Copyright 2014

If payday loans go away, what replaces them?

This proposal doesn’t tweak or reform an existing product. This is a complete overhaul of the industry, said Jamie Fuller, senior vice president of public affairs of Advance America, a payday lending chain.

What would replace payday lending is not an easy question to answer, but there are a few scenarios industry experts and consumer advocates expect could happen.

SAME BIRD, NEW FEATHERS: The simplest answer is the industry will survive, and keep doing what it is doing by changing the nature of the loans it provides.

Nick Bourke, a researcher at Pew who has spent more than five years looking at the payday lending industry, says the industry is already making adjustments in the wake of new regulations. When Colorado effectively banned traditional payday lending, the industry moved into high cost installment loans that are paid over a few months instead of all upfront in a few weeks.

There will be fewer two-week payday loans because of the CFPB rules, but the industry has already shifted to installment lending that is paid over several months. There will still be high interest rate payday loans on the market, Bourke said.

PAWNING: Another possible beneficiary may be pawnshops. A 2015 Cornell University study found that states that banned payday loans saw more activity at pawn shops and more checking accounts being closed involuntarily, possibility due to an increased amount of people over-drafting their accounts. But pawn shops are largely seen as a place for people to borrow who don’t have checking accounts.

BANKS TAKE OVER: Consumer advocates and the CFPB have been quite public in saying the best solution would be for traditional banks, which are highly regulated, to take over payday lending. Banks have plenty of locations, easy access to funds, and can make loans at much lower interest rates and still be profitable. But banks have been cool at best to the idea. Payday loans are seen as a risky and expensive. The costs for underwriting and processing them would eat into profits from the high interest rates they carry.

Most of our members are willing to do small dollar loans, but they are not very profitable. Application fees don’t cover the cost of doing the application and the processing and the credit check. There are just fixed costs that you just cannot get around, said Joe Gormley, assistant vice president and regulatory counsel at the Independent Community Bankers of America, a lobby group for small banks.

CREDIT UNIONS: There are already some experimental alternatives going on to replace payday loans.

One program run through credit unions is called the Payday Alternative Loan, where a customer can borrow between $200 to $1,000 at 28 percent interest and an application fee of $20. But interest in the program has been limited. The federal regulator for the PAL program estimates only 20 percent of credit unions provided such loans and loan originations were only $123.3 million last year, a drop in the bucket compared to the roughly $7 billion the mainstream payday lending industry did in the same year.

There’s also a program being tried in Atlanta, run by the credit agency Equifax and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, that will provide payday loan alternatives that would come with lower interest rates as well as financial counseling to help people avoid borrowing in an emergency again.

What's new: Big Q BBQ launches takeout and catering at The Pineville Tavern

  • Levittown's Big Q BBQ is launching a takeout and catering location at its sister restaurant, The Pineville Tavern at 1089 Durham Road in Pineville. Big Qs entire menu will be offered at Pineville from 4-9 pm Monday through Thursday and noon to 10 pm Friday through Sunday. Information:
  • The Credit Counseling Center recently celebrated the opening of its new Doylestown Township office at 11 Welden Drive. Over the past 22 years, the agency has provided financial counseling and consumer debt help to more than 40,000 people. The Credit Counseling center also has offices in Richboro and Levittown. Information: 215-348-8003 or
  • The Birches at Newtown is collecting non-perishable food items through July 31 to donate to the Wrightstown Food Cupboard. In addition, the Food Cupboard also is seeking monetary donations to purchase fresh meat and grocery gift cards. Donors will be entered in a drawing to win a $50 Visa gift card. Items can be dropped off at The Birches, 70 Durham Road.
  • Dr. Patrick Cleary has completed his adolescent and child psychiatry fellowship at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and is accepting new patients at MK Plus in Newtown. A native of Bucks County, Cleary joins the group of psychologists and the practices pyscho-educational unit. Information: 215-968-5151
  • Network Now, a Warrington-based women's business support network, is celebrating its ninth anniversary with a full-day conference, Step Into Greatness: Visibility, Leadership and Growth" on Oct. 5. Speakers will include NBC10 anchor Tracy Davidson, 95.7 BEN FM morning radio host Marilyn Russell, film director/producer Dan Cordle, entrepreneur and author Jen Groover and more. The event will cover a wide range of topics for business leaders, including goal setting, presentation skills, on-camera performance training, online credibility and media relations strategies. Tickets are $159. Information:
  • Newtown Athletic Club's youth program will host Kids for a Cure, a free drop-off kids event, from 6:30-9:30 pm July 8 at the NAC Sports Training Center in Newtown Township.This event is open to NAC members and the public. Donations of $10 per child are suggested and all funds raised will be donated to Matt's Mission and ALS research. Children registered for the event will rotate through a variety of games and activities led by volunteers from Camp NAC and the NAC youth programs team. To register, call 215-968- 0600 ext. 112 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
  • Wal-Mart has introduced Walmart Pay, a secure payment method for smartphones, at Greater Philadelphia-area Walmart stores. The program works with any iOS or Android device, at any checkout lane, and with any major credit, debit, pre-paid or Wal-Mart gift card, all through the Wal-Mart mobile app. To learn more about the program:
  • The Philadelphia Hand Center will open a new office at 2600 Easton Road in Willow Grove on July 13. This is the centers fifth full-service office in Montgomery County, complete with on-site diagnostic imaging, electromyogram nerve conduction testing and occupational therapy. Information, or to schedule an appointment: or 1-800-971-HAND.

Single Stop luncheon celebrates achievements

Nash Community Collegerecently held a special luncheon to celebrate its first six months providing Single Stop services.

Representatives from Single Stop and the John M. Belk Endowment were on hand along with NCC faculty and staff. Southern Regional Director of Single StopSarah Crawfordspoke of the impact Single Stop services have on qualifying students and how NCC will be used as a benchmark for other college campuses. MC Belk, board chairwoman of the John M. Belk Endowment, spoke of the partnership with Single Stop and the opportunities it provides for students.

We are very grateful to the John M. Belk Endowment for the grant to partner with Single Stop to provide this collateral support as part of the Colleges commitment to serving the student to graduation and beyond, said Marbeth Holmes, Nash Community Colleges Single Stop Site Coordinator and Clinical Outreach Counselor.

Utilizing the Single Stop screening process, NCCs staff identifies student eligibility for a variety of helpful resources at the federal, state and local levels.

Single Stop has been an excellent addition to the services provided through Nash Community Colleges Student Wellness Center, Holmes said.

NCCs Single Stop staff help students with the application process, provide on-going support and follow up to insure students are able to access the resources they deserve.

Many students face financial hardships and impoverishment that are a distraction to their academic engagement, Holmes said.

NCC student Natema Drummond gave her testimony about how the services offered by Single Stop facilitate the opportunity for a shift of focus to the learning process and achieving academic success. To date, Nash Community Colleges Single Stop has provided $504,997 in monetary benefits to qualifying students.

Through a unique one-stop shop, Single Stop provides coordinated access to a safety net worth $750 billion and services provided by thousands of nonprofitsconnecting people to the resources they need to attain higher education, obtain good jobs, and achieve financial self-sufficiency. Since spinning off from Robin Hood in 2007, Single Stops outreach and capacity have grown dramatically.

Single Stop has connected more than one million households in eight states to nearly $3 billion of resources and services. To achieve this, Single Stop provides community-based organizations and community colleges with training, evaluation, program support, change management consulting, and proprietary technology. These tools empower sites to provide low income families and individuals with wrap-around services that include benefits screening, application assistance, case management, tax preparation and legal and financial counseling.

Through the NCC Student Wellness Center with clinical outreach counseling, NCC connects students with qualified professionals and community resources who can offer support. The Centers scope of services includes Single Stop services, screening and assessment, crisis intervention, personal counseling, support groups, referral services for chronic care, psycho-education, cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy and more. Holmes is trained to provide assistance to special populations in need of therapeutic support groups such as veterans, single mothers, survivors of trauma and domestic violence, drug abusers and others.

College resources that also provide assistance to students include the Student Government Association, MALE mentoring program, the Library, an SGA Food Pantry and Success Closet providing professional attire for students needing clothing for career preparation and interviews.

For more information about Single Stop, visit or call 428-7334.

With the cost of college rising, counselors advise families to consider all of their options

Newly minted Concord High School graduate Anish Darjee has a few months until he begins his studies in computer science at New England College in Henniker.

Darjee is excited for college, but a little worried about meeting new people; he only knows a few fellow Concord High graduates going to the same school.

"It seems fun, sounds fun," he said nervously. "I hope it's as fun as it sounds and looks."

Many new high school graduates have the same concerns about making friends and what the dining hall food will taste like.

But more are starting to think about what happens when they leave college and get their first student loan bill, which in some cases can be nearly $1,000 a month.

It's a scary amount of money, and the time to think about it is sooner rather than later, education officials say.

"Now they are graduates and they are anxious to be out there on their own, they're anxious to drive a newer car than what they drove in college, and they suddenly realize they have a ton of student loan debt," said Tori Berube, vice president of college planning and community development at the nonprofit Granite State Management and Resources. "Push comes to shove, it's debt. It's a lot of debt."

Darjee won a prestigious scholarship that takes $27,000 off his annual school costs. But New England College, a private school, still costs about double that for a full year's tuition, room and board.

The cost of a college education in New Hampshire is expensive compared with the rest of the country. The state has the second-highest average debt level in the country at $33,410, according to a 2014 student debt study by the nonprofit Institute for College Access and Success.

The same study found 76 percent of New Hampshire college graduates will leave school with some amount of debt, more than any other state in the nation.

Student debt and the cost of college have serious implications in New Hampshire, which is facing an exodus of young people and a growing workforce development problem. Many of the seven candidates for governor have spoken of businesses struggling to find qualified workers to fill open jobs.

"I think it's absolutely critical. . . . to ensure that we can meet these workforce needs," said Edward MacKay, director of the Division of Higher Education at the New Hampshire Department of Education.

Berube and her colleagues at Granite State Management and Resources offer free counseling to local students and families, and are trying to get families and students to think about the cost of college the moment they start looking at schools.

Fellow counselor Jay Hauser said he tries to get some students and families to think beyond the prestige of attending an Ivy League or small liberal arts college and consider what kind of an education they can get without breaking the bank. He likes to say it doesn't matter what bumper sticker you can put on your car or what school crest is on your sweatshirt if you can get a similar education at a lower-cost school.

"I feel the most important part of the college process is the beginning," Hauser said. "It's not just four years of college, it's 40 years down the road."

Cost of college in New Hampshire

New Hampshire students largely attend in-state public institutions. Nine of the top 10 schools in which Granite State students enrolled are in the state, with just one - Northern Essex Community - over the border in Massachusetts, according to a report compiled by the state Department of Education.

More students attend the University of New Hampshire in Durham than any other school. In-state tuition there is $17,624, and add room and board on top of that and you're looking at $28,562 per year.

MacKay, who oversees higher education at the state Department of Education, said there's a direct correlation between the lack of state funding for public college and the high cost of tuition.

The state slashed its support of the university system in fiscal year 2012-13 by 49 percent, or $32.5 million, which has driven up the cost of tuition.

"It provides an additional challenge to New Hampshire residents who want to send their sons and daughters to New Hampshire institutions, because the price tag is higher," MacKay said. "I certainly understand and appreciate that's a burden on New Hampshire families."

High costs have had other consequences as well. Last year was the first year UNH had more out-of-state students than in-state students. Those students pay significantly more, a total of $42,362 a year for tuition and room and board.

MacKay said he thinks UNH has had to look outside the state to help subsidize in-state tuition and pay for new programs.

"Because they're tuition-driven, they've had to look to individuals who can afford to pay," he said.

Multiple ways to a degree

When a student applies to several colleges, there's usually one or two "financial safety schools" in the mix, Berube said.

"For some families, Keene (State and) UNH are the financial safety schools on their list, but for some families . . . their financial safety school may be a community college," Berube said. "And that's okay, because there's a pathway."

The pathway she's referring to is the recently established relationship between the University System of New Hampshire and the Community College System of New Hampshire that allows graduates from any of the state's seven community colleges to enroll automatically in a four-year school.

Berube and Hauser said they see more families considering that option because it drastically lowers the cost of school for the first two years and can allow students to live at home and work a part-time job, further saving and earning money.

With all of the focus on affordable college in the 2016 presidential primary, Hauser and Berube say they see more parents thinking about the cost of college more.

This is in part because they are increasingly in the mix when it comes to private student loans. Since the recession, the majority of private student loans require two people to sign, and the co-signer is often a parent.

Berube and Hauser have seen parents in New Hampshire who have taken on the debt and are facing hundreds of thousands in loan payments.

They advise families to do their homework about loans well in advance of deadlines to apply for them. They also encourage families to apply to as many scholarships as possible to try to offset college costs.

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation awards more than $5 million to 1,700 students each year, and there are many other state and national foundations awarding money to New Hampshire students.

"The education debt of our young people nationally and in New Hampshire is a great concern," said Katie Merrow, vice president of Community Impact at the foundation.

Berube and Hauser admit that the cost of college can seem daunting, but they remind parents that higher education is an investment in their children's future.

"I think that college offers growth," Hauser said, adding that the best part for parents and counselors is seeing kids grow up and develop through their studies, research and internships. "You're giving your students more than a degree. You walk away with so much more."

And they tell parents there are many ways to finance it.

"I think that the message is, college can happen for anybody," Berube said. "It's just figuring out what is the best way to do it long term. What is the most responsible way to do it so that you can be successful in your life, so that you can follow your dreams."

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)

Gardner, Warner, Heller, Kaine Introduce Bill to Empower Student Borrowers - Jul 04,2016 - Gardner, Warner, Heller, Kaine Introduce Bill to Empower Student Borrowers

Legislation would help college students and their families make smart decisions about financing their educations with enhanced student loan counseling for all recipients of federal financial aid

WASHINGTON – US Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced bipartisan legislation to help students make smart decisions in the financing of their higher education. The Empowering Students Through Enhanced Financial Counseling Act would promote financial literacy by providing students who are recipients of federal financial aid with comprehensive counseling services. Nationwide, Americans owe more than $1.3 trillion in student loan debt, outstripping credit cards and auto loans as the country’s leading source of non-housing debt. A companion bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives and carries strong bipartisan support.

“Student debt continues to negatively impact Coloradans and Americans across the country, and that’s why it’s important that students receiving federal financial aid have access to resources, including financial counseling, that will better inform their financial decisions prior to undertaking massive student loan debt,” said Sen. Gardner. “A high quality education provides students with the tools they need to succeed, and financial literacy is an essential component to achieving that success. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this bipartisan proposal that provides institutions of higher education with the resources they need to expand educational opportunities.”

“In January, Senator Kaine and I met with student leaders from 20 colleges and universities across Virginia, who shared the challenges they have faced paying for college and the negative effects of crippling student loan debt. Several of the students had powerful personal stories about their struggles to find the money for college, and how they wished they had had better information about their options when they were taking out tens of thousands of dollars in loans to finance their education,” said Sen. Warner. “And these kinds of stories are common across the Commonwealth. Today, a college student in Virginia can expect to graduate with more than $26,000 in debt. As the first person in my family to graduate from college, I know that if I had graduated with that level of debt, I would not have had opportunities to try – and to fail – with several of my early business ventures. By neglecting to give students meaningful financial counseling when they take out loans to pay for college, we’re limiting their options and stifling our country’s economic future. I’m proud to be leading this bipartisan effort in the Senate to empower students with the information they need to make informed decisions about their futures.”

“Recently, student loan debt rose to a record high of $1.35 trillion nationwide. Now more than ever, it is critical to ensure that students are making smart decisions about financing their higher education. Navigating the student loan process can be complicated and confusing, and students deserve to have the tools they