The future’s looking good for residents living and working in Nebraska. The economy is expected to grow throughout 2021 and well into 2022, according to the new three-year forecast from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln’s Bureau of Business Research and the Nebraska Business Forecast Council.

Overall, Nebraska fared better than most of the country during the pandemic. National events tend to have less of an effect on Nebraska’s economy than the U.S economy. That’s not to say there have been no losses.

Certain trends were accelerated thanks to the pandemic. Working and shopping from home has led to a massive drop in retail employment. While most sectors have already begun to recoup losses, Nebraska’s retail sector is expected to lag well into 2022.

While whole sectors are expected to recover, individuals are without a doubt still reeling from what has been an unprecedented year of turmoil, confusion, and economic uncertainty. A lot of people still need help making ends meet.

This page is dedicated to offering a list of resources Nebraska residents can look to for debt relief and financial aid resources.

Debt Relief Options for Nebraska Residents

InCharge Debt Solutions, a nonprofit credit counseling agency, offers help for Nebraskans struggling to make sense of their finances. InCharge works to make your debt more manageable. It offers a debt management plan that can consolidate your unsecured debts into a single payment while reducing interest rates to as low as 8%, sometimes even lower.

In 2021, credit card companies charged consumers an average interest rate of 16.5%. Consumers who miss payments can see their rates jump to over 25% making it even harder to climb out of the hole.

InCharge can help you eliminate your credit card debt in 3-5 years. However, clients must know this going in: You will need to adhere to a detailed spending budget — and follow it with tremendous discipline — to eliminate debt in the 3-to-5-year targeted timeframe.

Credit score, which can be a major hindrance when looking for a loan to pay off debt, is not a factor in qualifying for a debt management plan. All credit scores are welcome to apply and receive counseling from InCharge’s team of financial professionals.

Here are some of the other assistance programs that are available to Nebraska residents facing financial dilemmas:

Debt Settlement – You pay off your debt for less than what you owe with debt settlement. It can offer consumers relief from credit cards, personal loans, and medical bills. The negotiation process can take time because creditors must agree to a lump-sum payment amount that settles the debt. Fees and interest rates may continue to accrue. Paying less than what you owe may sound great but in the long term it can hurt your ability to qualify for credit in the future.

Credit Card Debt Forgiveness This is offered by a select group of nonprofit credit  counseling agencies. The difference between this and traditional debt settlement is that the creditors have agreed in advance to reduce the amount owed by 40%-50%. Consumers can start reducing the amount owed with the first monthly payment and eliminate the debt in 36 months.

Debt Consolidation Loan – This is most effective for borrowers with good credit scores. You can qualify for a debt consolidation loan that offers a lower rate than your outstanding debts while also making your life easier with only one monthly payment to worry about. You still have to pay back the full amount you owe, but you won’t have to worry about taking a major credit hit doing so.

Bankruptcy – Bankruptcy can free you of your debts, but it should only be considered as a last resort. It can tarnish your credit report for 7-10 years making it harder to qualify for a mortgage, auto loan, or even credit card. For certain cases, bankruptcy is indeed the wisest move forward. However, it’s always best to review your situation with a financial professional to determine if there are any other options available.

Nebraska Debt Resources

There are many programs offering aid to Nebraska residents in need of assistance. Here are a few government sponsored services that can help you pay for food, housing, child care, and legal aid.

  • Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program: This program offers assistance to low-income residents struggling to pay rent due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Funds may be used to pay for rent and utility expenses up to $20,000 during the life of the program. Applicants can expect to hear back within 2-3 weeks of applying.
  • Aid to Dependent Children (ADC): This program offers cash assistance to low-income residents with minor children. The money can be used to pay for food, clothes, rent, utilities, or other necessities. ADC recipients must participate in the Employment First program, which offers training, education, and work experience for unemployed or underemployed individuals.
  • Energy Assistance (LIHEAP): This program can offset the price of heating and cooling for low-income households. It also offers year-round crisis assistance, emergency furnace repair, and weatherization services. To qualify, applicants must earn less than 150% of the federal poverty limit.
  • Emergency Financial Assistance and Food Pantry: Here you can find assistance to help pay for medical, prescription, rent, and utility bills. It offers aid on a case-by-case basis and can refer you to another agency if it is unable to assist.
  • Nebraska’s Assistance to the Aged, Blind, or Disabled (AABD): This is a program offering aid to low-income elderly, blind, or disabled individuals. It can offer cash or medical assistance based on the individual’s current financial needs.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Otherwise known as food stamps, SNAP can help low-income families purchase groceries. It can also help unemployed or underemployed individuals find work. Eligibility is determined by income, household size, and location. Apply online, by mail, or over the phone at 800-383-4278.
  • Nebraska Child Care Subsidy: Parents may qualify for financial assistance to help pay for the cost of child care. You can apply here and must complete a phone interview to determine if you’re eligible.
  • Legal Aid: Nebraska residents can find legal assistance through the Creighton University School of Law. The Civil Law Clinic offers free legal aid to low-income residents of Douglas County. Call 402-280-3068 for more information.

Nebraska Debt Statistics

Here are some statistics to help familiarize yourself with the state of Nebraska’s economy now and into the near future. 

  • Nebraskans have an average credit card debt of $5,423. The national average is $6,194.
  • Nebraska has an unemployment rate of 3.2%, which is half the national average.
  • In 2020, Nebraska’s per capita income increased by 3.3% while decreasing nationally.
  • Farm Income rose by 37% in 2020.
  • ​​Non-farm personal income is expected to grow by 3.7% in 2021 but by just 0.6% in 2022 as stimulus ends.
  • Service employment is expected to grow by 4.6% in Nebraska during 2021.
  • Nebraska’s financial service industry is expected to add 900 jobs in 2021.
  • Retail is expected to add 1,000 jobs in 2021 after losing around 4,000 jobs in 2020.

Sources

N.A. (2021, April) Nebraska Recovers from the Pandemic Economy. Retrieved from https://business.unl.edu/research/bureau-of-business-research/bureau-reports/business-in-nebraska/documents/April2021BIN.pdf

Lundeen, M. (2021, February) Nebraska’s Economic Dashboard. Retrieved from https://opportunity.nebraska.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/2021_2-Econ-Indicator_final.pdf

McCoy, J, Kauffman, N. (2021, March 31) Nebraska’s Economy Outperforms through Crisis and Recession. Retrieved from https://www.kansascityfed.org/omaha/nebraska-economist/nebraskas-economy-outperforms-through-crisis-and-recession/