You’ve received your college acceptance letters – congratulations! If you’ve been accepted to multiple schools, one of the biggest determining factors for your final choice may be the out-of-pocket cost for each option. Along with your acceptance letters, you should receive an award letter outlining the financial aid for which you are eligible at each college.
Award Letter – An offer sent from a college or university to the student that details how much financial support the student is eligible for. The award letter is sent following the student’s submission of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and application to attend a college or university.
Cost of Attendance (COA) – A figure provided by college financial aid offices that estimates the total costs of attending that particular school for a period of one year. Included in the estimate are expenses such as tuition, room and board, books and supplies, personal expenses and transportation. Keep in mind that some of these expenses are not set in stone! For example, your costs may be less if you opt to live in a double dorm room versus a single room; select a smaller meal plan; purchase used books, or do not park a car on campus.
Financial Aid – Your award letter provides a list of the aid for which you qualify at each school. You will let the school know which pieces of your financial aid package you wish to accept. (Hint: take the free money first!)
Types of Financial Aid Offered (not all are available to every student):
• Scholarships and Grants (FREE money for college!)
• Federal Direct Loans
• Federal Direct PLUS Loan
• Federal Work Study Program
Comparing Costs – Unfortunately, there is no standard layout for an award letter, so you will need to carefully look at each offer and be sure you are comparing apples to apples. What type of dorm room or meal plan does each school include in their COA? Do both include the cost of books? Are miscellaneous expenses or other fees broken down and labeled? If you’re not sure about any of the numbers, reach out to the school’s financial aid office for clarification.
Can I appeal the decision for my financial aid package?
Yes! You can always reach out to the financial aid office to discuss your award package, especially if your family’s situation has changed. The following situations can be taken into consideration:
• Recent unemployment of family member(s)
• Medical, dental, or nursing care expenses not covered by health insurance
• Changes in the family’s income and/or assets
• Disability/death or divorce
• Homeless youth
• Parents incarcerated
Need more information about paying for college?
You can also schedule a one-on-one consultation with our College Counselor! Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our College Counselor page to access a submission form and more resources. You can also apply online here.
Amid ongoing concerns about the Coronavirus COVID-19, we want to reach out and share a few of the ways we are here to serve you during this time:
If you’ve been impacted by COVID-19 and need our support, we’re here to help. Send a message through online banking, contact us or call us at 1-800-9863669 to talk to one of our staff members for assistance. They will be happy to go over all your available options, such as Emergency loans, credit line increases, Special Student Loan Forbearance and Skip-A-Payments.
We encourage you to access your account from home 24/7 using SRIFCU Online or the SRIFCU Mobile App to view transactions, check balances, make payments, and more. We’ve made a number of enhancements that make it easier than ever to manage your account digitally.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation and evaluate additional measures to support our members as needs arise.
Thank you for being a valued member.
For additional information about the Coronavirus COVID-19, get the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov or your local health department website.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently warned taxpayers and tax professionals about a new IRS impersonation scam email.
The email subject line may vary, but according to the IRS, recent examples use phrases like “Automatic Income Tax Reminder” or “Electronic Tax Return Reminder.” The emails include links that are meant to look like the IRS website with details about the taxpayer’s refund, electronic return or tax account. The emails contain a “temporary password” or “one-time password” that purports to grant access to the files. However, these are actually malicious files. Once the malware files are installed on your computer, scammers may be able to secretly download software that tracks every keystroke, giving the bad guys access to information like passwords to your financial accounts.
Don’t be fooled: The IRS does not send unsolicited emails and never emails taxpayers about the status of refunds.
KEEPING YOUR MONEY SAFE
Fraud and scams are realities in today’s world. Here are just a few of the most common schemes fraudsters may use:
“Is this too good to be true?” If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Read on for some typical fraud tactics.
- “Buy it now – this offer is only good today!”
- Pay first, before any of the details or contract are provided.
- Offers that discourage potential customers from taking the time to research the product or company thoroughly before purchasing.
- Offers in which a fee has to be paid to receive a large amount of money back.
Extremely alarming or threatening messages – threats of account closure and/or jail for yourself or a loved one. Fraudsters use fear in hopes that people will panic and be frightened into providing their personal information.
Promises of money for little or no effort. “Free” trips, life insurance, lottery winnings, etc. They ask you to pay a small processing charge in order to receive your money/gift.
Buy gift cards to pay for services/fees. A legitimate business will not ask for services to be paid with a gift card.
Email or text messages – claiming to need to verify or update your information. Never send your account numbers, card numbers, PIN(s), passwords, Social Security number(s), or any other personal identification information via text or email.
Love of your life (or a really good scam artist?). Be very cautious when a long-distance romance interest, a relative of a romantic love interest or anyone else that you know little about “needs money” or “has passed away and left you a large sum and you just have to send money to get it”.
How do I protect myself? Here are some ways to protect yourself.
PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY
Never share account or card information. This includes your internet banking login/password, account numbers, social security number, personal identification number(s)/PIN(s).
Do not provide personal information via email. Email is not a secure way to communicate.
Wait to “share”. Avoid posting on social media when you are on vacation and when you will be returning advertising that your home will be empty. Wait until you get back to post those fun photos!
Secure your mail. Place outgoing mail in a post office collection box and not in your own mailbox. If you are going to be away from home for more than a couple of days, have the US Post Office hold your mail. SRIFCU online banking and electronic statements are a great option!
Review your account regularly.
Safely dispose of personal information. Shred any documents that have personal or financial information.
Review your credit report annually. Request a free copy of your credit report at: www.annualcreditreport.com.
If you believe your identity and/or account information may have been compromised, contact the Federal Trade Commission immediately for guidance and to report identity theft.
How to protect your SRIFCU debit card from fraud and unauthorized transactions
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR SRIFCU DEBIT CARD FROM FRAUD AND UNAUTHORIZED TRANSACTIONS:
- Regularly review account transactions
- Do not provide your card number to via unsecure internet or to an unsecure website
- Log off any site after making a purchase with your card or close the browser completely
- Use a specific debit card tied to a specific account for online purchases only
- Track transactions carefully
- NEVER share your PIN with anyone
- Destroy old cards. Don’t throw them in the trash
- Protect your card as you would cash
- Use ATMs in well-lit and secure areas
- Shield the keypad when entering your PIN
What to do if you see transactions that you did not make?
- Contact the merchant immediately to discuss the charge and request reimbursement.
If the merchant will not provide a refund:
- Close your card: Call 800-986-3669 or stop by the branch to request that your card be closed immediately so no further transactions can be charged. A dispute form will also be provided for you to complete and submit.
Preparing for college is an exciting time, but it can also be stressful as you start to tally the costs. College is expensive! Before you get overwhelmed, take a deep breath and take the process one step at a time. How much will it cost? By now you should have received information from your college of choice about your cost of attendance (COA). The COA outlines what you’ll be responsible for paying for one academic year, including room, board, books and other fees. Remember that your true cost of attendance may vary based on things such as your housing situation (a single room will usually cost more than a double shared with a roommate) or where you purchase your books (look for deals online or with used books). How do I pay for it? Now that you’ve reviewed the costs, how will you cover them? You should have filed your FAFSA earlier this year in order to find out how much financial aid you will receive from the government or your school. The government and your college will use your FAFSA information to decide how much financial aid you will receive. This aid will come in the form of scholarships and grants. Start with these options because they typically do not have to be repaid – in other words, free money for college! The next option for financial aid comes from federal student loans. Federal loans come with many options to help you or your parents fund your college education. They also offer great benefits such as fixed rates, deferment, and income-based repayment, to name a few. Still need more help paying for college? Don’t wait until your fall tuition bill is due – now is the time to look into your options for paying for college! For more information, or to apply click HERE.
Private student loans are the final option you should explore. These loans come from a private lender like SRI Federal Credit Union. Our Student Choice lending solution comes with low-interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and a convenient line of credit structure that allows you to get funding for your entire undergraduate career with just one application. By borrowing from a trusted, local lender, you’ll get a fair value loan with the personal service you’ve come to expect from your credit union.
How much will it cost?
By now you should have received information from your college of choice about your cost of attendance (COA). The COA outlines what you’ll be responsible for paying for one academic year, including room, board, books and other fees. Remember that your true cost of attendance may vary based on things such as your housing situation (a single room will usually cost more than a double shared with a roommate) or where you purchase your books (look for deals online or with used books).
How do I pay for it?
Now that you’ve reviewed the costs, how will you cover them? You should have filed your FAFSA earlier this year in order to find out how much financial aid you will receive from the government or your school. The government and your college will use your FAFSA information to decide how much financial aid you will receive. This aid will come in the form of scholarships and grants. Start with these options because they typically do not have to be repaid – in other words, free money for college!
The next option for financial aid comes from federal student loans. Federal loans come with many options to help you or your parents fund your college education. They also offer great benefits such as fixed rates, deferment, and income-based repayment, to name a few.
Still need more help paying for college?
Don’t wait until your fall tuition bill is due – now is the time to look into your options for paying for college! For more information, or to apply click HERE.
Summer is heating up, and you may be wishing you could send your student loan debt on a permanent vacation! Relax – SRI Federal Credit Union can help you beat the heat when it comes to student loan payments. When you refinance and consolidate your private, federal, and even parent (PLUS) loans into one manageable loan, you’ll get the benefit of one convenient payment and could potentially lower your rate, saving money over the life of your loan!* Grab a refreshing drink and your favorite pool float, and check out these benefits: Refinancing your federal and/or private student loans can be a great way to consolidate payments and potentially save money on interest over time. However, refinancing may not be the best option for everyone. That’s why it’s important to research and discuss your options with an expert you can trust. Don’t let the stress of paying down student loans burn you up – your credit union has a cool solution! Visit srifcu.studentchoice.org to learn more and apply. *Subject to credit qualification and additional criteria, including graduating from an approved school. IMPORTANT NOTICE: By refinancing federal student loans, you may lose certain borrower benefits from your original loans. These may include interest rate discounts, principal rebates, or some cancellation benefits that can significantly reduce the cost of repaying your loans. Please review this important disclosure for more information.
Refinancing your federal and/or private student loans can be a great way to consolidate payments and potentially save money on interest over time. However, refinancing may not be the best option for everyone. That’s why it’s important to research and discuss your options with an expert you can trust.
Don’t let the stress of paying down student loans burn you up – your credit union has a cool solution! Visit srifcu.studentchoice.org to learn more and apply.
*Subject to credit qualification and additional criteria, including graduating from an approved school.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: By refinancing federal student loans, you may lose certain borrower benefits from your original loans. These may include interest rate discounts, principal rebates, or some cancellation benefits that can significantly reduce the cost of repaying your loans. Please review this important disclosure for more information.
Are you juggling multiple costly student loan payments every month? Let us help streamline your debt with our student loan refinance solution! Featuring competitive interest rates (both fixed and variable options) and zero origination fees, our refinance loan can help you take control of your student loan debt. Refinance and consolidate both private and federal student loans, setting up one convenient payment and potentially lowering your rate.
Our student loan refinance option comes with:
- Competitive interest rates – Check them out!
- Loan limit up to $125,000
- Flexible repayment terms to fit your needs
- No origination fees or prepayment penalties
- Easy online application and instant credit decision
- Borrow from a not-for-profit lender you can trust
Whether you want to lower your interest rate, pay your loans off sooner, or reduce your monthly payment, we’ve got options to fit your needs. Don’t delay – take control of your student loan debt today by refinancing with SRI Federal Credit Union!
We have a member who is on a trip of a lifetime! It is one of those riverboat cruise trips in Europe. Actually, it is a “barge and bike” trip where you go from city to city on the barge and then bicycle around the various towns, historic sites, and wineries! 10 days into his two-week vacation the barge sank.
Auto Rental Collision Damage (if he rented a car and it was damaged)
Emergency Evacuation and Transportation (in case of a medical emergency)
Lost Luggage Reimbursement (if the barge is considered a common carrier and if he charged the barge trip on his SRIFCU Visa)
Travel and Emergency Assistance Services
Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption
Trip Delay Reimbursement
Note that all of these extra benefits have various conditions and limitations. You can find all the extra benefit disclosures on our website. One limitation that is common to all these benefits is that you have to have used your SRI Federal Credit Union Visa card (debit or credit) for the initial purchase to qualify for the benefit.
I hope this member charged his trip on his SRIFCU credit card!
P.S. This is also the member that I wrote about in a Hello World story that charged a rental car with his SRIFCU Visa – and then went out and got hit by a deer! He was able to get reimbursement from the auto rental collision damage waiver.
When I heard a member say “I had an encounter with a hot engine,” a lot of disastrous possibilities crossed my mind. First of all, “Was anyone hurt?” Not exactly, but there was an “injury.” So my next question was, “Was it a serious injury?”
No – the injury was actually to our member’s credit card; its run-in with a hot engine caused the card to melt!
While showing this card to various employees, some of the responses included “I knew he used the card a lot, but I’ve never seen one melt due to overuse,” and “You can charge anything on our cards, but they can’t be used to charge a shotgun shell.” Eager to get a new card, the member asked us to “light a fire under the staff’s feet!” No need – we have an instant-issue card machine in the office, and we can print a new one on the spot.
This card was recently rediscovered in a member’s loan file – yes, we do clean them out from time to time. Notice how the above card features the old “floating heads” logo, while our current cards display the new “connected world” logo. Cards are now being issued with computer chips embedded in them as an added layer of security to combat fraudulent transactions. If you would like one of the new chip cards prior to your current card’s expiration date, please let us know; we will be sure to fire one off to you.
If you don’t have an SRI Federal Credit Union debit or credit card yet, give us a call, and we will load them in the card engine, yell “fire in the hole,” and burn one for you. Feel free to let your family know this Thanksgiving that they are eligible for credit union membership, where they can get the hottest card in town!
Thanks for your membership!
Steve Bowles, CEO
SRI Federal Credit Union
There have been a lot of changes behind the scenes at the credit union recently. We have a new chip card machine that instant-issues cards (debit and credit) in our office. Chip cards are also known as EMV (Europay/MasterCard/Visa) cards. They reduce fraud by creating a one-time passcode for every transaction and will also improve acceptance of cards in the United States and abroad.
Rick Valderrama (project lead) has been working very hard with a group of members to beta-test the new cards. The pilot program has a lot of moving parts, including new card designs, new encryption keys, a new server and crypto box, and changes to the method of reordering existing cards. The new cards have been successfully tested on a number of different transaction types. They work great and we will be rolling them out soon to all members. If you are eager to get one, please let us know! They are available now. If you see Rick around, say “thanks” for a great job on this!
Get extra cash in your pocket when you bring your auto loans to the credit union. In October, November and December, receive 1% cash back (up to $500) when you bring your auto loan home to the credit union. In addition, there are no payments required for the first 90 days!
Home loan rates are at an all-time low! If your home loan is not here at the credit union, this might be the chance to reduce your rate and your payments! Feel free to give our loan expert, Apryll Held, a call at 714.513.7251 or 800.200.4889 x7251.
Not only are 30-year fixed-rate loans very low, but the credit union’s 5/5 program is very attractive! The rate is fixed for five years and then changes only once every five years. Regardless of your needs, give us a chance to see if we can refinance your loan over to the credit union. (We have home equity loans, too!)
Shush – Don’t tell anyone! We have a super-secret project to revamp our home banking into a “mobile first” system next year. If you would like to be in on this early, let us know and we will add you to the pilot program team. Again, thanks to all our beta-testers! YOU make us better!