Is the Average College Tuition Rising?

Is the Average College Tuition Rising? 2023 Price of College

Between 1991 and 2022, the average published tuition and fees increased from the following amounts, after adjusting for inflation, according to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid in 2021:

•   $2,310 to $3,800 at public two-year schools

•   $4,160 to $10,740 at public four-year schools

•   $19,360 to $38,070 at private nonprofit four-year institutions

This piece will cover the average cost of college tuition and fees in 2021-2022, the increase in college tuition costs, the reasons for the rise of average college tuition, and college tuition options you may want to consider for yourself.

Average Cost of College in 2021/2022

In 2021-2022, the average published price for tuition and fees for full-time undergraduate students were as follows, according to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid:

•   $10,740 for public four-year in-state institutions, $170 higher than in 2020-2021

•   $27,560 for public four-year out-of-state institutions, $410 higher than in 2020-2021

•   $3,800 for public two-year in-district institutions (including average community college tuition), $50 higher than in 2020-2021

•   $38,070 for private nonprofit four-year institutions, $800 higher than in 2020-2021

Increase in College Tuition Cost Over the Last 10 Years

Generally speaking, tuition has increased in the past decade. According to data from The College Board, the average published tuition price at a four-year nonprofit university during the 2011-2012 school year was $28,500 , while in 2021-2022 that number jumped to $38,070 .

However, tuition increases have remained at historically low rates for both the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years. This can likely be attributed to decreased enrollment and tuition freezes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Reasons for the Rise of Average College Tuition

What are the reasons for the rise of the average college tuition? There are many reasons, including the following.

Less State Funding

After the 2008 recession, state and local funding for public higher education was cut dramatically. While there have been incremental increases in the amount of funding these institutions receive in the past 10 years, in most states funding for these institutions has not been restored to previous levels.

Now, there is concern that the Covid-19 pandemic may cause additional cuts in the future.

Campus Improvements

As many colleges increase their offerings, they must hire more faculty, make accommodations to house more students in residence halls, and implement capital and technological improvements. These costs may require students to pay more.

Non-instructional expenditures may include recreation centers, computer systems, housing, and food — all of this plays a role in tuition rate increases.

Recommended: How to Pay for College

Marketplace Lacks Transparency or Competition

The higher education marketplace lacks competitiveness and transparency, according to a report by the Manhattan Institute , which contributes to an increase in costs:

•   Families may not know discounts right away: Students often do not know how much it will cost them to attend college because they only see the sticker price until after they’ve applied and been accepted, when the financial aid award shows the discounts and grant aid available. Transparency allows us to comparison-shop and colleges and universities can compete with one another for students’ business.

•   A small number of colleges in an area: When small numbers of colleges exist in an area, costs often increase because no competitiveness occurs, particularly with students who commute to campuses.

•   Perception of the financial value of education: As long as students believe improved earnings opportunities and the demand curve goes up, prospective students’ expectations determine how much they will pay for school.

•   Regulations affect the marketplace: New business models haven’t appeared that offer higher education at a lower cost. Regulations due to federal intervention control financial aid dollars and accreditation requirements limit new entrants.

Personnel Costs Increase

The Higher Education Price Index measures the price change of the amount of money that institutions must spend to keep things going, including salaries for service and clerical individuals, administrators, professors, janitors, and even landscape professionals.

For example, in 2021, faculty salaries increased by 1%, as compared with 2.7% in 2020. Clerical costs increased 2.8%, and fringe benefits rose 4.1%.

Lack of Regulation or Caps on Tuition

No central mechanism controls college costs in the United States at the federal level. An unregulated fee structure means that colleges and universities can charge as much as they want in tuition and fees. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, cap tuition.

In 2009, Missouri enacted one of the nation’s most stringent caps on tuition by limiting in-state tuition and required fee increases to align with the Consumer Price Index. Institutions would face fines if they exceeded that cap. However, Missouri’s governor lifted the price cap, and colleges can begin increasing without limits in July 2022.

College Financing Options

Numerous college financing options exist for students. Students can tap into various options to pay for costs. Undergraduate students received an average of $14,800 of financial aid 2020-2021, according to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid, which includes the following:

•   $10,050 in grants

•   $3,780 in federal loans

•   $880 in education tax credits

•   $90 in federal work-study (jobs for college students)

Students may rely on scholarships, grants, work-study, and student loans, in addition to personal savings to pay for their education.

Scholarships

Scholarships refer to money received from colleges or another organization that students. Students don’t have to pay back scholarships. A total of 58% of students receive scholarships. Students receive an average award of $7,923 each, according to the Education Data Initiative .

Recommended: Private Students Loans vs Federal Student Loans 

Student Loans

Students can take advantage of federal or private loans. Federal loans are provided by the U.S. Department of Education. To apply for a federal student loan, students need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) each year.

Private loans are provided by banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. These are separate from any sort of federal aid, and as a result, lack the protections afforded to federal student loans — like income-driven repayment options or the ability to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. For this reason, private student loans are generally considered by students only after they have reviewed and exhausted all other options for financing.

Students and parents borrowed $95.9 billion in 2020-2021, which decreased from $135.1 billion (in 2020 dollars) in 2010-2011.

Grants

Students can tap into federal or state grants or institutional grants. Grants can also come from employers or private sources. Institutional grant aid for undergraduate students increased by 62% between 2010-2011 and 2020-2021 ($22.0 billion in 2020 dollars).

Work-study

Students can get a work-study award, which is money they must earn when they attend college. They must file the FAFSA in order to qualify for work-study and must work a job on campus to receive the money.

Personal savings

Families report paying $26,373 for college in 2020-2021, a 12% decrease from 2019–2020. It’s not uncommon for students to get help from their parents — nearly half of college costs are covered by parent income and savings, according to Sallie Mae’s annual How America Pays for College 2021 report. Strategies for paying for college for parents include things like setting up an account designed to help them save for college or other educational expenses.

As students and their parents consider their college options, they may consider focusing on programs that offer affordable tuition, or where they received a strong financial aid package. Some schools may even offer free college tuition for some students. Other students may opt to enroll in their school’s tuition payment plan, so they can spread tuition payments over a period of time.

Explore Student Loan Options From SoFi

Let SoFi help you explore low-cost loan options with our no-fee private student loans. Apply in just a few minutes and easily add a cosigner to the application. Plus, SoFi offers four flexible repayment options so borrowers can select the one that fits best with their financial plan.

The Takeaway

The average college tuition continues to increase. In 1991, the college tuition at a private four-year institution was just $19,360 and in 2022 it was $38,070. There are a number of reasons for increasing tuition rates, including factors like a dramatic decrease in state funding, lack of regulation, and an increase in operating costs at colleges and universities.

Many students rely on financial aid to pay for college. In the case that financial aid, including federal student loans, isn’t enough — private student loans may be an option to consider. If you think a private student loan is a fit, consider SoFi.

Find out more about how a private student loan from SoFi could help you pay for college.

Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub


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.


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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Tips for Choosing a Medical School

Choosing the Right Medical School

Medical school is a big commitment. Not only will students spend four years of their life working towards a medical degree, but they’ll pay a big chunk of change for it (financing medical school is a major undertaking and can lead to debt). Which is why choosing the right medical school is so important. Keep reading for insight into how to pick the right medical school and how to finance it.

What Is Medical School?

Medical school is a necessary step towards becoming a doctor and generally, it takes four years to complete in order to receive an M.D., N.D., or D.O. degree. After medical school, graduates will need to pursue a medical residency in their specialty before they can become practicing doctors.

Recommended: How to Pay for Medical School

Different Types of Medical Courses

One of the first steps potential medical students can take to find the right medical school for them, is to better understand the different types of medical courses there are. Once they know what type of medical courses they want to take, they can narrow their search to just medical schools that offer those courses.

Traditional Courses

Some medical students may be attracted to more traditional courses that have students finish two years of pre-clinical work before they move on to the three years of clinical work they need to complete to get their degree. Typically, pre-clinical work occurs in a classroom setting. This is where medical students can learn the key principles of medical science. Once they move on to the clinical work portion of their studies, they will need to work in hospitals or clinics with direct supervision, while attending lectures.

This combination educates students on medical practices while making sure they get the hands-on experience they need to use their pre-clinical knowledge in real life situations.

Integrated Courses

Integrated courses are becoming more and more popular at medical schools, as this style, of course, combines pre-clinical and clinical education. In an integrated course, medical students can expect to learn practical clinical skills and work through problem-based learning.

Often in integrated courses, a lot of the students’ work is self-directed and early patient contact is encouraged.

Intercalated Courses

Intercalated courses are unique, as they allow students to take a year out of medical school to earn a BSc or MSc in a related subject. It’s not a guarantee that every medical school will allow students to do this, but in some schools students have the option or are mandated to do intercalated courses.

Recommended: Making Sense of the Rising Cost of Medical School

How to Choose Your Medical School

Every medical student had to ask themself at one point, which medical school is right for me? Here’s a few factors medical students can take into consideration to make answering that very important question easier.

1. Cost

Med school tuition is pricey and it’s not uncommon for students to take on debt for medical school. On top of tuition, students will also need to pay additional costs such as service fees and textbooks.

While medical schools do offer financial aid such as grants and medical school scholarships to their students, it’s important to prepare for the cost of medical school as not everyone receives financial assistance.

Attending an in-state school could help medical students find a lower tuition cost than at out-of-state or private options. For example, at the University of Utah, tuition for medical school if the student lives in-state is about $40,000 a year, whereas out-of-state students can expect to pay closer to $77,000 a year on tuition at the same school.

Each school charges different tuition rates, but generally, staying in-state can save medical students a lot of money.

Recommended: Average Cost of Medical School

2. Programs Offered

Apart from their general MD program, medical schools typically have multiple programs to choose from that lead to different careers paths. Before applying to medical school, students can take into consideration how many different programs are offered, how many students are accepted to each program, how long their ideal program takes to finish, and how that program aligns with their career goals.

3. Admissions Criteria

One of the easiest ways to start a search for the right medical school is by looking for schools where the applicant meets the admissions criteria. Students can do some research on the admissions criteria for each school to make sure their qualifications lineup, as well as what they need to do to apply to each specific school.

4. Location

Location matters. The location of a medical school can affect how much it costs a student to attend, what their housing situation looks like, and what their lifestyles outside of school is like. By choosing a local school, students may be able to save money on tuition or be able to cut costs by living with a family member. Not to mention, some locations simply have a higher cost of living than others. Students can crunch the numbers on what it would cost them to live at each medical school they want to apply to, so they can get a better idea of what attending medical school will cost them as a whole.

5. Career Path Opportunities

There are a wide variety of career opportunities that can arise after medical school and not all of them involve working as a practicing doctor. Medical school graduates can pursue teaching, research, and business opportunities amongst other exciting career paths. Students can check what career path opportunities a school’s curriculum and counseling center support before they apply to get a feel for if that medical school can help them meet their unique career goals.

SoFi’s Private Student Loans For Medical School

Students that need to take out medical school student loans, may find that SoFi’s private student loans can meet their needs. It only takes minutes to apply online and borrowers can apply with a cosigner. Keep in mind that because private student loans don’t have to offer the same benefits or protections as federal student loans (like the opportunity to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness), they are generally considered by students only after they have thoroughly reviewed all other financing options.

Borrowers can repay their SoFi student loans in a way that works for them by choosing a monthly student loan payment and rate that fits their budget. Borrowers never have to worry about fees and can enjoy a six-month grace period after graduation so that they have time to get settled in their post-grad life before they need to start making monthly loan payments.

Recommended: Smart Medical School Loan Repayment Strategies

The Takeaway

Choosing medical schools to apply to is a lot of work, but that research is a key step students need to take to find the best medical school for them.

For help covering the costs of medical school, learn more about SoFi private student loans.

FAQ

Is 30 too old for med school?

No, 30 is not too old to attend medical school. Applicants that apply for medical school will be in their mid-thirties four years later whether or not they pursue a degree. It’s up to them if those four years make a difference in the scheme of things.

What makes a good med school?

A good medical school is one that meets the needs of the student, when it comes to location, finances, and program opportunities.

How do you compare med schools?

Potential medical students can take factors like cost, location, and areas of study into account to compare and contrast their different medical school options.


Photo credit: iStock/Courtney Hale

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


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


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

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What Is a Scholarship & How to Get One?

What Is a Scholarship & How To Get One

Considering the average published college tuition according to The College Board ranges from $3,800 for a public two-year institution to $38,070 at private nonprofit four-year institutions, college students need all of the financial help that they can get.

One option is to use scholarships, which are a form of financial aid awarded to students to help pay for tuition and other education expenses. Unlike student loans, scholarships don’t need to be repaid.

Below, you’ll find the answers to “what is a scholarship?” as well as where to get a scholarship and the different types of scholarships that may be available to you.

What Is a Scholarship?

A scholarship is a form of financial aid that’s awarded to students to help pay for school. Over the last 10 years, the number of scholarships awarded has increased by 45%, according to the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA). Each year, there’s an estimated $46 billion in grants and scholarship money awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, colleges, and universities and an additional $7.4 billion awarded through private scholarships and fellowships.

Scholarships can be delivered in a lump-sum payment or the scholarship award can be broken up into multiple payments that are sent out each semester or school year. Depending on the scholarship, funds can either be sent directly to the student or sent to the school and the student would pay any additional money owed for tuition, fees, room, and board.

Scholarships are awarded based on a number of different criteria, including academic achievement, athletic achievement, community involvement, job experience, the field of study, financial need, and more.

Unlike student loans, scholarships don’t need to be repaid. Scholarships are generally considered gift aid.

What Is a Full-Ride Scholarship?

A full-ride scholarship is an award that covers everything — tuition, books, fees, room, board, and sometimes even living expenses. Full ride scholarships mean no other additional aid is needed to pay for school.

Full-ride scholarships are highly sought after and some may have strict guidelines and requirements.

Different Types of Scholarships for College Students

There are various forms of gift aid that students can use to pay for college. While there are differences between them, they’re similar in the fact that they do not need to be repaid. Here are different types of scholarships for college students.

Federal Grants

Federal grants are need based financial aid from the U.S. government to help students pay for college. The Department of Education offers a variety of grants to students attending four-year colleges or universities, community colleges, and career schools.

Most federal grants are awarded to students based on financial need, the cost of attendance, and enrollment status. Students can start by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form annually to determine eligibility. Once FAFSA is submitted, your school will let you know how much you may receive and when you may receive it.

Here are grant programs provided by the federal government:

•   Federal Pell Grants

•   Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG)

•   Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants

•   Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants

While grants don’t typically have to be repaid, there are circumstances that may require repayment, such as:

•   You withdrew from the program early

•   Your enrollment status changed that reduced your eligibility for the grant

•   You received outside scholarships or grants that reduced the need for federal student aid

•   You received a TEACH Grant but did not meet the requirements for the TEACH Grant service obligation

Recommended: Finding Free Money for College

State Grants and Scholarships

According to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), almost every state education agency has at least one grant or scholarship available to residents. Eligibility may be restricted to state residents attending an in-state college, but this isn’t always the case. Check what state financial aid programs may be available to you through your state education agency.

Scholarships and Grants From Schools

Institutional aid is awarded to students by the schools they plan to attend. Scholarships and grants from schools may be offered based on need or merit. For example, a student may be awarded a scholarship or grant through the school for strong academic or athletic performance.

It’s also important to read the requirements for scholarships and grants from schools. Some awards may demand that students maintain a minimum GPA throughout the year. Others may only be available for your freshman and sophomore years.

Private Scholarships

Private scholarships are financial aid awarded to students that are funded by foundations, civic groups, companies, religious groups, professional organizations, charities, and individuals. Most private scholarships have specific criteria required to qualify, according to the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) , and it may take some extra effort to research the availability of private scholarships.

Most private scholarships are only awarded for a single year. Check with the scholarship’s agency to find out if the scholarship is renewable and any criteria you may need to meet.

Main Sources of Scholarships and Grants

The main sources of scholarships and grants are from the four types of scholarships and grants listed above. Here are the major sources of scholarships and grants for college students and the percentage of total grants and/or scholarships that comes from each source:

•   Federal grants: 47%

•   State grants and scholarships: 8%

•   Scholarships and grants from schools: 35%

•   Private scholarships: 10%

Recommended: A Guide to Unclaimed Scholarships and Grants

Reasons to Be Awarded With a Scholarship

Scholarships aren’t only awarded to those with a 4.0 GPA. There are many reasons to be awarded a scholarship and students should consider their skills, areas of interest, and past achievements or awards.

Need-Based

Need-based scholarships are typically awarded to students based on their household income. The school’s financial aid office may also determine how much financial aid the student is able to receive.

Schools subtract your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) from your Cost of Attendance (COA) to determine your financial need and how much need-based aid you can receive. Your COA is the cost to attend the school and your EFC is the number that financial aid staff uses to determine how much financial aid you would receive. Information provided on your FAFSA is used to calculate your EFC.

Academic performance may also be taken into consideration when awarding need-based scholarships.

Academic Scholarships

Academic scholarships, also known as merit scholarships, are awarded to students based on their GPA and SAT/ACT admissions test scores. Award committees may also take other factors into consideration, such as extracurricular activities and leadership qualities.

Athletic Scholarships

Athletic scholarships are awarded to students who show exceptional athletic abilities while also taking academic performance into consideration. The National Collegiate Athletic Association, a nonprofit organization that regulates student-athletes, has provided more than $3.6 billion in athletics scholarships annually to more than 180,000 student-athletes. Athletic scholarships are not available at Division III colleges. Only about 1% to 2% of high school athletes are awarded athletics scholarships to compete in college.

Recommended: Balancing Being a Student Athlete & Academics in College

Community Service Scholarships

There are also scholarship opportunities for students who volunteer in their local communities. For example, the Equitable Excellence Scholarship awards students who have made a positive impact on their communities through volunteer service. The scholarship provides renewable awards of $5,000 to students for a total of $20,000 per recipient as well as one-time $2,500 scholarships.

Scholarships for Hobbies and Extracurriculars

Certain hobbies, interests, or extracurricular activities may also provide scholarships. For example, members of Starfleet, the International Star Trek Fan Association, can be awarded scholarships up to $1,000 in the categories including medicine, engineering, performing arts, international studies, business, science, education, writing, law enforcement, and general studies.

Scholarships based on Identity or Heritage

Some scholarship programs offer funds to help support traditionally underrepresented students. Outside of identity, many of these scholarships may require a minimum GPA, a need for financial assistance, leadership potential or participation in community activities.

There are also scholarships for mothers. When dealing with the costs of child care, many single mothers face unique obstacles to getting their college degrees.

Employer or Military Scholarships

Students may also be able to find opportunities through the employer of a family member. Eligibility and award amounts vary by employer. A variety of scholarships are also available to the children and spouses of active duty, reserve, National Guard, or retired members of the U.S. military.

How Can You Spend a Scholarship for Student?

How you can spend a scholarship for students depends on that specific program. Some programs may send the check directly to the college’s financial aid office to apply the funds to your tuition bill. Funds that are sent to the student may be used for education-related expenses deemed necessary by the school, like tuition, books, supplies, and housing.

Make sure to check with the scholarship program for rules regarding how you can spend your award.

How to Get a Scholarship for Student

There are several ways for students to find and apply for scholarships. Students can contact the financial aid office at the school they wish to attend or use other free resources. Some of these include:

•   Your high school counselor

•   The U.S. Department of Labor’s scholarship search tool

•   Federal agencies

•   Your state grant agency

•   Your library

•   Foundations, religious or community organizations, local businesses or civic groups

•   Organizations related to your field of interest

•   Identity-based organizations

•   Your employer or your parents’ employers

Check with each program to see how to apply and the requirements. Make sure you apply by the deadline.

Scholarship Requirements

Scholarship requirements vary by program. However, you may notice some common criteria, such as:

•   A GPA minimum

•   Age and grade requirements

•   College enrollment requirement

•   An essay requirement

•   Financial requirements

•   Location requirement

•   Test score requirements

Depending on the program, there may be some requirements related to your major, ethnicity, gender, disability or military service. In some cases, applicants may be required to complete an interview. If you’re applying for scholarships, check with each program to be sure you fully understand the application requirements and eligibility criteria.

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

Alternative Funding Options for College Students

Outside of scholarships and grants, there are other ways for students to pay for college.

One option is to get a part-time job and send extra income aside to put towards tuition or other school-related expenses. While this will likely not cover everything, it could make your costs more manageable. If you have a 529 college savings plan, you can tap this savings account to pay for qualified education expenses on a tax-free basis.

Students can also turn to the federal government to see if they qualify for federal work-study jobs, federal student loans, aid for military families, aid for international students or certain tax benefits. According to the Department of Education, outstanding federal student aid totals $1.61 trillion, representing 43.4 million students. These are typically awarded based on financial need and students can see what they qualify for by filling out FAFSA each year.

Another option is to use private student loans to pay for college. These are nonfederal loans made by a lender, such as a bank, credit union, state agency, university or other institution. Private student loans can be an option to consider after you’ve exhausted all other forms of aid.

Unlike most federal student loans, private loans require a credit check and the loan’s interest rate will depend on the borrower’s creditworthiness, among other factors. Private student loans are not required to offer the same borrower protections as federal student loans, things like deferment options or income-driven repayment plans.

You can even apply for scholarships and grants to pay off student loans after you’ve already graduated. You may also be able to have your student loans forgiven through state or federal programs.

The Takeaway

Before taking on student loans, scholarships and grants can be used to supplement other forms of financial aid. Before you start applying for scholarships, make sure you read the program’s requirements and turn in the application before the deadline.

If you’ve taken out federal or private student loans, there’s always the option to refinance. By refinancing your student loans, you could potentially qualify for a lower interest rate that could help you pay off the principal faster and/or decrease how much you pay each month. Note that decreasing your monthly payments is often the result of extending your loan term, which can ultimately increase the cost of borrowing over the life of the loan. Refinancing any federal loans will eliminate them from federal protections or programs such as the option to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

You can refinance the student loan with SoFi. If a competitor offers a lower rate, SoFi will match it and give you $100 after funding the loan.

Check your rate and learn more about SoFi student loan refinancing today.


Photo credit: iStock/fizkes

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.


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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Student Loan Debt by Major

Student Loan Debt by Major

There’s no question that furthering your education can be an expensive endeavor. Almost a third of all American students take on some level of debt to go to college, according to the Federal Reserve.

But students in some majors can expect to pay a significantly higher price than others.

If your goal is to study law, medicine, or veterinary medicine, for example, and you plan to get a graduate degree, you could end up owing five or six times more than the average person with a bachelor’s degree.

Whether you choose your major out of passion or for the potential paycheck — or both — only time will tell if you’ll get the outcome you’re hoping for. In the meantime, it can be a good idea to look at how much you might have to borrow to finance the course of study you’re considering.

Recommended: How to Pay for College

Student Loan Debt in America

How much do student loan borrowers in the United States owe after college?

According to the Federal Reserve’s most recent numbers, outstanding U.S. student loan debt reached $1.58 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2021. That’s nearly triple what the Fed says Americans owed in 2006.

Most of that debt is carried by millennials and Gen Xers. At the end of 2021, adults 35 to 49 had more than $622 billion in student loan debt, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office. Younger adults, ages 25 to 34, owed more than $500 billion.

And the United States isn’t the only country with a high amount of student debt. In England, the value of outstanding loans reached £141 billion (approximately $191 billion in U.S. dollars) at the end of March 2021. The government there forecasts the value of outstanding loans will be around £560 billion (approximately $760 billion in U.S. dollars) by the middle of this century.

In Sweden, the Board of Student Finance has been asked to raise interest rates on student loans to help make up for the millions of dollars that are lost each year when borrowers don’t repay what they owe.

Still, while student loan forgiveness and other reforms are often discussed here and abroad, little is happening so far.

Recommended: Average Student Loan Debt: By Career

Average Student Loan Debt

According to Education.org, the average federal student loan debt balance is $37,113. And if you include private loan debt, the average balance may be as high as $40,904.

Of course, the amount you might borrow (or have borrowed) could vary significantly depending on your major and the degree required to pursue your chosen profession.

The average student loan debt for a borrower with a bachelor’s degree, for example, is about $29,000. But if your major moves you on to a graduate degree, the cost can move on as well — to an average of $71,000. And if you’re thinking about a degree in law or medicine, your debt could be in the hundreds of thousands.

According to research from The Brookings Institution published in 2020, while only 25% of borrowers went to graduate school, those students account for about a half of the outstanding education debt in the United States.

That’s partly because graduate students typically spend at least a few more years in school than undergraduates do. And besides their undergraduate and graduate courses, many professionals (doctors, dentists, veterinarians, etc.) also go through a residency or post-doctoral program that adds to the overall cost of their education.

Federal student loan programs also allow graduate students to borrow more money than undergraduates. Though there’s a $31,000 cap on federal loans for undergraduate students who are dependents, graduate students may be eligible to borrow up to the full cost of attendance through the federal Grad Plus program.

Other factors that affect the amount students end up borrowing can include the cost of living in the state or city where the school is located, whether the school is public or private, and whether the student is paying in-state or out-of-state tuition.

Recommended: What is the Average Student Loan Debt?

Student Loan Debt by Major

When you first start thinking about how to choose your college major, it’s likely you base your top choices on the academic subjects you’ve always been good at or things you’re interested in. Maybe you have a passion for a subject you feel destined to pursue.

If you’re a practical person, you also may have considered what career that degree might potentially lead to, and how much you’d earn if it became your profession.

What you may not have thought about — at least not at first — was how much it might cost you to major in one subject vs. another. Or if you might have to get an advanced degree in your major to actually get the job, or paycheck, of your dreams.

Here’s a look at the average student loan debt for some popular degrees:

Law Degree

$165,000 upon graduating

More than 95% take out student loans

Medical Degree

$241,600 upon graduating

76% to 89% take out student loans

Recommended: What is the Average Medical School Debt?

Dental School

$304,824 upon graduating

83% take out student loans

Nursing

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN): $19,928

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): $23,711

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): $47,321

More than 70% take out student loans.

Recommended: A Look at the Average Cost of Nursing School 

Business Administration

$66,300 (average for undergraduate and MBA student debt)

51% of MBA graduates take out loans

Architecture

$40,000

(% who borrow not available)

Veterinary Medicine

$188,853

83% take out student loans

Pharmacy

$173,561

85% take out student loans

Education/Teaching

$55,800

45% take out loans

Communication/Journalism

Bachelor’s degree: $24,233

Master’s degree: $58,586

(% with loans not available)

Student Loan Debt by State

If it seems as though your neighbors are carrying higher or lower amounts of debt than the U.S. average of $37,113, it might have something to do with where you live. If you have a high concentration of residents with medical or law school debt in your city or state, for example, the average student debt loan might be higher than it is in other parts of the country. If the amount of debt carried is lower than average, it could be because your state offers its students more financial aid.

Here’s what the average student loan debt by state looks like in the U.S., according to EducationData.org . (These numbers refer to federal student loan debt only.)

State

Avg. Student Debt

Residents w/ Student Debt

Alabama $37,348 12.3%
Alaska $34,431 9.1%
Arizona $35,431 12.1%
Arkansas $33,525 12.7%
California $36,937 9.8%
Colorado $37,120 13.2%
Connecticut $35,448 13.4%
Delaware $37,338 12.4%
District of Columbia $55,077 16.9%
Florida $38,481 11.8%
Georgia $41,843 15%
Hawaii $36,575 8.3%
Idaho $33,100 11.7%
Illinois $38,071 12.5%
Indiana $33,106 13.2%
Iowa $30,848 13.4%
Kansas $33,130 12.8%
Kentucky $33,023 13.1%
Louisiana $34,683 13.7%
Maine $33,352 13.4%
Maryland $43,219 13.3%
Massachusetts $34,549 12.5%
Michigan $36,295 13.9%
Minnesota $33,822 13.6%
Mississippi $37,080 14.6%
Missouri $35,706 13.3%
Montana $33,953 11.4%
Nebraska $32,138 12.4%
Nevada $33,863 10.9%
New Hampshire $34,353 13.5%
New Jersey $35,730 12.6%
New Mexico $34,237 10.6%
New York $38,107 11.9%
North Carolina $37,861 12.1%
North Dakota $29,446 10.9%
Ohio $34,923 15%
Oklahoma $31,832 12.1%
Oregon $37,251 12.7%
Pennsylvania $35,804 13.7%
Puerto Rico $27,607 9.9%
Rhode Island $32,212 12.7%
South Carolina $38,662 13.9%
South Dakota $31,858 12.7%
Tennessee $36,549 12.2%
Texas $33,123 12.1%
Utah $32,781 9.2%
Vermont $38,411 11.7%
Virginia $39,472 12.3%
Washington $35,521 10.1%
West Virginia $32,272 12.4%
Wisconsin $32,272 12.1%
Wyoming $30,246 9.2%

Federal vs Private Student Loan Debt

As these student loan debt statistics show, the rising cost of attending college can be a heavy financial burden for many Americans. And because there are limits on how much students can borrow in federal loans each year, many turn to private student loans to help cover their education bills.

The national private student loan balance now exceeds $140 billion, according to EducationData.org, which says 88.5% of that balance is in undergraduate loans and 11.5% is in graduate student loans.

Private student loans are a pretty small piece of the overall outstanding student loan debt in the United States — about 8.4%. But the number of students taking out private loans is growing. Student loan borrowers owe 71% more in private student loan debt than they did a decade ago, the Student Borrower Protection Center reports.

Recommended: Private Student Loans vs Federal Student Loans

Explore SoFi’s Private Student Loan Options

Since private student loans are not associated with the federal government, repayment terms and benefits can vary from lender to lender. So if you decide to use private student loans to help pay for your education, you may want to take the time to shop for the most competitive interest rates and other loan benefits, and to be clear on what each lender is offering.

Remember: After you graduate, you’ll have to pay back the money you owe — along with all your other bills. And federal loans offer some important protections that you may not get from a private lender, such as the ability to switch to an income-driven plan if you can’t afford your monthly payments or to defer payments if you lose your job. You may want to exhaust all your federal grant and loan options before you consider using a private student loan.

SoFi has a loan to fit the requirements of just about any major you might choose, whether you’re an undergraduate or graduate student, a law school or MBA student, or if your parent is the one doing the borrowing.

Recommended: A Guide to Private Student Loans

The Takeaway

No matter what your major is, these days, there’s a good chance you may have to take on some debt to get the education you need and want.

And the final bill could be substantial: The average federal loan debt balance is $37,113, but if you choose a major that requires a graduate degree, it could be two or three times that amount … or more.

Most student borrowers use federal loans to help pay for their education. But a combination of federal and private loans may be necessary to cover all your costs. If you find you’re in need of extra funds from a private lender, there are plenty of options out there. However, all private student loans are not the same, so it can be helpful to research the best interest rates and repayment terms for your needs.

Learn more about whether a private student loan with SoFi could be the right financial solution for you.

FAQ

How much student loan debt is there in the United States?

According to the Federal Reserve’s most recent numbers, outstanding U.S. student loan debt reached $1.58 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2021.

What is the average U.S. student loan debt per student?

According to Education.org, the average federal student loan debt balance is $37,113. And if you include private loan debt, the average balance may be as high as $40,904.

Who owns most student debt?

The federal government — or, more specifically, the U.S. Department of Education — owns about 92% of all student loan debt in America.


Photo credit: iStock/FabrikaCr

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Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-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.


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

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What Are Actively Managed ETFs?

Exchange-traded funds or ETFs generally fall into two categories: actively managed and passively managed. Actively managed ETFs, a growing category in the ETF market, are overseen by a portfolio manager.

The goal of an active manager is to outperform a certain market index, which they use as a benchmark for their portfolio. By contrast, passive ETFs simply mirror the performance of a particular market index; they don’t aim to outperform it.

There are two types of actively managed ETFs: transparent and non-transparent. Active non-transparent ETFs are a new option that was introduced in 2019; these funds are sometimes called ANTs.

Keep reading to learn more about the distinction among different ETFs, the pros and cons, and whether investing in actively managed ETFs makes sense for you.

How Actively Managed ETFs Work

Actively managed ETFs employ a portfolio manager and typically a team of analysts who do market research and make decisions to buy, hold, or sell the assets held within the fund. Most ETFs are designed to reflect a certain market sector or niche. They typically measure their success by using a known index as their benchmark.

For example, a technology ETF would be invested in tech companies and potentially use the Nasdaq composite index as a benchmark to measure its performance.

Despite the fact that passive (or index) ETFs strategies predominate in the industry — index ETFs represent roughly 98% of the ETF market — active strategies are gaining ground. That said, it has been historically quite difficult for active fund managers to beat their benchmarks.

Actively managed transparent and non-transparent ETFs are similar to traditional (i.e. index) ETFs. You can trade them on stock exchanges throughout the day, and investors can buy and sell in amounts as small as a single share. Broad availability and low investment minimums are an advantage that ANTs (and ETFs more generally) boast over many mutual funds.

Actively managed transparent ETFs

When exchange-traded funds first appeared some 20 years ago, only passive ETFs were allowed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In 2008, though, the SEC introduced a streamlined approval process that allowed for a type of actively managed ETF called transparent ETFs. These funds were required to disclose their holdings on a daily basis, similar to passive ETFs. Investors would then know exactly which securities were being traded within the fund.

Many active fund managers, however, didn’t want to reveal their trading strategies on a daily basis — which is one reason why there have been fewer actively managed ETFs vs. index ETFs to date.

Non-transparent or semi-transparent ETFs

In 2019, another rule change from the SEC permitted an active ETF structure that would be partially instead of fully transparent. Under this new rule, an active ETF manager would be allowed to either reveal the constituents of their portfolio less often (e.g. quarterly, like actively managed mutual funds), or communicate their holdings more obliquely, by using various accounting methods like proxy securities or weightings.

The SEC ruling opened up a new channel for active managers, and since then the number of actively managed ETFs has grown. According to Barron’s, in just the past two years the number of actively managed ETFs has more than doubled. Nearly 60% of the ETFs launched in 2020 and 2021 were actively managed — more than all the actively managed ETFs established in the past decade.

From an investor’s perspective, the most noticeable difference between these two kinds of actively managed ETFs — transparent vs. non-transparent — would be the frequency with which these funds disclose their holdings. Both types of ETFs trade on exchanges at prices that change constantly during trading days; both rely on a team of managers to select and trade securities.

Index ETFs vs Active ETFs

So what is the difference between index ETFs and actively managed ETFs? It’s essentially the same difference that exists between index mutual funds and actively managed mutual funds.

How do index ETFs work?

Index ETFs, also called passive ETFs, track a specific market index. A market index is a compilation of securities that represent a certain sector of the market; indexes (or indices) are frequently used to gauge the health of certain industries, or as broader economic indicators. There are thousands of indexes that represent the equity markets alone, and Well-known indexes include the S&P 500®, an index of 500 of the biggest U.S. companies by market capitalization, as well as the Russell 2000, an index of small- to mid-cap companies, and many more.

Because index ETFs simply track a market sector via its index, there is no need for an active, hands-on manager. As a result the cost of these funds is typically lower than actively managed ETFs, and many active and passive mutual funds as well.

How do actively managed ETFs work?

Actively managed ETFs, often called active ETFs, rely on a portfolio manager and a team of analysts to invest in companies that also reflect a certain market sector. But these funds are not tied to the securities in any given index. The ETF manager invests in their own selection of securities, but often uses an index as a benchmark to gauge the success of their strategies.

Transparent actively managed ETFs must reveal their holdings each day.

Actively managed non-transparent ETFs, or ANTs, aren’t required to disclose their holdings on a daily basis. This protects asset managers’ strategies from potential “front-runners” — traders or portfolio managers that try to anticipate their trades. By and large, the cost of these funds is lower than transparent ETFs, and also lower than actively managed mutual funds.

Mutual Funds vs Actively Managed ETFs

All mutual funds and exchange-traded funds are examples of pooled investment strategies, where the fund bundles together a portfolio of securities to offer investors greater diversification than they could achieve on their own. In addition to the potential benefits of diversification, which may mitigate some risk factors, the pooled fund concept also creates economies of scale which helps fund managers keep transaction costs low.

That said, the structure or wrapper of mutual funds vs. passive and active ETFs, is quite different.

Fund structure

Although a mutual fund invests directly in securities, ETFs do not. With both active and passive ETFs, the fund creates and redeems shares on an in-kind basis. So when investors buy and sell ETF shares, the portfolio manager gives or receives a basket of securities from an authorized participant, or third party, which generates the ETF shares.

By comparison, mutual fund shares are fixed. You can’t create more of them based on demand. But you can with an ETF, thanks to the “in-kind” creation and redemption of shares. This means that ETF fund flows don’t create the same trading costs that might impact long-term investors in a mutual fund. And fund outflows don’t require the portfolio manager to sell appreciated positions, and thus minimize capital gains distributions to shareholders.

Pricing

The price of mutual fund shares is calculated once a day, at the end of the day, and is based on a fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investors who place a trade must wait until the NAV is calculated because most standard open-end mutual funds can only be bought and sold at their NAV.

ETFs, by contrast, are traded like stocks throughout the day. And because of the way ETF shares are created and redeemed, the NAV can vary, creating a wider or tighter bid-ask spread, depending on volume.

Fees

The expense ratio of mutual funds includes management fees, operational expenses, and 12b-1 fees. These 12b-1 fees are a type of marketing and distribution fee that don’t apply to ETFs, which trade on stock exchanges.

Thus the expense ratio for most ETFs, including actively managed ETFs, can be lower than mutual funds.

Pros and Cons of Actively Managed ETFs

As with any investment vehicle, these funds have their pros and cons.

Pros

Potentially for higher returns

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

Greater flexibility and liquidity

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

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

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

Cons

Higher expense ratios

One disadvantage of investing in an actively managed ETF is the potentially higher expense ratio. Active funds, whether ETFs or mutual funds, tend to have higher expense ratios. The costs associated with paying a professional or entire team of professionals combined with the fees that result from additional buying/selling of investments typically adds up to higher costs over time.

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

Performance factors

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

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

Bid-ask spread

The bid-ask spread of ETFs can vary, and while it’s more beneficial to invest in an ETF with a tighter bid-ask spread, that depends on market factors and the liquidity and trading volume of the fund. To minimize costs, it’s wise for investors to be aware of the bid-ask spread.

Investing in Actively Managed ETFs

Once an investor opens an account at their chosen brokerage, they can begin buying shares or fractional shares of actively managed ETFs.

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

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

It’s important to note that many ETFs pay dividends, which are payouts from the stocks held in the fund. Investors can choose to have their dividends deposited directly into their accounts as cash or automatically reinvested through a dividend reinvestment program (DRIP).

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

The Takeaway

Like mutual funds, exchange-traded funds or ETFs are considered pooled investments and generally fall into two categories: actively managed and passively managed. Actively managed ETFs, a growing category in the ETF market, are overseen by a portfolio manager. By contrast, passive ETFs simply mirror the performance of a particular market index; they don’t aim to outperform it.

Although actively managed ETFs make up only about 2% of the ETF universe, owing to regulatory changes in recent years this category has been growing. In fact there are now two types of actively managed ETFs: transparent and non-transparent. These funds offer investors the potential upside of active management, with the lower cost, tax-efficiency, and accessibility associated with ETFs. If you’re curious about actively managed ETFs, you can explore these products by opening an account with SoFi Invest®.

Learn more about investing with SoFi.


SoFi Invest®

INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE

SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
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Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs): Investors should carefully consider the information contained in the prospectus, which contains the Fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other relevant information. You may obtain a prospectus from the Fund company’s website or by email customer service at [email protected]. Please read the prospectus carefully prior to investing.
Shares of ETFs must be bought and sold at market price, which can vary significantly from the Fund’s net asset value (NAV). Investment returns are subject to market volatility and shares may be worth more or less their original value when redeemed. The diversification of an ETF will not protect against loss. An ETF may not achieve its stated investment objective. Rebalancing and other activities within the fund may be subject to tax consequences.


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

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.

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SoFi Invest may waive all, or part of any of these fees, permanently or for a period of time, at its sole discretion for any reason. Fees are subject to change at any time. The current fee schedule will always be available in your Account Documents section of SoFi Invest.


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