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Using an Offer Letter as Proof of Income for Graduate Student Loans

Typically, when you apply for a loan, the lender wants proof of income, aka proof that you can pay them back. For graduate students, this can pose a catch-22, since they are going to school in order to become gainfully employed. The customary workaround: having a co-signer on the private student loan.

But some graduate students, perhaps MBA, law school or computer science students about to start their final year, may have offer letters of employment for when they graduate. Wouldn’t it be great if they could submit those offer letters as proof of income—a practice used in mortgage lending?

How Common Is the Practice of Using an Offer Letter as Proof of Income?

Certainly, accepting offer letters as part of graduate students’ applications is a break with custom. The only company currently doing so is actually SoFi. For graduate private student loans, SoFi now accepts an offer letter as a form of income for eligible borrowers.

When a loan applicant can submit an offer letter as proof of income, a co-signer may no longer be needed. Read on for more ways an offer letter may strengthen the loan application and empower the funding process for the student.

Using an Offer Letter as Proof of Income

Given how much a student likely already has on their plate—especially if they are a soon-to-be (or current) graduate student—chances are they want the student loan application process to be as straightforward as possible. Needing to supply an additional document might sound like an extra hassle.

But there can be plenty of benefits to using a job offer letter as proof of income on a student loan application—and doing so may even help save money in interest over the long run if the student qualifies for a lower rate. Here are a few other things to consider.

Qualifying Without a Co-Signer

A student loan co-signer is, as the name implies, a second person who signs a loan along with the borrower—and who is therefore also responsible for the debt should the borrower fail to pay. In the case of student loans, co-signers are often parents or guardians, though other relatives and even friends can be co-signers, depending on a lender’s criteria.

In many cases, it can be hard for graduate students to qualify for additional student loans without a co-signer, particularly if they’re young and newly graduated from college—which probably means their credit histories are short and their income is limited.

Some private loan companies even require a co-signer in order to apply, which can be a major pain if mom or dad have decided to cut off the gravy train once and for all.

Because a job offer letter demonstrates the applicant’s individual earning potential, using one in a student loan application may empower students to be able to qualify without a co-signer (if the loan company doesn’t expressly require one).

Even if the applicant does have a willing co-signer, it can be empowering to seek out educational funding completely on their own terms.

Increasing Approval Chances

Even if a graduate school student loan applicant does still elect to have a co-signer, using an offer letter as proof of income may help increase the chances of approval. When it comes to borrowing large amounts of educational funding, every little bit of qualification can help.

Potentially Qualifying for a More Favorable Rate

With or without a co-signer, additional income validation in the form of a job offer letter may be able to qualify you for a more favorable interest rate—which may potentially mean savings over time. It is important to remember that this is just one of the many factors that lenders take into account when determining which rate you qualify for.

This can be particularly valuable when graduate students are adding to an existing student debt total, and in the case of private student loans, which typically carry higher interest rates than their federal counterparts.

What’s the Process of Using a Job Offer Letter?

To use a job offer letter as part of your student loan application package, the applicant will need to include the letter in their application materials.

Depending on the loan company’s process, the letter may be uploaded directly online or a copy included in a mailed-in application. Offer letters typically include a start date and pre-tax pay rate so the lender can accurately assess how the offer augments the application.

Funding a Graduate Education with SoFi? Your Offer Letter Could Help

Students may already know that SoFi offers a range of private student loans—for undergraduates, graduates, and parents. The loans carry competitive interest rates and are free of origination, late, or insufficient funds fees, and they’re getting even better.

SoFi now allows graduate, law, and MBA students to use a job offer letter as proof of income in addition to, or instead of, adding a co-signer to their application.

While students should exhaust all their federal student aid options before considering a private student loan, sometimes additional assistance is necessary to handle the expense of graduate studies or professional graduate programs.

Getting a rate quote for a SoFi private student loan takes three minutes and won’t affect your credit score¹.

SoFi members can also qualify for perks like rate discounts on additional loans, career services, and more. With competitive rates and multiple repayment options, SoFi Private Student Loans might be just the thing for you and your budget.

Ready to take your education to the next level? Check out SoFi’s full range of private student loan options.


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. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.¹
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 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 Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are securities made up of any number of other securities—stocks or bonds most commonly. Some ETFs track a specific underlying index like the S&P 500 or the Nasdaq, but these funds can be structured to fit almost any investment needs.

ETFs generally fall into two categories: actively managed and passively managed.

Passively managed funds follow the principle of a “buy and hold” investment strategy. Rather than trying to beat the market, these funds simply track and index or invest in particular assets regardless of short-term market fluctuations.

Actively managed ETFs, by contrast, employ a portfolio manager or team of portfolio managers who personally track the investments held by a fund and make decisions to buy, hold, or sell, the assets held within it.

The goal of these portfolio managers is to outperform the broader market indexes. They often measure their success by using a certain index as their benchmark.

If their portfolios provide a higher return than those indexes, then the managers can claim success. If they return less than their benchmark index, then they did not beat the market, and their investors would have been better off with some kind of passive investment strategy.

How Actively Managed ETFs Work

Many of the most well-known ETFs are passively managed, meaning they intend to perform similarly to a particular index, asset, or group of securities. However, there are now two specific types of actively managed ETFs as well: transparent and semi-transparent funds.

Until late 2019, only transparent actively managed ETFs were allowed. These funds were required to disclose their holdings on a daily basis. Investors would then know exactly what was happening to their money.

Semi-transparent funds, by contrast, don’t have the same disclosure requirements. They either reveal the contents of their portfolio less often or communicate their true holdings by using various accounting methods like proxy securities or weightings.

The main reason investment managers want the option for this kind of ETF structure involves concealing their methods from competitors. The small percentage of active managers who outperform the market don’t want others to know how they did it.

From an investor’s perspective, the only noticeable difference between these two kinds of active ETFs would be the frequency with which they receive information disclosing the fund’s holdings. Both kinds of funds, and also passive funds, trade on exchanges at prices that change constantly during trading days.

Pros and Cons of Actively Managed ETFs

As with any investment vehicle, these funds have their benefits and disadvantages. Both the pros and cons tend to stem from the fact that a person or group manages the fund’s assets on a constant basis.

Pros

Higher Returns

The biggest advantage of an actively managed ETF is the potential for gains that could exceed those of the market at large. While very few investment management teams beat the market, those who do tend to produce outsized gains over a short period.

Greater Flexibility and Liquidity

Active ETFs could also provide greater flexibility amid market turbulence. When world events rattle financial markets, passive investors can’t do much other than go along for the ride.

A fund with active managers might be able to adjust to changing market conditions, however. Portfolio managers could be able to rebalance investments according to current trends, reducing losses, or even profiting from panics and selloffs.

Like passive ETFs, active funds also trade throughout the day (as opposed to some mutual funds who only have their price adjusted once daily), allowing investors the opportunity to do things like short shares of the fund or buy them on margin.

Professional Management

The premise of these funds relies entirely on the experience and capability of the fund’s management. Those who invest in actively managed ETFs don’t personally see these things happening. They will be reflected in the ETF’s share price and net asset value (NAV) , of course, and funds send out a prospectus periodically to update investors on new events and asset allocation changes.

Cons

High Expense Ratios

One of the biggest cons to holding shares of an actively managed ETF involves what’s known as the expense ratio.

All ETFs come with a cost—the costs associated with maintaining the investments of the fund. The portion of this cost that gets passed onto investors is calculated by dividing the sum of a fund’s costs by its total assets. This number, expressed as a percentage, is the fee that investors pay for the privilege of holding ETF shares.

Active funds tend to have higher expense ratios. The costs associated with paying a professional or entire team of professionals combined with the fees that result from additional buying/selling of investments adds up to a larger expense burden.

Each purchase or sale might come with a brokerage fee, especially if the securities are foreign-based. These costs exceed those of passive funds, resulting in higher expense ratios.

Higher Risk

While active ETFs could provide higher returns, most of them don’t. It’s a widely known fact in the investment world that the vast majority of managed funds (as well as most individual investors) do not outperform the market over the long-term.

So, while an active ETF may have the potential for greater returns, the risk can also be significant. The chances of choosing an active fund that fails to outperform the market are greater than the odds of choosing one that succeeds.

The responsibility to manage the risks and rewards of an actively managed ETF lies in the hands of a fund’s managers, not the retail investor buying shares. This might not sit well with investors who want to have control over their investments and the ability to choose when to buy or sell. Holding shares of this type of fund requires putting faith into those who manage the investments.

One of the risks inherent in this kind of investing, although remote, might be that fund managers choose to misallocate investor’s funds or otherwise engage in deceitful practices.

It’s not unheard of for financial regulatory enforcement agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to catch people in the act of overtrading (placing excessive amounts of buy/sell orders), making misleading marketing claims regarding a fund’s past performance, or gambling with the funds that investors have entrusted to them.

Deviation from Net Asset Value

Another reason why investors might not like a fund being managed by someone else is the fact that this arrangement can lead to the ETFs share trading at a price that is higher or lower than the fund’s net asset value (NAV). In other words, sometimes the tradable shares don’t accurately reflect the price of the assets the fund actually holds. This can happen with passive ETFs as well, but the deviation in active funds can be much higher due in part to the other factors discussed above.

In addition, even if the fund outperforms, that might not be reflected in the share price. The individual investment holdings of the fund might do well, but investors holding shares could see little to no profits due to the high expense ratios and potential deviation from NAV.

Investing in Actively Managed ETFs

It begins with choosing a fund that fits an investor’s wants and needs and then finding an exchange where that security can be traded. Once an investor opens an account at their chosen brokerage, they can begin buying shares or fractional shares of actively managed ETFs.

Historically, brokerages have required investors to buy a minimum of one share of any security, so the minimum investment will most often be the current price of one share of the ETF plus any commissions and fees (most brokerages eliminated fees for buying or selling shares of domestic stocks and ETFs in 2019).

Some newer brokerages now offer fractional shares, however, which allow for investors to purchase quantities of stock smaller than one share. This option may appeal to those looking to get started investing with a small amount of money.

It’s important to note that most ETFs pay dividends. Investors can choose to have their dividends deposited directly into their accounts as cash or automatically reinvested through a dividend reinvestment program (DRIP).

Investors with a long-term plan in mind might do well to take advantage of a DRIP, as it allows for gains to grow exponentially. For those only looking for income, DRIP might defeat the purpose of holding securities that yield dividends, however.

Learning About ETFs First-Hand

One way to get started with an actively managed ETF, should an investor decide to do so, would be to buy shares of a chosen fund. With SoFi Invest®, investors of all experience levels can gain experience by picking investments suited to their interests and financial ability. SoFi makes it easy for investors to diversify their portfolios and invest in what makes sense for their financial situation.

Learn more about investing with SoFi.


SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . The umbrella term “SoFi Invest” refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.

Fund Fees
If you invest in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) through SoFi Invest (either by buying them yourself or via investing in SoFi Invest’s automated investments, formerly SoFi Wealth), these funds will have their own management fees. These fees are not paid directly by you, but rather by the fund itself. these fees do reduce the fund’s returns.. Check out each fund’s prospectus for details. SoFi Invest does not receive sales commissions, 12b-1 fees, or other fees from ETFs for investing such funds on behalf of advisory clients, though if SoFi Invest creates its own funds, it could earn management fees there.

Investment Risk: Diversification can help reduce some investment risk. It cannot guarantee profit, or fully protect in a down market.
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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How to Save Money in College

College is expensive. In the 2018-19 academic year, tuition and fees averaged $36,801 for students at private universities, which adds up to $147,204 for all four years!

The cost of public school for out-of-state students wasn’t much lower, with annual tuition and fees averaging $22,577.

The price tag was a bit smaller for in-state students (an average of $10,116), but all of these figures have kept climbing every year and show no signs of slowing down.

These numbers don’t include all the other expenses of college life, such as room and board, books, supplies, food, clothing, and entertainment. At the same time, you probably aren’t earning very much, because you’re busy with school.

Plenty of options exist for financing your time in college, including scholarships, loans, and part-time work. But when you’re on a limited budget, one thing you can try to do is trim your expenses where possible. Saving money can possibly mean owing less in loans (and interest) down the line and avoiding things like credit card debt.

Luckily, once you adopt a money-conscious mindset, you’ll likely find there are many ways to save money in college. And building the habit of budgeting now can serve you well as you move on to life in the real world. Here are some tips to save money in college:

Saving Money as a College Student

1. Student Discounts

Lots of businesses and service providers offer special deals to students. You can buy clothing, shoes, and furniture for your dorm or apartment for less at certain retailers.

Entertainment is another area where you can save. Some movie theaters offer discounts at some locations or on certain days. Some museums and sports events offer discounted access to students, as well. There may also be discounts on certain music and video streaming sites. And you can spend less on travel with discounts at certain car rental and car insurance companies, as well as on trains and buses.

2. Buying Used

If you don’t need that new-book smell, you can spend less by renting textbooks or buying them used. You can find used books at many campus bookstores or certain online retailers.

Used books often come at a fraction of the price of a brand new book, and many are in perfectly good condition. Plus once you’re done, you can try to resell the book.

You can save by buying other items used as well. You might try looking for used clothing and furniture at second hand stores, garage sales, estate sales, flea markets, or on Craigslist.

3. Cooking Meals

Food eats up a big chunk of most people’s budgets—on average, Americans spend about 10% of their disposable income on food. It may be a good idea to evaluate how much of your money goes into feeding yourself each month.

Younger generations go out to eat more often than older cohorts, and paying for restaurant meals can add up. In college, eating out can be a tempting option, since you’re likely to be busy and may want to socialize with friends over meals.

But shopping for your own ingredients and making simple meals at home can help you save a lot of money. The average meal you eat in a restaurant is 325% more expensive than one you make yourself.

4. Serving as an R.A.

Becoming a resident assistant can not only be rewarding but also help you cut down expenses. R.A.s are a sort of big brother or sister in dorms, organizing social events, advising younger students, enforcing rules, and mediating disagreements. Many R.A.s receive free or discounted housing and meals, and some also get a stipend.

5. Cutting Out The Extras

You may want to look for areas in your budget where you can trim by choosing a less expensive option. If you frequent coffee shops, for example, perhaps you can brew your own java or go with the less fancy option with free refills.

Instead of going to bars with friends, maybe you can take turns hosting wine and cheese nights at your homes. If you belong to a fancy gym, look around for lower-cost options on campus, join an intramural sports league, or run outdoors. Instead of a spring break trip to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, consider camping, hanging out at the local swimming pool, or volunteering. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

6. Paying Your Bills on Time

When you pay all of your bills by the due date, you can avoid hefty fees and help keep interest from piling up. If you’re worried about forgetting, you may be able to set up autopay through your credit card, the service provider itself, or your bank.

Staying on top of bills not only avoids added costs, but may also help keep your credit history strong (or, at least, not dinging it by being sent to collections), which could help you qualify for better terms on loans and credit cards down the line.

7. Signing up for Family Plans

You may have left home, but maybe don’t cut the cord completely just yet. Many phone and car insurance plans are cheaper if you sign up with your family members, rather than as an individual.

If you’re under 26 years old, you can stay on your parents’ health insurance coverage, which may be less expensive than purchasing your own. And you might also see if your parents will unofficially keep you on various “family plans” by sharing their logins for things like video streaming services.

Other Ways to Finance College

Saving can get you far. But when it comes to actually paying for college, you have a few options if you or your parents haven’t saved enough to cover the costs in full. One of the most advantageous is to land scholarships or grants that will fund all or part of your tuition.

These are available through state and federal governments, universities, non-profit organizations, and corporations, and many are tailored to students of specific backgrounds or intending to enter certain fields. You can search for some opportunities on FastWeb , FinAid , and Scholarships.com .

One of the most common ways to pay for school is take out federal student loans. You can apply by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), which will help the government and your school determine the amount of federal aid you qualify for.

Federal student loans are a likely part of the federal student aid package you receive. They come with fixed interest rates and certain benefits, such as a six-month grace period after graduation, income driven repayment plans, and options for pausing or reducing payments while you’re in school or facing an economic hardship.

It’s wise to exhaust all your federal grant and loan options before taking out private student loans, since they typically offer less flexibility and fewer borrower protections. However, if you need to fill gaps in paying for school, you can look into private student loans from various financial institutions.

When you apply for a private student loan with SoFi, the process is straightforward and fast. You can choose from several flexible payment options, and there aren’t any fees.

Qualifying for the loan, as well as the interest rate and terms you receive, depend on your credit history (or that of your co-signer) and other factors. You can check your rates before applying—in just minutes.

Looking for ways to make college affordable? Consider a private loan with 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 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 or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

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Finding the Right College for Your Child

Classes, late night study sessions, and extracurriculars. College is a time for students to learn and grow, both academically and in their personal development.

As a parent, you want what’s best for your child, and that includes helping them pick the right college. But finding the right school for your child may require some time and research, and you’ll likely want to make sure you leave the final decision up to your teen.

As you consider various factors, it’s important to zero in on the ones that matter the most for your student.

How to Find the Right College for Your Child

Depending on how much time you have to invest in the process, here are some tips that can help you and your child pick the right college for them.

1. Making a List

Start by creating a broad list of colleges for which you and your child might be a good fit. Consider both local and out-of-state colleges, and don’t be afraid to let your student dream big.

Every student is different, so it’s worth curating a diverse list of options to consider. Typically, various rules of thumb suggest students apply to a mix of “target,” “reach,” and “safety” schools. This could be a good way to organize your child’s initial list of schools.

As you work through the other steps in the process, and learn more about each school, you can refine the list.

But if your child leaves some schools off in the beginning, they won’t get a chance to determine if they’re really a good fit or not. Consider having your child take a quiz like this one: What College Should I Go To?

2. Talking About What They Want to Study

Your high schooler may not yet know what they want to be when they grow up, but they may already have an idea of what direction they want to go. It may be worth having an initial conversation with your child about choosing a major.

Once you have an idea of what they’re interested in, you can look at the colleges on your child’s list that excel in those areas of study. If there aren’t many, you could always consider adding more.

3. Considering the Cost

A college education can get expensive, and some universities charge much more than others. If your child already has an idea of which schools they want to apply for or have already received their admissions letters, a key step is to dig into the cost of attendance for each school.

This step is important regardless of whether you’re planning to help your child cover the cost of their education. Finding a college with good value can reduce how much your student may need to borrow in student loans during their stay.

The cost of attendance isn’t the only important cost factor, however. If your child has already received an admission letter, consider whether there’s a financial aid package included, including grants and scholarships. If there is, calculate the total amount you or your child would have to pay after applying that financial aid to get the net price.

4. Talking About Location

Discuss with your child about whether they would prefer a college close to home or far away. Each person is different in this regard, and your teen’s desires on the matter are important.

That said, sending a child off to college, especially out-of-state, can be a stressful experience for parents. It’s normal to feel anxious about this milestone in your child’s life, but avoid allowing your anxiety to dictate your role in the process.

For example, it may be wise to avoid trying to steer your teen toward a local college, so they stay close to home unless that school really is a good fit for them. It may be better to focus on what’s best for them, rather than what might make you feel better.

Explore information about student loans,
grants, and scholarships per state.


5. Learning About the Environment

Finding the right college for your child isn’t just about the school itself; it’s also about the environment the school provides. This is where it can be worth making a trip to visit college campuses with your child to get a feel of the place—or at least to take virtual tours.

Also, it may be worthwhile to look into some of the extracurricular activities the schools provide. If your child is athletic, for instance, ask about intramural sports. If they want to study abroad, look into the quality of each school’s international programs.

Also, you may want to consider other factors that can affect your child’s experience, such as classroom size. If you think your child may need more attention, a school where every class is in an auditorium with hundreds of other students may not be the right one.

6. Giving Your Child Time

Picking a college may be easy for some students, but it can take time for others. If your teen is having a hard time, it can be a fine line between supporting them and annoying them. Finding the right balance can be tricky.

As a happy medium, consider choosing a night each week to discuss college plans with your teen. Ask about their thought process and offer help if they’re feeling stuck.

It can be frustrating to sit back and watch your child struggle, but allowing them to make the decision for themselves can help them develop the independence they’ll need in the coming months and years.

7. Being Supportive

No matter what your child decides, they need your support more than anything else. Remember that you’re finding the right college for your child, not for you.

And keep in mind that your child may choose to transfer at some point in the future if they decide the school is no longer a good fit.

Regardless of what happens, your support can give them the confidence they need to make their college experience a good one.

Talking About Financing

Once your child has picked a college, talk about how they’re going to finance their education. If you’ve managed to set money aside in a 529 Plan or can help with your current income and savings, discuss the numbers and whether your teen will need to pick up some of the slack.

Also talk about student loans and how to use them wisely, as well as how to reduce how much they’ll need to borrow. Ideas include applying for scholarships and grants, working part-time, and borrowing only what they need.

Other options to look into include federal parent PLUS Loans, private parent student loans or private undergraduate student loans to help fund their education. If all federal aid options have been exhausted, SoFi offers no-fee private student loans to help parents and students pay for school.

Learn more about SoFi private student loans.


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

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Supporting Your Child in the College Application Process

The college application process can be an exciting and stressful time for both the student and their parents. For your child, it may be one of the first times he or she has had to take action and make decisions that could have a lasting impact on his or her life.

As a result, you want to help guide your child and keep them accountable, but don’t want to push them too hard or do the work for them. For help on how to prepare your kids for college, here is a parent’s guide to college planning so you can support your child during the college application process without making things worse.

A Parent’s Guide to College Planning

It can be hard to know how much is too much, but things can also go south if you’re not involved at all. Here are some things to consider when preparing kids for college.

Avoiding Taking Over the Process

It can be tempting to do what you’ve likely done countless times in your child’s life: step in and solve the problem for them. While there are certainly times in their life when that’s a good thing, it’s important to allow your child to take the helm.

On the flip side, avoid being completely hands-off. You know your child, possibly better than they know themselves. If they’re prone to procrastination or might have a hard time talking about their strengths in an essay, take the opportunity to give them some guidance and gentle reminders.

Listening to Your Child

While the ultimate goal is to get all their applications in on time, it’s important to remember that the process can be overwhelming. Your child is making some big decisions about their future and may need someone with whom they can talk things through.

Take the time to listen to your child and be empathetic about their stress, fear, and anxiety. If possible, share your own experience and show that they can depend on you for ongoing support.

Knowing the Deadlines

Applying for college is serious business, and it’s unlikely colleges are going to accept late entries. While it’s important for your child to know when their applications are due, it’s also a good idea for you to have them on your calendar.

That way, you can follow up as the deadlines get closer just in case your child forgot. That said, be careful to avoid nagging or bringing it up too often.

Avoiding Focusing on Just One School

Parents want the best for their children, and that may include wanting them to attend a specific school. Maybe you like the idea of having your child attend your alma mater, or you have your sights set on an Ivy.

It may not hurt to make a suggestion about which schools your child should consider. But having your child put all their eggs in one basket can make it difficult if they don’t get accepted or they want more options later on.

Visiting Campuses

If your child’s top schools are close by, take a day off of work to visit the school campuses and meet with an admissions counselor. Being there and taking it in may help your child make the right decision about which school is the best fit.

If a college is far away, consider making a vacation out of it. Before you go, check with the colleges to see if they offer campus tours or college fairs where your student can get a better idea of the full experience.

Encouraging Them to Work With a School Counselor

If your child has a designated counselor at school, encourage them to meet with their counselor and talk about the process. While you can give good advice, the counselor may be more in touch with which school might be a good fit based on what your child wants to study.

They may also be able to give your child a better idea of what college admissions officers are looking for in an application, which can give your child an advantage.

Letting Your Child Do the Talking

It can be tempting to try to set up an appointment or communicate with prospective colleges on your child’s behalf. But by encouraging your child to do those things instead, you allow them to show initiative and independence, two traits that can give them a leg up on other candidates.

It will also give your child good practice, because they’ll likely need to do a lot more on their own in the coming years, and may not have you nearby to help.

Talking About Finances

In addition to providing support during the application process, knowing how to prepare your kids for college costs is essential. If you’ve managed to save enough in a savings account or some other way, talk with your child about how far it will go and what they can use the money for.

Also, talk to them about student loans, both federal and private, and how to make good decisions about borrowing for education and living expenses.

Encourage them to apply for scholarships and/or grants first, and to work during school to help reduce how much they may need to borrow.

Putting Your Child’s Needs First

Preparing kids for college is no easy task, especially if you feel like they’re dragging their feet. As you try to find the best way to support your child, take a step back and think about their needs versus your desires, and try to focus your encouragement based on their needs.

Doing this may require some patience, but it can help turn the process into a bonding experience rather than an alienating one. And whatever you do, avoid skipping the money conversation.

Teaching your child about the cost of college, as well as discussing options to finance their education, can help set them up for success for years to come.

If you are thinking about taking out private student loans for college, learn more about 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 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.
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