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3 new rules that could save you money

By Donna Rosato and Beth Braverman

(Money Magazine) -- 1. Student loans are cheaper

The change: Starting July 1, all students eligible for federal loans can borrow directly from the government via their schools' financial aid offices. (Previously some schools offered federal loans only through private lenders that got subsidies.)

How you benefit: The interest rate on federal loans that parents can take out (PLUS loans) is capped at 7.9% vs. 8.5% for private subsidized loans. Plus, bypassing a bank means simpler paperwork and, starting in 2014, more flexible repayment terms, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org.

2. Short sales are shorter

The change: New rules require lenders to provide pre-approved terms for short sales (in which homes sell for less than the owners owe) for sellers who weren't approved for a loan modification.

How you benefit: You'll know the minimum amount the bank will take for these houses, so your bid is more likely to be accepted. That should speed up the sales process, says RealtyTrac spokesman Rick Sharga.

3. Credit cards are less fee-crazy

The changes: As of Aug. 22 new Fed rules eliminate several egregious credit card fees, including inactivity fees. Issuers also can't charge a penalty for inactivity on gift cards for a year. For details, see federalreserve.gov.

How you benefit: You can let a credit card gather dust in your wallet -- and leave those gift certificates in there until you're ready to use them.  To top of page

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