VT Nonprofit Lender Mulls Life After End of Student Loan Program

The Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) was established in 1965 as a public nonprofit agency designed to oversee the issuing of federal education loans to Vermont students. But with the sweeping reforms to the federal student loan program that were passed in 2009, bundled in with the national health care reform bill, VSAC and agencies like it were stripped of their ability to originate new federal education loans.

As of July 1, 2010, all federal parent and college loans are now provided to borrowers directly by the U.S. Department of Education, and VSAC is now facing a staff reduction of nearly two-thirds as it tries to find ways to survive in the age of the Federal Direct Student Loan Program.

The agency had been a lender in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), which was discontinued as part of the federal college loan reforms. As part of its lending functions under the FFEL program, VSAC acted as both a lender and servicer of federal college loans.

Under the new world order, with FFELP disbanded, VSAC can still manage (i.e., “service”) all the college loans it had issued in the past, but the agency is no longer able to issue new loans.

Revenues from the repayment of issued loans were used to fund new student loans as well as ongoing financial aid and student loan education programs, so the agency faces a revenue reduction of about 90 percent as its existing loans are repaid.

VSAC still issues a small number of private student loans, non-federal loans funded by VSAC rather than by the Department of Education, but the agency is looking for a new role with the Direct Loan program.

VSAC recently submitted a proposal to the Education Department to service more than the current statutory maximum of 100,000 federal education loans. Under the proposal, the agency is seeking permission to service the student loans of all Vermont students and all non-resident students enrolled at Vermont colleges and universities. Under the new Direct Loan program rules, only four organizations have been authorized so far by the Education Department to service more than the allotted 100,000 federal student loans.

Even if VSAC’s proposal is approved, however, the revenue from servicing the federal direct loans would bring in only a fraction of the revenue the agency once earned as a lender in the FFEL program.

VSAC is also asking the Vermont state legislature to help underwrite its administrative costs by allowing the agency to divert about 7 percent of its $21 million state appropriation from need-based grants and scholarships for students to the agency itself. VSAC is also asking legislators to allow its private student loan borrowers to deduct up to $500 of the interest on its private student loans from their state taxes.

The agency’s future role is unclear and is likely to remain that way until at least April, while it waits for a determination on the expanded servicing of federal college loans made through the Direct Loan program. The state legislature is likely to render a decision more quickly.

But even with its private student loan portfolio, a favorable decision on student loan servicing from Washington, and additional support from the Vermont legislature, VSAC will still need to reduce its budget by about 10 percent a year for the next three years in order to remain solvent.

The agency, which currently employs about 300 people, has already cut about 60 positions through attrition. If the added student loan servicing work doesn’t materialize and legislators don’t agree to support the agency’s administrative costs and financial aid counseling and outreach work, the agency will likely reduce its staff by an additional 200 positions before the start of the next fiscal year.

college loans

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4 Things Contractors Should Know About Contractors Insurance

Any company involved in construction work, building maintenance or installation and repair services is in need of contractors insurance. Contractors will be ill-advised to forego contractor insurance in a climate of high crime statistics, unpredictable weather conditions, negligent workers, faulty equipment, defective substances and a million and one other thing that can go wrong in the contracting business.

There is also an ever-growing propensity to be held responsible and accountable for damages caused to third parties. Think about it this way: Insurance premiums cost a mere fraction of stolen materials, damaged projects or compensating agents or third parties for losses incurred through the negligence of workers or the forces of nature beyond anyone's control. By having the conviction and foresight to take out builders' insurance, contracting businesses are safeguarding themselves against possible losses and lawsuits that could end up by severely crippling the company financially or, in the worst case scenario, even bankrupting it. A contractor's policy actually costs very little in terms of premiums and is worth its weight in gold.

The basics of builder's insurance

1. Builders' Risk Coverage (also known as construction coverage)

Builders' risk insurance indemnifies the contractor for losses or damages to a building while the building is under construction. Insurance usually covers the building for a specific time period and applications only while the building is under construction. This type of insurance typically covers fire damage and vandalism. The policy may also include materials in transit to the building site as well as materials and equipment stored on site. Tools, equipment, vehicles, materials and any other assets used on site may also be covered. For the amount of protection it affords (and the peace of mind that goes with it) builder's risk insurance is reliably inexpensively (as against general liability insurance).

2. Insuring Materials on site and in transit

Given the cost of modern building materials, it is common practice for constructors to insure their materials either on site or while in transit. However, the onus is on builders to make sure that all reasonable precautions are in place to protect materials from theft or storm damage as much as possible. This coverage can also include materials stolen in transit due to the vehicle being hijacked while en route to the building site.

3. The most common insurance claims made by contractors

The most frequent claims made by contractors entail materials theft, damaged materials while in transit, storm damage, or surrounding properties being damaged while construction is in progress.

4. Most expensive Claims

The most costly claims most commonly filed by contractor are usually damages caused by third parties and their properties due to the contractor's "negligence" for example, materials being blown off structures in storms or high winds and landing on nearby cars or buildings. Also damage caused to existing underground pipes or cables. Other high claims are damages caused by fire, rainwater damage to structures, lightning damage or severe storm damage. All these liabilities can be covered by an All Risks contractor's policy.

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End Your Speech With a Punchline!

Have you ever been to a talk and were left feeling flat – like the speaker left you wanting more? On the other hand, have you been to a presentation where the speaker left you inspired, wanting more and excited to sign up for whatever they had to offer?

I’m willing to bet that the way the speaker ended their speech made a big difference.

Beginnings and endings are important! How often have you heard a speaker that has a great opening and by the time they get to the ending they fizzle out? Speakers sometimes get to the end of their time and have no idea how to end their speech so they ramble on or just thank their audience. To be remembered, I strongly encourage you to finish your speech with a joke, a pithy phrase, a quote that you want the audience to tuck away in their mind as something memorable. Always leave the audience on an upbeat note.

One of the mistakes often made is when speakers spend all their time on the beginning of their speech and give very little attention to their ending – reverse that and you will notice the difference. Spend at least 10% of your speech time on your conclusion and tying your earlier points together. For example: with a 30 minute speech use 5 min on the opening, 15 minutes on content and 10 minutes on the wrap up and ending.

Consider some of the speakers that you have listened to – which ones do you remember the most? Usually the ones with compelling endings to their speech. What did they use to end their speech? A joke? A funny story? A memorable quote?

Consider some of the speakers that you have listened to – which ones do you remember the most? Usually the ones with compelling endings to their speech. What did they use to end their speech? A joke? A funny story? A memorable quote?

5 Reasons to use a Powerful Speech Ending:

  • A powerful ending sends your audience off with excitement and purpose.
  • A powerful ending is a sign to the audience that they may now applaud.
  • A powerful ending gives your DJ a clear sign to start the exit music.
  • A powerful ending keeps you top-of-mind longer.
  • A powerful ending motivates your audience to take action.

If you include a powerful call to action in your powerful ending, the audience will be running to the back of the room with their wallets out to buy your product or sign up for your program.

If you have a powerful ending, the audience will keep that in mind as they leave. Use your final words to turn your audience to your point of view and tell them what action you’d like them to take next. End your speech by using motivational words that inspire your audience to stand and applaud.

As Mark Twain said: “The difference between a word and the RIGHT word is like the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

Be the lightning!

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Bank Business Loan – Is A Bank Business Loan the Answer?

It is a fact that at one point in time or another nearly all entrepreneurs need a bank business loan, either to start up the enterprise, expend it, or to bridge difficult times when the consumer turns fickle. Of the many lenders and types of loans available, a bank business loan will probably be the best bet for starting the venture. A bank business loan is often the best way to establish and maintain your venture's credit rating, if it is fastidiously repaid.

But, if you are experiencing financial problems, is a bank business loan a good idea to use to get current on the debts? Just what is a bank business loan and what is the application procedure? A bank business loan is an unsecured loan that does not require collateral of any kind. It is based entirely upon the credit rating of all of the involved partners; the prospectus or the plan that was developed that outlines the venture, including both the financial liabilities and the anticipated income. You will have to provide well-organized and scrupulous detail, together with a good credit rating for this type of loan. A bank business loan is the primary vehicle for starting up an enterprise and gets a venture off to a good start, however it is a poor remedy for existing financial problems.

It is far better to obtain professional advice on how to deal with your financial problems. The first thing that a qualified business debt consultant will want to know is the type of loans and financial obligations make up the entire situation. If you have unsecured debts, especially a bank business loan, there is quite a bit the consultant can do to make things easier for you to repay your business debt, continue running your venture and even improve your credit rating. One solution that may be proposed is business debt consolidation, which consolidates all of the financial obligations into one account that requires just one affordable payment per month. This has been worked out by the consultant together with all of the creditors who have agreed to accept a reduced payment that is based upon a lowered interest rate.

If the financial obligation is more problematic and either represents a large amount, or has become delinquent, the consultant may recommend business debt settlement. This form of financial relief is aimed only at unsecured loans such as a bank business loan and business debt settlement can be effected in a couple of days.

With either remedy the credit rating will begin to improve almost immediately. When creditors see that a professional business debt reorganization program is being worked out, the business credit rating reflects their approval. However, it is always best to seek help before any real damage is done and to anticipate a remedy before it is actually required. With the advice of a good business debt consultant, any venture can stay on track without taking out additional bank business loans.

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Agriculture Investment Funds – The Best Alternative

In times of a rapidly expanding population, low interest rates, inflation and murky equity markets, investors are searching for assets that will grow in value, produce a regular income, and retain value in the event of a crash. Essentially we need a safe haven for our cash and that is leading many investors towards the agricultural sector as 75 million new mouths to feed every year and a changing diet in developing economies supports the theory that agribusiness will do well in the mid to long term.

There are a number of options open for investors choosing this sector, from agricultural investment funds, ETFs, direct investment into agribusiness companies, or trading soft-commodities such as wheat. My problem here lies in the fact that these investment strategies do not tick all of our boxes. Funds incur management fees, and over the lifetime of a mutual fund, investors lose 80% of their gain to management fees, commodities can be volatile in the short term, and investing into agribusiness companies does provide any level of non-correlation.

So what is the alternative? More and more canny investors, both private and institutional, are snapping up what little good quality agricultural land is left in the hope that as time passes, and the population continues to grow, the land we have will become more valuable in the face of a higher demand for food. We also know that well tilled land will produce an income every year from the growth and sale of crops, replacing the lost risk-free income we no longer achieve from holding cash. Of course, if someone somewhere finds an alternative to food then the value of farmland will fall, but I think we can all agree that we will all have to eat at some point and therefore arable land retains value even in the worst of circumstances.

So how does the small investor source a piece of agricultural land large enough to farm commercially? And how do we reduce general agricultural risk such as exposure to poor weather, commodity prices and quality farm management? There are opportunities for the smaller investor to take part in large farmland investment transactions, either pooling capital with other investors in order to purchase better and larger land parcels, and other very interesting structured vehicles allowing the small investor to purchase a small piece of a much larger, commercially managed farm, with the farmer shouldering the general agricultural risk and paying the land owning investor a fixed annual income. This methodology, provides the farmer with much needed liquid capital to expand operations and invest in the his business, whilst providing the investor with risk-managed exposure to high-yielding farmland, consistent income, principle protection and capital growth.

Where should one consider purchasing farmland? The EU, Latin America and Australia are all investable locations, and have consistently achieved returns of between 10% and 20% over income and growth depending on the location of the farm and the structure of the investment.

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Investing Mining Stocks and Warrants

The Canadian Dollar is now one of the strongest currencies in the world and there have been many forecasts of parity with the U.S. Dollar and as of today, the Loonie is trading at 90.35 as we write this article.

The first and second charts below shows the strength of the Loonie over the last year and the third chart is of the XAU Gold Index. Observe the long term trends in all of the charts.

For investors around the world how can you best position yourselves to benefit from the rising value of the Canadian Dollar?

If you are like many of us, you are currently participating in the bull market in the commodities sector, specifically, in the precious metals, i.e., gold, silver, copper, zinc, etc. If you are not on board this rally perhaps we can enlighten you to some different ways to benefit not only from the Canadian Dollar but also from your investments.

When an investor purchases shares in the Canadian mining companies you are in essence invested in the Canadian Dollar. With the Canadian dollar increasing relative to your country’s currency, your investment is increasing. As the value of your Canadian investments increases, you win again. Thus, you gain from the increasing in the currency as well as the increase in your investments in the mining shares or perhaps, long-term warrants on the mining shares.

The point is, currently investors are experiencing the best of both worlds and we would expect this trend to continue with normal corrections along the way for at least several more years.

We, as investors ourselves, prefer to defer to the experts, Jim Dines, Doug Casey, Pam & Mary Ann Aden, James Turk and others as to the continued direction and strength of the current bull market.

Perhaps you are a conservative investor and neither you nor your investment advisor are currently aware of the bull market in the commodity sector. We believe that soon, within the next few months or within the year, you, yes, you will be investing in this sector, so the choice is yours, now or later.

Investors have many wonderful opportunities for investments from the gold and silver bullion, ETF’s of gold and silver, mutual funds, mining shares and for those investors looking for additional leverage, long-term warrants on mining shares, some of which do not expire until 2011.

As the experts mentioned above believe, this bull market has strong legs and many years to run, we accordingly suggest investors position themselves and not to worry about the day to day fluctuations of the market.

The important thing for all investors is to recognize the big picture, take a position and enjoy what may be the ride of our lifetime.

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A Proper Family Budget Meets All Financial Needs

To say that every family should have a monthly budget is an understatement. The only way to control your family's finances is with a budget that keeps track of where the money comes from and where it is absolutely spent. A budget, or cash flow plan for those who do not like the B word, is a critical part of any family's secure financial future.

For most families a budget is far down the list of things that are important in the day to day happenings for most families. For most people doing a budget is another task for which they have little time to deal with. Unfortunately this is the reason so many families are having the financial problems that they are dealing with today. A budget can also be a divisive thing if it is used as a way to control the spending habits and place blamed for the financial failures being experienced. For a family budget to work properly it must be used as a tool by all family members that involves financial goals and compromise to reach them.

A budget is actually not that hard to create and keep simply because it is just a list of monthly income and expenses that is either either on a sheet of paper or on a computer equipped with budgeting software. The idea behind any budgeting process is to create a balance between income and expenses so that at the end of the month there is money left over to save, invest, and build wealth.

There is no concrete method for building a family budget because each family's financial needs are different. Some families may be saving for a new car or family vacation, while others are more intent on building savings and college funds. Most families start their budgeting process simply by writing everything down on a piece of paper but as their financial needs grow more complex they may find they need the services of a financial or investment planner.

Another thing to think about and discuss is what are your family's long term financial goals and how do these fit into and affect the monthly budget. It is important to consider not only the goals of individual family members but also the collective goals of the entire family as well. These can include such things as putting away money for a new home, saving for children's college fund, building that retirement nest egg, and probably the most important thing for any family building an emergency savings fund to protect against unforeseen financial emergencies.

The hardest part of finalizing the family budget is making sure you have all the monthly expenses written down. Missing even one or two can seriously affect your budget because at the end of the month you will have less money then originally budgeted for. Be sure to think of those surprise expenses which is particularly important if you have children. It always seems that some unforeseen expense pops up around one of the kid's school activities, or they need new glasses or braces, or something along those lines. Of course if you have an emergency fund in place you can use money from this for such things.

Setting up a proper family budget will not only help you meet your financial goals but will also save money over the long run. Not having money worries will make family life better for all concerned; it just takes a little time and patience.

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Role of “Options” in Real Estate Investment

A common question asked by many beginning in the business is; "What really are my options for real estate investment?" Although we do not have the space here to outline all the opportunities here, we can address "options." Options are a little used, but highly effective investment technique in transactions where they can meet the needs of both the buyer (or optionee) and the seller (or optionor). , the legal right to purchase a property at a predetermined price and time. This produces constructive equity in the property for the optionee. As you recall, real estate is a "bundle of rights". These rights can be separated and sold one at a time. Therefore, an owner can sell the right to purchase to another person. By agreeing to an option, a property owner gives the other person the exclusive right to buy the property at the price and terms stated in the option.

The basic concept of options opportunities is that a seller (optionor) can rid himself or herself of the headache of operations, operating liabilities and management activities. The optionee can undertake the unwanted obligations and in so doing can make decisions that will produce greater value in the near future, which in turn will allow the optionee to either sell their position for a profit or exercise the option and simultaneously sell the property to another buyer at a profit.

Typically for an option to be profitable, the optionee must either improve the operation of the property or physically improve the property such that it has a higher market value. Options are not used very often, but are a valid technique for transacting business. Perhaps the reason most optionees enter into this type of relationship is that they can do so for less out-of-pocket cost than making an outright purchase.

In any case, where the needs and wants of both parties are fairly represented and satisfied, profiting from real estate is a powerful way to build equities and wealth quickly. Options, like all techniques, can be used in a small proportion of possible transactions and can produce generous profits. The trick, as always, is to know how and when to use them. Good luck in your career.

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UK Corporations Feeling the Financial Crunch, But Do not Panic As Advice is Available!

Your business may not be a high-profile company that makes headlines every month but that does not mean you can not have the same problems as Northern Rock or Bradford & Bingley. After years of being successful and profitable you may find that your company is currently having financial difficulties and you need more cash. Before you set out to raise more cash any way you can imagine, take the time to speak to a lawyer and discuss all your legal options.

It is important that any business acts early when they start to see a decline in finances. You need to review your businesses cash flow on a regular basis even if you have an accountant or a financial department. Whilst you may delegate the financial process of your company to other people, do not make the mistake of not reviewing the financial statements. Stay up-to-date with your company's finances and you will be able to adjust quickly when financial difficulties start to appear.

If you do find your business is in need of more cash do not panic and start making poor decisions that could jeopardize your business. Whilst it is important to plan for a downtimes and be proactive before the creditors start calling, sometimes the problem will catch you by surprise and you may find yourself needing to take action quickly. The Companies Act of 2006 sets out the duties directors owe a company and you need to ensure that you follow these guidelines. Speaking to a lawyer can help you keep on top of the current regulations and verify that your company is following all the appropriate laws for every country your company does business in.

If you trade while insolvent you could be breaking the law. Whilst you may be panicked due to your company's cash flow problems, it is important to take the advice of your lawyers and financial personnel in order to make sensible and legal decisions for your business. You may need to make some tough choices that require you to change the structure of your business. You may need to let some of your employees go but whatever decisions you need to make you should discuss your choices with a lawyer to always confirm you are following the appropriate laws correctly.

It is understandable to make foolish and short sided decisions when your business is in trouble. If you built a large company from the ground up, you may be feeling that the company's financial problems are your own problems. It is important that during tough financial time you take charge and make arrangement with any creditors.

If you need assistance in negotiating settlements and arrangements with creditors a experienced solicitor can assist you with the process.

It may be possible to sell off the shares in the company or the company assets instead of liquidating the entire company or filing for bankruptcy. You may be able to save your company and rebuild once your cash issues are resolved. A solicitor can help you plan your business future and keep you focused during a very difficult time in your business career.

This article is free to republish provided the authors resource box below remains intact.

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Data Entry Online Jobs Without Investment

One of the most popular jobs that many people do nowdays is data entry online jobs. With this job, there are many people who have helped raise their family's income despite the global recession. It will give you the opportunity to have income while staying at home. The things that you need are a computer and a reliable internet connection. It does not matter what profession you are in as long as you know how to do some writing jobs and data entry.

These kinds of jobs are not always permanent jobs. Thus, the work does not come with benefits like health insurance, paid vacation and the like. When you work online, you are considered an independent contract worker. This means that you are a free agent. You will be hired based on a project and your contract will last until the project is finished. When the required job is done, it's time for you to find another job.

The pay for data entry job is based on per data sheet completed. The cost per sheet usually ranges from 10 to 20 cents. However, this varies heavily on the type of employer you have. It is expected that as data entry workers, you will also do some other tasks like data collection, change documents into new formats or edit images.

The most important thing when you try to work for online jobs is to watch out for scams. There are so many of them online (especially for data entry jobs) because lots of people are into them due to the fact that they are easier to do. Do your own research and find out the company's legitimacy before you give out personal information. Do not be fooled and unknowingly subject yourself to identity theft.

Be very suspicious when a prospective employer asks you for your financial information. Do not give out your credit card numbers or any forms of financial information when an employer asks you. This should be a red flag signaling you that the company is a hoax. Other scam propaganda requests you to send them a certain amount in exchange for a starter kit so that you may be able to start working for them. When you come across these frauds, run away from them.

It is important that in all your online jobs, you only get those legitimate ones so that you will not be taken advantage of. Check the name of the company first if they are genuine or not. Once you establish your work online, success is within your reach. Data entry jobs will no longer be your only option but you can also get a good position online. Keep looking.

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