How to Set Up a College Fund

The average cost of tuition varies, depending on whether the school is private or public. According to the College Boards 2020 Trends in College pricing report, the average cost per student to attend college in the 2020-2021 school year was as follows:

•  Private non-profit four year institutions: $37,650
•  Public four year in-state: $10,560
•  Public four year out-of-state: $27,020

And typically, tuition costs and room and board aren’t the only expenses college students will usually need to cover. There are textbooks and other school supplies, the cost of traveling to and from school for breaks, and any additional living expenses.

As a parent, sometimes just thinking about the cost of college for your kid (or kids) can feel bleak. Thankfully, there’s no time like a bad time to start thinking about ways to save for your child’s education.

How to Set up College Funds: Getting Started

Common advice is, there’s no time like the present to set up a college fund. Even starting with a small amount each paycheck could make a dent when looking at a tuition bill 10 or 18 years down the line. If you are in the early stages of parenthood, college may feel far off now, but time can fly.

When creating a strategy for setting up college funds, there are a few savings plans and investment accounts that are specifically designed to help people save for their child’s education expenses.

As you get serious about saving for your children’s education, one of these accounts may be worth considering when setting up a college fund.

529 Plans

These accounts, also known as qualified tuition plans, are named after an IRS code section and give parents the option to save for college in the name of a child while providing certain tax advantages.

There are two kinds of 529 Plans: prepaid tuition plans and education savings plans.

Prepaid tuition plans let individuals buy future credits or course units at participating colleges or universities. These credits are used to help cover the cost of tuition for the beneficiary. Most prepaid tuition plans have residency requirements and are often sponsored by state governments.

Education savings plans are investment accounts that can be used to save for the beneficiary’s qualified education expenses. The funds can be used to pay for higher education or private elementary or high schools. Money is taxed when it is contributed to the account, but it can then grow tax-free.

You can’t contribute more money than necessary to cover education expenses, and there are no annual contribution limits set by individual states. There are, however, aggregate limits to 529 plan balances, which vary depending on the state.

California has the highest aggregate limit, at $529,000, and Georgia and Mississippi have the lowest, at $235,000. While there are no contribution limits, it is important to note that in certain circumstances there may be additional taxes involved if contributions to a single beneficiary are more than $15,000 during the year.

If the child decides not to go to school, it’s possible to roll the account over into the name of another family member. If the funds aren’t used for education-related expenses, there may be taxes and penalties.

Generous family and friends can also contribute to a child’s college savings plan. They may choose to make deposits to an existing 529 account or set up one themselves, naming a beneficiary of their choosing.

Coverdell Education Savings Account

This account has more limitations but may offer more features for some. Individuals who have a modified gross adjusted income (MAGI) that falls below $110,000 ($220,000 if filing jointly) may be eligible to save for college using a Coverdell Education Savings account.

There can be up to $2,000 in contributions for a single beneficiary in a given year. Contributions are made after taxes and must be made in cash. Typically, the funds can be withdrawn without a fee to be used for qualified education expenses.

The Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) Account

This custodial account allows your child to own stocks and mutual funds. The custodian still controls the account until the minor reaches legal age. Note that it’s not tax-free.

Annual contributions that exceed $15,000 may be subject to gift tax. It’s possible that a UGMA may reduce the amount of financial aid eligibility. Additionally, there is no penalty should the funds not be used for education expenses.

IRA Accounts

Although generally used for retirement savings, IRAs can at times be used to pay for the cost of college. There are two types of IRAs: traditional and Roth. The main difference between the two:

•   Roth IRA: The taxes on the account are paid up front and money withdrawn at retirement is generally tax-free.
•   Traditional IRA: Taxes are paid when the money is withdrawn.

Generally, to make fee-free withdrawals from an IRA, the account holder needs to be at least 59 ½ years old. But IRAs can be used to pay for qualified education expenses, including tuition, books, and supplies.

Individuals can generally avoid the 10% early withdrawal fee if the account has been open for at least five years or if it is used for qualified education expenses.

Keep in mind that while there may not be an early withdrawal fee, the earnings withdrawn may still be subject to income tax.

Easing the Financial Burden

Even after years of diligent saving, paying the full cost of college tuition isn’t an option for some families. They simply can’t afford their children’s college education costs. In these cases, there are a few options to fill the gaps and help students pay for college.

Students getting ready to start college or those who are already enrolled could look into options like scholarships, grants, or private student loans.

Consider filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). This is the first step in qualifying for federal aid, including scholarships and grants, work study, and federal student loans.

Scholarships

These can be a powerful asset when paying for college since it’s money that doesn’t have to be paid back.

Scholarships are typically merit-based and can be offered through a variety of different types of organizations like local nonprofits, corporations, or even sometimes directly from universities. There are a number of searchable databases that compile different scholarship opportunities.

Grants

These are also sources of funding that don’t need to be repaid. Unlike scholarships, grants are typically need-based.

The US Department of Education offers federal grants to students, including Pell Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH), and even Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants .

Work-Study Programs

The federal work-study program provides part-time jobs for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with financial need. These jobs allow them to earn money to help pay education expenses.

Student Loans

There are two types of student loans: federal and private. Federal student loans are awarded as a part of a student’s financial aid package and can either be subsidized or unsubsidized.

Subsidized Federal Student Loans

Subsidized student loans are awarded to eligible undergraduate students based on need. The federal government covers the interest on these loans during the time the student is in school at least half-time, during the six-month grace period after leaving school, and during deferment periods.

Unsubsidized Federal Student Loans

Unsubsidized student loans are not awarded based on financial need, and are available to both undergraduate and graduate students. The borrower is responsible for paying the interest on a Direct Unsubsidized Loan from the time of disbursement. If the borrower chooses not to pay the interest while in school, during grace periods, or while in deferment, the interest will accrue and be added to the loan principal.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are borrowed from a privately owned lending institution. Typically, for someone to get a private student loan, lenders will evaluate the borrower’s credit history, which isn’t the case with most federal student loans. This is why some borrowers rely on a co-signer to secure private student loans.

Typically, borrowers will be required to begin making payments on private student loans right away, even while they are currently attending school.

An Alternative Way to Finance College

Some parents might consider taking out a parent student loan to help their kids pay for college. The federal government makes Direct PLUS loans available to parents and graduate students.

The interest rate for the 2020-2021 school year on a Direct PLUS loan is 5.30% and it’s fixed for the life of the loan. It’s recommended to exhaust all federal benefits first.

Saving for Yourself

Saving for your child’s education is important, but so are your other financial goals and priorities like setting up an emergency fund and saving for retirement. A realistic financial plan and budget could be a useful tool to help you as you work toward each of your goals.

Some private lenders, like SoFi, offer private parent student loans. SoFi’s parent student loans have flexible terms and offer a competitive interest rate to those who qualify. It takes just a few minutes to see the rates you pre-qualify for.

The Takeaway

It’s never too late to start saving for college. There are a variety of accounts that are specifically designed to help families save for their children’s future college education, including 529 savings plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts.

Beyond savings, students and their families rely on things like scholarships, grants, and student loans to help cover the cost of higher education.

Learn more about SoFi’s parent student loans.



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How Much Does GPA Matter When Applying to College

How Much Does GPA Matter When Applying to College?

When deciding which applicants to accept, colleges and universities typically look for the best of the best. But, that doesn’t always mean the “best” is the person with the highest grades in high school.

Yes, a student’s grade point average, or GPA, is a good metric for measuring just what and how successfully they completed their high school course, but how much does a student’s GPA really matter for college admission? It depends.

Keep reading to find out when it matters, when it doesn’t, and all the other factors college admissions take into account beyond a student’s GPA.

Weighted vs Unweighted GPA

Traditionally, high schools measure a student’s academic performance on an unweighted GPA scale, meaning the number only goes up to a 4.0 for an A in a class. This measurement method does not take into account the difficulty level of classes, so an honors English class will be measured in the same way as a non-honors class.

On the other hand, weighted GPAs do take into account the difficulty level of a student’s coursework. Most weighted GPA scales measure from a 0 to a 5.0. This means, an AP-level or honors level class could earn a student a 5.0, while a lower-level class will only reward A work with a 4.0.

A weighted scale could offer students a bit more flexibility when it comes to their overall GPA. Say a student is taking four classes, one is an honors level course and the three others are typical classes. If that student receives an A in their honors class it would account for a 5.0, an A in two other courses denoting a 4.0 and a 4.0, and a B in the last at a 3.0. Despite receiving a B in a course, that would still measure out to a 4.0 GPA.

Do Colleges Look at Weighted vs. Unweighted?

Colleges typically do take into account a student’s GPA when considering their application. However, college admissions also look deeper into a student’s entire coursework too. This means, if a student has challenged themselves with AP-level or honors classes, but doesn’t have the perfect GPA, a school may look at that as a positive and see that the student challenged themselves throughout high school with more difficult coursework.

College admissions staff may also look into other things when it comes to a student’s GPA, including grade trends. If a student didn’t start out high school on the best note, but performed well during their junior and senior year with a strong GPA, admissions may see that as excellent growth and perseverance in a student’s academic career.

A “Good” GPA

Again, it’s important for students to remember that their GPA isn’t everything and that college admissions staff will likely look at much more than their grades, but, it’s also always nice to know where you stand amongst the pack.

In the United States in 2020, the average high school GPA hit 3.0 (including the approximately 35% of students who do not apply to college). This means, any student with a GPA higher than a 3.0 falls in the “above average” category. However, the average GPA for students applying to college is closer to 3.5 to 4.0, and the average for students applying to Ivy League schools can be even higher.

For example, the average high school GPA of an admitted freshman class at Harvard University sits around 4.04 on the 4.0 scale. Again, while GPA isn’t everything, it’s a good idea to keep it in mind when deciding which schools, or how many, to apply to.

What Else Do Colleges Look At?

Yes, colleges will take into account a student’s GPA. However, colleges and universities also take into account a complete picture of who a student is. That means they look into trends in a student’s grades throughout their education and likely look at a student’s test scores on the SAT or ACT.

But, college admissions also look at a student’s involvement in extracurriculars, sports teams, their involvement in their community through organizations and volunteer work and any relevant work experience.

Admissions staff will also likely weigh a student’s application using their recommendation letters, which speak to a student’s merit far beyond their grades. Admissions will also read a student’s complete application and read any required essays.

Again, a lot goes into the admissions process, and grades aren’t the end all be all. This all means what when students are preparing for college, even in their early high school years, they may want to prepare by diversifying their interests and pursuits to ensure they can tell a larger story in their application.

Colleges That Don’t Take GPA Into Account

There are schools out there with low or no minimum GPA requirements for applicants. While there are many for-profit schools that will overlook GPAs, another option may be for high school students to consider attending a community college for a year or two and transfer to a four-year university or college if that is what they feel they need.

For example, California Community Colleges do not have a minimum GPA or testing requirements for incoming students. Attending a community college could be a great way for students to learn and grow personally and academically, and to increase their academic performance before transferring.

No Matter a Student’s GPA, It’s Good to Have a Plan

Being financially prepared for college can help take some of the stress away from worrying about how a GPA will affect a student’s chances of admission.

While filling out applications, students may want to also look into all their financial options as well. This begins with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSAⓇ) to see if they are eligible for federal student aid, which include student loans from the federal government.

Beyond these options, students may also consider a private student loan via a bank or private lender. Generally, private student loans may be a great option when it comes to financing a student’s college education if federal student aid, parental contributions and scholarships do not cover the entire cost of college.

With this route, students typically fill out a loan application either alone or with a co-signer and usually qualify based on their credit score, income, or other factors. If this seems feasible, consider adding SoFi private student loans to your college financial search.

Already a SoFi member and want to learn more about the college financial process? SoFi members qualify for complimentary access to Edmit Plus, which uses data-driven facts and figures to help students decide which school is the right choice for them.

Students can use the service to personalize their search based on their or their family’s finances as well as the student’s academic merits.

Then, Edmit Plus will calculate an estimate for the financial aid available to the student at different schools, which could help students see where they’d get the most savings.

Finally, it will help build a financial strategy for individual students that includes any scholarships, loans, and even take into account the student’s future earning potential of their intended major so they get a clear picture of their financial future. Don’t worry, there’s no minimum GPA required to use this service.

The Takeaway

GPA is one factor in the college admissions process. How heavily GPA is weighted as a factor in admissions decisions may vary from school to school. Many schools will list the average GPA of admitted students, which can help give you an idea of how your GPA stacks up to students at that school. Other factors for admission might include a student’s transcript, letters of recommendation, and personal essay.

Interested in using private student loans to help pay for college? Learn more about SoFi’s no-fee student loans.



External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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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 Lending Corp. and its lending products are not endorsed by or directly affiliated with any college or university unless otherwise disclosed.

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6 Reasons to Go to College

The choice of whether or not to go to college may be the first major decision of a young adult’s life, as well as an important question for someone older looking to make a life change. There are numerous factors that go into the college application and decision-making process, from the cost, to the availability of loans, to the location and on-campus opportunities for students. And while the price of a college degree continues to increase, it’s an investment that can have major pay-offs, both financially and otherwise.

According to a 2020 Study from the website BestColleges, 82% of adult college graduates report that getting their degree was a good financial investment. It’s easy to see one reason why: according to the Federal Reserve, the average college graduate with a bachelor’s degree earns about $30,000 more annually than the average worker with a high school diploma.

Going to college can open doors to new experiences, both during and after getting a degree. While the financial opportunities that college can bring are certainly worth considering, there are so many more benefits to getting an undergraduate degree. Here’s a look at the vast benefits to becoming a college grad.

Explore Areas of Interest

Some students enter college already knowing what they want their major to be. Whether someone’s a star chemistry student going pre-med or a drama nerd ready to delve into theater, college can be a time to deepen the interests students have cultivated throughout their education.

Declaring a major sets a student up to explore a particular subject from all angles, becoming somewhat of an expert in their chosen field. A student will take numerous courses in their major, sometimes culminating in a thesis project on a specialized subject.

There are often clubs and activities in each major field, allowing students to develop communities with others who have shared interests, broadening the scope of their education.

College can also be a time to explore new areas, and can give students the chance to discover subjects they may not have known much about before.

College students are often encouraged to explore new subjects, especially in their freshman year, in order to experiment, and perhaps find a new and promising area of study.

Going to college can be a way to deepen one’s understanding of a particular subject, whether it’s something a student may have studied previously, or a completely new topic.

Either way, getting a degree is a way to open the mind and tap into a sense of intellectual curiosity in an environment conducive to rigorous and serious academic exploration.

Increase Earnings

One of the most practical arguments for going to college is to improve your earning potential. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities reviewed the impact a college degree could have on someone’s earning potential and found that millennials with a high school diploma earned just 62% of what their counterparts with a college degree earned.. And while actually achieving that college degree may cost a pretty penny, a majority of college graduates believe it was worth it.

Like any investment, there has to be money put in up front, unless you get a full scholarship or a college loan. Ideally, that upfront investment of time and money will pay off in the long run.

Open Up Potential Career Paths

While a college degree may have been a way to stand out from the crowd in the past, today it’s proving to be a prerequisite for most jobs. According to a 2019 study from the National Center for Education Statistics, 25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor’s or higher degree had an 87% employment rate, compared to a 74% employment rate for those who had only completed high school.

While going to college can be a highly rewarding experience in itself, it can be wise to consider possible career paths while selecting courses and deciding on a major. Employers may not necessarily be looking for a specific specialization when hiring, but often may appreciate someone with a well-rounded academic background.

Certain fields, however, like business and medicine, may require that students’ major field corresponds to their choice of career. When exploring different subjects during college, a student may find out about a new area they may want to pursue as a career, a huge benefit of getting an undergraduate degree as well.

Expand Your Circle

College can be a time to build the relationships that will greatly affect your life—and possibly your career. Over the course of the four years it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree, there are countless opportunities to make new connections—from the people in your dorm, to your classmates, to those you meet through extracurriculars.

College can be a time to develop a wide and varied circle, or to simply grow several deep and lasting friendships. It can also be a time to meet a romantic partner, whether the relationship is short- or longer-term.

Having a wide circle can help out in a variety of ways. From finding post-grad roommates to knowing people in the field of work one’s trying to get into, college connections can be an invaluable resource in life.

Improve Critical Thinking and Communication

The so-called “soft skills” of being a good listener or critical thinking are also in high demand by employers, and college can be a prime time to develop them. These are skills that can be honed both in and outside the classroom, and college aims to give students a well-rounded experience that helps them develop both socially and academically.

Gain Independence

College is the first time many people live away from home, and it can be a nerve wracking experience. But once students are over the hump, living on one’s own can be an extremely fun, and rewarding experience.

College can be a chance to dip one’s toes in the waters of independence, experimenting with living alone, gaining some financial independence, maintaining a budget and deciding what classes to take.

College can be the ideal stepping stone toward independence, and is a helpful way for young adults to see what adulthood can be like.

The Takeaway

While making the decision whether or not to go to college is not always easy, there are a host of good reasons to continue one’s education. The benefits can be financial, social, and intellectual, and can continue to be felt throughout an adult’s life.

The friends and connections one makes during college can enrich a person’s life and help them to network in their chosen field of work, while the financial security a college degree can offer is a major factor in the decision-making process as well.

It’s important to make an informed decision, taking all of these points into consideration. Once the decision to go to college has been made, it’s time to decide when and where to apply, how to pay for it—then, the educational journey can really begin.

Figuring out how to pay for college might be another challenge students face on their way to adulthood. Options like scholarships, grants and federal financial aid like work-study or student loans can help students finance their education. In some cases, that might not be enough to cover the full cost. Private student loans, like those offered by SoFi, can help fill the gap.

Private student loans at SoFi have no fees. Find out if you pre-qualify in just a few minutes.



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

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How Long Does It Take to Get Accepted Into College After Applying_780x440: After all the work that goes into applying for college—researching schools, taking entrance exams, writing essays—students probably welcome a feeling of relief once that application is officially submitted.

How Long Does It Take to Get Accepted Into College After Applying?

After all the work that goes into applying for college—researching schools, taking entrance exams, writing essays—students probably welcome a feeling of relief once that application is officially submitted.

The relief may be instant, but also fleeting. The next phase of getting into college can be painstaking because it’s the waiting phase. Waiting to get those letters in the mail for the result of all that effort can be frustrating.

One thing that can help to minimize the stress during this waiting period is finding out when those decision letters are sent out! Once it’s more clear when your acceptance letters will be arriving, it might be easier to relax in the meantime.

So, how long does it take to get accepted into college after applying? Acceptance letters don’t have one standard date for being sent out. There are a few different types of college applications with different submission dates and, therefore, different dates when the decisions go out.

Check out these different types of applications and see how their submission deadlines and acceptance date periods differ.

Types of Applications

Just as there isn’t a standard date for acceptance letters to be sent out, there isn’t one standard submission date for applications, either. There are a few early submission options available, as well as regular submission and rolling admissions. The due date of the application will depend on which type of application is being submitted, and this will also determine when you receive the school’s decision.

There are a few options for applying early: early decision, early action, and single-choice early action.

Early Decision

The early decision application is binding, meaning that students who are accepted are committed to enrolling. Because this application is binding, students can only apply to one school as an early decision. These applications are due in November and the decisions go out in December. If students decide to apply with this early decision option, this school should be their top choice, the one they’d prefer to go to over all others.

Early Action

The early action application is similar to the early decision in regard to the due date (due in November) and decision timeframe (decisions go out in December), but it differs in that it isn’t binding. It’s okay to apply to multiple schools via early action, and if you’re accepted you’re not required to enroll.

Single Choice Early Action

This option is similar to the early decision in that students can only apply to one school this way, but it’s not binding. If students choose to apply to a school via single-choice early action, it’s a way of saying they’re especially interested in attending that school. The deadline and acceptance period is the same as the other early options.

When it comes to applying early, no matter which type of early application you choose, the applications will usually be due in November and decisions will be sent out in December.

Regular Decision

Regular decision applications are the most common of the application options. For these applications, the deadline is usually in January or February and the decision letters go out by April. The deadline for submitting your application will differ between schools, so make sure to check the website for each school and mark the dates on a calendar.

Rolling Admission

Rolling admission allows students to apply until the school runs out of space. Sometimes applications are accepted until April, and sometimes even later. Students are encouraged to apply using the same deadline as the regular decision to have a better chance of being accepted before the colleges run out of spaces.

Some colleges will also have differing numbers of spots open based on specific majors, so it’s important to check that availability at each school the student is applying to. If the major the student lists on an application is impacted at some schools, it might be better to apply by the deadline for regular applications since impacted majors are likely to have more students apply than there are spots available. The average turnaround for rolling admission is about four to six weeks , so the date that decisions are sent out will depend on when students submit their application.

For students who are still undecided about where to go to college, check out this quiz for help deciding on a type of college. Once students have a list of schools they’d like to go to, they can rank them by preference and start deciding when to apply.

The Dreaded Waitlist

After waiting for one to two months to receive a school’s decision, it can be frustrating to open that letter or email and see that there’s more waiting to do. Being on the school’s waitlist isn’t necessarily bad, however.

There are many reasons that students end up on the waitlist. They may have met the academic criteria to get into the school, but the school might not have space yet for these students.

Most schools will require students to contact them and accept their spot on the waitlist to be considered for admission, so don’t forget that step.

Since the number of students that can be accepted from a waitlist depends on the number of students who choose to enroll, students on the waitlist won’t hear back until after decision day.

Decision day is May 1st, and it’s the day that seniors are required to notify their school that they accept their admission and will enroll.

After the decision day, the schools will know how many students will enroll, and then they’ll be able to start accepting students from the waitlist if there’s space. This means students on the waitlist can expect to hear back from their school by the end of May, but sometimes it can take up until the Fall semester starts to hear back.

Paying for College

Planning for college goes beyond getting accepted. Once accepted, students have to figure out how they’ll be paying for tuition, books, and housing. Luckily, there are many good options for financing higher education, which can include financial aid from the government (grants and/or loans), scholarships, and private loans.

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the form students will need to complete as the first step in applying for student aid. Depending on a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), they may be eligible for federal student loans, grants, or work-study.

Grants don’t usually have to be repaid, but loans do. The amount of aid students can receive from the federal government will depend on their financial need, so not everyone will be eligible.

Federal student loans come with some benefits that are not guaranteed by private student loans, like lower fixed interest rates and flexible repayment options. This is important to take into account when choosing where to take out loans.

Scholarships can be merit based, meaning they’re awarded based on some kind of achievement, or need based. There are many scholarships available, and it’s perfectly acceptable to apply to as many as possible to further the chances of receiving one—or more. Some scholarships are specific to a school or the local community, so check your school’s website for information.

Private loans may be another option for paying for college. Since every financial institution is different, it’s good to do some research first and explore options available. Loan amounts and rates will depend on an applicant’s financial situation. Factors such as an applicant’s credit history and income are typically taken into account, and those with little of either may need a cosigner to be approved for a private loan.

To learn more about private student loans, college-bound students—and their parents—might want to check out this guide to private student loans. It’s fairly common to use multiple avenues to fund a college education.

Even if the cost of attendance might be covered by scholarships, grants, or federal student loans, there may be other costs of living a student might need assistance for. That’s where private student loans can be helpful when considered responsibly.

It’s difficult to anticipate every cost that might pop up, and private student loans are an option at any time throughout the school year, not just before the term starts.

Taking some time to think about college costs and how to pay for the upcoming years of education can be a wise way to spend that time waiting for all of those acceptance letters to come rolling in.

Learn more about private student loans through 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.

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

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

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.
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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A Guide to Ivy League Colleges

Being accepted to an Ivy League college is something some students work toward all their lives—but there’s more to gaining admission to these schools than good grades and a long list of extracurriculars.

With admission rates getting tougher every year (averaging 7.2% in 2020 compared to 13.9% in 2010) there’s a heightened sense of competition among top students in high schools across the country and around the world.

What Are the Different Ivy League Schools?

While Ivy League colleges have much in common, each school has its own unique reputation and characteristics that attract different kinds of students.

Brown University

Located in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown is known for its humanities programs as well as its Warren Alpert Medical School. Its open curriculum allows for a relatively freeform educational model where students are encouraged to take classes they like without having to accumulate certain requirements, and gives students the option of taking as many classes as they want on the basis of pass-fail.

Columbia University

Located in New York City, Columbia is the most diverse Ivy with 70% of undergraduates identifying as students of color, and has the highest percentage of international students at any Ivy League, with 17% of its student body coming from foreign countries. This cosmopolitan college is host to renowned business, journalism, and law schools, and requires students to adhere to its core curriculum, which focuses largely on liberal arts.

Cornell University

Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell is one of the largest Ivy League universities, occupying a sprawling campus in this scenic upstate town. Known for its agriculture and engineering schools, Cornell also has strong Greek life and a wide range of athletic programs.

Dartmouth College

Located in Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth is the most rural of the Ivies, drawing a student body interested in the outdoors and Greek life—58% of students participate in sororities or fraternities. Its somewhat smaller student body allows for more one-on-one attention in classes and a strong sense of community on campus.

Harvard University

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Harvard encourages students to take a wide range of courses through their general education requirements, which allows students to broaden their interests and take advantage of intellectual curiosities. The school has 12 residential houses that seek to foster a sense of community in an otherwise imposing setting.

The University of Pennsylvania

Located in Philadelphia, Penn is known for its four distinct undergraduate colleges, including the Wharton School of Business and the College of Arts and Science. Students have the option of taking part in Greek life, and are also encouraged to explore opportunities in the greater Philadelphia area, from internships to the wide array of cultural events available.

Princeton University

Located in Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University offers either a liberal arts or engineering and applied science degree for undergraduate students, with both programs including general education requirements. Princeton is known for its international affairs and engineering programs, as well as their storied eating clubs, which serve as coed dining halls and social centers for students, and are comparable to non-residential fraternities or sororities.

Yale University

Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University is known for its creative writing and arts programs, as well as a residential college program and an array of secret societies. It’s also home to a renowned graduate drama program and law school.

Benefits of Attending an Ivy League School

For those who get that coveted acceptance letter, the benefits can be worth the years of hard work it took to get in. From growing your network to gaining access to world-renowned resources and professors at the top of their field, attending an Ivy League school can set students on an accelerated path to intellectual and professional success.

Having an Ivy League school on your resume may open countless doors when it comes to applying for jobs, fellowships, or graduate programs and may provide a leg up when it comes to advancing your career.

The amount of funding available at Ivy League schools may provide a major draw as well. All Ivy League schools have need-blind admissions policies, meaning that admissions officers will not look at a student’s financial need when considering their application, and have a promise to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need determined based on household income.

Brown, Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton take things one step further, packaging aid with no loans for each student. Ivy League schools also have incredible funding opportunities for research and travel for students, allowing them to broaden their interests and perspectives.

The Cost of an Ivy League School and Options for Paying for Tuition

All of the Ivy League schools are private universities, which usually implies a hefty price for tuition. The average undergraduate tuition for an Ivy League school for the 2020-2021 school year was $55,868, plus room and board. But due to these universities’ impressive endowments, ranging from Brown’s $4.7 billion to Harvard’s staggering $41.9 billion, these schools are able to offer generous financial aid packages to prospective students.

While Ivy League schools do not offer merit-based or athletic scholarships, there are generally a wide variety of need-based scholarships awarded to students depending on their household income.

A student’s household income is equal to the combined gross income of all people occupying the household unit who are 15 years of age or older. Among Brown’s class of 2022, for example, 98% of students with household incomes below $60,000 received an average of $71,659 in financial assistance —nearly full rides, including room and board. For families making between $100,000 and $125,000, 97% of students receive need-based aid for an average annual package of $52,374.

In addition to aid offered by Ivy League schools directly, students or their parents may choose private student loans to help ease the burden of paying college tuition.

Students should exhaust all federal student aid options before considering private student loans. But if there is still a gap between federal student aid and the remaining cost of attendance, a private loan may be an option for some students.

GPA Requirements for Ivy League Schools

An impressive grade point average (GPA) is only one aspect of a student’s college application. However, to even be considered for admission to an Ivy League school, students may want to see if their own GPA falls within the average for admitted students. Among the Ivies that release statistics on accepted students’ GPAs, the average weighted GPA is about 4.0, meaning mostly As.

How to Make an Application More Competitive

In addition to a high GPA and impressive SAT and/or ACT scores, prospective students will need to prove themselves in other ways to gain admission to an Ivy League school.

Excelling in advanced courses, like honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes throughout high school may improve students’ chances of admissions, especially if students show a particular area of interest, like science or humanities.

While in the past, college admissions counselors would advise students to be “well-rounded” candidates, it’s now advisable to develop and demonstrate a passion for a particular subject area, which helps Ivies to build a more overall well-rounded student body.

Students can show their interests beyond academics by taking part in extracurricular activities. By engaging in activities early in high school and growing that interest over time, students show their commitment and enthusiasm for a particular area.

Strong interviews and letters of recommendation can also improve a student’s application, along with a strong personal essay. Ivy League admissions teams look for essays that highlight a student’s best qualities, perhaps expressed through a personal anecdote or description of a unique passion that displays a candidate’s distinctive character.

Hitting the “Submit” Button

Following these tips may help improve a student’s Ivy League application, helping to gain admission to one or more of the most prestigious universities in the world. Of course, there are many schools that have the same academic rigor of an Ivy League, and it’s generally advisable to sprinkle in one or two “safety” schools for good measure.

But once students have decided if they want to apply to an Ivy League school, determined which is the right one for them, applied for financial aid and completed their applications, it’s time to hit submit!

The Takeaway

Considering an Ivy League school’s admission rate, along with its particular academic program and financial aid statistics can help determine which is the right school to apply to.

It can be helpful to have a range of options when it comes to paying for tuition, in case a school’s financial aid package doesn’t cover the full price.

A private student loan from SoFi may be able to assist students and their families in managing the increasing tuition and fees of an Ivy League education, helping to ensure that admitted students can take full advantage of the benefits of these institutions.

Learn how a private student loan from SoFi can help meet college costs.



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 Lending Corp. and its lending products are not endorsed by or directly affiliated with any college or university unless otherwise disclosed.

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

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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