Student Loans for Single Parents

Student Loans for Single Mothers and Fathers

Juggling parenting, late-night studying, and possibly a job can wear on anyone, but time and money constraints can especially affect single parents. As a single parent, you may quickly realize that obtaining student loans will be an important factor in successfully completing your college journey.

So, how do you get that “single mom loan” or “single dad loan” to help you out? In this piece, we’ll spend some time comparing private and federal student loans and walk through options for student loans for single mothers and fathers. We’ll also cover the process that single parents can take toward getting private student loans and federal student loans.

What Are Student Loans?

Put simply, student loans allow you to borrow money from either the federal government or a private lender to help you pay for college costs. Student loans can help you cover tuition, fees, supplies, books, rent, living expenses, and other necessary school-related expenses.

Private vs. Federal Student Loans

Single parents can obtain both private and federal student loans. But before you get on the student loan bandwagon, it’s important to understand the whole picture — the amount you can get in private and federal loans as well as how much you can get in scholarships and grants, which are money you don’t have to repay. You may also want to pay for school by reserving a cache of funds from a current job or pulling from some funds you have in savings.

In the next two sections, we’ll walk through the definitions of both private and federal student loans.

Federal Student Loans

The U.S. Department of Education, through the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program (also called the Direct Loan program), offers federal student loans for borrowers who need to finance college or career school.

In order to get a federal student loan, you must file the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid every year. The FAFSA lets colleges and universities know about your financial situation by asking you to input information about your savings and checking account balances, investments, and more. The FAFSA will also help you qualify for more than just loans — you could also qualify for scholarships through your institution, grants, and also for a work-study program. The federal work-study program allows you to work for your college or career school and earn up to a certain amount of money.

When you file the FAFSA, you receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) which also reports your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), an index number that colleges use to determine how much financial aid you can receive.

You can qualify for Direct Subsidized or Direct Unsubsidized Loans or Direct PLUS Loans — you can only get a Direct PLUS loan as long as you are an independent student (that is, nobody can claim you on their taxes) or if you are a graduate student.

Most types of federal student loans don’t require a credit check. Independent students may qualify for the following amounts and limits:

•  First-year undergraduate students: $9,500 (no more than $3,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans)

•  Second-year undergraduate students: $10,500 (no more than $4,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans)

•  Third-year and beyond undergraduate students: $12,500 (no more than $5,500 of this amount may be in subsidized loans)

•  Graduate or professional students: $20,500 (unsubsidized only)

The current interest rate for Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized loans is 5.50% for undergraduate students, and the rate for Direct Unsubsidized loans is 7.05% for graduate or professional students. The interest rates are fixed for the life of the loan.

Private Student Loans

The main difference between a private student loan and a federal loan is that you don’t get a private student loan from the federal government like you do a private student loan. You can get a private student loan from a bank, credit union, or another financial institution to finance college or career school.

In general, it’s a wise idea to exhaust all of your federal grant and loan options before you consider private loans because interest rates are usually higher for private student loans compared to federal student loans. The amount you can borrow depends on the costs of your degree, but also depends on personal financial factors (such as your credit score and income). Additionally, private student loans don’t have to offer the same borrower protections and benefits available to federal borrowers, such as income-driven repayment plans.

Student Loans for Single Parents

Single parents can get both private and federal student loans. We’ll also go over some specific financial aid ideas for single parents.

Private Student Loans for Single Parents

As a single parent, you may have a limited amount of time to research your private student loan options, but it’s to your advantage to do so because you can ensure that you choose the right type (and the right interest rate). Take a look at three to five different private student loan lenders and compare everything apples to apples — interest rates, fees, repayment terms, deferment, forbearance and discharge options, as well as in-school repayment options.

Then, walk through the next steps:

1.   Give yourself plenty of time to apply for private loans. The application and approval process can take longer than you might think. Remember that you’ll need to monitor your financial situation each semester to make sure you have enough loan money to carry you through the academic year.

2.   Gather your personal information. Before you apply, you’ll likely need to have the following handy: Social Security number, employment information (including a recent paycheck stub), gross annual income, assets, rent or mortgage information, as well as tax returns. Specific application requirements may vary by lender.

3.   Apply for a private student loan. You can apply on a private student loan lender’s website. The lender will ask for the personal information listed above and possibly more than that — it’s a good idea to be open to that possibility. You’ll submit information about your school, graduation date, and loan amount needed. You must also agree to the lender’s terms and conditions, which you’ll want to read carefully, and proceed with the application.

Your search for financial aid doesn’t have to end with filing the FAFSA or applying for private student loans. You may also want to look for single-parent grants or scholarships through organizations that include your school, state government, federal agencies, charitable foundations and professional associations.

Jumping on Google and searching for “single parent college scholarships” turns up a lot of scholarships, such as the Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Scholarships and the Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation Scholarships . However, it’s important to verify the validity of the scholarship and steer clear of scholarship scams.

One of the most important things you can do is to contact your school’s financial aid office and explain your situation as a single mother or father. Many colleges and universities offer endowed scholarships for students and may be able to offer you financial aid specifically for single-parent families.

Learn more: Private Student Loans Guide

Federal Student Loans for Single Parents

To obtain a federal student loan, you must demonstrate financial need, be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, have a valid Social Security number, enroll in an eligible degree or certificate program, show successful completion of a high school degree or GED, maintain satisfactory progress in school, and sign the certification on the FAFSA.

Undergraduate students who show evidence of financial need can qualify for a Direct Subsidized Loan. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students can qualify for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, but eligibility is not based on financial need. The government pays the interest for Direct Subsidized student loans while you’re in school but does not pay the interest on Direct Unsubsidized loans during that time.

Graduate or professional students may qualify for a Direct PLUS Loan. Eligibility is not based on financial need, but you will undergo a credit check. Borrowers who have an adverse credit history must meet additional qualifications.

Direct Consolidation Loans allow you to combine all of your eligible federal loans.

You must go through entrance counseling to make sure you understand your loan repayment obligations and you must sign a Master Promissory Note, which shows that you agree to the terms of the loan.

Above all else, in addition to learning more about single parents’ loans at your school, it’s also important to contact the financial aid office at the school you want to attend to fully understand the financial aid process at your college or career school.

Private Student Loans with SoFi

You may have mastered budgeting as a single parent but acknowledge that federal and private loans for single moms and dads will be key for your degree completion. It’s important to remember that loans for single parents aren’t out of your reach.

Why not choose a private student loan with low fixed or variable rates from SoFi? SoFi offers low fixed rates or variable interest rates on school loans for single moms and dads. SoFi can help you get a private student loan that fits your current and future financial budget.

The Takeaway

Affording higher education as a single parent can be a challenge, but there are student loans, grants, and scholarships available to help ease the burden. Single parents can apply for federal student loans by filling out the FAFSA each year. If this aid isn’t enough, some students may consider applying for private student loans.

Learn more about private student loans with SoFi.

FAQ

Do you get more financial aid if you are a single parent?

Schools award need-based financial aid based on demonstrated need. If you demonstrate financial need, you’ll more than likely receive some type of financial aid from the college or university that you plan to attend. It’s very important to file the FAFSA to qualify for federal student aid and also talk to the financial aid office of your college or university for more information about the financial aid opportunities available to you.

How can a single parent afford college?

There are a number of ways that a single parent can afford college, and it starts with open communication between you and your school’s financial aid office. A few excellent steps you can take include: filing the FAFSA, looking for scholarships and grants in your community and comparing private loan lenders for private loans that fit your needs.


Photo credit: iStock/Geber86

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


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


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, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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

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How to Write a Letter of Explanation for a Mortgage

How to Write a Letter of Explanation for a Mortgage

Buying a house can be a fraught process, but when the market is hot, the days between offer and closing can feel endless, especially if the mortgage underwriter asks you to write a letter of explanation.

But there’s no need to panic or assume that your mortgage application will fail. The lender is simply seeking clarification about any potential red flags in your financial documents or credit history.

What’s a Letter of Explanation?

A letter of explanation for a mortgage explains details of your financial situation that may need further clarification. Because a mortgage is a large loan, lenders need to know that the borrower is capable of shouldering the mortgage.

Lenders also know that life can’t be boiled down to a spreadsheet, and that it’s not unusual for a mortgage application to include things like a late credit payment or a period of job loss.

To do due diligence, the mortgage underwriter will ask you to explain the situation in a brief letter, which will be added to your mortgage application. Additional documentation and paperwork may be required.


💡 Quick Tip: With SoFi, it takes just minutes to view your rate for a home loan online.

Why Do I Need to Provide a Letter of Explanation?

Common issues that could trigger a request for a letter of explanation include:

• Questions about your income if you don’t have W-2s or are self-employed

• Negative items on your credit report

• Employment gaps

• Your living situation if you don’t pay any rent or mortgage

• A property income or loss you claim

• Credit lines opened after you’ve put in your mortgage application

• Large deposits to, and sometimes withdrawals from, your bank account

Must I Explain a Large Deposit?

If there’s a big or unexplained deposit to your bank account, your lender may want to know where the money came from — and whether that money needs to be paid back.

A lender may also question any uneven income streams, or if deposits don’t line up with your W-2s or your tax returns.

If you received cash from, say, a parent to help with a down payment or closing costs, you may also need a gift letter signed by the giver and recipient stating that the money was a gift, not a loan. Your lender may have a template for a gift letter.

Keep in mind that your lender may be more likely to scrutinize any large deposits or withdrawals within the last 60 days.

Letter of Explanation Template

A letter of explanation is not an autobiography or an admission that you did anything wrong. It’s simply a statement of the reason for any discrepancy or issue, along with any documentation, to back up your current financial picture.

You can keep a letter of explanation brief. It should include:

• Your name and address

• Your lender’s name and address

• A subject line that includes your application number and name

• A brief paragraph explaining the situation

• A polite closing

• Your signed full name

It might look like this:

Date

Lender
Lender’s Address
Lender’s Phone Number

Subject Line (RE: John Doe’s Mortgage Application)

Letter of explanation, naming the specific item being asked about and explaining it to the best of your abilities.

Sincerely,

Applicant’s Name
Applicant’s Address
Applicant’s Phone Number

Enc.: (Relevant documentation).

The tone of the letter should be polite and factual. Remember: Your goal is not to pull on the lender’s heartstrings; it’s to reassure them that your application is solid and you would responsibly pay back your mortgage on time.


💡 Quick Tip: Jumbo mortgage loans are the answer for borrowers who need to borrow more than the conforming loan limit values set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency ($766,550 in most places, or $1,149,825 in many high-cost areas). If you have your eye on a pricier property, a jumbo loan could be a good solution.

4 Tips for an Effective Letter of Explanation

Although being asked to write a letter of explanation may sound like being assigned homework, it’s actually a great opportunity: It means you might be able to qualify for the mortgage you want, even with an imperfect application. Here are some tips to help ensure you get an A+ on this particularly important homework assignment.

1. Keep It Simple

When you’re asked to explain yourself, it can be easy to jump into a broad-reaching narrative starting from childhood, but the best letters of recommendation tend to be short and simple: They clarify the situation being asked about and reassure the lender that the “red flag” situation won’t affect the borrower’s ability to repay the loan.

2. Provide Clear Details

Generally speaking, you’ll want to specifically name whatever item you’re being asked about (late payments on a credit card account ending in 0101; an employment gap between 2/20/2020 and 9/07/2020; etc.).

Then explain. For instance, if you’re being asked about an employment gap, you might let the lender know that you were let go as a result of corporate downsizing and that you freelanced while searching for a new job.

If you’re being asked about late credit card payments, you might let the lender know that you were in the hospital at that time and thus unable to make your credit card payments, or whatever the case may be.

The key is to take responsibility for the issue and provide clear, pertinent details without being too wordy.

3. Be Honest

This may go without saying, but you definitely don’t want to lie in your letter of explanation. For one thing, doing so is likely to keep you from being approved for the mortgage — and for another, it can be considered mortgage fraud, a serious crime that can come with prison time and fines.

4. Acknowledge Responsibility, but Don’t Get Emotional

When writing a letter of explanation, you may be justifying negative items in your credit history that resulted from poor decisions — or just poor circumstances. Nobody’s perfect, but a lender simply wants to make sure you won’t default on your loan.

It can be helpful to acknowledge the ways you’ve adjusted your financial habits in response to a negative item. This helps to reassure the lender that it won’t have an impact on your ability to pay your mortgage.

For example, if you’re writing a letter of explanation to address late rent payments after a layoff, you might add that you’ve since saved up an emergency fund of three months of living expenses in order to avoid being financially blindsided in the future.

However, writing an emotional sob story won’t help. Remember: It’s a good idea to keep it simple, clear, honest, and as short as possible while still covering all those bases.

Getting Your Mortgage Application in Shape

Knowing what documents you need and what a mortgage lender will look at can help get your application in strong shape before you file it. Your lender will scrutinize your credit history and any late payments, especially ones within the last 12 months. But there are ways to proactively tackle any issues on your credit reports.

Check your credit reports. Knowing what your mortgage lender may see can help you assess where any weak points may be, and what information they may ask for.

Call the creditor if you have a recent late payment. Creditors know that accidents happen and bills may be misplaced. If your account is otherwise in good standing, it’s possible that a creditor may erase the late payment.

Focus on additional aspects of your credit. Making sure to pay bills on time and keeping your credit utilization below 30% can help build credit.

Think twice about opening accounts. Before and after applying for a mortgage, it can be a good idea to be mindful of opening new lines of credit or charging an extensive amount on current cards. Suddenly taking on more debt on credit cards can raise a red flag to lenders, which may result in being asked to write a letter of explanation.

Understanding how a lender will see your mortgage application can give you confidence and may help you head off any potential problems.

Recommended: Preapproved vs. Prequalified: What’s the Difference?

The Takeaway

A letter of explanation is when a mortgage lender needs clarity about a red flag or discrepancy that arises on your application. Knowing what to expect, having documentation ready, and answering any questions the lender may have can all be helpful in getting your home loan approved.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

Photo credit: iStock/scyther5


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


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


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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A Guide to Personal Loans for Single Mothers

Personal Loan Need-to-Knows for Single Mothers

Whether you’ve been a single mom since day one or are in the process of becoming a solo parent, raising a child on your own can be expensive. Housing, essentials, and extracurriculars add up. Add in unplanned days off for childcare, major expenses like dental work and medical insurance, or expenses like legal bills during a separation, and you may find yourself with your finances stretched thinner than you’d like.

One option to consider is a personal loan. This type of loan provides a lump sum of money up front you then pay back (plus interest) in monthly installments over time. You can use the funds from a personal loan for virtually any purpose, whether it’s making a large purchase, covering living expenses, or paying down other, higher-interest debt.

Read on for a closer look at personal loans for single moms, including their pros and cons, how to qualify, plus other funding options you may want to explore.

Why Might a Single Mom Need a Personal Loan?

There are many reasons why a single mother — or any parent — might consider applying for a personal loan. These include:

1.    Consolidating debt

2.    Covering the cost a move

3.    Paying tuition or extracurricular expenses for children

4.    Stopgap during times of unemployment

5.    Covering housing costs, such as rent or a mortgage

6.    Paying for a home remodeling project

7.    Buying a car

8.    Purchasing major appliances

Recommended: What Is a Personal Loan? How Do Personal Loans Work?

Are Personal Loans for Single Mothers Special?

In a word, no. The process of applying for a personal loan is the same for everyone. However, there may be particular approval hurdles to overcome as a single parent.

One is income. If you’re newly single, you may not have a steady income, which can make it more difficult to get approved for a personal loan. Another is your credit. If you’ve had to rely on credit cards to cover the cost of divorce or the transition to single parenting, your credit may not be what it used to be. The amount of debt you owe on your credit cards is one of the biggest factors affecting your credit score.

However, these obstacles aren’t insurmountable (more on that below).

Benefits and Risks of Personal Loans for a Single Mother

A personal loan can offer a single mom a valuable lifeline to meet immediate needs, such as unexpected expenses, education costs, or debt consolidation. However, taking on any type of debt generally comes with costs, as well as risks. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of getting a loan as a single mom.

Pros

Cons

Flexibility in fund usage Interest and fees add to your costs
Quick access to funds Risk of overborrowing
Fixed repayment schedule Missed or late payments can negatively impact your credit
Interest rates are typically lower than credit cards Can add to your debt burden

Pros of Personal Loans for Single Mothers

•  Flexibility Personal loans provide flexibility in how you can use the borrowed funds. Whether it’s covering medical bills, home repairs, or summer camp tuition, personal loans can be used for a wide range of purposes.

•  Quick access to funds Personal loans often come with a streamlined application process and relatively quick approval. You may be able to access the funds quickly, enabling you to address urgent financial needs promptly.

•  Fixed repayment schedule Personal loans usually come with fixed monthly payments over a specified term. This predictability can make it easier for you to budget and plan your finances effectively.

•  Potential for lower interest rates Depending on the borrower’s creditworthiness, personal loans can offer competitive interest rates compared to other types of borrowing, such as credit cards or payday loans. Single mothers with a good credit history may benefit from more affordable repayment terms.

Cons of Personal Loans for Single Mothers

•  Interest and fees On top of interest, some lenders charge fees for personal loans, which increase the overall cost of borrowing. It’s important to carefully evaluate the terms and conditions to make sure you can comfortably manage the repayments without straining your budget.

•  Risk of overborrowing As a single mom, you likely want to avoid overborrowing or taking on more debt than they can reasonably repay. Overcommitting to loan payments may lead to a cycle of financial stress and difficulty in meeting other essential expenses.

•  Impact on credit score Taking out a personal loan creates a new line of credit, and if not managed properly, it could negatively affect your credit profile. Late or missed payments can damage creditworthiness, potentially impacting future borrowing opportunities.

•  Debt burden A personal loan will add to your existing financial obligations as a single mother. Before opting for a loan, you’ll want to be certain to assess the long-term implications and consider whether the loan repayments align with your income and financial goals.

Is Getting a Personal Loan With No Income Possible?

If you’re a single mother with no job or you’ve been a stay-at-home-mother with little or no income of your own, it may be difficult, though not impossible, to qualify for a personal loan.

Lenders typically want to see proof of a regular income. However, that does not necessarily have to be job-related income. You may be able to count these other sources of income:

•  Unemployment

•  Alimony

•  Child support

•  Investment income

•  Rental income

•  Pension or annuity income

•  Freelance work

•  Gig work

If you don’t have much income to speak of, then you might consider a cosigner or co-applicant for your loan. This a person who agrees to make the loan payments if the main borrower cannot or does not. For some borrowers, family members have the financial flexibility to cosign on a loan, but it can be a good idea to have a conversation about expectations and potential hypotheticals if you were no longer able to pay back the loan.

Another option is to secure a personal loan with collateral. This is an asset of value, such as a vehicle or money in a savings account, you use to back the loan in case you default. Should you become unable to repay the loan, the lender can seize your collateral to recover their losses. This lowers risk for the lender, making steady income (or less-than-stellar credit) less critical.

Also keep in mind that if you have no income but excellent credit, you may still find a lender who is willing to offer you an unsecured personal loan.

You’ll also want to be wary, however, of lenders who advertise “No-Income Loans,” as these loans may come with sky-high interest rates, short repayment terms, and low loan amounts.

Alternatives to Personal Loans for Single Mothers

There are other alternatives to personal loans, depending on your financial circumstances and your needs. Here are some you might consider.

Home Loans for Single Mothers

If you own your home, using your home as a financial asset may be one way to borrow funds at a reasonable cost. If you have built up equity in your home, you may be able to tap that equity by getting a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Just keep in mind that the loan is backed by your home. Should you have difficulty repaying the loan or credit line, you could potentially lose your home.

Government Resources for Single Parents

If your income is low, you may be eligible for one or more government assistance programs. Some options you may want to explore include:

•  Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

•  National School Lunch Program

•  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

•  Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

•  The Emergency Food Assistance Program

You can find more resources at enefits.gov.

Educational Aid for Single Mothers

If you’re considering going back to school, below are some programs that can help make it more affordable (or even free):

•  Pell Grants

•  Teach Grants

•  Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (WISP)

There also may be private scholarships and grants for single parents available from the institutions you’re interested in. Speaking with the financial aid office may help you see the breadth of options available to you.

Other Financial Help For Single Mothers

Becoming a single mother, either by choice or circumstance, can feel overwhelming. But there is support out there. It can help to talk to other single parents in your community — you may be surprised by all the resources that are available. Other opportunities may include:

•   Financial aid or tuition assistance If your children are in private school or extracurricular programs, there may be financial aid available to help lower the cost. Even if there’s not a formal program, it can’t hurt to explain your situation and ask what may be available.

•   Employer-based programs Your human resources department may have certain programs, such as childcare coverage, free legal consultations, and access to financial planning and debt counseling, for eligible workers. Talk to your HR representative or look through their materials to assess what’s available.

•   Family and friends People close to you may be willing to provide support, or there may be creative ways to trade services, such as babysitting, to get more financial help. If a friend or family member offers to loan you money, it can be helpful to put an agreement in writing, including any interest you will pay and the terms of repayment, so there is no confusion that can cause a rift in your relationship.

Recommended: Options for When You Can’t Afford Your Child’s College

The Takeaway

As a single mother, there are avenues that can help you manage your finances and achieve your financial goals, including taking out a personal loan. This type of financing can provide financial relief and flexibility, but it is important to weigh the pros and cons, compare options from different lenders, and assess your ability to manage repayments responsibly.

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 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.


Photo credit: iStock/RyanJLane

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.


Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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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Exploring IVF Financing Options

The average cost for one in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle in the United States is $12,400, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. That alone is a hefty price tag, and many patients go through several cycles of IVF before conceiving or attempting other options. Many clinics also charge fees for add-on procedures (some of which are necessary,) which can bring the total cost of a single treatment to well over $20,000.

If you’re wondering how you’ll be able to pay for IVF, the good news is that you have a number of different funding options. These include budgeting and saving, insurance coverage, flexible spending accounts, IVF financing, loans, and grants. Read on for a closer look at ways to make the cost of IVF treatment more manageable.

Options for Financing IVF

For many would-be parents, that high cost of IVF is worth it for the chance to have children. But how can people afford to pay for treatment? Here are a few ideas for funding IVF.

1. Tapping into Your Health Insurance

A good first step is to check whether your health insurance will cover IVF. There are currently 21 states that require insurance companies to cover infertility treatment, but only 14 include IVF in the requirement.

You can contact your insurer to find out your specific benefits. Depending on where you live, coverage can run the gamut. Some plans will cover IVF but not the accompanying injections that women may also require, while other plans will cover both. Some insurers will only cover a certain number of attempts. And some plans do not cover IVF at all.

If you have the option and if the timing works out with your enrollment period, you might consider switching your insurance plan to one that covers, or partially covers, IVF.

2. Using Your Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account

A health savings account (HSA) allows you to put pre-tax money aside for medical expenses. Typically, you get an HSA in tandem with a qualifying high-deductible health plan. If you have funds in your HSA, you can use them to pay for IVF and related medical expenses. As long as you paid for the expenses after you opened the HSA, you can reimburse yourself for them at any time — it doesn’t have to be in the year that you incurred the costs.

If your employer offers a flexible spending account (FSA), you can also use those funds to pay for IVF. You don’t need a qualifying health plan to have and use this account. However, you can only use the funds for medical expenses incurred during the plan year. Also, if you don’t use all of the money you set aside, you generally lose it. However, you may be able to carry over a certain amount to the following year.

Bear in mind that there are annual limits on how much money you can contribute to either kind of account. For 2023, the individual cap on HSA contributions is $3,850 and the family cap is $7,750. Health flexible spending account limits are $3,050 for 2023.

3. Budgeting and Saving

If you’re planning to pay for IVF out-of-pocket and you don’t just have that kind of cash lying around, the most basic financial move is to save up, the way you would for any major expense. You may want to open a high-yield savings account dedicated to your IVF fund, then set up an automatic recurring transfer from your checking account into that account each month.

Depending on your timeline, you may need to cut back on discretionary expenses, such as meals out, streaming services, a gym membership, and non-essential purchases, at least temporarily. Any expense you cut can now get diverted into your IFV savings fund.

4. Borrowing From a Loved One

If you have a friend or relative who is financially comfortable, you might consider asking them for a loan. There may be people in your life who would be happy to support your efforts to build your family. If you go this route, however, it’s a good idea to set out the terms of the loan clearly, including whether you’ll pay interest and, if so, at what rate, and when and how you’ll repay the loan. Setting out clear terms, and honoring those terms, can help ensure that the loan doesn’t damage your relationship in any way.

5. Getting a Medical or Fertility Loan

Some fertility clinics work with lenders that specialize in IVF financing. This allows you to pay for your out-of-pocket IVF costs in installments over time. These loans can offer anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000, and interest rates can range from 0% to 24.99%. IVF lenders typically determine whether you qualify for financing, and at what rate, based on your financial qualifications and credit. With this type of loan, the money is usually paid directly to the clinic rather than you, the borrower.

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6. Applying for a Grant

A number of nonprofit organizations offer grants and scholarships to those who cannot afford to pay for IVF. These grants are usually income-based, meaning you must demonstrate a need to qualify. Organizations that offer IVF grants include the International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Journey to Parenthood, Gift of Parenthood, the Baby Quest Foundation, and the Starfish Infertility Foundation.

Resolve offers a list of fertility treatment scholarships and grants on their site. It’s also a good idea to ask your fertility clinic about any local or national grant or scholarship opportunities they know of.

7. Taking Out a Home Equity Line of Credit

If you own a home, you may be able to take out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC) and use the funds to pay for IVF. The amount you can borrow and the terms depend on the amount of equity you have in your home, as well as your credit history, debt-to-income ratio, and other factors.

The advantage of this type of IVF financing is that home equity loans and credit lines often have lower interest rates than credit cards and other types of loans. The downside is that you need to have equity in order to qualify, and you must use your home as collateral for the loan (which means that if you have trouble making payments, you could potentially lose your home).

8. Borrowing From Your Retirement Account

You generally don’t want to tap your retirement nest egg before retirement, but if no other funding sources are available, your individual retirement account (IRA) or 401(k) could be an option.

You may be able to borrow up to $50,000 or half of the amount vested in your 401(k) — whichever is smaller. If you take this path, you are basically lending the money to yourself at market interest rates for up to five years. Keep in mind, though, that 401(k) plan providers will typically charge fees to process and service a loan, which adds to the cost of borrowing and repayment. Also, not all employers offer these loans.

In addition, you might qualify to withdraw money from your individual retirement account (IRA) or 401(k) to pay for IVF treatment if your plan allows what’s called a hardship withdrawal. This allows you to avoid the 10% early withdrawal penalty, but you’ll still have to pay income tax on any withdrawals you make. If you have a Roth IRA, you can withdraw your contributions (but not earnings) at any time without penalties or taxes.

9. Taking Out a Personal Loan

Compared to using high-interest credit cards or tapping your IRA, a personal loan might be a better option for many people. A personal loan can be used for almost any expense, including IVF, and typically comes with a fixed interest rate that is lower than most credit cards.

Unlike a home equity loan or credit line, personal loans are typically unsecured, which means you don’t need to put your home or any other asset at risk. Also, you do not need to have any equity in your home to qualify. Instead, a lender will look at your overall financial qualifications to determine whether or not to approve you for a loan and, if so, at what rate and terms.

The Takeaway

IVF might be one of the most meaningful investments you’ll ever make, but it’s undeniably expensive. You can look to your insurance, health savings accounts, cash savings, or a loved one for help with IVF funding. If that’s not enough, an unsecured personal loan may be a smart way to finance treatment and help make your dreams a reality.

SoF’s IVF Treatment Loans offer competitive, fixed rates and a variety of terms. Checking your rate won’t affect your credit score, and it takes just one minute.

Consider a SoFi personal loan for IVF financing.


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Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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

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

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What Is the Average Cost of Divorce?

An uncontested DIY divorce could cost $300. For a messy, high-stakes parting, add zeros (knowing that the sum will be short of Jeff Bezos’ $38 billion). When the nuptial knot frays, average divorce costs add up to several thousand. So how much does divorce cost, really?

In 2023, the mean cost of divorce is $7,000, but the average ranges from $15,000 to $20,000, according to Forbes. However, all kinds of factors, from attorney fees to assets, influence the bottom line.

Here are details about types of divorce and what to expect cost-wise with each.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Divorce?

The cost of a divorce can depend on which state you live in, how amicable the parting is, and whether you work with a divorce attorney, own property together, and have children, among others.

Most cases settle before going to trial. Here are common costs if you need to prepare for a divorce.

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Without an Attorney

A DIY uncontested divorce is the cheapest option. You and your spouse submit paperwork to your local family court, then fill out and file required documents.

DivorceNet found that the median cost of a DIY divorce is only $300. That could be because many filers who don’t hire a lawyer have no contested issues.

With an Attorney

A lawyer can only work with one client at a time, so two attorneys are required if both spouses want their own representation.

A divorce attorney will usually ask for a retainer, or down payment, of $2,500 to $5,000, and will charge from that. If the retainer runs out, the lawyer may bill by the hour. Hourly fees may range from $150 to $500 or more per hour, according to LegalZoom.

A reader survey by Nolo, a publisher that specializes in legal content, found that the average cost of a divorce handled by a full-scope attorney was $12,900, with $11,300 of that lawyer fees. The median, though, was $7,500, including $7,000 in attorney fees.

Of course, the longer it takes to reach a final judgment, the higher your heap of attorney fees will be.

Recommended: Understanding Divorce and Retirement Accounts

Mediation

If you’re dealing with a more convoluted situation and don’t feel comfortable filing yourself, but don’t want to shell out money for a divorce lawyer, you could consider working with a mediator.

In this form of divorce, both spouses work with a neutral third party who has a handle on the financial and legal aspects of divorce and oversees the process.

A non-attorney mediator may charge $100 to $350 an hour, with a couple’s total mediation bill coming in anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000, according to DivorceNet.

Free or low-cost mediation services are often provided by courts, nonprofit organizations, and bar associations.

Collaborative Divorce

In this hybrid of mediation and a traditional divorce using lawyers, each spouse is represented by a collaborative divorce attorney. The goal is to help both parties work toward a mutually satisfactory outcome and, if children are involved, one that keeps their best interests in mind.

Both parties commit, in writing, to using cooperative dispute resolution techniques.

If the process fails, both attorneys must withdraw from the case, and the couple will need to hire new lawyers and continue through family law court proceedings.

Consulting Attorney

If you can’t afford to hire a full-scope divorce attorney, you might be able to hire a consulting attorney for specific tasks. The average total fees for consulting attorneys were $4,600, and the median was $3,000, Nolo’s survey found.


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Who Pays for the Divorce?

Most of the time, each spouse pays their own attorney fees and costs.

In select cases involving income disparities or one party unnecessarily complicating the proceedings, a judge may order a spouse to pay his or her partner’s divorce costs, LegalZoom says.

The following are some of the factors that affect the costs of a divorce.

Child Custody

In a contested divorce, the issue of child custody will likely come up. If the couple is able to agree on a child custody schedule that works for both parents, that is usually the easiest path forward.

For divorces involving children that require an attorney to iron out custody details, costs tend to increase significantly thanks to the additional time spent working with parents to reach an agreement.

A contested divorce involving custody could also include working with a court-assigned professional, who may interview the parents and children, observe each parent at home with the kids, and make an evaluation based on their findings.

A county custody evaluation could cost between $1,000 and $2,500. A private review could run $15,000 or more, according to DivorceNet.

Real Estate

Couples who share a property may require the help of real estate attorneys or agents who focus on helping couples ascertain the disposition of their homes.

A home appraisal is an unbiased, third-party estimate of a property’s value. It can cost between $300 and $450.

Sometimes couples opt to refinance the mortgage on the marital home into one name, releasing the other spouse from obligation. The cost of refinancing can be several thousand dollars.

Alimony

Another potential consideration in a divorce may be alimony, or spousal support.

If both individuals can’t agree on the amount of payment and the time payments are to be made, the court may have to step in.

That can involve litigation and a review of debts and finances. Since the process requires legal counsel, alimony decisions can quickly drive up divorce expenses.

Do Divorce Lawyers Offer Payment Plans?

Some family lawyers do offer payment plans. The time to ask about that is during an initial consultation.

In most situations, paying for a divorce can be a major stressor.

If you and your spouse are on OK terms and have savings, you could consider pooling together as much as you can to put toward divorce costs. You could also ask to borrow money from relatives or friends. In some cases, couples may know that divorce is looming and start saving for it ahead of time, as unpleasant as that may be.

Some people may opt to put their divorce costs on a credit card and pay the debt over time, with interest. An option that may be more cost-effective is a personal loan.

A personal loan has several potential advantages. The interest rate could be lower than a credit card, depending on your credit score. Most personal loans come with a fixed interest rate, which makes budgeting easier.

And a personal loan might allow you to borrow a significant amount of money and have several years to pay it off.

The Takeaway

How much does a divorce cost? A good answer might be: More than most people hope it will be. Let’s just say average divorce costs are in the thousands.

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 2023 winner for Best Online 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.


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

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

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