Guide to Personal Loan Agreements

Guide to Personal Loan Agreements

Getting a personal loan? It’s not as simple as walking into a bank and asking for a check — there’s some paperwork involved.

Your personal loan agreement is the document that contains everything you need to know about the deal you’re making with your lender, including your rights and responsibilities as well as theirs. It’s a fairly long and complex form, but breaking it down can make it easier to understand.

Let’s take a closer look at personal loan agreements.

What Is a Private Personal Loan Agreement?

A personal loan agreement, as mentioned above, is a document that details exactly what is being agreed to on both sides of a personal loan — lender and borrower. At the very least, it will state how much money is being loaned and the terms and conditions of the borrower’s repayment responsibilities.

But what is a personal loan that is not with a traditional lender? Private lenders can be individuals or organizations that make loans to individuals, sometimes without the qualification requirements of traditional lending institutions. A private personal loan agreement, specifically, is drafted as part of a private personal loan — one made between a private lender and a borrower.

Any personal loan agreement is a legally binding document, so it’s important to understand it in full before you apply your signature.

Why Is a Loan Agreement Needed?

A personal loan agreement is essentially a protective document. It protects both the lender and the borrower by laying out, in clear terms, exactly what is being agreed to. If either party fails to uphold the agreement, action can be taken — such as the lender seizing any assets offered as collateral or sending the account to collections — both of which, obviously, would be bad for the borrower.

But the document works both ways. Lenders, too, are subject to lender liability and can be taken to court if they fail to uphold their end of the loan agreement. Although these cases are far less common than borrower default, the loan agreement is a document that can be used for the borrower’s protection as well.

Does a Personal Loan Agreement Need to Be Notarized?

Personal loans are a type of contract, and contracts do not need to be notarized to be legally binding. All it needs is your signature — so once again, be sure to read all the fine print in detail before you uncap that pen.

What Should Be In a Personal Loan Agreement Form?

While the specifics of each personal loan agreement will vary, all loan agreements usually have a few basic items in common — items that must be there in order to make the loan agreement comprehensive.

Here are some details that are important to have in your personal loan agreement form.


Your legal name should appear on the document to show that the money is being loaned to you and no one else.


Your address and other contact information may also be in the loan agreement.

Amount Borrowed

The amount of money being borrowed is an important inclusion in a personal loan agreement — in part because it ensures the lender can’t ask you for anything beyond the borrowed principal (plus interest, which will also be listed).

Repayment Dates

The loan agreement should list payments will be expected each month and the expected date of the conclusion of the loan term.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and Interest Rate

The rate for the personal loan will also be on the personal loan agreement, likely expressed as an APR, which shows what percentage of the principal you’ll end up paying back in the course of one year including interest and any additional fees that may be packaged into the loan.

Your interest rate will vary based on your credit score and other financial factors. You’ll likely be able to qualify, if you have decent credit, for a personal loan — but also generally speaking — the higher your score, the lower your rate.

Recommended: APR vs. Interest Rate

Payment Method

The loan agreement may list which types of payment are acceptable, such as check, bank transfer, or credit card.

Payment Conditions

The contract should also list specific repayment conditions, including when payment is due and whether or not additional principal can be applied without penalty.

Dispute Management

A complete personal loan agreement should include details on how any disputes will be handled between the parties involved.

Change Loan Term Options

Some personal loan agreements may include the option to change your loan’s term (the period over which the loan is repaid).

Law Choice

Contracts in the United States should stipulate which state’s laws will be used to govern and interpret the agreement if borrowers live in a different state than the lender is headquartered.


Severability is a clause that states that even if one part of a contract is found to be unenforceable or otherwise rendered null and void, the remainder of the agreement will still hold.


Penalties associated with the personal loan, such as any late fees that may be assessed, at what point the loan will go into arrears or default, or other scenarios, should be listed in the contract as well.


Finally, the loan agreement must be signed by the borrower and the lender in order to be made legally binding.

Other Personal Loan Documents

Along with the signed personal loan agreement, there are other typical personal loan requirements, including the following.

Proof of Identity

Your driver’s license or some equivalent form of photo ID will likely be necessary in order to verify your identity.

Income Verification

Lenders will consider your income when qualifying you for a loan — after all, they have good reason to be interested in whether or not you’ll be able to repay the debt. Along with asking you to list your annual income, verifying documents such as tax returns may also be required.

Proof of Address

In order to prove your residence, and therefore eligibility for a loan, you may need to prove your address with utility statements, bank statements, or other official documents.

Getting a Personal Loan

Taking out a personal loan is a big financial responsibility, but it can also be a smart money move if you need to handle large, unexpected expenses at the last minute, or consolidate existing debt. For someone who has poor credit, a small personal loan responsibly managed can be one way to bolster their credit score.

Just remember that all loans come at a price — interest charged — and considering the total amount you’ll pay back to the lender over time is important in order to have a full understanding of the cost of the loan.

For example, if you take out a $10,000 personal loan at a 7% interest rate to be repaid over a term of five years, you’ll pay back a total of $11,880.72, or an additional $1,880.72 in interest. That’s not including any origination fees, late fees, or prepayment penalties a lender might charge.

The Takeaway

If you’re considering a personal loan, reading the loan agreement in depth is a good way to understand for sure what you’re agreeing to.

And if you’re looking for a personal loan with upfront terms and a lack of annoying hidden fees, you might want to check out SoFi Personal Loans, which have competitive, fixed rates, and no fees. Checking your rate won’t impact your credit score* — so why not take a peek today?

Learn more about personal loans from SoFi


Does a personal loan agreement need to be notarized?

No, a personal loan agreement does not need to be notarized to be legally binding — it simply needs to be signed by each party to the agreement.

What is a private personal loan agreement?

A private personal loan agreement is the binding legal contract between a borrower and a lender during a private personal loan.

Why do you need a loan agreement?

The personal loan agreement serves to outline the specific terms of the loan and protect both parties in case either fails to uphold the agreement.

*Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Photo credit: iStock/Chaay_Tee

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A Beginner’s Guide to Investing in Your 20s

Deciding how to invest money in your 20s can seem overwhelming at first; many people have differing opinions, and it’s hard to know where to start. But remember that you don’t need to have a lot of money upfront to be a successful and savvy investor. The most important thing is to start investing early, even if your initial investments are small.

Thanks to advancements in investment technology and options available to investors of all income brackets, investing has never been more accessible. Here are a few different strategies for investing money in your 20s.

Think About Financial Goals

When determining your financial goals, you may want to break down short-, medium-, and long-term milestones. You want to ask yourself what you want from your money and figure out when you’ll need to use the money. For example, the money you save for a medium-term goal, like a down payment on your first home, should be treated differently than the retirement savings you won’t touch for 40 or more years.

If you have not earmarked savings for a specific financial goal, take some time to think about what purpose you’d like to apply it to. A great first saving goal is to have three to six months of living expenses in an emergency fund. After that, it might be good to turn your attention toward savings and investing for longer-term goals, like retirement.

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Decide Where to House Your Money

When deciding how to invest money in your 20s, it can help to think about immediate, mid-term, and long-term financial needs. Once you have outlined some money goals, you could consider setting up your accounts. The type of account you open often depends on when you need the money.

Where to Put Immediate Money

Food, bills, rent, and everything else you must pay for on a month-to-month basis are immediate needs. Often people keep this money — along with a cushion so as not to overdraft their account — in an online bank account. These types of accounts allow you to withdraw money instantaneously, generally without penalties, making them ideal for your immediate financial needs.

Where to Put Mid-term Money

Mid-term money is any money you might need in the next couple of years, such as a travel fund, wedding fund, or home down payment savings. It might make sense to keep this money in a high-yield savings account, which provides a better return on your money than traditional savings accounts.

High-yield savings accounts, along with other cash equivalents like certificates of deposits (CDs) and money market accounts, are considered to be lower-risk investments (though CDs are not helpful for emergency funds because of the early termination penalties).

Where to Put Mid- to Long-term Money

For money you’ll use in five to 20 years, you may be prepared to take slightly more risk than a high-yield savings account. You might choose to keep the money in your high-yield savings account or in CDs, or a online brokerage account where you can invest that money in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other asset classes. You can also do a combination of the different types of accounts.

Longer-term savings options, like a tax-advantage 529 plan, can also be appropriate if you’d like to start planning for higher education needs for current or future children.

Where to Put Long-Term Money

Think of long-term money as cash you won’t need for several decades. A retirement account is a great example of an appropriate place to hold long-term money. Retirement plans like a Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, or a 401(k) account can offer significant tax benefits.

Potential Assets to Invest in During Your 20s

One important thing to understand about investing in your 20s is the tradeoff between risk and reward when implementing your investing strategy. You cannot have one without the other. With this risk and reward calculation in mind, you need to determine what asset classes you might consider when investing in your 20s.


A stock is a tiny piece of ownership in a publicly-traded company. When you invest in a stock, you could earn money through capital appreciation, dividends, or a combination of the two.

Stocks can be volatile because prices fluctuate according to supply and demand forces as they trade on an open exchange. Even though stocks can be volatile and experience losses, they tend to provide positive returns over time. The S&P 500 index has had an average annual growth rate of 10.5% from 1957 through 2021.


Although not risk-free, experts generally consider bonds less risky than stocks because they are a contract that comes with a stated rate of return. Bonds backed by the U.S. government, called treasury bonds, are the safest within the category of bonds because it is unlikely that the U.S. government will go bankrupt.

Bonds are debt investments, meaning investors fund the debt of some entity. The money you earn on that investment is the interest they pay you for borrowing your money. In addition to treasuries and corporate bonds, there are municipal bonds, which state and local governments issue, and mortgage- and asset-backed bonds, which are bundles of mortgages or other financial assets that pass through the interest paid on mortgages or assets.

Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds

Some investors might want to utilize mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to gain exposure to certain asset classes.

A fund is essentially a basket of investments — stocks, bonds, another investment type, or a combination thereof. Funds are helpful because they provide immediate diversification: safety against the risk of having too much money invested in one stock, sector, or any other single asset.

Funds are either actively or passively managed. A fund that is passively managed is attempting to track a specific index. An actively managed fund is maintained with a hands-on approach to determine investments in a portfolio. ETFs tend to be passively managed, but there are many actively managed ETFs funds on the market. Mutual funds can be either passively or actively managed.

Tips on Investing In Your 20s

Once you’ve become familiar with the basics of investing, it’s time to put that knowledge into action. These tips can help you shape a strategy for how to invest money in your 20s and beyond.

Gauge Your Personal Risk Tolerance

One of the key things to remember about investing in your 20s is that time is on your side. You have a significant time horizon window to allow your portfolio to recover from bouts of inevitable stock market volatility. Because of this, you could take more risks with your investments to achieve higher rewards, including the benefits of compounding returns.

Getting to know your personal risk preferences can help you decide where and how to invest in your 20s to achieve your investment goals. It’s also important to understand how risk tolerance matches your risk capacity and appetite.

Risk tolerance means the level of risk you’re comfortable taking. Risk capacity is the level of risk you prefer to take to reach your investment goals, while risk appetite is the level of risk you need to hit those milestones. When you’re younger, playing it too safe with your portfolio might mean missing out on significant investment returns.

Know the Difference Between Asset Allocation and Asset Location

People often invest in a combination of stocks and bonds, which is easy to do using mutual funds and ETFs. One strategy for investing in your 20s is to invest a higher allocation of your long-term investments in stocks and less in bonds, slowly moving into more bond funds the closer you get to retirement. This big picture decision is called asset allocation.

But asset allocation is only part of the picture. One might also consider asset location: the types of accounts where you’re putting your money, like savings accounts, an online brokerage account, a 401k, or an IRA.

Asset location matters when it comes to investing money in your 20s because it can maximize tax advantages if you’re utilizing a 401k or IRA. But these retirement accounts also have restrictions and penalties for withdrawing money. So if you want to be able to access your investments quickly, an online brokerage may be a complimentary investing account.

Take Advantage of Free Money

One of the simplest ways to start investing in your 20s is to enroll in your workplace retirement plan like a 401k.

Once you’ve enrolled in a plan, consider contributing at least enough to get the full company match if your employer offers one. If you don’t, you could be leaving money on the table.

And if you can’t make the full contribution to get the match right away, you can still work your way up to it by gradually increasing your salary deferral percentage. For example, you could raise your contribution rate by 1% each year until you reach the maximum deferral amount.

Don’t Be Afraid of Investment Alternatives

Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds can all be good places to start investing in your 20s. But don’t count out other alternative investments outside these markets.

Real estate is one example of an alternative investment that can be attractive to some investors. Investing in real estate in your 20s doesn’t necessarily mean you have to own a rental property, though that’s one option. You could also invest in fix-and-flip properties, real estate investment trusts (REITs), or crowdfunded real estate investments.

Adding alternative investments such as real estate, cryptocurrency, and commodities to your portfolio can improve diversification and create more insulation against risk.

The Takeaway

Learning how to invest money in your 20s doesn’t happen overnight. And you may still be fuzzy on how certain parts of the market work as you enter your 30s or 40s. But by continually educating yourself about different investments and investing strategies, you can gain the knowledge needed to guide your portfolio toward your financial goals.

One thing to know about investing in your 20s is that consistency can pay off in the long run. Even if you’re only able to invest a little money at a time through 401k contributions or by purchasing partial or fractional shares of stock, those amounts can add up as the years and decades pass.

If you’re ready to start saving and investing for your financial goals, the SoFi investment app can help. With SoFi Invest®, you can begin building a portfolio of stocks, ETFs, and crypto for as little as $5 to meet all the critical financial goals and milestones in your life.

Find out how SoFi Invest® can help you take a big step towards reaching your financial goals.

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7 Financial Aid Secrets You Should Know

As a student (or parent) it can be easy to focus solely on the college application process, and completely forget about financial aid. You spend so much time studying for the SATs (or ACTs) and tweaking your college essay so it perfectly represents you, that after you’ve been accepted and the reality of tuition payments set in, you might feel momentary panic.

It’s no secret that college tuition is expensive. Students and parents save for years to pay for higher education, but sometimes that’s just not enough. According to a Sallie Mae® study, “How America Pays for
College 2021
,” parent income and savings covered 45% of college costs while student income and savings covered 8% of the costs.

Many of us rely on financial aid to bridge the payment gap. Financial aid may come from multiple sources, including scholarships, grants, work-study, federal student loans, and private student loans.

Scholarships and grants are extremely useful forms of financial aid, since students are not typically required to pay back the money they receive. An online survey of students and parents found 72% of college families in 2021 relied on scholarships and grants to cover a portion of college expenses, according to Sallie Mae’s study.

Scholarships, grants, and savings often aren’t enough to cover the cost of attending college. Sallie Mae says 47% of college families borrowed money to help pay for college in 2021. Some families used home equity loans and credit cards, but federal student loans represented the most frequently used source of borrowed money followed by private student loans.

To top it all off, the financial aid application process can be confusing. Between federal aid and other scholarships, it can be difficult to keep everything straight.

Most often, the first step in applying for financial aid is filling out the Free Application for Federal
Student Aid
(FAFSA®). You can begin filling out the FAFSA on October 1 for the following academic year. The federal FAFSA deadline for the 2022–23 academic year is June 30, 2023, while colleges and states may have their own FAFSA deadlines.

Some schools use an additional form to determine scholarship aid — the College Scholarship
Service Profile

Taking the effort to apply for financial aid early can have a positive impact on your tuition bill. Below we highlight seven financial aid secrets you should know.

1. Decision Day vs Summer Melt

May 1 is usually decision day, the deadline when prospective college students must decide which college they plan to attend in the fall. But even after this deadline, students can change their minds. This phenomenon is known to industry professionals as “summer melt,” and sometimes it’s triggered by FAFSA verification setbacks.

Students who receive insufficient need-based financial aid, for example, might be compelled to reconsider their college enrollment decisions. Summer melt can give you an opportunity to select a more affordable school for you if you’ve encountered a FAFSA verification roadblock.

Summer melt is a common problem that causes schools to lose students during the summer. Because of this, schools may have a bit of secret wiggle room in their acceptance policy to admit new students over the summer for the fall semester.

2. Writing a Letter

You might be able to take advantage of summer melt with this secret: write a letter. After you get your financial aid offer, you could write a letter to your school’s financial aid office to open the lines of communication.

Let them know how excited you are to attend school in the fall. That’s where you could include a thoughtfully worded inquiry for any additional aid that you might qualify for as a result of summer melt.

When students decide to switch schools or not attend at the last minute, it means that they also won’t be using their financial aid award — which could now be available to other students.

3. Calling the Financial Aid Office

Another way to potentially take advantage of summer melt is to call your school’s financial aid office. Instead of calling immediately after you receive your financial aid award, think about calling in June or July. This allows financial aid offices time to account for students who have declined their financial aid packages.

An appropriately timed call to the financial aid office at your school could mean additional financial aid is allocated to your package — no guarantees, of course, but it never hurts to ask.

4. Submitting Paperwork and Applications On Time

Every school’s financial aid office has to follow a budget. Some financial aid is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so it helps to submit forms, like the FAFSA, and other applications, on time or even ahead of schedule.

You may be out of luck if you apply for assistance after your university’s financial aid office has met their budget for the year. Some states have early winter deadlines for awarding scholarships and grants. Tennessee residents, for example, must complete their FAFSA by February 1 to be considered for a state-funded Tennessee Student Assistance Award grant.

You can check the deadlines for financial aid in your state through the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website .

Repay your way. Find the monthly student loan
payment and rate that fits your budget.

5. Being Prepared

Have the basics ready to go before you sit down to fill out the FAFSA. If you have all of the information you need before you begin filling out the FAFSA, you’ll likely have an easier time filling out the information.

Usually, each parent and the student will need to create a username and password, which is called the Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). You’ll also need:

•   Social Security numbers (for you and your parents)

•   Bank statements and records of untaxed income (possibly)

•   You and your parents’ tax returns (aid awards are based on income from two years ago)

•   Any W2 forms

•   Net worth calculations of your investments (for students and parents)

6. Being Wary of Services that Charge You for Help

If you need assistance filling out the FAFSA, avoid any services that charge you. The first F of FAFSA stands for “Free,” so there is no need to pay for a service to fill the form out for you.

If you need assistance filling out the FAFSA, there are plentiful online resources through the U.S. Department of Education .

7. Filing the FAFSA Every Year

For every year you are a student and want to receive federal aid, you’ll have to file the FAFSA. Get in the habit of filing it every fall, so you’re closer to the top of the financial aid pile.

The Takeaway

Scholarships and grants can be super-helpful additions to a federal financial aid package. The money can reduce your tuition bill and doesn’t usually need to be repaid. Work-study can also be beneficial in helping college students make ends meet.

If you need additional help financing your college experience, SoFi offers private student loans with an entirely digital application process and no fees whatsoever. Potential borrowers can choose between a variable or fixed interest rate and have the option to add a cosigner to the loan.

Learn more about SoFi’s flexible repayment plans and application process for private student loans.

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Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products 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.
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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

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Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


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Credit Card Debt Forgiveness: What It Is and How It Works

Credit Card Debt Forgiveness: What It Is and How It Works

If you’re drowning in credit card debt, you may feel like there’s no life raft in sight. But in reality, you do have options to help you get out of debt — including credit card debt forgiveness. When your credit card debt is forgiven, your debt isn’t totally erased, but you can end up paying less than you owe. This type of credit forgiveness is rare, however, and it usually comes with some financial consequences.

Still, if you’re unable to repay your credit card balance, it may be an option worth exploring. Read on to learn how to get credit card debt forgiven and what alternatives there are to credit card forgiveness.

What Is Credit Card Debt Forgiveness?

Credit card debt forgiveness is when a portion of your credit card debt is effectively washed away. However, this rarely happens. And when it does, it usually comes at a high cost.

As part of the terms and conditions you agreed to when signing up for a credit card, you likely committed to repaying your credit card debt accrued from swiping your card at places that accept credit card payments. For this reason, it’s unlikely the credit card company will forgive your debt unless you have a compelling reason for why you don’t have to repay it. If your identity was stolen and a fraudster ran up your credit card bill, for instance, you’re probably not responsible for repaying the outstanding balance. (In this case, you may consider disputing a credit card charge.)

When you don’t pay your credit card bill for an extended time, the credit card company may sell your debt to a debt collector. At this point, the debt collector will reach out to try to get you to repay all or a portion of the debt you owe. However, if you agree to repay a portion of your debt, they may forgive the rest, resulting in credit debt forgiveness.

Recommended: Charge Card Advantages and Disadvantages

How Does Debt Forgiveness Work for Credit Cards?

If a debt collector forgives your debt, you’ll generally still have to pay off a portion of the amount you racked up. Here’s a look at how credit card debt forgiveness works:

Let’s say that you owe $10,000 in outstanding credit card debt. If you haven’t paid your bill for the last six months — not even your credit card minimum payment — your credit card company may have sold the debt to a debt collector.

At this point, you’ll no longer communicate with your credit card company about debt negotiations since the debt collector is now responsible for recuperating the loss.

Let’s say you agree to repay $5,000 of the debt. In this case, your debt collector will require you to make a lump sum payment or installment payments over a set period of time. This means that the other $5,000 of your outstanding credit card balance is now forgiven.

While this may seem like a relief, you’re still responsible for paying taxes on the amount of credit card forgiveness you receive in most cases. Essentially, you will claim the forgiven debt as taxable income and report it on your tax return.

When Does Credit Card Debt Forgiveness Work Best?

When you’ve fallen behind on your credit card payments and your creditor sells your debt to a debt collector for a fraction of the total balance, this is usually the best time to request credit forgiveness. Typically, debt collectors are more willing to settle some of your debt since they purchased your debt for a portion of what you owe. In other words, any debt you agree to pay back will help the debt collector make a profit from the transaction.

However, if your debt has not yet gone to a debt collector and the creditor is about to charge-off your account, you could still consider credit card forgiveness. A charge-off means that the creditor is accepting your debt as a loss. Therefore, they can recuperate the funds by selling your debt to a debt collector. So, before they sell the debt, they might be willing to negotiate credit card debt forgiveness with you.

Generally, you’ll want to wait to consider negotiations with your credit card company until you’ve fallen at least three months behind on your payments. At this point, there’s less likelihood that you can reasonably catch up on repaying your debt.

How Credit Card Debt Forgiveness May Affect Your Credit

The most significant financial implication of credit card debt forgiveness is the negative impact it can have on your credit. When you don’t pay your credit card bill for an extended amount of time, the creditor may report this as a charge-off to the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian). A charge-off indicates that you didn’t follow through with your financial commitments to a lender, and it can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.

Because credit bureaus use this information to calculate your credit score, a charge-off could lower your score for a while. A lower credit score may make it challenging to qualify for future loans or credit cards. And if you do qualify, you may have to pay a higher than average credit card interest rate, which can make borrowing more expensive.

To avoid this situation, it’s best to contact your credit card company as soon as you get behind on payments. Credit card companies may be willing to help you if you’ve fallen on hard times. They may offer a hardship plan, which can lower your monthly payments or reduce your interest for a set amount of time, and ultimately help you get back on your feet. This is only a temporary solution though, so if your financial issues are more significant, you may need to explore another solution.

Pros and Cons of Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

If you can’t make your credit card payments, credit card forgiveness might be a viable option. But, while getting your debt forgiven can help alleviate the financial burden, it also can harm your credit and cost you financially.

Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of pursuing credit card debt forgiveness.



Potentially avoid bankruptcy Can harm your credit score
Repay only a portion of the debt you owe Will remain on your credit report for up to seven years
Pay off debt in a shorter time frame Must pay income tax on forgiven debt

Alternatives to Credit Card Debt Forgiveness

An alternative to credit card debt forgiveness may make more sense for your financial situation. Exploring all of your options in advance can help ensure that you make the best decision for your needs.

Debt Management

Third-party credit counseling agencies offer debt management plans that help you establish a plan for debt repayment. Working with one of these agencies may help you lower the fees you owe as well as your interest rate. However, you usually must agree to repay the total amount of outstanding debt before moving forward.

With a debt management plan, you’ll make one monthly payment to the credit counselor, who will then distribute the funds among the creditors you owe. Most plans help you repay your debt within three to five years. During this time, your account will still accrue interest, though your creditor might be willing to offer a lower rate.

To use one of these plans, you usually have to close your credit card account. This can negatively impact your credit score since it lowers your total credit card limit, thus increasing your credit utilization rate. Your credit utilization ratio is one of the most significant factors credit bureaus use when calculating your credit score.

Also, you will likely have to pay a monthly fee to your credit counselor.

Debt Settlement

Working with a debt settlement company can help you to lower the amount of debt you owe. For example, if you owe $10,000 in credit card debt, the credit debt settlement company may settle your debt for $5,000 instead. But, of course, this strategy will only work if the creditor would rather have some of your debt repaid instead of having you default on the account.

While debt settlement may sound good in theory, you should use it as a last resort option before filing bankruptcy. This solution is risky since it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll settle your debt. In addition, because creditors are not required to settle your debt, you may find that this strategy leads to a dead end.

Debt settlement also can harm your credit. Usually, debt settlement companies require you to stop making credit card payments while they negotiate with your creditor. At this time, your payments will go toward the debt settlement company so they can offer your creditor a lump sum payment as an incentive to settle your debt. However, pausing payments can negatively impact your debt since payment history is another factor used to calculate your credit score.

Debt Consolidation

If your credit isn’t damaged too much, you might be able to qualify for a debt consolidation loan. While this isn’t technically a debt relief option, it can help you to consolidate your debt and potentially lower your interest rate, allowing you to save money.

To consolidate your debt, you’ll apply for another loan, ideally one with better terms than your existing debt. You’ll then use the loan to pay off your outstanding credit card debts. Then, you will make installment payments to the lender instead of paying the creditors.

Before you apply for a debt consolidation loan, compare your options to identify the loans with the most competitive terms and interest rates.

Declaring a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Depending on your situation, declaring Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may make the most sense. For instance, if you can’t make the payments with a debt management or debt settlement plan, bankruptcy could be an option to avoid going deeper into debt. But before you declare bankruptcy, consider speaking with a bankruptcy attorney to weigh out the pros and cons of this solution.

Bankruptcy should be one of your last resorts since it can drastically harm your credit. Also, it will stay on your credit report for up to 10 years after the filing date. To settle your debts with bankruptcy, you may also be forced to sell some of your assets or other valuable possessions.

The Takeaway

While credit card debt forgiveness may sound great in theory, the reality is that it can harm your credit and end up costing you financially. If you find yourself starting to struggle with debt repayment, contact your credit card company to see if they will offer a hardship plan. If they’re unwilling to help or your financial troubles require a more long-term solution, you can explore credit debt forgiveness and other alternatives.

While credit cards can land you in a heap of debt, they can also be a great financial tool when used responsibly. For a limited time, new credit card holders† who also sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings with direct deposit can start earning 3% cash back rewards on all eligible credit card purchases for 365 days*. Offer ends 12/31/22.

Take advantage of this offer by applying for a SoFi credit card today.


How long does it typically take before a debt is forgiven?

Depending on the route you go, the time frame for debt forgiveness may vary. For example, bankruptcy can take six months, while debt settlement can take 36 months or more.

Does debt forgiveness hurt your credit score?

Yes, once you become delinquent on payments, your credit score can be negatively impacted. Then, when your credit card company sells your debt to a debt collector, they may report your balance as a charge-off or a complete loss, which can also impact your credit drastically.

How do you get your credit card balance forgiven?

Usually, once a creditor sells your outstanding debt to a debt collector, the debt collector may agree to forgive some of your credit card debt. But, you must agree to repay a portion of the debt for this to happen.

†SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS PROSPECTIVELY BASED ON MARKET CONDITIONS AND BORROWER ELIGIBILITY. Your eligibility for a SoFi Credit Card Account or a subsequently offered product or service is subject to the final determination by The Bank of Missouri (“TBOM”) (“Issuer”), as issuer, pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated. Please allow up to 30 days from the date of submission to process your application. The card offer referenced in this communication is only available to individuals who are at least 18 years of age (or of legal age in your state of residence), and who reside in the United States.

*You will need to maintain a qualifying Direct Deposit every month with SoFi Checking and Savings in order to continue to receive this promotional cash back rate. Qualifying Direct Deposits are defined as deposits from enrolled member’s employer, payroll, or benefits provider via ACH deposit. Deposits that are not from an employer (such as check deposits; P2P transfers such as from PayPal or Venmo, etc.; merchant transactions such as from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.; and bank ACH transfers not from employers) do not qualify for this promotion. A maximum of 36,000 rewards points can be earned from this limited-time offer. After the promotional period ends or once you have earned the maximum points offered by this promotion, your cash back earning rate will revert back to 2%. 36,000 rewards points are worth $360 when redeemed into SoFi Checking and Savings, SoFi Money, SoFi Invest, Crypto, SoFi Personal Loan, SoFi Private Student Loan or Student Loan Refinance and are worth $180 when redeemed as a SoFi Credit Card statement credit.

Promotion Period: 4/18/2022-6/30/2022

Eligible Participants: All new members who apply and get approved for the SoFi Credit Card, open a SoFi Checking and Savings account, and set up Direct Deposit transactions (“Direct Deposit”) into their SoFi Checking and Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi Credit Card members who set up Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account during the promotion period are eligible. All existing SoFi members who have already enrolled in Direct Deposit into a SoFi Checking & Savings account prior to the promotion period, and who apply and get approved for a SoFi Credit Card during the promotion period are eligible. Existing SoFi members who already have the SoFi Credit Card and previously set up Direct Deposit through SoFi Money or SoFi Checking & Savings are not eligible for this promotion.

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Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
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

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.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

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What Are the Differences Between a Loan Officer and a Loan Processor?

What Are the Differences Between a Loan Officer and a Loan Processor?

When someone applies for a personal loan, there are a lot of moving parts and key players involved. While each lending institution will have their own unique process in place, loan applicants can expect to come across a loan officer, loan processor, or an underwriter.

There’s a decent amount of overlap in these roles, so to get some more clarity on who does what, let’s take a look at a loan officer vs. loan processor vs. underwriter.

What Is a Personal Loan Officer?

A loan officer evaluates loan applications and determines whether or not to recommend them for approval. A personal loan officer is a specific type of loan officer that focuses on personal loans. Personal loan officers are generally employed by credit unions, banks, and financial institutions.

Generally, a personal loan officer takes on the following job responsibilities:

•   Contact potential borrowers to see if they need a loan.

•   Work with loan applicants to gather information required for the application.

•   Walk applicants through the different loan types available to them and their unique terms.

•   Collect, verify, and review an applicant’s financial information (e.g., credit score, income, and other factors).

•   Review any loan agreements to confirm they are in compliance with all state and federal regulations.

•   Approve loan applications or pass them onto management for a final decision.

A major part of a personal loan officer’s responsibilities happen during the underwriting process. This process is used to determine if an applicant qualifies for the loan they are applying for. Once a loan officer collects and verifies all of the necessary personal and financial information about an applicant and any corresponding documents, the loan officer will assess the applicant’s need for a loan and their ability to repay it on time.

A loan applicant working with a loan officer can turn to them about any questions they have about what a personal loan is or about the application process. A personal loan is a type of consumer loan and consumer loan officers may use a fully automated underwriting process using software or they may complete it themselves (which is more often the case with smaller banks and credit unions).

What Is a Personal Loan Processor?

A personal loan processor, also known as a loan interviewer or loan clerk, is responsible for interviewing applicants and other necessary parties to obtain and verify the financial and personal information required to finish the personal loan application. Once the applicant is approved for the loan, the personal loan officer will prepare any documents required for the appraisal and the closing of the personal loan.

What Does a Personal Loan Processor Do?

The personal loan processor serves as a liaison between the financial institution issuing the loan and the applicant to make sure that qualified applicants can secure a loan in a timely manner. The loan processor will also help applicants decide which loan product is the best fit for their financial needs and goals. For example, if an applicant is experiencing financial hardship, the loan processor can help them set up debt payment plans.

Review Your Application

A loan processor receives, collects, distributes, and evaluates applicant information required to complete the loan application. They can approve or deny an applicant.

Verify Your Information

Personal loan officers are tasked with interviewing applicants and other necessary parties in order to verify any financial and personal information that must be evaluated during the application process.

Request Documents

As a part of the verification process, they will also request and collect any necessary documents from the applicant. They are also responsible for preparing any documents required for the appraisal and closing process.

Third Party Reports

In addition to collecting documentation from the applicant, the personal loan processor will work with third parties to obtain any necessary documents and reports, such as the applicant’s credit report.

Is a Personal Loan Processor the Same as an Underwriter?

While there is some overlap between what a personal loan processor and an underwriter do, these are two different roles. A loan underwriter focuses on evaluating how creditworthy an applicant is by collecting and evaluating an applicant’s financial information. Typically, they then use loan underwriting software to make an approval or denial recommendation.

A loan processor also reviews how eligible an applicant is for a loan by collecting and verifying important information and documents, but they don’t use underwriting software to make a decision. The loan processor has the ability to approve or deny an applicant.

Loan Processor


Collects and verifies applicant information Collects and verifies applicant information
Makes approval decision Uses underwriting software to determine eligibility
Prepares documents for appraisal and closing

Is a Loan Officer or Loan Processor Responsible for Your Personal Loan Approval?

When it comes to loan processor vs. loan officer, both loan officers and loan processors have the ability to reject or deny a loan application or at the very least make a recommendation for whether or not an applicant should receive a loan.

When Does a Personal Loan Processor or Officer Get Involved?

When someone applies for a personal loan, they’ll connect with a personal loan processor or officer when they submit their initial application. Either one can start the process of collecting personal and financial information and supporting documentation from the applicant.

What Happens During Personal Loan Processing?

During the personal loan processing stage, the applicant will work with the personal loan processor to provide them with any personal information, financial information, or documentation that the personal loan processor needs to finish their application.

Getting Approved for a Personal Loan

Getting approved for a personal loan requires going through the underwriting process which assesses how qualified a loan applicant is. Some firms use underwriting software to make a decision whereas others make the decision without the aid of software.

The Takeaway

When comparing a loan officer vs. loan processor, it’s clear that both loan processors and loan officers play an important role in the personal loan application process. Their roles often overlap and where they work determines the exact role they take on.

Personal loan applicants who might not want to go through a long underwriting process can view their SoFi personal loan rate in just one minute. Once approved, they can receive their personal loan funds that very same day.

Learn more about SoFi personal loans today!


Is a personal loan processor the same as an underwriter?

No, a personal loan processor is not the same as an underwriter, although they share similar responsibilities. A loan underwriter determines whether or not an applicant is creditworthy. A loan processor collects and verifies any personal and financial information required to complete loan applications.

What does a personal loan processor do?

A personal loan processor works with personal loan applicants to gather the information and documents needed to complete their applications. A personal loan processor also prepares appraisal and closing documents.

When does a personal loan processor or officer get involved?

A personal loan processor or officer gets involved once a consumer starts the application process. They can help guide the applicant through that process.

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