Do Your Homework…Make College Affordable


iHELP Logo 300"Do your homework” used to mean that if you studied and got good grades, you’d probably be able to go to college. 

 Today, families are not only faced with ever-increasing costs for education, but the possibility of a high debt load after the student graduates.  That scenario is weighed against the fact that an advanced education offers the strongest possibility of better jobs with better pay. 

 “Doing your homework” now means a lot more…such as, determining “what can we truly afford?”

 Yankton, South Dakota, banker Kevin Watt recognizes that making an investment in obtaining an education is not inexpensive.

Getting a degree is not cheap, but if you do your homework and plan early it can be fundable for most families without going too far into debt. Students need to be aware there is a wealth of scholarships and other financial resources for which they can apply.”

1stDakLogo 300bFirst Dakota National Bank had its beginning in 1872 in Yankton, South Dakota.  It has since grown to a network of 18 offices throughout the state.  First Dakota National Bank was one of the first banks to recognize the many opportunities that the iHELP program could provide for its younger customers and their families.  

 “We're always looking for ways to help our customers meet their financial goals, one of which is helping our younger customers to get a college education in order to get a solid career started and be on sound financial footing throughout the rest of their lives.  Student Loan Finance Corporation’s iHelp loan program is a great conduit for providing much-needed planning and financial resources and that's one of the main reasons we jumped into the iHELP program as early as we did.” 

SLFClogo 250For over 35 years, Student Loan Finance Corporation (SLFC) has been known as a premier provider of college loan services. Through its iHELPloan.com website, it provides college planning services which include free resources on U.S. college costs, average salaries by career and location, links to more than 18,600 available scholarships totaling $7 billion and detailed checklists outlining college planning steps from eighth grade through graduate studies.

SLFC LikeUsFacebook 350“In my opinion, college planning should start when your son or daughter is a freshman in high school.  If you wait until the last minute, you may find your child in the situation where he or she has to borrow more money than otherwise may have been necessary.”

Watt’s advice comes not only as a banker, but also as a father of four who has learned to put into practice what he preaches.

 "We have four children.  Three of our children have attended private schools. By doing our homework we discovered that there's a wealth of scholarships available at those private schools. That made them affordable for us.”

It’s recommended that, when students and their families are planning for college finances, they always look for free money first (scholarships, grants, federally assistance, etc.) before applying for any student loans.

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iHELP/SLFC College Planning Advisor

“Many families will find there's still a gap in what college will cost and how much money they have.  That's where they may look for a private student loan or “gap financing.” SLFC created the iHELP loan program that I think is one of the best out there for private student funding.  It’s clear, concise and transparent.”

 iHELP is a simple, low-cost private lending program offered through local community banks to help their customers achieve their higher education goals. 

 “I collect money for the bank and I understand things happen to people that they didn't expect that create a financial crisis.  SLFC is an expert in the student loan business who understands that, too. 

The iHELP Private Student Loan Program and its lending partners are committed to helping students and their families make informed decisions about their plans for higher education.

“It's a tool that we use to offer more services to our customers so that they can help realize their dreams and goals. At First Dakota, we like to be a participant in programs that make sense—both for us as a bank and for our customers—and we think this is one of them.”


ICBA-LOGO 300The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) is the nation's voice for community banks and represents nearly 5,000 banks of all sizes and charter's in 23,000 locations natinwide.  The ICBA sponsors the iHELP student loan program with their member banks.