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7 Things to Do After College Besides Work

After graduation from college, you may be full speed ahead in terms of finding a job and launching your career. However, many recent grads may have other ideas and not head directly into the work world.

Several alternatives are possible — including internships, volunteering, grad school, or spending time abroad. Of course, the options available will differ depending on each person’s situation and interests. If you’re considering a path other than diving into an entry-level job, read on. Here are seven things to do after college besides work.

1. Pursue Internships

One popular alternative to working right after college is finding an internship. Generally, internships are temporary work opportunities, which are sometimes, but not always, paid. Unpaid internships can be valuable nonetheless.

Internships for recent grads can offer a chance to build up hands-on experience in a field or industry they believe they’re interested in working in full time. For some people, it could help determine whether the reality of working in a given sector meets their expectations.

Whatever grads learn during an internship, having on-the-job experience (even for those who opt to pursue a different career path) could make a job seeker stand out afterwards. Internships can help beef up a resume, especially for recent grads who don’t have much formal job experience.

A potential perk of internships is the chance to further grow your professional network, building relationships with more experienced workers in a particular department or job. Some interns may even be able to turn their short-term internship roles into a full-time position at the same company.

Starting out in an internship can be a great way for graduates to enter the workforce, road-testing a specific job role or company. You may find the opportunity is a great fit or decide it’s actually not right for you.


💡 Quick Tip: Ready to refinance your student loan? You could save thousands.

2. Serve with AmeriCorps

Some graduates want to spend their time after college contributing to the greater good of American society. One possible option here is the Americorps program, which is supported by the US Federal Government.

So, what exactly is Americorps? Americorps is a national service program dedicated to improving lives and fostering civic engagement. There are three main programs that graduates can join in AmeriCorps:

•   AmeriCorps NCCC

•   AmeriCorps State and National

•   AmeriCorps Vista.

There’s a wide variety of options in AmeriCorps, when it comes to how you can serve. Graduates can dive into emergency management, help fight poverty, or work in a classroom.

However graduates decide to serve through AmeriCorps, it may provide them with a rewarding professional experience and insights into a potential career.

Practically, Americorps members may also qualify for benefits such as student loan deferment, a living allowance, education awards (upon finishing their service), and skills training.

It may sound a bit dramatic, but AmeriCorps’ slogan is “Be the greater good.” Giving back to society could be a powerful way to spend some time after graduating. You can support organizations in need, while also establishing new professional connections.

3. Attend Grad School

Some jobs require just a bachelor’s degree, while others require a master’s degree. Think, for instance, of being a lawyer or medical doctor. Or you might want a certain postgrad degree, like earning an MBA, to boost your career and earning trajectory.

The number of jobs that expect graduate degrees is increasing in the US. Graduates might want to research their desired career fields and see if it’s common for people in these roles to need a master’s or terminal (PhD) degree.

Some students may wish to take a break in between undergrad and grad school, while others find it easier to go straight through. This choice will vary from student to student, depending on the energy they have to continue school as well as their ability to afford graduate school.

Graduate school will be a commitment of time, energy, and money. So, it’s wise to feel confident that a graduate degree is necessary for the line of work you’d like to pursue before forging ahead.

4. Volunteer for a Cause

Volunteering could be a great way for graduates to gain some extra skills before applying for a full-time job. Here’s why:

•   Doing volunteer work may help graduates polish some essential soft skills, like interpersonal communication, interacting with clients or service recipients, and time management.

•   This, in turn, can help you tweak your resume and make yourself more marketable.

•   Volunteering can help you network and forge new connections outside of college. The people-to-people connections made while volunteering could lead to mentorship and job offers.

•   New grads may want to volunteer at an institution or organization that syncs with their values or, perhaps, pursue opportunities in sectors of the economy where they’d like to work later on (i.e., at a hospital).

•   Volunteering just feels good. After all of the stress that accompanies finishing up college, volunteering afterward could be the perfect way to recharge.

Recommended: What Is the Average Student Loan Debt After College?

5. Serve Abroad

Similar to the last option, volunteering abroad can be attractive to some graduates. It may help grads gain similar skills they’d learn volunteering here at home. It can also give them the opportunity to learn how to interact with people from different cultures, learn a new language, and see new perspectives on solving problems.

Though it can be beneficial to the volunteers, volunteering abroad isn’t always as ethical as it seems. And, not all volunteering opportunities always benefit the local community.

It could take research to find organizations that are doing ethically responsible work abroad. One key thing to look for is organizations that put the locals first and have them directly involved in the work.


💡 Quick Tip: When refinancing a student loan, you may shorten or extend the loan term. Shortening your loan term may result in higher monthly payments but significantly less total interest paid. A longer loan term typically results in lower monthly payments but more total interest paid.

6. Take a Gap Year

A gap year is a semester or a year of experiential learning. While it’s often taken after high school, it can be a path after college as well. (You may have to budget for a gap year, though, especially if you won’t be earning much income.)

Not only might a gap year help grads build insights into what they’d like to do with their later careers, it may also help them home in on a greater purpose in life or build connections that could lead to future job opportunities.

Graduates might want to spend a gap year doing a variety of activities including:

•   Trying out seasonal jobs

•   Volunteering or caring for family members or others in need

•   Interning

•   Teaching or tutoring

•   Traveling.

A gap year can be whatever the graduate thinks will be most beneficial for them. There are a variety of ways to finance a gap year that can be worth researching.

7. Travel Before Working

Going on a trip after graduation is a popular choice for graduates who can afford to travel after college. Traveling can be expensive, so graduates may want to budget in advance (if they want to have this experience post-graduation.

On top of just being really fun, travel can have beneficial impacts for an individual’s stress levels and mental health. Traveling after graduation is a convenient time to start ticking locations off that bucket list, because graduates won’t be held back by a limited vacation time. Going abroad before working can give students more time and flexibility to travel as much as they’d like (and can afford to travel).

There are ways to economize, such as using a multi-country rail pass, etc. It doesn’t have to be all luxury all the time. Budget travel is possible especially when making conscious decisions, like staying in affordable hotels and using public transportation.

If graduates are determined to travel before working, they can accomplish this by saving money and budgeting well.

Navigating Postgrad Financial Decisions

Whether a recent grad opts to start their careers off right away or to pursue one of the above-mentioned paths post-college other than work, student loans may be part of the picture.

After graduating (or if you’ve dropped below half-time enrollment or left school), the reality of paying back student loans sets in. The exact moment that grads will have to begin paying off their student loans will vary by the type of loan.

For federal loans, there are a couple of different times that repayment begins. Students who took out a Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, or Federal Family Education Loan, will all have a six-month grace period before they’re required to make payments. Students who took out a Perkins loan will have a nine-month grace period.

When it comes to the PLUS loan, it depends on the type of student that’s taken the loan out. Undergraduates will be required to start repayment as soon as the loan is paid out. Graduate and professional students with PLUS loans will be on automatic deferment while they’re in school and up to six months after graduating.

Some graduates opt to refinance their student loans. What does that mean? Refinancing student loans is when a lender pays off the existing loan with another loan that has a new interest rate. Refinancing can potentially lower monthly loan repayments or reduce the amount spent on interest over the life of the loan.

However, there are a couple of important notes about this process:

•   Both US federal and private student loans can be refinanced, but when federal student loans are refinanced by a private lender, the borrower forfeits federal benefits — including loan forgiveness, deferment and forbearance, and income-driven repayment options.

•   For those who refinance for an extended term may pay more interest over the life of the loan.

For these reasons, each person with student loans should carefully consider their situation and options to decide the best way to manage their debt.

Your Student Loan Debt

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


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



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


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


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

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

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

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

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Tips for Parents of College Students

When your child heads off to college, you are probably awash in all kinds of emotions. Pride, relief (yes, they got into school!), sadness, anxiety, and excitement can all swirl around you. Your baby is growing up and forging their own independent life. Will they make new friends? Like their classes and excel in them? Find their way around campus easily enough? Will they overspend, sleep through class, and stay out all Friday night?

Part of having a college student as a child means you must get used to some separation and lack of information. But that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to play a vital role in their life. Here, some wise advice about conversations to have, topics to cover, and when to help them have an amazing time at school.

Advice for Parents of College Students

Although each parent-child relationship is unique and each parent may face different challenges with their college student, there are moments that can be universal when your “baby” heads off to university life.

You’ll need to know how much to let go and encourage your child to become independent versus how much you should continue to provide support, whether that’s emotional support or financial.

Where that line should be drawn for each child and parent depends upon things like the seriousness of the problems being faced and how temporary or permanent they may be. In general, though, tips include:

•   Listen, but try not to dive right into problem solving. This may not be the moment to lead with, “Here’s what you need to do…”

•   Be mindful about how often you communicate and give your college student space while also staying available. Texting constantly and expecting quick replies will be unrealistic for many parents.

•   You may be used to getting those report cards regularly and monitoring your child’s checkups at the doctor’s office. Recognize that now, times are changing, and you may not always be kept in the loop. FERPA (or the Federal Education Records Privacy Act) gives college students new privacy rights that can be defined pretty broadly. You may want to talk to your child about signing a FERPA waiver that will give you more access to information.

Accepting that college isn’t just about education but also about your child establishing themselves as an independent adult is an important transition for both of you.


💡 Quick Tip: Pay down your student loans faster with SoFi reward points you earn along the way.

Parenting College Students During Summer Break

Just when you figure out how to parent your child when he or she is away from school, summer break arrives with a different set of challenges. The young adult that you watched leave for college is probably not the same person who is returning. Maybe they don’t want to chat as much as before, or don’t seem as open to talk about daily life, friendships, and relationships.

The parent-child dynamic may be less about directing your kid’s actions and more about creating a collaborative partnership.

This can include things like withholding judgment about your child’s actions and making requests rather than demands — even when you’re sure you’re right. Your child is growing up and stretching their wings, both at school and when they return. They are becoming a full-fledged adult, after all.

Analyze which rules are the most important, and focus on those, letting other ones go. One example is you might ask that he or she call you if dinner will be missed, but not try to impose a curfew.

Recognize that during summer break you’ll probably need to readjust to being together, while also focusing on enjoying your time together.

Conversations about Paying for College

As part of your evolving parent-child relationship, you’ll likely find yourself in conversations about the best ways to pay for college. As the parent, you’ll likely initiate these talks. As part of your discussions, you may want to:

•   Be clear about how much money you’re willing or able to contribute towards your child’s college expenses and how much your child will need to contribute.

•   Discuss how much college will cost once you add tuition, housing, books, and other expenses together.

•   Talk about student loans, including the differences between federal student loans and private student loans.

•   Discuss how your child working during college may help pay for expenses.

•   Talk about money management and how your child may feel some stress over student loan debt.

Here are some valuable topics to mention.

•   There are scholarships and grants that usually don’t need to be repaid. What’s left is the amount that typically needs to be paid for by a combination of parental contributions, student contributions, and student loans.

•   The two main types of student loans are federal and private. To qualify for federal student loans, you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA® (or Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This form needs to be filled out every year to determine eligibility for federal student aid dollars, including federal student loans.

•   Federal loans can be subsidized or unsubsidized. Students may be eligible for a subsidized loan if they have a certain degree of financial need. Subsidized loans do not accrue interest during the six-month grace period after graduation/dropping below half-time enrollment and during any loan deferments.

•   If the student drops below half-time enrollment, the grace period will begin even if he or she has not graduated yet, although there are some circumstances in which the student loan grace period can change.

Unsubsidized federal student loans do not require a demonstration of financial need, but do accrue interest during the entire loan period.

Private student loans are not funded by the government. Your child can apply with individual lenders, and each loan will come with its own terms and conditions, including repayment terms. Private loans can help fill the gap between what your child can pay with scholarships, grants, or federal loans.
​​

💡 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.

Saving for Your Child’s College

If you’re still saving for your child’s education, your options may include:

•   What are known as 529 college savings plans, also called qualified tuition plans, allow you to save for college while potentially offering tax benefits. Money saved in an education savings plan (sponsored by some states) can be used for tuition, fees, room and board, and other qualified higher education expenses at a college or university.

•   Prepaid tuition plans (available at some universities) offer the option to prepay tuition and fees at current rates.

•   Traditional or Roth IRAs, although more commonly used to save and invest for retirement, can be used to save for college expenses. .

•   Coverdell Education Savings Accounts allow you to set up an account to pay for qualified education expenses, but contributions are not tax deductible and are only available for people whose income falls under certain limits.

•   Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) or Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) accounts are intended as a savings vehicle for beneficiaries under the age of 18. Depending upon your state, the funds will transfer to your child at either age 18 or 21 and do not have to be used for education expenses.

Tax Credits and College

When it’s tax time, if you claim your college-age child as a dependent, you might qualify tax credits related to education.

•   The American Opportunity Tax Credit could be helpful during the first four years of their undergraduate education. Qualifications include MAGI, or modified adjusted gross income, among other factors.

This is a credit for tuition and other qualified education expenses worth up to $2,500 per eligible student and could reduce the filer’s tax bill, not their taxable income.

•   The Lifetime Learning Credit is also a tax credit, but may be harder to qualify for. Each year, you can claim either the AOTC or the LLC, but not both.

Parent Student Loans

You may be able to take out loans for your child’s education expenses, including a federal Parent PLUS Loans, available to parents of dependent undergraduate students for the amount of attendance costs minus other financial aid.

Private lenders may also be an option. Fees, rates, and repayment options vary by lender and they don’t typically offer forbearance or deferment options like federal loans do. As another option, you may be able to co-sign a private student loan with your child.

SoFi Parent Loans

Paying your child’s tuition with SoFi’s flexible, competitive-rate parent loan may be an option for consideration as well.

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.


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.

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.

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

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

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What Is Moonlighting in Residency?

Residency is an exciting opportunity to get in-depth training within your chosen medical specialty. But these years also come with challenges. Residents are typically required to work long hours while earning just a fraction of what licensed physician’s make. At the same time, you likely have living expenses to cover, plus a mountain of education debt to pay back. This leads many residents to consider medical moonlighting as a way to bring in extra income.

Moonlighting simply means working a second job in addition to a primary job. For residents, it can be a chance to not only earn extra money, but also gain experience in new settings and broaden your career horizons. But there are also some significant downsides to consider. Here’s what residents need to know about medical moonlighting.

How Does Medical Moonlighting Work?

Medical moonlighting essentially means working a second job as an independent physician while still being in residency. Residents often take on moonlighting jobs to supplement their salaries, pay down student loan debt, and to get additional experience and practice beyond their responsibilities in their residency program.

Many medical moonlighting jobs fall under the category of what’s called “locum tenens” jobs, where you substitute for other medical professionals that are out on leave or help provide additional coverage at hospitals that are temporarily short-staffed. Often, you are able to pick and choose shifts that work with your schedule.

While moonlighting might seem like the perfect solution to financial stress, the policies and restrictions on resident moonlighting can be tricky to navigate. While residents who are licensed physicians are legally allowed to take on jobs providing medical care, residency programs typically have their own policies on whether residents can take on extra work.

Some programs prohibit moonlighting entirely, while others might limit moonlighting to residents further along in the program. Many programs will require you to get prior permission from a supervisor before you start moonlighting and you may have to formally state your reasons and goals for moonlighting.

Some residency programs allow you to take moonlighting shifts at the hospital facility where you are currently working, but you may be restricted from taking work outside of your hospital network.

Also keep in mind that the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) guidelines state that residents have an 80 hour weekly limit, on average, over each four-week period, with at least 10 hours of rest between duty hours. Plus, one of every seven days must be free of patient care duties and educational obligations.


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

There Are Two Ways to Moonlight

There are two types of medical moonlighting that residents can pursue: internal and external.

Internal moonlighting involves working extra shifts at the hospital where you are primarily employed as a resident. External moonlighting, by contrast, means picking up extra shifts at a clinic, a practice, an urgent care center, or a different hospital than where you’re training.

External positions are usually locum tenens. Both residents and physicians can work locum tenens jobs, and residents often prefer these jobs to taking on an external part-time job with a single employer. For one reason, they provide flexibility and don’t require having an independent medical license (as opposed to a training license), your own malpractice insurance, or having privileges at a specific hospital.

Pros and Cons of Moonlighting in Residency

Medical moonlighting has benefits and drawbacks. Here’s a closer look at reasons for and against moonlighting in residency.

Advantages of Moonlighting During Residency

Earn Extra Income

Taking on a few moonlighting shifts per month can add up to substantial extra income — especially on a resident’s salary. As for how much money you can make moonlighting in residency, the answer will depend on the type of work you end up doing and the area you’re in. The average pay range is $100-$200 per hour, depending on the location and job duties.

Recommended: Guide to Medical Student Loan Refinancing

Gain Valuable Experience

You might be able to get experience that you don’t typically get in your residency program or you may get additional practice with certain skills or procedures. The extra hours in another area of the hospital — or in another hospital nearby — can give you insight into how other units operate.

The more experience you get, the more robust your resume will become. A great resume can lead to more job opportunities in the future.

Test Out Different Practice Settings

There are many types of workplaces physicians can choose to work in. Moonlighting offers the opportunity to test out some different settings, such as group practices, private practices, urgent care centers, and community clinics.

When your residency ends and it’s time to find a full-time job, having experience in more than one healthcare setting may help guide you toward (or away from) certain types of workplaces.

Expand Your Network

Moonlighting can provide the opportunity to work with more professionals in your field. If you choose external moonlighting, you may be able to develop relationships with physicians, residents, administrators, and other healthcare providers who you wouldn’t otherwise meet in your residency program. Expanding your network can expand your future career opportunities.

Disadvantages of Moonlighting During Residency

Less Free Time

As a resident, you’re likely already working long hours on a grueling schedule while also trying to hone your skills in your chosen specialty. On top of your current workload, even an extra shift here and there can mean you lose out on time with friends and family — or precious sleep.

More Stress

Taking on too much work can lead to mistakes and high stress levels. If you’re earning extra cash now but the quality of your work in your residency is compromised, moonlighting might not be worth it for you. As a resident, your first job is to learn, practice your skills, and build a foundation for your career. It can be a bit of a balancing act.

Medical Malpractice Coverage

With an internal moonlighting position, you’ll work under your training license and have liability coverage and protection under your residency program’s malpractice policy. But external moonlighting might require you to purchase a pricey professional liability insurance policy that you may or may not be able to afford.

Some locum tenens staffing agencies provide malpractice insurance but you’ll want to make sure the coverage is sufficient.

Could Raise Your Monthly Loan Payments

If you’re paying back your student loans on an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, moonlighting can increase your monthly payments. Under an IDR plan, you pay a percentage of your income. The more income you earn, generally the higher your payments will be.


💡 Quick Tip: Refinancing could be a great choice for working graduates who have higher-interest graduate PLUS loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and/or private loans.

How to Start Moonlighting in Residency

So, you’ve weighed the pros and cons, looked into your program and institution policies, and want to move forward with medical moonlighting. How do you find moonlighting opportunities?

If your hospital offers internal moonlighting shifts, that can be a good place to start your search. Internal moonlighting lets you work under your existing training license and malpractice insurance coverage.

If internal shifts are not available or you prefer to work external positions, you can find them through locum tenens staffing agencies. You can also find moonlighting opportunities through online job boards, such as:

•   Moonlighting.org

•   ZipRecruiter

•   Indeed

•   ResidentMoonlighting.com

Moonlighting jobs are available for physicians that work in a variety of medical specialties. It’s just a matter of finding ones available in your area. You might also consider using moonlighting as an opportunity to work in a more generalized specialty, like internal medicine, rather than looking for positions in their more specialized field.

The Takeaway

Moonlighting as a resident can help you earn extra money and start paying down medical school debt, while also gaining more practical experience. But before you start moonlighting in residency, you’ll want to make sure your medical school allows it. You’ll also need to monitor your working hours to ensure you’re following the ACGME 80-hour work week policy. Any internal or external moonlighting you do will be considered part of that 80-hour work week.

If you decide to move forward with medical moonlighting, you can start exploring your options and looking for a moonlighting gig that you think you’ll enjoy, that pays well, and that continues to give you more experience.

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


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



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


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


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

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

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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Term vs Whole Life Insurance

Once you’ve decided it’s time to buy life insurance, the big question is whether a term or whole life insurance policy is right for you.

Both achieve the same goal: protecting your loved ones from financial hardship when you aren’t there to provide for them. But they go about doing this in very different ways. To decide which one to buy, a little knowledge is an important thing.

Let’s take a look at what each policy offers and highlight some considerations. By the end of this article, you should have a good idea of whether buying term or whole life insurance is right for you.

What Is Term Life Insurance?

Just as the name implies, term life insurance provides coverage for a set term or number of years. What that means is, if you die during the term of the policy, your beneficiaries receive a lump sum payment.

Here’s an example of how that works. Let’s say you take out $500,000 of term life insurance for 20 years. If you, the policy holder, were to die at year 19, your beneficiaries would receive the half-million dollars. But if the policy ends after 20 years, and you were to die a few months later, there’s no benefit at all.

What’s good about term life insurance is that it can offer coverage when you may need it most. With terms typically running between 10 and 30 years (though other variations are available), this kind of policy can give you the reassurance that, even in the worst-case scenario of your death, expenses like tuition, housing, and daily living costs can still be covered.

Many people purchase a term that will see them through the end of a mortgage or a child’s graduation from college. Some insurance providers offer the option of extending a policy as it comes to its conclusion. This is known as renewable term life insurance; check prices in advance as these extensions can be for a brief time period and tend to be costly.

It’s worth noting that if you buy, say, a 30-year term life insurance policy and are alive at the end of that time period, you don’t get a refund of the funds you’ve doled out. You have paid for protection but you didn’t use it. This may strike some people as “throwing away” their money.

For people who have that sentiment, there are options like “return-of-premium” policies that could help you recoup costs. This kind of life insurance is usually considerably more affordable than whole life, which we’ll explore in a minute. Because you are only buying protection for a specific time period, the premiums (the monthly fee you pay for coverage) are typically lower and are fixed.


💡 Quick Tip: Term life insurance coverage can range from $100K to $8 million. As your life changes, you can increase or decrease your coverage.

What Is Whole Life Insurance?

Whole life insurance is a popular type of permanent life insurance that offers coverage for a lifetime.

Generally speaking, once you get a policy, it stays in effect for the rest of your life, unless you cancel it. When the policy owner passes away, their beneficiaries receive a lump sum payment. This can offer peace of mind and may feel like a necessity if, say, you have a loved one who has a chronic health condition and/or cannot live independently.

Whole life insurance is a more complex financial product than term life insurance. It’s essentially a bundled insurance policy plus savings account. What’s known as “cash value” is built into the policy so you are building equity. Part of your premium (the monthly payment) is usually diverted into a separate account; that account can earn interest and may be tapped, as a loan.

This is not the only kind of life insurance policy with a cash account attached to it. For those who want their cash account to grow in different ways, there are also these kinds of permanent life insurance:

•   Universal life insurance, which earns interest on the cash value account and may allow for flexible monthly payments.

•   Variable life insurance, which allows you to invest the cash part of your policy in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. While these can grow your money faster, they also bring some degree of financial risk if the market drops.

•   Variable universal life, which gives you the ability to invest your savings account in stocks, bonds, and the like, as well as flexible premiums depending on how your cash value performs.

•   Indexed universal life, in which your cash account is linked to a stock market index. It earns interest based on this index, but often there is a minimum rate of return (as well as a limit on how high the interest can go), which makes it less risky than a variable universal life plan.

In general, whole life and the other kinds of permanent life insurance usually have higher initial premiums than term life insurance (its cost may even be a multiple of what you would pay for term insurance). This is due to its lifelong “in effect” status and the way it can help you grow the money in your cash value account.

Recommended: 8 Popular Types of Life Insurance for Any Age

How Do Term and Whole Life Insurance Differ?

Some people hear the differences between term and whole life insurance policies, and know in an instant which one is right for them. Other people have to mull the options for a while and maybe want to make a “pros vs. cons” list. If you fall into the latter camp, don’t worry. Let us help by summarizing some of the key differences right here.

Difference 1: Policy Features

Term Life Insurance

Whole Life Insurance

Only provides coverage for a specific time period Provides coverage for your entire life
Monthly premium payments tend to be more affordable Monthly premium payments tend to be more expensive
Only a lump sum death benefit is paid by the policy These policies have both a lump sum death benefit and a cash value savings account
Monthly premium payments tend to be fixed Monthly premium payments may be variable, and the cash value can sometimes be used to pay the premium

Difference 2: Costs

The cost of a policy is undoubtedly a huge factor in your decision. So let’s cut to the chase: Whole life insurance costs up to 15 times more than term life for the same amount of coverage.

That’s because whole life insurance provides lifelong coverage and also includes that “cash value” savings component. It’s a more complex financial product, while term insurance is just straightforward coverage for a certain number of years.

Also know that while the cash value portion of a whole life policy can be tax-deferred over the life of the policy, when you redeem the cash value, there are usually tax implications due to the interest accrued.

Recommended: How to Buy Life Insurance in 9 Steps

How to Choose Between Term and Whole Life Insurance

When deciding which kind of policy to buy, there is no hard and fast rule. All that matters is what’s right for you. Consider these questions to help figure out your best option.

1. How long do you need coverage to last?

Do you need coverage to last your entire life, perhaps to fuel a trust for your children or provide a death benefit for a family member with a disability? Then you may be happiest with whole life insurance, meaning a death benefit will be paid, even if you live well past age 100.

If, however, you only need to know that a certain time frame is covered (say, the length of your mortgage or until your youngest graduates from college), then term life may work best for you. A policy can usually be purchased in various increments between 10 and 30 years.

2. Do you want just coverage or savings too?

Some people are just shopping for a policy that offers protection and peace of mind. They want to know that, should they die within a certain time frame, their loved ones would receive money to help cover expenses. For this insurance shopper, a term policy may make sense. It will pay a lump sum benefit if the policy holder dies within the term.

But if you are looking for a product that doesn’t just offer coverage but also helps you save, then a whole life plan may be a good move. These policies also have a cash value account that can grow over the years.

3. How much can you spend on life insurance?

There’s a pretty big disparity in the price of the two main kinds of life insurance. Whole life policies, which deliver ongoing, permanent coverage, typically cost much more than term insurance, which is only active for a limited number of years. Estimates say that a person will have to spend anywhere up to 15 times more for whole life versus term insurance. Also, the interest on the cash value of a whole life policy is usually subject
to taxes as well.

4. Does my age determine whether I should get term or whole life insurance?

In general, your age doesn’t determine whether you should buy term or whole life insurance. For instance, people often purchase a policy when they marry or are expecting their first child. These milestone events mean you have people depending on you, and you may well think now is the time to get life insurance coverage. However, deciding on term insurance that runs until your child’s 21st birthday or whole life insurance which delivers permanent coverage is a matter of personal preference and finances.

There are some cases in which term insurance is likely to be the better bet. For instance, if you and your partner took out a mortgage together, you might want term insurance that covers the length of your home loan. That way, if anything were to happen to you, your spouse doesn’t wind up being solely liable for all that debt.

Another scenario is buying life insurance when you are quite old and want to get coverage. In this case, term life insurance is likely to again be a good bet. You could buy a term of 10 or 20 years if you are in good health.

For those with medical issues, what’s called simplified issue or guaranteed issue term insurance may be best. These are typically small policies that cover end of life expenses, and they require no medical exams.

5. What if I Already Have Life Insurance and Want to Change My Policy?

It’s human to change your mind. No matter how much research you do, time and circumstances can make you rethink your purchase. Some term life insurance policies can be turned into whole life or other types of permanent insurance. This may have to occur within a certain time window, and it’s likely to trigger pricier premiums. Talk to your insurance company about your options. Your term may also be renewable or extendable.

With whole life insurance, changes to the policy may result in surrender charges, since the policy is a permanent one. Check with the policy provider to know what to expect.


💡 Quick Tip: Term life insurance coverage can range from $100K to $8 million. As your life changes, you can increase or decrease your coverage.

The Takeaway

While no one wants to think about their death, the silver lining to life insurance shopping is you know you’ll secure a way to provide for your loved ones when you’re no longer here.

To recap the two different approaches: Term life insurance has a time limit on coverage, and tends to be considerably more affordable. Whole life is a form of permanent life insurance that offers lifelong protection and an additional cash account, but tends to cost much more than term. As you weigh your needs and options, don’t be swayed by what others buy. This is an important financial decision that should be tailored to your specific situation, finances, and aspirations.

SoFi has partnered with Ladder to offer competitive term life insurance policies that are quick to set up and easy to understand. Apply in just minutes and get an instant decision. As your circumstances change, you can update or cancel your policy with no fees and no hassles.

Explore your life insurance options with SoFi Protect.


Coverage and pricing is subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria.
Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (CA license # OK22568; AR license # 3000140372) distributes term life insurance products issued by multiple insurers- for further details see ladderlife.com. All insurance products are governed by the terms set forth in the applicable insurance policy. Each insurer has financial responsibility for its own products.
Ladder, SoFi and SoFi Agency are separate, independent entities and are not responsible for the financial condition, business, or legal obligations of the other, Social Finance. Inc. (SoFi) and Social Finance Life Insurance Agency, LLC (SoFi Agency) do not issue, underwrite insurance or pay claims under Ladder Life™ policies. SoFi is compensated by Ladder for each issued term life policy.
SoFi Agency and its affiliates do not guarantee the services of any insurance company.
All services from Ladder Insurance Services, LLC are their own. Once you reach Ladder, SoFi is not involved and has no control over the products or services involved. The Ladder service is limited to documents and does not provide legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and using documents provided is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice.


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.

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How an MBA Can Help With Career Change

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is a popular degree for professionals looking to change their career or industry, move up within their company, and increase their earning potential. An MBA not only opens doors but, during your course of study, you typically have access to a variety of experiential learning opportunities. This can give you a chance to “try on” different jobs and find the industry and role that suits you best.

Reputable business schools also generally have strong job placement rates in multiple industries and tend to attract a wide mix of corporate recruiters. Indeed, MBA graduates frequently enter fields that are dramatically different from the areas they worked in prior to business school.

Whether you’re thinking about going to business school, are in the process of getting your MBA, or already have an MBA, here’s a look at how you can use this degree as a tool for career reinvention.

Exploring Career Change Opportunities

Before pursuing an MBA or using your MBA to change careers, it’s important to fully think through why you want a career change and exactly what you want to do with your MBA degree. Here are some steps that can help you find a career that matches your interest, skills, and core values.


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

Identifying Interests and Transferable Skills

When considering a career change, it’s often helpful to look at the areas where you’ve achieved success and satisfaction in the past, including both your academic and professional career. Looking at these highlights can provide clues into what interests you, what you’re good at, as well as how you might use those skills in a new field.

As you brainstorm, you may want to speak with friends, family members, and your professional network to bounce off ideas and get input on where they could envision you working and thriving. It might also be helpful to speak with a recruiter at a staffing agency or a professional career counselor.

Researching Industries and Job Markets

You might next create a list of careers you’d consider outside of your current industry, then research what job prospects look like in each area. You can use the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections to discover the fastest-growing jobs, along with sites that track average salaries and list top-paying jobs and companies by industry.

Recommended: Is Getting an MBA Worth It?

Exploring an MBA for a Career Change

An MBA is a comprehensive program that can give you an opportunity to update and enhance your existing knowledge and skills and put them into practice. It can also be ideal for exploring different avenues in business management to identify what works best for you.

While completing your degree, you’ll likely get exposed to a range of different business roles. You may discover that you have a passion for finance, strategy, or analysis, or maybe that you are interested in starting your own business as an entrepreneur.

MBA programs can also offer valuable networking opportunities, since they attract a wide variety of students who will likely go on to have business careers. Most B-schools also offer access to vast alumni networks and career fairs to offer additional chances to connect with potential employers and help build your professional network.

Recommended: Tips on How to Pay for MBA School

Choosing the Right MBA Program

To build a new career path with an MBA, it’s important to find an MBA program that fits your particular interests and goals. You might look for programs that offer specialized concentrations that match your desired career path. You can then take a close look at the curriculum and courses to see if they spark your interest.

Geographical location of the college is also something to consider, since it’s generally easier to explore jobs or pursue internships in the local area while completing your MBA.

It’s also a good idea to check the employment report of the previous years to know how many students have successfully managed career transitions and which companies tend to recruit from the school. Consider reaching out to alumni to obtain feedback about the program and their experiences.

Recommended: Examining the True Cost of An MBA Degree

Leveraging MBA Internships

An internship allows you to gain practical experience in a new field and see if it’s a good fit for you while also earning a stipend. Completing a summer or in-school internship during business school is important for all business school students, but it’s particularly key for those who are looking to make a significant career change.

Completing an internship in your target industry or function can also help connect you with the relevant contacts that can shape your next career and help you pursue and achieve your goals. For some career-switchers, a B-school internship can turn into a full-time job after graduation.

Tips for Using an MBA for a Career Change

Once you’ve been out in the work world, changing careers can feel like a mountain to climb, even if you have an additional degree. Here are some tips that can help you navigate a successful career transition.

Crafting a Compelling Career Change Story

Before you start writing your resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile, you’ll want to have a clear idea of what your career change story is. What are the main reasons why you decided to switch careers? What are the skills and qualities that you have developed or transferred from your previous roles? How do they relate to your target industry or position? What are the benefits or outcomes that you can deliver to your potential employer? Your core message should be concise, consistent, and relevant to your career goals.

Your career change story is likely not one-size-fits-all. You may want to tailor it to the specific needs, expectations, and values of your target employer. You can do this by researching the company, the industry, and the job description. Once you discover their main problems, goals, and priorities, you can tailor your story towards how you can help them address those issues or achieve those objectives.

Defining Your Personal Brand

The term “personal brand” refers to who you are professionally, separate from who you are as an employee of a certain company. If you can find a way to market who you are, then you can communicate why you’d be a strong worker for a different type of job and/or field.

It can be easier to pivot in your career if you’ve consistently marketed yourself and the skills you bring to the table. Here are some suggestions for building your personal brand:

•   Create a personal website or portfolio

•   Prepare an “elevator pitch” about what you do

•   Be active on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook

•   Find ways to network

•   Revamp your resume to reflect your brand

Leveraging Your Degree

Once you have an MBA degree, it’s important to highlight your degree and MBA specialization on your resume so it’s easier for an employer to see where you’re most capable. You can also highlight how you have invested in your professional development, not just through your graduate degree but also through attending workshops, reading books, or joining networks.

If you are making a significant career switch, you may want to let potential employers know how you have applied or practiced what you have learned, such as working on projects, volunteering, or freelancing. Showing your learning and growth demonstrates your commitment, curiosity, and adaptability to the new career.


💡 Quick Tip: Refinancing could be a great choice for working graduates who have higher-interest graduate PLUS loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and/or private loans.

Covering the Cost of Your Education

Pursuing an MBA program can be a valuable asset for those looking to change careers, but it comes with a significant price tag. The average cost of an MBA in the U.S. is $225,605,which is no small sum.

Fortunately, many business schools award merit-based fellowships, grants and scholarships to help students pay for school. This is funding you typically don’t need to pay back. And, generally, you don’t have to fill out a separate application to be considered for institutional merit aid. Often, you are automatically considered when you apply to a business school.

If you’re working, your employer may offer education benefits that partially or fully sponsor a graduate business degree. Consider reaching out to human resources to see what benefits your company offers and the requirements that come with them.

If you still have gaps in funding, you might consider taking out a federal or private student loan. The federal government offers two types of loans for graduate school students: Unsubsidized Direct Loans and graduate PLUS Loans. You generally want to max out Unsubsidized Direct Loans before turning to graduate PLUS loans, which come with higher interest rates. You might also explore getting an MBA student loan from a private lender. Just remember that, even if you find a private student loan with a lower rate than a grad PLUS Loan, it probably won’t include the same benefits and protections that federal student loans provide.

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


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



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


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

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

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

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