Federal Prison “One Day at Club Fed”

I was making a fresh pot of coffee in the kitchen when I overheard a CNN story about our exploding inmate prison population. This brought back memories of when I worked for the federal prison system in years past. I performed an internet search and found as of last year, 1 out of 136 people are behind bars. The search also revealed that the population is increasing at a rate of 1000 per week nationwide. Total inmate population as of 2005 was 2.2 million.In early 1992 I was working for the U.S. Navy as a civilian “Tech Rep” living in the Norfolk, Virginia area. During that same period of time, my father-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer in the Mid West. Because of this, I decided to relocate back to the Mid-West by taking a new federal job with the DOJ (Department of Justice).I worked for the FBOP (Federal Bureau of Prisons) from 1992 thru 2001. Prior to this job, I envisioned prison as a place where inmates wore striped jackets and turned large rocks into smaller ones. My view was similar to the one portrayed in the George Clooney movie, “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou”. Up until 1992, I never knew of anyone who actually worked inside a prison.Now, fast forward to about the year 1999 with about seven years of working for the federal prison system. While supervising a small group of inmates working inside of an inmate housing unit, I noticed a piece of paper on the bulletin board that had a list of available items in the inmate store. The inmate crew I was working with knew me well and enjoyed working with me on various jobs. I turned to one of the crew and told him, “It says here you can buy Chucky Monkey Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream”? I smiled and said, “God help you guys if Mike Wallace of the show 60 minutes gets wind of this”. The inmate laughed and went on with his work.Our conversation was overheard by another inmate who was not part of our crew. He casually approached me and said, “I take offense to your statement since we earn those things on the list. We pay for those things with our own money.” I turned and noticed this person was extremely well groomed for an inmate. Unlike the workers in my crew who had tattoos and worn faces, this unfamiliar inmate seemed out of place. He had pressed clothes, pasty face, spit shinned shoes and well groomed. At first appearance, he was what we call a typical “White Collar” criminal who spent years of pampered life on the outside.As I turned to respond to this unfamiliar inmate, I noticed one of my inmate crew who was grinning at me since he knew what was about to happen. I looked at inmate directly and spoke in a calm voice and made the following statements.
The items on the list are not basic staples at all. You can buy ten flavors of expensive Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. I also see you can buy many other extravagant things too.
I notice you’re wearing a long sleeve shirt, but it’s 95F outside and very humid. Maybe that is because the A/C is keeping your housing unit a chilly 70F inside. I also noticed last winter this same housing unit temperature was set to around 80F. I can’t afford to keep my own home heating and cooling temps as comfortable as yours nor can most of the people in the United States.
I notice you have cable TV with HBO in your housing unit. I have cable TV, but we decided not to get HBO due to cost.
I notice you have fresh baked bread made every day, fresh milk, coffee, soda, butter, salad, fruit and vegetables every day.
I notice you have free medical and dental services and we even take inmates to the local hospital for medical services we can’t provide for you inside the prison.
I notice you have pool tables, arts and crafts rooms and some weight room equipment that is some of the best made. I also notice that your Gym has wall to wall carpet on the floor for your comfort.
I notice that your Library is well stocked with an outstanding collection of law books, novels and magazines for your personal use.
I notice you have an educational department that allows you to attend GED and college courses at no cost.
I notice that you have a lot of things that don’t cost you a penny. Tax dollars pay for many of the things you take for granted. My point is that the public is largely unaware of what you have inside of this federal prison. My point is that the public would be shocked if they knew you had access to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. I don’t care if you pay for it or not. That is my point.
At this time, the inmate turned around without saying a word to me and walked away. One of my inmate crew lit a cigarette and told me, “You’re bad boss, but you’re correct”. After we completed our work in the housing unit, the inmate I had spoken to earlier approached me again. He told me he thought about what I said and he now agreed with me. He apologized to me and told me to have a good day.In conclusion, I don’t want anyone to think being in a Federal Prison is a good place to be. Losing your freedom to travel or do whatever you enjoy in your life is bad enough. I only spent nine years working for the FBOP and it was an interesting part of my life and an eye opener as to the reality of life on the inside. I hope you find the article interesting and pass it along to your friends.

Taking Advantage of the Best Student Loan Consolidation Rates

When it comes to college loan consolidation, rates of interest definitely have an important role. That is why it is only advisable for would be borrowers to get the most competitive rates as possible in order to take full advantage of the consolidation program.Indeed, student loan consolidation interest rates ideally should be competitive and borrowed via federal or private lending companies. There are simply a lot of options that one can choose when obtaining a student loan consolidation. One way of doing it is by finding lending companies via the internet and then check on their rates of interest.Nowadays in the financial market, there are numerous lenders who are competing to provide services to students. However, when talking about the interest rates, many of these companies are just charging very high rates, which are more often than not unaffordable for these student borrowers.To consolidate loans and obtain competitive student loan consolidation rates certainly is a great help for students into becoming a responsible debtor. With college loans, students have to face different amounts and interests monthly. However, with college loan consolidation, they only have to pay a single amount every month.It is now common for borrowers to obtain a fixed rate of interest which is up to .6 percent lesser than the current interest rates. And in accordance to government rules and regulations, computing the rate of a consolidated debt which is disbursed July 1, 1994 or after involves the average of the rates of the previous college loans that you consolidated. Fixed rates on consolidated loans should not go beyond 8.25 percent.

You Can Save Big Money on Your Student Loan Payment – But Hurry!

Student Loan ConsolidationYou worked hard. You studied late nights and spent hours in the library doing research. You took some grueling exams. Now you’re finally through with college and out in the working world. Everything’s going great, but your monthly student loan payment is huge! It cuts into your entertainment budget. You can’t even afford to go out to a nice dinner or take a trip. You sure as heck can’t save a down payment for a house, and you’re still throwing your money away renting that little apartment. What can you do? There’s got to be a way to improve your situation.There may be a way to improve it. You may be able to save a substantial amount of your hard earned salary every month by consolidating your student loans. Then again, this may not be the right choice for you. “Great!”, you say, “I could really use a way to save some money every month.” If you’re like most people however, you know little about loan consolidation, student or otherwise.Student loan consolidation is a bit different from consolidating your high interest credit card or auto loans. You don’t need to own a home or other real estate to use for collateral for one thing. Your student loans are different from most other loans, they are guaranteed by the federal government. There are two main types of student loans.In one program, the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FELP), students receive money through guaranteed bank loans. This student loan program has been around since the 1960’s and many students have taken advantage of it to finance their education. With FELP loans, the lenders are banks or other financial institutions, who loan money to the student. These institutions make a profit from the interest on the loan, while at the same time being protected against loan default by a federal government guarantee.With a newer program, 1993’s Federal Direct Loan Program, the money is loaned to student directly through the federal government. This is more affordable for the taxpayer because the federal government is collecting the interest and using it to help underwrite the loan program. The loans are actually provided to students by various companies under direct government contract.The interest rates for both types of loans are fixed and the individual school decides which type of program, FELP or Fixed, they will offer. The FELP is more common, as it allows more services to be provided directly by the lending institution to assist students with their loans. There are possible changes brewing. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif, directed the GAO to investigate ways for the federal government to save money in the student loan program. The GAO’s report indicated that the government could save substantial money, possibly as much as $3B a year, by using the Direct student loan program exclusively.Even if changes are made, you will still be able to consolidate your student loans. Why would you want to? You can save substantial money, that’s why. Consolidating all you student loans allows you to lock in lower interest rates on all your loans. The interest rate is adjusted each year, and remains fixed for the year. For the 2006 fiscal year (this year) it is at 4.7% for student currently attending school. This is set to increase to 6.8% for fiscal year 2007. This rate increase goes into effect on July 1 2006. PLUS loans will increase from 6.1% to 8.5%. Needless to say, this is a substantial interest rate increase. Avoiding it will save you hundreds of dollars each month.As an example, if you are currently in school and have $45,000 in outstanding debt at the current rates, you are paying about $471/month. If you consolidate, you could reduce this payment to only about $300/month. There is an incentive to consolidate now, if you can benefit from student loan consolidation. Because of a consolidation deadline, each year there is a rush to get the proper paperwork filed by the due date. Typically congress allows a grace period, so if you have filed the paperwork, but it has not been processed, you still receive your consolidation loan at the existing interest rate.This year, because of the 2005 Budget Reconciliation Act, you may not get to enjoy the grace period. There is a strong chance that if you don’t have the completed loan in hand by the deadline, it will just be too bad. You will still get your loan, but have to pay the increased interest rate from 2007. To illustrate how this can affect you, take our $45,000 example above. Rather than enjoying the $300/month payment, you could find yourself paying almost $350/month!You need to act now! Student loan consolidating may or may not be the right choice for you, but you need to know. The sooner you determine the correct course of action, the sooner you can get going. If you wait, it may just be too late.

Student Debt Consolidation – Repayments Made Easier

It is a blessing for a student if he can make an easy and regular payments of his student loans; this only means his road to pursuing his college degree can be done with a lot less stress and hindrances. However, this is not usually the case for many borrowers. More often than not, monthly installments are not paid late, if not paid at all. Hence, with the number of loans that a borrower has to worry about every month, he has to decide fast and just get a student loan consolidation to take care of his financial woes. Consolidation means merging the old loans, turning them into one cheap monthly payment. Via this road, you find yourself taking care of a much easy-to-pay new debt and at the same time, ridding of the multiple loans that had created for you financial havoc all this time. And with the elimination of the old debts, you are in effect erasing the problem of dealing with the high interest rates that go with them.However, students must be careful about getting student debt consolidation. It should be emphasized that there are two types of college loans, the private and the government ones. If it so happens that you have both these types under your names, it is a must that you consolidate your loans into two groups – private and federal student loan consolidation.All kinds of government loans such as Perkins, Stafford and PLUS Loans should be consolidated under a government student debt consolidation loan. Why do we need to separate the federal from the private when consolidating? This is because the federal loans have lower rates of interest? If in case, they are consolidated together with the private ones, the advantage of having low rates will be disregarded. While your old government debts have different payment schedules and terms, once they are consolidated, there will only be a single repayment schedule leading to a much easier management of your debt. On the other hand, private debt consolidation loan should be employed when we want to merge private debts, and such loan can be availed as either secured or unsecured. Always remember, federal and private loans never mix as far as debt consolidation is concerned.

Free Government Debt Consolidation Loans – Federal Bailout Money to Eliminate Your Credit Card Debt

If you have been in the habit of depending on credit, your debts will eventually mount to unmanageable levels. This is one of the worst problems you can get in that also ranks among the leading causes of stress and physical health breakdowns. It may also lead to the loss of some important physical assets such as your home, job and car. However, the Obama administration has done it once again by setting aside funding that is aimed at helping out those who have struggled with debts for too long. This means that you may be one of the lucky ones who will qualify for this help that will restructure debts and the repayments of these debts. Certainly, you can be sure that this will relieve some of your stressful predicament.You can access online agents of the government who are trained so that they will be able to advice you regarding some of the available options – this will depend on your particular situation. You just need to go online in order to get in touch and you can be certain that you will find a professional who will discuss the options that will help you deal with those you owe. For instance, you can pay off current debts using consolidation plans which will simplify your repayments down to a single monthly payment that you will find easier to manage. With your agent, you will be able to arrive at the best course to take in this matter. Normally, creditors will be paid the entire balance though this balance can also be negotiated to some lower amount.One of the many government services for debt relief is the DOE (Direct Loan Consolidation) program, which was set up as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The DOE can consolidate and even eliminate a large portion of your credit card or mortgage debt. In case several creditors demand repayment from you, this program will pay them off. It will also negotiate a payment plan using some lowered interest rate. Such lower payments and interest rates will enable you to undertake to repay your debt quicker using extra money hence you can be certain that you will soon be debt free. You will also benefit by increasing your FICO credit score, which can save you even more money by lowering interest rates for any future credit cards or loans you receive.

College Funding and Student Loans

Most students do not have a college education handed to them. They have to figure out where they are going to obtain college funding for housing and other needs, and college tuition for the schooling itself. Many students have saved money for college during their high school years by working. Many parents give their children some funding towards college. But there is usually a gap between what funds the student has and what he or she really needs to attend college, whether it is a local school or not.There are two main sources for education financing. One of these resources is federal financial aid, provided for students whose families are not able to afford the expenses of a college education. This financial aid must be repaid, but there is no interest on the loan unless the student does not repay it after the grace period expires.Another resource is financial aid or federal student loans that are provided for students whose families can reasonably afford to pay for college. These college loans have interest attached to them, but at a reasonable rate, usually lower than private loans. There are also private loans, usually through a bank or financial institution, but the interest rates are higher than federal student loans.Some students find that their first student loan did not cover all their years of schooling and all their needs during that time. They may opt to take out another student loan at a later date. That leaves them with multiple loans to repay after they finish college and can be overwhelming. After they finish college and it comes time to repay the loans, the federal government offers to allow them to consolidate student loans, sometimes at a lower rate than the original loans.

Government Debt Relief Loans – Can Obama’s Federal Bailout Stimulus Programs Help Me?

The vast majority of Americans are experiencing the impact of the financial crisis that is currently choking the economy.  As a result, many of us have racked up large amounts of debt on credit cards, lines of credit, and mortgages.  These debts often come coupled with high interest rates and monthly payments which, if missed or paid late, can damage your credit score and result in even higher interest rates.  Luckily for the millions of Americans suffering with debt, the Obama Administration has increased funding to the many government debt relief programs available to help. The types of government debt relief programs offered are numerous, but can be classified into three categories: Debt consolidation, debt forgiveness or debt elimination. All of these government programs are non-profit based, so do not require any type of upfront payment for the services offered, funding is provided by federal taxes and stimulus funding from corporate sponsors.  There are many free private debt relief services also available, so be sure to explore all of your options with a trained government agent before taking the next step.Debt consolidation is the most common type of debt relief program, and works by replacing all of your high interest bills with one lower interest consolidation loan. This simplifies your monthly obligations and lowers your total monthly payments, allowing you to start paying off the principle of your debts, not just the interest.  Credit card debt forgiveness (sometimes called debt elimination) is achieved by negotiations between government agents and lenders to reduce your total amount of debt owed.  By lowering your total amount of debt, lenders receive tax breaks and lower their risk of having clients default on their balances.

Student Loan Consolidation Programs – Do it After Graduation

While there seems to be an urgent need to consolidate student loans, there are really times when to get student loan consolidation programs should be deferred. Borrowers with merged debts might be qualified for such deferment benefits; this actually depends on the student’s personal circumstances. For example, you might have exhausted your privilege to defer on your government debts. However, this should not be a cause for you to fret. Once you merge your multiple loans, this allows you to obtain more options to defer.So, when is the most appropriate time to consolidate student loans? The best time should be after the borrower has graduated from college. For students, their loans will be due around 6 months after graduation. This is the standard grace period, and is a good time for the borrower to get his debts organized and even be merged via student loan consolidation programs.Within the six months, you can perform all that is necessary to ready up your loans for merging. However, the actual consolidation should not be until after six months grace period. With the still individual loans, the federal government should be the one responsible for loan interest payments during the six months. However, if you decide to consolidate student loans with your grace period, you and you alone have the responsibility of immediately paying your loan.Another thing, before getting into student loan consolidation programs, there are important facts that should be known about college debts. It is important to distinguish the private from the federal student loans. Private student loans have a much higher rate of interest than the government debts. This is because the former is considered unsecured while the governments loans are government-backed by the government.This fact only means that federal student loans have a lower rate than the private debts when refinancing. Most students both have these two kinds of debts. And definitely you may refinance them. However, it is a must that you do not mix these two loans. Consolidate these two groups of student debts separately to retain the benefits that one can gain from them.

Non-Student Federal Loan Consolidation

The federal government offers various loans to the citizens of the United States to sustain the rising costs of education and living. Although, there are a large number of lending institutions and financial companies operating in the financial market, the federal government continues to remain the primary source of acquiring loans. There are a variety of student loans backed by the federal government and the most popular loans include Stafford loans, Plus loans, and Perkins loans. Stafford loans are offered to both undergraduates as well as graduate students to facilitate them to enroll themselves in universities and colleges. Many non-students face the difficulty of repaying loans on time, as they may also have to repay other loans in addition to the education loans. They turn to debt consolidation loans as a way out of their immediate woes.Typically, a credit check is essential for non-students to qualify for a debt consolidation program. However, a credit check is not required for non-students applying through a secondary lender. There are no fees charged to non-students for applying for loan consolidation. Non-students have the option of consolidating their loans under the federal programs such as Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL) and the Federal Direct Loan Program or through private lenders. The non-students have to meet the eligibility criteria laid by the respective consolidating companies to qualify for debt consolidation. The private lending institutions may have less rigid eligibility criteria but have higher rates. As a result, many non-students opt for the FFEL and direct loan programs for the countless privileges they offer.Many financial consultants stress on the importance of considering various factors such as incentives and repayment options offered before selecting a debt consolidation company. Most financial companies provide various incentives to encourage borrowers to make timely payments. This form of arrangement is highly beneficial for both the parties, as the lender is assured of regular payments and the borrowers get discounts on their loans. Apart from providing loans, these companies also provide other consolidating services such as credit counseling, debt management and guidance to select a loan consolidating plan. These loan consolidation plans are devised after a careful analysis of a borrower’s paying capacity, the loan amount and the borrower’s credit report.It is crucial for borrowers to verify the credibility of the consolidating company for which they can consult the Better Business Bureau. Many fraudulent companies lure borrowers by promising to provide consolidating services even for a poor credit history. They may charge upfront fees for the services and simply abscond with the money.Some lenders offer principal reduction incentives as a part of their federal loan consolidation plan. Typically, this reduction is applied to the principal leading to reduction in the loan balance. As a rule, all lending institutions have certain parameters to determine the eligibility of the borrowers for principal reduction. The most common eligibility criteria are the stipulated number of on-time payments. Principal reductions do not affect the interest rate in any way.Federal loans offer amazing benefits such as tax-deductible interests and deferment, which are continued even after loan consolidation. As a result, financial consultants stress the importance of consolidating federal and private loans separately to avail the federal benefits.

Federal College Loan Consolidation – Merge Within the Grace Period

When it comes to federal consolidation loan consolidation programs, many student borrowers must know that there are certain deadlines, most of the time difficult and stressful, imposed on it. It is unlike the normal private and federal student loans, in which you can apply for them anytime if you want. But with the consolidation of government student loans, you have to make some important considerations.First of all, it should be noted that ideally, federal college loan consolidation programs should be obtained by the student borrowers during the grace period. During this time, the much lower loan interest rates will be applied. This will help in estimating the average fixed interest rate in order to consolidate federal student loans.Availability of low rates is one benefit that student borrowers get when merging loans during the prescribed grace period. However, if you decide on deferring consolidation and apply for merging on your federal loans after the grace period, higher interest rates will then be used in arriving at the rate to be used for the loan consolidation programs.Therefore it is only advisable that one merges his college loans within the prescribed grace period in order to avail of the much lower fixed rates of interest for his student loan consolidation and obtain corresponding low monthly payments.If you are indeed decided in consolidating your college loans, even if such loans are already being repaid, merging them is definitely allowed and will be financially beneficial to you. This is why when you apply for college loan consolidation programs within the grace period the interest rates on your federal loans are fixed while the rates are still in a low level.