piggy bank with dollar bills

PA School Debt Repayment Strategies

The decision to become a physician assistant, or PA, is a noble but big one. PAs work at hospitals, medical offices, nursing homes, retail clinics, community health centers, and in the federal government.

Becoming a PA often means taking on student loans, which begs the question: Is PA school worth the debt?

Average Cost of PA School

In the 2019-2020 school year, the average cost of PA school was $56,850 for two years at an in-state school and $101,500 for an out-of-state school, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants.

Before sticker shock sets in, the average salary of certified PAs in 2022 was $125,270 per year. Those working in outpatient care centers, one of the highest paying locations, average a mean annual salary of $137,040.

Once those salaries are claimed and regularly earned, there’s the matter of loan repayment. This guide will help readers consider strategies to handle PA school debt.

Recommended: How Much Does PA School Cost?

Physician Assistant (PA) School Repayment Options

Fortunately, there are options available for PAs who are mindful of interest and debt accumulating in their name. The big one is the federal government’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which kicks in “if you are employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization.” PSLF forgives the remaining balance on Direct Loans after 120 qualifying payments (a big number that can often boil down to 10 years’ worth of payments) under a qualifying repayment plan.

Another option for PAs is an income-driven repayment plan. There are four plans to choose from, including Income-Contingent Repayment, Pay As You Earn, Revised Pay As You Earn, and Income-Based Repayment. Similar to Public Service Loan Forgiveness, the motivation for these plans is working toward student loan forgiveness — if PAs can’t qualify for PSLF, possibly because they work for a private employer, they could still receive loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years of repayment under an income-driven repayment plan.


💡 Quick Tip: Some student loan refinance lenders offer no fees, saving borrowers money.

Other Payment Programs

There are also federal and state programs that reimburse health care workers in underserved areas, also called Health Professional Shortage Areas. The Health Resources & Services Administration offers a searchable online database of shortage areas by state and county, and a tool to check if a location has been officially designated as an underserved area.

Then there are State-based Loan Repayment Programs, whose financial incentive can vary depending on specialty. Colorado, for example, offers $90,000 for a full-time PA ($45,000 for a part-time PA), and PAs must “agree to work for a term of three years at an approved site, work part-time or full-time with a minimum of clinical contact hours, and also meet the hourly requirements during the entire service obligation.”

States vary in requirements and awards. The Health Resources & Services Administration also is of help in looking into SLRPs.

Planning for the Future

One way to minimize the shock of shouldering PA school debt is to build a budget — and stick to it. Although pretty much everyone knows that budgeting is a smart idea, few actually put it into practice: According to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, more than half the population (56%) did not have a budget in 2021.

A simple way to create a budget is to list out all of your fixed expenses. Fixed expenses do not change month-to-month and include things like rent or mortgage payments, car payments, student loan payments, daycare costs, cell phone services, gym memberships, and more. Next, list out your variable expenses, which do change depending on the month. Variable expenses include food, gas, entertainment, utilities, clothing, and emergency expenses. If your income does not exceed your spending, create spending limits for your variable expenses. Make sure to budget for retirement, emergency savings, and other miscellaneous expenses that may crop up.

Refinancing School Debt

It’s no secret that pretty much any type of higher education career often means taking on considerable student loan debt. If it reaches a point where making real progress on repaying the loans feels nearly impossible, federal student loan repayment and forgiveness programs either don’t apply or aren’t the right fit, or personal loans are involved, then refinancing with a private lender might be a good option.

With refinancing, a new loan is used to pay off one or more existing federal or private loans. In addition to combining multiple loans into one, qualified borrowers may also land a better interest rate, reducing the amount they pay in interest over the life of the loan assuming the loan term does not change.

Recommended: Student Loan Refinancing Calculator

However, refinancing federal student loans with a private lender means a borrower is no longer eligible for many of the state and federal programs mentioned above, or other protections and benefits extended to federal student loan borrowers. Those looking to combine federal loans only can consider a student loan consolidation.

Refinancing Student Loans With SoFi

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.

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The Complete Guide to Out of State Tuition

When considering colleges, admissions rates can seem like the biggest hurdle. But as acceptances roll in and you begin to look at tuition rates, you may see a huge difference between in-state and out-of-state options.

If you’re considering out-of-state schools, tuition can be much more expensive than it is for in-state students. In some cases, it may seem more on par with what you might have expected to pay for private schools.

Does that mean you should exclusively look within your state? That depends on your goals, finances, and what you want out of your college experience. Some people decide to go out of state for programs that aren’t offered in local institutions, some are drawn to a new adventure, and some the opportunity to move away from home.

Regardless of where your first choice college may be, understanding the financial implications of your decision can help you decide on financial aid packages and know what you’re getting into, finance — wise, before you make a final decision.

What Does Out-of-State Tuition Mean?

As you decide which colleges you’ll apply to, you may have public and private colleges on your list. Public colleges are colleges that are funded by a state and receive significant public funds, including taxpayer dollars, to function. Private colleges are not owned by the state and are privately held, with funding coming from tuition, research grants, endowment funds, and charitable donations.

Private colleges do not differentiate their tuition plans based on residency. Public colleges and universities, on the other hand, rely on tax dollars, so they do base their tuition plans on residency. That’s because residents are already “paying” for the university or college through their tax dollars. Out-of-state students, who are not paying local or state colleges, are given a higher price tag.

Whether you’re applying in-state or out-of-state, it’s important to remember that the “price tag” of college tuition is independent of any financial aid, scholarships, loans, or grants you might have available.

Recommended: Private vs. Public College: What to Know When Deciding

Lowering the Bills on Out-of-State Tuition

Out-of-state tuition can cause sticker shock — and may lead to sizable loans. According to Education Data, the average cost of tuition at a public out-of-state college or university is $26,382. In-state tuition averages around $9,212 for the same degree. This number is independent of additional costs, such as housing and books.

While the sticker shock is real, there may be some workarounds that open up your options without piling on unnecessary expenses.

Reciprocal Tuition and Tuition Exchanges

Some states, such as Wisconsin and Minnesota, offer what’s called reciprocal tuition — in-state tuition offered for residents of both states. There are also some tuition exchanges and discount programs.

For example, the New England Board of Higher Education offers a tuition break program that offers discounts to New England residents when they enroll in another New England college. This savings may be as much as $8,000. Certain rules and restrictions apply. For example, you may have to prove the degree you wish to receive is not offered within public universities in your state.

Speaking with your guidance counselor or your financial aid office may be helpful in determining whether these types of programs are available and eligible for you.

Becoming a Resident

“Residency” for in-state tuition isn’t as simple as moving into the dorms. Residency rules vary by state and university. In some cases, residency requires that individuals live in the state for at least twelve months, be financially independent (if your parents/guardians aren’t living in the same state), and have “intent”— i.e., there’s a reason why you’re living in-state beyond just attending school. In some cases, intent to remain in a state can include getting a driver’s license, filing taxes, or registering to vote in that state. States may have differing requirements for defining intent, so it can be worth confirming requirements for the state in which you plan to attend school.

Because residency rules can be strict, establishing residency may not make sense for everyone. But if you’re considering grad school or are going to undergrad as an independent or nontraditional student (someone who doesn’t fit the mold of a recent high school graduate attending college), then it may make sense to establish residency first. This can also help you familiarize yourself with the university and assess whether it’s where you want to spend the next few years.

Starting at Community College

If you have your heart set on a pricey out-of-state school, one way to potentially save is to begin your education at a community college. Like public colleges and universities, community colleges receive government subsidies that can make tuition more affordable. By commuting to a community college and obtaining general education credits, you can then potentially transfer to an out-of-state institution to finish your education and potentially minimize loans.

Considering aid packages

Some private and public schools offer free or reduced-cost college tuition. These “free tuitions” are generally earmarked for students coming from families who make less than a set adjusted gross income, usually around $65,000 per year.

Some public universities also may offer generous scholarship packages to out-of-state students who reflect academic or athletic talent. If you get accepted to a school and receive a financial aid package, it may be worth speaking with the financial aid office to make sure you understand what the package entails. Typically, financial aid packages encompass grants, scholarships, and federal student loans.

Should You Go Out-of-State for College?

There is no right answer when it comes to which college is the best choice for you. But to prepare for college decisions, it can be a good idea to look beyond the honor of admission and consider the financials.

Comparing financial aid packages, assessing additional sources of tuition payment, including family contributions and private scholarships, and assessing how you might pay back your loans can all help you decide the best option for your future and for your wallet. It’s also important to remember that nothing is set in stone.

Regularly assessing your college experience — including the financials — can help determine whether you’re on a path that makes sense for you.

There is no “right” or “wrong” school or path and the right plan for you depends on a variety of factors. Speaking with people who graduated from your prospective school in your intended major can give you an idea of career paths. It can also be helpful to take advantage of any financial aid talk or info session available to get a realistic look at what it may be like when you begin to pay back loans.

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, the best decision for you may be the one that addresses your goals and your finances. Understanding different avenues for tuition discounts, including geographic-based tuition exchanges, can open up avenues to less-expensive degree paths. For some students, including grad students, establishing residency may make sense to obtain in-state tuition.

Tuition is complicated, and scholarships, grants, federal loans, private loans, and family contributions are all part of paying for school. You also may use this time to assess the what-ifs: What if circumstances change and a tuition fee that was possible this year becomes impossible next year due to job loss or other change in circumstance? What sort of private loans are available, and what terms do they offer?

For example, students who did take out student loans for college or graduate school may consider refinancing after they graduate. In some cases, refinancing your student loans can help qualifying borrowers secure a lower interest rate, which may make the loan more affordable in the long-term.

Refinancing federal loans eliminates them from borrower protections, like income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness, so it’s not the right choice for all borrowers.

Assessing the tuition price of each place you’re accepted — and considering private loan options, if necessary — can be an integral factor in making a decision that makes sense for all aspects of the next step in your educational journey.

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.

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Where Do You Pay off Student Loans?

If you’re wondering where you go to pay off your student loans, you’ll first need to contact your loan servicer. If you aren’t sure who your loan servicer or loan holder is, you can contact the U.S. Department of Education for federal loans. For private student loans, you can contact the bank or lender who originated your loans.

Contact Your Student Loan Servicer

Before paying back student loans, graduates will have to figure out who their student loan servicer is. A student loan servicer is the company assigned by the U.S. Department of Education (federal student loan creator) to take care of the day to day servicing of a federal student loan. If a person needs to talk to someone about their federal student loan, they can reach out to the servicers instead of traveling to a government office.

Students don’t have to do anything for their loan to be transferred to a loan servicer. The federal student loan will be transferred to a servicer after its first disbursement. Once that happens, students should expect to be contacted by the servicer.

But, unexpected moves or outdated contact information could mean the servicer doesn’t reach you. If a student needs help figuring out who their servicer is, one option is to call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC): 1-800-433-3243.

However, the FSAIC can only help students figure out their servicer if they hold federal student loans, not private student loans.

Another option for borrowers with federal student loans is to log into their Federal Student Aid account. From this portal, borrowers can access information on their student loan servicer.

Federal student loan borrowers can also check the National Student Loan Data System to find information about their loan servicer.

Once a student figures out their loan student servicer and contacts them, they can begin sorting through the repayment process. A loan servicer should help a student figure out how to repay loans free of charge.

Be warned, any federal loan servicer that asks for payment may be a scam, warns the U.S. Department of Education.

Recommended: How to Find Out Who Your Student Loan Lender Is

Grace Periods

A loan servicer can help students and graduates figure out when their loan repayment will begin. Most, but not all, federal student loans have a six-month grace period, or an allotted amount of time before a student has to start paying back the loan.

The student loan grace period generally begins once a student graduates, leaves school, or enrolls in class less than part-time. This time is meant for students to get in contact with their loan servicer and begin setting up a repayment plan so they don’t have to scramble post-graduation when so many other changes are happening.

Students should be aware that interest on their unsubsidized loans may be accruing during their grace period. For that reason, some students may decide to begin repayment before the grace period is up in order to keep the interest capitalization down.

Borrowers with subsidized student loans will not accrue interest on their loans during their grace period.

There are some circumstances that can extend or end a grace period early:

•   Being called into active military duty. This will restart the grace period, which will begin again once the student returns.

•   Going back to school before the end of the grace period. If a student goes back to school at least part-time, then they won’t have to repay their loans until they finish school, in which case they’ll have another six-month grace period.

•   Consolidating loans. If a student decides to consolidate or refinance a loan before the end of the grace period, they’ll start their repayment as soon as the paperwork is processed.

Selecting a Repayment Plan

During the grace period, students can work with their loan servicer and other online tools to figure out the right repayment plan for them.

There are several student loan repayment plans a student can choose from, depending on their finances and the type of federal student loans they have.

•   Standard Repayment Plan. All federal loan borrowers are eligible for this repayment plan. Payments are in a fixed amount each month and sets borrowers up to pay off their loan within 10 years.

•   Graduated Repayment Plan. This plan starts out with low monthly payments that gradually increase every two years. Payments are made monthly for up to 10 years for most loans (10-30 years for consolidated loans).

•   Extended Repayment Plan. In this plan, standard or graduated payments are made monthly, but at a lower rate over a longer period of time, typically 25 years.

•   SAVE. The Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan is the newest income-driven repayment plan. Payments are calculated as 10% of a person’s discretionary income; starting in July 2024, that will drop to 5%, and some participating borrowers will see their loan balances forgiven in as little as 10 years.

•   Income-Based Repayment Plan. The income-based repayment plan allows for monthly payments that are roughly 10-15% of a person’s monthly income, but borrowers must have a high debt-to-income ratio to qualify.

•   Income-Contingent Repayment Plan. In the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan, eligible borrowers will make monthly payments based on the lesser value of either 20% of their income, or the “amount you would pay on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over 12 years, adjusted according to your income,” according to the Department of Education.

•   Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan. This plan is only available under a few federal loan programs. Payments are based on annual income, and the loan will be paid off within 15 years.

Depending on a borrower’s income and the type of loan they took out, they can work with their servicer to determine which student loan repayment plan might be the best course of action. If a borrower doesn’t reach out to their servicer to coordinate a repayment plan before the end of the grace period, they will be on the Standard Repayment Plan by default.

Start Repaying Student Loans

Once a repayment plan is selected and the grace period draws to a close, borrowers will begin making payments on their student loans.

Where a borrower will make their payment is dependent upon who their student loan servicer is. Most student loan servicers make it possible for borrowers to make monthly payments online, but it’s best to confirm that with the servicer before payments begin.

Most servicers also have an automatic payments set-up, where monthly payments are automatically debited out of borrowers’ accounts each month. Setting up automatic payments can help borrowers avoid missing a payment or racking up late fees.

Additionally, some federal student loans provide a discount when a borrower sets up automatic repayment online. For example, if a borrower has a Direct Loan, their interest rate is reduced by 0.25% when they choose automatic debit.

Repaying Private Student Loans

Private student loans are generally repaid directly to the bank or financial institution that issued them. Borrowers can check their statements to see who the loan servicer is. Generally, payments can be made online.

Refinancing with SoFi

When a borrower works with their student loan servicer, they can take advantage of free tools that might help them pay back their student loans quicker.

But, for some student loan borrowers, the existing interest rates and repayment plans offered by a servicer might not be the best fit.

In that case, borrowers may have the option of refinancing student loans. This can be helpful when there are multiple loans to pay off since refinancing allows borrowers to combine multiple loans into a new single loan and qualifying borrowers may be able to secure a lower interest rate.

Refinancing federal student loans eliminates them from all federal benefits and borrower protections, such as income-driven repayment plans and deferment. If you are or plan on using federal benefits, it is not recommended to refinance student loans.

SoFi’s student loan refinancing offers flexible terms and competitive interest rates. With no hidden fees or pre-payment penalties, borrowers can apply for refinancing in an easy online process — no phone calls required.

The first step to figuring out student loan repayment is figuring out who holds the loan, but with the right help, borrowers can have a plan set up to conquer their loans before the grace period is even finished.

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.

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What is Need-Based Financial Aid?

What Is Need-Based Financial Aid?

Paying for college can be expensive, but there are several types of financial aid available to students. Some aid awards are determined based on your family’s financial situation. Known as need-based financial aid, amounts are awarded based on several factors, and in some cases, it may not need to be repaid.

If you’re unsure whether you’ll qualify for need-based aid, how much you’ll receive, or whether you need to pay it back, here’s what you need to know.

Defining Need-Based Financial Aid

To put it simply, need-based financial aid is money to help students pay for the costs of attending college that’s awarded based on their financial situation.

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for federal or state aid or aid from the institution you attend. Typically, need-based aid is determined based on the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA®.

Most college students take advantage of what’s offered in their federal financial aid package, which may include the following types of need-based federal financial aid.


💡 Quick Tip: Often, the main goal of refinancing is to lower the interest rate on your student loans — federal and/or private — by taking out one loan with a new rate to replace your existing loans. Refinancing makes sense if you qualify for a lower rate and you don’t plan to use federal repayment programs or protections.

Direct Subsidized Student Loans

The federal government will subsidize (or cover) any interest that accrues on Direct Subsidized Loans for undergraduate students while they are enrolled in school at least half-time and during the six-month grace period after graduation.

After the grace period, interest will start to accrue. This is unlike Direct Unsubsidized Loans, which begin accruing interest as soon as they are disbursed.

There is a limit to how much a student can borrow in federal loans and the amount they borrow cannot exceed their financial need. The maximum amount first-year undergraduate students can borrow cannot exceed $5,500 (or $9,500 for independent students), $3,500 of which is in subsidized loans. The maximum amount you can borrow increases each year you’re enrolled.

Pell Grants

Pell Grants are for undergraduate students who have demonstrated exceptional financial need.They depend on factors such as your expected family contribution, your enrollment status, and how much your schooling will cost.

The maximum amount may vary — it’s $7,395 for the 2023-24 academic year. It may also be possible for students to receive up to 150% of their scheduled award, though qualification requirements will vary.

To be eligible for the Pell Grant, students will need to fill out the FAFSA each year that they are enrolled in undergraduate studies.

Work-Study Programs

The federal work-study program offers part-time jobs for undergraduate or graduate students based on their financial needs. The goal is to provide the opportunity for students to earn money towards education-related expenses and one that’s related to their field of study. There may be jobs both on- and off-campus and the program is administered by participating schools.

The type of job you get and how much you earn will be influenced by factors like when you apply and how much funding your school has. At a minimum, program participants will be paid at least the current federal minimum wage.

If you are awarded work-study as a part of your federal aid package, you can’t earn an amount that’s more than what was awarded.

Recommended: Important FAFSA Deadlines to Know

What’s the Difference Between Need-Based Financial Aid and Ones Based on Merit?

Whereas need-based financial aid is based on the student and their family’s financial circumstances, merit-based aid doesn’t consider finances. Instead, this type of financial aid looks at things like standardized test scores or grade point average, or GPA. In some cases, financial aid is based on other merits such as your class rank.

Some scholarships are based on your class rank. Usually, scholarships are awarded based on merit, though there are plenty based on financial need. Before applying for any financial aid, it’s important to look at the eligibility requirements so you know whether you’ll qualify.

Recommended: How to Get Merit Aid for College

Do I Need to Pay Back Need-Based Financial Aid?

Even though the point of aid based on financial need is to help you cover college expenses you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford, you may have to pay some of it back. For instance, the Pell Grant or other types of grants don’t need to be repaid. Scholarships are another type of aid that recipients are not required to repay. If you participate in the work-study program, the money you’ve earned is also yours.

However, Direct Subsidized Loans will need to be repaid. You won’t, however, need to pay any interest while you’re enrolled at least half-time since the government will cover that. Direct Unsubsidized loans (which aren’t awarded based on need) will also need to be repaid and borrowers will be responsible for the full amount of accrued interest.

In some cases, you may not need to pay back the entire amount if you qualify for student loan forgiveness. There are several types of forgiveness with varying eligibility requirements that depend on factors such as your career path.

For instance, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or PSLF program, will forgive the outstanding balance on a Direct Loan if you made 120 monthly qualifying payments. These payments need to be paid while you’re working full-time for a qualifying employer and under a qualifying repayment plan.

To see whether you qualify for a forgiveness program, it may be helpful to speak with a loan officer.

Should I Apply for Need-Based Financial Aid?

There’s nothing wrong with seeing what you may qualify for. Filling out the FAFSA will allow you to determine how much federal aid you qualify for. Some schools will also use the FAFSA to determine additional aid awards.

The FAFSA will require information about you and your family’s financial situation to help determine how much aid you’ll receive. There is also the CSS Profile, which some colleges may use to determine financial aid awards. To fill out the CSS Profile there is a small fee.

That being said, you may not receive enough financial aid even if you qualify. For instance, Pell Grants are typically given on a first-come, first-served basis. It may help to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible. That way, you may be able to find out sooner what you may qualify for. You can submit your FAFSA as soon as October 1 for the following school year.

The Takeaway

Even if you’re not sure if you qualify for need-based aid from the federal government, you may be able to qualify for aid at the state, local or college level. There is also merit-based aid in the form of scholarships and some grants.

Many organizations also award grants and scholarships for specific demographics and those pursuing certain fields. It’s far better to accept free money through grants and scholarships before taking out any loans.

If you do end up borrowing money to pay for college, you may want to consider refinancing your student loans. Doing so can help qualifying borrowers reduce their interest rate, which could lower the amount paid over the life of the loan. Note that refinancing federal loans eliminates them from borrower protections and benefits like PSLF and income-driven repayment plans.

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.


Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub

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.

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.

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 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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Top 10 Most Popular Scholarships for Women

10 Popular Scholarships for Women

Scholarships are free money that can help fund an undergraduate or graduate degree. There are plenty of scholarships for women, including some with a purpose to encourage more females to pursue careers where they’re considered underrepresented, as well as scholarships to help them attend college.

Spending some time researching and applying for scholarships you may be eligible to receive could help you pay for college tuition.

What Types of Scholarships Are There for Women?

There are plenty of scholarships available for women, including scholarships for undergraduate students and scholarships for graduate students.

Scholarships may be need-based or merit-based awards. Each one will have specific qualifying and application requirements. Scholarships, essentially, can be like finding free money for college.

For instance, need-based scholarships generally require applicants to exhibit financial need. Merit-based scholarships may be determined based on skills, abilities, or a student’s GPA, test scores, or the type of field they are looking to pursue.

Some scholarships may also be location-based, such as those for residents of certain states or for specific schools.

There are even some unclaimed scholarships you may be eligible for.


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

Are There Scholarships for Women in STEM?

There are many scholarships for women who are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 29% of all STEM workers are women, with math, engineering and computer-related jobs being the least represented.

Government organizations, industry associations, and even technology companies offer industry-specific scholarships (we’ll talk more about some of them below). For instance, companies like Google or associations such as the Society for Women Engineers (SWE) offer scholarships for women.

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Popular Scholarships For Women

Below are 10 scholarships available exclusively to women that could help you avoid taking on too much student loan debt:

Associated Women for Pepperdine (AWP) Scholarship

Scholarship amount: $5,000

Application Deadline: February 15

The AWP is one of the largest women’s groups awarding scholarships for female Christian students. There are several awards up for grabs, and scholarships can be renewed. To qualify, applicants need to be students at Pepperdine University, current and active members of the Church of Christ, submit a letter of recommendation from a leader of the Church of Christ, and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) application.

Gertrude M. Cox Scholarship

Scholarship amount: $1,000

Application Deadline: February 23

The Cox Scholarship aims to encourage women to pursue professions related to the statistics field. There are two scholarships, one for a female early on in their graduate career, and the other for a woman at a more advanced level. Applicants need to be permanent residents or citizens in the U.S. or Canada and be admitted to a full-time graduate statistics program of the year the scholarship is awarded.

Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund

Scholarship amount: Varies

Application Deadline: February 17 (Note that the 2023-2024 application cycle for this scholarship is closed. Applications for 2024 will open in late 2023.)

This scholarship is for women age 35 or older who are considered low-income and enrolling into a not-for-profit accredited educational institution. Women can pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or technical or vocational education. To apply, applicants need to demonstrate financial need and answer questions based on their academic and career goals.

American Association of University Women (AAUW) Selected Professions Fellowships

Scholarship amount: $20,000

Application Deadline: December 1

The AAUW awards multiple scholarships, and the Selected Professions Fellowships is one of them.

Women may apply if they intend on pursuing full-time studies at an accredited U.S. institution in a field where women have had historically low enrollment. For instance, scholarships are awarded for women pursuing degrees in STEM and engineering.

Eligibility criteria include women who can prove they have shown promise of high academic excellence and distinction.

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American Indian Services (AIS) Scholarship

Scholarship amount: $500-$2,000

Application Deadline: February 1 to November 1 (Depending on when the applicant’s classes start)

The AIS scholarship aims to help Native American students enrolling in an accredited institution pursue higher education. Awards are given on a quarterly basis, though you’ll only need to apply once per year.

Eligibility requirements include being at least one-quarter of an enrolled member, or descendant of an enrolled member of a U.S. Federally Recognized Native American Tribe, enrolled at least half-time, and completed the FAFSA. This award is currently only available to undergraduate students.

Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Scholarships

Scholarship amount: Varies

Application Deadline: Varies (most end April 30)

The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting offers multiple scholarship opportunities for women pursuing undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate degrees in accounting. Applicants may apply to more than one scholarship excluding the Women in Transition and Women in Need awards, of which students can only apply to one.

Eligibility criteria varies, though most will require applicants to provide transcripts, demonstrate financial need, and prove they’re committed to working in the accounting field.

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

Scholarship amount: $5,000

Application Deadline: April to June

Women who are pursuing a business program in qualifying fields and living or studying in an area where Zonta International is active can apply for this scholarship. There are 37 awards for $5,000. Applicants also need to be enrolled in the final year of a Master’s program or at least the second year of their undergraduate degree.

American Nephrology Nurses Association Career Mobility Scholarships

Scholarship amount: $3,000 to $5,000

Application Deadline: November 30

The American Nephrology Nurses Association, or ANNA, offers a few scholarships ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 designed to support qualifying members who are pursuing an advanced or BSN degree in nursing. Qualifying criteria includes being a current full ANNA member for at least two years, enrolled or accepted into a qualifying nursing program, and a 250-word essay outlining the potential impact of the scholarship.

Chicana Latina Foundation Scholarships

Scholarship amount: $1,500

Application Deadline: The next application cycle will open on January 1, 2024

Self-identifying Chicana or Latina college students living in qualifying California counties can apply for a $1,500 scholarship. They need to be students attending an accredited community college, college, or university full-time and meet certain academic requirements. Plus, they’ll need to attend the Chicana Latina Foundation (CLF) Leadership Institute and CLF Annual Awards Dinner if selected for a scholarship.

To apply for this scholarship, applicants will be required to submit two letters of recommendation, one of which needs to be from a counselor or professor.

Undergraduate students need to submit unofficial or official transcripts from their current degrees and one letter of recommendation. Graduate students will also need to submit a resume or CV in addition to providing a transcript and letter of recommendation.

The Women In Aerospace Foundation Scholarship

Scholarship amount: $2,000-$5,000

Application Deadline: June 13

The Women In Aerospace Foundation aims to promote careers in the aerospace field — this scholarship program is one of the ways it does so. The organization awards five merit-based awards to women who are rising juniors and seniors working for a bachelor’s degree in engineering, math, or science.

To qualify, applicants need to be currently enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university, plan to enroll the next academic year and complete a minimum of 2.5 academic years of full-time college. Applicants also need to have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA.

The Takeaway

Applying for one of the many scholarships for women can be a smart tactic if you’re trying to figure out how to pay for your college education. In addition to the scholarships listed here, there are a variety of other opportunities — many scholarships go unclaimed because they don’t receive enough applications. It doesn’t hurt to submit an application since the worst they’ll say is “no”, and the benefits are well worth it.

There are other ways to help cover the cost of college, as well, and you’ll likely want to explore your options to see what makes the most sense for your situation.

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.


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