Paying for College through Friends and Family

by Admin 29. July 2008

I just read online that two major colleges increased their Fall 2008 tuition by almost 10%. For many of us, paying for college is a struggle, especially in the midst of shaky economic times. Some options are financial aid and government loans, borrowing from family, or if you are like me, going into some major credit card debt; I highly recommend not using the last option…trust me.

Looking further into possible options I Stumbled Upon – pun intended – Fynanz.com. New York based Fynanz offers students an “open loan” process for financing their education. This “open loan” process is simply a peer-to-peer lending network that allows students to borrow money from friends, family, or alumni of a specific institution, along with major lenders.

To apply for a loan, students fill out an application and create a personal profile, including the amount and interest rate desired. Utilizing 15 years worth of loan data, Fynanz uses that information to give each student a grade and place them in one of six groups reflecting both their credit score and their academic characteristics. The individual lenders – friends, family, and alumni – are then given priority as they bid alongside lender networks to fund the loan. The more participants bid on the loan, the lower the winning rate is likely to be.

Servicing fees will be no more than what other market places charge according to Fynanz CEO Chirag Chaman. There will also be no application fees or hidden costs for the borrowers. For lenders, the attractiveness is in the high returns and performing social aid.

It is projected that these peer-to-peer markets could grow to between $5 Billion and $10 Billion in annual volume within 10 years according to OnlineBankingReport.com. Previously, taping into a homes equity was a top choice for college funding. Now this new form of borrowing could become the best option.

For more information visit Fynanz's website, blog, or get alerts and releases directly from their CEO on Twitter.

How are you planning to pay for your – or your children’s – education? Let us know by commenting below and be sure to check this post regularly; you may be surprised by some of the responses.

Lock in Today's Gas Prices for Tomorrow.

by Admin 25. July 2008

As the owner of an Explorer with a 45 minute commute to work I can empathize with others on the continuously rising cost of gas. Just yesterday I spent almost $70 filling up my tank. What’s worse is that it looks as though there is no relief in sight and prices could continue to rise.

So, like many of you, I have spent a lot of time trying to find a solution that would ease my gas expense a little, and yesterday, I possibly found said solution. A new service from MyGallons.com allows individuals to pre-purchase gas and lock in today’s gas prices for the future.

How it works:

To sign up for a MyGallons Card, you have to pay an annual membership fee of $29.95. Up to three cards can be linked to one account, and the membership fee has a money-back guarantee if you don’t save money on at least one redemption during the year.

You can monitor your current MyGallons price – a fluctuating quote that’s good for purchase of unleaded gas at a particular point in time, including estimated local taxes – and prepurchase gas when you see the price you like.

Purchasing gas is just a matter of visiting a gas station where the MyGallons Card is accepted. The amount that you pump is automatically deducted from your MyGallons account balance, with adjustments automatically made for more expensive grades or types of fuel.

Bonus:

If you pump fuel from a filling station for less than the lower end of the MyGallons range on that day, you will receive a credit, in gallons, or to your account.

Now, for those of you who are wondering how MyGallons can afford to have such a business model...

More than 80% of the prepurchase money spent through MyGallons is placed in an escrow account and invested in Money Markets and Government-backed notes while the remainder is used for financial transactions to accommodate gasoline price changes.

The service is not up and running just yet, due to a last-minute issue with US Bank, the company is currently in the process of negotiation with other payment networks to allow the MyGallons Card to be accepted at most stations in the US that already accept credit cards.

Supporting online customers

by Kevin Lynch 22. July 2008

Click to chat

We recently converted to a new bill pay service in online banking. In the past, this would have generated a large number of calls to our Call Center. However, one of the customer service features available now is online chat. This has proven to be a real benefit for customers who can get answers to "how do I...?" questions in real time as they are paying their bills. Now that the conversion is complete, we expect this will also benefit our new customers as they begin to use the service for the first time. Online customer service has certainly come a long way in just a few short years.



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