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A Guide to Law School Scholarships

So, you’ve been accepted to law school—congrats! You’re well on your way to embarking on a career that could help you fight for others’ rights and further the public good.

These are all laudable motivations, but chances are there’s something stronger weighing on you: How to pay for law school? It’s not necessarily clear how to find (or negotiate) scholarships for law school.

According to The Association of American Law Schools, on average, law school students paid $49,567 in tuition and fees for the 2019-2020 academic year to attend a private, out-of-state school—and, that amount doesn’t even include living expenses and other non-school costs that could pop up during graduate school.

U.S. News & World Report notes that the average annual cost of a public, out-of-state law school is $41,726, or $28,264 for in-state . (Even the lower cost option here comes to $84,792 for a three-year law program.)

Because students aren’t yet racking up those billable attorney hours, it can be helpful to research law school scholarship opportunities before applying. Here’s a broad overview of potential law school scholarships—plus some links to resources for students thinking about going to law school.

Crunching (and Swallowing) the Numbers

On the whole, according to non-profit organization Law School Transparency, law school tuition has been steadily rising over the last 35 years for all American Bar Association-approved law schools.

Per the numbers mentioned above, there might be a fair amount of sticker shock for those who haven’t yet applied for graduate school and are only thinking of someday going the lawyer route. (Here’s SoFi’s guide on how to apply to law school.) Fortunately, there are a range of options for aspiring attorneys seeking to fund law school.

In some cases, there are full-ride tuition scholarships and need-based grants out there. Full-rides of course, are not available at all law schools. If a law school doesn’t explicitly advertise or highlight information regarding full-ride opportunities, interested students can contact the school to ask. To offset the cost of attending law school, some school applicants may opt to apply only to programs that offer full- or partial- rides. One simple way to figure this out is old-fashioned Googling.

Students deciding whether to apply to law school may want to familiarize themselves with the language universities adopt to explain these scholarships. In some cases, specific scholarships are designated for particular students. Here are a few examples of how law schools describe their full-ride law school scholarship offerings— including, the University of Chicago Law School (which has several such opportunities), NYU’s Latinx Rights Scholarship, and Duke Law’s Mordecai Scholars. Magoosh, the higher education test-prep and study counseling company with the silly-sounding name, has published a 2018 list of a handful of others (along with suggestions on how to strengthen one’s resume when applying for such scholarships).

Full-ride law school scholarships can be highly competitive—with some schools offering as few as two to four per enrollment year. One potential tip for the search for scholarships is to target law schools with more tuition help.

U.S. News & World Report has organized and tabulated a list of 10 law schools that offer the most tuition assistance—reporting that “at least 77.8% of students who received grants at these schools got enough to cover more than half of tuition.” Some of the schools listed in U.S. News & World Report , like Pennsylvania State University-Carlisle, go as high as 93.2% of full-time students receiving aid in that amount.

If all of this is starting to sound like alphabet (and number) soup, there are dedicated resources like Fastweb to help prospective students find scholarships for which they may qualify. Fastweb is an online resource to help students find scholarships, financial aid, and even part-time jobs in support of college degrees.

The American Bar Association’s law-student division also has a running list (along with deadlines) of law student awards and scholarships. Additionally, the Law School Admission Council offers a list of diversity scholarships available to students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Here’s another guide on finding and applying for scholarships and one on unclaimed scholarship money.

Another resource that could be useful in factoring living expenses is this student loan calculator for aspiring law school students. Tools like this can, usually, auto-load the tuition and cost-of-living breakdowns for specific law schools. From here, it’s possible then to compare how much degrees from particular schools may end up costing.

Negotiating Wiggle Room

Doing all this research and the math around law school scholarships could put applicants in a more informed position when evaluating which program to attend—and, potentially, help them to identify schools more likely to be interested in their application.

A reality of today’s admissions process for law school is negotiating scholarships. Some schools have a strict policy against negotiating, but others fully expect their initial offer to be countered. That’s why it can help to save acceptance letters and anything in writing from schools that offer admission.

Offer letters could then be shared with competing schools, asking if they’re able to match another university’s aid. It might be uncomfortable asking for more tuition assistance upfront, but a little discomfort now could help applicants shoulder less law school debt later on. If arguing a position makes an applicant uncomfortable, it might be worth pondering whether to become a lawyer.

Doing research on law schools (and figuring out the likely cost-of-living expenses at each institution) could help applicants to determine which scores or grades to aim for in an effort to make law school more affordable for them. Tabulating expenses (and having them on hand) may also demonstrate to universities that the amounts being negotiated are based in well-documented expenses.

Law School Scholarships

There are lots of options for law-school hopefuls to find potential scholarships. The nonprofit organization Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has compiled a list of the many law school scholarships available to applicants .

From the LSAC’s list, the Attorney Ken Nugent Legal Scholarship ($5,000) and the BARBRI Law Preview’s “One Lawyer Can Change the World” Scholarship ($10,000) are worth pinning, due to the sizable chunk of change they offer.

Many law schools themselves offer competitive scholarships to attract stronger candidates. It might be helpful to check if a school also offers in-state residents specific tuition reductions or grants—especially true, if the applicant is considering a public school in their home state.

Similarly, some law firms offer scholarships. Usually applying is a straightforward process: Many, like the Rise To Shine Scholarship , only require a short essay to be considered. On top of this, there’s the rising trend of law firms helping new hires to repay a portion of their student debt once onboarded.

Federal vs. Private Loans for Law School

Students wanting to apply to law school could consider the differences between federal and private student loans. Federal loans come with certain benefits not guaranteed by private ones (such as, forbearance or income-driven repayment).

Private loans—like SoFi’s—can also help applicants to cover the expense of graduate school. So, it might be a good idea to weigh the pros and cons of both federal and private student loan options for law school.

For example, Direct PLUS loans for grads charge 7.08% in disbursement fees for the 2019-2020 academic year. (2020 numbers aren’t out yet.) SoFi Graduate Student Loans, by comparison, have no fees whatsoever—not even late or overdraft fees. Another great resource in understanding federal loans can be found over at studentaid.gov .

It’s important to note that private student loans don’t offer the same benefits and protections afforded to federal student loan borrowers, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). If a law school applicant is interested eventually in becoming a public defender or pursuing non-profit legal work, forgiveness and forbearance perks may play a role in their decision.

In addition to the financial aid resources mentioned above, more information can be found in SoFi’s overview of private student loans for graduate school. Those interested in figuring out how to pay for law school may want to check out SoFi’s competitive-rate private law school and MBA loans.

Law School Loans from SoFi

Going to law school is a big life decision. And, law school’s attendant costs add even more weight to this choice. If students interested in law school find themselves coming up short on funds for the JD after scholarships or federal aid, additional options may be available.

Some might seek out a student loan from a private lender, to name one possibility. SoFi’s private loans for law school offer competitive rates, flexible repayment options, and access to member benefits.

You can check your rates in just three minutes to see if a SoFi Law School Loan might help you pursue that dream of becoming a lawyer.

Learn more about private student loans for law school with SoFi.



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

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

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Tips for Taking Online Classes Successfully

A new semester is usually a fresh opportunity to collaborate and hobnob, but 2020 and beyond will be remembered as the time when learning largely went online.

As the coronavirus pandemic caused an increasing number of colleges to abandon or delay plans to open campuses, a scramble to adapt ensued.

But adapt everyone must. Welcome to the epic socially distant epoch of higher education. Can a collegian still thrive? Yes. A student can learn how to be successful in online classes.

Types of Online Classes

When trying to come up with a plan for not just taking but succeeding with online classes, the first step is to determine whether classes will be fully remote or a hybrid.

Hybrid Approach

A hybrid course is a mix of in-person instruction and remote learning. The exact schedule will vary by school, class, and instructor but may include several hours of live or prerecorded virtual learning per week with one in-person session.

For example, a chemistry course could include virtual learning and in-person lab work.

Hybrid courses offer the benefits of remote learning without fully abandoning in-person instruction, making it a prime choice for students concerned that online classes may not meet their needs.

Exclusively Virtual

Classes that are all virtual never meet in person. Instruction is given through live webinars, prerecorded video, and physical or digital material.

Depending on the format of the course, students can fit sessions into their schedule as they see fit, an option not provided by a hybrid or traditional class.

Benefits and Potential Pitfalls of Virtual Courses

While virtual learning is ideal for some students, it may be frustrating for others. Some degrees may not lend themselves to a virtual experience either. But for students who have taken the plunge into online learning, there are several benefits to talk about.

Pros of Online Courses

Flexibility. The ability to learn whenever and wherever is a priceless advantage for a student with a hectic schedule. Though there are still deadlines and due dates to abide by, learning can typically take place around work, social commitments, and personal preferences. While some courses may include live remote sessions, they’re typically recorded and available for preoccupied students to view at a later time.

Real-life experience. Online courses tend to put more responsibility on the student. Learning how to prioritize instruction in a flexible schedule can help prepare students for careers.

Potential savings. If a course was designed to be taught in person but has recently been adapted for online instruction, a discount may not be available.

But for courses originally built for virtual learning, students often find they can save on the average credit cost. An online degree also could have condensed schedules available, allowing a student to get through the courses faster.

There are other savings to consider. With online instruction, students don’t have to worry about paying for parking, gas, or lunch on the go (and there are ways to thrive as a commuter student).

If virtual learners can pursue an education while working full or part time, an option not always available to students bogged down by a schedule of in-person classes, they may be able to curb student loan debt.

Potential Cons of Online Courses

Minimal social benefits. One concern students might have when taking online classes is the lack of personal interaction. While some simply respond better to in-person learning, others worry that questions won’t be addressed as promptly or thoroughly in an online setting. Other students are motivated by interactions with fellow students and find themselves struggling to concentrate when learning virtually.

A lack of professional networking. Students often discover opportunities to build relationships with professors and assistants that can lead to careers. Virtual learning makes these relationships more difficult to find and develop.

Scheduling conflicts. While the flexibility of online classes is appealing to most, it can create scheduling conflicts. If students are challenged by time management, they may find themselves procrastinating and struggling to manage their workload and deadlines.

Tips for Online Classes

Here are some words to the wise for taking online courses, for both newbies and experienced virtual students.

•  Respect the course. Do you suspect that an online course has less value than in-person instruction? The educational value is the same. It’s just being delivered in a different fashion.
•  Think about time management. Even experienced virtual students can improve their time management skills. Review the syllabus at the start of the semester, note major assignments, and look for potential conflicts.
•  Try to avoid distractions. When taking online courses, it might be best not to set up in front of the TV, as tempting as it may be. Consider cobbling together a home office that blocks distractions and creates a productive environment.
•  Participate. While an online class can be an introvert’s dream, there are still opportunities to participate. Many online courses offer a forum for students and instructors to discuss course materials, comment on one another’s work, and ask questions as needed.

Funding the Virtual Voyage

Even though some online classes are more affordable than their in-person variations, tuition costs may cause a bit of sticker shock. Consider the following options when determining how to pay for virtual classes, keeping in mind that certain institutions may have rules limiting payment methods.

Federal Loans

By filling out the FAFSA®, approved students can obtain federal funding for their education. Known for low and fixed rates, federal student loans don’t typically require payments to begin until graduation.

Private Loans

With a good credit rating and a little patience, students can find private student loans through private lenders, if needed. Though they often come with repayment plans that start right away, they are an option for students denied federal aid or whose costs are not completely covered by federal aid.

Federal student loans offer benefits that don’t typically accompany private loans. It’s generally thought that students and parents should exhaust federal student loan options before considering private loans.

Paying à la Carte

Online courses are designed to fit a working student’s schedule (though being employed certainly isn’t a requirement). Many students who enjoy online classes take them as they’re financially able, paying for them with their own money at the time payment is due, either upfront or through a college’s payment plan.

During this time of great adjustment, don’t let finances become another worry. Consider a private student loan from SoFi to jumpstart the virtual college experience.

Many students have found SoFi Private Student Loans to be affordable and convenient, thanks to flexible repayment options and no fees—no origination fees, late fees, or insufficient-funds fees.

A private loan can cover up to 100% of the cost of school-certified attendance, both for in-person and online courses. A SoFi Private Student Loan can help cover additional costs after federal aid or become a lifeline for those denied government assistance.

Interested in a private student loan? Apply for one with SoFi today.



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 (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.

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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What to Bring to College—The Ultimate Packing List

After the stress of submitting college applications and waiting for the results, an exciting task for preparing for college comes next: packing.

Of course, figuring out what to bring to college can cause some angst, but it’s also a liberating beginning to a brand-new chapter. Preparing for this new experience doesn’t have to be a struggle.

Here is a breakdown of things that college freshmen should plan on bringing with them.

School Supplies

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the only necessary supplies are a laptop and phone. Additional supplies can help students manage their college courses.

Even though phones and laptops have built-in calendars, having a physical planner is a good idea as well. Writing information down can help you remember it better , and it can be less distracting having school information in a physical planner, away from all those social media apps.

When it comes to taking notes, some professors don’t want everyone on their computers during class, and some don’t mind. It’s a good idea to have a notebook for each class just in case, along with pens, pencils, and highlighters.

Check the specific course requirements as well. The syllabus for each class should be available early enough to read through and see if the professor lists any required materials. If you’re taking a math class, for example, a specific type of calculator may be required.

Depending on how many books students have to lug around campus, they may want to invest in a nice backpack or messenger-style bag. The most suitable bag will also depend on students’ schedule, how long they’re on campus, and how many classes they have in a row.

It might be good to wait to choose this item after you’ve selected your courses and can see what each day is going to require.

Shower Supplies

Students who choose to live in the dorms will need to bring shower supplies with them. Sharing a bathroom is going to be another adjustment in starting college. There are a few must-haves for a comfortable experience.

Shower shoes are one of these musts. A cheap pair of flip-flops will do the trick. These are shoes that are worn only while taking a shower. What’s the deal? They help to prevent athlete’s foot, a fungal infection that can result from public showers. Just make sure to rinse and dry off the shoes after each use.

A shower caddy is another essential. Most students will likely be walking from the dorm room to the shower, so they’ll have to bring all shower supplies with them. A portable container makes this much easier.

The caddy will have room for your shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and so on, and some of them also come with hangers, so they could potentially be hung up in the shower. In choosing a shower caddy, look for one that is waterproof and has holes in it so it doesn’t fill up with water.

Last, don’t forget the towels. At home, there’s always a stack of clean towels ready to be used. This won’t be the case in the dorms.

In addition to towels, it might be handy to have a robe that can be thrown on while walking from the dorm room to the bathroom and back.

Wardrobe

Hopefully, students already have a solid array of clothes to choose from. If they’re moving out of state for college, they definitely should check what the weather will be like all year in their new home. If students are used to living in a place where the weather doesn’t change much, they’ll have to add clothing to their wardrobe that’s appropriate for each season.

Dressing for college is more fun than high school for many because there isn’t a dress code. This is a great time for students to explore how they like to express themselves through clothing.

Some college students opt to be comfortable, rocking sweatpants to lectures. Others who are looking to make a good impression on professors—or romantic interests—may dress accordingly.

Don’t Forget Shoes

College campuses are much bigger than most high schools, so investing in a good pair of walking shoes is important. Classes may end up being a solid 15- to 20-minute walk away from each other.

It’ll take a toll on a student’s mood and physical comfort if they try to handle that walk in heels, unsupported sandals, or ill-fitting shoes.

Shoes take up a lot of space while packing, so trying to bring just the necessary pairs is wise. If your college is in a state that will experience cold or snowy winters, make sure to invest in some warm boots.

Bedding and Room Necessities

What else do students need to bring to a college dorm? Most dorm rooms will come with a bed but not sheets. Pack a couple of sets of sheets and a nice comforter. Some college students also recommend bringing a mattress pad and backrest pillow because you may spend more time in that bed than expected.

As for the rest of the dorm room, here’s a dorm room essentials list to figure out what else to bring. It’s vital to look into the school’s list of restricted items so you know what you should not bring to college. The college may also list the furnishings that come with the room. Check out your school’s website first so you don’t buy something that’s already there.

It can also be helpful for students to contact their roommates ahead of time and see if they’re planning to bring anything that could be shared.

It’s not a bad idea to pack on the light side. Most things you need can be ordered online anyway, so that way students won’t waste money.

Planning how to make the most of the small space provided in a college dorm is going to be great practice for when students are ready to move into apartments.

The Takeaway

The packing list has been made and the shopping trip planned, so what’s next? Paying for everything. There are a lot of options for financing the entire college experience, and students can try to get help from more than one avenue if they need to.

Students seeking financial aid should look into scholarships and grants and then federal aid. If federal student loans do not cover the full need, or if a student is not eligible for federal aid, private loans may be an option.

Private loans are issued by private financial institutions. A co-signer is often necessary. Look for loans that don’t have origination fees and offer extra services like co-signer release and hardship deferment.

To learn more, here is a guide to private student loans. Be aware that all the aid given cannot add up to more than the cost of attendance.

Families that decide that a private loan could be useful can see what SoFi has to offer. SoFi private student loans come with competitive rates, flexible repayment options, and no origination fees, no late fees, and no insufficient-funds fees.

Interested in a SoFi Private Student Loan? Check your rate with ease.



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

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.

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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Important College Application Deadlines

High school students don’t get enough credit for the many balls they have to juggle when preparing to apply for college. Alongside going to school and doing homework, they may spend time studying for standardized tests, participating in extracurriculars, and volunteering in their community, with the hopes of standing out in their college applications.

On top of all that work, high school students also have to manage the many deadlines that are a major part of the college application process. A bit stressful right? Especially when you consider the fact that applying to college costs money.

In order to make the whole experience a bit more seamless, we’ve rounded up important college application deadlines that are helpful for students to track. That way, instead of worrying about missed deadlines, they can jot these dates down and get back to hitting the books.

SAT Deadlines

While the SAT is not the only college entrance exam that students take, it is the one that is more commonly utilized by universities and colleges during the admissions process. This exam is administered by the College Board and is intended to measure the student’s readiness for college.

Typically, highschool students will take the SAT starting in the spring of their Junior year and ending in the fall of their junior year. Some students choose to take the test multiple times throughout this time period. The SATs are available to take each year in the months of March, May, June, August, October, November, and December.

While the official testing dates will vary on a year-to-year basis, the following dates are available for registration and testing throughout 2020 and 2021. SAT subject tests are not necessarily available to take on all of these dates.

Test Date

Registration Deadline

Late Registration Deadline

Deadline for Changes

March 13, 2021 February 12, 2021 February 23, 2021 (for mailed registrations)
March 2, 2021 (for registrations made online or by phone)
March 2, 2021
May 8, 2021 April 8, 2021 April 20, 2021 (for mailed registrations)
April 27, 2021 (for registrations made online or by phone)
April 27, 2021
June 5, 2021 May 6, 2021 May 18, 2021 (for mailed registrations)
May 26, 2021 (for registrations made online or by phone)
May 26, 2021

When it comes time for students to provide their scores to colleges, they will do so when they submit their complete application. Application deadlines will vary by school, but there are some common deadlines worth considering.

For regular decision applications (not early decision), the most common deadline is January 1st. Many schools also have a January 15th deadline. The main exception to these January deadlines is the University of California system which has a much earlier deadline of November 30th for all schools in their system.

Some schools offer later deadlines in February, March, or April, but this is less common.

ACT Deadlines

Similar to the SAT, the ACT is a college entrance exam that colleges and universities use during the admission decision process. Also like the SAT, the ACT is designed to evaluate how ready a high school student is for college. ACT test scores are taken into consideration during the admission process by the colleges that require them.

Students take this exam during the same time period as the SAT, from the spring of their junior year to the fall of their senior year. Students can choose to take this test multiple times in the hope of improving their score before they submit their college applications.

Each year, the ACT is offered in the months of February, April, June, July, September, October, and December. The one exception being that there are no tests scheduled in July or February in New York, or in the month of July in California.

The official testing dates vary each year, but the following dates are available for registration and testing in 2020 and 2021.

Test Date

Registration Deadline

Late Registration Deadline

Photo Upload & Standby Deadline

February 6, 2021 January 8 January 9-15 January 29
April 17, 2021 March 12 March 13-26 April 9
June 12, 2021 May 7 May 8-21 June 4
July 17, 2021 June 18 June 19-25 July 9

Just like with their SAT scores, students will submit their ACT when they complete their college applications. The ACT automatically sends the students scores from the ACT test directly to the schools of their choice.

The Common Application Deadlines

The Common Application is a highly convenient option for many students applying to more than one college. With just one application, students can apply to more than 900 schools in the U.S. and internationally. The Common App even helps students manage the many application deadlines they may be facing.

In each student’s “Dashboard” through The Common App, they will be alerted of their application deadlines. To meet an application deadline, the student must submit their application materials by 11:59 pm in their local time zone on the deadline date. The Common App recommends submitting the application well before 11:59 pm in case there are any last minute complications caused by a technical barrier such as loss of internet connection.

FAFSA® Deadlines

When students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), they will be considered for federal student aid. Many states and colleges also use the FAFSA to determine their own financial aid awards for students such as scholarships, grants, and loans. The amount of aid is limited, so meeting the FAFSA deadlines is super important.

The following deadlines are worth remembering:

Federal deadlines

For the 2020-2021 academic year the deadline is June 30, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Central time (CT). The deadline for corrections or updates is 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 11, 2021.

For the 2021-2022 academic year the deadline is June 30, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. Central time (CT). The deadline for corrections or updates is 11:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 10, 2022.

College deadlines

Each college a student is accepted at may have a different deadline for submitting the FAFSA to their particular financial aid department. Students should double check this deadline for any schools they want to potentially attend.

State deadlines

Each state has a unique deadline which students can review on the Federal Student Aid website .

Early Decision Deadlines

When applying for an early decision, the traditional deadline is in November, typically falling on the 1st or the 15th. However, some schools now offer what is called Early Decision II, which offers students a chance to apply for an early decision but at a later date, typically in January. Each school’s dates vary, so it’s a good idea for students to confirm these dates with the schools they are interested in.

Early Action Deadlines

Students applying for early action can expect a deadline of November 1st or November 15th for the most part. As they are applying early, they generally receive an admissions decision early as well. This usually happens in mid-December.

Rolling Admissions Deadlines

Some schools offer more flexibility on their admissions deadlines by offering what is called “rolling admissions.” The difference between a rolling admission process and a deadline based admission process is that colleges with rolling admissions evaluate students’ applications as they are submitted instead of waiting until the official deadline to evaluate all applications at once. These schools evaluate applications as they receive them until they have filled all of their incoming class slots.

A rolling admissions decision essentially allows a student to apply anytime they would like and they have until the school’s decision deadline to choose if they will attend. Typically schools with rolling admissions deadlines have longer admission windows, which gives students time to apply to other schools.

College Decision Day Deadlines

While not all schools set their acceptance deadlines for the College Decision Day date, many schools do. Each year on May 1st is National College Decision Day and on this day students have to make an official decision about which college they will be attending (they can also choose to make their final decision before this date). They have to sign a letter of intent to enroll and typically need to submit a deposit to hold their spot in the incoming class.

College Education Financing Options

Once the college application deadlines for high school seniors pass and the acceptance letters begin to roll in, students and their families may begin to think about how they’ll finance a college education. After reviewing the financial aid package offered by their school, the student will have a better idea of how much they may need to take out in student loans in order to cover the costs of tuition and room and board.

There are two types of student loans: federal and private. Federal student loans can be obtained from the United States government and their terms are set by law. As mentioned, students can apply for federal student aid by filling out the FAFSA® annually. Federal loans offer fixed income rates and income-driven repayment plans.

Private loans on the other hand come from private lenders such as credit unions, banks, and certain state-based or state-affiliated organizations. Terms for private student loans are generally based on the applicants credit history, among other factors. In general, they may be more expensive than federal student loans.

Working with online lenders is another potential option for students who are considering taking out “>private student loans.

SoFi Private Student Loans offer an online application process. SoFi student loans never have fees. Students can even choose what type of interest rate works best for them and add a cosigner to the loan.

Check out SoFi’s painless private student loan process and flexible repayment plans.



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

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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 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.

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ACT vs. SAT: Which Do Colleges Prefer?

Ambitious high school students do everything they can to stand out amongst the very crowded crowd of college applicants. Standardized testing is just one of many challenging hoops students have to jump through on their way to higher education. Which is why some students and their parents may be wondering exactly where their dream colleges stand on the age old issue of ACT vs SAT.

While in many ways the ACT and SAT are similar exams, they have some differing factors and their importance weighs differently depending on the college or university of your choice. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between these tests, which one you should take, and how colleges feel about these two exams.

Purpose, Structure, and Cost

The SAT and ACT are two exams that serve the same purpose. Colleges utilize both exams to determine admission and award merit-based scholarships. Both tests are similar in length and structure, with the SAT taking three hours (without essay) and 3 hours, 50 minutes (with essay to complete). The ACT takes 2 hours, 55 minutes (without essay) and 3 hours, 40 minutes (with essay) to complete.

The SAT has multiple pricing options based on what parts of the exam the student chooses to take. For the 2020-2021 school year, the base price, which includes the main sections of math and reading/writing, costs $52.00. Adding on the optional essay portion of the exam brings the cost to an additional $68.00. Note that starting in the 2021 school year, the essay portion will only be offered as a part of a state’s accountability assessment program.

The cost may rise if a student enrolls in the exam during the late registration period, opts to sign up via phone, or alters an existing registration. Being admitted to a school via the wait list also incurs extra fees, as do regional fees for students taking the SATs outside of the United States. Included in the registration fees are the option to send scores to four schools for free (for up to nine days after the test), but sending the scores to multiple colleges costs more. As does rush ordering scores or electing to verify a score.

When applying for college, exams are some of the unexpected costs students will incur. During the 2020-2021 school year, the ACT exam costs $55 to take (without the essay portion) to $70 (with the essay portion). This cost covers taking the exam and includes reports for the exam taker, their high school, and up to four colleges.

Additional fees may occur for late registration, standby testing, changing the date or center of your test, or sending scores to a fifth and sixth college. Requesting additional score reports, test information release, and telephone re-registration also involves paying extra fees.

The Subject Matter

These two exams cover similar subject matter and include an optional essay portion, although there are some key differences worth noting when it comes to preparing to take these exams. The main difference between the ACT and SAT subject matter is that the ACT has a “science reasoning” section of the exam, whereas the SAT doesn’t.

However, both exams cover topics relating to math reading, and writing type subjects. More specifically, the SAT covers “reading” and “writing and language,” and the ACT covers “English” and “reading.”

Both exams have an optional essay portion. The SAT is designed to test a student’s comprehension of a source text. The ACT on the other hand looks at how the exam taker evaluates and analyzes complex issues.

When it comes to the mathematics portion of the exam, the SAT focuses on arithmetic, algebra I and II, geometry, trigonometry, and data analysis. The ACT tests students on their arithmetic, algebra I and II, geometry, trigonometry, and probability and statistics knowledge. Each exam has differing calculator policies. For the ACT, students can use their calculator for all math questions. Whereas with the SAT, only select math questions allow calculator usage.

How Each Exam is Scored

Both the SAT and ACT have unique scoring systems. Here’s a bit of information on each.

How the SAT is Scored

The SAT is scored on a scale of 400 to 1600. Breaking down the scoring process a bit further, the SAT has not just a “total score,” but “section scores.” Each of the main sections, reading/writing and math, may be scored up to 800 points. These scores are then combined for the total.

If an exam taker chooses to complete the essay portion of the exam, the score received for the essay will not contribute to the total score and will appear separately on the final report. The essay will still receive a score that measures a student’s reading, analysis, and writing abilities. Each of those skills will receive a score ranging from 2 to 8.

Last but not least, students will receive subscores, evaluating their performance of certain or subject areas. These scores are included as a part of the total score, but this breakdown can be insightful for students looking to retake the test and improve their skill set.

How the ACT is Scored

The ACT is scored on a scale of one to 36. The ACT scoring system begins by taking into account how many questions a student answers correctly. The “raw scores” which represent the number of correct answers on each test are then converted to “scale scores.” Each subject section—English, Math, Reading, and Science—receives a scale score.

The “composite score,” which ranges from one to 36, is an average of each subject test, rounded to the nearest whole number. The scoring process is completed after identifying the percentage of correctly answered questions.

Do Colleges Prefer the ACT or SAT?

When it comes to determining if colleges prefer the ACT or the SAT exam, there is no one clear answer. Many people believe that the SAT is more popular, especially with elite colleges, but that is a higher education urban legend.

While some schools require students to take either the SAT or ACT, many accept both scores equally. Double check with your top college choices to see which exam scores they accept.

There is some thought that the region of a college may indicate the preference of an exam. College Raptor analyzed the numbers of students who applied to colleges with ACT or SAT scores (numbers that colleges and universities report to the government) and found that some states lean more in one direction towards ACT or SAT. For example, Wisconsin leans heavily towards an ACT preference, where 95.27% of applicants submitted ACT scores.

Knowing Which Test to Take

While some students opt to take both the SAT or ACT, some choose just one in order to focus on preparing for the test they believe they are more likely to score higher on. Neither test is generally easier than the other, but some students may find their different structures suit their needs better.

The ACT is considered by some to be more appealing to students with strong English skills as the exam focuses more on verbal skills, whereas the SAT may be a better fit for those who excel in math.

Taking a full-length practice test of each exam can give students a better idea of which test they’ll score higher on. Once they’ve determined which is a better fit, they can spend their time and resources preparing for just one test instead of two. For students who feel comfortable preparing for and taking both exams, doing so can be beneficial as they will have two scores to choose between to send to colleges.

Paying for College

The options don’t stop after a student completes the test (or tests) of their choice. Once they use their amazing scores to get into the college of their dreams, they and their parents will be left with making some pretty big decisions to make, especially when it comes to paying for college. Luckily, there are options at help offset the out of pocket costs. Once those are exhausted, students can apply for private student loans and or parent loans.

There will be acceptance offers to consider, financial aid packages to unravel, and cost comparisons for each potential school. That’s why SoFi teamed up with Edmit to offer access to Edmit Plus which can help students estimate their financial aid options, compare the cost of attendance, and learn more about the merit aid and scholarships available to them.

Some students may find that even after options like federal student loans and scholarships, there is still a gap in paying for college. Private student loans are one option available to students looking to pay for their education.

At SoFi, private student loans are fee free and offer borrowers four repayment options to choose from. Potential borrowers can find out if they pre-qualify online and have the option to add a cosigner.

Learn more about how Edmit Plus can help you navigate the process of paying for college or find out more about using SoFi private student loans to help pay for college.



External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SoFi 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.

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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