College students who borrow from private lenders often assume that private and federal student loans work the same way. The two could not be more different. Federal loans, for example, have low, fixed rates and broad consumer protections that permit people who run into trouble to make lower, partial payments or to defer them altogether until they recover financially.Robert M. Davis:
Private student loans from banks and other lenders typically come with variable interest rates, which means that borrowers who misunderstand the conditions of the loan can be shocked to find what they owe in the end. In addition, private loans offer limited consumer protections, leaving borrowers who get into trouble with few options other than default. This makes it difficult for them to get jobs, credit or to even rent apartments. [...]
Federal regulators clearly have a lot to do to address what amounts to a student loan crisis. (Total student indebtedness is now about $1.2 trillion.) They can begin by preventing contracts that unfairly burden borrowers in the private market who owe $150 billion. Terms should be clearly stated. Borrowers should be notified that their loans are at risk. And in no case should a borrower in good standing be shoved into default.
$1.1 trillion. That is now the total outstanding student loan debt in the United States. Student loan debt is the second largest type of consumer debt in the U.S.Much more below the fold.
Outstanding student loan debt accounts for roughly 6 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, outpacing credit card debt and second only to mortgage debt. [...] One of the effects of the recession is that many new graduates enter in job positions in which the wage earnings may be insufficient to pay off their debt burden and save for a house or make other purchases. Household debt as a percentage of gross domestic product has increased over the last 30 years; as debt increases, consumers have less to spend. As consumers have less to spend, there is a decrease in demand. As demand decreases, so too does supply; this drives reductions in the labor force and the income earnings that go with it.
Some student loan borrowers who had a parent or grandparent co-sign the note are finding that they must immediately pay the loan in full if the relative dies.Turning to the Affordable Health Care Act, Greg Sargent highlights one Republican walkback:
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says lenders have clauses in their contract that explain this could happen, but many borrowers are not aware of them.
The agency’s ombudsman, Rohit Chopra, said complaints related to this issue are growing more common because the practice is catching so many consumers by surprise. Some borrowers who are told to pay back the loan in full have been making timely payments, Chopra said. While it’s unclear how prevalent it is, Chopra said it appears to be the practice among many private lenders of student loans.
Here’s another sign that the stance on Obamacare held by many GOP Senate candidates — whether you call it “repeal,” or “repeal and replace with something-or-other to be specified later” — is becoming increasingly unsustainable and could get harder and harder to explain as these campaigns intensify.Meanwhile, Denver Nicks digs into the latest Obamacare poll:
In a weekend interview with WMUR, Scott Brown — who is running for Senate in New Hampshire — attempted to explain his stance on health care. He endorsed the general goals of protecting people with preexisting conditions and expanding coverage to those who need it. But he then denounced Obamacare as a “disaster,” citing the usual litany of Obama tyrannies and horror stories often hawked by Republicans.
So, how would Senator Scott Brown go about accomplishing the goals he says he supports? Well, he urges reform on the state level
Support in battleground congressional districts for implementing Obamacare has increased sharply in recent months, according to the Democratic pollsters at Democracy Corps.Jay Bookman looks at Tea Party scams:
In December last year, amid a contentious rollout and weeks of bad news surrounding the problem-plagued healthcare.gov website, support among likely voters in competitive congressional districts for repealing the Affordable Care Act was 45 percent, slightly behind the 49 percent support for keeping and fixing the law. As of April 2014, support for repeal is essentially unchanged at 42 percent, near the margin of error. Support for putting Obamacare into effect with some improvements is a full 10 points higher, at 52 percent.
Tea Party Patriots, one of the groups cited above, has raised $7.4 million from citizens since 2013, but has spent just $184,505 on actually supporting candidates. The group is headed by Jenny Beth Martin of Georgia. According to The Post, the salary that Martin collects and the consultant fees that she charges the group "put her on track to make more than $450,000 this year."Finally, a really important piece by Stacey Boyd on the importance of extracurriculars in school:
That's roughly 2.5 times as much as the total amount the group has spent supporting candidates since the beginning of 2013. Martin's cousin is also on the payroll as a strategic consultant. [...] And of course, it's not just the Tea Party groups. The conservative movement has evolved a whole range of professional purity police, from talk radio hosts to blogs to Fox News and even elected officials such as Sen. Ted Cruz, all of whose influence and paychecks depend on enforcing strict ideological conformity.
It's a great gig for them; for the Republican Party and the rest of the country, not so much.
Groundbreaking work of cognitive neuroscientists reveals what we think are “extras” are central to strengthening our minds. Studying Mandarin or music as a child might do more for your adult brain and long-term economic prospects than studying biology.
Take music as an example. A study by Virginia Penhune at Concordia University shows that musical training, particularly instrumental training, produces long lasting changes in motor abilities and brain structure. The earlier a child starts instrumental training, the stronger the connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. These changes last into adulthood and are proven to affect the ability to listen and communicate as an adult. Nina Krauss, a cognitive neuroscientist at Northwestern University, just released a study that older adults who took music lessons at a young age can process the sounds of speech faster than those who did not, even if they haven’t picked up an instrument in 40 years.