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20 states won’t grant or renew a professional license if your student loans default

(FINANCE) If your student loans default, your professional license may be revoked – a hard blow to medical practitioners, Realtors, delivery drivers, and so many more hard working people.

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Student loans represent a significant financial burden for recent graduates, with average loan debt in 2017 hitting $37,172, and the impact of debt repayment at graduation causes many Americans, mainly younger professionals, to delay everything from traveling the world and marriage, and even opening their own business.

Beyond the burden of debt, student loans are particularly tricky because they play by some different rules.

Most debt for example, doesn’t accrue interest while you don’t make any payments, and the flexibility of the repayment options can put borrowers in difficult situations where they don’t recognize their repayment amount. In addition, because the way we relate to the lender (AKA the federal government), the consequences of student loan debt often makes it seem less important to pay.

However, most of that flexibility is limited to non-private student loans. Private student loans have all the troubles of regular loans, with some added bite.

One way that student loan debt is different from other forms of consumer debt is that not even bankruptcy can clear you.

In 1976, Congress passed a law that put public student loan debt in a separate category that can’t be discharged. In 2005, Congress extended that to private student loans.

Not paying your student loans can lead also lead to wage garnishment and tax refund seizure.

But perhaps the most painful and insulting consequence of student loan default can be the withholding of your professional (or even your driving) licenses. If you’re a barber, nurse, teacher, lawyer, psychologist, realtor or need to drive a car, that can be devastating.

NYT uncovered that the following 20 states that allow this include:

  1. Alaska
  2. Arkansas
  3. California
  4. Florida
  5. Georgia
  6. Hawaii
  7. Illinois
  8. Iowa
  9. Kentucky
  10. Louisiana
  11. Massachusetts
  12. Minnesota
  13. Mississippi
  14. New Mexico
  15. North Dakota
  16. South Dakota
  17. Tennessee
  18. Texas
  19. Virginia
  20. Washington

Beyond the damage to credit scores, liens on properties, and the financial consequences, these license seizures can represent financial ruin, and can punish well-meaning borrowers and those who are working on public service loan forgiveness as well.

The most important thing you can do is know your options.

If you have public loans, explore repayment options, explore refinancing with direct loans, and most importantly, communicate with your lender. If you have private loans, consider moving that debt into something more manageable, especially since private loans have no interest cap, a personal loan or a home equity loan can be a more affordable option.

The best way to handle default is to avoid it – and don’t drown by avoiding swimming. Most importantly, get in the know, explore your options, and get talking. And if you’re feeling extra motivated, work with your state representatives and work on getting legislation to help make students loan more manageable.

Kam has a Master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and is an HR professional. Obsessed with food, but writing about virtually anything, he has a passion for LGBT issues, business, technology, and cats.

Business Finance

Ex-PayPal execs launch new payment system, raising eyebrows

(FINANCE) A new payment system has been launched, already causing controversy, raising skeptical eyebrows, all while earning fanfare.

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initiative Q payment system

Have you heard of Initiative Q yet? Perhaps your friends’ Facebook posts about it (or maybe you’ve posted about it yourself, asking your friends to sign up for this “payment system of the future”).

A quick Facebook search revealed several friends (and friends of friends) who had posted “invites” to join the effort to create to a new currency in the past couple months.

Most of these posts contained various iterations of the following description:

“Initiative Q is an attempt by ex-PayPal guys to create a new payment system instead of credit cards that were designed in the 1950s. The system uses its own currency, the Q, and to get people to start using the system once it’s ready they are allocating Qs for free to people that sign up now (the amount drops as more people join – so better to join early). Signing up is free and they only ask for your name and an email address. There’s nothing to lose but if this payment system becomes a world leading payment method your Qs can be worth a lot. If you missed getting bitcoin seven years ago, you wouldn’t want to miss this.”

These posts then included a signup link and a warning that the link would no longer work once the person who posted was “out of invites,” creating a sense of urgency for interested friends.

But what are people signing up for, exactly? The folks behind Initiative Q have explained the economic model behind the currency system, but for those of us who don’t hold an economics degree, here’s the gist:

The first thing to know is, it’s not a cryptocurrency. Second, despite accusations saying otherwise, it isn’t a pyramid scheme, according to Forbes. This is because a pyramid scheme needs money to operate, and — so far — no one who has joined has been asked to invest a single penny. Think of it as a global currency.

Founder Saar Wilf (whose payment security company was acquired by PayPal in 2008) told Forbes, “We want people to be able to pay for a meal like they would an Uber. To use artificial intelligence to allow families and businesses to share accounts. To have an international currency that can be traded and shared without the ill-equipped processes that are currently in place and cost so much time and money.”

The initiative has some skeptics, for course. Some see several hurdles in Q’s way, including meeting government regulations and requirements across multiple jurisdictions across the globe.

So, what’s ahead for Initiative Q? According to its road map, it will continue its membership drive through mid-2019, then begin work on developing an advanced payment network, with hopes of launching select Q locations in 2020.

The verdict?

Initiative Q is still in its infancy. Will it become the global success its creators hope it will? Or will it follow in the footsteps of the thousands of dead cryptocurrency and blockchain projects? Only time will tell.

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Business Finance

7 ways to get your freelance invoices paid more quickly

(FINANCE) It’s easy to feel uncomfortable bringing up money with your superiors, but for a freelancer, it’s more important than ever to bring up the issue. Here are 7 tips to get your invoices paid quickly.

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For many, an awkward topic of conversation revolves around money. Whether asking for a raise or asking to borrow money, people often feeling uncomfortable when talking money.

This is equally, or possibly even more so, true for freelancers who are solely in charge of their finances. Without a system of weekly direct deposit, freelancers have to work overtime to keep their earnings in order.

The issue with this is that clients also have a lot on their plates, and something as simple as a freelancer’s paycheck is common to fall through the cracks. This causes freelancers to have to work friendly reminders into their repertoire.

However, freelancers may not always be knowledgeable of the best ways to keep their finances in check (no pun intended). Below are seven ways to enhance payment methods.

  1. You have to be willing to make billing a priority. Due to the fact that money is awkward to talk about, as aforementioned, many let this fall by the wayside. The best way to do this is to keep up to date with your invoices and send them as soon as they are done. Making a calendar specific for billing can help with this idea.
  2. This second bit dates back to when we were young and learning our manners: it is crucial to be polite. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also increases speed in payment. Using “please” and “thank you” in invoicing emails are said to get you paid five percent faster.
  3. It is best to try and keep a complicated concept like finance as simple as possible. Make sure you are creating specific due dates. This will help to signify importance of payment.
  4. Now that virtually anything can be done online, it would make sense to use electronic payment verses an old-school check. Accepting online payments will get a user paid, on average, eight days faster as opposed to a check.
  5. This is an important notion to keep in mind for any aspect of your business life: be professional. Invoices are often seen by many eyes so it is best to include your business’s logo on said invoice. This has been found to increase chances of being paid on time by 10 percent.
  6. Specificity is urged again in the form of transparency. Make sure you are giving detailed descriptions on each invoice so that anyone looking at it knows exactly what you are being paid for. By doing this, you are 15 percent more likely to be paid on time.
  7. While you may be invoicing month by month, try to avoid sending on the 30th or 31st. Being that everyone, generally, sends their invoices in on these dates, it takes 10 – 20 percent longer to be paid. With everyone sending it at the end of the month, it has a tendency to back up payroll.

The most important thing to remember is that while the topic of money may be awkward, it is your money. If you let a few invoices fall behind because you are uncomfortable reminding your client, this has a way of adding up. Be sure to keep on track with your finances to earn what you are working for.

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Business Finance

Laugh at Bitcoin all you want, but Ohio business taxes can soon be paid in crypto

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Cryptocurrencies are still widely misunderstood, but an innovative Treasurer in OH is making crypto history.

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Ohio. The part of a title of that one Bowling for Soup song, home of Lake Erie and now the first state to start accepting crypto as a form of payment for taxes.

On Monday, December 3rd, businesses in Ohio will be able to pay their taxes in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

It seems like a rather easy process to enroll. Companies that want to join in on all of the history-making, crypto fun just have to go to OhioCrypto.com and then register to pay whatever taxes they want in crypto. There are 23 eligible business-related taxes and there is no transaction limit.

While there is no timeline set, there are hopes of expanding the program to individual tax payers.

Ohio’s state treasurer, Josh Mandel, is the man responsible for the state’s light speed propulsion into the finance future. The crypto program is just one step of many of the state’s bigger picture goal of rebranding itself as tech-friendly. Mandel is quoted as saying, “We’re doing this to provide Ohioans more options and ease in paying their taxes and also to project Ohio’s leadership in embracing blockchain technology.”

I had no clue Ohio residents were referred to as Ohioans, but onto the thought I’m sure looming in the back of everyone else’s mind:

What could go wrong with a crypto tax payment program?

For starters, the crypto market is currently the definition of a dumpster fire. Crypto has been in a nose dive for sometime now. Last November, Bitcoin prices capped off at about $8,000. This November, it isn’t even half of that.

Also, what is a stat going to do with a bunch of crypto currency. The treasurer’s office is not holding, mining or investing in crypto for payments or processing. Instead, the state will work with a cryptocurrency payment startup, BitPay to convert the bitcoin to dollars. But per the startup’s official blog, their open-source Bitcoin wallet Copay has been compromised by malicious code. BitPay says that their app was not vulnerable to the malicious code but that they are investigating whether or not any of the CoPay users had been exploited by the vulnerability.

Ignoring those slight holes in the plan, it is kind of cool that Ohio is the first state to make its foray into blockchain payments. They even have plan to expand into other cryptos in the future.

Never thought I’d say that Ohio would lead the way into the future but hey, it’s been a weird year, so why not.

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