The time has come: May is the first month that my first student loan bill is due. I have three student loan bills, actually, and indentifying them now will make this little tale easier to tell:
- The first is a Direct Stafford Loan, from the government, consisting of both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. It is the culmination of the Stafford loans that I took out from the beginning of college until the time I dropped out. I call it the “Old Stafford” loan.
- The second is also a Direct Stafford Loan, serviced by the same online account and login. It’s the culmination of the subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans that I took out from the time I returned to school until graduation. I called it the “New Stafford” loan.
- The third is a Federal Perkins loan, issued with my college as the lender. I have to use a different website and login to access information and pay this loan. This is the “Perkins” loan.
This month, the Old Stafford loan comes due. The New Stafford loan and the Perkins loan are both in their grace periods, so I won’t have to make any payments on them until at least September.*
The Stafford loans have put forth an intriguing proposal for me: set up an Electronic Debit Account (EDA) to automatically take the loan payments from my bank account each month, and they’ll shave 0.25% off of my interest rates. Many people take this option because 0.25% can have a big effect, if you have a lot of loans. I did the math for my combined Stafford loans (using my ultra geeky financial calculator):
If I pay the loans off in 10 years….
Interest paid: $10,207.89
Interest —0.25%: $9,695.48
Money saved: $512.41
If I pay the loans off in 25 years…
Interest paid: $28,375.39
Interest —0.25%: $26,840.27
Money Saved: $1,535.13
So we’re not exactly dealing with chump change here. Depending on how long it takes me to pay off these student loans, I will save $50-$60 per year if I sign up for this program.
However, there’s a catch. For me, anyway. I hate automatic debits out of my checking account. In fact, I have a few set up to try and parse my savings out to online savings accounts right now… and I’m in danger of over-drafting over the next few days because of them. Automatic debits work well for some people, but I handle them badly. Which means I have to choose: is $50/year worth a headache for me?
Luckily, the Direct Loan program has the solution for me. They give you the option of having your EDA set up with a savings account instead of a checking account. This is great for me — I could much better handle money coming out of one of my ING sub-accounts each month than straight from my checking account. As soon as I figured this out, I logged onto ING and set up a new sub-account specifically for student loan payments. If you’re not sure how to do this, it’s extremely easy.
To create a sub-account if you already have an ING Direct bank account:
- While logged in, click “Open an Account” on the left side of the screen.
- Choose the type of account you want your sub-account to be. For this particular purpose (student loan payments), I chose to get another Orange Savings Account.
- Click “Open Now”
- Select the type of account. For most people, this will be either an individual account, or a joint account (if you’re sharing it with a spouse, etc.).
- Give the new account a nickname, so you’ll know what it’s for. For me, this was “Student Loan Payments.”
- Chose one of your linked accounts to pull your first deposit from. I pulled in the amount of my first student loan payment from my already-existing Electric Orange Checking account.
- Read and agree to the terms of service, click Open Account, and you’re done!
(If you don’t already have an ING Direct bank account, I highly recommend both their Electric Orange Checking and Orange Savings accounts. Especially because of this sub-account feature.)
Bing bang boom! The account exists instantly, and I can enter the account information into the EDA instantly. The only thing that isn’t instant is on my student loan issuer’s end – it says it will take 30-45 days for electronic debiting to take effect, so I’ll still have to make my first payment my hand, on my own.
So all’s well in the State of Stephanie’s Student Loans. I’ll save about $50 each year, and I’ll earn a little interest from the cushion I keep in the savings account. The only problem I’ve encountered is with the Perkins loan. Although they allow you to set up electronic debiting, they don’t allow you to do it from anything but a checking account. Boo! And I can’t find any mention of them giving me a discount on my rate for setting it up. So you know what? For now, I’ll just pay the Perkins loan by hand. (Well, by hand online. You didn’t think I was crazy enough to write checks and use stamps, did you?)
*I may pay extra toward the interest on the New Stafford loan during the grace period… but that is actually quite difficult. Because the Old and New Stafford loans are serviced by the same website, login, and account, I can’t tell the system which loan extra payments should go toward. It just splits up any extra payments evenly between the two loans.
Baker @ ManVsDebt says
Sweet deal! I also use ING Direct for my accounts and unfortunately am also paying back a heap of student loans. I need to check in though and make sure I’m not missing out on this type of rate reduction anywhere!
I didn’t know you could do sub-accounts. Is that only with the checking account or can you do it with just the regular savings acct? That would make things so much easier for me. As for the automatic payments, I absolutely adore them. But when I was a poor college student, I couldn’t bring myself to do them because of the worry of running out of money. It’s easier to do undoubtedly when you have a steady income.
You can definitely do it if you only have a saving account with ING. I had sub-accounts with ING before I opened a checking account with them. Now I have one checking account and four savings accounts with them, all under the same log-in.
I don’t know if I’ll ever have steady income, so I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to automatic withdrawals from my checking 😉
I definitely agree with you on automatic debits. I’ve come very close to over drawing my checking account because of them. However, like you, if it were to come out of my savings account I would be fine. Thanks for the info!
Steph it sounds like you have a great plan! I have a small percentage of my paycheck go directly into my checking account. U of Rochester lets you split paychecks to go automatically into any number of accounts. This money matches (almost) exactly the money automatically withdrawn from my account by my loan company. I don’t have to worry about a thing!
Such a great idea! This is pretty much what I do with my car loan. I’m able to move the payments into my savings account when i know i have the money, and then it debits from my ING on the day I specify. I don’t need to be concerned about it debiting from my checking and making sure i maintain enough in there to cover it and any other debits I may have coming out of there!
Good luck on paying back those loans!
The Yellow Piggy Bank says
I am with you on the automatic withdraws. Honestly, I don’t understand why anyone need to automatically withdraw from someone elses account. Some people like this and it should be offered, but it should not be the only way to pay. My gym requires automatic withdraw.
If you send an extra payment find out if you can have it go to your principle
Thanks Stephanie. I did it. So nice to be able to separate savings goals from each other. I have my personal Emergency Fund and Vacation Fund now on different sub-accounts.
How about setting up automatic transfers via ING to move the payment amount from your savings account to your checking account each month, a few days before the EDA? Simple, automatic, and effectively pays the loan “from your savings account” without them even realizing!
Not bad advice; personally, I’m a huge fan of automatic withdraws, but I usually have a steady income and expenses, making things a bit easier on me than on many other people. Excellent walk-through, though.
Pierre Raymond says
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