The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) California Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds producers that USDA offers interim financing at harvest time to help producers meet cash flow needs without having to sell commodities when market prices are at harvest-time lows. The programs, known as Marketing Assistance Loans (MALs) and Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs), were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill for the 2014-2018 crop years.

#x201c;These are among the many tools offered by Farm Service Agency to help farmers navigate price and market conditions, so as we approach the harvest season, we encourage producers to consider these programs as a helpful option,#x201d; said FSA Executive Director, Oscar Gonzales.

A producer who is eligible to obtain a marketing loan, but agrees to forgo the loan, may obtain a loan deficiency payment if such a payment is available. The programs provide financing and marketing assistance for wheat, feed grains, soybeans and other oilseeds, pulse crops, rice, peanuts, cotton, wool and honey. For eligibility, producers must control the commodity or a title to the commodity until the loan is repaid.

FSA is now accepting applications for all eligible commodities. For expedited service, interested producers are encouraged to schedule an appointment. Other program restrictions may apply, including limits on total payments or gross income thresholds. Consult a local FSA office for additional details.

For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport.

To find a local USDA Service Center, visit http://offices.usda.gov/.

MALs and LDPs were reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, which builds on historic economic gains in rural America during the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America.

For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay) or (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).



In 1987, President Reagans secretary of education, Bill Bennett, published a now classic New York Times op-ed titled Our Greedy Colleges in which he argued that the governments attempts to make higher education more accessible may have also accidentally made it more expensive. If anything, he wrote, increases in financial aid in recent years have enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase. Ever since then, academics have sparred over whether the so-called Bennett hypothesis is really true. Do colleges actually take advantage of all those federal grants and loans by hiking their prices? And if so, are some schools even more callous about it than others?



An Orlando woman thought a big name Florida bank had approved her loan, but then lost hundreds of dollars instead. She was the victim of risky online loans that appear to be from trusted banks.

Action 9s Todd Ulrich found out who is really behind the deals and why getting your money back could be impossible.

Bidguny Tresil found a website that offered to match her loan request with a bank that would approve it.

"From there I was getting several emails about loans, Youre approved, Youre approved," Tresil said.

Tresil said that one of those offers that really stood out was an approval from Capital One Bank for a $4,500 loan.

"Immediately I thought this was a legitimate company. I know Capital One," Tresil said.

Then Tresil was told theres a transfer fee and she had to make two loan payments up front.

The fees totaled $600 and the company needed the payments on a Green Dot money card, a kind of universal debit card you can buy at many retail chains.

She used the card to pay in full but never got the loan.

When she called the company, it just wanted more money.

Tresil did get a loan contract that appeared to be from Capital Ones Miami office.

Ulrich called its number and someone answered, Capital One can I assist you?

Ulrich asked again if this was Capital One Bank, and the man said yes.

Action 9 found that the Miami address really belongs to Capital Bank, but that the bank does not sell online loans for advance fees.

Ulrich said, "You took her money, never got anything. She needs her money back."

The company responded. "Sir, I dont know who you talk about. No one by that name."

Consumer experts said most online loan offers come from out-of-the-country predatory payday lenders who never deliver, or they charge abusive rates.

This company promised a refund.

"The refund will come from head office and she will get money back, the man on the phone said.

Thats hard to believe. I hope you prove me wrong, Ulrich told the man.

All right, Ill prove you wrong, the man said.

Bidguny Tresil first applied on the One Click Loans website that is rated F by the Better Business Bureau.

That company said its investigating how the fake banks gained access to its customers information.



But while borrowers with toxic subprime loans largely defaulted and lost their homes as their lenders recorded losses, borrowers with federal student loans are likely to have their suffering drawn out for years thanks to a stagnant economy in which wages are barely rising, and existing law and Education Department practices that make it nearly impossible for struggling borrowers to discharge their debt in bankruptcy.



Katharine Hebenstreit, COO of LinkCapital, which specializes in helping medical professionals refinance student loans, says they often see very high debt levels among graduates going into medical professions. Some will pay more than half a million dollars by the time they pay off their loans. "It's unfortunate that burden (debt) often dictates the careers they will pursue and have a negative impact on life options such as buying homes or cars."

Jackie, (she asked that her name not be used) who recently earned a degree to become a pharmacist, is one of those graduates with a lot of debt. With help from her parents, she was able to earn her undergraduate degree debt-free. But upon graduating from pharmacy school, she had about $155,000 in student loan debt. 

"I didn't expect it to be that much," she says.  "Each year the tuition was more and more expensive." It wasn't until she graduated and had her exit interview with the financial aid office that she realized what she was up against.

Jackie has been frugal. She lived at home while attending pharmacy school, and that meant she didn't have to borrow money to pay for housing and other living expenses. (She had friends in school who did). 

And after graduation she landed a job pretty quickly. Some of her fellow students haven't been so lucky. "I've had a classmate who had to defer 10 months," she says.

Jackie's strategy is to be as aggressive as possible in her efforts to pay back her loans. "Right out of graduation I set a budget for myself," she says. "Coming out of school and working part time, I decided to keep that lifestyle consistent."  She's still living at home, and in addition to her full-time job at a retail pharmacy, she picks up extra shifts at a hospital.

Some months she doubles up and pays $4,000 to $5,000 on her loans.

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She also took advantage of refinancing to help cut her costs. She was hesitant at first, she says, but shopped around and says she chose the loan with the most competitive rate, a five-year variable rate at 2.18% (which will drop to 1.93% since she chose automatic deduction) for a monthly payment of $2,725. While her payments aren't small, she will save just over $31,000 over the life of her loan, assuming current interest rates. (If youre considering refinancing, make sure your credit is in good shape, since it will help determine your interest rate. You can get a free credit report summary every month on Credit.com to see where you stand.)

Jackie says she really feels for her classmates, some of whom have even higher debt loads than she. But she's focused on doing everything she can to knock out her debt while she's still young and single. Someday she expects to have a family -- and a mortgage --and she doesn't want this debt hanging over her head. "I don't want to be 60 and still paying off my student loans," she says.  

Not all students with student loans will enter high-paying careers when they graduate. And some leave school without a degree. But regardless of your income, if you are concerned about paying off your student loan debt, youll want to try to come up with a strategy to pay off student loan debt, including student loan forgiveness programs, flexible repayment plans like Income-based Repayment or Pay As You Earn, and student loan refinancing. Each options has pros and cons, and more often than not, there is no perfect solution. But using these programs to make sure payments are made on time can keep the loan out of default and protect your credit rating.

More on Student Loans:
  • How Student Loans Can Impact Your Credit
  • Can You Get Your Student Loans Forgiven?
  • Strategies for Paying Off Student Loan Debt

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