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Is Public Service Loan Forgiveness Right For You?

For doctors and residents carrying high student loan balances, public service loan forgiveness (PSLF), sometimes known incorrectly as public student loan forgiveness, can seem like a sweet deal. After all, when you’ve got tens of thousands of dollars to pay back, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to write off even a few?

But it’s not so easy as just signing up to get it. PSLF is a government-run program that forgives your loans if you meet a certain set of conditions. To actually receive PSLF, you may have to jump through hoops and avoid potential pitfalls.

If you’re thinking about doing PSLF, here are a few considerations to keep in mind ahead of time:

So, PSLF is possible, but there is a lot to keep track of along the way to make sure you qualify once you’ve hit your 120 payments threshold.

For a less complicated way to reduce your student debt and pay it off faster, SoFi student loan refinancing can help you save thousands—and checking your rate only takes two minutes.

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

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How the PAYE Plan Can Help with Student Loan Payments

It’s no secret that Americans are facing down substantial student loan balances. What is a secret—or might as well be—are the numerous government programs designed to help.

Income-contingent repayment programs such as PAYE might just sound like another government acronym, but considering this program could lower your monthly payments, it’s worth looking into. Expecting new graduates to pay high monthly installments is a tall order, which is why plans like this exist. The government (surprisingly enough) has some options to alleviate your student loan debt burden.

What is the Pay as You Earn Plan?

The PAYE, or Pay As You Earn Plan is exactly what it sounds like; The plan bases your monthly student loan payments on your income, not your debt. PAYE is a government program geared toward aiding graduates struggling with loan payments. So, say you’re having trouble meeting your monthly payments.

With programs like PAYE, your loan payments are tailored to what you can afford. That means if you’re making $30,000 a year, payments might be limited to $100 a month, whether you owe $5,000 or $50,000 in student loans. And, under this plan, if you’ve been making qualifying monthly payments for 20 years, your outstanding debt could be forgiven.

There are other, private-lender options to lower your monthly payments, such as refinancing your loans. But before deciding if that is the right route for you, we put together this helpful guide on the PAYE plan.

How Does PAYE Work?

For those who qualify and sign on for PAYE, payments are generally around 10% of your discretionary income . If your income increases, and your monthly payments get recalculated, your payments will never exceed what you would be paying under the standard plan , as long as your income is still under the qualifying threshold.

So what’s the catch? For one thing, lower monthly payments will, of course, mean a higher accumulation of interest. And while your loan balance could be eligible to be forgiven in 20 years, that forgiveness in many circumstances is seen as income in the eyes of the IRS. So if in 20 years you still owe, say, $20,000, even if the total balance is forgiven, you might have to pay taxes on that $20,000 the same year its forgiven.

Am I Eligible for a PAYE Plan?

Not everyone is eligible for the PAYE program. First off, PAYE only works for federal direct loans. And because PAYE was created for those struggling to meet loan payments, PAYE is only available to those who can demonstrate financial hardship. This makes sense, of course, because 10% of a high discretionary income would be a high monthly payment and over the payments of a federal standard plan.

PAYE plans are given to those whose monthly payments are lower than they would be on the standard 10-year payment plan. You can use the Department of Education’s income-based loan Repayment Estimator to compare this to your payments under the standard plan.

What Are My Other Options Outside of PAYE?

If PAYE isn’t right for you, there are plenty of other options offered by the federal government or by private lenders. If you have federal loans, there are three other income-driven repayment options:

• Income-contingent repayment (ICR), which asks for generally 20% of your discretionary income. Your loans are eligible to be forgiven after 25 years. And just like the PAYE loan forgiveness option, you could be taxed on the amount that’s forgiven.

• Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), which takes generally 10% of your discretionary income. There is a forgiveness option after 20 years if you’re paying off your undergrad degree, or 25 years if you’re paying off undergrad and grad school loans.

• Income-based repayment (IBR), which takes generally 10% to 15% of your discretionary income. Your loans are forgiven after 20-25 years, though you could be get taxed on the amount that’s forgiven.

To see what you would pay under the different plans, just plug your information into the Department of Education’s IBR calculator .

Those looking to lower their interest rates may also want to consider student loan refinancing, especially if you have a combination of private and federal loans. Increasingly, private lenders are offering rates lower than the federal government’s, making refinancing a popular option.

Essentially, refinancing means replacing your student loans with one, brand-new loan with a lower interest rate. If you have a good financial history and a steady income, you are an especially good candidate for loan refinancing.

Is your student loan debt costing you a fortune? Check out SoFi’s student loan refinancing. With competitive interest rates, refinancing your student loans could save you thousands.

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.
SoFi does not render tax or legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and we recommend that you consult with a qualified tax advisor for your specific needs.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment, Income Contingent Repayment, or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.


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How Timeshare Financing Works

It goes a little bit like this: You’re on a much-needed vacation with your family, having daiquiris on the beach while the kids have the time of their lives playing in the surf. Everybody is happy— you want to come back here every summer.

Then, a timeshare salesman approaches you in the resort lobby and offers you a free three-course dinner at a top restaurant in exchange for hearing out his pitch: a timeshare on this very beach, a great investment opportunity, and a deal that’s on the table for one day only.

The high-pressure timeshare salesman has become a cliché of resort towns everywhere, and with good reason. The timeshare loans they sign vacationers up for often have a high rate of default. But timeshares are still a popular way to vacation, and there are savvy ways to finance a timeshare. In fact, according to the American Resort Development Association (ARDA), 9.2 million U.S households own a timeshare. And some even own several timeshares.

So, are timeshares a good idea? It depends on how you think about it. If you’re looking for a vacation spot you can use whenever you want, you are likely in for an expensive disappointment. But if you’re looking for a vacation spot you can come back to time and again in your favorite location, it might make financial sense.

Staying in resorts and eating out can get expensive. Buying a vacation home can be even more expensive. If you understand that you’re purchasing a timeshare not as an investment but as a vacation experience—to spend time in with family and friends, it may actually be less costly and less stressful than other vacation options.

While purchasing a timeshare comes with risks, there are ways to be smart about timeshare financing. In this article, we’ll walk you through some timeshare financing options, so you can understand how it works and make a decision that’s right for your budget.

How to Finance a Timeshare Responsibly

When you buy a home, you typically finance it with a mortgage. When you buy a car, you can finance it with an auto loan. But there’s no direct lending market for timeshares, and on top of that, they usually don’t increase in value over time.

So what are your timeshare financing options? First, let’s look at how not to finance a timeshare. The first option most interested buyers are faced with is developer financing. Typically, a timeshare resort developer works with a lender that offers high-interest personal loans, and they encourage you to make a decision right away while you’re at the presentations. According to ARDA, buyers pay an average of $20,000 for a timeshare interval, though prices can range from depending on the property.

Developer financing is often proposed as the only timeshare financing option, especially if you buy while you’re on vacation. Another option, however, is to plan ahead. If you’re ready to purchase a timeshare, secure financing beforehand so that you have the funds in hand when you negotiate the sale. This way you have time to shop around for a good financing deal—and possibly save up some money to put toward the purchase as well.

Choosing a Vacation Home

When you purchase a timeshare, you’re sharing the property with a number of other timeshare owners and typically have the right to use the property at the same time every year.

You can trade days with other owners and sometimes even try out other properties around the country (or around the world) in a trade. In addition to the initial purchase price, you’ll also be required to pay your share of the maintenance fees that cover the costs of property upkeep and cleaning. These maintenance fees often increase over time.

Once you’ve considered the financial responsibilities that come with the timeshare and your budget, choosing the right place often comes down to where you want to be, and what you need in terms of space and amenities.

Since selling a timeshare can be difficult and sometimes involve a financial loss, you’ll want to make sure you’re purchasing a timeshare in a place that your family will want to return to for a long time—and can easily get to. That way you don’t end up paying for a place you don’t use.

Preparing Financially for a Timeshare

A good financial scenario to be in when buying a timeshare is to have a steady income that will allow you to keep up with maintenance fees and travel to your timeshare each year. If you plan to finance the purchase, look over your financial profile and creditworthiness.

Your income, creditworthiness, the term of the loan and other factors, will determine the rates that lenders will offer you. Resolving any issues impacting your credit score may help improve your financial profile.

You’ll also want to consider your budget over the next few years. Are there any other major purchases you are planning to take on? Do you anticipate a new added cost like a new family member? Any type of financial shift in coming years should be accounted for before you finally sign on.

Smarter Ways to Finance a Timeshare

There are a few alternatives to financing a timeshare with financing offered by a developer. Of course, you can wait and save up the cash to purchase the timeshare outright. If you’re looking to finance the purchase, there are still several good options.

One option is to use a current credit card. This option often involves less paperwork, but does come with a high cost in terms of interest rates. This option should be used if you are putting most of the purchase price down in cash up front and just need to put the last little bit on a credit card. You should also only do this if you are certain you can pay off the remainder in a relatively short amount of time.

Taking out a home equity loan is another option. With a home equity loan, you are borrowing money against the value of your home. These loans can be relatively easy to secure from a lender, because your home is often used as collateral.

They also come with potentially much lower rates than other types of loans . There are a few drawbacks, however: There’s more red-tape and risk as you’re putting your home on the line. Home equity loans are typically used for expenses or investments that will improve the resale value of your primary residence.

Securing a personal loan at a competitive interest rate can be an even better solution for financing a timeshare. Depending on your financial profile, you may qualify for a much lower interest rate than financing from a developer or a high interest rate credit card would offer. A personal loan also allows you to choose terms that work for you. On top of that, a personal loan is relatively easy to secure.

Timeshares are often thought of as a way to guarantee vacation time in your favorite location each year without having to buy a second home. If you do your homework and weigh the risks, they can be a good way to vacation with family and friends and make a lot of memories along the way.

Thinking about using a personal loan to finance a timeshare? Check out and check your rate in just a few minutes.

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 on credit.


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Is There a Student Debt Crisis in America?

Along with fireworks, the flag, and a deep appreciation of cars, the college debt crisis is unfortunately about as American as apple pie. The average student borrower has about $34,000 in loans to pay off today. The student debt crisis isn’t going anywhere either.

As of March 2018, there were 44.5 million borrowers in the United States who owe over $1.3 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve . And that’s not even the scariest part. The US student loan debt is growing bigger every day as Americans are paying more on average than they did a decade ago for school.

Between 2001 and 2016, the real amount of student debt owed by households more than tripled. This scary rise of college loans has many experts saying we’re in the midst of a student debt bubble .

In 2016, an average college student with a bachelor’s degree graduated with $28,446 in debt . Students entering college now could end up paying even more by the time they graduate.

To put it into perspective, in the past 10 years, student loan debt in the US has grown by 170% . With 45% of recent graduates carrying student debt, the class of 2018 expects to retire by 72 .

Will the Growth of Student Loan Debt Slow Down?

Answer: probably not. In the past 10 years, US student loan debt grew to be worth more than car loans or credit card debt. It is the second-largest source of household debt and the only kind of personal debt that grew in the wake of the Great Recession.

As US student loan debt continues to grow, experts are saying this could be a student debt bubble, as the growth of debt looks eerily similar to the housing bubble of 2008 .

Similarly to how the housing market collapsed in 2008, many worry that as student debt increases and grows larger than what a borrower could reasonably repay, there will be an increase in defaults.

A new study found that using default rates from 1996, nearly 40% of 2004 borrowers may
default on their loans by 2023 . What does that mean for 2014 borrowers, who have taken out even bigger loans than there 2004 cohorts?

How U.S. Student Loan Debt Grew So Big

Although many in the media like to bemoan the increase of people attending colleges who are not qualified, the student debt bubble has little to do with more students enrolling in university. Only one-quarter of the aggregate increase in student loans since 1989 is attributed to students attending in college.

There are a few surprising factors that are causing the unruly rise of the college debt crisis. For one, education costs are continuing to rise – and not in line with the rest of the market. The headline consumer price index between 2016 and 2017 was 2.7%, while tuitions rose by 9% at state universities and 13% at private colleges . If the cost of higher ed continues to rise more than the cost of living, borrowers will continue to feel the pain.

In addition to rising college costs, experts say the monumental amount of debt is linked very directly to the collapse of the housing market. When the housing market crashed in 2008, parents who could borrow against the value of their homes were no longer able to do so, forcing more students to take out debt in their own names.

One economist estimated that a $1 drop in home equity loans due to a plummeting house prices leads to 40 to 60 more cents in student loans.

While it helps to know you are in good company, news of the student debt bubble might have you kvetching. The only thing worse than owing thousands of dollars of money to Uncle Sam is hearing that the millions of others in the same boat might end up tanking the US economy.

Can Refinancing Help with Student Debt?

But don’t run for the hills just yet. If you’re worried about the student debt crisis, you might want to consider refinancing. By refinancing student loans, you can consolidate existing private and federal loans into one new student loan with a lower interest rate. Not only does this mean you’ll only have one payment to worry about, it means you could pay less overall.

According to the Department of Education , interest rates on student loans can range from 3.5% to 8.5%, with most in the 5% to 7% range. Not only is that extremely high – consider the typical auto loan or mortgage rate – but if your interest rates are punishing, it only means you’ll remain in debt longer.

With borrowers paying off around four student loans on average, refinancing would also mean less paperwork each month. Between 2011 and 2016, online lenders have refinanced around $6 billion in student loans . Consolidating loans is a great way to make payments more manageable depending on what kinds of debt you have.

Researching Refinancing Options

There are a wide range of student loan refinancing options available. But it’s important to do your homework as the student debt crisis grows larger, because there are many predatory companies that might take advantage of your financial situation.

A study found that when plagued by anxiety over debt, borrowers were more likely to fall for a scam. With the US student loan debt exponentially rising, this has led to an increase in bad actors. Some estimate that there are over 130 companies that run student loan scams, which could result in even more debt in your lifetime.

But that doesn’t mean refinancing isn’t right for you. Not only could it mean consolidating all your payments into one monthly bill, but you could qualify for a lower interest rate which over your lifetime could spell big savings. It also means you’ll become debt-free sooner. Can you say score?

Although there are ways to consolidate federal loans with the government, refinancing involves a private lender. All of your student loans – both federal and private – are consolidated through refinancing. A private lender typically offers a lower interest rate, depending on a number of factors like your credit score, your payment history, and how much you still owe. This lets you pay your loans off at a more competitive rate, which can translate into thousands of dollars in savings.

When refinancing, it’s also possible to change the term length of your loan. If you’re feeling tight on cash with big monthly payouts, consider a longer term. If you’d rather get rid of your student debt as soon as possible, opt for a shorter term with larger payments.

Use a student loan calculator to see how much you can gain from refinancing. All you need to know is how much you owe and what your interest rates are across both federal and private loans. At SoFi, you can request a quote without actually committing to refinancing, which makes it easier to decide on next steps.

Refinancing with SoFi can help ensure your loans are consolidated and managed properly. Similarly to how using a Certified Public Account to file taxes can save you bundles of moolah, using a reputable lender can help you save money on your student debt. SoFi can help evaluate repayment strategies and potential forgiveness options while staying on top of pesky paperwork.

Scared of the looming student debt bubble? Consider refinancing your student debt with SoFi for one easy monthly payment and potentially thousands in savings.

Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
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.
SoFi doesn’t provide tax or legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique. Consult with a qualified tax advisor or attorney.


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Balance Transfer Cards vs. Personal Loans: Which is Better for You?

Mounting credit card debt can sometimes feel impossible to get out from under. Emergencies come up, things happen, and sometimes it’s easiest to reach for a credit card to cover unexpected expenses. Yet when you carry debt on your credit card, even if you make the minimum payments each month, interest still accrues and adds to what you owe.

If you’re struggling to pay off credit card debt, you’re far from alone. Revolving consumer credit rose to over $1 trillion in January, according to the Federal Reserve , and credit card debt has become the form of debt most widely held by families in the U.S . Fortunately, there are a few good solutions to getting rid of your credit card debt for good.

When faced with high-interest credit card debt, it can make sense to pay it off with either a balance transfer credit card or a personal loan. Both can consolidate all your credit card debt into one place at a lower interest rate, which can save you money and helps you deplete your balance without racking up high-interest charges.

But which of those two options makes sense for you? To answer that, you need to know what a balance transfer credit card is and how a balance transfer works. And you need to know the ins and outs of personal loans. Let’s get into it.

What is a Balance Transfer Credit Card?

A balance transfer credit card is when you transfer all your existing high-interest credit card debt to a new credit card. Generally, when selecting to do a balance transfer to a new credit card consumers will a apply for a new card with a lower interest rate than they currently or a card with an introductory 0% APR.

This introductory period can last anywhere from six to 21 months, and varies by lender. By opening a new card that temporarily charges no interest, and then transferring your high interest debt onto that card, you can save money because your balance will no longer accrue interest charges as you pay it off.

You can transfer debt from one credit card or multiple credit cards onto your new interest-free card. Paying off your credit card debt can be easier without the compounding interest, because you can pay off your balance without it growing every month during the introductory-rate period.

But you need to hear one crucial warning: After the introductory interest-free or low-APR period ends, the interest rate generally jumps up. That means if you don’t pay your debt off during the introductory period, it will start to accrue interest charges again, and your balance will grow.

How do Balance Transfers Work?

It’s easy to understand, in theory, what a balance transfer credit card does, but how do balance transfers actually work? The logistics can be a little more complicated.

There are a number of types of balance transfer credit cards out there, varying in their interest-free introductory periods, credit limits, rewards, transfer fees, and interest rates after the introductory period. You’ll want to compare the fees and credit limits, to figure out which balance transfer card works best for you.

Related: Personal Loan vs. Credit Card

Once you apply and are approved, then you can transfer your existing credit card debt onto your new card. You can only transfer as much debt as is covered by your credit limit onto the new balance transfer card.

It typically takes one to two weeks for your new credit card company to contact your existing cards and transfer the balances. Until the transfer is complete, you’ll need to make any payments you have due, so you don’t incur missed payment penalties. You’ll also still need to close out your old credit cards once the debt is transferred and they have a zero balance.

What’s the Difference Between a Balance Transfer Card and a Personal Loan?

Another option to pay off high-interest credit card debt is to use a personal loan. A balance transfer card transfers credit card debt onto a new credit card at a low or nonexistent interest rate—but the interest rate rises at the end of the introductory period.

A personal loan, however, can be used to pay off a wider range of existing personal debt, credit card or otherwise. And when you can choose a fixed interest rate, which means the interest rate you sign on for is the one you’ll have for the duration of the loan—it won’t go up.

You can usually take out a personal loan for a wide range of amounts (SoFi offers personal loans from $5,000 to $100,000). Depending on your credit, financial situation, and the state you live in, interest rates, terms, and the amount you can borrow may vary.

The application process typically requires a credit check and a look at your financial history and current employment. Once you’re approved, you can use your personal loan to pay off your high-interest credit card debt.

Basically, you use the personal loan to pay off your credit cards, and then you just have to pay back your personal loan in manageable monthly installments. A personal loan can allow you to pay much less interest on your debt; Credit cards charge an average of 16% interest, whereas

Choosing Between a Balance Transfer and Personal Loan

Both a personal loan and a balance transfer essentially help you pay off existing debt by consolidating what you owe into one place. The difference comes in how each works and how much you’ll ultimately end up paying (and saving).

Balance transfer credit cards can require a high credit score to qualify, which can be a challenge if your current credit card debt is affecting your credit score. Most balance transfer credit cards also charge a balance transfer fee, typically 3% to 5% of the balance you’re transferring, which adds up if you’re transferring a large amount of debt. Some balance transfer credit cards will offer an introductory period without transfer fees and with 0% APR, but you’ll want to do the math on how much you’ll save in interest versus how much you’ll pay in transfer fees.

For many people, a balance transfer credit card also comes with the additional concern of starting a new cycle of credit card debt. If you don’t pay off the debt on the new card, then it could hurt your credit score.

Additionally, if you fail to pay off the debt during the no-interest period, you could be back where you started; your balance will start to accrue compound interest based on the new card’s APR.

With personal loans, however, you can choose to have a fixed interest rate that doesn’t balloon. You will agree to a repayment term with your lender, which could be up to a few years. All you have to do with a personal loan is make the monthly payments.

Additionally, while personal loans can come with origination fees, and other fees some personal loans don’t have origination fees or prepayment penalties. And you won’t have to worry about transfer fees at all with a personal loan. Personal loans can also be used for personal expenses, which means you can pay off other higher-interest debt (like a car loan) by bundling it into the personal loan amount you request.

If you have high-interest credit card debt that you’re ready to get rid of, check out SoFi personal loans today.

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 .

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.


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