going to sponsor your studies?
  5.    Apart from that, tell us more of your sponsor’s annual income?
  6.    How much does your university cost for a year?
  7.    Does your sponsor pay for all of it or did you also get a loan?
  8.    Please show us your current bank statement.
  9.    If you are planning to stay for two or three years, how will you finance your education and your living?
  10. On your bank statement, we can see large portions which only have been deposited recently. Please explain!


Student Visa Questions, Part 3: Relatives & Family Members


For this part of the student visa interview, you need to remember the answers you have given in form DS160. For example, if you have relatives in the United States, tell them that you have relatives there – don’t lie about it. Lying only makes things worse and can cause you a lot of trouble. The following questions are ones you can expect in the part of relatives and family members:



  1.    Do you have brothers and sisters? If yes, how many?
  2.    Are any of them living in the United States or do you have any other relatives who live in the United States?
  3.    Does your mother/father work? If they don’t, what do they do for a living?
  4.    Why does your brother/ sister live in the United States? What do they do here, do they work or study here?
  5.    What is your brother/sister doing in in the United States and where? Would you also like to stay in the US to work?
  6.    Did your parents/brother/sister complete any studies? Which ones?
  7.    In which country and in which city do your parents live?
  8.    As we can see you have brothers and sisters, will your parents be able to afford your education abroad in the United States?
  9.    Do you have any relatives studying at the same university you are planning to go to?
  10. Are you in a relationship?


Student Visa Questions, Part 4: Work & Job


These questions also give an idea about your lifestyle and whether or not you might be going to the US to stay for longer.



  1.    If you work, why do you plan to leave your current job in order to go abroad to study?
  2.    Please show us your CV or any other paper which shows your work experiences.
  3.    What is your salary at the moment?
  4.    Do you also have savings?
  5.    Once you have finished your studies, do you plan to stay in the United States to work?
  6.    Do you plan on working while studying?


Student Visa Questions, Part 5: General Questions


Here you can find a mix of all kinds of questions. Apart from the above mentioned they will ask you general questions in between. Here are some:



  1.    What are your reasons to study in the United States, why didn’t you choose to go to Canada or another country?
  2.    Tell me some positive things about the United States, why do you like the United States as a country?
  3.    What are your expectations after having completed your studies and returning to your country?
  4.    Why do you want to do a Master’s or Ph.D. degree?
  5.   Can you tell me why your GRE/TOEFL scores are so low?
  6.    I think you want to immigrate to the United States, or are you planning on going back home?
  7.    Tell us everything you know about the education and the education system in the US.
  8.    Why did you apply for a summer semester and not for the fall semester too?
  9.    What are your plans after having completed your studies in the US?
  10. How can you prove to us that you won’t stay in the US after the completion of your studies?
  11. Is it your first time to the US or have you visited before?
  12. What are your career goals back home after your studies? Or are you planning on going somewhere else?
  13. As you choose this specific university, do you happen to know anyone who studies there?
  14. What are your plans if your student visa is not approved?
  15. Are you planning to go home during your summer vacation?
  16. We can see you got a scholarship, why do you think they gave it to you?
  17. Why don’t you want to study in your home country?
  18. Can you explain to us why you changed your field or career?
  19. Why should we give you the possibility to study in the United States?
  20. Do you think you deserve to get an F1 visa?


It is an exhausting list but it encompasses the possible us student visa interview questions you might be asked in your interview.


F1 Visa Interview


Once an F1 visa applicant completes all of the documentation for their visa application, the next step to determining their qualification is the student visa interview.


What Is It?


The F1 Visa interview is a brief interview between you and a visa officer which establishes that you meet the requirements of the visa. Not all F1 visa applicants need to interview, specifically students under 13 years old or older than 80 years old, have no requirement to interview. However, if you do need to interview, you will schedule the interview through the US embassy or consulate in your home country.


It is important to note that you must receive your F1 visa at least 30 days prior to your academic program start date. Since the F1 visa is the last step before receiving your visa, make sure to schedule your interview as early as possible to ensure that you will meet the deadline for the visa.


How Does It Work?


Every visa interview is different, and many applicants experience varying types of interviews based on their interviewing officer and their personal plans for the visa. Some interviews are very formal, whereas others are more like a conversion about your academic plans and endeavors.


There is no list of us f1 visa interview questions that every interviewer follows. However, every interviewing officer is only trying to find out two things about your time on your visa.



  1. What is your intent on studying in the US?
  2. Can you afford your stay in the US?


Most of the questions the interviewer will ask will pertain to these two topics so you should be prepared to adequately answer any questions regarding your educational plans and financial support while on the visa.


Documents You Need for an F1 Visa Interview


Like with other Visa application interviews, the F1 Visa interview requires specific documentation that you must bring to the interview (to avoid 221g refusal, above all else). These items include the following:



  • I-20/SEVIS form issued by the U.S University
  • Completed DS-160 visa application form
  • Receipt of the visa application fee
  • SEVIS receipt fee
  • Visa appointment letter
  • Passport and recent photograph
  • Academic certificates/documents, transcripts, SOP, original GRE, and TOEFL score reports
  • Documents that confirm your financial and personal tie-ups to your homeland, which proves your compulsory return after the completion of your course in the US
  • If financially dependent, proof of relationship with the sponsor such as birth certificate is necessary along with the sponsor’s salary proof and job details
  • Strong financial support documents and bank statements.


How to Dress for Your F1 Visa Interview


When going in for your F1 visa interview, you’ll want to make a good first impression. The problem with first impressions, though, is that they are made before you open your mouth. People form opinions about others immediately upon seeing them, so you want to make sure you’ve dressed appropriately for your interview.

What is Considered Formal Attire?



  • Formal attire for men in the U.S. includes button-up shirts and slacks.
  • Formal attire for women in the U.S. includes dress blouses and slacks or formal Indian attire


Dress for the Weather and Season



  • Remember to wear clothing appropriate for the weather
  • Clothing in the U.S. is seasonal by color; pastels are work in the Spring and Summer and darker colors are worn in the Fall and Winter


Keep Accessories to a Minimum



  • For women, avoid anything dangling or distracting
  • For men, avoid accessories as much as is possible.
  • If your religion requires you to accessorize, keep it to the bare minimum allowed


Make Sure Your Clothes are Clean and Presentable



  • Interviewing can be a long process, so wrinkle-free or wrinkle-proof clothing is advised.
  • Make sure to iron or press your clothes before your interview


Make Sure You Smell Clean for Your Interview



  • It is advisable that you wear a neutral to lightly-scented deodorant, so as not to smell bad to too strongly


Make Sure You Look as Close to Your Passport Photo as Possible



  • If you wore glasses in your passport photo, wear them to the interview.
  • It is not advisable to get a haircut that is drastically different from the one in your passport photo


Top 9 Tips for the F1 Visa Interview


Now that you know all about the F1 Visa interview process and the documentation you should bring with you, all that’s to do is complete the actual interview. For many, this is the most nerve-wracking part. Prospective students that have made it this far in the visa process want to make sure they don’t mess up.


You should know that it’s natural to be nervous, but there is no need to be scared! If you follow these 11 tips, you will be well on your way to receiving your visa in no time.


Make a Good First Impression


When meeting your interviewer, making a great first impression can set the tone for the rest of the interview. Dressing formally, giving a strong handshake, and appearing confident are easy ways to start off the interview on the right foot.


Communicate Clearly


Just like in any other setting, clear communication helps get your point across much more effectively. You should try and avoid filler words such as “like” or “um” and take your time when answering the questions.


One great way to improve your communication is by having practice interviews with a friend or relative before your real interview. Ask them to take note of how often you use filler words, and to provide feedback on how you can communicate more clearly when answering questions.


Speak English


All F1 visa interviews are conducted in English, however, if English is not your native language, don’t worry! You don’t need to have the fluency level of a native English speaker, but you should be able to understand all of the questions without needing a translation.


Again, it’s okay to take your time while answering the questions. As long as the interviewer understands that your English level is high enough for your academic program and living in the US, you will still do fine without having perfect English pronunciation or fluency.


Be Prepared


Although every interview is different, as stated above, there are two main things the interviewer wants to determine from the interview: your educational plans and financial support. Therefore, you should be prepared to answer student visa interview questions that pertain to these two topics such as ‘how do you plan to pay for your living expenses?’, or ‘what do you plan to do after your educational program ends?’.


Even though the U.S. F1 visa interview questions are not the same for every interview, here are 65 student visa interview questions that will prepare you for what the interviewer will ask during your interview.


Know Your School and Program


The interviewer will ask a few questions regarding the school and program you plan to attend. Since the program is the reason you are applying for the visa, you should be well informed about what program you are attending and how it will help you in your future career or educational goals.


Some things to know are how long the program lasts, what you will be learning, what you plan to do with the knowledge you gain from the program, and why you chose that particular program to attend. Overall, think about why you chose to attend that program rather than one in your home country.


Prove Your Intent to Return Home


The F1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, so after the educational program ends, you must plan to return back to your home country. The interviewer will try to ensure that this is your plan by asking you questions about when you plan to return home and what you plan to do after your program.


When answering these student visa interview questions, make sure to clearly communicate that you do not plan to stay in the US after your program ends. If you don’t, this would disqualify you from the F1 visa.


Keep Your Answers Precise and Concise


Most visa interviews are extremely short, often under 5 minutes. Therefore, you want to keep your answers concise so that you have time to answer all of the questions. Again, practicing the interview beforehand can help with this. When you practice answering common interview questions beforehand, you will eliminate the time it takes for you to think of your answer and will increase the effectiveness of your answer.


Stay Positive


Since there is so much riding on this interview, many applicants will overstress during the interview. This can make them look questionable and flustered.

You should try to stay as positive as possible throughout your interview so that you appear polite, calm, and relaxed. Even if you feel like you made a mistake, stay positive!


Be Honest


Your visa interviewer has likely given hundreds of interviews before and will know if you are being dishonest. You should never lie during your interview or fake any documents that you bring to the interview. Doing so will only increase your chance of denial.


F1 vs. J1 Visa


Both F1 and J1 visas are provided to students who want to study in the United States. But how are the two different from one another? Let us evaluate these on some of the distinct features.


Funding


When it comes to F1 visa, the funding is generally derived from internal or external sources or a combination of the two. In the case of a J1 visa, the student is usually funded majorly by an outside source.


Further, to get the F1 visa, it is essential to provide proper financial support evidence for the first year. On the other hand, when it comes to securing a J1 visa, you need to show financial support for the entire duration of the course.


Thus, the source of funding is an important difference between the two.


On-campus employment


A lot of foreign students in the US prefer to work part-time on their university campus to generate some extra income. Both J1 and F1 visas allow this. But, when it comes to the recess periods, the students holding the F1 visa can work freely. However, the J1 visa holder would need additional permission from the Alternate Responsible Officer.


Off-campus employment


For off-campus employment or Optional Practical Training, the students on F1 visa can engage in these activities for a total of 12 months, distributed during their study period. On the other hand, the J1 visa holders need to complete 36 months of similar work.


Dependents


Can the dependents of the visa holder apply for employment during this tenure? For an F1 visa, the dependents cannot apply for a job whatsoever. On the other hand, the J1 visa allows the dependents to apply for permission to work in the United States!


Conclusion


It will not be wrong to say that the F-1 Visa is basically your gateway to the United States. If you meet the requirements and qualifications, you could pursue your studies in the USA and take-up part-time campus employment as well!


For more great visa and financial information, check out the Stilt Blog!


All you need to do is prepare yourself properly for the F1 visa interview. We hope this article would have helped you in cracking the interview.


So what are your views on this? How was your experience when it comes to securing an F1 visa? Let us know in the comments below.

Lenders look at more than just your credit score

Lenders look at more than just your credit score

by Nova Credit

Whether you’re applying for a mortgage, taking out a loan or applying for a new credit card, most lenders will check your credit score in order to minimize their risk. The better your credit score, the lower your perceived risk to a lender and the higher the likelihood of approval for a line of credit. In the U.S., a credit score is a three-digit number between 300 and 850 that serves as a snapshot of your credit history. Based on this number, lenders can better assess how you manage your finances; however, those three numbers don’t determine everything. Lenders typically do a complete analysis of your entire credit history before they approve your request for a new product. Here’s an overview of which information creditors analyze when they check your credit report including payment history, overall debt, credit history length and more. What do lenders look for other than the credit score? Payment history Your payment history is the most important part of your credit history as it accounts for 35% of the credit score. Lenders want to ensure that they will be repaid for money they’ve lent or the services they’ve offered. By reviewing your payment history, lenders can determine the likelihood that you will repay them on time. If you have consistently repaid your debts, you are more likely to be approved for a line of credit and offered more favorable rates. You may be less likely to be approved for a new line of credit if you have a history of late payments. The same thing goes if your credit history shows that you have defaulted on your loans or have applied for bankruptcy. If you are approved for credit under these circumstances, you may receive a smaller line of credit and less favorable interest rates. Amount of debt Lenders also want to ensure that you manage your credit line responsibly and don’t overextend yourself by taking on debt you can’t pay back. Credit utilization refers to the amount of debt owned compared to the amount of credit available to you. It accounts for 30% of your credit score, making it the second most important factor affecting your credit. Maintaining a low balance is important because lenders may view high levels of debt as a sign that you may struggle to pay off new lines of credit. Length of credit history The next thing that lenders will examine when checking your credit is the length of your credit history. A longer history and a good track record generally means that you are more likely to be a responsible borrower. How often you use your credit is also a factor that comes into play. The length of your credit history accounts for 15% of your credit score;. While it’s not as important as your payment history or amount of debt, the length of your credit history can still influence a lender’s decision to approve your credit application. For example, you may still be approved for lines of credit if you have a short credit history but you may have to pay higher interest rates as short histories do not provide lenders with enough information to predict how you manage your debts. New credit accounts New credit accounts make up 10% of your total credit score. Lenders typically do not want to see that you have opened several new credit card accounts or that you have taken out multiple loans in a short period of time. Multiple new accounts in a short period of time is considered a red flag because it could indicate that you are struggling financially. If you’ve opened several new accounts at a time, there is a chance that you may not be able to pay back additional debt. If you’ve opened up numerous new credit cards or taken out multiple loans over a short period of time, your chances of being approved for any new lines of credit may be lower. Types of credit Auto loans, mortgage and credit cards are just some of the ways you use credit. Lenders typically prefer to see variety in your types of credit because it shows experience managing multiple forms of credit. There is revolving credit such as credit cards, for example, as well as installment credit (mortgages, auto loans, personal loan and more. The type of credit you have on your credit report accounts for 10% percent of your credit score. Factors outside of your credit score The factors above aren’t the only ones that lenders consider. Beyond your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, down payment amount and loan-to-value ratio can also play a role in your application for a new credit product. Debt-to-income ratio Your debt-to-income ratio refers to the amount of money that you owe compared to the amount of money that you earn. You are less likely to be viewed as a risk by lenders if your income is high and your debts are low because lenders are more likely to assume that you have disposable income available to pay off any new debts. However, a high income does not necessarily mean better rates if your fixed expenses such as auto loans, mortgage payments or your rent are high. In a lender’s eyes, the higher your fixed expenses are, the less disposable income you’ll have to pay off new lines of credit. Therefore, a lender may charge you a higher interest rate to protect their interests in these circumstances. Down payment amount If you’re taking out a loan to purchase a home or a car, the amount of your down payment can have a big impact on whether or not you’ll be approved as well as your rates. The more money you put down, the less money you’ll need to borrow—less risk to the lender who will be financing your purchase. Lenders may be more inclined to offer better interest rates to people with large down payment, but this doesn’t mean that you should drain your savings just to put more money down for a better interest rate. Loan-to-value ratio The value of assets such as property or vehicles when you apply for a mortgage or an auto loan may help you get credit and better interest rates because these assets will act as collateral for the loan. Loan-to-value ratio refers to the value of the collateral compared to the total amount of credit requested. A better ratio may make the lender more likely to approve your application and provide a better interest rate. However, if your collateral is less valuable compared to the amount of money you apply to borrow, your interest rate may be higher. Employment history Lenders also want to make sure that you have a stable source of income. For example, you may not be approved for a line of credit if you only recently started at your current position despite having a high salary. A longer employment history is important because it may indicate a lower chance of change in employment status over the life of the loan. Loan terms The length of the loan is another important factor that may affect your chances of being approved for a loan and the type of interest you’ll have to pay. Lenders are generally more likely to approve shorter loans. They may also offer better rates under the assumption that your ability to pay is not likely to change over a short period of time. On the other hand, the longer the terms, the greater the chance that your ability to repay the debt will change.
Why Credit Scores Matter

Why Credit Scores Matter

by MYRA Wealth

7 MIN READ To read the full article, click here: myrawealth.com/insights/why-credit-sc… A good credit score category is around 660 to 670 on a range of 300 to 850 in the United States. An even better credit score starts at 750. But it takes time, especially if you just moved to the U.S. — but it’s not impossible. Having a good credit score can be important for many reasons and the difference between having a poor credit score and good credit score can be thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of dollars over your lifetime. A higher score helps with better rates and offers on credit cards, a better line of credit, and loans. Having good credit can help you qualify for a lower interest rate, fewer fees, higher loan amount, and more favorable repayment terms. In most states, your credit history can impact your insurance rates and having poor credit can lead to paying higher auto and homeowners insurance premiums. Additionally, your credit may be a factor when you're applying for a job, want to rent a home, setting up a new account with a utility or cell phone provider. You might have trouble getting certain types of job or getting approved for a rental home if you have a bad credit history. Even if you get approved, you may have to pay a larger down payment and also pay a security deposit before you can turn on utilities, internet, or television service for your home. Related Article | myrawealth.com/insights/the-finance-d… Who Creates Credit Reports? Many credit scores are based entirely on the information in one of your credit reports. There are three nationwide consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) in the United States that create consumer credit reports: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. They are sent information from creditors and collects information on millions of residents to create credit reports.   For example, if you apply for a credit card and get approved, the credit card issuer may send information about your account to 1-3 of the major CRAs. If this is the first time you've had an account reported to the CRAs, it will be the only account (aka "tradeline") in your credit report. The credit card company may report your personal information such as name, address, date of birth, Social Security number (if you have one), and phone number from your application to the CRAs. It can also report your account information, such as when you opened the credit card and your credit limit. From there, each month it will send an update to the CRA to report your card's balance, your payment amount, and your payment timeliness. Most of the information on your credit report comes from data furnishers reporting your account information to the CRAs. The major credit bureaus may collect some types of public records from the U.S. court system too and add this to your credit reports. Who Determines Your Credit Scores? Your credit report and credit score are separate but related. So-called “generic” credit scores are generally based entirely on the information in one of your credit reports, and each credit score model is created with a specific intent in mind. FICO and VantageScore are the main two companies that create and sell generic credit scores—scores that multiple lenders and creditors can use. There are some creditors that create custom credit scores that they use as a supplement or in place of a generic score, and each of the CRAs offers credit scores along with credit reports. Both FICO and VantageScore offer base generic scores, ranging from 300 to 850, that aim to predict the likelihood that a person will fall 90 or more days behind on a bill in the next 24 months. FICO also creates industry-specific credit scoring models for auto loan and bankcard companies that have a larger credit score range of 250 to 900. With all these models, a lower score indicates someone is more likely to miss a payment, and informs creditors what actions they should take to mitigate this. FICO and VantageScore periodically update their scoring models, and thus, there are multiple versions of each scoring model using slightly different weighting or criteria to determine your credit score. How to Check Your Credit Score You can get one free copy of your credit reports from all three bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com once every 12 months, but they don't come with a credit score. You would either need to pay for your scores or sign up for a service that gives you a free credit score. Many banks, credit unions, lenders, nonprofit credit or financial counseling organizations, and credit card issuers offer free FICO scores to current customers. FICO maintains a list of some of the companies that offer free FICO scores to customers. There are also companies like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame that give you free credit reports along with scores based on those reports. They offer VantageScore 3.0 credit scores for free without having to open a new account or credit card. They may also offer free credit monitoring which alerts you if there's a change in one of your credit reports. You can find a list of free options on the VantageScore website. What Factors Impact Your Credit Score? The factors that impact your credit scores and their relative importance will depend on the type of credit score, but generally there are similar criteria. Even FICO's industry-specific scores are built on top of the base scores and consider the same main factors, but give extra weighting to your history of repaying a car loan or credit card for the auto and bankcard scores, respectively. Some of these credit scoring factors include: * Your payment history * Your credit utilization ratio * Whether you've declared bankruptcy * How many credit accounts you have * Whether you have experience managing different types of accounts * How many new accounts you've applied for recently * If you've recently opened new credit accounts * The length of credit history, including your average age of accounts and the age of your oldest and newest account Related Article | myrawealth.com/insights/green-card-ap… How to Get a Good Credit Score Even if you work on your credit history for years, you may never reach the highest possible score, but typically you can still get the best financing offers at a score of 800 or higher. Here are some tips to reach that goal: Pay your bills on time. Having a long history of on-time payments with your accounts is good. One way you can prevent accidentally missing a payment is by setting up automatic payments for at least your minimum amount due. Keep your credit card balances low. Credit scoring models determine your utilization by comparing your reported credit card balances to the cards' credit limit. If you want to use your credit card, making early payments to lower your balance before the end of your statement period could help lower your utilization rate. Keep credit cards open. Closing an account can decrease your available credit, which may increase your utilization rate and hurt your scores. Strategically apply for new accounts. Submitting new credit applicants can lead to hard inquiries, which may temporarily hurt your credit scores. Generally, it’s best to only apply for a new account if you have a specific reason for taking out a loan or getting a new credit card. Related Article | myrawealth.com/insights/an-immigrants… How to Transfer Your Credit Score If you're moving to the U.S., you'll likely want to bring your credit with you. Unfortunately, the major credit bureaus can't import this information and you may have to start building credit by taking out new loans or credit cards. Even then, you may have to wait at least six months before you can qualify for a FICO score and one month before you can qualify for a VantageScore credit score. ‍ Fortunately, Nova Credit developed technology that connects with global consumer credit bureaus to help people to take their credit with them when they move. Based on your credit history from your home country, Nova builds a Credit Passport® and creates a credit score that aligns with the standard U.S. score range. The information in your Credit Passport® doesn't get copied into your U.S. credit reports, but creditors can use it to evaluate your creditworthiness when you apply for a new account. Once approved, your new account can help you build your credit history in the U.S.   MYRA Wealth provides personal finances for international and multicultural families in the United States. Our services include financial planning, investment management, and tax preparation. To learn more:  myrawealth.com/services To get started: share.hsforms.com/1F8mnqibNR_qETKSdk7… To read the full article, click here: myrawealth.com/insights/why-credit-sc…

Loans for Community College Students on Visas

Loans for Community College Students on Visas

by Stilt - Loans for immigrants and the underserved

The U.S. is a country filled with opportunities. You can study to acquire new skills and apply them in the job market to earn a decent income. Community colleges are also wonderful institutions that offer helpful qualifications to its graduates.


Now, you may have the capacity to enroll in a school, but do you have the finances to pay your tuition fees? Let us help you find some answers and possibly some loans for community college students.


How Much Does Community College Cost?


Community colleges are quite popular in America. 40% of all undergraduates in the U.S. are enrolled in community colleges. These schools are key institutions in the U.S. job market. It offers post-secondary education to those who can’t yet afford university. It also helps students to first test the academic waters. You only have to commit to finishing a 2-year qualification as opposed to a 4-year degree at a university.


So how much does this cost? The average community college charges tuition fees of around $8,000 per year. Compare that with university fees that could go beyond $22,000 and you quickly realize why some students opt for college rather than university. Loans for community college students are also much easier to get since the tuition fees are so much cheaper when compared to university fees. Many DACA student’s loans help to pay tuition fees for community college.


Can You Go to Community College for Free?


Community college students may have cheaper study bills, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. Many students still require some help to cover their studying expenses. What can you do about it? Is it even possible to go to a community college for free?


You could look into scholarships or grants. Such opportunities can pay your fees on your behalf. But someone has to pay your tuition fees. It’s technically not free. Speak to the admissions office at your college and ask if they offer any scholarships or grants. You may need to apply and prove your eligibility for the program since many of these types of aid depend on merit or circumstances.


Scholarships and Grants for Community College Students


Here follows a list of some of the possible grants and scholarships available at your local community college. This is not a comprehensive list, so there may be some more options available at your school. It can help you to narrow down your search for student aid as you get ready for college, though. Loans for community college students aren’t your only option, so take time to consider these first.


Minority Grants


There are specific groups of people included in the scope of minority grants. Mothers returning to school form part of one of the groups. You’ll need to complete a FAFSA application before you can apply for this grant. Read through their eligibility criteria to see if you are eligible for a minority grant.


Pell Grants


Like other grants, you don’t have to repay a Pell grant. It’s not like a loan that requires a strict repayment schedule. But you must prove your need for financial aid if you want to get a Pell Grant. Pell Grants are available to students who study part-time. The aid will also correlate with your studies. A prorated amount of your tuition pays out according to the hours you study (the grant only pays for the classes you have currently). Apply online to get the process going.


Perkins Loans


Just like DACA car loans, student loans need a repayment. There are different kinds of student loans but a Perkins loan is a good option for a community college student. The interest rates on Perkins loans are very competitive. It will be rather low when compared to other types of loans. Lower interest rates help to keep your monthly repayments cheaper. Complete the FAFSA application for Perkins loans and see if you are eligible for this type of federal student aid.


Stafford Loans


Stafford loans have some very specific eligibility criteria. It firstly only caters to half-time students who have completed a FAFSA application. But furthermore, any student who requires financial aid could qualify. The level of your financial need does not determine the success of your application. These loans have reasonable interest rates and repayment schedules. Under the right circumstances, you may even have some of your Stafford loans forgiven.


Specific Scholarship Programs


There are all kinds of specific scholarship programs offered to community college students. It may be a second option as opposed to loans for community college students. For instance, the Horatio Alger program offers to help students who suffered and overcame extreme hardship but who still holds an exceptional scholastic record.


The American Indian College Fund offers to help people from the Native American community with student aid. There is even a student aid for students who have won the battle against cancer. Cancer survivors can possibly receive aid from the cancer survivor scholarships. Do some research on specific scholarship programs and see if you qualify for any.


Federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans for Community College Students


The Federal government also supplies student aid. They supply student loans with competitive interest rates and reasonable repayment schedules. Federally subsidized loans don’t require their beneficiaries to service the interest on their loans while they are studying. Only upon graduation do they start repayment. And even after graduation, you can possibly get a 6-month grace period after which you are only required to start repayment.


Federal unsubsidized loans don’t require students to prove their need. But you are required to service the interest on your loan during your studying years. You can defer the payment of your interest to someone willing to accept the liability (someone like a parent or close relative), but the interest needs to be serviced throughout the loan’s existence.


Private Loans for Community College Students


Some students don’t qualify for the loans and grants mentioned above. Many students in the U.S. come from abroad. They don’t have Social Security Numbers and they are often not eligible for federal student aid. What can you do to finance their studies if you find yourself in a similar situation?


They can consider private loans for community college students. And after a few months of repayment you can always refinance a DACA student loan (for instance) to lower the interest rate.


Here are a few private loans for your consideration.


Stilt (Best for Visa Holders in the U.S.)


Stilt offers personal loans of up to $25,000 at an APR that starts at 7.99%. Even immigrants can be eligible for a loan. You don’t even need a credit score to apply for this loan. You can use a personal loan for whatever you need, even as a loan for a community college student. Stilt even offers student loans to DACA dreamers.


PNC (Best for Good Credit Scores)


PNC is a good option for people with good credit scores. A stronger credit score will help you to qualify for a loan with PNC. They require applicants to have a minimum credit score of 670 and offer loans that start at an APR of 5.15% and ranges to 11.79%. It depends on your credit score and whether you choose a fixed or variable interest rate.


Earnest (Best for Good Credit Scores)


Earnest requires applicants to have a minimum credit score of 650. Their interest rates range from as low as 3.35% and go up all the way to 12.78%. You need to decide whether you want a fixed or variable interest rate when you apply with them.


Conclusion


Community college offers wonderful opportunities for students. It can serve as a bridging course to university degrees, or it could help to supply education to someone who can’t afford university. Either way, it still may cost a pretty penny. Loans for community college students can help to finance the studies of those in need. Apply today and go make your dreams a reality.


For me great financial and visa-related information check out the Stilt Blog!

New to the U.S.? 6 simple steps to a great credit score

New to the U.S.? 6 simple steps to a great credit score

by CREDIT STACKS

You came to the U.S. to explore exciting new opportunities, but guess what: your previous stellar professional, academic, and financial history didn’t travel with you. When it comes to financial credibility, you’re starting from zero.

Good news: This blank slate doesn’t have to get in the way of the great things you came to do. It doesn’t even have to slow you down. You can build the credit you deserve, fast, even if you’re new to the U.S.

Your credit score: Why it matters

In the U.S., your credit score is a measure of your financial credibility and general trustworthiness. It’s a quick snapshot that tells people and companies whether it would be smart to do business with you. A good credit score opens the door to easily renting an apartment, buying a car, or opening a mobile phone account. A poor or nonexistent credit history, on the other hand, makes it harder to take these basic steps to enjoying your new life in the U.S.

A good credit score will also save you tons of money over time. You are more likely to be approved for a personal loan, and you qualify for lower interest rates on loans.

In short, if you are new to the U.S., you want to build a great credit score as quickly as possible. Fortunately, this may be easier than you think. Avoid these credit-busting mistakes, make a few smart, credit-building moves, and you’ll be on your way to an exceptional credit score in no time.

DON’T make these credit-busting mistakes

  1. DON’T dodge the credit issue. Starting a new life in the U.S. is enough to keep anyone busy, but that’s no excuse to delay dealing with your credit. Make sure you start building good credit from day one. Apply for a CreditStacks Mastercard and you can start building your credit immediately, with every card transaction.
  2. DON’T apply for many credit cards at once, then max them out. Just because you receive multiple credit card offers in the mail doesn’t mean it’s a smart move to apply for all of them! Even one declined application can hurt your credit, so be strategic about the applications you make. Open new accounts sparingly, then be thoughtful about using your available credit. Never borrow more than you can afford.
  3. DON’T pay your bills late. Late payments will cost you in terms of higher interest rates, less favorable terms, and more fees. Worse, they will drag down your credit score. If you are prone to forgetfulness, set up automatic payments from your bank account to your credit card.

DO consider these credit-building moves

  1. Start the habit of checking your credit report at least once a year so you can promptly correct any errors that may hurt your score. Be cautious which website you use to check your credit report. Only one website is authorized to fill orders for the free annual credit report you are entitled to under law: annualcreditreport.com. If your credit report contains negative information that you can prove is inaccurate, send a dispute letter to the credit bureaus, describing the error and attaching proof of your version of what happened. The credit bureaus will investigate and, if the investigation is in your favor, they will update your credit report accordingly.
  2. DO keep your credit utilization rate below 30%. Just because you have more credit available doesn’t mean you should use it all. To keep your credit score high, aim to use less than 30% of your credit limit, whatever that may be, at any given time. This doesn’t mean you need to spend less. Just make sure you pay off your credit card balance whenever you reach 30% utilization rate. For example, if you have a $5,000 credit limit, make a payment every time you reach $1,500 in charges. At the end of the month, remember to pay off your entire balance to avoid interest charges on your card.
  3. DO apply for a credit card of your own. When you apply for a CreditStacks Mastercard, your application will be processed even if you do not yet have a Social Security Number or credit history. Unlike a secured card, CreditStacks does not require a deposit. CreditStacks also offers significantly higher spending limits and helps you build your credit score with tools to automate paying off your balance every month and keep your utilization rate consistently under 30%.

Tackling the credit issue up front, thoughtfully, will give you the peace of mind of knowing you are strengthening your financial future even as you navigate your new life in the U.S.


Read more: https://www.creditstacks.com/


Pros and cons of using non-college accounts for college savings

Pros and cons of using non-college accounts for college savings

by Financial Planning with Mass Mutual by Jagat Rathee

Saving for college can be one of the more daunting tasks parents face. Besides how much to save, you need to choose where to put those savings. Most families’ key considerations include: 1. Taxes: How can I reduce taxes to save more for college? 2. Risk: How do I invest my child’s college savings properly? 3. Flexibility: Will I be able to use the money for something else if my child doesn’t go to college? 4. Financial aid: How will saving affect scholarships, grants, and loans? Read more : blog.massmutual.com/post/noncollege-a…

Best Loans for Medical School in the U.S.

Best Loans for Medical School in the U.S.

by Stilt - Loans for immigrants and the underserved

Being a medical student is a dream come true for all of us who inspire to be an amazing doctor. But the drive to make a good change in the world is not all that takes to get into a medical school. Besides your utmost dedication and efforts, you also need money to tackle the one big hurdle that is the cost of medical schooling.


Cost of Medical School


Just in the year 2017, the average cost it took to complete one year of medical school was a whopping $32,495 in a public college and about $52,515 in a private college. And this number is only expected to get higher every year. The average tuition fee has been on the rise for the past two decades and this does not even include the other expenses like boarding transportation and study materials.


Factoring in everything, the resulting cost could become a big burden and hence, it is a good idea to opt for student loans to ease up your financial situations when you are still at medical school.


Before You Turn To Loans for Medical School


But before you apply for a loan, maybe you should pump your brakes and consider a few things that will help you plan your expenses and loan amounts wisely. Here are certain things you need to consider.


Personal Savings


The first thing you can look into is your personal savings you have put into your college fund. Your family or friends could help you in the process and finance your studies. You can start saving early and dip into your savings to help you through schooling.


Scholarships


Look into possible scholarship opportunities and find if you could get sponsored for your medical school expenses. Apply for student aids and programs that can help you. Be informed of eligibility and apply within the deadlines. Some places you can start looking into are


FAFSA


Free Application for Federal Student Aid helps you get some aid for your schooling. Do check them out and apply them according to the rules.


AAMC


The Association of American Medical Colleges is a great resource when you are looking for guidance pertaining to your medical schooling. It gives you information on the available colleges and lets you choose the right school. It also provides comprehensive financial management support with enough information to help you get through school easily.


Be proactive and use the resources provided from your school as well as the AAMC to help you discover more scholarship opportunities.


Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans


If your savings and scholarships don’t make the cut, you can start looking for direct subsidized student loans first.


Start your search with federal loans that are subsidized. You can get these loans if you show your financial need.


If even this option is exhausted for you, you can try for the unsubsidized loans which are provided for all individuals regardless of financial need.


3 Best Loans for Pharmacy School


You can try looking into specialized loans that cater to the medical industry. When you have used up all your money reserves and loan amounts, you still have few options to finance your studies like opting for a direct plus loan that usually has high interest, health professional student loans or private student loans.


Some specific loans that will help your cause are explained below.


Stilt


Stilt offers student loans to both locals and international students. It is considered as the best option for visa holders who have lesser options than a citizen does.


PNC


PNC provides customized private student loan services for health professionals. If you have a good credit score, PNC loans will be an apt choice for you. In case your credit score is low, you can get a cosigner to get your loans approved.


Federal Student Loans


If you are a US citizen, always start with federal loans. Federal loans are easy to apply and have benefits like loan forgiveness, subsidies and flexible repayment plans. You can choose to repay according to your income and interest rates are lower compared to private student loans.


Medical School Loan Frequently Asked Questions


Do you have a lot of questions and doubts regarding the types of loans you can get and the available options? Here are answers to some common queries regarding medical school answered.


How should I pay off medical school debt?


There are several strategies and tactics that will help you pay off your student loans notable being refinancing, loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment.


These tactics also depend on the type of loans you have taken and your career goals. For instance, federal loans can make use of loan forgiveness and repayment based on your income. Private loans can do well with refinancing.


Is doctor loan forgiveness right for me?


If you seek loan forgiveness for your medical school debt, you should be practicing in the public sector or any underserved area for a certain duration of time. If your future goals align with these requirements and eligibility criteria you may make use of loan forgiveness.


How can I get medical school loan forgiveness?


The plans for medical school loan forgiveness depend on the federal and state laws and their relative loan forgiveness programs. Choose your program based on your career path and evaluate whether it will work for you. You can then apply if eligible. There are several National Health Service Corps programs available as well. These can also be helpful in repaying your loan. Check which program aligns with your career goals and make the best use of it.


Conclusion


Don’t let your medical aspirations die out due to money. Weigh your options wisely and choose the best loans that suit your needs. Don’t hesitate to seek help from experts, school management and your friends and family. Plan well and take every opportunity to achieve your goals.


For more great financial and visa-related information, visit the Stilt Blog!

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