Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is seen as the Holy Grail of technology. It is being explored as a way to solve the many complex problems facing humanity. What makes artificial intelligence attractive is that it combines incredibly fast computational power with intuitiveness that was previously only available with human involvement.

AI stock signals is being used in financial markets. Many believe that artificial intelligence will soon crack the proverbial code of the markets, taking advantage of big data and machine learning.

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Stafford Student Loans

Stafford loans are part of the FFELP (Federal Family Education Loan Program) established by Congress in 1965 to supply financial aid to students. Originally intended to cover those ‘in need’ where the quotes indicate that the definition was somewhat loose even then, it rapidly expanded. Today, Stafford loans provide over 90% of the more than $50 billion dollars distributed every year within the various FFELP categories.

One way the definition of need was quickly broadened was to create two different kinds of Stafford loan: subsidized and unsubsidized.

In the first case, the Federal Government pays any interest that would normally accrue from the time the loan is originated until payments begin. Normally, no payments are due while the student is in school half-time or more, and for a six-month grace period after leaving. Students can request payments to begin earlier.

Since the interest is subsidized, these loans are generally need-based, meaning that aid officials look to student and family income in deciding whether the student qualifies. A number called the EFC (Expected Family Contribution) is used, by examining income information provided on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application.

About two-thirds of all subsidized Stafford loans are provided to students whose parents have an Adjusted Gross Income of under $50,000 per year. Another 25% are awarded to those in the $50-100,000 per year range. But the definition of ‘needy’ is indeed flexible, since slightly less than 10% of subsidized loans are granted to students whose combined family income is over $100,000.

For those students who don’t qualify for subsidized loans, most will be eligible for an unsubsidized Stafford loan. Keep in mind, though, that the interest accumulates from the day the loan money is disbursed until the day it’s paid off. Even in the case of a modest $4,000 loan, at 6.8% the first year of interest is approximately $230. That $230 is then added to the $4,000 and interest charges calculated on the higher figure.

Actually, the example is a little oversimplified, since amounts are calculated monthly not annually. The exponential equation underlying it is a little complex, but sample scenarios can be played with by using a loan calculator. A popular one is available at

Since $4,000 is a very low amount as student loans go, the numbers can actually be quite a bit higher. The average undergraduate student (and/or parent) borrows about $15,000 per year in a mix of subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford and other sources.

A detailed breakdown of what can be borrowed by who is available here. Fees apply to fund the loan, so students will actually receive less than the stated amounts.


PLUS Student Loans

With the rising cost of education over the past few decades, reliance on traditional Stafford loans has often failed to cover even the majority of expenses. The PLUS (Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students) loan program was designed to close that gap.

Though the interest rate is higher than other loans, the cap on borrowing is much more flexible and the loans are not need-based.

For the FFEL (Federal Family Education Loan) program, in which private lenders fund the loan, the interest rate is 8.5%. Through the Direct loan program the U.S. Dept of Education funds the loan directly at 7.9%. The difference of 0.6% can be substantial over the lifetime of the average loan. In the first year alone, on a 10-year loan of $25,000 it amounts to approximately $2050 - $1920 = $130 in interest.

For an exact calculation, experiment with some sample scenarios by using a loan calculator such as this one.

With PLUS loans parents can borrow up to the total cost of education, minus any other financial aid amount the student is awarded. Though PLUS money is not cheap, it can make a difference when choosing which school to attend or whether to attend at all.

However, since PLUS loans are not need-based, they do require a credit check. In this case, the student’s credit (with one exception discussed below) is not considered. The parents’ credit history is what matters, since they are the signers of the promissory note. They alone are responsible for repayment of the loan.

In those rare cases where the credit history of the parent(s) makes them ineligible, a co-signer can participate in the loan. A relative or other party can agree to guarantee repayment and take on the legal responsibility as a co-borrower. With the recent difficulties in the sub-prime borrowing arena, however, those cases are unfortunately less rare than they have been. That suggests that in borderline cases, the need for a co-signer is more likely.

Apart from changes in interest rates, another recent change to the program is to allow professional and graduate students to qualify for PLUS loans. The same interest rates and eligibility criteria apply. Like other students, they must be enrolled in an eligible institution and program at least half-time.

Unlike many Stafford loan programs, repayment of a PLUS loan begins right away, typically within 60 days after the loan funds are disbursed. Interest begins accumulating from the time the first disbursement is made. Both principal and interest are paid in regular monthly installments while the student is in school. Payments are made to the private lender in the case of FFEL (Federal Family Education Loan) loans and to a U.S. Dept of Education servicing center in the case of Direct loans.

Be sure to calculate carefully all the costs associated with obtaining a PLUS loan, and look on it as a loan of last resort. Even a home equity loan, for example, might well be less expensive since the interest is tax-deductible.


No Credit Loans

Having a poor credit history is never an advantage. Fortunately for students and their parents, though, there are a number of loan and aid packages that don’t look at credit status at all. Several Federal loans consider only need or other factors, and ignore any credit history entirely, good or bad.

Pell Grants are one of the oldest, and disbursing them is based primarily on the economic status of the grantee. If the student and his or her parents are a low-income family, Pell Grants are almost automatic. Almost. As with any form of Federal aid, that economic situation has to be demonstrated through supplying documentation.

Those in charge of disbursing Pell Grants use a number, called EFC (Expected Family Contribution), to decide whether to give the money. Other factors also come into play (such as the cost of tuition and more), providing a rounded picture.

The grant is a gift, not a loan and is currently a maximum of $4,050 per year. That may seem like a substantial sum, and it certainly helps a great deal. But with annual tuition upwards of $5,000-$10,000 or more it doesn’t cover everything.

Most students, therefore, will want to seek a loan in addition to a Pell Grant to fund their education. There are many that are similarly need-based. One of the most common are Stafford Loans, which come in two types.

The first type of Stafford Loan, and the most desirable, is called ’subsidized’. The term comes from the fact that the government pays any interest that accrues during the period the loan is not being repaid. That period is typically while the student is carrying a half-time or greater load of classes, and for the first six months after leaving school.

The second type is ‘unsubsidized’ in which the student is responsible for any interest on the outstanding principle. If paid in installments while attending classes, it may be modest. A $4,000 loan paid over 120 months carries a monthly payment of $42.43 at a 5% interest rate. The interest portion is roughly $9 per month. If it accrues unpaid over several years, though, it can add a substantial amount to the total repayment after graduation. Any unpaid amount gets added to the prinicple, with the interest rate applied to the total.

The advantage, however, of the second type is that they are almost always available to any student. In most cases, they won’t cover more than about 25%-40% of the total costs, so students will need to supplement the loan with other sources of funds.

Limits range from $2,625 ($3,500 starting July 1, 2020) the first year, rising to $5,500 for the 3rd and 4th years, for dependent undergraduate students. Independent students can borrow up to $10,500 per year. Graduate students may borrow up to $18,500 ($20,500 starting July 1, 2020), with a total of $138,500 over the lifetime of the education.

A detailed breakdown is available at here and here. Fees apply (up to 4%) to fund the loan, so students will actually receive less than the stated amounts.

Perkins Loans are another type of ‘no credit required’ student loan. A low interest rate loan (currently 5%), it allows dependent undergraduate students to borrow up to $4,000, with a cap of $20,000 total. Details are available at here.


Private Student Loans

Many of the common Federal student loan programs require no credit check and provide substantial sums for financial aid. Unsubsidized loans, in which any interest accrued while the student is in school making satisfactory progress, are among the most desirable.

But these programs are need based and often carry other criteria that make it difficult to qualify. Even when students (and parents) do qualify, the loans only cover a portion of the total cost of education, in many cases. When students and their parents find themselves in that situation, they can turn to private loans to make up the difference.

Private loans, too, have pros and cons, however. A credit check is almost universally required. For those with a good credit history that’s no problem. But ‘good’ is a relative term and if it isn’t good enough, borrowers will find themselves paying higher than optimal interest rates.

Beyond the stated interest rate, there are other financial implications of private loans. Fees are often tacked on (or, rather taken off) nominal loan amounts. A relatively modest loan of $4,000 may easily have 4% in fees applied prior to distribution. That means $160 of the total is never seen by the borrower, but must be repaid. As a rough guide, every 3% of fees is equivalent to an additional 1% on top of the stated interest rate.

Private loans do have certain advantages, however.

The obvious one was alluded to above: the funds are available. Private lenders exist to make a profit on the interest and fees they charge. They have an interest in making money available to borrowers. As a consequence, they will work very hard to ensure that every applicant qualifies. Federal lenders, on the other hand, have an inflexible set of criteria and there is typically no real appeal if your application is denied.

Not having to deal with that impersonal, often illogical, bureaucracy is another advantage of private loans. Lenders maintain customer service departments that, though understaffed, exist to answer questions so that customers can get answers. Federal loan programs typically have contacts and help available as well. But the answers one gets are hit or miss in terms of quality.

But many other practical considerations apply that make private loans desirable.

Neither students nor parents have to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid) form(s), nor supply the same supplemental documentation. Private loan applications tend to be simpler and the whole process easier. But, fees and interest rates may be higher or lower depending on the individual program.

The most desirable private loans will have no fees and interest rates that are about equal to the prime rate ?1%. The ‘prime rate’ is the rate banks charge one another or their largest, most favored customers. Getting a rate at prime is a good deal, getting a rate at 1% below prime is a great deal. But be sure to check for any fees. As described above, fees can substantially add to the total cost of the loan.

To get that type of loan it’s usually necessary to have a great credit history and/or get a loan with a co-signer who has excellent credit. That situation may or may not apply to you. The only way to know for sure what is available is to dig into the specifics. One great place to start is to look at the table on a site such as

Use a loan calculator, such as that available at to run through some sample scenarios, once you have some figures in hand. Be sure to include all the actual costs over the lifetime of the loan, to get a picture of the real cost.


Subsidized and Unsubsidized Student Loans

Obtaining student aid can be more complicated than playing the stock market. There are literally hundreds of possible scholarships, loan programs and other forms of assistance. But for the overwhelming majority a Federal student loan program is the most likely source of funds to help pay for school.

Most of that money loaned is associated with one of only half a dozen programs. Stafford (for students) and PLUS (for parents) with a couple of variations cover most circumstances. But beyond the program names/types themselves, there are two common categories that those seeking funding should be aware of. Which you choose can have a substantial financial impact down the road.

The two categories are: subsidized and unsubsidized college student loans. Students generally make no payments on either type until six months after leaving school whether they graduated or not. But because of the fact that interest amounts are calculated on the outstanding principle (the loan amount), it can add up to a substantial sum over a period of years.

Subsidized loans are a type in which the government pays on behalf of the student any interest accumulated on the loan during the years attended. Neither the student nor any co-signer, such as parents, accumulate interest on the principle while the student is in school. The clock only starts ticking six months after leaving.

Unsubsidized loans are the opposite. Though payments may or may not be due during school years, the interest is calculated from the day the loan is funded. Even at a modest amount, say $1,000, at 6% per year a student can incur an additional debt of $60 the first year. That doesn’t sound like much, but that $60, if left unpaid is added to the principle. The following year the interest is %6 of $1,060 or $63.60.

The example is greatly oversimplified, since interest is calculated monthly not annually and so the amount actually rises much faster, in fact exponentially. The interest amounts are typically much larger, too, since loan amounts can easily be 20 times or more than the example. A simple loan calculator will allow the prospective borrower to run through some sample scenarios.

Many loans are a mixture of subsidized and unsubsidized and funds may come partly from a Stafford loan, partly from a PLUS loan, or a number of other possible types and sources. Some students may not qualify for certain Federal student loans, because of parents’ income or other reasons. In that case, private loans and other funding sources have to be relied on.

The only way to know for sure is to fill out the standard FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application, available at:

Using that, in conjunction with the required accompanying documentation - showing parents and student income, credit histories, current debt loads and other information - loan officers make a decision about whether or not to grant the loan.

Most students will qualify for at least some aid.


Life Insurance Companies

The list of top life insurance companies is quite exhaustive, and it would require a lot of searching to nail down each and every one. Most people generally settle for the ten most popular life insurance companies, and make their choice from among these. Some of the better known life insurance companies include AAA Life Insurance Company, Lincoln Benefit Life Company, Allstate Life Insurance Company, the Prudential Insurance Company of America, New York Life Insurance Company and many more.

Allstate Is the Largest Publicly Held Personal Lines Insurance Company in USA

If you really want to do business with the country’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer then the Allstate Corporation may be your best bet. It is a Fortune 100 company that has one hundred and fifty-six billion dollars worth of assets, and thirteen lines of insurance including life insurance. Allstate will also give you the backing of 70,000 professional employees that help to serve its more than 17 million households. Allstate is without a doubt a leading life insurance company in America.

A good life insurance company should ensure that the insured is given long-term benefits as well as also provide them security, and protect them from unforeseen circumstances. A company such as New York Life provides long term insurance and not the more usual quarter-to-quarter orientation of most investment companies.

New York Life has been around for more than a century and its financial strength is quite unquestionable, and its investment strategies have been proven over that time so that it is in a position to provide consistent value as well as solid financial protection to its clients. It was the first American life insurance company to pay a cash dividend to policyholders way back in the middle 1800s, and this tradition has been built upon culminating in enhanced product lines and diverse portfolios that address the customer’s needs in the best possible manner.

Good life insurance companies such as New York Life owe a part of their success to their agents who are vital in convincing customers, and who no doubt, contribute greatly to their growing customer base. These agents are able to understand customer needs and provide them with products such as those offered by New York Life to give fruition to their aims and objectives.

Good life insurance companies are able to provide strong financial security to their customers, and if you want the best, then you can think of companies such as Allstate, New York Life and Prudential Insurance for your life insurance requirements.