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Explaining Student Loan Forgiveness For Teachers

There are several options for teachers seeking to reduce their student loan debt, including loan forgiveness, cancellation, or certain grants. For example, teachers may qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF), and Perkins Loans Cancellation for Teachers. Also, there are state and local loan forgiveness, cancellation, or grant programs. We’ll discuss these options in more depth below.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

Amount forgiven:

Up to $5,000 or up to $17,500, depending on the subject area taught.

Which loans might qualify:

Direct (or Stafford) Loans, both subsidized and unsubsidized, and FFEL Program Loans. For borrowers with Direct Consolidation Loans, the outstanding portion of the consolidation loan that repaid an eligible Direct Subsidized Loan, Direct Unsubsidized Loan, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan, or Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan may qualify as well. Learn more here .

Qualifications:

•  Teaching at a low-income school; you can search for a school in this directory

•  Teaching for five complete and consecutive academic years

•  Existing student loans cannot be in default

Details:

The maximum amount that a borrower can have forgiven under this program depends on the role and subject taught. Teachers are eligible to receive up to the highest forgivable amount, $17,500, if they are considered “highly qualified” as defined by the program and are full-time math or science teachers in an eligible school. Teachers working in special education that meet specific requirements may also qualify to have the higher amount forgiven.

Teachers are eligible to receive up to $5,000 if they are a “highly qualified” full-time elementary teacher or a full-time secondary school teacher in all other subject areas.

What does “highly qualified” mean? That the borrower has a full state certification as a teacher or has passed the state teacher licensing exam. With a few exceptions, you must also hold a state license.

How to apply:

Teachers are not eligible to apply until you’ve completed the five years of service. After completing this requirement, borrowers can fill out the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application. (It may be helpful to get acquainted with the application now, because it clearly explains who qualifies for what amount of forgiveness.)

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Amount forgiven:

Up to 100% of the remaining loan balance.

Which loans qualify:

Direct Loans, also known as Stafford Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans

Qualifications:

•  Must be in certain public sector jobs and employed full-time

•  Must have made 120 qualifying payments (this takes 10 years if the borrower makes them consecutively)

•  Payments must be made as part of an income-driven repayment plan

•  Existing student loans cannot be in default

Details:

Unlike with the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application , teachers don’t need to teach for a low-income school or within a particular academic subject when applying for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) .

The requirements for this program are that the borrower is employed by the government on a local, state, or federal level, or work for certain non-profit organizations that provide a qualifying public service—such as general education services.

To qualify for PSLF, borrowers must be on an income-driven repayment plan. An income-driven repayment plan will lower the monthly payment in accordance with the borrower’s income. This payment plan is required because under the standard repayment plan, the loans would be paid in full after 120 payments.

Related: A Look into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Sometimes, there is confusion about which forgiven loan balances are taxable and which aren’t. If a borrower meets the qualifications for PSLF, the forgiven amount will not be taxed. Borrowers who are utilizing an income-driven repayment plan to have their loans forgiven after 20 or 25 years (without participation in the PSLF program), it is possible that the forgiven amount will be taxed as income. To understand more about these tax nuances, consult a licensed tax advisor.

To qualify for PSLF, the 120 qualifying monthly payments do not need to be consecutive. For example, if a borrower has a period of employment with a non-qualifying employer, they will not lose credit for any prior qualifying payments made with a PSLF-approved employer.

While it is possible to partake in both the Teacher Loan Cancellation Program and PSLF, it’s not possible to do so concurrently. For example, your five years of service under the Teacher Loan Cancellation Program would not count toward your qualification for PSLF—you would have to qualify for PSLF under a different period of teaching service. Furthermore, payments made when working toward the Teacher Loan Cancellation Program would not qualify for PSLF—you would have to make 120 additional qualifying payments for the PSLF program.

To apply:

Borrowers may want to turn in the PSLF Employment Certification as soon as they are eligible to be certain that their employment qualifies for the program. Once received by the Department of Education, the borrower will receive a response telling them whether or not they qualify, and if they don’t, what needs to be done to qualify. If the borrower does qualify, they will tell them how many qualifying payments have already been made and how many need to be made.

Every time someone switches jobs, they’ll need to send in an updated Employment Certification form. Otherwise, borrowers will be required to submit an Employment Certification form for each of their previous employers when they apply for forgiveness.

Once a borrower has received notification that their PSLF Employment Certification has been approved, they’ll want to continue making those on-time student loan payments. After making 120 payments, they can apply for forgiveness.

Perkins Loans Cancellation for Teachers

Amount forgiven:

Up to 100% of the loan, done in increments over a five-year period.

Which loans qualify:

Federal Perkins Loans (The Federal Perkins Loan program expired in September 2017, but loans disbursed through the program may still qualify.)

Qualifications:

A minimum one year of teaching and at least one of the following requirements:

•  Teaching at a low-income school; search for a school in this directory

•  Teaching science, math, foreign languages, bilingual studies, or special education

•  Teaching a subject that has a shortage of qualified teachers in your state

•  Teaching in a school operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or on a qualifying Indian reservation

Details:

Those who are eligible for the Perkins Loans Cancellation for Teachers may have all of their Perkins Loans forgiven. The catch is, cancellation happens in stair-step increments over five years. And in order to qualify for this program, an employee must work directly for the school system—qualifying is entirely contingent on position duties. Here’s how the incremental forgiveness system works:

•  15% of the original Perkins loan balance is canceled per year for the first and second years of service

•  20% is canceled in both the third and fourth years

•  30% is canceled in the fifth year

To apply:

Each school has its own process, so borrowers should contact the school that administered the Perkins Loan.

State and Local Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Some states offer loan forgiveness programs for teachers, especially for those that work in subject areas in high need. One place to start your search for a state and local teacher loan forgiveness program is through this database created by the American Federation of Teachers.

What About My Other Student Loans?

So far, all of the programs we’ve discussed only apply to federal loans. What can be done if borrowers have other loans (like private loans) that don’t qualify for federal teacher loan forgiveness?

One option is to look into refinancing the student loans. When a borrower refinances a student loan or multiple loans, they are essentially paying those loans off with a new loan from a new lender. Ideally, the new loan has a more competitive interest rate than the existing loan(s), which could potentially save the borrower money over the life of the loan.

Borrowers can refinance both private and federal student loans, so it is an option for teachers who don’t have loans that qualify for one of the federal forgiveness or cancellation programs.

Because refinancing happens with a private lender (not the government), a borrower would lose federal loan benefits such as access to the PSLF program and the Teacher Loan Cancellation Program.

The Takeaway

Teachers with federal student loans may be able to pursue loan forgiveness through programs like Teacher Loan Forgiveness or Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Borrowers who hold Perkins Loans may also be able to pursue Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers.

Get a quote for student loan refinancing with SoFi.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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.
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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products 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.

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Doctor at desk with laptop

Budgeting on a Fellowship Doctor Salary

A medical fellowship after residency can provide the training you need for a successful career in your preferred specialty. But it also probably means you’ll make far less for a period of one to three years.

Do you get paid during a fellowship? Yes, you do. Medical fellows and residents earn a median salary of $58,305 a year, depending on how many years it has been since they earned a medical degree.

The Difference between Residency and Fellowship

Residency usually happens right after medical school and is designed to give residents the experience needed to serve patients. A fellowship usually follows residency and is designed to train fellows in a narrower specialty.

While some fellows may earn more than residents, the salary is still lower than for most working physicians. Usually fellows have to pay for the majority of their living costs, including housing and at least some meals.

Additionally, most fellows face a high student loan burden as well. Nearly three-quarters of medical students graduated with debt in 2020, and the median debt amount in 2019 was $200,000.

With a relatively low salary and a high debt burden, being smart with money during fellowship years can be a big part of creating a strong financial foundation.

Fellows may feel like they have too much on their plate to devote time to thinking about personal finance. But just a few savvy budgeting strategies can help fellows live within their means and potentially avoid getting deeper into debt.

10 Budgeting Tips for Living on Your Fellowship Doctor Salary

1. Finding a Budget that Works for You

The first step to smart budgeting is actually making a budget. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Start by making a list of monthly expenses in two categories: fixed expenses (those that stay roughly the same every month, such as rent, utilities, and insurance) and variable expenses (those that fluctuate, such as eating out and entertainment).

Next, note how much money is earned each month from fellowship or any other income sources. Use take-home pay after taxes and deductions.

Ideally, expenses should be less than income. If they’re not, work out where costs could be trimmed. With a reasonable budget in place, the next step can be to track spending each month.

2. Living Within Your Means

It bears repeating: generally expenses should not exceed the money you bring in. On a medical fellowship, you might be tempted to bite off more than you can chew financially with the expectation that your salary will soon increase dramatically. But going into debt isn’t a savvy way to start off your career.

Credit cards generally have the highest interest rates (currently more than 16% on average), so even a small balance can balloon into substantial debt down the line. Failing to make payments, or using too much available credit, could impact an individual’s credit score, which could make a difference when, for example, when looking for a mortgage or car loan.

3. Choosing Housing Carefully

For most people, housing is their single largest monthly expense. That’s why it’s worth putting in the effort to find an affordable option that meets your needs. In a particularly expensive market, it may be worth getting roommates. Another factor to consider—the closer you are to your workplace, the more that can potentially be saved in commuting costs.

4. Delaying the Purchase of a New Car

For those living in an urban area, think about whether public transit or carpooling may be options for getting to work. If a vehicle is non-negotiable, consider a used car rather than a new one. Cars lose much of their value when they’re driven off the lot for the first time, so it may be worth seeking out used cars that are in great shape at a great price.

5. Saving on Food

As a variable expense, food is an area with plenty of opportunity to save. If you have any meals provided for you as part of your fellowship, take advantage of the free food. Eating out can be tempting with a busy schedule, but it may be wiser to limit how often you go to restaurants and how much you spend there.

Since you won’t always have time to cook, preparing meals in batches to eat throughout the week could help you resist the temptation of going out.

Grocery shop knowing what’s on sale, what produce is in season, and even take a chance on generic versions of brand-name foods. Look for nonperishable items in bulk at discount stores. If you’re feeling extra thrifty, clipping coupons could save you some change, too. Some stores even offer coupons through their app—no clipping required.

6. Traveling with Rewards Points

During your fellowship, you’ll probably want to go on vacation and take a well-deserved break. But your trip doesn’t have to break the bank. Fellows with a decent enough credit score, may qualify for credit cards that offer significant point bonuses, which can be redeemed for travel costs like flights, hotels, or rental cars. Some cards may require cardholders to spend a certain amount up front to qualify for a bonus, so double check you’re not taking on unnecessary expenses or carrying a balance if you don’t need to.

Related: Top Travel Hacks

7. Taking Advantage of Income-Based Repayment Plans, Deferment, or Forbearance

Those with eligible federal loans who cannot afford to make payments, may be able to pause their payments through deferment or forbearance options if they meet certain qualifications.

Income-based repayment plans allow borrowers to tie their monthly payment to what they make, and the balance is generally forgiven after a certain number of years (currently anywhere between 20 to 25 years).

Eligibility for these programs largely depends on the types of student loans that the borrower holds and when they were borrowed. Those who are in a qualified graduate fellowship, may be able to request to defer your loans.

If successful, they likely won’t have to make payments during the fellowship. In some cases, borrowers may not be required to pay accrued interest, for example, if they hold subsidized federal student loans.

Borrowers who don’t qualify for deferment, but are still struggling financially, may be able to apply for forbearance, but would likely be responsible for paying the interest that accrues.

Fellows who are interested in pursuing a career in public health may also consider the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program . In that program, borrowers who work for a qualifying non-profit establishment, may be able to get their loans forgiven after 10 years of income-based payments.

8. Trying to Save

Living on a fellows salary may not leave much room for saving, but if at all possible, setting small savings goals could be helpful.

For example, if you don’t already have an emergency fund, you could try to put away some money every month until you have about three to six months of living expenses saved.

Once you have a cushion for emergencies, consider contributing to a retirement account, such as a traditional or Roth IRA. The power of compound interest means investing early can translate into gains over time. The longer money is invested, the more time it potentially has to grow and withstand any volatility.

9. Considering Passive Income

As a fellow, you probably don’t have much extra time to take on a side hustle. If you’re looking for ways to potentially boost your pay, consider looking into low-effort side hustles as sources of passive income, which can allow you to earn money without investing much time or energy.

Examples include renting out your room or car, wrapping your car in ads, or creating an online course. It may require some up front effort, but if you can increase your cash flow without working too much, it could be worth it.

10. Refinancing Your Student Loans

Dealing with student loans, potentially from both undergraduate and medical school, can be challenging when you’re living on a medical fellowship salary.

Refinancing your medical student loans is one way to help make your debt more manageable and potentially free up some extra cash.

When you refinance your loans—both federal and private—with a private lender, you typically get a new loan at a new interest rate and/or a new term.

Depending on your situation, refinancing can lower your monthly payment. Many online lenders consider a variety of factors when determining your eligibility and loan terms, however, including your educational background, earning potential, credit score, and other factors.

Keep in mind that when refinancing with a private lender, you do give up the benefits that come with most federal student loans, like deferment, forbearance, or income-based repayment programs, so it won’t make sense for all borrowers.

The Takeaway

Fellowships can be an excellent opportunity to learn about a specific medical field, but the relatively low salary may require some creative budgeting in order to keep expenses in line with income.

Some ideas to consider include creating a passive income stream, shopping smarter at the grocery store, establishing a realistic budget, and finding an affordable living situation.

Interested in refinancing student loans? Learn more about options available with SoFi.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
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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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products 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.
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3 ways to support your employees during times of uncertainty

3 Ways to Support Your Employees During Times of Uncertainty

Human resources and benefits managers have never been more put to the test than they have during this past year.

The pandemic has meant that they were suddenly managing a remote workforce while trying to fill immediate needs for short-term benefits such as emergency savings and child and elderly care support. In addition, economic instability and the racial justice crisis added to employees’ concerns and stresses.

Right now you’re likely in the sorting-out stage, trying to figure out how best to take what you learned in the crisis and apply it to long-term policies and tactics that will continue to support employees as we all enter the new and equally confusing post-pandemic stage.

What can you do to support workers during these–and future–times of uncertainty?

These three steps can help.

1. Make Sure Communications Are Honest and Accurate–and That They Reach Everyone

You’ve likely hit some obstacles as you tried to communicate COVID-oriented policies and protocols among your far-flung workers. In the process, you may have found strategies that work for you and others that don’t. Add to those lessons the following tips to help you move forward.

Be Honest

Research shows employees engage more if they think company communications are honest. That means it’s OK to tell employees management is still looking into a change or isn’t sure exactly when a new policy will be implemented. In uncertain times, it’s better to keep in touch. Employees are looking to you for leadership, but they also want to be in on the process when changes are taking place. What’s more, giving employees honest updates can avoid the need for damage control later.

Be the Voice of Reason and Compassion

Your employees are likely overloaded with news and information, some of which may be contradictory and confusing. It’s important that your communications stay on top of breaking news and add a clear, helpful, and understanding voice to the discussion when events impact the company, the employees, and benefits.

Take a Multi-Channel Approach

While email is still the most common way to communicate with employees, you also want to use mobile and social media to help ensure that all employees see vital communications no matter where they are or what their work situation may be. This will be, literally, reaching out to your employees where they are.

2. Review Your Voluntary Benefits

In times of uncertainty, employees may look to their employer for a shoulder to lean on. Many HR professionals have recognized this through the COVID-19 crisis by offering a variety of flexible benefits that can help employees solve their short-term financial challenges today and assist them in building a stronger future.

More employers are offering or planning to offer voluntary benefits across a wide spectrum of needs, according to the Emerging Trends in Health Care Survey by global advisory, broking, and solutions company Willis Towers Watson. A full 94% of employers find voluntary benefits to be important to their employee value proposition and Total Rewards strategy three years from now. That’s up compared to just 36% in 2018, according to the survey.

The fastest-growing benefits employees are offering include theft protection, hospital indemnity, critical illness insurance, and pet insurance. In addition, some of the most widespread voluntary benefits that employers offer or will offer over the next two years include financial planning counseling, tuition reimbursement programs, onsite fitness centers, backup childcare, and elder care, the survey reports. The range in responses illustrates the holistic approach that employers are taking toward benefit support.

Whatever combination of flexible or voluntary benefits you may be considering, you’ll want to be sure it fits your workers’ demographics and pressing needs. A variety of well-chosen benefits can help your employees face their specific challenges while also reducing stress and calming nerves during any period of uncertainty.

3. Help Employees Balance Short-Term and Long-Term Financial Well-Being

In uncertain times a flexible financial well-being approach that includes the short-term benefits employees need to make it through is more important than ever. That’s why so many employers have introduced the types of benefits that employees feel are most relevant to their current financial concerns. Those may include emergency savings programs, homeownership benefits, and student loan repayment programs, to name just a few.

But this doesn’t mean that the importance of retirement savings and other long-term benefits should be diminished. Far from it. The security of knowing long-term retirement savings is in place can help add to employees’ overall financial well-being, especially during tumultuous times. Through effective communication and education programs, HR professionals can help employees balance short-term and long-term financial needs and goals.

It’s essential in times like these to try to help employees feel –and be–secure. These strategies may help you and your company continue to improve financial well-being during these tumultuous times and during calmer days down the road.


SoFi at Work is offered by Social Finance Inc. SoFi loans are offered by SoFi Lending Corp. or an Affiliate (dba SoFi), licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license #6054612; NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org ). The Student Debt Navigator tool and 529 Savings and Selection tool are provided by SoFi Wealth, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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How Financial and Mental Health Can Collide with Work

How Financial and Mental Health Can Collide With Work

Mental health and financial health typically go hand in hand. That’s something employee benefits managers were well aware of even before the Great Recession. For years, studies have shown a link between stress over finances and an increase in mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. And on the flipside of the coin, people with mental illnesses are more likely to have financial problems.

Now the COVID-19 pandemic adds new evidence to support this important realization. An overwhelming 84 percent of Americans reported feeling financial stress in their lives because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey released in October 2020 by the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®). And that specific stress was in addition to being in the already fraught situation of trying to cope with the other difficulties of living through a pandemic.

For many, COVID-19 has also added the extra burden of burnout. After months of Zoom meetings, working from home, teaching the kids, and hardly leaving the house, your workers are likely to be exhausted. Two-thirds of workers are experiencing burnout, according to a recent study by Mental Health America, and 40 percent of those say it’s because of the pandemic.

SoFi’s own data bears out how much strain the pandemic has caused for workers. In a May 2020 SoFi survey, 44 percent of the more than 1,000 consumers we surveyed said they were experiencing mental health issues and/or emotional stress due to COVID-19 and 30 percent said they’re experiencing money-related stress. Financial stress and mental health problems can lead to increased absenteeism and low productivity among your workers, especially during these trying times. Offering support to your workforce can help them, and that, in turn, may be reflected in improved productivity and retention.

That’s why it may make sense to help employees combat financial issues and mental health problems at the same time. Even before the pandemic, many employers were exploring ways that financial well-being benefits and mental health benefits could work together to build the support and offer the solutions employees need to weather financial and mental stress.

Here are some lessons from those efforts that might benefit you and your organization.

Recognize How Financial Well-Being Programs Can Support Mental Health in the Workplace

Financial planning, budgeting tools, debt counseling, and financial education services have become increasingly popular employer offerings in recent years. These tools can help employees become financially stable so that they can move on to long-term savings and goals. In addition, gaining control over day-to-day financial challenges can help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with financial instability.

Now may be a particularly good time to emphasize the connection between financial and mental health wellness to your workforce. According to SoFi data from summer 2020, almost 60 percent of 2,050] employees and job seekers we surveyed want more financial well-being benefits as a result of COVID-19. What’s more, 48 percent said they would likely stay with an employer that offers financial well-being benefits.

Offer a Choice of Flexible Financial-Contribution Programs

Personalized benefits that are relevant to individuals’ situations can be especially helpful in reducing the financial stress employees are feeling right now. The pandemic has highlighted the need for short-term, goal-oriented savings. Depending on an employee’s personal situation, payroll deduction emergency savings accounts, student loan repayment programs, and/or debt management tools may be tailor-made tools that can help them handle the financial stressors that may be contributing to depression, anxiety, and other mental illness.

This is a good time to take inventory and see what solutions might be missing from your financial well-being benefits. Questions to consider include:

•  Have you set up an automated emergency savings program for employees?
•  And if you have, are you sure your employees know it exists and how to participate?
•  Do you have a 401(k) matching program for employees paying off student loans?
•  Are your education and financial planning efforts aimed at all employees, not just those focused on long-term savings?

Help Employees Keep an Eye on Long-Range Goals, Too

Much of the workforce is still paying off student loans or working on eliminating their current debt. But more than half (55 percent) of Americans say that not having enough saved is causing them the most financial stress, while just 30 percent say that paying off debt is their biggest worry, according to the NEFE survey.

Despite the demand for short-term saving solutions, you may also want to help employees balance short-term and long-term goals. Even for younger employees, you don’t want to take the focus completely off retirement and college savings benefits. And for employees who are closer to retirement, maintaining savings is important, too. Helping everyone in your workforce, regardless of where they are, maintain a balance between short-term and long-range goals can be an important step to developing their overall financial well-being and lowering their stress.

The Takeaway

Human resource leaders, mental health professionals, and economists all agree that the collective fatigue and stress caused by COVID-19 could have far-reaching consequences for your workforce. Employees who are suffering from stress may not have the creativity and focus your company needs to emerge from the pandemic as strong as ever.

Given what we know about the connections between mental health and financial well-being, combining your mental health and financial well-being benefits to create customized packages accessible and meaningful to all employees can help ensure your workforce is ready for the challenges ahead.


SoFi at Work is offered by Social Finance Inc. SoFi loans are offered by SoFi Lending Corp. or an Affiliate (dba SoFi), licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license #6054612; NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org ). The Student Debt Navigator tool and 529 Savings and Selection tool are provided by SoFi Wealth, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.
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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Should You Get an Internship in High School?

High school is the ultimate time of discovery. It’s the place where teenagers turn into young adults and begin to figure out exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives. And one of the best ways to do just that might be to gain a little work-life experience through an internship.

Internships for high school students afford teenagers with a number of excellent opportunities including the chance to test out a few of their dream jobs, add an item or two to their resume, pop one more thing on their college applications, and could even help them make a few dollars on the side.

However, internship programs are a bit harder to come by for the high school set than for college students, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find one.

Here are a few of the pros and cons that come with interning in high school, along with advice on how to find internships for the high school students in your life.

What Is the Purpose of an Internship

To help clarify what’s expected of a high school or college intern, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) created a simple definition: “An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.”

In essence, an internship is a way for young people to gain experience in their chosen field, getting to learn from professionals.

The Duties of an Intern

The duties of an intern vary from job to job. For example, those interning at a doctor’s office could include shadowing the medical professionals and taking notes on patient visits. Those interning at a marketing firm could sit in on marketing meetings and assist in any communication needs.

An internship experience is somewhat equivocal to an entry-level employee position. The point is to learn more about the career path, not just get coffee or file the office mail (though you may be asked to do this, too).

Pros and Cons of High School Internships

There are plenty of pros when it comes to getting internship experiences in high school. Those pros include learning about different career paths without having to commit to a lifelong job.

Learning about a path early on could help a high schooler determine a college vs. straight-to-job path, or even help them decide on which program they’d like to study in school.

Another pro of completing an internship in high school is gaining new experiences and skills. By working at an internship, students are able to learn from professionals and add relevant skills to their resume to help them gain a leg up in applying for jobs in the future.

And, of course, all this experience and new learning make for excellent items to add to any potential college applications.

There are few cons to working a high school internship, but if you ask a teenager, the downside may be having less time for friends after school or over the summer. Just make sure to balance work and fun time, as this, too, will help young people learn better balance in the real world later.

Finding the Right Internship

Finding the perfect internship is a wholly personal experience. First, young people should identify their interests in both the near and far term. By thinking about career paths they may be interested in, they could also identify internship opportunities around them.

However, not every young person knows, or believes they know, exactly what they want to do in the future. But, they may know a general interest.

For example, if their favorite class is English, an internship at a local newspaper may make sense. If they’re interested in nature, an internship with a local parks and recreation group may make a good fit.

If you’re a high schooler, make a shortlist of interests and sit down with a parent or guardian to identify careers that may fit within these bounds.

Next, it’s time to identify a few companies the high schooler may be interested in. Search around for companies near them that may be taking interns. From there, check out career pages on the individual companies to see if they have internship listings. If they don’t, try emailing the company to get in touch with the human resource (HR) department to see what may be available.

One quick tip: While researching and reaching out about internships make sure to stay realistic about the time commitment. If an internship takes place during the school year a student may only be available in afternoons for a limited time. Ensure the hiring manager knows the hours the student is available before committing to any long-term work.

Resources to Find Internships in High School

While there isn’t any centralized listing location for internships for high school students there are still plenty of places to find information on opportunities.

Schools: Students can reach out to school resources like guidance counselors, principals, and individual teachers who may know of companies worth looking into.

Individual companies: Again, seek out information from company websites and reach out to human resource departments to see what may be available.

Job search websites: Check out job search websites such as Linkedin, Monster, Indeed, and more and search for “Internships in [specific field here].” Make sure to search by location to ensure the internship is nearby.

Friends and family: This is the simplest tip—just ask around. Friends and family members are the ultimate social and work network. Make it known your high schooler is looking for an internship and ask people for their advice on just where to look.

Questions to Ask Before Accepting an Internship

After figuring out interests, asking networks, and finding an internship opportunity, you may think the work is done. However, there are still a few more questions to ask.

Before accepting an internship offer, make sure to ask about the full details. What are the hours? What can the intern expect to learn while on the job? What are the specific job duties and how will the intern be evaluated along the way? Will there be opportunities for mentorship? And finally, one of the most important questions: Is the internship paid?

Paid vs. Unpaid Internships

Scoring a paid internship isn’t a guarantee, but it’s not a completely far-fetched idea either. If a paid internship isn’t available, high schoolers can always ask about an exchange for class credit. Unpaid internships are a hotly contested issue so just make sure to do whatever feels right and comfortable for you or your high schooler.

However, even a paid internship likely won’t earn a high schooler enough cash to pay for all of college. To cover the gap between savings and various forms of student aid, and the cost of higher education, some students and their families might want to consider student loans.

After looking at federal student loan options, if there is still a financial need, a private student loan may be able to make up the difference.

Applying for a private student loan with SoFi is easy, takes place 100% online, and comes with zero fees—no origination fees, no late fees, and no insufficient fund fees. Ever.

SoFi even offers flexible repayment plans so students can find a loan that fits their individual budget. That way, instead of worrying about their loan, students can focus on their internship and studies—and their future.

Looking for a new way to pay for school? A private student loan from SoFi is a great place to start.



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