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Should Parents Cosign on Student Loans?

Sending your child off to college is a major milestone towards their independence. But if your kid decides to get a private student loan, they will most likely need to have a cosigner. Typically, that means mom and dad step up to the plate.

Should parents cosign on student loans? The answer will depend on such factors as your risk tolerance, your child’s probable ability to repay the loan, and if it makes sense for your family and your finances.

Cosigning for a student loan has benefits and disadvantages. There are also other options that can help bridge the gap between the cost of higher education and what you’re able to pay.

This guide will provide important facts to know about being the cosigner on a private student loan.

Why Are Student Loans Cosigned So Often?

It’s no secret that the cost of college education has skyrocketed. Consider these statistics:

•   The average cost of college has doubled since year 2000.

•   The current average cost for one year of college at a public institution is $26,027, including living expenses, with tuition and fees costing $9,678 in-state and $27,091 on average out-of-state.

•   For a private, nonprofit university, that number rises to $55,840 on average, with tuition and fees accounting for $38,768 of that sum.

There are many kinds of funding and different types of student loans to contemplate when budgeting for college. When savings, federal student loans, federal work-study, and scholarships or grants can’t fill the gap, students may look to private lenders to help them cover the rest.

Unfortunately, students just starting out usually don’t have the credit history needed to get a loan from a private lender, so cosigners sometimes step in.

But do students have to have a cosigner for a private student loan? Almost always. Since many lenders won’t lend money to young adults with no or little credit history, they typically require cosigners. Roughly 92% of all private undergraduate student loans have a cosigner.

💡 Quick Tip: You’ll make no payments on some private student loans for six months after graduation.

What Are the Downsides to Cosigning My Child’s Loan?

If you’re looking to privately fund your child’s education costs, it means they likely need the help to pay for college, just like many Americans do. But cosigning for your child’s private student loan is not without potential repercussions. Think over the following:

•   When wondering “Should I cosign a student loan?” do consider your relationship with your child. If something goes wrong — missed payments, extended unemployment, or worse, default — the potential for financial stress could create the possibility of misunderstandings and hurt feelings. If your relationship with your child is already tenuous, bringing financial stress into it will likely not help.

•   Cosigning could put your own finances at risk. You may have the most responsible young adult in the whole state, but if something goes awry and the loan goes into default, the lender may sue you or hire a collection agency to try to recoup the debt.

A student loan default might also tarnish your credit score. Simply signing the loan also affects your score. Even if you’re not the one making payments, you’re still responsible for the loan, according to the major credit bureaus.

Recommended: What Is a Credit Bureau?

What Are Alternatives to Cosigned Loans?

Do parents have to cosign student loans? Not necessarily. And so you may wonder what options you have to cosigning a loan for your child’s education. Here, a few to know about:

The First Step for Federal Aid: FAFSA®

Do parents have to cosign a private student loan? The answer in the previous section was “almost always.” The “almost” part of that answer is “not if they can find other sources of funding.” Scholarships and grants, which don’t have to be repaid, are a good place to start, but they often don’t cover the entire cost of an entire college education. The first source of funding that should be exhausted before any others is federal student aid.

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is the first step to figuring out how much federal (and frequently state) financial assistance your child is eligible for. You’ll add your financial information that will determine the amount of federal assistance, which includes Direct Subsidized Loan, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and other student aid from the federal government, like grants and work-study.

Some states and colleges also base merit aid on FAFSA information, so the application is an important one for all types of financial aid, not just federal.

Establishing Their Credit Score

There are also some other pathways to consider when trying to find loans without a cosigner. One good idea is to have your child start building their credit history. A credit score is typically enhanced over time as the record of their successful payments grows, along with other factors like their outstanding debt, credit mix, and more. A couple of pointers:

•   Your student might start by either getting a secured credit card at a credit union or other financial institution, then showing they can make timely monthly payments on a purchase.

•   If your student is trustworthy and mature, you could also consider adding them as an authorized user to a credit card you already have. You’ll be responsible for making the monthly payments, but they could benefit from your financial behavior.


Loans and scholarships can go hand-in-hand to make college affordable. Like the real estate mantra concerning location, the college payment mantra might be, “Scholarships, scholarships, scholarships!” Money you don’t have to pay back? Yes, please.

The FAFSA will help colleges determine what federal student aid, scholarships, and grants your child might qualify for, but don’t let your student stop there.

Merit scholarships come in all sizes and from diverse sources, including local and national organizations, heritage associations, and various writing and other contests sponsored by nonprofits and other organizations. It might help to look at groups that your family might be closely associated with, such as unions, professional associations, or alumni organizations.

Keep in mind that your child can apply for scholarships while they are still in college, because some are tied to college majors, and your student is likely to have settled on a major after the first year or two. This could open up scholarship options that couldn’t be considered before they declared a major.

Recommended: Pennsylvania Student Loan and Scholarship Information


You might also be able to forego cosigning a student loan by making strategic decisions about education costs. Can your student reduce the overall cost of college by ditching the meal plan, living off campus, or even attending a significantly less expensive college?

Or, instead of paring down expenses, maybe your student could consider boosting their income to avoid the need for a cosigner on a student loan. One idea might be to start a low-cost side hustle. Another could be to take a year off to work — this may be enough to close the gap, avoiding the need for a loan altogether.

Serious savings. Save thousands of dollars
thanks to flexible terms and low fixed or variable rates.

Loans for Parents

Parents who don’t mind shouldering more of the cost can also take out their own federal student loans with the Direct PLUS Loan , sometimes referred to as a “parent PLUS loan.”

Even though your student benefits from the loan, they are not the borrower, and you’ll be solely responsible for paying it back. Some parents may consider working out a repayment arrangement between themselves and their student. If this will be the expectation, however, it’s a good idea to discuss the arrangement with your student before taking out this type of loan.

Direct PLUS Loans can also be taken out by graduate or professional students. Whether a parent or a graduate student, there is a downside for the borrower. The interest rate for Direct PLUS Loans is often higher when compared to other federal student loans — 8.05% for the 2023-2024 school year versus 5.50% for Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans.

However, in this scenario, you won’t be asking yourself, “Should a parent cosign a student loan?” because you’re helping fill the gap without depending on your student to pay the loan back.

💡 Quick Tip: Would-be borrowers will want to understand the different types of student loans that are available: private student loans, federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans, Direct PLUS loans, and more.

The Takeaway

There are options available to eligible students before considering a private student loan. However, if all other options have been exhausted, a private student loan can be a good choice to help your child complete their college education.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.

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 Private Student Loans
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 SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria 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.

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.

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 .

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The Problems with Online Payday Loans and Fast Cash Lending

The Problems With Online Payday Loans and Fast Cash Lending

Whether you need to pay for an emergency root canal or have unexpected home repairs, sometimes life can’t wait for your next paycheck.

If you’ve researched how to access cash quickly, you might wonder if online payday loans are the answer. Lenders that offer payday loans typically promise you things like quick applications, no credit checks, and expedited approvals. They may say you’ll get the cold hard cash you need the very next day.

It’s an easy solution, right? Not so fast.

How Do Payday Loans Work?

Payday loans are called that because they’re meant to be paid back the next time you get a paycheck. They’re generally for small amounts, and usually don’t require collateral or even necessarily a credit check.

The catch? Payday loans come at a price — and a high one, at that. They can have interest rates of more than 600%, depending on the lender you choose and which state you’re in. (Some states have stronger protective laws, including rate caps.)

Such high-interest rates and other associated fees can quickly lead to situations where you end up getting behind on the loan. You may end up having to borrow more and more in order to pay back the money you borrowed, especially since the loan might come due in only two weeks or a month. Soon you may be in a hole so deep you might not know how to get out. It can be costly, greatly damage your credit, or even lead to bankruptcy.

Recommended: What Are Common Uses for Personal Loans?

How Much Does a Payday Loan Cost?

The short answer: a lot. But let’s look at an example.

Say you take out a $500 payday loan at an annual percentage rate (APR) of 300%. You would only pay that full 300% if you took a whole year to pay off the loan because the APR is what you would be charged in interest over 12 months.

However, even if you only borrow money for one month, you’d have to pay 1/12 of 300%, which translates to 25%. Here’s where the math gets ugly: 25% of $500 is $125, which means that when your loan comes due at the end of its very short term, you’ll owe $625. This amount might be tough to meet, especially if you’re in a situation where you needed a payday loan in the first place.

What Is a Direct Payday Loan?

Payday loans are offered by a wide variety of vendors, but for the most part, they break down into two categories: direct payday loans and those offered through a broker.

With direct payday loans, the entire loan process, from application to funding to repayment, is all managed by the same company. Although these can be slightly better than indirect loans — which may involve multiple fees, longer funding wait times, and harder-to-pin-down communication — they’re still generally considered a bad idea.

Why Is it Best To Avoid Payday Lending?

Other than the possibility that you can get money quickly if you have bad credit, there aren’t many benefits associated with payday loans. You’ll end up paying a significant amount in interest, and you’re usually expected to pay the money back in a very short period of time — usually within two weeks or so.

The interest on your loan can also compound daily, weekly, or monthly. This means that interest charges will start accumulating on the interest you already owe, which will inflate your loan balance even more.

Depending on how much you borrowed and your financial situation, compounding interest can make it incredibly difficult for you to pay back the loan. Many times borrowers end up taking out additional loans to pay off the payday loan, which can lock them into a seemingly endless cycle of debt.

You’re also unlikely to be able to borrow a large amount of money because payday and fast cash loan lenders typically have low maximum borrowing amounts.

What’s more, you won’t even be building your credit if you do manage to pay the loan back on time, because most of these lenders don’t report your behavior back to credit bureaus. In contrast, above-board lenders will report back to credit bureaus when you’re paying your bills on time and in full, and that can boost your credit score.

What Are Some Alternatives to Payday Loans?

In an ideal world, you’d avoid any kind of consumer debt. But sometimes it’s simply unavoidable. There are financially favorable alternatives to consider before you sign up for a risky payday loan.

Paycheck Advance

The best kind of money to borrow is money you’ve already earned. While not every employer offers it, a paycheck advance can be a relatively low-risk way to fund last-minute emergencies. An advance on your paycheck basically means getting paid earlier than you normally would, with the balance deducted from your future paycheck.

But tread carefully: Many employers offer paycheck advances through apps and platforms that may assess a one-time fee or even charge interest. While the rates may not be as astronomical as payday loan rates, it’s still worth taking a second look at the paperwork to ensure you understand what you’re signing up for ahead of time.

Recommended: What to Know About Credit Card Cash Advances

Debt Settlement

Another option is debt settlement, which is where you offer a creditor a lump sum payment on a delinquent debt — a lump sum that often ends up being far less than the original amount you owed.

However, doing this does require some negotiating, and sometimes even some legal know-how, which is why many people seek the help of professional debt settlement companies. This, too, is tricky, because scams abound, and some debt settlement companies may try to charge exorbitant fees to “eliminate your debt,” all without actually doing any work on your behalf. The Federal Trade Commission has more information on debt settlement and how to look for a reliable firm if you choose to go this route.

Personal Loans

Many types of personal loans are unsecured loans — meaning no collateral is involved — that can be used to pay for just about anything. And although they tend to have higher interest rates than secured loans, like mortgages or auto loans, those rates are still much lower than payday loans.

With its lower interest rate and longer-term, a personal loan will likely cost you less money than a payday loan in the long run. And some online personal loan lenders can process your application quickly and even get you the money you need in a matter of days.

Unlike payday loans, you have to go through a credit check to qualify and get approved for a personal loan. However, if you have a steady income and meet the lender’s eligibility requirements, you’re likely to qualify for a lower interest rate than you would if you used an online payday loan.

Your repayment timeline could also be less stressful if you opt for a personal loan rather than a payday loan. Personal loans come with the option of longer terms — a few years, for example, instead of a few months.

And because you can pay your loan off over a longer-term, your monthly payments might be more manageable than a payday loan. There also tend to be fewer fees attached to personal loans, and you might be able to borrow more because personal loans have higher loan maximums.

Personal loans aren’t much more difficult to apply for than payday or fast cash loans. You can typically get pre-qualified online by answering a few questions about your income, financial history, and occupation.

Recommended: Personal Loan Calculator

The Takeaway

When you need money quickly, payday loans — and their promise of fast money — can be tempting. But you’ll want to proceed with caution. These loans generally come with very high interest rates and associated fees, and you may only have a couple of weeks or so to pay back the money you borrowed. There are less-risky alternatives to consider, including paycheck advance, debt settlement, or a personal loan.

If you are thinking about taking out a loan to help you repay debts on time, a SoFi personal loan may be a good option for your unique financial situation. SoFi personal loans offer competitive, fixed rates and a variety of terms. Checking your rate won’t affect your credit score, and it takes just one minute.

See if a personal loan from SoFi is right for you.


What is a disadvantage of a payday loan?

Payday loans generally come with high interest rates and associated fees. What’s more, you typically have to pay back the money you borrowed on your next payday.

Are payday loans a good idea?

Payday loans are usually not the top choice when you need cash quickly. That’s because they often come with high interest rates and tight repayment timelines.

What is the catch to payday lending?

The catch to payday loans is that borrowers are typically charged very high fees and interest rates.

Are payday loans easy or hard to pay back?

With their high interest rates and fees and short repayment timelines, payday loans can be difficult for borrowers to pay back on time.

Can payday loans hurt your credit?

While payday loans are unlikely to help your credit score, they can hurt your credit if you don’t pay back your loan and your lender sends the debt to a debt collector.

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.

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.

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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7 Ways To Simplify Your Finances

It may feel like there’s nothing easy about money. The older you get, the more obligations you may have. Between checking, savings, IRAs, 401(k)s, bills, loans, mortgages, and more — it can be a lot to keep track of and manage.

If thinking about your finances causes you to feel stressed and/or you find yourself putting off important financial decisions, it may be time to simplify. While streamlining your personal finances can take a little bit of time and effort in the short term, it can end up saving you time, effort, as well as money, over the long haul.

Here are seven simple moves that can help you manage your money more efficiently — and more effectively.

1. Automating Your Bills

One of the easiest ways to simplify your finances is to set up auto payment whenever possible. Putting all of your bills — including credit cards, utilities, insurance, loans, mortgage, and even rent — on autopilot can save you significant time and hassle each month. Plus, you won’t have to worry about late payments — or late fees.

You can often set up automatic payments for your bills by going to the website of the service provider and inputting your bank account information.

If a business doesn’t offer an automatic payment program, you may be able to set up a recurring payment through your bank by logging on to your checking account or using your bank’s mobile app.

💡 Quick Tip: Don’t think too hard about your money. Automate your budgeting, saving, and spending with SoFi’s seamless and secure mobile banking app.

2. Going Paperless

A major culprit of personal finance-related headaches is paperwork. Keeping track of the many documents — all those receipts, investment reports, bank statements, tax returns — can be a struggle.

Many services allow you to opt-in to a paperless experience instead. You’ll typically have access to all of the documents when you log into your account. And, with everything just a click away, you won’t have to worry about finding misplaced paper documents.

If you’re interested in leveling up your organization, you could even set up a digitized archive of your important information and files on your computer or an external hard drive, so you never have to spend hours searching through file cabinets and miscellaneous envelopes.

You can also reduce physical — and mental — clutter by taking advantage of the many retailers and service providers that offer email, rather than paper, receipts. Or, you may want to consider getting an app that scans, organizes, and stores receipts, such as Smart Receipts .

You can also get an app for filing and organizing your paperless statements. Some not only capture receipts, but will also seek out your online statements and bills and automatically download and file them to the cloud.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!

3. Consolidating Accounts

Whether you’re married with three kids or single with two Labradoodles, there’s a good chance that you have more financial accounts than you need. Consolidating multiple bank accounts into just a few can help simplify your financial life. In some cases, it can also help you save you money.

If you’ve done a lot of job hopping in your career, for example, you could have multiple 401(k)s floating around. When you leave a company but don’t roll over your 401(k), you’re often subject to fees that your employer may have been covering while you were employed.

By rolling your 401(k) into an IRA, you may be able to minimize fees. Another plus is that you’ll also have all of your funds in one spot. And, you may be able to select from a wider selection of funds and investments than the ones selected by your previous employer.

If you have more than one checking or savings account, you may want to see if you can pare it down to one of each, ideally under the same roof. Or, you might want to consider switching to a checking and savings account, which functions as both a spending and saving account in one product.

You may also want to look at bundling your insurance policies. Many companies offer substantial discounts if they write both your auto and homeowner’s policies.

4. Using One Credit Card

If you signed up for a variety of credit cards, chasing the promised rewards they offered, you may have racked up more than a few credit accounts.

To make it easier to keep track of your spending, you may want to pick the card that offers you the most in return, whether that’s cash back, travel rewards, or other perks, and focus on using only that credit card.

By putting everything on one card, you’ll only have one credit card bill to pay each month, a single statement to monitor for errors and fraud, and one rewards program to track. Plus, you won’t have to think about which card to pull out whenever you’re making a purchase.

Rather than canceling your other cards (which could negatively impact your credit score), you may want to just store them away in a secure place.

5. Knocking Down Debt

One of the most effective ways to reduce financial stress is to get rid of high interest debts.

Paying off even one sizable credit card or loan can not only ease worry, but can also reduce the number of financial obligations you have to deal with each month. It can also free up money that you can then put towards something else, whether that’s getting rid of other debts or something fun like a vacation.

Two common strategies for paying off debt are the debt snowball and debt avalanche method.

With the debt snowball method, you list your debts in order of size, then put any extra money you have towards the debt with the smallest balance, while paying the minimum on the others. When that debt is paid off, you tackle the next-smallest debt, and so on. Paying off debts in full can help you feel accomplished, simplify your life, and inspire you to continue crushing your debt.

With the debt avalanche method of paying off debt, you list your debts in order of interest rate, then focus on putting extra money towards the debt with the highest interest rate first, while paying the minimum on the rest. When that debt is paid off, you put extra money towards the debt with the next-highest interest rate. While it may take you longer to see progress on your loans, you’ll likely pay less money in interest over time using this method.

6. Putting Saving on Autopilot

The set-it-and-forget-it approach can be highly effective when it comes to saving money. For one reason, you don’t have to remember to transfer money from your checking to your savings each month. For another, the money will get whisked out of your checking account before you ever have a chance to spend it.

You can automate savings in just a few minutes by setting up a recurring transfer from your checking to your savings account for a set amount of money on the same day each month (perhaps the day after you paycheck clears).

Even if you can only afford to transfer a small amount each month, it can be worth automating this task. Since the savings will happen every month no matter what, your savings will gradually build over time.

💡 Quick Tip: Want a simple way to save more everyday? When you turn on Roundups, all of your debit card purchases are automatically rounded up to the next dollar and deposited into your online savings account.

7. Focusing on Fewer Goals

It can be great to have financial goals. Many of us have plans to buy a home, put kids through college, and pay for our retirement. But if you set too many goals at one time, you can end up losing focus, and not making any progress on any of them.

A better approach can be to set just one or two goals to fully focus on at one time. Ideally, one should be saving for retirement, since the earlier you start saving for retirement, generally the easier it is to reach your goal.

The other goal might be paying off your credit card debt or student loans, saving for a down payment on a home, or putting money aside to help pay for your kids’ college education.

By focusing your energy on just one or two specific goals, you may be able to make real headway. Once you start seeing progress — or actually achieve the goal — you’ll likely be inspired to set, and accomplish, other goals.

The Takeaway

Simplifying your financial life may take a bit of legwork up front but, in the long run, it can help alleviate stress and also help you better plan for your financial future.

Strategies that can help you simplify your finances include paring down the number of accounts you have, crossing off debts, automating monthly tasks like paying bills and transferring money to savings, and focusing your efforts on just one or two financial goals at a time.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

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.

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.


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What Is Consumer Debt, and How Can You Get Out of It?

Consumer debt refers to any money you borrow for personal, family, or household purposes. It includes credit card debt, student loans, auto loans, mortgages, personal loans, and payday loans.

White “debt” can have negative connotations, having consumer debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Borrowing money allows you to achieve your goals, such as buying a house or going to college. However, consumer debt can become a burden if you borrow too much or for the wrong reasons.

Unfortunately, many Americans are currently saddled with high levels of debt. According to a recent credit and loan review by Experian, the average person in the U.S. had a total consumer debt balance of $101,915 in 2022. This number includes mortgages, credit card balances, auto loans, personal loans, and student loans.

If you’re curious about consumer debt or worried that you may have too much, read on. What follows is an in-depth look at the different types of consumer debt, including how each can help — or hurt — your finances, plus how to pay off high levels of consumer debt.

What Is Consumer Debt?

Consumer debt, as its name implies, is debt held by consumers, meaning private individuals as opposed to governments or businesses. It includes debts you may already have or might seek in the future — credit cards, student loans, auto loans, personal loans, and mortgages. It doesn’t include business loans or lines of credit or business credit cards.

Consumer debt products are offered by banks, credit unions, online lenders, and the federal government. They generally fall into two major categories: revolving debt and non-revolving debt.

With revolving debt, you repay your debt monthly (credit cards are a prime example). With non-revolving debt, you receive a loan in one lump sum and then repay it in fixed payments over a defined term. Non-revolving credit typically includes auto loans, student loans, mortgages, and personal loans.

Consumer debt can also be broken down into secured vs unsecured debt. Secured debt is debt backed by an asset (such as a home or car) used as collateral. If the loan isn’t paid back, the lender has the option to seize the asset. Unsecured debt, on the other hand, does not require collateral. The lender simply relies on the borrower’s ability to repay the loan.

The Different Types of Consumer Debt

Consumer debts vary widely in terms of how they work, their terms, and their impact on your financial well-being. Here a closer look at some of the most common types of consumer debt.

Mortgage Debt

Mortgage debt is the most common (as well as the largest) type of debt in the U.S. This type of consumer loan is used to purchase a home and the home is used as collateral.

Mortgages are installment loans, which means you pay them back in a set number of payments (installments) over the term of the loan, typically 15 or 30 years. Mortgage interest rates are usually lower than other types of consumer loans, and the interest may be tax deductible if you itemize your taxes.

If you make your payments on time, a mortgage can have a positive impact on your credit profile, since it shows you are a responsible borrower. If you stop making payments on a mortgage, however, it can negatively impact your credit. Plus, the lender can begin the foreclosure process, which typically includes seizing the property and selling it to recoup its losses.

Student Loan Debt

Student loans are unsecured installment debt used to pay for education expenses, such as tuition and room and board. They are offered by federal or private lenders and issued in one lump-sum payment. The borrower is then responsible for making repayments in regular amounts, typically after they graduate or are no longer in school.

Student loans are often one of the first debts consumers take on and can be an important way to build a positive credit history, provided you make on-time payments. Interest rates vary by lender. If you get a student loan from the U.S. Department of Education, the interest rate is set by the federal government and will remain fixed over the life of the loan.

Depending on your income, interest paid on student loans may be tax-deductible up to certain limits.

Auto Loan Debt

Auto loans are secured installment loans used to purchase a vehicle. These loans can have varying terms and interest rates, and the vehicle serves as collateral for the loan. You can get an auto loan through a bank or through a lender connected with a car dealership.

Unlike a house, a car depreciates in value over time. As a result, you, ideally, only want to take out financing for a vehicle if you can get a low interest rate. Some car companies offer low- or no-interest financing deals for individuals with good credit.

You get the proceeds of an auto loan in one lump sum then repay that amount, plus any interest, in a set number of payments (typically made monthly) over an agreed-upon period of time, often three to six years. If you stop making payments, the lender can repossess your car and sell it to get back its money.

Like other types of consumer loans, making on-time payments on your auto loan can help you build a positive credit history.

Personal Loans

Personal loans are consumer loans that individuals can use for a wide variety of purposes, such as debt consolidation, home improvements, or emergency expenses. You can get a personal loan with an online lender, bank, or credit union. They typically have fixed interest rates and set repayment terms, often two to seven years.

Personal loans are typically unsecured, meaning you don’t need to provide any collateral. Instead, lenders look at factors like credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and cash flow when assessing a borrower’s application.

Once approved for a personal loan, you receive a lump sum (which can be anywhere form $1,000 to $50,000 or more) and start paying it back, plus interest, in fixed monthly payments over the loan’s term. On-time loan payments can help build your credit, but missed payments can damage it.

Recommended: Typical Personal Loan Requirements Needed for Approval

Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt arises from using credit cards to make purchases or cover expenses. This type of debt is revolving, meaning you don’t have to pay it off at the end of the loan term (usually the end of the month). If you carry a balance from month to month, you pay interest on the outstanding amount.

Credit card debt is an unsecured loan, since it isn’t tied to a physical asset the lender can repossess to cover the debt if you don’t pay your bills. Interest rates vary depending on the card, your credit scores, and your history with the lender, but currently average around 24%.

To remain in good standing, you’re required to make a minimum payment on your balance each month. However, only paying the minimum allows interest to accrue, which can make the debt increasingly harder to pay off. As a result, credit card debt is often the most problematic type of debt for consumers.

A long history of making on-time payments can have a positive impact on your credit profile, while missing and late payments (and using a large amount of your available credit line) can have a negative impact on your credit.

Payday Loans

Payday loans are a type of short-term credit offered to consumers looking to get access to cash fast. Generally, these loans are for relatively small amounts of money ($500 or less) and must be repaid in a single payment on your next payday, hence the name. Payday loans are typically available through storefront payday lenders or online.

Although these fast-cash offers can be tempting, the high cost associated with them make them a last resort. A typical two-week payday loan will charge $15 for every $100 you borrow, which is the equivalent of a whopping 400% annual percentage rate (APR).

Generally, payday loans are not reported to the three major consumer credit bureaus, so they are unlikely to impact your credit scores.

Pros and Cons of Consumer Debt

There are both benefits and drawbacks to consumer debt. Here’s a look at how they stack up.

Pros of Consumer Debt

•   Access to immediate funds Consumer debt allows individuals to make large purchases (like a home or car) or cover expenses (like a college education) when they do not have the necessary cash on hand.

•   Building credit history Responsible borrowing and timely repayments can help establish and improve an individual’s credit history and credit score.

•   Emergency financial support Consumer debt, such as a personal loan, can provide a safety net in unexpected situations when someone needs funds immediately.

Cons of Consumer Debt

•   High interest rates Many forms of consumer debt, such as credit card debt or payday loans, carry high interest rates, making them costly in the long run.

•   Risk of overborrowing Without careful financial planning, consumer debt can lead to excessive borrowing, making it difficult to manage monthly payments and potentially causing financial stress.

•   Negative impact on financial goals Excessive consumer debt can hinder individuals from achieving long-term financial goals, such as saving for retirement or buying a home.

Getting Out of Consumer Debt

To get out from under unhealthy levels of consumer debt, consider the following steps:

•   Assess your debts You might start by making a list of all your debts, noting balances, interest rates, and minimum monthly payments. This will allow you to see where you stand and make a plan for debt repayment.

•   Create a budget Next, you’ll want to assess your average monthly income and expenses to determine how much you can allocate towards debt repayment each month. At the same time, you may want to look for ways to cut back on nonessential spending; any funds you free up can go towards extra payments.

•   Prioritize repayment If you have multiple high-interest debts, you may want to focus on paying off the highest-interest debt first, while making minimum payments on other debts. Or, you might focus on repaying the debt with the smallest balance, making minimum payments on all your debts. Once that is paid off, you move on the next-highest balance.

•   Explore debt consolidation options Consider consolidating multiple debts into a single loan to simplify repayment and, ideally, save money. One way to do this is through a debt consolidation loan, a personal loan that may come with lower interest rates than your existing debts.

•   Negotiate with creditors Another option is to reach out to your creditors to see if you can negotiate lower interest rates, extended payment terms, or possible debt settlement options.

•   Seek professional help if needed If you are struggling with debt, you may want to consult a nonprofit credit counseling service. Credit counselors help you go over your debts to devise a plan for repayment, and they can also help you with budgeting and other personal finance basics.

The Takeaway

Consumer debt is debt you take on for personal, rather than business, reasons. But all consumer debt is not created equal. Some debts, such as mortgages or student loans, can be characterized as “good” debts, since they can benefit your long-term financial health. Other debts, like high-interest credit card debt or payday loans, on the other hand, can be considered “bad debts,” since they can put your financial health at risk.

If you’re having trouble paying off your consumer debts, you may want to consider debt consolidation. With a low fixed interest rate on loan amounts from $5K to $100K, a SoFi personal loan for debt consolidation could substantially lower how much you pay each month. Checking your rate won’t affect your credit score, and it takes just one minute.

See if a personal loan from SoFi is right for you.

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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 .

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.

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.


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Medical Debt Relief Options

It may come as no surprise that many Americans are stressed about medical debt and the rise of healthcare costs. The average family health insurance premium has increased 43% in the past 10 years, according to a 2022 survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). What’s more, one-third of insured Americans are concerned about being able to afford their monthly premiums, and about four in 10 adults (41%) carry some form of medical debt.

Fortunately, there may be some options for those struggling with medical debt.

How Much Do Americans Spend on Healthcare Each Year?

Many people receive health insurance through an employer. And even though employers generally help pay for a portion of the costs, the financial burden can still be significant. A typical household spends $431 per month — or $5,177 per year — on healthcare expenses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey. This includes routine things such as health insurance costs, doctor’s visits, medications, and medical supplies.

At the same time, the U.S. tends to outspend other countries when it comes to healthcare. In 2021, healthcare spending topped $4.3 trillion, or $12,914 per person, according to the latest figures available from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That figure represents 18.3% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

How Many Americans Struggle With Medical Debt?

Despite employer-sponsored health plans covering some of the costs, some Americans struggle to pay their medical bills.

In fact, nearly 1 in 10 adults — or around 23 million people — owe at least $250 in medical bills, a 2022 KFF analysis found. Of that, 11 million people owe more than $2,000, and 3 million people owe more than $10,000.
Certain groups of people appeared to be more impacted than others. For instance, people aged 35-49 and 50-64 are more likely than other adults to report medical debt. The same goes for people in poor health and those living with a disability. And among racial and ethnic groups, a larger share of Black adults (16%) report having medical debt compared to White (9%), Hispanic (9%), and Asian American (4%) adults.

What Happens If Medical Debt Is Not Paid?

Even if you’re facing an overwhelming amount of medical debt, the worst thing to do is ignore it. Depending on the state where you live, a medical provider might charge you a late fee for bills not paid on time and may even charge interest if payments aren’t made at all.

After a few months, if medical bills go unpaid, the provider might choose to pass the debt over to a debt collection agency.

If the medical provider does decide to give the debt to a debt collection agency, the debt might immediately appear on the debtor’s credit report and affect their credit score. The debt collector will take steps to collect the bill. If the debt is not collected, the provider may take it even further and take legal action.

While U.S. laws don’t allow debtors to be imprisoned for unpaid debts, they could face another consequence, such as wage garnishment. If the case goes to court and a judge rules in favor of the medical service provider, there’s a chance the debtor’s wages could be garnished. In simple terms, this means that payment will be taken out of their paycheck and sent to the provider.

Recommended: Tips for Paying Off Outstanding Debt

4 Medical Debt Relief Options

While there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to help ease the financial burden of medical debt, the following ideas may be worth considering. It’s also a smart move to contact a professional before taking any action.

1. Medical Debt Payment Plans

Because healthcare services are often costly, contacting medical providers to ask if they offer payment plans might be one plan of action to consider. Some medical providers may offer payment plans to pay off debt in installments instead of paying it off all at once, which might make the debt more manageable.

2. Negotiating Medical Debt

It may feel counterintuitive or inappropriate to negotiate medical bills, but some providers actually expect it. While it may seem awkward at first, negotiating medical bills can help make them more manageable. Additionally, negotiating may even help avoid a credit score ding, or worse, getting sued.

For starters, reaching out to the provider’s billing department directly to see if negotiation is possible might be an option. Many providers have financial departments that can determine if patients qualify for discounts or reductions. Remember, when negotiating, try to be as polite as possible. But it can be helpful to be persistent, too.

Another point to remember is that providers may favor cash. So those who can afford to make a lump sum payment might consider asking if the provider offers a discount for a cash payment.

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score?

3. Working With a Nonprofit Advocate

If the medical bills keep piling up, it may be worthwhile to consider finding a nonprofit advocate or reputable credit counseling organization that offers assistance with managing money and debts, creating a budget, and providing resources to help consumers pay off the debt that’s dogging them.

Certified counselors that have been trained to help individuals create a plan to solve financial concerns can be found through the U.S. Department of Justice. These organizations offer counseling and debt management plans and services.

One solution credit counselors may suggest is a debt management plan. These plans may help the borrowers get their debt under control.

With one type of debt management plan, the borrower makes a lump sum payment to the credit organization, and then the organization pays the creditor in installment payments. If you decide to go this route, make sure not to confuse a credit counseling nonprofit organization with a debt settlement company.

In contrast to credit counseling nonprofits, debt settlement companies are profit-driven. They negotiate with creditors to reduce the debt owed and accept a settlement — a lump sum — that’s less than the original debt. However, these companies can charge a 15% to 25% fee on top of the debt settled. While some of these companies are legitimate, consumers are cautioned to be wary of scams.

Some deceptive practices include guarantees that all of a person’s debts will be settled for a small amount of money, that debtors should stop paying their debts without explaining the consequences of such actions, or collection of fees for services before reviewing a person’s financial situation. Researching a company’s reputation can be done through the state attorney general’s office or the state consumer protection agency.

4. Using a Personal Loan

Using a credit card to pay off medical bills doesn’t help anything when you’re trying to reduce your overall debt. Taking out a personal loan could be a way to streamline multiple bills into one monthly payment.

Consolidating medical debt might include a number of benefits, but it’s important to note that it isn’t a cure-all. A loan will not erase your debt, but it could help you get a fixed monthly payment and, potentially, reduced interest rates.

It’s important to compare rates and understand how a new loan could pay off in the long run. If your monthly payment is lower because the loan term is longer, for example, it might not be a good strategy, because it means you may be making more interest payments and therefore paying more over the life of the loan.

Taking the Next Steps

If you’re steeped in medical bills, you’re hardly alone. One in 10 adults owe medical debt, with 3 million people saying they owe more than $10,000, according a 2022 analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. While dealing with the debt may not be pleasant, it’s a task you shouldn’t ignore. You may end up having to pay a late fee or interest rate on unpaid bills, or the provider could choose to pass the debt to a collections agency. This could negatively impact your credit score.

Fortunately, there are some debt relief options you may want to consider. Examples include exploring debt payment plans, negotiating the debt with your provider, enlisting the help of a nonprofit advocate, or taking out a personal loan to help pay off the bills.

If you are thinking about taking out a loan to consolidate your debt, a SoFi personal loan may be a good option for your unique financial situation. SoFi personal loans offer competitive, fixed rates and a variety of terms. Checking your rate won’t affect your credit score, and it takes just one minute.

See if a personal loan from SoFi is right for you.

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.

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.

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

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.

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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