What is Need-Based Financial Aid?

What Is Need-Based Financial Aid?

Paying for college can be expensive, but there are several types of financial aid available to students. Some aid awards are determined based on your family’s financial situation. Known as need-based financial aid, amounts are awarded based on several factors, and in some cases, it may not need to be repaid.

If you’re unsure whether you’ll qualify for need-based aid, how much you’ll receive, or whether you need to pay it back, here’s what you need to know.

Defining Need-Based Financial Aid

To put it simply, need-based financial aid is money to help students pay for the costs of attending college that’s awarded based on their financial situation.

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for federal or state aid or aid from the institution you attend. Typically, need-based aid is determined based on the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA®.

Most college students take advantage of what’s offered in their federal financial aid package, which may include the following types of need-based federal financial aid.


💡 Quick Tip: Often, the main goal of refinancing is to lower the interest rate on your student loans — federal and/or private — by taking out one loan with a new rate to replace your existing loans. Refinancing makes sense if you qualify for a lower rate and you don’t plan to use federal repayment programs or protections.

Direct Subsidized Student Loans

The federal government will subsidize (or cover) any interest that accrues on Direct Subsidized Loans for undergraduate students while they are enrolled in school at least half-time and during the six-month grace period after graduation.

After the grace period, interest will start to accrue. This is unlike Direct Unsubsidized Loans, which begin accruing interest as soon as they are disbursed.

There is a limit to how much a student can borrow in federal loans and the amount they borrow cannot exceed their financial need. The maximum amount first-year undergraduate students can borrow cannot exceed $5,500 (or $9,500 for independent students), $3,500 of which is in subsidized loans. The maximum amount you can borrow increases each year you’re enrolled.

Pell Grants

Pell Grants are for undergraduate students who have demonstrated exceptional financial need.They depend on factors such as your expected family contribution, your enrollment status, and how much your schooling will cost.

The maximum amount may vary — it’s $7,395 for the 2023-24 academic year. It may also be possible for students to receive up to 150% of their scheduled award, though qualification requirements will vary.

To be eligible for the Pell Grant, students will need to fill out the FAFSA each year that they are enrolled in undergraduate studies.

Work-Study Programs

The federal work-study program offers part-time jobs for undergraduate or graduate students based on their financial needs. The goal is to provide the opportunity for students to earn money towards education-related expenses and one that’s related to their field of study. There may be jobs both on- and off-campus and the program is administered by participating schools.

The type of job you get and how much you earn will be influenced by factors like when you apply and how much funding your school has. At a minimum, program participants will be paid at least the current federal minimum wage.

If you are awarded work-study as a part of your federal aid package, you can’t earn an amount that’s more than what was awarded.

Recommended: Important FAFSA Deadlines to Know

What’s the Difference Between Need-Based Financial Aid and Ones Based on Merit?

Whereas need-based financial aid is based on the student and their family’s financial circumstances, merit-based aid doesn’t consider finances. Instead, this type of financial aid looks at things like standardized test scores or grade point average, or GPA. In some cases, financial aid is based on other merits such as your class rank.

Some scholarships are based on your class rank. Usually, scholarships are awarded based on merit, though there are plenty based on financial need. Before applying for any financial aid, it’s important to look at the eligibility requirements so you know whether you’ll qualify.

Recommended: How to Get Merit Aid for College

Do I Need to Pay Back Need-Based Financial Aid?

Even though the point of aid based on financial need is to help you cover college expenses you otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford, you may have to pay some of it back. For instance, the Pell Grant or other types of grants don’t need to be repaid. Scholarships are another type of aid that recipients are not required to repay. If you participate in the work-study program, the money you’ve earned is also yours.

However, Direct Subsidized Loans will need to be repaid. You won’t, however, need to pay any interest while you’re enrolled at least half-time since the government will cover that. Direct Unsubsidized loans (which aren’t awarded based on need) will also need to be repaid and borrowers will be responsible for the full amount of accrued interest.

In some cases, you may not need to pay back the entire amount if you qualify for student loan forgiveness. There are several types of forgiveness with varying eligibility requirements that depend on factors such as your career path.

For instance, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or PSLF program, will forgive the outstanding balance on a Direct Loan if you made 120 monthly qualifying payments. These payments need to be paid while you’re working full-time for a qualifying employer and under a qualifying repayment plan.

To see whether you qualify for a forgiveness program, it may be helpful to speak with a loan officer.

Should I Apply for Need-Based Financial Aid?

There’s nothing wrong with seeing what you may qualify for. Filling out the FAFSA will allow you to determine how much federal aid you qualify for. Some schools will also use the FAFSA to determine additional aid awards.

The FAFSA will require information about you and your family’s financial situation to help determine how much aid you’ll receive. There is also the CSS Profile, which some colleges may use to determine financial aid awards. To fill out the CSS Profile there is a small fee.

That being said, you may not receive enough financial aid even if you qualify. For instance, Pell Grants are typically given on a first-come, first-served basis. It may help to submit the FAFSA as soon as possible. That way, you may be able to find out sooner what you may qualify for. You can submit your FAFSA as soon as October 1 for the following school year.

The Takeaway

Even if you’re not sure if you qualify for need-based aid from the federal government, you may be able to qualify for aid at the state, local or college level. There is also merit-based aid in the form of scholarships and some grants.

Many organizations also award grants and scholarships for specific demographics and those pursuing certain fields. It’s far better to accept free money through grants and scholarships before taking out any loans.

If you do end up borrowing money to pay for college, you may want to consider refinancing your student loans. Doing so can help qualifying borrowers reduce their interest rate, which could lower the amount paid over the life of the loan. Note that refinancing federal loans eliminates them from borrower protections and benefits like PSLF and income-driven repayment plans.

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


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


Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub

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.

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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Top 10 Most Popular Scholarships for Women

10 Popular Scholarships for Women

Scholarships are free money that can help fund an undergraduate or graduate degree. There are plenty of scholarships for women, including some with a purpose to encourage more females to pursue careers where they’re considered underrepresented, as well as scholarships to help them attend college.

Spending some time researching and applying for scholarships you may be eligible to receive could help you pay for college tuition.

What Types of Scholarships Are There for Women?

There are plenty of scholarships available for women, including scholarships for undergraduate students and scholarships for graduate students.

Scholarships may be need-based or merit-based awards. Each one will have specific qualifying and application requirements. Scholarships, essentially, can be like finding free money for college.

For instance, need-based scholarships generally require applicants to exhibit financial need. Merit-based scholarships may be determined based on skills, abilities, or a student’s GPA, test scores, or the type of field they are looking to pursue.

Some scholarships may also be location-based, such as those for residents of certain states or for specific schools.

There are even some unclaimed scholarships you may be eligible for.


💡 Quick Tip: Ready to refinance your student loan? You could save thousands.

Are There Scholarships for Women in STEM?

There are many scholarships for women who are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 29% of all STEM workers are women, with math, engineering and computer-related jobs being the least represented.

Government organizations, industry associations, and even technology companies offer industry-specific scholarships (we’ll talk more about some of them below). For instance, companies like Google or associations such as the Society for Women Engineers (SWE) offer scholarships for women.

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

Popular Scholarships For Women

Below are 10 scholarships available exclusively to women that could help you avoid taking on too much student loan debt:

Associated Women for Pepperdine (AWP) Scholarship

Scholarship amount: $5,000

Application Deadline: February 15

The AWP is one of the largest women’s groups awarding scholarships for female Christian students. There are several awards up for grabs, and scholarships can be renewed. To qualify, applicants need to be students at Pepperdine University, current and active members of the Church of Christ, submit a letter of recommendation from a leader of the Church of Christ, and fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) application.

Gertrude M. Cox Scholarship

Scholarship amount: $1,000

Application Deadline: February 23

The Cox Scholarship aims to encourage women to pursue professions related to the statistics field. There are two scholarships, one for a female early on in their graduate career, and the other for a woman at a more advanced level. Applicants need to be permanent residents or citizens in the U.S. or Canada and be admitted to a full-time graduate statistics program of the year the scholarship is awarded.

Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund

Scholarship amount: Varies

Application Deadline: February 17 (Note that the 2023-2024 application cycle for this scholarship is closed. Applications for 2024 will open in late 2023.)

This scholarship is for women age 35 or older who are considered low-income and enrolling into a not-for-profit accredited educational institution. Women can pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, or technical or vocational education. To apply, applicants need to demonstrate financial need and answer questions based on their academic and career goals.

American Association of University Women (AAUW) Selected Professions Fellowships

Scholarship amount: $20,000

Application Deadline: December 1

The AAUW awards multiple scholarships, and the Selected Professions Fellowships is one of them.

Women may apply if they intend on pursuing full-time studies at an accredited U.S. institution in a field where women have had historically low enrollment. For instance, scholarships are awarded for women pursuing degrees in STEM and engineering.

Eligibility criteria include women who can prove they have shown promise of high academic excellence and distinction.

Recommended: 7 Tips to Lower Your Student Loan Payments

American Indian Services (AIS) Scholarship

Scholarship amount: $500-$2,000

Application Deadline: February 1 to November 1 (Depending on when the applicant’s classes start)

The AIS scholarship aims to help Native American students enrolling in an accredited institution pursue higher education. Awards are given on a quarterly basis, though you’ll only need to apply once per year.

Eligibility requirements include being at least one-quarter of an enrolled member, or descendant of an enrolled member of a U.S. Federally Recognized Native American Tribe, enrolled at least half-time, and completed the FAFSA. This award is currently only available to undergraduate students.

Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting Scholarships

Scholarship amount: Varies

Application Deadline: Varies (most end April 30)

The Educational Foundation for Women in Accounting offers multiple scholarship opportunities for women pursuing undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate degrees in accounting. Applicants may apply to more than one scholarship excluding the Women in Transition and Women in Need awards, of which students can only apply to one.

Eligibility criteria varies, though most will require applicants to provide transcripts, demonstrate financial need, and prove they’re committed to working in the accounting field.

Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

Scholarship amount: $5,000

Application Deadline: April to June

Women who are pursuing a business program in qualifying fields and living or studying in an area where Zonta International is active can apply for this scholarship. There are 37 awards for $5,000. Applicants also need to be enrolled in the final year of a Master’s program or at least the second year of their undergraduate degree.

American Nephrology Nurses Association Career Mobility Scholarships

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

Application Deadline: November 30

The American Nephrology Nurses Association, or ANNA, offers a few scholarships ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 designed to support qualifying members who are pursuing an advanced or BSN degree in nursing. Qualifying criteria includes being a current full ANNA member for at least two years, enrolled or accepted into a qualifying nursing program, and a 250-word essay outlining the potential impact of the scholarship.

Chicana Latina Foundation Scholarships

Scholarship amount: $1,500

Application Deadline: The next application cycle will open on January 1, 2024

Self-identifying Chicana or Latina college students living in qualifying California counties can apply for a $1,500 scholarship. They need to be students attending an accredited community college, college, or university full-time and meet certain academic requirements. Plus, they’ll need to attend the Chicana Latina Foundation (CLF) Leadership Institute and CLF Annual Awards Dinner if selected for a scholarship.

To apply for this scholarship, applicants will be required to submit two letters of recommendation, one of which needs to be from a counselor or professor.

Undergraduate students need to submit unofficial or official transcripts from their current degrees and one letter of recommendation. Graduate students will also need to submit a resume or CV in addition to providing a transcript and letter of recommendation.

The Women In Aerospace Foundation Scholarship

Scholarship amount: $2,000-$5,000

Application Deadline: June 13

The Women In Aerospace Foundation aims to promote careers in the aerospace field — this scholarship program is one of the ways it does so. The organization awards five merit-based awards to women who are rising juniors and seniors working for a bachelor’s degree in engineering, math, or science.

To qualify, applicants need to be currently enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university, plan to enroll the next academic year and complete a minimum of 2.5 academic years of full-time college. Applicants also need to have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA.

The Takeaway

Applying for one of the many scholarships for women can be a smart tactic if you’re trying to figure out how to pay for your college education. In addition to the scholarships listed here, there are a variety of other opportunities — many scholarships go unclaimed because they don’t receive enough applications. It doesn’t hurt to submit an application since the worst they’ll say is “no”, and the benefits are well worth it.

There are other ways to help cover the cost of college, as well, and you’ll likely want to explore your options to see what makes the most sense for your situation.

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

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


Photo credit: iStock/valentinrussanov

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.

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 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.


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When to Apply For Student Loans

When to Apply for Student Loans: Student Loan Deadlines

If you need a loan for college, you may be wondering whether a private student loan is the right choice for you. And, once you’ve made the decision to take out a student loan, you might want to know the differences between federal vs. private student loans and the deadlines associated with each.

Keep reading to learn all that information and more, so you can determine how and when to apply for student loans.

What Are Private Student Loans?

Private student loans are student loans that are offered by private lenders like banks or credit unions to help people pay for the costs associated with college. Similar to applying for an auto loan or mortgage, private student loans require a loan application and approval from the lender.

Depending on how much money you need for school, you can borrow a set amount from a private lender. The amount they grant you ultimately depends on financial factors like your income, credit score, and the credit history of yourself and/or your cosigner (if applicable).

Unlike federal student loans with fixed interest rates and terms, the fees, repayment plans, and interest rates for private student loans are set by the individual lender. Because of this, it’s important to “shop around” with private lenders until you find rates and terms that meet your financial needs.

Private student loans can help pay for tuition, books and supplies, transportation, and fees. Using your student loan for housing or room and board expenses is also an option.

Recommended: Examining the Different Types of Student Loans

Should I Get a Student Loan?

The question of whether or not you should get a student loan is quite personal and depends on your unique financial situation. In a nation where, in 2023, the average federal student loan debt per borrower is $37,338 and the average private student loan debt per borrower is $54,921, taking out student loans is clearly a popular decision, but whether it’s the right decision is a different story.

For starters, when deciding whether it’s a good idea to take on college debt, it helps to ask whether a degree would be valued in your desired career.

In addition, there are a few other steps you can take to see if taking out a student loan will be worth it in the long run:

•   Look up the tuition, room, board, and other costs of attending your desired college(s).

•   Create a budget to determine whether you can afford those costs after factoring in financial alternatives like scholarships, savings, family help, etc.

•   Use a student loan payment calculator to assess how much you can expect to pay in student loan debt when you graduate.

•   Research salary levels in your desired field to see if the expected compensation will cover the cost of student loan payments over time.

•   Assess how comfortably you can live at your expected income level, factoring in payment estimates from the student loan calculator.

Once you’ve whittled down this information, you should have a better idea of whether taking out student loans is aligned with your long-term financial goals.

Recommended: How Do Student Loans Work? Guide to Student Loans

Other Steps to Take Before Securing Student Loans

Exploring ways to pay for school without taking on student loan debt is the first line of defense in college financial planning.

Since this isn’t always an option, you can minimize your reliance on loans by taking the following steps:

1.    Pull funds from a 529 college savings plan that you or your guardians may have set up for future college costs.

2.    Apply for scholarships and grants to offset the cost of tuition, room, board and other expenses.

3.    Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form to start the process of securing federal grants or federal student loans and use this money to cover as much of your tuition as possible.

4.    Opt for Federal Direct Subsidized Loans and Perkins Loans if you qualify.

5.    Offset your remaining college costs with unsubsidized federal loans.

6.    Opt out of PLUS loans if possible, as their interest rates and origination fees can be steep.

Finally, once you’ve exhausted the six options above, you can turn to a private student loan to cover any remaining costs associated with your college education.

When Is a Private Student Loan a Good Option?

There are some instances where a private student loan might be an option worth considering:

•   You’d like to cover the gap between your financial aid package or scholarship and your college expenses.

•   You don’t have specific financial need requirements, but still want help subsidizing the cost of college.

•   You’re looking to shop around with lenders to compare multiple loan options before selecting.

•   You have strong credit or a cosigner with a strong credit score who could potentially help you qualify for a more competitive interest rate.

•   You’re hoping to refinance your student loans in the future.

When Should You Apply for a Private Student Loan?

Generally speaking, it’s wise to consider federal student loans first. If you then decide a private student loan is the right option for you, you might be wondering when to apply for private loans.

You can apply for a private student loan directly from the desired lender’s website. It’s wise to apply after you’ve made your final school decision and once you know how much you need to borrow. This prevents you from having to submit multiple student loan applications for all the schools you’re considering.

Private vs Federal Student Loans

When it comes to private vs. federal student loans, there are a few features and specifics that can help you make your decision:

 

Federal Student Loans Private Student Loans
Funded by the federal government. Terms and conditions are set by law. Funded by private student loan lenders like banks, credit unions, state agencies, or online lenders. Terms and conditions are set by the lender.
Payments aren’t due until after you graduate, leave school, or change your enrollment status to less than half-time. Payments can be due while you’re still in school, but deferment is sometimes possible.
The interest rate is fixed, based on the federal interest rate at the time, and often lower than private loans. The interest rate can be fixed or variable and is based on your individual financial circumstances.
No credit check is required to qualify, except for Direct PLUS Parent Loans. Established credit and/or a cosigner may be required to qualify.
Interest may be tax deductible. Interest may be tax deductible.
Loans can be consolidated. Loans cannot be consolidated, but can be refinanced.
You may be able to postpone or lower your payments. You need to check with your lender to see if you can postpone or lower your payments.
There are several different repayment plans. You need to check with your lender about repayment plans (if any).
There is no prepayment penalty fee. There could be a prepayment penalty fee.
You may be eligible for loan forgiveness if you work in public service. Many private lenders don’t offer loan forgiveness.

 

Deadlines for Federal Student Loans

To apply for federal student loans, students must fill out the FAFSA. There are three separate deadlines to consider:

1. The College or University Deadline

College deadlines for filling out the FAFSA will vary based on the school itself, but typically occur before the academic year begins. Each college will have its own FAFSA deadline, so visiting its financial aid website for this information is an important first step.

To fill out the 2023–24 FAFSA form itself, you can use your 2021 tax information to apply as early as October 1, 2022, and it closes June 30, 2024.

2. The State Deadline

Your home state sets the second deadline when it comes to FAFSA applications. The deadlines are listed on the FAFSA form itself, or you can visit the state deadline list on StudentAid.gov.

3. The Federal Deadline

The U.S. Department of Education sets the final deadline on the list. This entity is in charge of FAFSA and their website will feature the 2023-24 FAFSA application until June 30, 2024.

Federal student aid programs have a limited amount of funds available, so the sooner you can submit your application and avoid encroaching on the hard deadlines, the better.

The 2024-25 FAFSA application will be available in December 2023.

Recommended: FAFSA 101: How to Complete the FAFSA

Deadlines for Private Student Loans

When applying for student loans from a private lender, there isn’t typically a set deadline in place. Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean you want to wait until the last minute, since you’ll need plenty of time before tuition, housing, and other fees are due to secure the funds from your student loan.

Many private student loan lenders can approve your application in a few minutes or less, but it can sometimes take up to two weeks for full approval. That’s why it’s smart to keep your eyes on your school’s payment deadlines and ensure your funds will be disbursed on time.

Named a Best Private Student Loans
Company by U.S. News & World Report.


What Type of Private Student Loan May Be Right for You?

At the end of the day, there are ways to find the right private student loan for your unique circumstances. All it takes is some shopping around.

Considering the following factors can help you determine which type of private student loan makes the most sense for your personal situation:

•   Interest rates and fees

•   Payment flexibility

•   Lender credibility

•   Ability to refinance or release a co-signer

•   Whether the lender sells their loans

•   Repayment benefits

•   If the lender is a preferred partner of your college or university of choice (this information is usually found on the school’s website)

Because the rates and terms on a private student loan are determined by the individual lender and are impacted based on the borrower’s personal financial history, finding a private student loan may require a bit of shopping around.

Looking for Private Student Loan Options?

If you’re looking for a private student loan lender who understands the value of your education and thinks no-fees is a normal part of the application process, consider a private student loan with SoFi.

You can check your rate online and select one of four flexible repayment options on a loan that fits your budget.

The Takeaway

There are several factors that determine whether you should get a student loan — from what you can afford after factoring in financial alternatives like scholarships, savings, family help, etc. to how comfortably you can live with your student loan payments after graduation.

Generally speaking, it’s wise to apply for federal student loans first and turn to private student loans once you’ve exhausted other alternatives. This is because private student loans are not required to follow the same rules as federal student loans, and may lack benefits like income-driven repayment plans or the option to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Private student loans are offered by private lenders like banks or online lenders to help people pay for college. You can apply for a private student loan by shopping around and comparing interest rates, fees, repayment options, and other features on the lenders’ websites.

The deadlines for federal student loans are based on the college you plan to attend, the federal FAFSA deadline for the academic year you’re applying for, and your state’s FAFSA deadline. Private student loans do not have an application deadline, but it’s a good idea to apply well before tuition and other college expenses become due.

Find out more about using a private student loan from SoFi to help pay for college.

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.


Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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, 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.

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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Low-Income Student Loans: Financial Aid Options

Guide to Low-Income Student Loans

With the average annual cost of college now $36,435, figuring out how to pay for college as a low-income student can be daunting. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that students from low-income backgrounds often qualify for grants and scholarships (which you don’t have to pay back), as well as student loans.

Federal student loans are available to all college students, regardless of income, and don’t require a credit check. If you still have gaps in funding after tapping financial aid and federal loans, you may also be able to qualify for private student loans, even with a low income.

Read on to learn more about the financial aid options available to you if you qualify as a low-income student and how to apply for student loans.

What Are Student Loans?

Student loans are an often-used option to help pay for college. In fact, nearly 52% of students who complete their undergraduate programs take out federal loans at some point during their college years, according to the Education Data Initiative.

Student loans can be used to pay for tuition, room and board, and other fees, as well as other associated costs of college like books and rent.

Students can use either federal or private student loans to pay for college. Students who take out federal student loans borrow money from the government, through the U.S. Department of Education. Federal student loans typically offer low, fixed interest rates and other benefits, such as income-driven repayment plans and access to forgiveness programs.

Private student loans, by contrast, are available from banks, credit unions, and other private lenders. These lenders set their own interest rates and conditions for their student loans. To qualify for a private student loan, you need to fill out an application and disclose personal financial information, such as your income and credit score.

Since students typically don’t have well-established credit histories, many private student loans require a cosigner. A cosigner is someone who agrees to pay back the loan if the primary borrower is unable to do so. Because private student loans don’t offer the same borrower protections that come with federal student loans, you generally only want to consider them after you’ve depleted all of your federal student aid options.


💡 Quick Tip: You’ll make no payments on some private student loans for six months after graduation.

Can You Get Student Loans With a Low Income?

Yes, you can get student loans if you have a low income. If you can’t cover the full cost of college with scholarships and grants, student loans can help you take care of the remaining costs of college.

You can access federal student loans no matter your income level, but you do need to meet specific qualifications. You must:

•   Have a high school diploma or a recognized equivalency, such as a GED, or have completed a state-approved home-school high school education.

•   Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen

•   Have a valid Social Security Number

•   Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program

•   Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college

You may also be able to qualify for some private student loans if you have a low income (more on that below).

Recommended: Finding Free Money for College

Low-Income Financial Aid Options

Students and their families pay for college in a variety of ways, including savings, scholarships, grants, work-study, and student loans. Indeed, paying for college often looks like a puzzle — all the pieces fit together in different ways to make everything “fit.”

Here’s a look at how to access low-income student aid options.

FAFSA

Every student (whether they’re low-income students or not) can file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is the free form you can fill out to apply for financial aid for undergraduate or graduate school, and is one of the most important steps students and their families can take to pay for college.

In conjunction with the school you plan to attend, the FAFSA determines your eligibility for need-based and non-need-based financial aid. The FAFSA results determine the amounts you receive for federal grants, scholarships, work-study, and/or federal student loans. In addition to subsidized federal student loan (which are need-based) and unsubsidized federal student loans (which are not need-based), there are two other types of federal aid low-income students may qualify for based on the FAFSA:

•   Federal grants Students who demonstrate financial need may qualify for federal grants, which you do not need to pay back. Some examples of federal grants include Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants. Each grant has its own eligibility requirements. Some, like the TEACH Grant, even have requirements you must fulfill after you attend school. Look at each grant’s eligibility requirements to determine whether you qualify.

•   Work-study Colleges and universities offer part-time work-study opportunities through the Federal Work-Study program. Graduate and undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need can get it whether they are part- or full-time students, as long as your school participates in the Federal Work-Study Program.

How Do You File the FAFSA?

Typically, the FAFSA becomes available on October 1 for the following academic year. The 2024-2025 academic year, however, is an exception. Due to upcoming changes to the FAFSA (and some adjustments to how student aid will be calculated), the application will be available some time in December 2023.

Since some aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, it’s a good idea to complete the FAFSA as soon after its release as possible. Here’s how:

1.    Create your Federal Student Aid ID, also called an FSA ID. You can do this in advance of getting your materials ready and filing the FAFSA.

2.    Make a list of schools you’d like to attend. You can add up to 20 schools on the 2024-2025 FAFSA.

3.    Gather financial documents you’ll need. You’ll need information for both yourself and your parents, such as your Social Security numbers, Alien Registration numbers (if you’re not a U.S. citizen), most recent federal income tax return, W-2s, details of any untaxed income you’ve received, current bank statements, records of any investments you have.

4.    Complete the FAFSA. Using your FSA ID, log in to the website, read the directions, and submit your information.

5.    Review your FAFSA Submission Summary to make sure your information looks correct. The FAFSA Submission Summary, formerly known as the Student Aid Report (SAR), is a document that summarizes the information you provided when filling out the FAFSA. It includes your Student Aid Index (SAI), previously called Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Colleges and universities receive your SAI to determine your eligibility for federal and nonfederal student aid.

Federal Pell Grant

Your SAI will determine your eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant, so you have to file the FAFSA in order to qualify.

Undergraduate students who qualify for a Federal Pell Grant must show exceptional financial need. These grants are usually reserved only for undergraduate students, though some students enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program might qualify.

How much can you receive from a Pell Grant? The amount varies, depending on your SAI, the cost of attendance of your school, whether you are a part-time or full-time student, and whether you will attend for a full academic year or not. The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2023-2024 academic year is $7,395. (The amount for 2024-2025 has not been announced yet.)

Scholarships for Low-Income Students

Colleges and universities may offer need-based scholarships. The money is yours to use for education — you do not need to pay it back. The results of the FAFSA help colleges and universities determine your eligibility for need-based scholarships and scholarships for low-income students.

You can also find need-based scholarships through employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofit organizations, religious groups, and professional and/or social organizations. There are a number of online search tools that can help you find scholarships you might qualify for.

Student Loans for Low-Income Families

As mentioned above, you can tap into either federal or private student loans for low-income students. Here’s a closer look at both.

Federal Student Loans

Based on the results of the FAFSA, you may qualify for a few types of federal student loans. Subsidized federal loans are need-based, while unsubsidized federal student loans are available to all students regardless of income or financial need.

Here’s a quick overview of three main types of federal loans:

•   Direct Unsubsidized Loans can go to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. They are not need-based but you are responsible for paying all interest, which begins accruing as soon as the loan is dispersed.

•   Direct Subsidized Loans are for undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The government pays the interest on these loans while you’re in school, during any deferment, and during the six-month grace period after you graduate.

•   Direct Plus Loans are available for graduate or professional students or parents of undergraduate students and are not need-based or subsidized. Borrowers must undergo a credit check to look for adverse events, but eligibility does not depend on your credit scores.

Private Student Loans

Federal student loans don’t fully cover the cost of attendance for many students, and some students may consider tapping into private student loans as well.

Private lenders set their own requirements, however, and some students may find it challenging to qualify for a private loan if they have:

•   Little to no income

•   A negative credit history

•   A bankruptcy on file

•   A low credit score

How do you get around these issues? You may need to get a job while in school to prove you have some income. You may also want to work on building your credit before you apply for a private student loan. While you may be able to qualify with low income and low credit, you may make up for it by paying more in interest.

Another way to qualify for a private student loan with a low income and/or poor (or limited) credit is to apply with a cosigner. A student loan cosigner is a creditworthy adult who signs for a loan along with you. It’s a legally binding agreement stating that they’re willing to share the responsibility of repaying the loan on time and in full. Many borrowers turn to a family member for cosigning.

How to Apply for Student Loans

How to apply for student loans will differ depending on whether you are interested in federal or private student loans.

To apply for federal student loans, the first step is to fill out the FAFSA. Once you’ve filed the FAFSA, you basically sit back and wait to see what the school you’re planning to attend will offer you in federal aid, which may include a mix of grants, scholarships, and federal student loans. Your school will tell you how to accept all or a part of the loan.

Before you receive your loan funds, you will be required to complete entrance counseling, a tool to ensure you understand your obligation to repay the loan, and also sign a Master Promissory Note, agreeing to the terms of the loan.

Applying for private student loans involves directly going to a lender website or simply talking to your college or university’s financial aid office. Many institutions put together what they call “preferred lenders.”

Even if your school makes it easy for you to apply for a private student loan, it’s a good idea to do your research outside of the preferred lender list to find low interest rates and compare interest rate types (fixed or variable), repayment schedules, and fees. You want to find the terms and conditions that best fit your needs.

As you are researching private student loans, you’ll want to make sure that you (or your cosigner) meets the requirements to qualify for the loan.


💡 Quick Tip: Federal student loans carry an origination or processing fee (1.057% for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans first disbursed from Oct. 1, 2020, through Oct. 1, 2024). The fee is subtracted from your loan amount, which is why the amount disbursed is less than the amount you borrowed. That said, some private student loan lenders don’t charge an origination fee.

The Takeaway

Even if you’re a low-income student, you can access student loans. To find out what federal student loans you are eligible for, you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA. As a low-income student, you may qualify for subsidized federal student loans, which won’t accrue any interest while you’re in school and for six months after you graduate. This makes them more affordable than unsubsidized federal student loans and private student loans.

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.

FAQ

What qualifies as a low-income student?

The U.S. Department of Education defines a low-income student as an individual whose family’s taxable income for the preceding year did not exceed 150% of the poverty income level established by the Census Bureau. For example, a student from a family of four living in the contiguous U.S. with a household income of $45,000 or less is considered low-income.

Do low-income students get free college?

Some low-income students are able to go to college for free through financial aid or merit scholarships. But even without a full ride, low income students can often pay for college through a combination of scholarships, grants, and loans.

Does FAFSA help low-income students?

Yes. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA, gives low-income students access to financial aid, including grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and federal student loans.


Photo credit: iStock/Souda

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.


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

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

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FAFSA for Grad School and How It Differs from Undergrad

Guide to FAFSA for Graduate Students

Graduate school can help you pursue your academic and professional interests, expand your connections, improve your marketability, and increase your earnings. But it often comes with a high price tag.

If you’re thinking about investing in your future by attending graduate school, you may be wondering, does FAFSA cover graduate school?

In short, yes. Just like undergrads, graduate students can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year in order to qualify for federal grants, work-study, and federal student loans.

Read on to learn more about getting financial aid — and other types of funding — to help pay for graduate school.

Do You Have to Fill Out FAFSA for Graduate School?

While filling out the FAFSA is not required to attend graduate school, students who are interested in receiving federal student aid as graduate students will need to fill out and submit the form.

You may be familiar with the FAFSA from your years as an undergraduate student. The process of getting financial aid for graduate school is basically the same, with eligibility largely determined by financial need.

However, there is one notable difference: Graduate students are considered independent students for FAFSA purposes, so you aren’t required to provide any information about your parents’ finances. Another difference: For the 2024–25 FAFSA form, if you’re married, you’ll need to provide your spouse’s information.


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

Grad School Financial Aid Eligibility

To be eligible for financial aid in graduate school you must meet basic FAFSA requirements. These include being a U.S. citizen (or qualifying noncitizen) enrolled or accepted in an eligible degree or certificate program. If you have any criminal convictions, have previously defaulted on a student loan, or owe a Pell Grant overpayment, that could affect your eligibility for federal aid.

FAFSA doesn’t have a maximum income cutoff, so it’s worth applying even if you have a steady income. There is also no age cutoff for financial aid, so you can complete and submit the form whether you graduated college recently or many years ago.

Some financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s generally a good idea to fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible after its release. Due to an overhaul (and simplification) of the form, the FAFSA for the 2024-25 academic year will be available in December 2023 —- a delay from the usual October 1. Be sure to submit your FAFSA form by the earliest financial aid deadline of the schools to which you are applying, which is typically early February.

Here’s a look at what type of financial aid you may be eligible for as a graduate student.

Grants

Your financial aid package for graduate school may include federal and state grants based on your field of study, interest, or type of school.

For example, if you’re studying education, you might be eligible for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education, or TEACH Grant. The TEACH grant provides up to $4,000 a year to education students who will teach in a low-income school or high-needs field after graduation.

Graduate students can also qualify for federal Fulbright Grants and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants. However, grad students are generally not eligible for the Pell Grant or Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) Grant, which are largely reserved for undergraduates.

You can learn about state-based grant opportunities by contacting the department of education for your state, as well as the state where the graduate school is located.

Many graduate schools also offer grants based on financial need or academic excellence. These grants generally don’t need to be repaid, although there may be specific stipulations, such as maintaining a certain GPA.

Recommended: Grants For College – Find Free Money for Students

Work-Study

You may be familiar with work-study programs from your time as an undergraduate student. Graduate students are also eligible for the Federal Work-Study Program, which provides part-time jobs to students who demonstrate financial need.

Work-study is available to both full- and part-time students, though your graduate school must participate in the Federal Work-Study Program. Your school’s financial aid office can give you more details about the work-study program and the types of jobs available to you. Your program may also offer assistantships or teaching roles to help you pay for school (more on that below).

Federal Student Loans

The federal student loans you can access in graduate school are slightly different from those you can take out in undergraduate school. For example, you cannot take advantage of Direct Subsidized Loans, which are loans in which the government pays the interest while you are in college and during the six month grace period after you graduate. Direct Subsidized Loans are only available to undergraduate students with demonstrated need.

Here’s a look at the two types of federal loans available to grad students.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are loans made to eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, but eligibility is not based on financial need. And, unlike a Direct Subsidized Loan (which is need-based), the government does not pay the interest while you’re in school or for six months after graduation. Interest will accrue while you are attending grad school and get added to your loan balance.

The interest rate is higher on Direct Unsubsidized student loans for graduate students than it is for undergraduate students.

If you are a graduate or professional student, you can borrow up to $20,500 each year in Direct Unsubsidized Loans. The interest rate is fixed at 7.05% for loans first disbursed between July 1, 2023, and July 1, 2024.

Grad PLUS Loans

If you need to borrow more than the annual limit for Direct Unsubsidized Loans to pay for grad school, you can also access a Federal Grad PLUS loan, which is also called a Direct PLUS Loan.

These federal loans are exclusively for graduate/professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate/professional students. Eligibility is not based on financial need, but a credit check is required. Borrowers who have an adverse credit history must meet additional requirements to qualify.

Grad Plus Loans are the most costly type of federal loan. For loans disbursed between July 1, 2023, and July 1, 2024, the interest rate is a fixed 8.05%. You’ll also pay a one-time disbursement fee of 1.057%.

Grad Plus Loans come with higher borrowing limits than other types of federal loans. You can borrow up to the cost of attendance of your graduate school program minus other financial assistance you get.

To apply for a Grad PLUS Loan, you need to fill out the Direct PLUS Loan Application.

Tips on Filling Out FAFSA as a Grad Student

Filling out the FAFSA as a graduate student is similar to filling out the form as an undergrad. However, your dependency status will differ because you’re no longer considered a dependent student. As a result, you typically do not need to input your parents’ information onto the FAFSA. You’ll only need to supply information about your (and if, you’re married, your spouse’s) income and assets, the graduate schools you want to receive your FAFSA information, and then sign and submit your form.

When Will You Hear Back?

It typically takes the education department three to five days to process the FAFSA if you submitted electronically; seven to 10 days if you mailed in a paper form.

If you provided a valid email address, you’ll receive an email notification that includes a link to your electronic Student Aid Report (SAR) at fafsa.gov. You’ll get a paper SAR through postal mail if you didn’t provide a valid email address. You’ll want to review your SAR carefully to make sure it’s complete and accurate and correct/update information if necessary.

The graduate schools you apply to will then review your FAFSA information and other documents and send you a financial aid award letter that details the scholarships, grants, and federal student loans you are eligible to receive. You may receive your financial aid award not long after you receive your acceptance letter to the graduate school. However, every school is different, so it’s a good idea to ask the admission or financial aid office of your school for more information.

Average Disbursed Amount

The average graduate student loan debt balance (from graduate school alone) is $78,118, according to the Education Data Initiative.

The maximum amount you can borrow under the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan program for graduate school is $20,500 a year, with a maximum lifetime limit of $138,500 (including undergraduate loans).

In comparison, a Grad PLUS Loan allows you to borrow up to the cost of attendance, minus any other financial aid received.

FAFSA for Grad School vs Undergrad

Graduate school financial aid is similar to undergraduate financial aid, but there are a few key differences. Here’s a look at how the two compare.

Graduate Student Financial Aid

Undergraduate Student Financial

FAFSA Status Independant Dependant (typically)
Use financial information for Student (and, if applicable, spouse) Student and parents
Federal loans eligible for Unsubsidized Direct Loans and Grad Plus Loans Unsubsidized and Subsidized Direct Loans
Interest rate for Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans 7.05% 5.50%
Eligible for work-study? Yes Yes
Pell and FSEOG grant eligible? No Yes

Alternatives to Federal Aid

Federal aid isn’t the only way to pay for graduate school. Here’s a look at some other sources of funding.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are offered by banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Unike federal student loans for graduate students (which come with fixed interest rates), private student loans may have fixed or variable rates.

Interest rates are set by the lender, so it can pay to shop around to find the best deal on a private student loan for grad school. Generally borrowers with excellent credit qualify for the lowest rates.

Similar to Grad Plus loans, you can usually borrow up to the full cost of attendance from a private lender. However, Grad Plus Loans come with a disbursement fee, while private lenders generally don’t charge this fee. If you have excellent credit (or can recruit a cosigner who does), you could potentially pay less with a private graduate student loan than a Grad Plus Loan. Keep in mind, though, that private student loans don’t offer the same protections (like access to forgiveness programs and income-based repayment plans) that come with federal student loans.


💡 Quick Tip: Master’s degree or graduate certificate? Private or federal student loans can smooth the path to either goal.

Grants and Scholarships

You’ll be eligible for federal, state, and institutional grants by filling out the FAFSA. However, there are also funding opportunities available outside this system. Many private organizations have created grants and scholarships to help graduates pursue an education in the fields they support.

Look for scholarships and grants from professional associations in your field. Your graduate school department or career department can often help you find scholarships based on your qualifications. There are also several scholarship websites to help you find money for graduate school, including Fastweb and Scholarships.com.

Fellowships and Assistantships

Graduate fellowships and assistantships can both help you pay for graduate school but they work in different ways.

A fellowship is like a scholarship that you can use for any costs you incur as a student. These programs are often available from professional organizations relating to your major. With a fellowship, you may perform research activities on campus or outside of your school.

An assistantship, on the other hand, is typically school-based and more likely to directly provide full or partial tuition waivers. Some assistantships also come with living stipends. An assistantship typically involves doing work on campus, usually related to your major. You might get a research job, which often entails assisting a tenured professor on an upcoming study, or you could secure a teaching job, which gives you the chance to serve as an assistant or professor at the school.

Employer Tuition Assistance

If you work for an employer that offers tuition assistance, your company may cover some or all of the costs of your graduate or professional education as long as you meet the program’s eligibility requirements.

You may even be able to access tuition assistance through a part-time job. Your human resources office will have details about tuition assistance, qualifications, and reimbursement procedures.

The Takeaway

Just like undergrads, grad students can qualify for financial aid to pay for school. Your grad school aid package might include grants, work-study, and federal loans.

As a grad student, you can take out more in federal loans than you could as an undergrad, which may make it easier to attend a more expensive school. It’s generally a good idea to tap lower-cost Direct Unsubsidized Loans before considering PLUS Loans.

Other sources of funding for grad school include: private grants, scholarships, fellowships, assistantships, and private student loans.

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.

FAQ

How much can FAFSA disburse for graduate school?

As a graduate student, you can borrow up to $20,500 in unsubsidized federal loans each year. Grad PLUS Loans are also an option, and allow students to borrow up to the cost of attendance for graduate school.

Graduate students may also qualify for grants (which don’t need to be repaid) and work-study by filling out the FAFSA.

Is it harder to qualify for financial aid as a graduate student?

Not necessarily. While there are fewer need-based aid options for graduate students, your university or graduate program might provide merit- or research-based assistance. In addition, many private and nonprofit organizations offer scholarships and grants for graduate students.

Do you need to make a new FAFSA account for graduate school?

No, you do not need to make a new FAFSA account for graduate school. If you created an FSA ID as an undergraduate, you can use the same ID to apply for financial aid for graduate school.


Photo credit: iStock/sturti

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.

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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