woman doing taxes in kitchen

Can You Use a Personal Loan to Pay Taxes?

Tax Day appears dependably every year and, ideally, you don’t end up owing the IRS money. Or if you do, hopefully you can easily pay your taxes. But that’s not always the case. If you do end up owing money to the IRS after filing your taxes, you may have options. Of course, you can dip into your emergency fund, but if you don’t have one yet, there are other options available for borrowing money when you’re in a pinch.

Everyone’s financial situation is different, so there’s not one right answer for covering your tax bill. We’ll go through the pros and cons of using a credit card, an IRS payment plan, or even a personal loan to pay your tax bill.

We should, of course, mention that this article is a broad overview of this matter. It’s always a good idea to consult a licensed tax professional for questions and help with tax-related matters.

Can I Get a Loan to Pay Taxes?

You may be able to get a loan for taxes you owe as long as you can qualify for a loan with the lender you choose. If you can qualify for a loan, you may want to consider whether it’s the right choice for your financial situation or if there may be a different option that works better for you.


💡 Quick Tip: Before choosing a personal loan, ask about the lender’s fees: origination, prepayment, late fees, etc. SoFi personal loans come with no-fee options, and no surprises.

What Is a Tax Loan?

A loan for taxes is a personal loan that is used to pay taxes owed to the IRS. The borrower receives the funds in a lump sum and spends the personal loan funds to pay their tax debt.

When looking for a lender that does tax loans, you might consider traditional banks, credit unions, or online lenders, among other financial institutions.

Recommended: How to Apply for a Personal Loan

How Does a Tax Loan Work?

If a taxpayer does not have the funds to pay the taxes they owe the IRS, one option to pay the debt is to borrow money to do so. Often, this is in the form of a personal loan, which can be either secured or unsecured. After receiving the loan proceeds, the borrower pays the IRS and begins making regular installment payments to the lender.

How to Qualify for Tax Loan

Qualifying for a tax loan is like qualifying for a personal loan intended to pay for any other expense.

Lenders will look at an applicant’s credit score, employment history, income, other debt, and possibly other lender-specific criteria. Generally, the more creditworthy an applicant is, the more favorable their loan terms and interest rate.

There are a variety of lenders who offer personal loans, so if you don’t qualify at one, you might consider looking at other places to get a personal loan.

Reasons For Tax Refund Loans

If you’re getting a tax refund, you might want the money sooner than the IRS sends it to you. For that reason, you might consider getting a tax refund loan. Also called a refund advance loan (RAL), this type of loan is a short-term loan based on the amount of tax refund you are expecting.

RALs are often offered by your tax preparation service right after you file. Similar to other loans, the interest and fees for a tax refund loan will vary by provider.

Reasons Against Tax Refund Loans

The key word in “tax refund loan” is loan — a debt. There are considerable reasons not to use this option to get an anticipated tax refund amount quickly.

•   While some tax preparers will offer tax refund loans without any interest or fees, these loans often come with costs.

•   Even if your tax refund is smaller than expected, you still have to repay the full loan amount, including any interest and fees charged by the lender.

•   If the IRS denies, delays, or garnishes your tax refund to pay another debt, you still owe the RAL — including any interest and any fees charged by the lender.

•   Interest rates on RALs offered by payday lenders tend to be high, with APRs sometimes 10 times higher than average credit card interest rates.

Filing your taxes electronically and getting your tax refund, if you’re getting one, via direct deposit generally results in you getting your money faster, often in less than 21 days.

What Happens if You Can’t Pay Your Taxes?

If you owe taxes, you may not have enough cash on hand to make that payment to the IRS, particularly if it’s a large amount. Paying a tax debt in full is ideal, but there are options if you cannot do that.

Options to Pay Tax Debt

IRS Payment Plans

The IRS offers payment plans and the potential for an “offer in compromise,” which may allow you to settle your debt for less than you owe if paying in full would create financial hardship. In some instances, you may also be able to temporarily delay collection until your financial situation improves. Depending on your situation, there can also be set-up fees, application fees, interest, and penalties that continue to accrue, increasing the amount you owe until it’s paid in full.

Credit Cards

Another option is to charge your tax expense to a credit card. The IRS charges a processing fee , which varies depending on the payment system you choose, if you pay with a credit card.

If you fail to pay off your credit card balance when it’s due, interest will accrue until the balance is paid in full. If you qualify for a credit card with a zero-percent introductory period and pay the full amount before the promotional period ends, you could pay your taxes with a credit card without incurring any interest charges.

Loved Ones

Asking a friend or family member for a loan for taxes is an option some people consider. Borrowing from someone you know generally means you won’t have to undergo a credit check. So if you don’t have great credit but are able to repay a loan, this may be an acceptable option. A close friend or family member who is confident you’ll repay the loan may not charge you interest, or charge a lower percentage rate than you might qualify for with a bank or other lender.

If you do choose to borrow money from friends or family, be clear about expectations from the beginning. For example, setting up a repayment plan could lessen the chance for miscommunication and hurt feelings.

Payday Loans

Payday loans are high-cost, short-term loans for small amounts that are often made to people who have bad or nonexistent credit. Unfortunately, this borrowing option often works in the best interest of the lender, not the borrower.

Interest rates on payday loans are much higher than other types of loans, sometimes up to 400% APR. Even using a credit card, with their relatively high-interest rates, is generally a better option than a payday loan.

The repayment term for a payday loan is small — typically, the loan needs to be repaid with the borrower’s next payday. If your tax bill is too large to pay by the time the payday loan is due, the loan may need to be renewed, adding additional fees and accruing more interest on the initial loan balance. This strategy could lead to a cycle of debt that is difficult to break.

Lines of Equity or Credit

Whereas a loan lets you borrow a set amount of money in one lump sum, a line of credit (LOC) gives you a maximum amount of credit from which you can borrow, repay, and borrow again, up to the credit limit. You make at least a minimum payment each month toward your balance due. LOCs can be secured or unsecured — a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is an example of a secured LOC, using your home as collateral.

One advantage to a LOC is the typically lower interest rates they offer compared to credit cards. However, interest rates on a LOC are often variable and can rise over the life of the loan. A drawback to a HELOC is that if you can’t repay the loan, you could lose your home.

Personal Loans

You can apply for either a secured or unsecured personal loan, the former requiring collateral to back the loan. A secured loan may have a lower interest rate because the lender can seize the collateralized asset if you default on the loan. Essentially, this lowers the lender’s perceived risk.

It’s a good idea to compare the interest rates on personal loans. They tend to start out lower than credit cards, but they can vary widely depending on your creditworthiness. The average personal loan interest rate was 11.91% as of Feb. 14, 2024. However, the rate can range anywhere from 6.40% to 35.99% depending on the lender and your unique financial circumstances.


💡 Quick Tip: Generally, the larger the personal loan, the bigger the risk for the lender — and the higher the interest rate. So one way to lower your interest rate is to try downsizing your loan amount.

Pros and Cons of Using a Personal Loan To Pay Taxes

Using a personal loan to pay taxes comes with both advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a look at how they stack up.

Pros of Paying Taxes With a Personal Loan

Cons of Paying Taxes With a Personal Loan

Typically unsecured, so no risk of losing an asset such as a car or home Some lenders may not lend small amounts
Potentially low interest rates if you have good credit Interest rate may be higher than an IRS repayment plan’s interest rate
With a fixed interest rate, monthly payments will be the same over the life of the loan Some lenders may not allow a personal loan for taxes

Recommended: Paying Tax on Personal Loans

The Takeaway

When Tax Day rolls around and you discover that you owe taxes to the IRS, it’s a good idea to consider multiple options to settle the bill. If you don’t have enough money in your bank account to pay your tax bill, you might turn to an IRS repayment plan, your credit cards, a loan from a loved one, or a personal loan.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.

FAQ

Can I get a loan to pay taxes?

Yes, a personal loan can be used to pay taxes in most cases. Applicants must meet qualification requirements like any other personal loan, which typically include a credit check, employment and income verification, and other criteria.

What is a tax loan?

A tax loan is a personal loan used to pay taxes owed.

How does a tax loan work?

Tax loans are personal loans, either secured or unsecured. The borrower uses the loan proceeds to pay the IRS and then makes loan payments to the lender.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

SOPL0124016

Read more
woman studying on laptop

Do Part-Time Students Have to Pay Back Student Loans?

Editor's Note: For the latest developments regarding federal student loan debt repayment, check out our student debt guide.

One question that can come up for part-time students is whether they need to pay back student loans if they’re not attending classes full time. In short, if a student meets their school’s requirements for half-time enrollment, they are generally not required to make payments on federal student loans. Private student loans have their own terms and depending on the lender, students may be required to make payments on their loan while they are enrolled in school.

Part-time college enrollment is expected to increase 10% by 2031. Students may be part-time because of financial reasons, caregiver or parental duties, medical issues, or other reasons, but for all scenarios, balancing college with other duties and needs can be a struggle.

What Is a Part-Time College Student?

A part-time college student is someone who is not taking a full course load during any given academic quarter or semester. Individual schools set the standards for what counts as a full- or part-time student, but in general, full-time students may take about 12 credits or four classes at a time.

Part-time students may take anywhere from six to 11 credits or two to three classes per academic period.

Students may choose to attend college part-time in order to take care of family obligations, work a day job, or because of other circumstances that don’t allow them to take four classes at one time.

Repaying Student Loans as a Part-Time Student

In general, part-time students may not need to pay back their federal student loans while they are attending school as long as they don’t drop below half-time enrollment — or as long as they haven’t graduated.

What does this mean in practicality? If you’re a part-time student and you are taking at least half of the full-load credit hours, you generally won’t need to start paying off your federal student loans until you graduate, withdraw, or drop below half-time enrollment. Federal loans also come with a grace period, meaning you technically won’t be required to make payments for six months after graduating, withdrawing, or dropping below half-time enrollment.

For example, if a full course load at your school is 12 credits, and you’re taking six credits this semester, you are still enrolled at least half-time, and wouldn’t normally be required to start paying back your federal student loans.

If, however, you drop down below half-time enrollment by taking only one three-credit class, you would no longer be attending school at least half-time and may be required to start paying off your federal student loans.


💡 Quick Tip: Ready to refinance your student loan? With SoFi’s no-fee loans, you could save thousands.

When Do I Have to Start Paying Back My Student Loans?

If you are a part-time student who graduates, withdraws, or drops below half-time enrollment, you may not need to start paying back your federal student loans right away. Many new grads, or those entering a repayment period for the first time, are given a six-month grace period, as mentioned above, before they have to start paying federal student loans back.

The exact length of any grace period depends on the type of loan you have and your specific circumstances. For example, Federal Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans all have a standard six-month grace period before payments are due.

Factors That May Influence the Grace Period

If you’re a member of the armed forces and are called to active duty 30 days or more before your grace period ends, you could delay the six-month grace period until after you return from active duty.

Another situation that could impact your grace period is if you re-enroll in school at least half-time before the end of the grace period. You will receive the full grace period again on your federal student loans when you graduate, withdraw, or drop below part-time enrollment.

This is because, in general, once you start attending school at least half-time again, you’re no longer obligated to start making payments on federal student loans. In this situation, you would still get a grace period after you graduate, even though you may have used part of a grace period while you were attending school less than half-time. Note that most loan types will still accrue interest during the grace period.

You may lose out on any grace period if you consolidate your federal student loans with the federal government during your grace period. In that scenario, you’ll typically need to start paying back your loan once the consolidation is disbursed (paid out).

Repayments for Private Student Loans

If you have private student loans, don’t count on getting a grace period before you start paying back your loans. Student loans taken out from private lenders don’t have the same terms and benefits as federal student loans, which means that private student loans may not offer a grace period at all or it may be a different length than the federal grace period.

Some lenders may require students make payments on private student loans while they are enrolled in school. If you have a private loan or are considering a private loan, check with the lender directly to understand the terms for repayment, including whether or not there is a grace period.

How Do I Pay Back My Student Loans?

There are things you can do to make paying back your loans as painless as possible. When you enter loan repayment on a federal student loan, you’ll be automatically enrolled in the Standard Repayment Plan, which requires you to pay off your loan within 10 years.

However, there are other types of federal student loan repayment plans available, including income-driven repayment plans like the SAVE Plan and loan forgiveness programs for public service, and it is always worth learning about the different plans so you can make an educated choice.

Recommended: Student Loan Forgiveness Guide

As mentioned, private student loans have different requirements than federal student loans. Individual lenders will determine the repayment plans available to borrowers.

Take a Look at Refinancing

One option you may want to consider is refinancing your student loans with a private lender. Refinancing your student loans allows you to combine your federal and/or private student loans into one new, private loan with a new interest rate and new terms.

It’s important to remember, however, that student loan refinancing isn’t right for everyone. If you refinance your federal loans, they will no longer be eligible for any federal repayment assistance, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program or income-driven repayment plans.

The Takeaway

Part-time student loans who are enrolled at least half-time, based on the definition at their school, are generally not required to make payments on their federal student loans. Private student loans have terms and conditions that are set by the individual lender, and may require students make payments on their loans while they are enrolled in school.

If your student loan payments are due and you’re hoping to lower your interest rate or monthly payment, consider refinancing them with SoFi. (You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.) SoFi offers an easy online application, competitive rates, and no origination fees. It takes just two minutes to fill out an application and your credit score will not be impacted during the prequalification stage.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.

With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOSL0923058

Read more
Woman stressed out at her computer

6 Reasons Your Student Loan Refinance Can Be Denied

If you’re struggling with student loan payments or looking for a better deal on your debt, refinancing your student loans could be a smart financial decision. Unfortunately, not everyone who applies for student loan refinancing is successful.

If you’ve had your application for refinance denied, you may feel confused and disappointed. But getting a no isn’t the end of the road.

There are some common reasons why your loan may have been denied. By understanding those factors, you can take steps to correct any gaps or weak spots in your application and possibly improve your chances of refinancing in the future. Considering the advantages of refinancing for many borrowers, the effort might be worth it.

Common Reasons that Refinance Applications Are Rejected

If you’ve had your application for student loan refinance denied, the decision can feel like a mystery. The lender might not necessarily explain the reasons behind its actions, and you may be left feeling puzzled and stuck. As with a car loan rejection or mortgage modification rejection, a common thread is that the institution feels lending you money is too much of a risk. Read on to see if one of the scenarios below applies to you.


💡 Quick Tip: Some student loan refinance lenders offer no fees, saving borrowers money.

1. You Have a Low Credit Score

Lenders want to feel confident that borrowers will pay back the debt. One of the primary ways that they measure how risky you are as a borrower is by looking at your credit score. Many factors affect your credit score, including whether you’ve missed payments on credit cards or other bills, your credit history, and how much debt you’re carrying relative to your credit limits.

You can find out your current credit score through one of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If your score isn’t up to par, that could be enough to have your loan denied.

2. You’ve Missed Payments in the Past

For some, it’s easy to let a student loan payment slip now and then. Perhaps you ran into financial difficulties and couldn’t afford to pay, or maybe you simply forgot amid the chaos of life.

Even though it’s understandable, lenders don’t look at a history of missed payments lightly. If you’ve failed to pay in the past, they may see this as a sign that you’ll skip payments with them as well. If your loan is delinquent or in default because you’ve missed too many payments, a potential lender may be even more concerned.

3. You Don’t Make Enough Money

When deciding whether they trust you as a borrower, financial institutions want to feel confident that you can afford to repay the loan. If your salary is low compared to the monthly payment you would owe, lenders might make the call that you’re at risk of not being able to pay.


💡 Quick Tip: It might be beneficial to look for a refinancing lender that offers extras. SoFi members, for instance, can qualify for rate discounts and have access to financial advisors, networking events, and more — at no extra cost.

4. Your Debt-to-Income Ratio Is Too High

Even if you earn a decent salary, a private lender could deny your application if they think your debt-to-income ratio is too high. Your debt-to-income ratio is the ratio of your outstanding debt to how much you currently make. Debt here includes anything you owe, including a mortgage, a car loan, student loans, credit card balances, or medical bills.

If those liabilities are high compared to your salary, the lender can decide that giving you a loan is too risky because you may not be able to afford it with your existing financial obligations.

5. You Don’t Have a Solid Job History

Lenders aren’t just looking at your salary. Many also want to get a sense of how solid your job is by considering things like how long you’ve been in your current role, past gaps in employment, and how often you change jobs.

If you haven’t held onto a job long or had much work experience, a lender could fear that you are at risk of losing your current gig — and your income along with it.

6. You Have Other Financial Black Marks on Your Record

A lender is looking out for any sign that you may not be a trustworthy borrower. A significant negative financial event in your history such as a lien, judgment, foreclosure, or bankruptcy can be a red flag for the institution. There may have been a good reason for it, but the lender could decide that lending to you is too precarious.

How to Improve Your Chances

1. Try Other Lenders

If you’ve been denied by just one or two lenders, it may be worth shopping around more widely. Although they follow similar principles, lenders each have their own protocols for reviewing applications.

While one might give more weight to income, another may consider education history just as important. If one lender rejected your application to refinance your student loans due to low credit scores, you may find another lender that will approve your application but at a higher interest rate, which may mean paying more in the long run.

You never know whether a lender will see you as a trustworthy borrower until you try. If you’ve been denied by multiple institutions, you may need to take some other action to improve your prospects.

2. Build Your Credit

Because your credit score is so important to lenders, including with student loan refinancing, you can work on building it if it’s on the low side. There are many ways to potentially improve your credit score. If you have missed bills in the past, you can focus on consistently making your minimum payments on every loan, bill, and credit card you have (setting up auto-pay can help you stay on top of this).

3. Raise Your Income

If your income is relatively low, earning more money may help you qualify for refinancing. This is easier said than done, but you may have more options than you think.

Can you ask for a raise or request more hours at your current job? Can you look for a higher paying role with your employer or elsewhere? Does switching fields make sense? Can you take on another job or side hustle? It’s not always possible, but increasing your earnings could make you a more appealing candidate for refinancing.

4. Give it Time

Sometimes, it can be good to wait. If you have a bankruptcy or missed payments in your past, it’ll take time for these to disappear from your credit history. (It takes seven to 10 years for a bankruptcy to be removed from your credit history.) Even if you’re making all your payments now, a lender usually wants to see that this good behavior is consistent.

Waiting until you’ve been in a new job for a couple of years can help convince lenders that your employment is solid. If these are some of the challenges you’re dealing with, time may be the best medicine. And for those struggling to make consistent payments on their student loans, it could be worth looking into income-driven repayment plans.

These are repayment plans for federal student loans that calculate monthly payments based on your discretionary income. While an income-driven repayment plan might mean you’ll pay more interest over the life of the loan, it could also lower your monthly payments, thus making your student loan debt more manageable.

5. Get a Cosigner

If none of the above tactics are working, or if you don’t want to wait to refinance, you can try reapplying with a cosigner. If this person — perhaps a parent or family friend — has solid credit and employment history, that may help you get approved for a loan or qualify for better terms.

That’s because the cosigner, by essentially guaranteeing the loan, makes you much less of a risk for the lender. But keep in mind that the cosigner’s credit score could be affected by missed payments on the loan, and they may have to make payments on the loan if you’re unable to.

Refinancing May Still Be Possible

Even if you’ve been denied in the past, that doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to refinance your student loans. Understanding the reasons that refinancing applications frequently get rejected can help you figure out where you have room to improve.

You have lots of options for strengthening your application and reducing your riskiness as a borrower, from earning more to improving your credit score to getting a cosigner. If refinancing is a student loan debt solution you feel strongly about, consider implementing these action items before reapplying.

And remember that while refinancing has lots of benefits, you’ll lose access to federal loan benefits when refinancing with a private lender. So refinancing may lower your interest rate or get you a more favorable loan term, but it will also disqualify you from taking advantage of federal programs like income-driven repayment plans.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .


SOSL0923011

Read more
woman at cafe on laptop

Can You Refinance Student Loans Without a Degree?

If you’ve dropped out of college but are still carrying student loan debt, you have a number of repayment options, depending on your income and credit profile. Some private lenders may allow you to refinance your federal student loan, but others definitely will not.

College dropout rates indicate that up to 32.9% of undergraduates do not complete their degree program, according to EducationData.org. If anyone hopes that not graduating gets them off the hook for paying back a student loan, the answer is a resounding no. The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) department spells it out on its website for those repaying federal student loans:

“Your federal student loans can’t be canceled or forgiven because you didn’t get the education or job you expected or you didn’t complete your education (unless you couldn’t complete your education because your school closed).”

Why is that? Lenders believe that not having a degree can pose difficulties in getting a high-earning job. College dropouts make an average of 32.6% less income than bachelor’s degree holders. And some data show that college dropouts are four times as likely to default on their loans compared to graduating counterparts.

Can You Refinance Student Loans Without a Degree?

Student loan refinancing allows you to pay off federal student loans with a private one carrying different terms. For some borrowers, this new loan might come with a lower interest rate or lower monthly payment than their existing debt, particularly if they have a strong credit and employment history.

However, many private lenders won’t allow you to refinance your student loans if you haven’t graduated. SoFi and some other lenders require that you have at least an associate degree from a Title IV accredited school in order to be eligible for refinancing.

Title IV schools are eligible to process federal student aid under the Higher Education Act. You can verify whether the institution you attended is a Title IV school on the federal student aid website.

Even though some of the most popular lenders require you to have a degree, that doesn’t mean you can’t refinance student loans if you did not graduate. There are some financial institutions that may offer refinancing to borrowers who dropped out.



💡 Quick Tip: Some student loan refinance lenders offer no fees, saving borrowers money.

Federal Student Loan Consolidation Without a Degree

There are other solutions to easing your burden. If you have more than one federal student loan, not having a degree doesn’t stop you from being able to combine them through a Direct Consolidation Loan. Doing so can be beneficial because it allows you to make just one payment every month instead of many, potentially with multiple loan servicers. That can make things simpler for you and make it more likely that you’ll remember to pay your loans on time.

Another reason to consolidate is that you could qualify for a lower monthly payment by extending the term of the loan (though you’d pay more interest over the life of the loan). Also, by consolidating, loans that wouldn’t otherwise qualify might become eligible for income-driven repayment plans or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Should I Consolidate Student Loans

Consolidation isn’t for everyone, however. As we mentioned above, extending the term of the loan means interest will have more time to stack up. Plus, if you’ve already been making payments under an income-driven repayment plan or toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you could lose credit for those payments and have to start over.

You can apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan as soon as you leave school or are enrolled less than half-time. You’d submit an application through StudentLoans.gov. If your loans are still in the grace period, you can ask for the consolidation to be delayed so that it’s closer to the end of that period. If you receive the loan, you’ll need to start repaying it 60 days after it’s paid out.


💡 Quick Tip: Federal parent PLUS loans might be a good candidate for refinancing to a lower rate.

Repayment Options for Federal Student Loans

Federal student loan repayment was put on pause in March 2020 due to Covid-19 hardships. The pause ended in October 2023. If you are focused on dealing with your federal student loans, it’s vital to know that the Department of Education has focused on strengthening its income-driven repayment options.

Any Direct Loan borrowers can apply to the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan, introduced in 2023. (SAVE replaces the REPAYE program.) Your monthly payments will be 10% of discretionary income, possibly lowering to 5% in 2024 when SAVE has been fully implemented. You can learn more about SAVE, and apply through its portal, on the FSA site.

For those really struggling to make any payments, the “On-Ramp Program” is in effect through Sept. 30, 2024. This prevents the worst consequences of missed, late, or partial payments, including negative credit reporting for delinquent payments for 12 months. However, payments are still due, and interest will continue to accrue.

You can also apply for forbearance or deferment, temporarily pausing your payments and providing more predictability when you must resume repaying. Keep in mind that forbearance and deferment have financial pros and cons.

Refinancing Your Student Loans

Now or in the future, you may be able to apply for student loan refinancing. You can check your rates with several lenders (using a soft credit check, if possible) to compare rates and terms and see what you might prequalify for.

If you decide to complete a full application, the lender may ask for information like your Social Security Number, outstanding loans and repayment history, income, and employment history. They typically complete a credit check to find out your FICO® Score and look for any red flags, like a history of missed payments, student loan default, eviction, or bankruptcy.

Those who don’t initially qualify for refinancing, or get a favorable rate, can try reapplying with a cosigner — someone who guarantees to repay the loan if the primary borrower can’t.

If you feel you need a cosigner, one with strong credit history and a solid income and employment history (among other financial factors) could help you qualify. If you do use a cosigner, remember that if you default, any missed payments on your end may damage their credit.

It’s important to bear in mind with refinancing that, if approved, you would lose out on several options. These include:

•   Access to temporary loan payment relief through approved periods (deferment or forbearance) when you do not have to make payments because of financial hardship, continuing your education, or military service.

•   No interest accumulation on subsidized student loans during periods when payments are deferred.

•   Access to repayment plans based on your income that provide loan forgiveness once you have been in repayment for 20 or 25 years.

Recommended: Refinancing Student Debt With a Cosigner

Taking Control of Your Student Loans

Not completing your college degree or stopping and starting over an extended period is far from uncommon. However, It can be frustrating to carry a student loan balance for a degree you don’t have.

Unfortunately, SoFi does not offer student loan refinancing to borrowers who don’t have at least an associate degree, but some lenders do. Plus there are other options, such as applying for income-driven repayment and exploring other federal programs to help with loans.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.

FAQ

Can I get a loan without a degree?

Yes, it’s possible to get student loans without a degree — if you are currently enrolled in school. The federal student loan program offers student loans to qualifying borrowers who are attending eligible institutions. Students may also look into private student loans.

Can you refinance student loans without a job?

Refinancing student loans without a job may be more challenging than if you are able to show a record of stable employment. However, lenders evaluate a variety of factors when making lending decisions including employment history, income, credit score, among other factors. The lender is trying to evaluate whether you are able to repay the loan. If you are able to show other sources of income — outside of a traditional job — it may be possible to refinance your student loans.

Do you need to graduate to refinance student loans?

In many cases, yes, you do need to graduate before you can refinance student loans. Many private lenders won’t allow you to refinance your student loans if you haven’t graduated. Though, there are some lenders that are willing to refinance student loans for borrowers who did not graduate.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

SOSL0923005

Read more
personal-line-of-credit-vs-personal-loan.jpg

Personal Loan vs Personal Line of Credit

When it comes to a personal loan vs. a personal line of credit, the two main differences are how the loan funds are disbursed to the borrower and how the credit is repaid.

There are also similarities between these two financial products. Funds from each can be used for a variety of expenses, with few exceptions. Also, to approve a personal loan or line of credit, lenders will run a hard credit check during the application process.

Deciding whether a personal loan or a personal line of credit might be right for you can require looking at a few different factors. Here, you’ll learn more about this important topic so you can make the best choice for your specific situation.

What Is a Personal Line of Credit and How Does It Work?

A personal line of credit (LOC) is a type of revolving credit similar to a credit card. But funds are typically accessed by writing checks provided by the lender or requesting a funds transfer to your checking account instead of by using a card.

An LOC typically allows the borrower to withdraw funds repeatedly, up to the credit limit. Any funds that are withdrawn are subject to repayment with interest. When they are repaid, they can be accessed again up to your particular credit limit. There may be a limit on the number of years the line of credit is available.

Additional points to know:

•   Some lenders may assess fees associated with an LOC. There may be a maintenance charge for inactive accounts. There may also be ongoing fees, monthly or annual, even if the LOC is being used. Some other expenses may include application fees, check processing fees, and late fees, among others. It’s important to be aware of any potential fees before you sign an LOC agreement.

•   Personal lines of credit are usually unsecured, although you may be able to put up collateral to get a lower interest rate. A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is an example of a secured line of credit.

•   Typically, a personal LOC will be offered by a bank or credit union, and you might have to have another account with the lending institution to be considered for an LOC.

•   If your LOC is unsecured, the interest rate will probably be variable, which means it could go up or down during the loan’s term, and your payments could vary. But you’ll only be charged interest on the amount you withdraw. If you’re not using any LOC funds, you won’t be charged interest.

If you expect to have ongoing expenses or if you have a big expense (like a wedding or home renovation) but don’t know what your final budget will be, this type of borrowing might be a useful financial tool.

A personal LOC also may be the right fit if you need some flexibility with your borrowing. For example, self-employed workers who know they’ll be paid by a client but aren’t sure exactly when, can tap into their line of credit to pay expenses while they wait. They can pay that money back when they receive payment from the client, and they won’t have to use high-interest credit cards or borrow from other savings to make ends meet.

Of course, there are downsides to that easy-to-access money. Here’s a closer look:

•   Since unsecured lines of credit are considered by lenders to be riskier than their secured counterparts, it can be more difficult to qualify at a favorable interest rate.

•   Once you have access, it may be tempting to use the funds for purposes other than originally planned. Keeping in mind the intended purpose for the funds may help you stick to it and not use the funds for other purchases.



💡 Quick Tip: A low-interest personal loan from SoFi can help you consolidate your debts, lower your monthly payments, and get you out of debt sooner.

Pros and Cons of Personal Lines of Credit

Having funds that can be accessed as needed can be helpful. But there are also some drawbacks to consider. Take a look at how the pros and cons stack up for personal lines of credit.

Pros of Personal Lines of Credit

•   Easy access to funds.

•   Open-ended vs. set distribution of money.

•   Minimal limits on use of funds.

•   Can be useful for ongoing expenses.

Cons of Personal Lines of Credit

•   May have a higher interest rate than other forms of credit.

•   Typically are unsecured, so may be more difficult to qualify for than other forms of credit.

•   Interest rate may be variable, presenting a budgeting challenge.

•   Ease of access can be tempting to use for impulse shopping.

What Is a Personal Loan and How Does It Work?

A personal loan, on the other hand, is a fixed amount of money disbursed to the borrower in a lump sum. If the loan has a fixed interest rate, as is typical for personal loans, the payments are in fixed installments for the term of the loan. If the loan has a variable interest rate, the monthly payments may fluctuate as the interest rate changes in accordance with market rates.

Because personal loans typically have lower interest rates than credit cards, they’re often used to pay off other debts such as home and car repairs or medical bills, or to consolidate other higher-interest debts such as credit card balances into one manageable — and potentially lower — monthly payment.

Here are some more ways these loans are often used:

•   A personal loan can be a helpful tool for debt consolidation. If you can qualify for a personal loan that has a lower interest rate than your other outstanding debts, you may be able to save money in the long run by consolidating those debts. In order for this financial strategy to work, it’s important to stop using the old sources of credit to avoid going deeper into debt.

•   A personal loan also could be a suitable choice for paying for a wedding or home renovation. But it’s important that you feel confident about being able to repay the loan on time and in full. If you don’t responsibly manage a personal loan — or any kind of debt, for that matter — your credit can be adversely affected.

•   You can apply for a secured or unsecured personal loan. A secured loan, which is backed by collateral, is typically considered less of a risk by lenders than an unsecured loan is. Collateral is an asset the borrower owns — a vehicle, real estate, savings account, or other item of value. If the borrower fails to repay a secured loan, the lender has the right to take possession of the asset that was put up as collateral.

Here are a few more points about how the process of getting a personal loan can work:

•   An applicant’s overall creditworthiness will be considered during the approval process. Generally, an applicant with a higher credit score will qualify for a lower interest rate, and vice versa.

•   Some lenders charge personal loan fees such as origination fees or prepayment penalty fees. Before signing a loan agreement, it’s important to be aware of any fees you may be charged.



💡 Quick Tip: In a climate where interest rates are rising, you’re likely better off with a fixed interest rate than a variable rate, even though the variable rate is initially lower. On the flip side, if rates are falling, you may be better off with a variable interest rate.

Pros and Cons of Personal Loans

When you need a set amount of money for an expense, a personal loan can be a good choice. Along with the benefits of using this financial tool also come a few drawbacks to consider.

Pros of Personal Loans

•   May be a good choice for large, upfront expenses.

•   Typically have fixed interest rates.

•   Steady payments may be easier to budget for.

•   May have a lower interest rate than credit cards.

Cons of Personal Loans

•   Unsecured personal loans may have higher interest rates than other forms of secured credit.

•   May need a higher credit score to qualify for lower interest rates.

•   If not used responsibly, it can add to a person’s debt load instead of alleviating it.

•   May have fees.

Major Differences Between Personal Lines of Credit and Personal Loans

When you’re looking for the right source of funding for your financial needs, it can help to compare different types. Here are some specifics to consider when looking at personal LOCs and personal loans.

Personal Line of Credit

Personal Loan

Typically has a fixed interest rate More likely to have a variable interest rate
Fixed interest rate may make it easier to budget payments Variable interest rate may present a budgeting challenge
Fixed, lump sum Open-ended credit, up to approved limit
Interest is charged during entire loan term Interest is only charged on withdrawn amounts
Revolving debt Installment debt

Considering the Type of Debt

When you’re thinking about applying for a personal LOC or a personal loan, it’s important to consider the effect borrowing money can have on your credit score. If you borrow money without a repayment plan in place, you could run into trouble no matter which borrowing option you go for. But each is looked at differently by the credit bureaus.

A personal LOC is revolving debt, which means it will factor into your credit utilization ratio — how much you owe compared to the amount of credit that’s available to you. This can count as the second most weighty factor (at 30%) toward your score.

For a FICO® Score, keeping your total credit utilization rate below 30% is recommended. That means if your credit limit on is $15,000, you would use no more than $4,500.

•   Using a large percentage of your available credit can have a negative effect on your credit score. And lenders may see you as a high-risk applicant because they may assume you’re close to maxing out your credit cards.

•   Using a small percentage of your available credit can work in your favor. If your credit utilization ratio is low (under 10%), it signifies to potential lenders that other lenders have determined you to be a good risk, but you don’t need to use the credit that’s been extended to you.

•   Having a low credit utilization rate by using just a little of your available credit could actually have a more positive effect on your credit score than not using any of it at all. Lenders generally look for signifiers of a healthy relationship with credit.

A personal loan is installment debt and isn’t considered in your credit utilization ratio. In fact, if you pay off your revolving debt with a personal loan, it potentially can lower your credit utilization ratio and have a positive effect on your credit score. A personal loan also can add some positive variety to your credit mix — something else that’s calculated into your credit score.

Personal LOC or Personal Loan: Which Is Right for You?

Before you decide to take out a line of credit or a personal loan, it’s wise to compare lenders. Look at the annual percentage rate and whether it’s fixed or variable. You can also take into account any fees you might have to pay, including origination fees, annual fees, access fees, prepayment penalties, and late payment fees.

Estimating the total cost of the loan until it’s paid in full, including the principal loan amount, interest owed, and any fees or penalties you could potentially be charged, will help you figure out how much the loan will actually cost you.

You might use an online personal loan calculator to help you assess these total costs.

The Takeaway

Deciding when and how to borrow money can be a tough decision. Personal loans and personal lines of credit each have their pros and cons. Personal lines of credit allow you to borrow up to a credit limit, while personal loans disburse a lump sum. Interest rates, fees, and other features may vary. It’s wise to consider your needs and options carefully, reading the fine print on possible offers.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

SOPL0124002

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender