Pell Grant Eligibility: What Are the Income Limits?

Pell Grants are grants awarded by the federal government to help students pay for college. While there is no specific income limit for a Pell Grant, students generally must demonstrate “exceptional financial need” to qualify.

Here’s more information about how Pell Grants work, the Pell Grant eligibility requirements, and what it takes to qualify.

What Is a Pell Grant?

A Pell Grant is funding from the U.S. Department of Education awarded to undergraduate students who have a high degree of financial need. The amount students can receive with a Pell Grant typically changes annually. For the 2023-24 academic year, the maximum Pell Grant award is $7,395.

Unlike some other types of need-based financial aid, a federal Pell Grant does not need to be repaid.

Because of the rising college tuition, financial aid like Pell Grants could help make school more affordable for students who qualify.

Pell Grant Eligibility Criteria

To see if you meet the Federal Pell Grant eligibility requirements, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

FAFSA is one of the important financial aid terms to become familiar with. The FAFSA will help a college or university determine whether you qualify for a Pell Grant and if so, how much you may receive. You’ll have to fill out the FAFSA every year you attend school.

You Pell Grant eligibility will also depend on:

•  Student Aid Index (SAI) Formerly called Expected Family Contribution (EFC), your SAI is a number your school uses to determine the amount of financial aid you qualify for. Your SAI is calculated using a formula that may include your family’s income and assets and the size of your family.

•  Cost of attendance (COA) This is what it will cost for your schooling for the year. Your COA includes tuition, room, board, fees, books, and supplies for your college or particular degree program.

•  Whether you’re attending school full-time or part-time

In addition to all of the above, other Pell Grant eligibility requirements include:

U.S. Citizen or Eligible Noncitizen

To qualify for a Pell Grant, you must be a U.S. citizen or a certain type of noncitizen. An eligible noncitizen includes the following individuals:

•  U.S. nationals

•  U.S. permanent residents with a Permanent Resident Card, Resident Alien Card, or Alien Registration Receipt Card

•  People with T nonimmigrant status (they have a T-visa or their parent has one)

•  Battered immigrant-qualified aliens

•  Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, or the Republic of Palau

Check with your school’s financial aid office to determine if you qualify as an eligible noncitizen.

High School Diploma or Equivalent

To qualify for Pell Grant eligibility, you must be an undergraduate college student. Those who have already earned a bachelor’s, graduate, or professional degree are ineligible. However, in certain cases, students who are in a postbaccalaureate teacher certification program may qualify for a Pell Grant.

Enrollment Status

Your eligibility for a Pell Grant depends on your college enrollment status and whether you’re a full-time or part-time student.

Pell Grants are prorated for part-time students and depend on the number of enrolled credits they plan to take.

No Defaulted Federal Student Loans

If you’ve defaulted on a federal student loan, you’ll be unable to qualify for a Pell Grant until you get out of default. You can get out of default by fully repaying the loan, rehabilitating the loan, or consolidating it.

To rehabilitate a loan, you’ll need to make nine monthly payments on the defaulted loan within 20 days of the due date for 10 consecutive months. With consolidation, you consolidate your defaulted loan into a Direct Consolidation Loan and agree to pay the new loan on an income-driven repayment plan or you must make three consecutive on-time payments in full on the old loan before you consolidate it.

Recommended: I Didn’t Get Enough Financial Aid: Now What?

Selective Service Registration

To receive money for financial aid, male students used to have to sign up for the Selective Service. However, because of the FAFSA Simplification Act passed by Congress in late 2020, male students no longer have to sign up for Selective Service registration as a prerequisite for financial aid.

However, almost all males between 18 and 25 must register with Selective Service within 30 days of turning 18. If they don’t, they may face a felony charge, a fine of up to $250,000, and jail time of up to five years.

Sexual Offense

The FAFSA Simplification Act also restored Pell Grant eligibility to confined or incarcerated individuals. They must enroll in an eligible prison education program (PEP) to get a Pell Grant.

Individuals convicted of a forcible or nonforcible sexual offense are not eligible to receive a Pell Grant. However, starting July 1, 2023, those who are subject to an involuntary civil commitment for a sexual offense may qualify for a Pell Grant.

Income Limits

There are no Pell Grant eligibility income limits. Federal Pell Grant eligibility is based on SAI, not income.

Age Limit

Nor are there age limits on Pell Grants. Older adult students can apply for a Pell Grant by filling out the FAFSA form and following the requirements for the school they plan to attend.

Time Limit

There is a time limit for a Pell Grant, however. You can receive a Pell Grant for 12 terms, which is roughly six years, and no more.

Pell Grant Income Eligibility Chart

As mentioned, the Pell Grant is not based on income. Instead, it’s based on your SAI and college cost of attendance. You can get an estimated amount of the grant you might receive by checking the Pell Grant eligibility income chart at studentaid.gov.

Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility

By law, you are limited to six years of Pell Grant funding over your lifetime.

Other Ways to Fund a College Education

Besides qualifying for Pell Grant eligibility, there are a variety of options for paying for your college education. These include:

•  Scholarships: Scholarships are merit-based aid that you don’t have to pay back. You can find scholarships through your college or university, your local community, and certain organizations you or your parents might belong to.

•  Grants: Like scholarships, grants for college usually don’t need to be repaid. They can come from your federal or state government, your college, or a private or nonprofit organization.

•  Student loans: A student loan is a type of financial aid you use to borrow money and then repay it later with interest. There are federal student loans, which come from the federal government, and private student loans from private lenders. Comparing student loans can help you decide the best type of loan for your needs.

If you take out student loans, and you’d like to reduce your payments or get more favorable terms after graduation, student loan refinancing is an option to explore. When you refinance, you replace your old loans with a new loan that ideally has a lower interest rate or better terms that might help you save money.

While borrowers with good credit may find it easier to qualify for refinancing and get a lower rate, there are even options for bad credit refinancing that borrowers with poor credit could explore.

While student loan refinancing has benefits, it’s important to know that refinancing federal student loans makes them ineligible for federal protections and programs like income-driven repayment plans. If you may need access to these programs, refinancing might not be the best option for you.

The Takeaway

A Pell Grant can help cover some of the cost of college for those who qualify, and the money awarded doesn’t have to be repaid. Pell Grant eligibility is based on your SAI and your college’s cost of attendance. Find out if you qualify by filling out the FAFSA.

Another potential way to save money on what you owe for your college education is to refinance your student loans, which might help you get a lower interest rate. When you refinance a student loan with SoFi, you’ll find low fixed or variable rates, flexible terms, and no fees. And you can learn if you prequalify in just two minutes.

Check your student loan refinancing rate today with SoFi.


Photo credit: iStock/Courtney Hale
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.


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.

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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Supporting Your Child in the College Application Process

The college application process can be an exciting and stressful time for both students and parents. For your child, it may be one of the first times they have had to take action and make decisions that could have a lasting impact on their 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 the process even more stressful than it already is.

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.

Avoid 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, you don’t necessarily want to be 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, you may want to take the opportunity to give them some guidance and gentle reminders.


💡 Quick Tip: You can fund your education with a low-rate, no-fee private student loan that covers all school-certified costs.

Listen 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.

It’s a good idea to 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.

Know 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, you’ll want to be careful to avoid nagging or bringing it up too often.

Avoid 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 League school.

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.

Visit Campuses

If your child’s top schools are close by, you may want to take a day off of work to visit each campus 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.

Encourage 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.

Recommended: College Planning Guide for High School Students

Let 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.

Talk 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 been saving for your child’s college education, talk with them about how far it will go and what they can use the money for.

You may also want to talk to them about the different types of 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.


💡 Quick Tip: Parents and sponsors with strong credit and income may find much lower rates on no-fee private parent student loans than federal parent PLUS loans. Federal PLUS loans also come with an origination fee.

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.

It’s also important to have 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’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.


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



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


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


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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Pros and Cons of Online School

Pros and Cons of Online School

Whether you’re attending college for the first time or returning to finish your degree, you may have the opportunity to choose online vs. in-person classes. Though online college has been a niche offering in higher education for over a decade, it’s become more popular and commonplace in recent years. This is in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when many institutions were forced to shut down and adapt to distance learning. Though campuses have since opened back up, many students are opting to continue their studies online.

Online school offers benefits like flexibility and convenience. On the other hand, online learning can make it difficult for students to connect with their peers. It can also make it harder to grasp concepts that require more hands-on learning. What follows is a closer look at the pros and cons of online school.

What is Online School?

Online school is a format of education where classes are conducted virtually. Some colleges are designed specifically for online learning. Other colleges and universities may offer both in-person and remote learning options for students. Depending on the program, classes may be offered synchronously, where students attend via an online forum at a specific time; asynchronously, where lectures are recorded and can be viewed at a student’s leisure; or a hybrid model of the two.

While detractors of online learning say that it can be a pale imitation of in-person learning, there are several key advantages, including convenience and cost.


💡 Quick Tip: Fund your education with a low-rate, no-fee SoFi private student loan that covers all school-certified costs.

Pros of Online School

When schools pivoted to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience was generally set up ad-hoc and created to ride out the crisis. But many online programs have been constructed with online learning at the front of mind. This means that they may be thoughtfully designed in a way that supports distance learning.

When considering online schools, you’ll want to make sure that the program is accredited by an organization recognized by either the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accredited. This can help students avoid any online scams.

Part of analyzing whether online school will be successful for you is knowing yourself. The pandemic allowed a lot of people to obtain deep insight into whether working remotely — either at work or school — was productive or even enjoyable. It has also given some people confidence that, even if in-person is preferred, online is doable and may not be as challenging as they may have thought in the past. That said, if you think online school might be right for you, here are some other factors to consider.

Cost May Be Lower

No buildings and no in-person instruction means less expensive tuition, right? Not necessarily. While some institutions that specifically invest in online learning may be less expensive, you may find that online tuition is commensurate whether or not you go in person, depending on the program.

If cost is the primary factor in pursuing online education, it may be a good idea to look at universities and degree programs that specialize in online learning, as they may create pricing based on an online-first business model.

Recommended: How to Pay For Online College

More Convenient

A huge benefit to online school is that many programs are structured knowing that students may also be juggling career and family responsibilities. This can translate into asynchronous learning — lesson modules that can be done on your own time — rather than a mandatory lecture you need to attend at a set time and place.

Still, the time commitment required to attend online school can be challenging when you’re going to school and working at the same time. Even if you don’t need to be in class at a certain time, there will still be due dates, studying, and exams to contend with.

Self-Directed Course of Study

On a similar note, many fans of online courses like that the course can be more self-directed, allowing you to take control of your education on your own timeline. This may mean you need to be more proactive about scheduling office hours with professors, blocking out time to study, and making sure that assignments are turned in on time.

Cons of Online School

While some people thrive in an online environment, others may prefer to have in-person interaction. Here’s a look at some of the disadvantages of online school.

Limited Hands-On Experience

Some degree programs that have a lab component may be harder to mimic online. Some degrees accept virtual labs, while other degrees may require a “wet lab” (a.k.a. a hands-on lab). You’ll want to check what your degree needs, and confirm that all coursework can be done entirely online. It can also be helpful to speak with current students in the program to hear any of their frustrations.

Lack of Community

Some people find it hard to connect with classmates and may find group projects or virtual small groups to be much less engaging than they might otherwise have been if they had been in person.

Harder to Connect with Professors

Some professors maximize online interaction, while some may be harder to pin down and connect with. Heading to office hours, even if they are virtual, can help you build a connection and get to know the professor.

Limited Access to On-Campus Resources

If the online school you’re attending also has a brick-and-mortar campus, there may be resources for career development as well as on-campus events related to your department. It may be worth assessing how virtual students can tap into these resources and what resources are accessible to them.

Longer Timeframe

The flip side of a more convenient schedule means that courses may be more spread out. What could be a one- or two-year program in a full-time setting could potentially take several years if done virtually.

Recommended: Can You Get Student Loans for Community College?

Additional Considerations for Online School

Being able to pursue higher education remotely can open up possibilities for many individuals. But it can be a good idea to consider how online school will mesh with your life. Here are some tips that can help you find your best fit.

Talk with Other Students

It can be helpful to speak with current students who are in a similar position as you. Talking with a student who is also juggling family or a career can help you see how the process plays out in real life.

Sit in on a Lecture

Will the program allow you to virtually sit in on the lecture or see some course materials? Doing so can help you see how the program plays out in real life.

Take an Online Course

In some cases, online school can be an expensive undertaking. Prior to applying to an official degree program, consider taking a virtual course, either for fun or for credit hours. Taking a virtual course without the pressure of a degree can help you take stock of the pros and cons for yourself, and assess whether or not online learning is right for you.

Consider How You’ll Cover the Cost

If you are planning to do a degree program alongside working, you may want to speak with your employer. It may be possible that they can subsidize the cost of the degree if it is relevant to your career.

If your employer won’t cover the cost, you may want to consider the potential salary advancement you might get out of the program, which could offset your out-of-pocket expenses. It’s also a good idea to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to find out what financial aid (including scholarships, grants, and federal student loans) you may qualify for.

You may then be able to fill in gaps in funding using private student loans. These are available through banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Loan limits vary from lender to lender, but you can often get up to the total cost of attendance, which gives you more borrowing power than with the federal government. Interest rates vary depending on the lender. Generally, borrowers (or cosigners) who have strong credit qualify for the lowest rates.

Just keep in mind that private loans may not offer the borrower protections — like deferment or forbearance — that automatically come with federal student loans.


💡 Quick Tip: It’s a good idea to understand the pros and cons of private student loans and federal student loans before committing to them.

The Takeaway

Going to school — whether it’s online or in-person — is a major decision. It’s important to consider pros and cons, including cost, as you assess whether it’s right for you. Speaking with people who’ve done the degree or work in your chosen career field can help you assess whether or not the program could help you achieve your goals and aspirations.

Taking the time to do the research, and potentially dipping your toe into online learning with one or two courses, can help you decide how online school may fit into your life and future plans.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.


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

Photo credit: iStock/insta_photos


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


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


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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Top Medical School Scholarships For Students

Top Medical School Scholarships For Students

Attending medical school can be an extremely rewarding path, but it can also be an expensive one. Luckily, there are some great medical school scholarships that can help ease the financial burden. Students thinking about attending medical school, or those who are currently enrolled, may want to look into scholarships for medical school.

There are plenty of scholarships for medical students as well as general scholarships that could help you cover the cost of college. Here’s a roundup of the best medical student scholarships, how much they’re worth, and how to apply for them.

Brown Medical and Educational Foundation Scholarship

Dollar amount: Approximately $1,000

Application process: To apply for this scholarship, students must complete an application, submit an official college or university transcript in a sealed envelope, and submit three letters of recommendation.

Eligibility: To qualify for this scholarship, which could help with paying for college, students must be an undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree at a U.S. based four-year university while studying a healthcare degree such as nursing, dentistry, medicine, and allied health. They must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Recipients must also identify as a member of select ethnic groups and must be U.S. citizens.

Recommended: Finding Free Money for College

Chinese American Physicians Society Scholarships

Dollar amount: $3,000 to $5,000

Application process: The application for the 2023-2024 school year is set to open in December 2023. Applicants can expect to submit essays as a part of the application.

Eligibility: To receive a Chinese American Physicians Society Scholarship, applicants must be a student at a U.S.-based medical school. Applicants are judged on their financial needs, academic achievements, essays, and community service records. Special credit is given to applicants who are planning to serve Chinese communities after they graduate.

Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund

Dollar amount: Covers the cost of tuition, plus an additional stipend for living expenses

Applicant process: The Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund requires students to submit their application through the dean of the university at the school they are attending for graduate studies. Students can connect with their school’s fellowship or financial aid office to learn more about what the application process looks like for students at their school. Only certain schools participate in this program.

Eligibility: Students must be U.S. citizens and attend a U.S.-based accredited and designated higher education institution as a graduate student in the fields of humanities, social sciences or natural sciences. They must have an outstanding record as an undergraduate and have financial need. National descent is not taken into consideration.

Recommended: Finding & Applying to Scholarships for Grad School

The Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship

Dollar amount: For the 2023-2024 school year, the National Hispanic Health Foundation will give awards of $5,000 annually for up to four years, plus individual scholarship awards of $2,00 each. Overall, the NHHF has awarded $1,954,000 to 346 awardees as of January 2023.

Application process: By September 15, 2023, applicants must submit the following supporting documents as a part of their application for the The Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship:

•   Personal statement or essay that is double-spaced and a maximum of two pages outlining their career goals

•   Curriculum vitae that shares up to date employment experience, education history, extracurricular activities, and awards

•   One letter of recommendation

•   Proof of their U.S. citizenship DACA status, or residency

•   Unofficial copy of their school transcripts

•   Proof of enrollment

Eligibility: To be eligible for this scholarship opportunity, students must have a 3.0 GPA and be currently enrolled full time in a U.S. graduate program studying one of the following subjects:

•   Medicine (allopathic or osteopathic)

•   Dentistry

•   Pharmacy

•   Nursing (including BSN)

•   Public Health

•   Physician Associate

Joseph Collins Scholarship

Dollar amount: $10,000

Application process: Applicants for the Joseph Collins Scholarship must demonstrate an interest in the arts and letters or another type of cultural pursuit that falls outside of the field of medicine and needs to show an intent to specialize in psychiatry, neurourology, or become a general practitioner.

Eligibility: The moral character of the applicant and their scholastic record will be taken into account. Students who are attending medical schools east of the Mississippi river and are ranked in the top 50% of their class are eligible to apply.

The National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program

Dollar amount: Full year of scholarship support (tuition and fees plus monthly stipends) for up to four years).

Application process: To apply for the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program, applicants must pass an eligibility screening, submit general information about themselves, their degree, and their backgrounds, as well as providing two letters of recommendation, and writing an essay.

In return, recipients of this scholarship will work in primary care in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). The time commitment may vary based on how much aid the student received.

Eligibility: To be eligible for this scholarship, applicants have to be either a U.S. citizen or a U.S. national and be able to submit proof of their status. Applicants must also be enrolled as full-time students and attend an accredited school or academic program in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory. They must be studying to be a physician, dentist, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or physician assistant.

MPOWER Global Citizenship Scholarship

Dollar amount: One $10,000 award and two $2,000 awards

Application process: To apply for this scholarship program, applicants must complete the application form provided by MPOWER. There is one essay question.

Eligibility: Recipients of the MPOWER Global Citizenship Scholarship must be international students that are legally allowed to work and attend school in either the U.S. or Canada. They must also be enrolled in a U.S. or Canadian school that MPOWER supports.

Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

Dollar amount: Up to $90,000 in financial support over two years.

Application process: In order to apply for the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, students must submit the following information and materials in an online application.

•   Personal and contact information

•   Higher-education history

•   Information about the graduate program they are seeking support for

•   Three to five recommendations

•   Resume

•   Two essays

•   College and graduate school transcripts

•   Standardized test scores

•   Optional exhibits (such as artwork, examples of written work, and so on)

Eligibility: Applicants must be aged 30 or younger by the time of the application deadline and need to plan on either starting or continuing a full-time graduate degree program in the U.S.

Students may apply before they begin graduate school or while they are enrolled. Applicants must also meet the scholarship’s definition of “new American,” which is an individual whose birth parents were born outside of the U.S. as non-U.S. citizens.

Pisacano Scholars Leadership Program

Dollar amount: $7,000 per year up to four years.

Application process: Applications can be mailed or emailed and must included the following information:

•   Official copy of undergraduate and graduate school transcript if applicable

•   Official copy of medical school transcript

•   Copy of MCAT scores

•   Copy of USMLE score or COMLEX score

•   Copy of current CV

•   Essay

Eligibility: In order to qualify for the Pisacano Scholars Leadership Program, applicants must be third-year medical students who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the specialty of family medicine.

Leadership skills, academic achievements, communication skills, identifiable character and integrity, and community service involvement will all be taken into consideration.

How Student Loan Refinancing Can Help

Those students who already have medical school debt and may no longer be eligible for medical school scholarships may want to consider refinancing their existing student loans. Under the right terms, refinancing student loans could help lower their monthly payments. Refinancing student loans involves consolidating student loans through a private lender into a new loan that ideally comes with a lower interest rate and better term.

If the applicant can secure a better interest rate, they may end up paying less over the life of their loan. However, if they lengthen the term of the loan to reduce their monthly payments, they may end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan.

When a borrower applies to refinance their loan or loans, the lender will generally take their credit score, credit history, and other key financial information into consideration to determine their rates and terms.

It’s important to know that refinancing federal student loans into private ones causes the borrower to lose out on federal protections such as forbearance, deferment, and income-driven repayment plans.

Recommended: Private vs. Federal Student Loans

The Takeaway

Scholarships can be an effective way to help medical students pay for med school.

Application processes and eligibility requirements will vary from scholarship to scholarship so it may be helpful to explore and research different scholarships that fit your unique educational and personal profile.

If you’re interested in refinancing your student loans, SoFi offers loans with flexible terms and no fees. A student loan refinance calculator can help you determine if refinancing makes good financial sense for you.

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


Photo credit: iStock/JohnnyGreig

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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.

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


SoFi 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.


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The Complete Guide to Out of State Tuition

When considering colleges, admissions rates can seem like the biggest hurdle. But as acceptances roll in and you begin to look at tuition rates, you may see a huge difference between in-state and out-of-state options.

If you’re considering out-of-state schools, tuition can be much more expensive than it is for in-state students. In some cases, it may seem more on par with what you might have expected to pay for private schools.

Does that mean you should exclusively look within your state? That depends on your goals, finances, and what you want out of your college experience. Some people decide to go out of state for programs that aren’t offered in local institutions, some are drawn to a new adventure, and some the opportunity to move away from home.

Regardless of where your first choice college may be, understanding the financial implications of your decision can help you decide on financial aid packages and know what you’re getting into, finance — wise, before you make a final decision.

What Does Out-of-State Tuition Mean?

As you decide which colleges you’ll apply to, you may have public and private colleges on your list. Public colleges are colleges that are funded by a state and receive significant public funds, including taxpayer dollars, to function. Private colleges are not owned by the state and are privately held, with funding coming from tuition, research grants, endowment funds, and charitable donations.

Private colleges do not differentiate their tuition plans based on residency. Public colleges and universities, on the other hand, rely on tax dollars, so they do base their tuition plans on residency. That’s because residents are already “paying” for the university or college through their tax dollars. Out-of-state students, who are not paying local or state colleges, are given a higher price tag.

Whether you’re applying in-state or out-of-state, it’s important to remember that the “price tag” of college tuition is independent of any financial aid, scholarships, loans, or grants you might have available.

Recommended: Private vs. Public College: What to Know When Deciding

Lowering the Bills on Out-of-State Tuition

Out-of-state tuition can cause sticker shock — and may lead to sizable loans. According to Education Data, the average cost of tuition at a public out-of-state college or university is $26,382. In-state tuition averages around $9,212 for the same degree. This number is independent of additional costs, such as housing and books.

While the sticker shock is real, there may be some workarounds that open up your options without piling on unnecessary expenses.

Reciprocal Tuition and Tuition Exchanges

Some states, such as Wisconsin and Minnesota, offer what’s called reciprocal tuition — in-state tuition offered for residents of both states. There are also some tuition exchanges and discount programs.

For example, the New England Board of Higher Education offers a tuition break program that offers discounts to New England residents when they enroll in another New England college. This savings may be as much as $8,000. Certain rules and restrictions apply. For example, you may have to prove the degree you wish to receive is not offered within public universities in your state.

Speaking with your guidance counselor or your financial aid office may be helpful in determining whether these types of programs are available and eligible for you.

Becoming a Resident

“Residency” for in-state tuition isn’t as simple as moving into the dorms. Residency rules vary by state and university. In some cases, residency requires that individuals live in the state for at least twelve months, be financially independent (if your parents/guardians aren’t living in the same state), and have “intent”— i.e., there’s a reason why you’re living in-state beyond just attending school. In some cases, intent to remain in a state can include getting a driver’s license, filing taxes, or registering to vote in that state. States may have differing requirements for defining intent, so it can be worth confirming requirements for the state in which you plan to attend school.

Because residency rules can be strict, establishing residency may not make sense for everyone. But if you’re considering grad school or are going to undergrad as an independent or nontraditional student (someone who doesn’t fit the mold of a recent high school graduate attending college), then it may make sense to establish residency first. This can also help you familiarize yourself with the university and assess whether it’s where you want to spend the next few years.

Starting at Community College

If you have your heart set on a pricey out-of-state school, one way to potentially save is to begin your education at a community college. Like public colleges and universities, community colleges receive government subsidies that can make tuition more affordable. By commuting to a community college and obtaining general education credits, you can then potentially transfer to an out-of-state institution to finish your education and potentially minimize loans.

Considering aid packages

Some private and public schools offer free or reduced-cost college tuition. These “free tuitions” are generally earmarked for students coming from families who make less than a set adjusted gross income, usually around $65,000 per year.

Some public universities also may offer generous scholarship packages to out-of-state students who reflect academic or athletic talent. If you get accepted to a school and receive a financial aid package, it may be worth speaking with the financial aid office to make sure you understand what the package entails. Typically, financial aid packages encompass grants, scholarships, and federal student loans.

Should You Go Out-of-State for College?

There is no right answer when it comes to which college is the best choice for you. But to prepare for college decisions, it can be a good idea to look beyond the honor of admission and consider the financials.

Comparing financial aid packages, assessing additional sources of tuition payment, including family contributions and private scholarships, and assessing how you might pay back your loans can all help you decide the best option for your future and for your wallet. It’s also important to remember that nothing is set in stone.

Regularly assessing your college experience — including the financials — can help determine whether you’re on a path that makes sense for you.

There is no “right” or “wrong” school or path and the right plan for you depends on a variety of factors. Speaking with people who graduated from your prospective school in your intended major can give you an idea of career paths. It can also be helpful to take advantage of any financial aid talk or info session available to get a realistic look at what it may be like when you begin to pay back loans.

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, the best decision for you may be the one that addresses your goals and your finances. Understanding different avenues for tuition discounts, including geographic-based tuition exchanges, can open up avenues to less-expensive degree paths. For some students, including grad students, establishing residency may make sense to obtain in-state tuition.

Tuition is complicated, and scholarships, grants, federal loans, private loans, and family contributions are all part of paying for school. You also may use this time to assess the what-ifs: What if circumstances change and a tuition fee that was possible this year becomes impossible next year due to job loss or other change in circumstance? What sort of private loans are available, and what terms do they offer?

For example, students who did take out student loans for college or graduate school may consider refinancing after they graduate. In some cases, refinancing your student loans can help qualifying borrowers secure a lower interest rate, which may make the loan more affordable in the long-term.

Refinancing federal loans eliminates them from borrower protections, like income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness, so it’s not the right choice for all borrowers.

Assessing the tuition price of each place you’re accepted — and considering private loan options, if necessary — can be an integral factor in making a decision that makes sense for all aspects of the next step in your educational journey.

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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