11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and fun … 1. The average cost of a wedding stands at $32,213, including $555 for the cake. (Learn more at The Knot) 2. Social Security records erroneously show that 6.5 million people in the United States have reached the age of 112. (Learn more at Associated Press) 3. Barbra, Nanette, Sondra, Elmo and Waldo are on their way to extinction as baby names. (Learn more at Yahoo! Parenting!) 4. The zorro bubble-nest frog, Amsterdam albatross and tropical …

Arbitration Clauses for Credit Cards, Other Services May Harm Consumers

Millions of consumers may not be getting a fair resolution in disputes with their financial institutions over products and services, according to a report released Tuesday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB examined the arbitration clauses in contracts for credit cards, prepaid cards, private student loans, payday loans, cellphone service and checking accounts. These clauses generally permit companies to resolve consumer complaints using arbitration. Most bar consumers from filing class-action suits, which may provide a fairer and more …

Banks Ease Terms for Struggling Student Borrowers

Big banks are beginning to cut some slack to distressed student-loan borrowers. Wells Fargo announced a new program this week that will lower the interest rate on loans so payments will be more affordable based on a struggling borrower’s income. The bank will review borrowers’ financial situations to determine whether they qualify for short- or long-term loan modification. >> 8 Hidden College Expenses According to the Wall Street Journal, both borrowers and cosigners will have to show financial hardship to get a modification. Modifications …

Debt for College Hits 70% of Graduates

Most graduates in the Class of 2013 left campus with more than a diploma. Nearly 7 out of 10 also had student loan debt. The average amount: $28,400, up 2 percent from the debt of those who graduated a year earlier. That’s according to a report by the Project on Student Debt at the Institute for College Access & Success, a California-based advocacy group that has been tracking these figures for nine years. >> Hidden College Expenses Education debt is a growing concern …

Millennials Need Parents to Talk About Long-Term Plans

Religion, sex, politics and money rank as taboo topics for polite conversation, perhaps avoided with our adult children, too. But money should be on the table for the simple reason that our financial situation often affects our kids as we age. A reminder of that comes in an honest and heartfelt column by Yahoo financial adviser Mandi Woodruff about her parents. She writes: “These days, I find myself worrying far more about their financial futures than I do my own. …

Getting a Student Loan? Your Interest Rate Just Went Up

Starting today, parents and college students will be paying more for federal education loans. Interest rates on new federal loans are adjusted every July, and this year’s rates are slightly higher than those for loans issued in the previous 12 months. The rate on Stafford loans for undergraduates is now 4.66 percent, up from 3.89 percent. Parents and graduate students now will pay a rate of 7.21 percent for PLUS loans, compared with 6.41 percent previously. These rates are fixed …