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Swimming Pool Installation: Costs and Financing Options

Putting in a pool can turn your backyard into an oasis for parties, playtime for kids, and weekend relaxation. Unfortunately, installing an in-ground swimming pool costs over $55,000 on average, which can leave many homeowners wondering how to cover the cost of installing a swimming pool.

What are your options if you don’t have enough cash? Can you get swimming pool financing? Fortunately, yes. You actually have several options for financing a pool, including a cash-out refinance, a home equity loan or credit line, and a personal loan. Read on for a closer look at different types of pool financing and their pros and cons.

How to Finance a Swimming Pool

If you don’t have enough money saved to pay upfront for a pool — or even if you do — you might be wondering what types of loans or other options are appropriate for this type of backyard remodel.

There are several pool financing choices available to homeowners — including credit cards, pool company financing, cash-out refinancing, home equity loans, home equity lines of credit, and home improvement loans.

Before you take the plunge into financing a pool, it’s a good idea to consider the pros and cons of each type, including the overall costs of borrowing and whether you might qualify for a particular type of loan. What follows is a guide to four of the most popular pool financing options.

Using a Cash-Out Refinance to Pay for a Pool

If you have significant equity built up in your home, you may want to consider a cash-out refinance. Equity refers to the amount of your home’s value that you’ve actually paid off. Put another way, it’s the difference between your mortgage balance and your home’s current value.

With a cash-out refinance, you replace your existing mortgage with a new mortgage for a larger amount. You receive the overage as cash back, which you can then use to cover virtually any expense, including the installation of a swimming pool.

Pros of a Cash-Out Refinance

A cash-out refinance comes with a number of potential benefits:

•   Access to large loans You may be able to borrow up to 80% of your home’s equity, which could be enough to cover the cost of putting in a pool — and maybe even some extras, like a new barbecue or lounge chairs.

•   A lower rate Borrowers with good or improved credit, or those who bought their home when interest rates were higher, may be able to refinance to a lower interest rate.

•   Potential tax deductions A mortgage interest tax deduction may be available on a cash-out refinance if the money is used for capital improvements on your property. (Consult with a tax professional for more details on how this applies to your situation.)

Cons of a Cash-Out Refinance

There are also some downsides to going the cash refi route, including:

•   Involved application process Borrowers must go through the mortgage application process all over again to get a new loan, which usually means submitting updated information, getting an appraisal, and waiting for approval.

•   Closing costs You may have to pay closing costs, generally from 2% to 6% of the total loan amount. (That’s the old loan plus the lump sum that’s being added.)

•   Foreclosure risk Your mortgage is a secured loan, which means if you can’t make your payments, you could risk foreclosure.

Using a Home Equity Line of Credit to Finance a Pool

Another way you can use your home’s equity to finance a pool is to take out a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

A HELOC is a revolving line of credit that uses your home as collateral. It works much like a credit card in that:

•   The lender gives you a credit limit to draw from, and you only repay what you borrow, plus interest.

•   As you pay back the money you owe, those funds become available to you again for a predetermined “draw” period (usually five to 10 years).

Pros of a HELOC

Here’s why a HELOC can be a popular way to pay for home improvements like adding a pool:

•   Flexibility Instead of borrowing money in one lump sum, a HELOC allows you to tap into the line only as needed. Plus, you only pay interest based on the amount you actually borrow, not the entire amount for which you were approved, as you would with a regular loan.

•   Low rates The interest rates are generally lower than credit cards and unsecured personal loans.

•   Potential tax deductions The interest on HELOC payments might be tax deductible if the funds were were to buy, build, or substantially improve your home, and you itemize your deductions.

Cons of a HELOC

HELOC also have a few potential drawbacks, which include:

•   Variable interest rates HELOCs generally come with a variable interest rate, which means when interest rates increase, the monthly payments could go up. Although there may be a cap on how much the rate can increase, some borrowers might find it difficult to plan around those fluctuating payments.

•   HELOCs are easy to use — and overuse Some of the same things that can make a HELOC appealing (easy access to cash, lower interest rates, and tax-deductible interest) could lead to overspending if borrowers aren’t disciplined.

•   Foreclosure risk A HELOC is secured by an asset (your house). If you stop making the payments on the HELOC, you could lose your home.

Recommended: The Different Types Of Home Equity Loans

Using a Home Equity Loan for Pool Financing

A home equity loan is yet another way to tap into the money you’ve already put into your home. But unlike a HELOC, borrowers receive a lump sum of money.

Pros of a Home Equity Loan

Home equity loans have several benefits that make them worth considering for financing a swimming pool:

•   Predictable payments Unlike HELOCs, which typically come with a variable interest rate, home equity loans usually have a fixed interest rate. The borrower can expect a reliable repayment schedule for the duration of the loan.

•   Low rates Because it’s a secured loan, lenders usually consider a home equity loan lower risk and, therefore, offer lower rates. Secured loans also tend to be easier to qualify for than unsecured loans.

•   Potential tax deductions And, once again, there is a potential tax break. If the loan is used for capital improvements to the home, and you itemize your deductions, the interest may be deductible.

Cons of a Home Equity Loan

There are also some downsides to a home equity loan:

•   Rates may be higher than HELOCs Because a home equity loan’s interest rate won’t fluctuate with the market, the rate for a home equity loan is typically higher.

•   Closing costs As with most loans involving real estate, you’ll likely have to pay closing costs. These costs can range from 2% to 5% of the loan amount.

•   Foreclosure risk You may put your home at risk for foreclosure if you can’t make your loan payments.

Using a Personal Loan

You don’t necessarily have to tap into your home’s equity to finance a swimming pool. Many banks, credit unions, and online lenders offer unsecured personal loans that can be used for home improvements, including the installation of a swimming pool.

If you haven’t owned your home for long, or if your home hasn’t gone up much in value while you’ve owned it, a personal loan may be worth considering.

Pros of a Personal Loan for Pool Financing

Here’s a look at some of the advantages of using a personal loan for a home renovation like a pool:

•   Simple application process Applying for an unsecured personal loan is typically quicker and simpler than applying for a secured loan. With a personal loan, you don’t have to wait for a home appraisal or wade through the other paperwork necessary for a loan that’s tied to your home’s equity.

•   Fast access to funds Personal loan application processing and funding speeds vary, but many lenders offer same- or next-day funding.

•   Lower risk Because your home isn’t being used as collateral, the lender can’t foreclose if you don’t make payments. (That doesn’t mean the lender won’t look for other ways to collect, however.)

Cons of a Personal Loan for Pool Financing

Personal loans also come with some disadvantages. Here are some to keep in mind:

•   Higher interest rates Personal loans are unsecured, which means they generally come with a higher interest rate than secured loans that use your property as collateral. (However, borrowers who have good credit and don’t appear to be a risk to lenders still may be able to obtain loan terms that work for their needs.)

•   Origination fees Many (though not all) personal loan lenders charge an origination fee of between 1% and 6%, adding costs you might not have anticipated.

•   Less borrowing power Personal loan amounts range from $1,000 to $100,000 but how much you can borrow will depend on the lender and your qualifications as a borrower. With a home equity loan or credit line, you may be able to access more — up to 80% of your home’s value, minus your outstanding mortgage.

Should You Finance a Pool?

Installing a pool is an expensive home improvement, so you may need to borrow some money to pay for all or part of the project. Even if you have enough cash saved to pay upfront for a pool, you may still want to consider financing some or most of the project if you want to keep cash accessible for emergencies and other needs.

Financing with a low-interest loan (provided you can afford the payments) can make paying for a pool manageable. But before you borrow a large sum, you may want to consider how long you plan to live in your current home, how much pool maintenance might cost each month, if you’ll actually use the pool enough to make it a worthwhile purchase, and if the value added to your home is worth the investment.

The Takeaway

Due to the high initial investment required for installing a new pool, many homeowners opt to borrow money for the project and pay it off over time. Fortunately, you have a few different options for pool financing.

If you have significant home equity and are looking for fixed monthly payments, you might consider using a home equity loan to finance your pool. If you have significant home equity but want flexibility in your payments, you might prefer a HELOC.

If, on the other hand, you have good credit but not a lot of equity in your home — or you’d prefer not to put your home on the line — it may be worth looking at a personal loan for pool financing.

Ready to dive into your pool project? Consider a SoFi Personal Loan. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.


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.


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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A Guide to Unsecured Personal Loans

A Guide to Unsecured Personal Loans

Unsecured personal loans are loans provided by banks, credit unions, and online lenders that do not require any type of collateral. They provide an opportunity to borrow funds without putting any of your assets (like your home or car) at risk. The funds can be used for virtually any purpose, including debt consolidation, home improvements, and large purchases.

How do you know if an unsecured personal loan is the right choice for you? We’ll dive into exactly what an unsecured personal loan is, the benefits of an unsecured personal loan, and how to choose the best loan for your situation.

What Is an Unsecured Loan?

An unsecured loan is a loan that is not backed by collateral, such as your home, bank account balances, or vehicle. To have a loan “backed” by an asset means that a bank or lender has the right to take that asset in the event of default on the loan.

Loans backed by collateral (such as mortgages, home equity loans, and auto loans) generally pose less risk to lenders — if the borrower defaults, they can recoup the balance due by seizing the collateralized property. Because unsecured loans pose a higher risk, they tend to have higher interest rates and come in lower loan amounts compared to secured loans.

Some borrowers, however, prefer unsecured loans, since they don’t require you to put your home, car, or other personal assets at risk. You qualify for an unsecured personal loan strictly on your ability to repay the borrowed amount. Lenders assess this by looking at your income, credit scores, and borrowing history.


💡 Quick Tip: Some personal loan lenders can release your funds as quickly as the same day your loan is approved.

Key Points

•   Unsecured personal loans are loans that don’t require collateral and can be used for various purposes like debt consolidation, home improvements, and large purchases.

•   They are provided by banks, credit unions, and online lenders, and the loan amount and interest rates are typically based on factors like income, credit scores, and borrowing history.

•   Common uses for unsecured personal loans include credit card payoff, debt consolidation, medical expenses, and home projects.

•   Unsecured loans offer benefits such as fast processing time, consistent payments, lower interest rates compared to credit cards, flexibility in usage, and no collateral requirement.

•   When applying for an unsecured personal loan, it’s important to check your credit score, research and compare lenders and provide necessary personal and financial information during the application process.

What Are Common Uses for Unsecured Personal Loans?

Unsecured personal loans can be used for a wide array of purposes. Here are some of the most common reasons why people take out unsecured personal loans.

Credit Card Payoff

Credit cards tend to have high annual percentage rates (APRs). Currently, the average credit card interest rate is 28.02%. Personal loans, on the other hand, charge an average interest rate of 11.31 (if you have a high credit score, you may be able to get a lower APR).

Using a personal loan to pay off credit card debt can potentially help you save money on interest. You can get an estimate of the potential savings of using an unsecured personal loan to pay off a credit card balance by using a personal loan calculator.

Debt Consolidation

If you make many different credit card (or other debt) payments every month, it can be difficult to keep track of all the due dates and minimum amounts owed. If you miss a payment or don’t pay at least the amount due, you can get hit with late fees and your credit could be negatively affected.

Debt consolidation is the process of taking out an unsecured personal loan and using it to pay off multiple debts, leaving you with just one monthly payment. This simplifies repayment and, if you get a loan with a lower interest rate, could also help you save money.

Medical Expenses

Unsecured personal loans can be used to pay for a range of medical treatments, including elective procedures, fertility treatments, prescriptions, surgeries, dental procedures, and more.

A number of lenders, including certain banks, credit unions and online lenders, offer personal loans that can be used for medical expenses. Though interest expenses will add to the total cost of treatment, this can be a less expensive option than putting the medical expense on your credit card.

Home Projects

Whether you’re thinking about updating your kitchen or renovating a bathroom, you may be able to use an unsecured personal loan, also called a home improvement loan, to obtain funding for the project.

An unsecured personal loan can be especially useful if you need cash quickly for critical repairs or emergencies. It also provides an alternative to taking out a home equity loan or line of credit for remodeling or repairs, both of which are secured loans and require equity in your home.

Awarded Best Online Personal Loan by NerdWallet.
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What Are Some Different Types of Unsecured Loans?

The most common types of unsecured loans include:

•   Personal loans Personal loans are typically unsecured, though some lenders offer secured options. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $50,000, with repayment terms of two to seven years. Interest rates are typically fixed.

•   Personal lines of credit A personal line of credit is a revolving loan, which means the loan can be spent, repaid, and spent again, similar to a credit card. While some credit lines are secured, many lenders offer unsecured options. Personal credit lines typically have a variable interest rate.

•   Student loans Education loans are used to cover the cost of college tuition and expenses. Both federal and private student loans are unsecured. However, student loans usually carry more restrictions and payback instructions than other types of unsecured loans.

•   Credit cards Like a personal credit line, credit cards are a type of revolving loan that lets you access money up to a certain limit as you need it and only pay interest on the amount you borrow. While secured credit cards are available, most consumer cards do not require collateral.

Why Choose an Unsecured Personal Loan?

Here’s a look at some of the benefits of unsecured personal loans.

•   Fast processing time It often doesn’t take long to get the lump sum of money in your hands — often just a few days or so.

•   Consistent payments Personal loans are a type of installment loan, which means payments will be fixed and follow a set schedule.

•   Less costly than credit cards With good credit, interest rates on unsecured personal loans are typically lower than interest rates on credit cards.

•   Flexibility An unsecured personal loan can be used for almost any purpose, including credit card consolidation, a large purchase (like an appliance), a wedding, travel, medical expenses, home repairs, and more.

•   No collateral You don’t need to put anything of value at risk of repossession in order to secure the loan.

Applying for an Unsecured Personal Loan

Before you apply for an unsecured personal loan it’s a good idea to check your credit score, since it will play a role in your loan eligibility and interest rate.

Next, you’ll want to research and compare lenders, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders. It can be a good idea to compare loan amounts, interest rates, terms, and fees. Also check loan requirements, if they are available. Some lenders have a minimum credit score or income requirements.

In some cases, you may be able to pre-qualify for a personal loan, which lets you see the loan terms you may qualify for. This involves a soft credit check, which won’t impact your credit.

Once you find a loan you like, it’s time to officially apply. Often, you can do this online, though some lenders may require you to apply in person. Either way, you’ll need to provide personal and financial information (such as your name, home address, and employment information). In addition, you may need to provide the following documents:

•   State-issued ID

•   Proof of residence

•   Proof of income (like a bank statement or pay stub)

•   Tax return

Once you submit your application, you may receive a decision within a few minutes or a few days, depending on the lender.


💡 Quick Tip: Just as there are no free lunches, there are no guaranteed loans. So beware lenders who advertise them. If they are legitimate, they need to know your creditworthiness before offering you a loan.

The Takeaway

For some of life’s many curveballs — or opportunities — the occasional need for an unsecured personal loan might come up. Unlike a secured loan (like an auto loan, mortgage, or car title loan), an unsecured personal loan doesn’t require you to provide anything of value to guarantee it. You qualify based only on your ability to repay the borrowed amount to the lender.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.


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.


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The Rule of 72: Understanding Its Significance in Investing

The Rule of 72 is a shortcut equation to help you figure out just how long it will take to double an investment at a given rate of return. Best of all, the math is easy to do without the help of a calculator.

In short, the Rule of 72 can help investors determine whether an investment may have a place in their overall investment strategy, and how to proceed.

What Is the Rule of 72?

As noted, the Rule of 72 helps investors understand how different types of investments might figure into their investment plans. The basic formula for the rule is:

Number of years to double an investment = 72 / Interest rate

In the case of investing, the interest rate is the rate of return on an investment. For example, an investor has $10,000 to invest in an investment that offers a 6% rate of return. That investment would double in 72 / 6 = 12 years. Twelve years after making an initial investment, the investor would have $20,000.

Notice that when making this calculation, investors divide by six, not 6% or 0.06. Dividing by 0.06 would indicate 1,200 years to double the investment, an outlandishly long time.

This shorthand allows investors to quickly compare investments and understand whether their rate of return will help them meet their financial goals within a desired time horizon.

Who Came Up with the Rule of 72?

The Rule of 72 is not new, in fact, it dates back to the late 1400s, when it was referenced in a mathematics book by Luca Pacioli. The Rule itself, though, could date even further back. Albert Einstein is often credited with its invention, however.


💡 Quick Tip: Look for an online brokerage with low trading commissions as well as no account minimum. Higher fees can cut into investment returns over time.

The Formula and Calculation of the Rule of 72

The Rule of 72 is a shortened version of a logarithmic equation that involves complex functions you would need a scientific calculator to calculate. That formula looks like this:

T = ln(2) / ln(1 + r / 100)

In this equation, T equals time to double, ln is the natural log function, and r is the compounded interest rate.

This calculation is too complicated for the average investor to perform on the fly, and it turns out 72 divided by r is a close approximation that works especially well for lower rates of return. The higher the rate of return — as the rate nears 100% — the less accurate the Rule of 72 gets.

Example of the Rule of 72 Calculation

For a relatively simple equation, the Rule of 72 can help investors figure out a lot of helpful information. For one, it can help them compare different types of investments that offer different rates of returns.

For example, an investor has $25,000 to invest and plans to retire in 20 years. In order to meet a certain retirement goal, that investor needs to at least double their money to $50,000 in that time period.

The same investor is presented with two investment options: One offers a 3% return and one offers a 4% return. The investor can quickly see that at 3% the investment will double in 72 / 3 = 24 years, four years past their retirement date. The investment with a 4% return will double their money in 72 / 4 = 18 years, giving them two years of leeway before they retire.

The investor can see that when choosing between the two options, choosing the 4% rate of return will help them reach their financial goals, while the 3% return will leave them short.

Applying the Rule of 72 in Investment Planning

There are numerous instances in which the Rule of 72 can be applied to investment planning. But it’s also important to understand a bit about how simple and compound interest differ, and come into play when using the Rule to make projections.

Remember, there are two types of interest rates: simple interest and compound interest.

Simple interest is calculated using only the principal or starting amount. For example, an individual opens an account with $1,000 and a 1% simple interest rate. At the end of the year, they will have $1,010 in their bank account. But they’ll only earn 1% each year on their principal, aka that initial $1,000.

So even over a longer time period, the individual isn’t earning very much—after 10 years, for example, they will have accumulated a total of $1,100.

Simple interest may be even easier to conceptualize as a savings account from which an individual withdraws the interest each year.

In the example above the individual would withdraw $10 at the end of the year and start again with $1,000 the next year. Every year after that, they would start over with the same principal and earn the same amount in interest.

Compound interest, on the other hand, can help investments grow exponentially. That’s because it incorporates the interest earned on an investment in addition to the initial investment. In other words, an investor earns a return on their returns.

To get an idea of the power of compound interest it might help to explore a compound interest calculator, which allows users to input principal, interest rate, and compounding period.

For example, an individual invests that same $1,000 at a 6% interest rate for 30 years with interest compounding annually. At the end of the investment period, they will have made more than $5,700 without making any additional investments.

That fact is important to consider when conceptualizing the Rule of 72, because compound interest plays a big role in helping an investment double in value within a given time frame. It can help achieve high reward with relatively little effort.

Practical Uses in Financial Projections

Higher returns are often correlated with higher risk. So this rule can help investors gauge whether their risk tolerance — or their return on investment — is high enough to get them to their goal. Depending on what their time horizon is, investors can easily see whether they need to bump up their risk tolerance and choose investments that offer higher returns.

By the same token, this rule can help investors understand if their time horizon is long enough at a certain rate of return. For example, the investor in the above example is already invested in the instrument that offers 3%.

The Rule of 72 can illustrate that they may need to rethink their timeline for when they will retire, pushing it past 20 years. Alternatively, they could sell their current investments and buy a new investment that offers a higher rate of return.

It’s also important to understand that the Rule of 72 does not take into account additional savings that may be made to the principal investment. So if it becomes clear that the goal won’t be met at the current savings rate, an investor will be able to consider how much extra money to set aside to help reach the goal.

Estimating Investment Doubling Times

Using the Rule of 72 to estimate investment doubling times can be a little tricky, and perhaps inaccurate, unless an investor has a clear idea of what the expected rate of return for an investment will be. For instance, it may be very difficult to get an idea of an expected return for a particularly volatile stock. As such, investors may want to proceed with caution when using it to calculate investment doubling times.

Application in Stock Market Investments

As mentioned, stock market investments can be difficult to predict. But some are more predictable than others. For example, investors can probably use the historic rate of return for the S&P 500 to try and get a sense of an expected return for the market at large – which can help when applying the Rule of 72 to index funds or other broad investments.

For example, if a 401(k) plan includes investments that offer a 6% return, the investment will double in 12 years. Again, that’s an estimate, but it gives investors a ballpark figure to work with.

Use During Periods of Inflation

Money loses value during bouts of inflation, which means that the Rule of 72 can be used to determine how long it’ll take a dollar’s value to fall by half – the opposite of doubling in value.

Accuracy and Limitations of the Rule of 72

The Rule of 72 has its place in the investing lexicon, but there are some things about its accuracy and overall limitations to take into consideration.

Is the Rule of 72 Accurate?

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind about the Rule of 72’s accuracy is that it’s a derivation of a larger, more complex operation, and therefore, is something of an estimate. It’s not perfectly accurate, but will get you more of a “ballpark” figure that can help you make investing decisions.

Situations Where the Rule is Most Accurate

The Rule of 72 is only an approximation and depending on what you’re trying to understand there are a few variations of the rule that can make the approximation more accurate.

The rule of 72 is most accurate at 8%, and beyond that at a range between 6% and 10%. You can, however, adjust the rule to make it more accurate outside the 6% to 10% window.

The general rule to make the calculation more accurate is to adjust the rule by one for every three points the interest rate differs from 8% in either direction. So, for an interest rate of 11%, individuals should adjust from 72 to 73. In the other direction, if the interest rate is 5%, individuals should adjust 72 to 71.

Comparisons and Variations on the Rule

There are a few alternatives or variations of the Rule of 72, too, such as the Rule of 73, Rule of 69.3, and Rule of 69.

Rule of 72 vs. Rule of 73

The basic difference between the Rule of 72 and the Rule of 73 is that it’s used to estimate the time it takes for an investment’s value to double if the rate of return is above 10%. The Rule of 73 is only a slight tweak to the rule of 72, using different figures in the calculation.

Rules of 72, 69.3, and 69

Similarly to the Rule of 73, some people prefer to use the Rule of 69.3, especially when interest compounds daily, to get a more accurate result. That number is derived from the complete equation ln(2) / ln(1 + r / 100). When plugged into a calculator by itself, ln(2) results in a number that’s approximately 0.693147.

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For a limited time, opening and funding an Active Invest account gives you the opportunity to get up to $1,000 in the stock of your choice.

FAQ

What are flaws of the Rule of 72>

There are a few key drawbacks to using the Rule of 72, including the fact that it’s mostly accurate only for a certain subset of investments, it’s only an estimation, and that unforeseen factors can cause the rate of return for an investment to change, rendering it useless.

Does the Rule of 72 apply to debt?

Yes, the Rule of 72 can apply to debt, and it can be used to calculate an estimate of how long it would take a debt balance to double if it’s not paid down or off.

Who created the Rule of 72?

Albert Einstein often gets credit, but Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli most likely invented, or introduced the Rule of 72 to the popular world in the late 1400s.



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What is the Federal Family Education Loan Program?

Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) loans are federally backed loans that were originally funded by private companies. The FFEL Program ended in 2010 to pave the way for Federal Direct Loans, but many borrowers still have them. If you took out federal student loans prior to 2010, you may have a FFELP loan.

These older loans may have a high interest rate and don’t qualify for certain federal student loan benefits and forgiveness programs. As a result, you may want to consider consolidating or refinancing FFELP loans.

Read on to learn how you can find out if you have a FFELP loan and, if you do, what your options are in terms of repayment, forgiveness, consolidation, and refinancing.

Does the Federal Family Education Program Still Exist?

Congress discontinued FFELP loans in 2010 and no new loans have been issued under the program since July 1, 2010. At that time, FFELP was replaced by the Federal Direct Loan Program.

Even though no new FFELP loans are being issued, they are far from paid off. As of June 2023, there was a total of $191 billion in FFELP loans remaining with 8.5 million borrowers. Borrowers of these loans are still responsible for making these payments, lenders are required to service them, and the federal government still insures them.


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

What Are FFELP Student Loans?

FFEL Program loans are student loans that were issued by commercial lenders but guaranteed by the federal government. That means if a borrower defaulted, the government would pay the lender an interest subsidy to make up for the loss.

The FFEL Program included:

•   Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans

•   Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans

•   Federal PLUS Loans (also known as FFEL PLUS Loans)

•   Federal Consolidation Loans (also known as FFEL Consolidation Loans)

The federal government purchased some lenders’ FFELP portfolios during the Great Recession (2007-2009). As a result, some FFEL Program debt is owned by the government. However, the majority of FFELP loans are privately held.

All federal student loans issued now are from the Direct Loan Program, which includes the same types of loans listed above. However, there are big differences in how the program is administered. The federal government itself now draws on its own capital to directly lend to students, while several federal contractors take care of servicing the loans.

Borrowers with FFELP loans might have had different terms and benefits compared with Direct Loans.

Recommended: Private Student Loans vs Federal Student Loans

How Do I Know if I Have FFELP Loans?

If you have federal student loans from prior to July 2010, you probably have FFELP loans.

To find out if you have a FFEL Program loan, simply log in to your studentaid.gov
account. Under the “Loan Breakdown” section, select “View Loans” to see the list of loans you’ve received. If a loan has “FFEL” at the front of its listing, it’s a FFEL Program loan.

Understanding Your FFEL Loan

If you have a FFELP loan, the biggest difference from a Direct Loan is the source of the money — you received it from a private lender instead of the federal government. Within the FFELP, you can have one of these types of loans (which are no longer offered):

•   Subsidized Stafford Loan This is a loan for undergraduate students where interest is covered by the federal government while the student is in school at least half-time, and during grace or deferment periods.

•   Unsubsidized Stafford Loan This is a loan for undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree students where interest is charged during the entire life of the loan.

•   Federal PLUS Loan This is a loan for either parents of dependent undergraduate students or for graduate or professional students. Interest is charged for the entire loan period.

•   Federal Consolidation Loan This is a loan designed for borrowers to combine multiple federal student loans into a single loan with a single payment.

If you’re not sure what type of loan you have, one place to look is the National Student Loan Data System . This database houses everything you need to know about your federal student loans, including your interest rate, balances, and payment plans.

Are FFEL Loans Eligible for Forgiveness?

FFELP loans are eligible for Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) forgiveness. With this plan, your monthly payment is based on your income and family size and after making payments for 20 or 25 years, the remaining loan balance is forgiven. The only exception is FFELP loans for parents, which do not qualify for this repayment plan.

However, FFELP loans are not eligible for:

•   Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

•   Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

•   Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) — formerly the REPAYE Plan

•   Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

To access these programs, you’ll have to consolidate FFELP loans into a federal Direct Consolidation Loan.

Can I Still Consolidate or Refinance My FFEL Loans?

Yes, you can still consolidate or refinance your FFEL loans.

Most types of FFELP loans can be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan. If you choose to consolidate, you may become eligible for additional income-driven repayment plans that offer loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years of repayment. You can repay a Direct Consolidation Loan using the PAYE, SAVE, or ICR repayment plans.

Consolidating your FFEL loans also opens up access to PSLF, which forgives your remaining loan balance after 120 payments while working in a public service job.

In addition, consolidating multiple federal student loans simplifies and streamlines repayment, since you’ll only have one monthly payment to make.

However, student loan consolidation involves some risks. These include losing previously earned PSLF and repayment plan forgiveness credit. (However, the federal government has waived this penalty for those who consolidate before the end of 2023.)

It’s also important to understand that consolidation most likely won’t save you any money. Your new interest rate will be the weighted average of your federal loans’ interest rates, rounded up to the next one-eighth of the percentage point. While consolidation may extend your repayment term (and lower your payment), an extended repayment term means paying more in interest in the long run.

You also have the option of refinancing your FFELP loans. This involves getting a new student loan with a private lender and using it to pay off your FFELP student loans (you can also fold in any other private or federal student loans you may have).

If you have excellent credit, student loan refinancing may allow you to qualify for a lower interest rate. This is especially true of older federal loans, which were made at higher interest rates. Just keep in mind that refinancing federal student loans with a private lender will cause the loans to lose federal protections, such as forbearance and forgiveness programs.


💡 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.

The Takeaway

The Federal Family Education Loan Program, or FFELP, was a loan program in which the U.S. Department of Education worked with private lenders to provide student loans that were backed by the federal government. The program ended on July 1, 2010, but if you have federal student loans from prior to that date, you may have a FFELP loan.

To become eligible for federal programs like PSLF and the new SAVE repayment plan, you’ll need to consolidate your FFEL loan into a Direct Consolidation Loan. If you’re looking to save money on your FFEL loan, you may want to explore refinancing the loan.

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.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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What Is a Limit Order?

What Is a Limit Order?

A limit order allows investors to buy or sell securities at a price they specify or better, providing some price protection on trades.

When you set a buy limit order, for example, the trade will only be executed at that price or lower. For sell limit orders, the order will be executed at the price you set or higher. By using certain types of orders, traders can potentially reduce their risk of losses and avoid unpredictable swings in the market.

How Do Limit Orders Work?

In the simplest terms, limit orders work as a sort of restriction that an investor can choose (to either buy or sell) with “limits” on a minimum or maximum price. An investor places an order to buy a stock at a minimum price, for instance, or places an order to sell at a maximum price, in an effort to maximize their returns.

There are two types of limit orders investors can execute: buy limit orders and limit sell orders. An important thing to know is that while a limit order specifies a desired price, it doesn’t guarantee the trade will occur at that price — or at all.

When you set a limit order, the trade will only be executed if and when the security meets the terms of the order — which may or may not happen, depending on the overall market conditions. So, when an investor sets a limit order, it’s possible to miss out on other investing opportunities.

Types of Limit Orders

As mentioned, there are two types of limit orders investors can execute: buy limit orders and limit sell orders.

What is a Buy Limit Order?

For buy limit orders, you’re essentially setting a ceiling for the trade — i.e. the highest price you’d be willing to pay for each share.If a trader places a buy limit order, the intention is to buy shares of stock. The order will be triggered when the stock hits the limit price or lower.

For example, you may want to buy shares of XYZ stock at $15 each. You could place a buy limit order that would allow the trade to be carried out automatically if the stock reaches that purchase price or better.

What is a Sell Limit Order?

For sell limit orders, you’re setting a price floor — i.e. the lowest amount you’d be willing to accept per share. If a trader places a limit order to sell, the order will be triggered when the stock hits the limit price or higher. So you could set a sell limit order to sell XYZ stock once its share price hits $20 or higher.

What is a Stop-Limit Order?

A stop-limit order is a combination of a stop order and a limit order. Stop-limit orders involve setting two prices. For example: A stock is currently priced at $30 and a trader believes it’s going to go up in value, so they set a buy stop order of $33.

When the stock hits $33, a market order to buy will be triggered. But with a stop-limit order, the trader can also set a limit price, meaning the highest price they’re willing to pay per share — say, $35 per share. Using a stop-limit order gives traders an additional level of control.

Stop-limit orders can also help traders make sure they sell stocks before they go down significantly in value. Let’s say a trader purchased stock XYZ at $40 per share, and now anticipates the price will drop. The trader doesn’t want to lose more than $5 per share, so they set a stop order for $35.

If the stock hits $35 — the stop price — the stock will be triggered to sell. However, the price could continue to drop before the trade is fully executed. To prevent selling at a much lower price than $35, the trader can set a limit order to only sell between $32 and $35.

How to Set a Limit Order

When placing a limit order with your brokerage firm, the broker or trading platform might ask for the following information:

•   The stock or security

•   Is it a buy or sell order

•   Number of shares to buy or sell

•   Stock order type (limit order, market order, or another type of order)

•   Price

When setting up a limit order, the trader can set it to remain open indefinitely, (until the stock reaches the limit price), or they can set an expiration date.

Limit Order Example

Say a trader would like to purchase 100 shares of stock XYZ. The highest price they want to pay per share is $26.75. They would set up a limit buy order like this:

Buy 100 shares XYZ limit 26.75.

As noted above, the main upside of using limit orders is that traders get to name a desired price; they generally end up paying a price they expect; and they can set an order to execute a trade that can be executed even if they are doing other things.

In this way, setting limit orders can help traders seize opportunities they might otherwise miss because limit orders can stay open for months or in some cases indefinitely (the industry term is “good ‘til canceled,’ or GTC). The limit order will still execute the trade once the terms are met.

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When a Trader Might Use a Limit Order

There are several reasons why you might want to use a limit order.

•   Price protection. When a stock is experiencing volatility, you may not want to risk placing a market order and getting a bad price. Although it’s unlikely that the price will change drastically within a few seconds or minutes after placing an order, it can happen, and setting a limit order can set a floor or a ceiling for the price you want.

•   Convenience. Another occasion to use a limit order might be when you’re interested in buying or selling a stock but you don’t want to keep a constant eye on the price. By setting a limit order, you can walk away and wait for it to be executed. This might also be a good choice for longer-term positions, since in some cases traders can place a limit order with no expiration date.

•   Volatility. Third, an investor may choose to set a limit order if they are buying or selling at the end of the market day or after the stock market has closed. Company or world news could be announced while the market is closed, which could affect the stock’s price when the market reopens. If the investor isn’t able to cancel a market order while the market is still closed, they may not be happy with the results of the trade. A limit order can help prevent that.

Limit orders can also be useful when the stock being traded doesn’t have a lot of liquidity. If there aren’t many people trading the stock, one order could affect the price. When entering a market order, that trade could cause the price to go up or down significantly, and a trader could end up with a different price than intended.

Pros and Cons of Using Limit Orders

Each type of order has pros and cons depending on the particular situation.

Pros of Limit Orders:

•   The trader gets to name their price. One of the chief reasons traders rely on limit orders is to set baselines for profits and losses. They won’t end up paying a price they didn’t expect when they buy or get a price below their target when it’s time to sell.

•   The trader can set the order and walk away. Day trading can be time consuming and it requires a significant amount of knowledge. Investors who use limit orders don’t have to continuously watch the market to get the price they want.

•   Traders may pay less in fees. Commissions can take a bite out of your profits, something many investors would prefer to keep to a minimum. When trading illiquid stocks, sometimes the bid-ask spread is enough to cover broker fees.

•   Insulate against volatility. Volatility can cause you to make emotional decisions. Limit orders can give traders more control over their portfolio and ward off panic-buying or selling.

•   Ride the gaps. Stock prices can fluctuate overnight due to after hours trading. It’s possible to benefit from price differences from one day to another when using limit orders.

For example, if a trader places a buy limit order for a stock at $3.50, but the order doesn’t get triggered while the market is open, the price could change overnight. If the market opens at $3.30 the next morning, they’ll get a better price, since the buy limit order gets triggered if the stock is at or below the specified price.

Cons of Limit Orders:

•   The order may never be executed. There may not be enough supply or demand to fulfill the order even if it reaches the limit price, since there could be hundreds or even thousands of other traders wanting to buy or sell at the specified price.

•   The stock may never reach the limit price. For example, if a stock is currently priced at $20, a trader might set a limit order to buy at $15. If the stock goes down to $16 and then back up to $20, the order won’t execute. In this case, they would miss out on potential gains.

•   The market can change significantly. If a trader sets a shorter-term limit order they might miss out on a better price. For example, if a stock a trader owns is currently priced at $150, the trader may choose to set a sell limit order at $154 within four weeks. If the company then makes a big announcement about a new product after that period, and the stock’s price spikes to $170, the trader would miss out on selling at that higher price.

•   It takes experience to understand the market and set limit orders. New investors can miss out on opportunities and experience unwanted losses, as with any type of investment.

Limit Order vs Market Order

Limit orders differ from market orders, which are, essentially, orders to buy a security immediately at its given price. These are the most common types of orders. So, while a market order is executed immediately regardless of terms, limit orders only execute under certain circumstances.

Limit orders can also be set for pre-market and after-hours trading sessions. Market orders, by contrast, are limited to standard trading hours (9:30am to 4pm ET).

Remember: Even though limit orders are geared to a specific price, that price isn’t guaranteed. First, limit orders are generally executed on a first-come-first-served basis. So there may be orders ahead of yours that eliminate the availability of shares at your limit price.

And it bears repeating again: There is also the potential for missed opportunities: The limit order you set could trigger a trade. But then the stock or other security might hit an even better price.

In other words, time is a factor. In today’s market, computer algorithms execute the majority of stock market trades. In this high-tech trading environment, it can be hard as an individual trader to know when to buy and sell. By using certain types of orders, like limit orders, traders can potentially limit their losses, lock in gains, and avoid swings in the market.

Though limit orders are commonly used as a part of day trading strategies, they can be useful for any investor who wants some price protection around their trades. For example, if you think a stock is currently undervalued, you could purchase it at the current market price, then set a sell limit order to automatically sell it when the price goes up. Again, the limit order can stay open until the security meets your desired price — or you cancel the order.

However, speculating in the market can be risky and having experience can be helpful when deciding how and when to set limit orders.

Limit Orders vs Stop Orders

There is another type of order that can come into play when you’re trying to control the price of a trade: a stop order. A stop order is similar to a limit order in that you set your desired price for a stock, say, and once the stock hits that price or goes past it, a market order is triggered to execute the purchase or sale.

The terms of a limit order are different in that a trade will be executed if the stock hits the specified price or better. So if you want to sell XYZ stock for $50 a share, a sell limit order will be triggered once the stock hits $50 or higher.

A stop order triggers a market order once XYZ stock hits $50, period. By the time the order is executed, the actual stock price could be higher or lower.

Thus with a stop order there’s also no guarantee that you’ll get the specified price. A market order is submitted once the stop price is hit, but in fast-moving markets the actual price you pay might end up being higher or lower.

Stop orders are generally used to exit a position and to minimize losses, whereas limit orders are used to capture gains. But two can also be used in conjunction with each other with something called a stop-limit order.

When to Consider a Market Order vs a Limit Order

If you’re trying to parse out when a market order or a limit order is the best tool to use, consider the following.

A trader might want to use a market order if:

•   Executing the trade immediately is a priority

•   The stock is highly liquid

•   They’re only trading a small number of shares

•   The stock has a narrow bid-ask spread (about a penny)

A trader might want to use a limit order if:

•   They want to specify their price

•   They are trading an illiquid stock

•   They want to set a long-term trade (or even walk away for their lunch break and still have the trade execute)

•   They feel a stock is currently over- or undervalued

•   The stock has a large bid-ask spread

•   They are trading a larger number of shares

Is a Limit Order Bad?

Limit orders are not necessarily good or bad. As mentioned, they can offer advantages to investors who understand how to use them.

For example, limit orders can offer more control and flexibility than using market orders. And they can work well in a number of different trading situations. If the stock being traded is highly volatile, for instance, a limit order can help traders retain control and avoid paying an unexpected price.

Each time a trader does research on a stock and decides to buy or sell shares, they also consider their goals and the current market conditions to decide whether to place a market or a limit order.

What Happens If a Limit Order Is Not Filled?

A limit order can only be filled if the stock’s price reaches the limit price or better. If this doesn’t happen, then the order is not executed and it expires according to the terms of the contract. An order can be good just for a single trading day, for a certain period of time, or in some cases it’s possible to leave the limit order open-ended using a GTC (good ‘til canceled) provision.

So if you placed a buy limit order, but the stock does not reach the specified price or lower, the purchase would not be completed and the order would expire within the specified time frame.

And if you’re using a sell limit order, but the security never reaches the specified sell price or higher, the shares would remain in your trading account and the order would expire.

Limit Orders and Price Gaps

Price gaps can occur when stocks close at one price then open at a different price on the next trading day. This can be attributed to after-market or pre-market trading that occurs after the regular market hours have ended. After-hours trading can impact stock price minimally or more substantially, depending on what’s spurring trades.

For example, say news of a large tech company’s planned merger with another tech giant leaks after hours. That could send the aftermarket trading markets into a frenzy, resulting in a radically different price for both company’s stocks when the market reopens. Pricing gaps don’t necessarily have to be wide but large pricing swings are possible with overnight trading.

Limit orders can help to downplay the potential for losses associated with pricing gaps. Placing a buy limit order or limit sell order may not close the gap entirely. But it could help to mitigate the losses you may experience when gaps in pricing exist. Whether the gap is moving up or down can determine what type of limit order to place and where to cap your limit price.

The Takeaway

Limit orders can be an effective and efficient way for investors to set price caps on their trades, and also give them some protection against market swings. Limit orders offer other advantages as well, including giving traders the ability to place longer- or shorter-term trades that will be executed even if they’re not continuously watching the market. This can potentially protect investors against losses and potentially lock in gains.

That said, limit orders are complicated because they don’t guarantee that the trade will be executed at the set price. The stock (or other security) could hit the limit price — and there might not be enough supply or demand to complete the trade. There is also the potential for some missed opportunities, if the price you set triggers a trade, and subsequently the stock or other security hits an even better price.

Investors can also consider combining a limit order with a stop order. A stop-limit order can provide even more protection against potential losses.

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FAQ

Can I specify the price for a limit order?

Yes, investors can specify the price for a limit order. In fact, the price typically is the limit in a limit order, representing either a price ceiling or a price floor.

How long does a limit order stay active?

Generally, a limit order will stay active indefinitely, unless an investor cancels it or specifies otherwise. That means that if the limit is never reached, the order will not execute, and the limit order will remain active until the limit is reached.

Can I cancel a limit order once it’s placed?

Investors can cancel standing limit orders as long as conditions haven’t arrived that’s led to the order being actively executed. The cancelation process will depend on the specific exchange an investor is using, however.

What happens if the market price doesn’t reach my limit price?

If the market price of a stock does not reach the limit price — either a price floor or price ceiling — then the limit order will not execute, and the limit order will remain active until it does.

Can I place a limit order outside of regular trading hours?

It’s possible to place limit orders outside of regular trading hours, depending on the rules of a given exchange, and market conditions dictate. The order itself, of course, won’t execute until the market opens, assuming that the limit is reached.

Are there any fees associated with limit orders?

There may or may not be fees associated with limit orders, and it’ll depend on the specific exchange or brokerage an investor is using. Note that some brokerages may charge higher fees for limit orders than market orders — but some may charge no fees at all.

Are limit orders guaranteed to be executed?

No, there is no guarantee that a limit order will be executed, as it will only execute if the limit price is reached. If the limit is not reached, the order will remain active but not execute.


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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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