Student loan debt can be difficult to manage. Trying to make ends meet when you are saddled with a monthly payment from your education can be a challenge. The burden can become overwhelming once you add a mortgage, a car, and other financial obligations. Stare at your owed balances long enough and you may start wondering just how illegal robbing a bank really is.
Fortunately, there’s another option available—that won’t end with you in handcuffs.
Fannie Mae offers a way for you to use the excess value of your home to pay off student loan debt directly. Some families may benefit from consolidating student loan debt into their mortgage with a new lower fixed rate applied and consolidated into one loan with one monthly payment.
It’s good to note that although the rate and payment may be lower, the term of the debt may be lengthened which would result in higher interest payments over an extended period of repayment.
Mortgage interest rates can run lower than student loan interest rates. Some homeowners may be able to use that to their advantage. Paying off multiple student loans with one loan means making only one payment per month, which not only simplifies life, but could also save borrowers money.
How much you can potentially save depends on things like the difference in interest rates —depending on your loan terms, it can be said, the bigger the gap, the better the savings.
For example, if you’re paying 7.08% interest on a Direct PLUS student loan for 25-years, but can lower the rate on your 30-year mortgage at say a 4.00% interest rate, you’ll not only pay off your student loans with less interest over the life of the loan, but can also refinance your mortgage to a lower rate, possibly saving you significant mortgage interest in the long run.
Working with SoFi, you can consolidate your student loans with your existing mortgage, refinance the total amount at a lower rate, and simultaneously pay off those student loans.
Under the student loan cash-out refinance program, student loans would be paid off directly through escrow after the loan funds which allows this loan program to avoid any additional pricing bumps for cashout to the borrower. Loans must be paid in full, no partial payments are allowed.
The Elements of Equity
Some cash-out refinance loans such as a student loan cash-out refinance is priced to be used for a specific purpose, consolidating your student loan debt and mortgage into better loan terms.
You can also take cash out of your home for most any reason with a vanilla cash-out refinance type loan or if you already have a low rate on your mortgage, you can opt for a 2nd mortgage such as a home equity line of credit (HELOC.)
When your home’s market value is higher than what you owe on your mortgage(s), you have equity in your home. The equity you earn in your home can be utilized as an asset. That means if eligible under the loan program you choose, you can draw upon the available equity, for a variety of reasons (e.g. to pay off your student loans).
You can gain equity in two ways. The first is by making payments on the mortgage; as you pay back what you owe the principal amount owing on your loan is reduced, and if your home’s market value doesn’t decline, your equity increases. Say that you purchased a home for $350,000 and you took out a $250,000 mortgage 10 years ago, and have since paid back $50,000 of what you owe.
If your home value remains the same as when you purchased it, you may have $150,000 in available equity for an in-ground pool for the kids, a new car, or, best of all, to refinance and consolidate your student loans. The amount of equity that can be utilized will depend upon many factors, such as the lender, loan program, qualifying, etc.
Sound good? It may be even better. The second way to earn equity in your home is through price appreciation, so as your home gains market value, you earn equity.
If you’re a ladder-climbing professional, who’s great at financial planning, it’s possible that you bought that dream home in a growing market, and it’s now worth $400,000 or more. As of 2018, untapped home equity reached an all-time high in the United States, reaching about $14.4 trillion . If your home’s equity is part of that sum, it could be used as a tool to help you further your financial priorities.
Deciding to Pay Off Student Loans with Home Equity
Using the equity you’ve earned in your home to pay off your student loans may sound like an easy fix. But before you commit to refinancing, you may want to weigh the decision carefully. While it may make sense for some, a student loan cash out refinance won’t work for everyone. Here are a few pros and cons to consider as you make your decision.
Benefits of Paying Off Student Loans with Home Equity
Like most financial decisions, paying off your student loans with the equity you’ve earned on your home is a multifaceted decision. Here are some of the ways you could find it beneficial.
Securing a lower interest rate is potentially the most appealing reason to use the equity in your home to pay off student loans. As part of your decision-making process consider reviewing mortgage options at a few different lenders. While reviewing rate quotes from each lender do the math to determine if paying off student loans with home equity will truly reduce the amount of money you spend in interest.
If there are any fees or prepayment penalties, try to factor those in. Doing this leg work can help you determine if going through the process is worth it in the long run.
As you are reviewing options, consider the term length of the mortgages. The standard repayment plan for student loans has a 10 year term unless you consolidated them already, in which case you could have a term of up to 25 years. With a mortgage, term lengths can be as long as 30 years .
While repaying your debt over a longer time period could lower monthly payments, it may also mean you pay more in interest over the life of the loan, which could factor into your decision-making process.
Another benefit may be reducing the number of monthly payments you need to keep track of. Instead of paying your mortgage and each of your student loans, those bills have all been consolidated into a single payment. Streamlining your payments could help you stay on top of your payments and make your finances a little bit easier to manage.
Downsides of Paying Off Student Loans with Home Equity
There are a few potential negatives that could impact your decision to pay off student loans with your home equity. Firstly, using your home equity to pay off your student loans could potentially put your home at risk.
You’re combining your student loans and mortgage into one debt, now all tied to your home. That means if you run into any financial issues in the future and are unable to make payments, in severe cases, such as loan default, your home could be foreclosed on.
Second, when you use your home equity to pay off your student loans, you’ll still owe the debt (now as a part of your mortgage), but you’ll no longer be eligible for borrower protections that are afforded to borrowers who have federal loans.
These benefits include deferment or forbearance, which could allow you to temporarily pause payments in the event of financial hardship, and income-driven repayment plans, which tie a borrower’s monthly payment to a percentage of their discretionary income.
If you are pursuing student loan forgiveness through one of the programs available to federal borrowers, for example Public Service Loan Forgiveness, consolidating your student loan debt with your mortgage would eliminate you from the program. If you’re currently taking advantage of any of these options it may not make sense to use the equity in your home to pay off your student loans.
As you weigh your options, you might consider comparing the available equity in your home to the amount you owe in student loans. In some cases, you may owe more in student loan debt than you have available to use in home equity under the various loan guidelines.
When It’s Time to Leverage Your Home Equity
Cashing in on your home equity isn’t as easy as withdrawing money from your checking account, but it’s also not as difficult as you might think.
A good first step is to contact a mortgage lender, who will order an appraisal of your home and get you started on paperwork. It could also be a good idea to check your credit score.
To secure a cash out refinance lenders guidelines will likely require a credit score of 620 or higher. The minimum score required depends upon many factors such as credit, income, equity and more. If you don’t meet the minimum fico score requirement for your chosen program, you might want to make a few changes to improve your credit score before applying for a cash-out refinance.
At the very least, you’ll likely need your latest tax filings, pay stubs, and bank statements. Lenders use those documents to evaluate whether you have the savings and cash flow to pay back a fatter mortgage, and they may ask for them every time you try to refinance. So it can be helpful to keep them handy.
When utilized responsibly, home equity can be a useful tool in helping to improve your overall finances. Home equity can be used for most any purpose such as consolidating higher interest credit card debt, student loan debt or home improvements.
Interested in using your home’s equity to pay off your student loan debt? Take a look at SoFi. This student loan cash-out refinance option offers qualified borrowers competitive rates with no cash-out pricing add-ons applied.
Pre-qualifying takes just two minutes online, so you can get an idea of the rates and terms available to you. Loans are usually approved in about 30 days.
Unlike taking your chances with the lottery, the odds could be more in your favor when you leverage your home equity responsibly. Explore your rate and term options, and then get in touch with us to start the refinancing process. Learning is a lifetime commitment; student loan debt doesn’t have to be.
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