Smart Medical School Loan Repayment Strategies

Smart Medical School Loan Repayment Strategies

If you’re a doctor or studying to be one, chances are you have student loans. A typical medical school graduate has an average student loan debt of $202,450, according to the Education Data Initiative. That’s seven times as much as the average college student owes.

Paying back the loans can be a challenge for doctors during residency and the early part of their career. But the good news is, the profession tends to pay well. In 2023, a typical entry-level doctor earned around $210,000 per year.

Ways to Pay Off Medical School

No matter how much you owe, it’s smart to have the right repayment strategy in place. This can help ensure your monthly loan payments are manageable and your financial health is protected.

Let’s take a closer look at the various student loan payment options available.

Choose a Repayment Plan

When it comes to federal student loans, borrowers have four different repayment options. No matter which plan you choose, your monthly loan payment will be based on your income and family size. If you need to change your plan at any time, you can do so without incurring fees.

•   Standard Repayment Plan. This plan spreads out payments evenly over 10 years. For example, if you have a loan balance of $200,000 at 6.54%, your monthly payment will be about $2,275.

•   Graduated Repayment Plan. With a graduated plan, your payments start out lower and then gradually increase over time, typically very two years. Repayment takes place over 10 years.

•   Extended Repayment Plan. You can choose either fixed or graduated payments, and repayment takes place over 25 years.

•   Income-Driven Repayment Plans. There are four types of income-driven repayment plans: Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), and Revised Pay As You Earn (RPAYE). Repayment takes place over 20 or 25 years, depending on your income and the plan you choose. At the end of the repayment period, the remaining balance is forgiven, though this amount may be taxable.

As you weigh your options, think about the length of the repayment term and the monthly payment amount. With a longer repayment term, your monthly bill is lower but the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan is higher. With a shorter term, you pay less in interest over the life of the loan but your monthly payment is higher. A student loan payoff calculator will give you an idea of your monthly payment for different repayment terms.

Recommended: 4 Student Loan Repayment Options — and How to Choose the Right One for You

Loan Forgiveness Programs

Loan forgiveness programs can wipe out some or all of your medical student loan debt, provided you meet certain criteria. If you work for an eligible nonprofit or public service agency, for example, you may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Considering a job with a local, state, tribal, or federal government organization or with a nonprofit organization? You could be eligible for federal Direct Loan forgiveness after 10 years in an income-based plan.

You may also qualify for a federal or state loan-repayment assistance program if you provide service to certain areas or segments of the population. For instance, the National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment program will erase as much as $50,000 of eligible student debt, tax-free, if you work for at least two years in an approved medical facility.

Student loans from private lenders do not qualify for PSLF.

Student Loan Consolidation

If you’re paying off more than one federal loan, federal student loan consolidation may be an option worth exploring. Consolidation lets you combine different federal student loans into a single new loan with a fixed rate. The new rate is a weighted average of all your federal loan rates, rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percent. This may result in a slightly higher rate than you were paying before on some loans.

When you consolidate, you have the option to choose a new repayment plan that extends the life of the new loan up to 30 years. Keep in mind that you can’t include any private student loans in this type of consolidation loan.

Student Loan Refinancing

With student loan refinancing, you combine private and federal student loans into one new loan with a private lender, and then refinance the balance at a potentially lower interest rate. This in turn can lower how much you pay in interest over the life of your loan. Refinancing can also make it easier to manage student loan payments. Instead of bills from different lenders, you get one bill each month from one lender.

You can choose a new length for your loan, which lets you adjust your monthly payments. This may be especially helpful if you choose to refinance during your residency.

Recommended: A Guide to Private Student Loans

The Takeaway

Attending medical school isn’t cheap, and it’s common to graduate with significant student loan debt. The good news is, there are several repayment options that can help you tackle your debt more efficiently and protect your financial health. For example, if you have federal student loans, your monthly payments are based on your income and family size. You may qualify for a forgiveness program, which could erase part or all of your balance.

Have more than one loan? Consolidation lets you combine multiple federal loans into a single loan with new terms and a new fixed rate. With student loan refinancing, you combine private and federal student loans into a single loan with a private lender and then refinance it at a potentially lower interest rate.

Refinancing can be a great choice for working medical school graduates who have higher-interest PLUS loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and/or private loans.

With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


SoFi 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.


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.

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.

SOSL0223007

Read more
Woman behind laptop

Why Your Student Loan Balance Never Seems to Decrease

Does it seem like your student loan balance never gets any smaller? This may ring true if you’re one of the 60% of borrowers who stopped making payments on their federal student loans during the Covid-19-related payment pause. (The moratorium also set the interest rate at 0%.)

But even when you start making monthly payments again, or if you graduated during the pandemic and are new to making payments, it still may seem like your loan balance isn’t budging much. Where do your payments go if not to the principal? The short answer: interest.

Understanding how and when student loans accrue interest can help you make smart choices about paying off your balance faster.

What Makes Up a Student Loan Balance?

Your student loan balance is made up of two parts: the amount you borrowed plus any origination fees (the principal) and what the lender charges you to borrow it (interest).

Once you receive your loan, interest begins to accrue. If it’s a Direct Subsidized loan, the federal government typically pays the interest while you’re in school and for the first six months after you graduate. After that, the borrower is responsible for paying the interest.

If the loan is a Direct Unsubsidized loan or a private student loan, the borrower is solely responsible for accrued interest.

How Do Payments Affect My Student Loan Principal?

Most people pay a fixed monthly payment to their lender. That payment includes the principal and the interest. At the beginning of a loan term, a larger portion of your payment goes toward paying interest, and a smaller portion goes to the principal. But the ratio of interest to principal gradually changes so that by the end of the loan term, your payment is mostly going toward the principal.

How Does an Income-Based Repayment Plan Affect My Student Loan Balance?

Things are a little different if you’re making payments under an income-based repayment plan. Your payments are tied to your income and shouldn’t exceed a certain percentage of your salary. The interest, however, doesn’t change based on your income.

This means there may be situations where your monthly payment doesn’t fully cover the interest charges for that month, much less contribute to your principal. In fact, your student loan balance may actually grow over time, despite the payments you make.

How Has the Payment Pause Impacted My Student Loan Balance?

When the government suspended payments on federal student loans, they also hit the pause button on interest accrual. Essentially, the debt has been frozen in time since March 2020. When the moratorium ends, interest will likely start accruing again.

Note that the payment pause didn’t include private student loans. For a refresher on the balance and interest rates on private loans, contact your loan servicer. Be sure the company has your most up-to-date contact information on file, so you don’t miss out on important information about your loans.

Your student loan servicer may have changed since the last time you made a payment. To find out which company is handling your federal student loans, log on to the Federal Student Aid website; the information will be listed in your dashboard. You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243.

To find out which company is handling your private student loans, contact the lender listed on your monthly statement and find out if they still handle your loan. More often than not, they will. If your loan servicer has changed, the lender can give you the new company’s contact information.

Refi now to pay off loans &
reach your goals faster with a shorter term.


How to Pay Down Your Loan More Quickly

When it comes to repaying student loans, the key is to find an approach you’ll stick with. One way to tackle the debt is by making extra payments toward the principal. Even a little bit can help bring down the loan balance.

Another approach is to refinance to a lower interest rate. Or you could refinance to a shorter loan term. Or you could do both. Your payments may be higher, particularly if you switch to a shorter loan term, but you will be finished paying off the debt sooner. (Please note that if you refinance a federal student loan, you will lose access to federal protections and programs such as the Covid-related payment pause, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and income-driven repayment plans.)

The Takeaway

The way loan payment schedules are set up is likely why your regular payments don’t seem to be making much of a dent to your balance or loan principal. Initially, more of your payment goes toward paying interest and less toward the principal. But gradually that changes so that by the end of the loan term, most of your payment is going toward the principal.

If you want to pay off your loan faster or generally pay less interest over the life of your loan, one strategy is to refinance student loans to a lower interest rate and/or a shorter loan term. If you decide refinancing makes sense for you, it might be beneficial to look for a refinancing lender that offers extras. SoFi members, for instance, can qualify for rate discounts and have access to career services, financial advisors, networking events, and more — at no extra cost.

With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


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.

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.

SOSL0223001

Read more
text books

Can You Get a Student Loan for Summer Classes?

Want to squeeze in a couple of classes this summer but not sure how to pay for them? You have several options, including federal and private student loans. The summer loan application process is generally the same as it is for the regular academic year. But the federal government limits how much you can borrow, so it’s important to consider your options carefully.

Here’s what you need to know about paying for summer classes.

Costs of Going to School in the Summer

Tuition is one of the biggest costs associated with going to school in the summer. That said, some colleges offer summer courses at a reduced cost, or you may be able to take classes at a community college for a lower price and transfer the credits to your school. If you don’t plan on living at home, you’ll also need to budget for housing, food, transportation, and other personal expenses.

The short-term cost of going to school during the summer may be worth it in the long run, though. Taking extra classes can help you finish your degree — and start drawing income from a full-time job — faster.

Can You Get Financial Aid for Summer Classes?

Just like during the fall or spring terms, financial aid is available during the summer. Let’s take a look at some common types of assistance.

Grants

Grants can help offset the cost of summer courses and typically don’t need to be repaid. One popular type of grant is the Pell Grant, which is awarded by the federal government and based on financial need. Qualifying students can receive Pell Grants for 12 semesters, and in certain circumstances, they may be eligible to receive additional funds for the summer semester.

Some schools offer grants to students who are enrolling in summer classes. Contact the financial aid office to see if your school offers this option. Your state may also provide grants to help students cover the cost of summer classes. Visit the website of your state’s department of education to find out if this option is available to you.

Scholarships

Like grants, scholarships usually do not need to be repaid, and in general, you’re free to use the funds for a summer term. There are thousands of available scholarships based on financial need or merit offered by a variety of sources. Searching scholarship databases can help you narrow your options.

Work-Study

Federal Work-Study gives students with financial need part-time employment to help them earn extra money to pay for education expenses. Check with your college’s financial aid office to find out if the school participates in the program.

Student Loans

The loans you apply for, to pay for the regular school year, can also be used to cover summer courses. There are different types of federal student loans to explore: Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans.

Once you’ve exhausted federal aid options, you may consider private loans to pay for summer classes. Generally, lenders allow you to borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance.

Other Ways to Cover the Cost of Summer Classes

Whether you’ve exhausted financial assistance or want to earn extra money for school and living expenses, here are two other options to consider.

Paid Internship

A paid summer internship doesn’t just potentially provide students with valuable professional experience and important connections. It’s also a chance to draw an income while you’re taking summer classes. To find out about opportunities you may be qualified for, check with your school’s career center.

Part-Time Job

During the summer, students often have more free time to work more hours and earn more cash to help cover the cost of summer classes. A part-time job usually offers flexible hours to accommodate school. Plus, some students may find a job that’s related to their major or career of choice.

Federal vs Private Student Loans: How They Compare

Federal student loans are funded by the federal government and offer borrowers protections such as deferment, forbearance, and the option to pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Most federal student loans do not require a credit check, and interest rates are fixed for the life of the loan. Students must fill out the FAFSA annually and be enrolled at least part-time to qualify for aid.

The federal government limits the amount of money students can borrow per academic year and in total, and this includes any aid you receive for summer classes. The limit is based on your dependency status and how long you’ve been in school. For example, in the 2022-2023 academic year, a first-year dependent undergraduate may qualify for up to $5,500 in student loans, with a limit of $3,500 on what can be subsidized. An independent first-year undergraduate student may qualify for up to $9,500 in student loans, with a limit of $3,500 on what can be subsidized.

Private loans are offered by private lenders, such as banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. Interest rates may be fixed or variable and are determined by the lender based on criteria including an applicant’s financial history and credit score. Many lenders require students to be enrolled in school at least part time. Depending on the loan terms, borrowers may be required to make payments while they are enrolled in school, and they may or may not provide a grace period. Private student loans also lack the borrower protections afforded to federal student loans.

Students who take out the maximum amount of federal aid may consider private loans as an option to pay for summer classes. Generally, private lenders allow you to borrow up to the school-certified cost of attendance.

When Applications Are Due

FAFSA applications for the following academic year are typically due around the end of June. The application requires borrowers to check the school year in which the funds will be used. If you’re submitting a FAFSA for the summer term, ask your school which year to check on the form and if any other forms are required. The sooner you submit the application, the more likely you are to receive funding, since many sources of aid are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

What You’ll Need to Apply

To help the FAFSA application process go smoothly, it helps to have some information and a few documents on hand. This includes your Social Security number (or Alien Registration number for if you’re an eligible noncitizen); your federal income tax returns, W-2s, and other records of income; bank statements and any record of investments; records of untaxed income, if applicable; and your FSA ID. Dependent students will need most of that information for their parents.

If you’re applying for a private student loan, you’ll apply directly with the lender. Applicants typically need to have a solid credit history, proof of income, be at least 18, and be a U.S. resident. Adding a cosigner to the loan may be an option that can help potential borrowers strengthen their application.

When we say no fees we mean it.
No origination fees, late fees, & insufficient fund
fees when you take out a student loan with SoFi.


The Takeaway

If you’re considering enrolling in some summer classes, financial aid can help you cover the bill. Grants, scholarships, work-study, internships, and part-time jobs are all options to explore, as are federal and private student loans. There are key differences between the loans that are important to keep in mind. Borrowers applying for federal aid must fill out the FAFSA every year and should check with their school’s financial aid office to find out which year to select on the FAFSA summer application. The federal government limits how much a student can borrow each year and in total. Those amounts are based on a student’s dependency status and academic year.

Students who reached their maximum borrowing limit may explore private student loans, like ones from SoFi. The application process can be completed easily online, and you can see rates and terms in just a few minutes. There are no fees, and borrowers can choose one of four repayment plans, depending on which works best for their needs.

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


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.


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


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

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

SOSL18121

Read more
A Look at the Average Cost of Nursing School

A Look at the Average Cost of Nursing School

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

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

Typical Nursing School Costs and Salaries

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

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

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

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

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

Average education cost: $600 to $2,000

Median pay: $30,310

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

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

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

Median pay: $48,070 per year

Recommended: Guide to Nursing Student Loans

Registered Nurse (RN)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Fees While Studying to Be a Nurse

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

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

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

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

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

Refi now to pay off loans &
reach your goals faster with a shorter term.


How to Pay for Nursing School Without Going Broke

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

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

Here are the main ways to pay for nursing school.

Federal Student Loans

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

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

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

Scholarships and Grants

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

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

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

Recommended: Search for Scholarships and Grants by State

Private Student Loans

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

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

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

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

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

The Takeaway

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

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

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

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


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-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.


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

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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

SOSL0123001

Read more

5 Myths About Student Loans That Can Cost You Money

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

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

5 Myths About Student Loans

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

Myth #1: Interest Rates Are Super High

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

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

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

Myth #2: Saving Money Is Impossible With Student Loans

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

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

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

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

Myth #3: Student Loans Kill Your Credit

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

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

Myth #4: Student Loans Are All the Same

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

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

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

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

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

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

ReFi With SoFi

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

With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


Photo credit: iStock/Khosrork
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


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


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

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

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

SOSL0123006

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender