Should you use a student loan to pay off credit card debt?
I think that getting a student loan to pay off higher-interest credit card debt is a good idea because it's always a good idea to consolidate debt and move it to a lower interest financial instrument, but I am a bit nervous about the possible constraints on a student loan.
To find out more, I went to Sallie Mae, the government agency that manages most student loan programs. To my surprise, they have all sorts of repayment regulations, but I couldn't find anything on limitations on the use of the loan proceeds. Indeed, their information on Federal PLUS loans (which are actually made to parents, not students) lists that it's acceptable to use the proceeds to pay for supplies, living expenses, books and other items which quite feasibly would come out of a credit card account.
However, I popped over to the IRS and read up on their terms for claiming interest on your student loan payments and this would definitely violate those terms. They state explicitly: "Your student loan must have been taken out solely to pay qualified education expenses" and I can't imagine you could convince an auditor that lowering the balance on your Visa card is a qualified educational expense! Here's the IRS reference page.
Finally, YoungMoney.com offers its own insight with an article entitled Spend Student Loans Only on College Expenses, where they recommend that you don't use your student loan for expenses that aren't directly related to school so that you don't go further into debt. That's good advice too, but doesn't sound like it's what you're asking about.
Hope that gives you some useful data to help you make the right decision. Good luck!
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