Can You Use Student Loans to Pay Off Credit Cards?

MB-one, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You’ve tried everything to pay off your credit card debt, but nothing’s working. Those high interest rates, for one, are keeping you from eating into your principal. But you do have a student loan coming, and the thought occurs: can you use student loans to pay off credit cards? Good question.

Let’s see.

The Issue

You’re supposed to use student loans to defray or pay the cost of your higher education. Still, it’s understandable to consider whether you can use the cash for other stuff, like erasing credit card obligations. 

The bad news is that it just isn’t wise to tap your student loan to pay off your plastic. Why? Well, for one thing, what happens if you don’t have enough funds to cover your education? Will you have to take out another loan? And get in even more debt? You can see where this is going. What’s more, there may be restrictions on what you’re able to do with the student loan.

There are things you should know and do before seriously considering funneling your funds to your debt instead of that Ancient Civilization 101 textbook. 

See What Your Loan Agreement Says

As per the Department of Education, your loan is supposed to go toward “educational expenses.” In addition to tuition and room and board, those expenses include books, equipment such as computers, school transportation and childcare costs.

Darn, right? But wait. If you charge any of those expenses on a credit card, you could ostensibly use your loan to pay them off. The rub, though, is that if you have other, personal expenses mingled with your school expenses, you’re paying for those ineligible expenses as well.

If you have a private student loan, though, how you can use that cash is up to the lender. That’s where your loan agreement comes in, so be sure to read the fine print. Don’t expect any major departures from federal loan guidelines, however.

Don’t Depend on Bankruptcy

It’s nearly impossible to have your student loan debt taken care of through bankruptcy, giving you an additional reason to not use your loan to clear your credit card obligations. What makes it so challenging is that the burden is on you to prove that the loans have strained your finances – a difficult task even if your payments are difficult to manage. Credit debt relief can be messy, but it’s doable.

Note that you CAN discharge credit card debt in bankruptcy. But even if you expect no issues handling future debts, you don’t want to set yourself up for something you’ll be sorry for later.

Using Your Student Loan to Pay Off Cards Could Squeeze Your Finances Later

If you have the option to put off student loan payments until school is done, that makes using your loan for credit card debt enticing. We get it, particularly since such loans have relatively low interest rates. 

However, mixing your credit card debt in with your school debt could put you in a financial mess once school is done. And that’s no way to start your life’s next chapter.

What Are My Options Then?

If you’re in college and have trouble paying your credit cards, the first thing you should do is cease using plastic until you can get a handle on things. You also might want to figure out a way to bring in more cash. Then, you should consider getting rid of your highest-interest debts first, while monitoring your credit scores. 

So, can you use student loans to pay off credit cards? You may be able to get away with it – in the short term. But is it a good idea? Nope. There are other ways to handle credit card debt that won’t hamstring you in the long run.

Report from Louisiana: Hurricane Ida

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Hurricane Ida has finally come and now has left Louisiana, but she is travelling through the eastern states leaving storms and plenty of water in her path.

The predictions for this storm were dire in the days leading up to landfall: “worst storm in Louisiana history!” said one, and “bigger than Katrina!” said others. As landfall was predicted on the sixteen-year anniversary of Katrina, comparisons were inevitable.

As the storm approached the coast, the cone consistently shifted to the east just a little more with every new track. This eventually took my beloved Acadiana region out of danger, and Shreveport, up in the NW corner was never really in danger. We spend a lot of time in Arnaudville and the Acadiana region, and we have a lot of friends there, so we watched the progress with a lot of anxiety.

The storm made landfall as a high-end Cat 4 about noon Sunday; it was hard to concentrate on the sermon in church yesterday. Wind gusts in places were as high as 180 mph when the storm hit Port Fourchon; I read where 28 people chose to ride out the hurricane in Grand Isle. This is akin to suicide in my mind. I don’t know how many of them survived. When the storm made landfall it briefly reversed the direction of the Mississippi River.

The only way to get any reliable news or information yesterday was via live streams of local channels. The Weather Channel was a joke. There was Jim Cantore standing in the French Quarter, braced against the wind as if he was about to fly off while two guys walked the sidewalk behind him sipping coffee. In another shot, Cantore is again braced in the street and another guy runs into the back of the camera shot and turns a cartwheel.  The only positive about that coverage to me was the humor factor in listening to the broadcasters mispronounce Louisiana place names. Houma, Louisiana (prounounced HOME ah) became HOOOOM ah for example. The news anchor did everything she could to avoid saying Atchafalaya and Tchoupitoulas.

This morning as damage is assessed, the Cajun Navy is busy making rescues. Levees were overtopped in some places and people have flooded. LaPlace, Louisiana is completely underwater and impassable. An Entergy tower fell into the Mississippi River leaving NOLA without power; this is expected to be a problem for weeks. It also means that 911 is down.

Damage assessment is ongoing. While some areas are obviously flooded, luckily we are not seeing the massive flooding that we did with Katrina. The damage is extensive of course and cleanup will take a long time. Lake Charles, over on the Louisiana/Texas border, still has not recovered from the triple shot of storms they endured in the last twelve months, the biggest being Hurricane Laura.  Nobody expects this to be fixed soon.

In our area we have a lot of evacuees in shelters anxious to return home. Officials are asking everyone to be patient. There are no sanitary services in most places, no water, no power. The death toll will certainly climb; it is early yet.

If you’d like to help, Catholic Charities of Acadiana has an Amazon Wish List and is assisting with disaster relief. The Cajun Navy is also requesting help. Prayers are good, too!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

More friends gone too soon!

By Christopher Harper

I never really understood why my father turned first to the obituary page in his later years.

Now I get it.

I have seen many friends die in the past few months, including four remarkable women who played significant roles in my youth. It’s worth noting that none died from COVID-19. Although I don’t have any proof, it’s conceivable that they couldn’t get the proper treatments because so much of the medical community focused on the pandemic and not other illnesses.

Lynn Langway served as my teacher at Northwestern University and helped me get a job at Newsweek. She worked Newsweek for more than a decade, rising to the level of senior editor. Later, she became executive editor of Ladies’ Home Journal. Although we kept in touch over the years, we parted company over the 2016 election. I’m sorry that politics stood between us upon her death. https://www.linkedin.com/in/lynnlangway/

Ann Bartsch, the wife of the best man at my wedding, was among the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University—an honor I also held from a far less competitive university. Ann attended law school at the University of Chicago, where he met Doug Blomgren, my roommate in Chicago. 

Ann worked mainly with low-income and elderly clients in Oregon, her home and where Doug also practiced law. She served as the chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Legal Services for the Poor. See her obituary here.

I wrote about two others who died recently in my 2011 book, Flyover Country, which chronicled the lives of my high school class, which graduated in 1969 from Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Barbara Sidlo Hughes was my first girlfriend. We dated in our sophomore year, but she tired of my endless weekends on the road with my rock ‘n’ roll band. 

Upon graduation from Drake University, Barbara became a flight attendant for TWA, where she met her husband, Don. Eventually, the couple and their children moved to California, where she cared for her daughter, whose health issues kept her in a wheelchair much of the time. When her daughter was able to attend college, Barbara started teaching elementary school, where she helped students—many the sons and daughters of immigrants–for more than 20 years. See her obituary here.

Mary Hrdy Kaczmarek was my second girlfriend. We dated in our senior year and later at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. We broke up after two years—a parting that angered Mary for many years. Alas, that divide never narrowed, and I blame myself that we never reconciled. 

She met her husband Norman, a physician, in Danville, Pennsylvania, which ironically is about a 30-minute drive from where I now live. 

Mary first worked as a medical social worker, then helped establish and manage her husband’s medical practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico. See her obituary here.

All of these talented women are gone far too soon! 

Assert your freedom with The Handshake Challenge

After a year or two of various challenges that health officials have come out or had celebreties come out to denounce as dangerous and foolish the time has come for the ultimate in challenges that I’m sure that branches of the government will be loudly denouncing and will likely get me kicked off of Youtube.

The HANDSHAKE challenge.

This challenge consists of extending one’s right hand to another person, and taking said right hand (also extended) in your grip and then moving both hands in unison up and down.

For generations this type of greeting was considered the customary greeting of friendship, particularly among men. It was occasionally used as a test of strength and the unwillingness to shake hands as a sign of peace or reconciliation or approval might even be considered inappropriate:

I know that in those ancient days before March of 2020 a handshake was the most common greeting between men, but now in this enlightened new age of COVID such and action it is considered dangerous and extreme.

In fairness even in that prior privative age there were some cases when it was not considered proper to shake hands, If one was sick , was known to have a communicable disease or if one’s hands were dirty or unwashed such shaking of hands was not encouraged. There were cases when it was considered proper to refuse an offered hand in order to avoid the appearance of approval of said person and or his actions.

There were even extreme cases when said person offering a hand was so beyond the pale that it was preferable to risk death rather than accept it.

All of these limitations are matters of propriety and if any of these limitations are present:

  • Dirty Hands
  • Either person sick or carrying a communicable disease
  • Avoiding confirming legitimacy to a person or action beyond the pale

then it is perfectly proper and even recommended to avoid the Handshake challenge.

But absent these conditions I submit and suggest that the handshake challenge is not only proper but an important if not vital step into reasserting and reclaiming normalcy and to reestablish ourselves not just as free Americans, but as free men and women.

Details here