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Help with medical school loans

Advice on making your children's school loans more affordable, lowering mortgage payments and more.

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By Gerri Willis, CNN personal finance editor

For more information on managing your largest investment, check out Gerri Willis' 'Home Rich,' now in bookstores.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Question 1. I have 8,000 dollars saved but it is just sitting in a savings account earning almost no interest. Is there something better that I can put my money into that is safe? -- Cory

Well, first off Cory, there's no such thing as a perfectly safe investment, but some products are safer than others. Bank accounts and CD yields may give you up to 2% on your money. And it doesn't get any safer than that. But inflation can eat away at those returns.

You may consider putting some of that money toward your 401(k) if it's offered or an IRA. If you have a long investment horizon of over 10 years, your likely to reap the benefits of compound interest and still make conservative investments. Otherwise look at inexpensive mutual funds or index funds from low-cost companies like Fidelity, Vanguard or T. Rowe Price.

Question 2. My son has mortgage that is more than the value of the property. He is able to just make the payments. What are his options to reduce his mortgage payment; principle reduction, lower interest rate, etc. -- Mary, Arizona

Your son's first step should be to get on the phone with his lender. Especially if there's a chance he'll miss a payment. The lender may offer a lower repayment schedule.

The government also recently announced a program that can help homeowners refinance their homes, even if they're a bit 'upside down' on the mortgage -- as you indicate your son is.

For more information about that program, go to makinghomeaffordable.gov or call the Homeowner's Hope Hotline at (888) 995-HOPE

Question 3. We have two sons in medical school. Both have medical school loans. How can they get help paying this loan back? -- Francine, NC

There are a number of student loan forgiveness programs in health care. The National Health Service Corps is an example of a forgiveness program for doctors and nurses who practice for a set number of years in areas that lack adequate medical care.

The American Association of Medical Colleges has a database of state and other loan repayment programs for medical school students. Go to AAMC.org for more information. To top of page

Got a financial dilemma? Go to cnnmoney.com/helpdesk to submit questions, read the Help Desk articles and check out new Help Desk videos. And tune in to CNN's Newsroom Tuesdays and Fridays, when Gerri Willis and other experts answer your questions.
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