A Look at the Average Cost of Nursing School

A Look at the Average Cost of Nursing School

The cost to become a nurse or nurse specialist ranges from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands. The cost rises with education level — from a two-year associate degree to a doctorate — but so do average earnings.

You already know that you’ll be in demand. More than 203,000 new openings for registered nurses alone are expected each year over the next decade.

Typical Nursing School Costs and Salaries

There are a number of routes to becoming a nurse or nurse assistant. Here are the main types, median pay (based on 2021 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), and average educational costs.

Keep in mind that many students benefit from student loans and scholarships. Working nurses reaching for the next rung up may be eligible for tuition reimbursement from their current employer.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

Becoming a CNA may require a high school degree. You typically need to complete four to 12 weeks’ worth of courses and onsite training and pass an exam.

The cost of a CNA program varies, sometimes substantially, based on length and whether the program is state approved.

Average education cost: $600 to $2,000

Median pay: $30,310

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

Also known as a licensed vocational nurse, an LPN must complete a state-approved educational program, which typically takes 12-18 months, and pass a licensing exam.

Tuition cost: as low as $1,000 to $5,000

Median pay: $48,070 per year

Recommended: Guide to Nursing Student Loans

Registered Nurse (RN)

Registered nurses need at least a two-year associate degree in nursing from an accredited college or technical school to practice.

Average in-state tuition cost: $3,500 per year at public institutions; $15,470 per year at private schools

RNs with an associate degree in nursing can seek a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) in an RN-to-BSN program, which usually takes one to two years to complete.

Average cost of online RN-to-BSN: $25,000 to $80,000

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing considers the four-year Bachelor of Science in nursing the degree that provides the educational and experiential base for entry-level professional practice.

Average total in-state cost of a BSN: $40,000 to $80,000 at a public school; $60,000 to $120,000 at a private school

Median pay for all RNs: $77,600 per year

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

An advanced practice registered nurse holds at least a master’s degree in nursing. The four specialties are nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist, certified nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialist.
A Master of Science in nursing will take one to two years. The tuition cost is often higher than that to obtain a BSN.

Tuition cost of a Master of Science in nursing: $22,000 to $100,000 per year

Master’s-level programs still allow grads to join the APRN ranks, but a doctorate is quickly becoming the standard, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Most research-focused doctoral nursing programs grant a Ph.D. The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is more practice focused.

Cost of Doctor of Nursing Practice program after earning a master’s degree: $20,000 to $40,000

Median pay for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners: $123,780 per year

If you need to borrow in order to get through school, know that you’re in good company. Most nurses take out loans (federal and private student loans are available) to earn their professional titles.

Other Fees While Studying to Be a Nurse

The anatomy of a nursing degree consists of much more than tuition, which might be the figure on a website that catches your eye. Still, the cost of college tuition alone can be helpful in calculating the total tab: Multiplying the current tuition price by four will yield a rough estimate.

Myriad fees can add up to hundreds of dollars. Books and software can average $2,000 to $3,000 per academic year.

Other expenses to keep in mind include travel costs, living costs (especially if you’re unable to work while studying), lab fees, and the cost of a laptop.

Some nursing schools may also require students to take out liability insurance and get immunizations.

Before stepping into a new job or practice, aspiring RNs have to pass the National Council Licensure Examination test, better known as the NCLEX exam, which costs $200 per attempt. Taking the NCLEX exam a second (or even third or fourth time) time costs more in studying, coursework, and time.

How to Pay for Nursing School Without Going Broke

If just thinking about the cost of nursing school raises your blood pressure, know that student loans, grants, and scholarships are available.

Plus, some hospitals will help pay for nursing school. Duke University Health System employees, for example, may be eligible for tuition assistance.

Here are the main ways to pay for nursing school.

Federal Student Loans

Students can apply for federal aid — including student loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study — by completing the FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, each year.

It’s a good idea to submit the FAFSA even if you’re not expecting federal aid because other student aid programs piggyback off the application.

Many nurses plan to work for a qualifying nonprofit or government organization. They aim for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and one of the income-based repayment plans.

Scholarships and Grants

An aspiring nurse may want to use a scholarship search tool and seek out grants. Pell Grants go to undergraduate students only.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing also maintains a grants and scholarship database for nursing schools.

The Nurse Corps Scholarship Program will pay your tuition, fees, and other educational costs if you agree to work at a critical shortage facility after graduation.

Recommended: Search for Scholarships and Grants by State

Private Student Loans

If federal aid does not cover the total cost of nursing school, private student loans are another option.

Private student loans are available from private lenders and generally allow students to borrow up to the school’s estimated annual cost of attendance. That includes tuition and fees, room and board (or living expenses), books, supplies, a personal computer, transportation, and child care.

Two- and four-year colleges are required to publish the cost of attendance on their websites.

It’s important to keep in mind that federal protections and programs like income-based repayment apply only to federal student loans.

Still, private student loans can fill gaps in need. Learn more in our guide to private student loans.

The Takeaway

How much is nursing school? Getting an associate degree can cost a few thousand dollars. The full path leading to a master’s or doctorate can cost hundreds of thousands. A lot will depend on whether the school is public or private, whether you’re an in-state student, and whether you receive scholarships or grants.

In any case, here’s to your health, and to heeding the call to become a nurse.

In addition to private student loans for all qualifying students, SoFi offers private graduate school loans for health care professionals that come with a variety of repayment options and no fees.

It’s quick and easy to get a rate quote on a SoFi private student loan.


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 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.
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.
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.
SOSL0123001

Read more
books on the wall

Strategies for Lowering Your Student Loan Interest Rate

When you’re in college, you don’t have a lot of control over the interest rates on your student loans. With federal loans, the U.S. Department of Education sets the rate each year for all borrowers. And if you get private student loans, a limited credit history can make it hard for young people to score favorable terms.

But once you graduate, there are a few things you can try to save money on interest. Here are a few tips that may lower your interest rate on student loans.

Choose the Right Repayment Plan

If you don’t choose a specific repayment path, you’re typically opted into the Standard Repayment Plan. In this plan, your payments are generally based on a 10-year timeline. But this one-size-fits-all plan is not the best option for everyone.

The federal government also offers four income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, where the monthly payments are based on your income and family size. While choosing one of these plans may lower your monthly payments, it will likely not alleviate how much interest you pay over time. In fact, you might even pay significantly more.

After 20 or 25 years, depending on the IDR plan, any remaining balance is forgiven. However, the amount forgiven may be considered taxable income by the IRS. So even though your student loan debt goes away, prepare yourself for a big tax bill that year.

Another money-saving repayment option for federal student loans is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. If you work in a qualifying public service job — for the government or a nonprofit organization — you might be eligible to have your student loans forgiven after 10 years of service.

You can confirm whether your work qualifies here. You’ll want to submit an Employment Certification as soon as possible to be sure that you’re on track to qualify.

Recommended: 4 Student Loan Repayment Options, and How to Choose

Consolidate Your Student Loans

Have multiple student loans floating around that you’d love to combine into one? Consider loan consolidation, where you’ll merge all your student loans into one easy monthly payment with a single interest rate. Here’s the rub, though: Consolidation alone does not necessarily get you a lower student loan interest rate. It just offers you one payment instead of multiple.

When consolidating federal student loans, you can use a Direct Consolidation Loan. Your new interest rate is simply the weighted average of all your current student loan interest rates. The weighted average might be a smidge higher than the interest rates you were paying previously. Often folks utilize consolidation to stretch out the life of their student loan, which lowers your payments but may increase the amount you owe over time.

Even though consolidation itself is not a direct way to get a better rate on your student loans, it can be helpful if you’re having trouble keeping track of your monthly payments. Consolidation may also be useful if you want to merge non-direct federal loans (like Perkins loans) with direct loans, in order to qualify for income-driven repayment and/or loan forgiveness programs.

By the way, the term “consolidating” is often used interchangeably with “refinancing,” but they technically mean different things. When refinancing student loans, you also happen to be consolidating, but it is done with the goal of achieving a more favorable interest rate on your student loans.

Recommended: The Basics of the Student Loans

Set Up Automatic Payments

Many student loan servicers — both federal and private — offer an interest rate discount if you set up autopay on your account. Depending on the servicer, you can lower your student loan interest rate. SoFi, for example, offers a 0.25% autopay discount.

The reason servicers offer this discount is that by setting up automatic payments, you’re less likely to miss payments and default on the loan.

In addition to getting a lower student loan interest rate, you’ll also (hopefully!) have peace of mind knowing that you won’t accidentally miss a payment. If you feel you’re putting a little too much money toward student loans, check with your loan servicer to see whether they offer an autopay discount.

Get a Loyalty Discount

In addition to an autopay discount, some private student loan companies also offer a loyalty discount when you have another eligible account with them.

If you’re already a member with SoFi, for instance, you receive an interest rate discount of 0.125% on all new loans.

Other lenders may require that you have an eligible checking or savings account with them to qualify for the bonus, and you may even get a bigger discount if you make your monthly payments from that account.

To get an idea of how a change in interest rate would impact your loan, take advantage of a student loan refinance calculator to see what your new payments could be.

Refinancing Your Student Loans

Scoring discounts with your current servicer can help you get a lower student loan interest rate, but there is another option to consider. Depending on your financial profile, you may qualify for a lower student loan interest rate than what you’re currently paying with student loan refinancing.

There are multiple advantages to refinancing student loans. You can potentially lower your interest rate by bundling several loans (federal and private) into one new loan. And if you shorten your loan term, you may be able to pay off your student loans much faster and pay less in interest over the life of your loan.

Student Loan RefinancingStudent Loan Refinancing

Student loan refinancing is ideal for borrowers with high-interest student loans who have good credit scores and know they won’t use any of the federal loan benefits, like student loan forgiveness. (All federal loan benefits, including income-based repayment, will be lost if you refinance.)

Here are a few things that can help you improve your chances of getting a lower student loan interest rate with refinancing:

•   A high credit score: Lenders typically have a minimum credit score requirement, so the higher your score, the better your chances of getting a low rate usually are.

•   A low debt-to-income (DTI) ratio: Your income is also an important factor that lenders consider, especially as it relates to your overall debt burden. If a smaller portion of your monthly income goes toward debt payments, it shows you may have more income to dedicate to your new loan’s payments.

•   A co-signer: Even if your credit and income situation is in good shape, having a co-signer with great credit and a solid income might help your case.

•   A variable rate: Some student loan refinance lenders offer both variable and fixed interest rates. Variable interest rates may start out lower but increase over time with market fluctuations. Fixed rates, stay the same over the life of the loan. If you’re planning on paying off your student loans quickly, a variable rate might save you money.

•   The right lender: Each lender has its own criteria for setting interest rates, so it’s important to shop around to find the best lender for your needs. Some lenders, including SoFi, even allow you to view rate offers before you officially apply.

Lower Your Student Loan Interest Rate

There are several ways to get a lower student loan interest rate. It can be as easy as calling your servicer to find out what discounts are available. You can also choose a new repayment plan, consolidate your federal loans, or refinance federal and private loans. With refinancing, you may secure a lower interest rate if you have a high credit score, low debt-to-income ratio, a cosigner, or a variable interest rate. Just know that when refinancing federal student loans, borrowers lose federal protections and forgiveness.

If you’re considering refinancing your student loans with SoFi, you can check your interest rate in just a few minutes. And it won’t take much time beyond that to officially apply. Depending on which refinancing options you choose, you can potentially save money on interest over the life of the loan.

Take control of your student loan debt by refinancing with SoFi. See if you qualify to secure a lower student loan interest rate in just two minutes.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.

CLICK HERE for more information.


Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.


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.
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.
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.
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.
SOSL1122003

Read more

5 Myths About Student Loans That Can Cost You Money

Don’t believe everything you hear about student loans. With tuition costs outpacing income, the fact is that 70% of college graduates need student loans to help pay for college. But bad information can make borrowers feel like they might have made the wrong decision.

Relax. Here are 5 myths about student loans that are pure fiction.

5 Myths About Student Loans

Have you been taken in by any of these student loan fictions and fallacies? A lot of students and parents are, which is why they’re still floating around.

Myth #1: Interest Rates Are Super High

It’s true that federal student loan interest rates can be higher than auto loan rates. But that doesn’t make student loans a bad deal. Here’s why.

Auto loans and mortgages are “secured” loans. The borrower’s car or home serves as collateral and can be repossessed by the bank if they default on the loan. Secured loans have lower interest rates because they’re less risky for the lender.

Student loans, meanwhile, are “unsecured.” If a borrower defaults on student loans, the bank doesn’t have anything to repossess. And so the interest rate is set a bit higher. But the interest rates on federal student loans are still much lower than what you’d qualify for at a bank.

Myth #2: Saving Money Is Impossible With Student Loans

For most people, student loan payments aren’t sky high. The key is choosing the right repayment plan. Take income-based repayment plans, which set monthly payments at just 10% of “disposable income” — or what’s left after your other bills are paid.

Let’s run some numbers. The average new graduate from a 4-year public college has $32K in student loan debt. And the average salary for 20- to 24-year-olds is $37K.

With income-based repayment, a single grad might pay about $138 per month. If they start a family, they pay much less: just $20 a month until their income grows. Which still leaves room for saving.

See how different terms and rates affect your monthly payment with our student loan refinance calculator.

Myth #3: Student Loans Kill Your Credit

Like any loan, student loans could help or hurt your credit depending on how you manage them. As long as you make your payments on time, student loans may build your credit history and boost your score over the long run.

If you’re struggling financially, consider switching your payment plan, or applying for student loan deferment or forbearance. Neither of these options will hurt your credit.

Myth #4: Student Loans Are All the Same

Nope. In fact, federal student loans are typically a better deal for borrowers than private loans. With subsidized loans, the government pays your interest while you’re in school and for 6 months after. And all federal loans offer special protections to borrowers in case of financial hardship.

In short, subsidized federal loans are pretty much the gold standard.

Myth #5: You Can Get Student Loans Forgiven, for a Fee

It sure seems plausible that a law firm or financial advisor might be able to cut through the red tape and reduce your payments or get them forgiven entirely. For a fee, of course.

Alas, this is a scam. If anyone reaches out to you by phone, text, email, or social media promising to help you with your student loans, it’s utter bull. You may catch on when the caller asks for your financial info, but your parent or grandparent may not, so you might want to warn them.

To make sure you hear about the latest student loan forgiveness news straight from the source, sign up for alerts from the DOE .

ReFi With SoFi

SoFi refinances student loans — both federal and private. (Just be aware that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections.) You can choose to lower your monthly payment by extending your term or pay off your debt faster and save money on interest. SoFi offers flexible terms and low fixed or variable interest rates. And there are no fees: no origination fees or late fees.

Refi with SoFi today to get flexible terms and a competitive low rate before interest rates rise even higher!


Photo credit: iStock/Khosrork

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.

CLICK HERE for more information.


Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.


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.

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.
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.

SOSL0123006

Read more
All About Signature Student Loans

All About Signature Student Loans

When you’re looking for funds to pay for your college education, you’re likely to go after federal funds and all of their benefits first — and, if that isn’t enough, then you’ll seek private loan funding. But, what is a signature student loan, exactly? Does it make sense to take out this type of funding? This post will share insights into a student signature loan.

What Are Student Signature Loans?

Known as a “sig student loan” for short, it’s a type of loan that people use to pay expenses for college. They can also be known as “good faith loans” because they’re granted to a borrower on the basis of a signature only with no collateral. The borrower takes on a certain amount of private (non-federal government) debt in the form of a loan at a predetermined interest rate, agreeing to pay it back in a series of installments, and then uses the funds to pay expenses.

What Type of Loan is a Signature Student Loan?

As you explore options, you’ll come across different types of student loans. In general, there are two broad types: federal and private student loans. Federal loans require the filling out of a FAFSA to see if a student qualifies for any type of aid from the federal government; some colleges and universities require a FAFSA even for scholarships and grants. A student signature loan, however, is a form of private funding, one where collateral is not needed, making it an unsecured private loan for college expenses.

Common Uses of a Signature Student Loan

Common uses of a signature student loan include for tuition/attendance, books, and housing. Here’s more about each.

Tuition/Attendance

Tuition costs can vary but a typical student could pay $10,000 a year for in-state tuition at a public four year institution and up to $40,000 to $50,000 in tuition at a private university each year. So, a student may decide to use a sig student loan to cover costs of tuition/attendance that aren’t covered by grants, scholarships, and federal student loans.

Books

The average college student spends between $600 and $1,500 each year to pay for their books and supplies. One single hardback textbook can now cost as much as $400 although the average is between $80 and $150. So, just about 30% of students use some form of loan funding to pay for their college books.

Housing

Although some students continue to live at home during college, many pay for room and board. At a public, four year institution, this could cost $9,000 to $13,000 a year. At a private, non-profit institution, it could cost a similar amount, depending on whether the student lives on or off campus.

Should You Get a Signature Student Loan?

It depends on your unique situation because signature student loans come with pros and cons that we’ll explore soon in this post. As general guidance, students who don’t receive enough funding through grants, scholarships, and federal student loans often look towards private funding to make up the difference. Private loans, sometimes called signature student loans, are offered by banks, credit unions, and online lenders.

Pros and Cons of Signature Student Loans

Pros of Signature Student Loans

Pros of signature student loans include the following:

•   Extra Source of Funds

•   Variety of Repayment Terms

•   Flexibility of Usage

•   Here’s more about each

Extra Source of Funds

Private student loans, also called a student signature loan, can provide a source of funding for college after grants, scholarships, and federal options have been exhausted. Federal financial aid can include grants and scholarships typically being awarded without repayment requirements. Federal loans are also considered financial aid. Students who demonstrate financial need may qualify for a subsidized loan, meaning that the government covers the interest while the student attends school. Student signature loans can help fill in funding gaps.

Variety of Repayment Terms

With a private student loan, funds are obtained from a private lender. Some offer better rates and terms than others with some of them deferring payments while the student is attending college classes. Compare rates and terms to choose which route is best for you.

Flexibility of Usage

In general, a private loan can offer flexibility with the funds used; for example, this funding can be used as one of the undergraduate student loan options or one of the graduate student loan options: for tuition, books and supplies, and/or housing expenses.

Cons of Signature Student Loans

Unlike a federal student loan, private lenders of student signature loans don’t rely upon information found in a FAFSA. Instead, a student interested in receiving private funding would fill out an application with the lender of interest. In other words, the student must qualify for the loan.

Qualifying for a Sig Student Loan

Loan terms can vary by lending institution. This includes the interest rates offered, borrowing limits allowed, and the length of the loan.Some require payments while the student is in school while others will defer payments until the student is out of school. Choose parameters that fit your needs with the understanding that you’ll need to qualify for the loan program.

Credit Score

The private lender may require you to have a certain credit score to obtain the loan or to get the best rates and terms. The three main credit bureaus that issue scores are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. A private lender will likely have a certain credit bureau that they use to get an applicant’s credit scores, and yours will need to fit within their lending guidelines to get loan approval.

Income

The lender will also want to see proof of a steady income, one that’s sufficient to pay back the loan. If you don’t have enough on your own, perhaps a parent would cosign the loan for you, reassuring the private lender that the loan will be appropriately paid back.

Other Ways to Pay for College

Ways to pay for college include:

•   Financial aid

•   Federal loans for students

•   Federal PLUS loans for parents

•   Work study jobs

•   Part time jobs

•   Private student loans

•   Here’s more about each

Financial Aid

In general, student financial aid can be a combination of grants and scholarships, federal student loans, private student loans, and funds from jobs (work study or part time jobs).

Federal Loans for Students

Federal Direct loans, also known as Stafford loans, can be either subsidized or unsubsidized. With the first, the government covers the interest while the student is in school; with the latter, the interest accrues while the student is in school. In either case, finding out what you qualify for in federal funding can be a logical first step.

Federal PLUS Loans for Parents

Parents can take out a Parent PLUS loan for an undergraduate with fixed interest rates and flexible repayment methods. These loans do require a credit check and can also be taken out by graduate/professional students. The maximum amount that can be borrowed is the full cost of tuition minus other financial assistance the student receives.

Work-Study Jobs

There is a federal work-study program that allows students with financial need to earn income to pay their education-related expenses. Ideally, the work will be connected to community service and/or the student’s academic study courses. This program is managed by the colleges themselves, so check with yours to see if they participate and if you qualify.

Part Time Jobs

If you don’t qualify for work study, you can still seek part time employment in the general location of your university, perhaps at a restaurant or coffee shop or by babysitting or dog walking. This allows the student to earn income, hopefully on a schedule that is flexible enough to work around college commitments.

Private Student Loans

This can be a source of funding for college expenses when grants, scholarships, and federal funding options have been exhausted. Private lenders can have different loan programs, so compare carefully before making a decision.

The Takeaway

In short, a signature student loan is a type of unsecure (no collateral) form private funding to help with educational expenses. It’s a private form of lending. There are pros and cons to this type of lending as this post demonstrates.

If you’re exploring private student loan options, SoFi can help. SoFi offers a low-interest rate, no fee form of private lending — a student signature loan — that covers costs that are school certified: tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation.

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

FAQ

Is a signature student loan a good idea?

It depends on your unique situation, and whether you’ve explored all of the options for grants, scholarships, and federal loans. This article lists pros and cons of signature student loans.

Is it easy to get a signature student loan?

A signature student loan is a form of private funding, so the lender will likely check your credit scores and ability to pay back the loan. You may or may not need a cosigner.

When do you have to start paying a sig student loan back?

It depends on the private lender. Some have you start paying it back right away while others allow you to wait until you’ve finished school. Be clear about what you’re agreeing to, including when the loan must be paid back.


Photo credit: iStock/FatCamera

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 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.
SOPS1022003

Read more
What Kind of Emergency Funding Is Available for College Students?

What Kind of Emergency Funding Is Available for College Students?

Regardless of your age and life stage, unexpected bills can derail someone’s finances. Unforeseen events can be particularly challenging for college students who don’t have a lot of wiggle room in their budgets.

If you’re a student who’s experiencing financial hardship — or you’re just worried about how to prepare for a rainy day — be assured that help is available to students in need. Emergency financial aid grants are designed to keep students in college through financial setbacks.

We’ll review your options, and the pros and cons of each, so you can feel ready to take on any situation.

Why You Might Urgently Need More Money as a Student

Students are pretty familiar with seeking financial aid to help pay for tuition, school supplies, and other educational costs. However, some expenses aren’t covered by scholarships and student loans.

Emergency financial aid for college students can help cover the cost of:

•   Medical treatments

•   Job loss

•   Rent increases

•   Financial hardship due to COVID-19

•   Replacement technology, such as a laptop or phone

•   Car repairs

•   Loss of athletic scholarship due to injury

•   Loss of child care services

Some of these costs are fairly common, while others affect only a small percentage of students. The common thread: They’re all unpredictable and financially challenging. (By the way, we have a great guide to money management for college students.)

Recommended: What Is a TEACH Grant?

HEERF Emergency Grants

Students around the world experienced a sudden shift during the pandemic. Some students also felt a direct financial impact from COVID-19. If your schooling was disrupted by the pandemic, you might be able to receive a Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grant. The program was created in March 2020 under the CARES Act and continues through the American Rescue Plan of 2021.

What Are They?

A HEERF grant is a type of emergency grant for students whose lives were upended by the pandemic. In July 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration released the final funds: $198 million.

How Do They Work?

The Department of Education disbursed the emergency financial aid grants for HEERF directly to 244 participating schools. The institutions that received funding are required to allocate a certain percentage as emergency grants for college students. Schools are tasked with identifying students in need, especially those who demonstrate financial hardship. Students who have received a Pell Grant likely meet this requirement.

HEERF emergency financial aid grants can be awarded to online students, DACA recipients, asylum seekers, and other eligible student groups.

Students can use the funds for any expense resulting from the pandemic. That includes the cost of attendance, housing, food, healthcare, or child care.

Pros and Cons of HEERF Emergency Grants

Although emergency college grants can offer financial relief, there are limitations. Below are the pros and cons of HEERF emergency grants for college students.

Pros

Cons

Awards don’t count toward your Expected Family Contribution School has discretion about who receives funds and how much
Don’t count toward your annual gross income (AGI) for taxes Each school has their own application process
Don’t count as part of your financial aid package.
Can be used toward your cost of attendance or any expense that came up due to COVID-19.

Financial Support From Your College

Other emergency college grants and support programs can be discovered through your school:

Emergency Tuition Assistance

Emergency tuition assistance is designed to help students stay enrolled in school when they’re suddenly unable to cover the cost of attendance. Assistance might be in the form of a grant, scholarship, voucher, or other relief.

If you’re at risk of dropping out of school because an emergency is making it hard to pay your school bills, ask your financial aid office about emergency tuition assistance.

Emergency Food Options

Inflation is making it harder for everyone to pay for groceries. If you’re experiencing food insecurity, ask your Student Affairs office about campus food pantries.

This resource can offer non-perishable goods, like dry pasta, legumes, and canned foods, as well as fresh produce and even basic toiletries (don’t get us started on the “pink tax” for period supplies).

Emergency Housing

Although not many schools have dedicated emergency housing options for their students, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Reach out to your school’s Student Affairs department to inquire about short-term emergency housing programs that might be available.

If your school doesn’t offer emergency housing, they might point you to external resources, such as local nonprofits and community groups.

Private Student Loans

If you’ve already maximized the federal undergraduate loans or graduate loans you’re eligible for, a private student loan is an alternative financing option. Private student loans are offered by private lenders, like banks, credit unions, and online financial institutions.

This type of student loan can cover an amount up to the certified cost of attendance, minus the financial aid you’ve already received. Private loans can have fixed or variable interest rates, with rates and terms varying by lender. Additionally, private student loans don’t have the same borrower benefits as federal student loans, like loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment, so tread carefully.

Learn more in our private student loans guide.

The Takeaway

If you’re a student who’s struggling financially due to an unexpected expense or event, help is available. Reach out to your School Affairs or Financial Aid office, explain your situation, and learn about emergency financial aid grants. The federal HEERF program can cover any expense related to Covid-19, from tuition to hospital bills. Other emergency programs can help you cover housing, food, and other basic needs. If you’re ineligible or have exhausted your grant options, private student loans are an alternative to consider.

With SoFi private student loans, you can borrow up to your school’s certified cost of attendance with zero fees. And getting prequalified online takes only minutes, so you can get financing for school fast during an emergency.

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

FAQ

What did the CARES Act do for college students?

The CARES Act, which was passed in March 2020 as a response to COVID-19, offered student loan repayment relief and emergency grants for college students. Federal student loan borrowers were provided automatic administrative loan forbearance and a pause on interest. Eligible students can also receive emergency aid through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).

Will there be another CARES Act for college students?

In July 2022, the Department of Education announced that it allotted the final funds toward the HEERF. The amount of $198 million was provided to 244 colleges to help their students recover from the pandemic.

Are there grants for students due to Covid-19?

Yes, the federal government created a college emergency grant, called the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). The program was created under the CARES Act in March 2022 and continues under the American Rescue Plan.


Photo credit: iStock/photo

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 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.

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.
SOPS0322030

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender