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John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

Got Student Loans? 5 Tips to Avoid Default

November 16, 2015 12:57 am

Most students begin the process of paying back their student loans within six months of graduation, but rising tuition costs and a tepid job market have made many unable to meet the terms of repayment. If this is the case for you, it’s important to consult with your lender about deferment or forbearance, say the experts at the nonprofit organization American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC).

“Student loan repayment is not something you want to put off,” says Steve Trumble president and CEO of ACCC. “Delinquency and default destroy credit and can create problems that follow you throughout your life—making it more difficult to secure a loan or rent an apartment. In some cases, defaulting also allows the government to intercept your tax refunds or garnish your wages or retirement benefits. Defaulting on a student loan is the worst scenario, and it’s important that consumers speak to their lenders before it gets to that point.”

Depending on their line of work or financial situation, a student may be eligible for student loan forgiveness. In order for a loan to be discharged, the borrower must be experiencing circumstances beyond their control.

To better manage repayment of your student loans and avoid default, ACCC recommends:

1. Understanding your loans and loan agreements – It is important to understand the types of student loans you have, the variety of student loan repayment options available, and different programs offered to federal and private loan borrowers. Read your promissory note, which is a legal document. 

2. Making payments on time – Making payments on time is not only the best way to avoid default and eventually pay off your loan; it’s an excellent way to build credit. Building good credit will help when it comes time to make a big purchase, such as buying a house. 

3. Creating a budget – Create a post-college budget that includes all expenses, from credit card payments to utilities and groceries. By creating a budget and sticking to it, you can ensure enough savings to be able to pay your loans on time. 

4. Keeping good records and tracking your loans – Track all payment schedules and keep a paper record of every monthly payment. Utilize the ability to manage your loans online in order to stay up to date. 

5. Addressing any financial challenges quickly – If you’re having trouble making your monthly payment, don’t wait to address the problem. Research your options and talk to your lender. A borrower is usually considered in default if he or she has failed to make a loan payment for 270 days or more. Don’t let it get to that point. You may be able to switch repayment plans, consider an income-driven repayment plan, change a payment due date, or secure a deferment or forbearance.

Source: ACCC

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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On Thin Ice: Are Trees on Your Property Susceptible to Breakage?

November 16, 2015 12:57 am

If temperatures routinely dip below freezing in your area, you’ve likely witnessed the impact ice can have on your property. Ice-covered trees, in particular, are susceptible to breakage from the added weight. But how can you know which of your trees are more likely to give in?

“There are a number of growth features that increase a tree species’ susceptibility to breakage in ice storms,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “Among them are included bark, decaying or dead branches, increased surface area of lateral (side) branches, broad crowns or imbalanced crowns, and fine branch size.”

Included bark results from in-grown bark in branch junctions. This is a weak connection and increases the likelihood of branch breakage under ice-loading conditions.

Decaying or dead branches are already weakened and have a high probability of breaking when loaded with ice. The surface area of lateral branches increases as the number of branches and the broadness of the crown increase. With an increased surface area, more ice can accumulate on lateral branches; the greater ice load results in greater branch failure.

Many broad-leafed tree species, when grown in the open, form broad crowns (decurrent branching), increasing their susceptibility to ice storms. Examples include Siberian elm, American elm, hackberry, green ash, and honey locust. Trees with imbalanced crowns are also more susceptible to ice damage. In general, susceptibility can vary greatly depending on the time of year, geographic location and overall health of the tree.

When planting a new tree in your yard, you should have a clear understanding of the size that tree is expected to grow. Is it too close to the house? The overhead wires? The sidewalk? Proper tree placement, away from structures, will reduce property damage.

Trees should not be planted in locations where growth will interfere with above-ground utilities—branches that grow into power lines and fail during ice storms create power outages and safety hazards. Trees pruned regularly from a young age should be more resistant to ice storms as a result of removal of structurally weak branches, decreased surface area of lateral branches and decreased wind resistance. Professional arborists can install cables and braces to increase a tree’s tolerance to ice accumulation in situations where individual trees must be stabilized to prevent their failure.

After storm damage has occurred, hazardous trees and branches require immediate removal to ensure safety and prevent additional property damage. Trees that can be saved should have broken branches properly pruned to the branch collar. Loose bark should be cut back only to where it is solidly attached to the tree. A split fork can be repaired through cabling and bracing.

Tree species resistant to ice damage can be planted to reduce tree and property damage from ice storms. Common trees and their levels of susceptibility* include:

Resistant
• American sweetgum
• Arborvitae
• Black walnut
• Blue beech
• Catalpa
• Eastern hemlock
• Ginkgo
• Ironwood
• Kentucky coffee tree
• Littleleaf linden
• Norway maple
• Silver linden
• Swamp white oak
• White oak

Semi-Resistant
• Bur oak
• Eastern white pine
• Northern red oak
• Red maple
• Sugar maple
• Sycamore
• Tuliptree
• White ash

Susceptible
• American elm
• American linden
• Black cherry
• Black locust
• Bradford pear
• Common hackberry
• Green ash
• Honey locust
• Pin oak
• Siberian elm
• Silver maple

*Sources: University of New Hampshire; University of Illinois; United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service; New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development

Source: TCIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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