Tips For Navigating Life After College

Graduating college is a big deal. The time you spent in school has likely taught you a lot about the subjects you studied, being organized and meeting deadlines, and life in general. Once you have your degree, you’ll put those skills to good use as you embark on your career and independent life. No more dining hall, no more dorms…it’s time to launch adult life and figure out how to make your own way.

To help you deal with some of the basics (like a job and banking), read on. You’ll find valuable tips to help you through the first steps of post-grad life.

Life After College

Congrats on your degree! Now, on to the next challenge after graduating college. It’s time to tackle adulting, which can include such things as getting set up in your new living situation, finding your favorite brunch spot, and making new friends if your college pals have scattered to different places.

In addition, there are some major daily-life tasks to wrangle:

•   Finding and holding a job

•   Taking control of your health and your health insurance

•   Keeping your brain active, which may lead to more studies

•   Managing your money.

Read on to get some helpful advice on these last four topics (you can probably find the best brunch spot in your new neighborhood without too much help).


💡 Quick Tip: Enjoy no hidden fees and special member benefits when you refinance student loans with SoFi.

Getting to Work

Hopefully you enjoyed a few weeks off post-grad to travel or kick back and relax after four years of hard work. But what to do after college for many people is find work.

When you’re ready to begin your job search, it can be a lot to process. Chances are, it’s time to focus on taking steps towards building your career.

First off, don’t let job searching stress you out. New grads are in luck. Unemployment is low, and the labor market is strong. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, companies expected to hire almost 4% more class of 2023 grads than they did from the previous class.

Not sure where to look for work or what you should be earning? Research, network, and research some more.

•   Your school’s career services office may provide job leads, and its alumni office may be able to network you with people in your field who can share insights.

•   Search for jobs online. There are many job boards, such as Indeed and ZipRecruiter, to access.

•   Put out the word among friends, families, past internship supervisors, and others.

•   To gain intel on starting salaries, try an online salary calculator. You provide some basic info like your location and experience, and their tool tells you what the average salary for your desired role is. While this tool can only provide an estimate, it may help you determine if you should try to negotiate for a higher salary when you receive a job offer.

Taking Your Health into Your Own Hands

As part of learning how to navigate life on your own, make sure you take the reins of your healthcare. Mom and Dad likely aren’t scheduling those biannual dental checkups for you anymore.

Whether you’re still on your parent’s policy or are buying your own health insurance, getting more familiar with the resources your healthcare plan provides is never a bad idea.

It can help you stay on top of scheduling check ups, dental cleanings, and eye exams. You may also need to learn the ropes of finding in-network doctors as you move to a new place or get your own policy.

And you might want to start saving for any unexpected medical or dental bills that may arise. Having an emergency fund at the ready can be an important step to financial wellness in this new chapter of your life.

Speaking of wellness: You may feel swamped by post-grad life, but it’s such an important time to prioritize your well-being. It might be helpful to make time to go to the gym each week, meditate, cook healthy meals, and get a good night’s sleep. Getting into good health habits is an excellent adulting accomplishment.


💡 Quick Tip: Refinancing could be a great choice for working graduates who have higher-interest graduate PLUS loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and/or private loans.

Continuing Your Learning

It’s normal after college to need a little break from learning. For the first time in your life, there is no one telling you what to read or what classes you have to take. But once the dust has settled and you’ve had a rest from hitting the books, you might try to prioritize learning. Not only does it keep your brain sharp, it can also help boost your career.

For example, you could consider obtaining a professional license related to your career or industry. According to the most recent intel from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24% of workers have some sort of professional license or certification. Having one may give you a competitive boost at work or while job searching. You can go the extra mile to develop more skills needed in your career through an online class or professional conference.

What’s more, additional learning and training could lead to a profitable side hustle or gig work. For instance, you might be able to pick up extra cash during tax season supporting professional tax preparers.

Learning-wise, not all of what you do after graduation has to go towards career advancement, of course. Take that cool history of film class at your local community college. Join a book club or just load up your bookshelf with books you’re dying to read. Exploring your passions can help you feel motivated, fulfilled, and inspired. Now is the time in your life to open doors, not close them.

Recommended: What Should I Do After My Master’s Degree?

Getting Your Finances Organized

Once you graduate from college and join the working world, it’s likely time to look at whether your current banking partner suits your needs.

It can be a wise move to look for a bank that offers a good interest rate on your deposits, convenient access, and tools that help you track your money in a quick and convenient way.

As you organize your money (and don’t forget to start that emergency fund mentioned above), you may realize that one expense that may really be bringing you down is your student loan debt payments.

The average federal student loan debt is currently $37,338, according to the Education Data Initiative. Is student loan debt weighing you down? There are a few strategies you can use to help pay off your student loan debt quicker. You might start your journey to a student loan-free life by creating a monthly budget that can help you get out of debt.

•   To create a budget that can assist with paying off debt, you could start by gathering all of your bills and recent receipts. Review exactly what you need to spend on necessary living expenses (rent, food, health insurance, minimum debt payments), how much you are spending on the wants in life (travel, entertainment, clothing), and how much you can save or put toward additional debt payment.

•   There are different budgeting methods, and it’s a good idea to spend a bit of time finding the one that works for you. For instance, you might like the 50/30/20 budget rule, which says to allocate 50% of your take-home pay to necessities, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings and extra debt payoff.

Whichever technique you choose, do compare the cost of your living expenses to your paystubs to see how much you can afford to pay towards debt each month. Creating a budget can help you not only pay off your debt, but avoid accumulating more debt in the future.

Recommended: Which Debt to Pay Off First: Student Loan or Credit Card?

The Takeaway

Once you have your monthly budget under control, you might be considering refinancing your student loans as part of how you navigate life post-college. You may be able to lower your interest rate, lower your monthly payments by extending your repayment term, or release a co-signer from a previous loan.

Do note that lengthening your repayment term can increase the interest you’ll pay throughout the life of your loan.

Refinancing comes with many benefits, but keep in mind that you lose federal benefits and protections when you refinance federal loans with a private lender. But if you are not planning on taking advantage of these benefits, refinancing might be for you.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.

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


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


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


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

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

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.

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books on the wall

Strategies for Lowering Your Student Loan Interest Rate

When you’re in college, you don’t have a lot of control over the interest rates on your student loans. With federal loans, the U.S. Department of Education sets the rate each year for all borrowers. And if you get private student loans, a limited credit history can make it hard for young people to score favorable terms.

But once you graduate, there are a few things you can try to save money on interest. Here are a few tips that may lower your interest rate on student loans.

Refinancing Your Student Loans

Scoring discounts with your current servicer can help you get a lower student loan interest rate, but there is another option to consider. Depending on your financial profile, you may qualify for a lower student loan interest rate than what you’re currently paying with student loan refinancing.

There are multiple advantages to refinancing student loans. You can potentially lower your interest rate by bundling several loans (federal and private) into one new loan. And if you shorten your loan term, you may be able to pay off your student loans much faster and pay less in interest over the life of your loan.

Student Loan RefinancingStudent Loan Refinancing

Student loan refinancing is ideal for borrowers with high-interest student loans who have good credit scores and know they won’t use any of the federal loan benefits, like student loan forgiveness. (All federal loan benefits, including income-based repayment, will be lost if you refinance.)

Here are a few things that can help you improve your chances of getting a lower student loan interest rate with refinancing:

•   A high credit score: Lenders typically have a minimum credit score requirement, so the higher your score, the better your chances of getting a low rate usually are.

•   A low debt-to-income (DTI) ratio: Your income is also an important factor that lenders consider, especially as it relates to your overall debt burden. If a smaller portion of your monthly income goes toward debt payments, it shows you may have more income to dedicate to your new loan’s payments.

•   A co-signer: Even if your credit and income situation is in good shape, having a co-signer with great credit and a solid income might help your case.

•   A variable rate: Some student loan refinance lenders offer both variable and fixed interest rates. Variable interest rates may start out lower but increase over time with market fluctuations. Fixed rates, stay the same over the life of the loan. If you’re planning on paying off your student loans quickly, a variable rate might save you money.

•   The right lender: Each lender has its own criteria for setting interest rates, so it’s important to shop around to find the best lender for your needs. Some lenders, including SoFi, even allow you to view rate offers before you officially apply.


💡 Quick Tip: Enjoy no hidden fees and special member benefits when you refinance student loans with SoFi.

Consolidate Your Student Loans

Have multiple student loans floating around that you’d love to combine into one? Consider loan consolidation, where you’ll merge all your student loans into one easy monthly payment with a single interest rate. Here’s the rub, though: Consolidation alone does not necessarily get you a lower student loan interest rate. It just offers you one payment instead of multiple.

When consolidating federal student loans, you can use a Direct Consolidation Loan. Your new interest rate is simply the weighted average of all your current student loan interest rates. The weighted average might be a smidge higher than the interest rates you were paying previously. Often folks utilize consolidation to stretch out the life of their student loan, which lowers your payments but may increase the amount you owe over time.

Even though consolidation itself is not a direct way to get a better rate on your student loans, it can be helpful if you’re having trouble keeping track of your monthly payments. Consolidation may also be useful if you want to merge non-direct federal loans (like Perkins loans) with direct loans, in order to qualify for income-driven repayment and/or loan forgiveness programs.

By the way, the term “consolidating” is often used interchangeably with “refinancing,” but they technically mean different things. When refinancing student loans, you also happen to be consolidating, but it is done with the goal of achieving a more favorable interest rate on your student loans.

Recommended: The Basics of the Student Loans

Set Up Automatic Payments

Many student loan servicers — both federal and private — offer an interest rate discount if you set up autopay on your account. Depending on the servicer, you can lower your student loan interest rate. SoFi, for example, offers a 0.25% autopay discount.

The reason servicers offer this discount is that by setting up automatic payments, you’re less likely to miss payments and default on the loan.

In addition to getting a lower student loan interest rate, you’ll also (hopefully!) have peace of mind knowing that you won’t accidentally miss a payment. If you feel you’re putting a little too much money toward student loans, check with your loan servicer to see whether they offer an autopay discount.


💡 Quick Tip: Refinancing could be a great choice for working graduates who have higher-interest graduate PLUS loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and/or private loans.

Get a Loyalty Discount

In addition to an autopay discount, some private student loan companies also offer a loyalty discount when you have another eligible account with them.

If you’re already a member with SoFi, for instance, you receive an interest rate discount of 0.125% on all new loans.

Other lenders may require that you have an eligible checking or savings account with them to qualify for the bonus, and you may even get a bigger discount if you make your monthly payments from that account.

To get an idea of how a change in interest rate would impact your loan, take advantage of a student loan refinance calculator to see what your new payments could be.

Choose the Right Repayment Plan

If you don’t choose a specific repayment path, you’re typically opted into the Standard Repayment Plan. In this plan, your payments are generally based on a 10-year timeline. But this one-size-fits-all plan is not the best option for everyone.

The federal government also offers four income-driven repayment (IDR) plans — Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE), Income-Based Repayment (IBR), and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) — where the monthly payments are based on your income and family size. While choosing one of these plans may lower your monthly payments, it will likely not alleviate how much interest you pay over time. In fact, you might even pay significantly more.

After 20 or 25 years, depending on the IDR plan, any remaining balance is forgiven. However, the amount forgiven may be considered taxable income by the IRS. So even though your student loan debt goes away, prepare yourself for a big tax bill that year.

Another money-saving repayment option for federal student loans is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. If you work in a qualifying public service job — for the government or a nonprofit organization — you might be eligible to have your student loans forgiven after 10 years of service.

You can confirm whether your work qualifies here. You’ll want to submit an Employment Certification as soon as possible to be sure that you’re on track to qualify.

Recommended: 4 Student Loan Repayment Options, and How to Choose

Lower Your Student Loan Interest Rate

There are several ways to get a lower student loan interest rate. It can be as easy as calling your servicer to find out what discounts are available. You can also choose a new repayment plan, consolidate your federal loans, or refinance federal and private loans. With refinancing, you may secure a lower interest rate if you have a high credit score, low debt-to-income ratio, a cosigner, or a variable interest rate. Just know that when refinancing federal student loans, borrowers lose federal protections and forgiveness.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.

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


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


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


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

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.

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.

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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Making Sense of the Rising Cost of Medical School

Making Sense of the Rising Cost of Medical School

The costs of medical school are rising at an alarming rate. According to Education Data, the cost of attending medical school rises by $1,500 per year.

Thirty-five years ago, medical students graduated with an average of $32,000 in student loan debt. Now, the average medical school debt for graduates is $202,450, according to the Education Data Initiative, with 73% of students graduating with debt.

The rising cost of medical school, plus the daunting number of years of education and training, is making some prospective medical students ask: Is an MD really worth it? That’s ultimately up to you.

It’s also worth noting that while medical school has traditionally been a path to a lucrative career, the steep up-front costs might be starting to make the endgame look less appealing.

This can be particularly true for would-be doctors interested in working in relatively low-paying fields, such as general practice (as compared to, say, anesthesiology).

While it might be relatively easy to pay down student loan debt for those entering a higher-paying specialty, a doctor going into general practice might take years (even decades!) to pay off their student loans.

To gain a better understanding of how much medical school actually costs, we’ll take a look at the costs of an MD, and some ways young doctors can get out of medical school debt faster after graduation.

How Much Does Medical School Cost?

The average medical school tuition varies depending on factors like whether the student is attending a public or private university.

The average total cost of in-state tuition for a student at a public university is $159,620. At a private school, the average total cost is $256,412.

But that’s only the cost of tuition, fees, and insurance — there’s also living costs to consider, which is why it’s useful to consider the entire cost of attendance (COA).

Each school publishes the estimated costs of attendance for their program, which typically not only include tuition and fees, but also costs like room and board, textbooks and supplies, and travel.

Why Is Medical School More Expensive Than Ever?

The rising cost of medical school tuition is part of a larger trend. It is estimated that the cost of college tuition and fees at private, nonprofit, four-year institutions in America grew at a rate of 3.5% from the 2021-2022 school years.

So what is driving the price increase? In general, college tuition has increased dramatically in the past 30 years, while wages have grown at a much slower rate. But what’s behind the dramatic uptick in college prices? The potential answer is two-fold. One factor is the demand for a college education has also dramatically risen over the last three decades.

Another factor more pertinent to public universities: a decline in state funding. It’s been observed in multiple states that as the education budget gets stripped, tuition costs paid by students also rises. And while lawmakers likely understand such a correlation exists, as long as federal financial aid is so freely available for students, there is likely little incentive to digress from such cuts.

How Long Does Paying for Med School Take?

So why do med students often go into so much debt?

It’s partly because the grueling requirements of their programs don’t often allow for part-time work. As a result, many students apply for financial aid to cover their college price tag, which means they graduate with significant amounts of student loan debt.

How long does it take to pay back the debt? Much of this depends on the student, the career path they take, and the medical loan repayments they make. However, the relatively low salaries young doctors earn during their residencies don’t typically allow for much opportunity to pay back loans until their first position after residency.

Let’s say, hypothetically, a borrower has federal Direct Loans, such as Stafford, PLUS, or a Direct Consolidation Loan. And let’s also say you can prove you have partial financial hardship (PFH), and qualify for an income-driven repayment plan.

In that situation, the monthly repayment would be capped at 10-15% of the borrower’s monthly discretionary income for a period of up to 25 years. After the 25 years, whatever hasn’t been repaid is forgiven (although that amount may be taxable).

However, if after residency, the borrower in question gets a position with an income that removes them from the PFH tier, they could switch to the Standard Repayment Plan for federal student loans and potentially pay off the loan more quickly.

Is It Possible to Shorten the Medical Debt Payment Timeline?

Here are some tips for those interested and able to shorten their repayment timeline, which can lower the amount of student loan interest paid over the life of the loan.

Repaying Loans During Residency

It is possible to start paying down medical school debt in residency. While some students may be tempted to put their loans in student loan forbearance in their residency years, doing so can add quite a bit in compounding interest to the bill.

Instead, consider an income-driven repayment plan to start paying back federal loans with an affordable payment. Another option is to look into SoFi’s medical residency refinance options to compare. Keep in mind, though, that if you choose to refinance your federal student loans, you will no longer be eligible for federal benefits and protections, including income-driven repayment plans, deferment, and student loan forgiveness.

Making Extra Payments

Another tactic to help pay off student loans faster is via simple budgeting. After getting your first position post-residency, consider committing to living on a relatively tight budget for just a few more years. Putting as much salary toward extra student loan payments as possible could potentially help cut time — and interest payments — off the repayment timeline.

Speeding Up Med School Debt Repayment With Refinancing Student Loans

If you refinance your medical student loans, iit may be possible to secure a lower interest rate and/or a lower required monthly payment – depending on the terms you choose, your credit score, and other factors.

A lower interest rate could help reduce how much money is paid in interest over the life of the loan. Extending your loan term could mean a lower monthly payment – but keep in mind that you’ll most likely pay more in interest over the life of the loan.

While refinancing could help borrowers save money over the life of the loan, it does mean giving up the benefits that come with federal student loans, like income-driven repayment, deferment, forbearance, and student loan forgiveness specific to physicians.

But for borrowers who don’t foresee needing these services, refinancing might be a viable option.

The Takeaway

The cost of medical school has risen in the past 30 years, and so has the amount of debt med students take on to pursue a career as an MD. But a career in the medical field can potentially be both lucrative and rewarding, so for some, medical school can be worth the time, effort, and cost.

Borrowers who are repaying student loans from medical school may consider strategies like income-driven repayment plans, making overpayments, or student loan refinancing to help them tackle their student loan debt.

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


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


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


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

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

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Student Loan Forgiveness Tax Bomb, Explained

Are Forgiven Student Loans Taxed?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) generally requires that you report a forgiven or canceled debt as income for tax purposes. But forgiven student loan debt is different.

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act specifies that student loan debt discharged between 2021 and 2025, and incurred for postsecondary education expenses, will not be counted as income, and therefore does not incur a federal tax liability.

This includes federal Direct Loans, Family Federal Education Loans (FFEL), Perkins Loans, and federal consolidation loans. Additionally, non-federal loans such as state education loans, institutional loans direct from colleges and universities, and even private student loans also qualify.

However, some states have indicated that they still count canceled student loans as taxable income. Read on for more information about which discharged student debt is taxable and by whom.

Different Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Federal student debt can be canceled via an income-driven repayment plan (IDR) or forgiveness programs.

While President Joe Biden’s plan to offer federal debt cancellation of up to $20,000 to those with qualifying income failed — struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court — other forms of student loan forgiveness have been strengthened.

In October 2023, the White House announced at least $127 billion in student loan relief for nearly 3.6 million Americans:

•   $5.2 billion in additional debt relief for 53,000 borrowers under Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs.

•   Nearly $2.8 billion in new debt relief for nearly 51,000 borrowers through fixes to income-driven repayment. These are borrowers who made 20 years or more of payments but never got the relief they were entitled to.

•   $1.2 billion for nearly 22,000 borrowers who have a total or permanent disability who have been identified and approved for discharge through a data match with the Social Security Administration.

Recommended: Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness

Whose Student Loan Cancellation Is Not Federally Taxed?

As stated earlier, under the provisions of the ARP Act, any student debt (private or federal) for post-secondary education that was or is forgiven in the years of 2021 through 2025 will not be federally taxed. This means that the borrowers just listed above were not required to report their discharged loan amount as earned income, and therefore taxable.

Outside of the special five-year window of tax exemption provided by the ARP Act, participants in the Public Service Federal Loan program who receive forgiveness also don’t have to worry about paying taxes on the canceled amount. The program explicitly states that earned forgiveness through PSLF is not considered taxable income.

Recommended: A Look Into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Whose Student Loan Cancellation Is Federally Taxed?

Borrowers who receive loan cancellation after participating fully in an income-driven loan repayment plan can generally expect to pay taxes. Again, those whose debt was discharged in 2021 and 2022, or will be discharged in 2023, 2024, or 2025, will not need to pay federal taxes on their forgiven loans.

Forgiven amounts that are taxable are treated as earned income during the fiscal year it was received. Your lender might issue tax Form 1099-C to denote your debt cancellation.


💡 Quick Tip: Enjoy no hidden fees and special member benefits when you refinance student loans with SoFi.

Which States Have Said They Will Tax Forgiven Student Loans?

Typically, states follow the tax policy of the federal government. But some states have announced that their residents must include their forgiven or canceled student loan amount on their state tax returns.

As of October 2023, the states that say forgiven loans are taxable are Mississippi, North Carolina, Indiana, Wisconsin, and possibly Arkansas, depending on an upcoming vote in its legislature. More states could decide to do so.

It’s important to consult a qualified tax accountant or someone knowledgeable about forgiveness of student loans in your state to confirm the latest information of how much you owe.

Preparing to Pay Discharged Student Loan Taxes

If you’re anticipating a tax liability after receiving loan forgiveness, there are a few steps you can take today to get ready.

Step 1: Estimate Your Bill

The first step when bracing for a student loan forgiveness tax bill is calculating how much you might owe come tax season. This factor can be influenced by factors including the type of forgiveness you are receiving and the forgiven amount.

To avoid sticker shock, you can use a student loan forgiveness tax calculator, like the Loan Simulator on StudentAid.gov. It lets you see how much of your student loan debt might be forgiven, based on your projected earnings.

Step 2: Choose the Right Plan

Enrolling your federal student loans into an IDR plan can help you keep your monthly payments to a manageable amount while you’re awaiting loan forgiveness. All of these repayment plans calculate your monthly payment based on your income and family size.

The newest IDR program is the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan, which offers unique benefits that will lower payments for many borrowers, to as low as 5% of disposable income in 2024 for those who qualify.

Recommended: The SAVE Plan: What Student Loan Borrowers Need to Know

Step 3: Prioritize Saving

If you’re expecting loan forgiveness after 2025, it might be advantageous to allocate extra cash flow toward a dedicated tax savings fund. Incrementally setting money aside over multiple years can ease the burden of a sudden lump sum tax bill down the line.

Paying Taxes on Canceled Student Loan

If you can’t afford to cover an increased tax bill, contact the IRS to discuss your options. Inquire about payment plans that can help you pay smaller tax payments over a longer period of time. However, be aware that fees and interest will likely accrue.


💡 Quick Tip: Refinancing could be a great choice for working graduates who have higher-interest graduate PLUS loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and/or private loans.

The Takeaway

Thanks to a special law passed by Congress in 2021, post-secondary education loans forgiven from 2021 through 2025 will not count as earned income and will not be federally taxed. That said, state taxes may be due, depending on where the borrower lives.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.

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

FAQ

Is loan repayment considered taxable income?

If your employer offers loan repayment assistance benefits, they would typically be considered taxable income. However under the Cares Act, loan forgiveness payments — and employer assistance loan payments up to $5,250 — made each year from 2021 through 2025 are tax-free.

Will refinancing my student loans help me avoid taxes?

Student loan refinancing simply involves reworking one or more existing student loans into a new private loan with more favorable terms. It’s a repayment strategy that does not incur a tax liability.


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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.


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.

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

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

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Understanding the Parent Plus Loan Forgiveness Program

Understanding Parent Plus Loan Forgiveness

Parent PLUS loan forgiveness provides financial relief to parents who borrowed money to cover the cost of their children’s college or career school. It isn’t always a quick fix, but there are certain federal and private programs that might offer the financial assistance needed to help them get on track.

Keep reading to learn more about what the available student loan forgiveness possibilities are for Parent PLUS loans.

Are Parent Plus Loans Eligible for Student Loan Forgiveness?

Parent PLUS loans are eligible for several of the same student loan forgiveness programs as federal student loans for students, including:

•   Borrower Defense Loan Discharge

•   Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge

•   Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

That said, Parent PLUS loans generally have fewer repayment options. The Parent PLUS loans do not qualify for the SAVE program or other income-driven plans. And guidelines are strict for the few programs that parent loans are eligible for.

Refinancing is another option for Parent PLUS loan borrowers — applying for a new private student loan with an, ideally, lower interest rate. That said, some lenders offer less flexibility for repayment and the fine print can be lengthy, so there’s an inherent risk associated with refinancing Parent PLUS loans.

It’s worth noting that refinancing a PLUS loan will eliminate it from any federal repayment plans and benefits.


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

Parent Student Loan Forgiveness Program

Parents who are on the hook for student loan debt can also qualify for student loan forgiveness. A Parent PLUS loan may be eligible for Parent Student Loan Forgiveness through federal programs that include Income-Contingent Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Other forgiveness options may also be available through the state.

Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

An Income-Contingent Repayment plan, or ICR plan, is the only income-driven repayment plan that’s available for Parent PLUS borrowers. In order to qualify, parent borrowers must first consolidate their loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan, then repay that loan under the ICR plan.

Bear in mind:

•   A Parent PLUS loan that’s included in a Direct Consolidation Loan could be eligible for Income-Contingent Repayment.

•   A Parent PLUS loan that’s included in the Federal Direct Loan Program or the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) is also eligible for ICR if it’s included in the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan.

The ICR plan is a repayment plan for Direct loans. Monthly payments are the lesser of (1) what you would pay on a repayment plan with a fixed monthly payment over 12 years, adjusted based on your income, or (2) 20% of your discretionary income.

Typically, the IRS considers canceled debt a form of taxable income, but the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 made all student loan forgiveness tax-free through 2025 on federal returns. Some states will tax student loan forgiveness amounts; check with your accountant to be sure.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Borrowers with Parent PLUS loans may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. In order to pursue that option, they must first consolidate the Parent PLUS loan into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Then, after they’ve made 120 qualifying payments (10 years’ worth), borrowers become eligible for the PSLF. The parent borrower (not the student) must be employed full-time in a qualifying public service job. PSLF also has strict requirements such as certifying employment, so it’s important to follow instructions closely if pursuing this option.

Student Loan Forgiveness for Death of Parent

Federal student loans qualify for loan “discharge” when the borrower dies. In the case of Parent PLUS loans, they are also discharged if the student who received the borrowed funds dies.

In order to qualify for federal loan discharge due to death, borrowers must provide a copy of a death certificate to either the U.S. Department of Education or the loan servicer.

Some, but not all, private lenders discharge student loans after the student or loan holder dies.

Recommended: Can Student Loans Be Discharged?

State Parent PLUS Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Many individual states offer some sort of student loan repayment assistance or student loan forgiveness programs for Parent PLUS loan borrowers.

For an overview of options available in different states, you can take a look at The College Investor’s State-by-State Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness . For information on student loan and aid available take a look at the SoFi guide on state-by-state student aid available for borrowers.

Disability

In the event of the borrower becoming totally and permanently disabled, a Parent PLUS loan may be discharged. To qualify for a Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge , borrowers must complete and submit a TPD discharge application, as well as documentation showing that they meet the requirements for being considered totally and permanently disabled.

Note that in order to qualify for TPD, the parent borrower must be considered disabled. This type of forgiveness does not apply to Parent PLUS loans in the event that the student becomes disabled.

Bankruptcy

If a borrower can demonstrate undue financial hardship upon repaying the student loan, they might be able to discharge their Parent PLUS loan. Note: Having student loans discharged in bankruptcy is uncommon. Proving “undue hardship” varies depending on the court that’s granting it, but most rulings abide by the Brunner test, which requires the debtor to meet all three of these criteria in order to discharge the student loan:

•   Poverty. Maintaining a minimal standard of living for the borrower and their dependents is deemed impossible if they’re forced to repay their student loans.

•   Persistence. The borrower’s current financial situation will likely continue for the majority of the repayment period.

•   Good faith. The borrower has made a “good faith” effort to repay their student loans.

Closed School Discharge

For parent borrowers whose children attended a school that closed while they were enrolled or who withdrew from the school during a “lookback period” of 120 days before its closure, a Closed School Discharge is another available form of student loan forgiveness.

If your child’s school closes on or after July 1, 2023, and you meet the eligibility requirements for a closed school discharge of your loans obtained to attend the closed school, you will generally receive an automatic closed school discharge one year after the date the DOE establishes as the school’s official closure date. This discharge will be initiated by DOE, and you will be notified by your loan servicer.

Although this closed school loan discharge is granted automatically after one year has passed since the school’s closure, you can always apply for and receive a closed school discharge as soon as the school’s official closure date is confirmed by the U.S. Department of Education. If your child 1) attended a school that closed less than one year ago, 2) meet the eligibility requirements for a closed school discharge, and 3) want your loans discharged, contact your loan servicer about applying for a closed school discharge now instead of waiting for one year to receive an automatic closed school discharge.

Borrower Defense

Borrower Defense Loan Discharge is available to Parent PLUS borrowers whose children were misled by their college or university or whose college or university engaged in certain forms of misconduct or violation of state laws.

To make a case for borrower defense, the Parent PLUS borrower must be able to demonstrate that their school violated a state law directly related to their federal student loan.


💡 Quick Tip: Federal parent PLUS loans might be a good candidate for refinancing to a lower rate.

Alternatives to Parent Plus Student Loan Forgiveness

When it comes to Parent PLUS loans, there are a few ways to get out of student loan debt legally, including the scenarios outlined below.

Refinance Parent Plus Loans

Refinancing a Parent PLUS loan is another option that could provide some financial relief. In doing so, you’ll lose the government benefits associated with your federal loans, as briefly mentioned above, such as:

•   Forbearance options or options to defer your student loans

•   Choice of repayment options

•   Student loan forgiveness

Refinancing a Parent PLUS loan into the dependent’s name is another option, which some borrowers opt for once their child has graduated and started working. Not all loan servicers are willing to offer this type of refinancing option, though.

Transfer Parent Plus Student Loan to Student

Transferring Parent PLUS loans to a student can be complicated. There isn’t a federal loan program available that will conduct this exchange, and, as mentioned above, some private lenders won’t offer this option.

Some private lenders, like SoFi, allow dependents to take out a refinanced student loan and use it to pay off the PLUS loan of their parent.

Explore Private Student Loan Options for Parents

Banks, credit unions, state loan agencies and other lenders typically offer private student loans for parents who want to help their children pay for college and refinancing options for parents and students.

Refinancing options will vary by lenders and some may be willing to refinance a Parent PLUS loan into a private refinanced loan in the student’s name. In addition to competitive interest rates and member benefits, SoFi does allow students to take over their parent’s loan during the refinancing process. Interest rates and terms may vary based on individual criteria such as income, credit score, and history.

The Takeaway

Parent PLUS Loan forgiveness offers financial relief to parents who borrowed money to help their child pay for college. To receive federal relief for Parent PLUS loans, parent borrowers can enroll in an Income-Contingent Repayment plan, pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness, transfer their student loan to another student, take advantage of a state Parent PLUS student loan forgiveness program, or opt for private student loan assistance or refinancing.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.

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


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


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


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.

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.

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.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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.

Photo credit: iStock/DragonImages
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