Mobile Wallets: How They Work & Their Benefits

Mobile Wallets: How They Work & Their Benefits

A mobile wallet app allows you to leave your real, bulky (and likely disorganized) wallet at home by housing digital versions of all those credit, debit, ID, and loyalty cards.

While mobile wallets can be convenient, and are considered safe, it can be confusing to figure out which digital wallet app to use, and whether digitizing the contents of your wallet is worth the effort.

Read on to learn which apps are most widely accepted, how to set up a digital wallet, plus the pros and cons of ditching your old-school billfold and going virtual.

What is a Mobile Wallet?

A mobile wallet is just like it sounds–a “wallet” that lives on your mobile device. It stores credit, debit, gift, store, and loyalty card information so that you can easily pay for goods and services with your smartphone, smartwatch, or another mobile device.

You can even store theater tickets, insurance cards, ID, coupons, boarding passes, and hotel key card information. Some digital wallets also enable you to send money to friends, as well as receive payments.

You may also be able to use your mobile wallet instead of a physical card at some ATMs.

What is the Best Mobile Wallet App?

The major mobile wallets are Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, which come already installed on mobile devices. Although they differ in layout, these mobile wallet apps have the same basic function that allows you to pay with a phone tap.

There are also mobile wallets you can download from the app stores, including wallets from banks and merchants such as PayPal, Walmart, and Starbucks.

When choosing a mobile wallet app, you may want to keep in mind that a mobile wallet offered by your credit card company may only be accepted at certain retailers.

In addition, merchant wallets will only work in that merchant’s store or online. For instance, the Starbucks wallet will only work at Starbucks.

Which one you pick will likely come down to how widely you plan to use a mobile wallet–will you use it just at your favorite retailer or more widely? The choice will also depend on what type of device you want to use it with.

How Do I Set Up and Use a Mobile Wallet?

The setup for the major mobile wallet apps is fairly simple: You launch the app, take a photo of your card or enter its information, and follow the step-by-step instructions. This process is then repeated for all other cards entered.

Generally, even if you load up several credit cards into your mobile wallet, only one of them will be your default payment option. That card will be the one that is used to process a purchase. If you want to use a different card, you may need to change the default card before you make the transaction.

Beyond credit and debit cards, the app may also walk you through configuring peer-to-peer payments like Apple Cash or Google Pays’ fund’s exchanges. You may also be able to link your PayPal account.

In addition, you may be able to import retail-store rewards cards, as well as museum or library memberships cards, event tickets, and airline boarding passes. This may involve scanning a QR code or selecting the “add to wallet” button in an email or a text message from the issuer.

When you are ready to pay for purchases you’ll want to make sure the merchant accepts mobile money. These businesses can typically be identified through a contactless payment indicator (usually a sideways Wi-Fi symbol).

You can then just open your digital wallet app, hold the phone near the wireless reader at the register, and authorize the payment. Your phone’s screen will confirm the transaction.

Are Mobile Wallets Safe?

Unlike cash, which can be stolen, and credit cards, which can be copied, the card information you load into a mobile wallet is encrypted. That means that your actual card or account numbers are never shared with the merchant.

Another safety feature: In order to make a payment, you have to unlock your device and also type the passcode or use your fingerprint or face recognition to unlock the mobile wallet.

In the case of theft, it’s not possible for anyone to use a mobile device to make a payment without providing the required security credentials.

These safeguards actually make mobile wallets more secure than carrying physical credit cards and cash, which can easily be compromised.

Pros and Cons of Using Mobile Wallets

Is a mobile wallet right for you? Here are some key pros and cons you may want to consider.

Mobile Wallet Pros

They’re convenient. If you’re out and about without your wallet or bag, you can still make purchases, and use your coupons and rewards cards. You may also be able to get cash at an ATM or check a book out of the library–all from your mobile device.

They’re secure. Mobile wallets provide a layer of security you don’t get with cash or using a debit or credit card. Your payment information is saved in one protected, central location. The card number is never stored in the app itself but is instead assigned a unique virtual number. This protects your money even if your smartphone is lost or stolen.

They can help you track your spending. A mobile wallet can help you track and better manage your spending. All of your transaction information is stored in the app so it’s easy to see how much you’re spending and where each week.

Mobile Wallet Cons

They’re not accepted everywhere. There are still some industries where cash is the only currency accepted. Even in businesses that do take credit, not all of them accept mobile wallets. To accept a mobile wallet, businesses need to have payment readers that take near field communication (NFC) payments, and not all of them have updated readers. This can cause a problem if a mobile wallet is all you have on hand.

Your phone could die. Cell phones often run out of battery life, and if you’re without a charger, that handy mobile wallet will no longer exist. That can put a crimp in your shopping plans or become a major problem if you have important documents such as train passes or concert tickets in your mobile wallet.

You may end up overspending. The thinking on mobile wallets is often similar to that with using a credit card. Because cash isn’t physically leaving your hands, spending can feel less real. If you have spending issues, a mobile wallet can make it easy to spend mindlessly.

Recommended: 9 Tips to Stop Overspending

The Takeaway

A mobile wallet is a digital way to store credit, debit, ID, and gift cards so that purchases can be made using a mobile smart device rather than a physical card.

Mobile wallets can help simplify your financial life. They allow users to make in-store payments without having to carry cash or physical credit cards. They’re easy to use and have hefty safeguards.

However, they aren’t universally accepted. It’s worth your while to determine whether the retailers you frequent accept them to help determine if a mobile wallet is a good option for you.

Looking for more convenient ways to manage your money? With a SoFi Money® cash management account, you can spend, save, and earn competitive interest all in one place.

You can also track your weekly spending, pay bills, and send money to friends right from your smartphone using the SoFi app.

Make managing your money simpler and more convenient with SoFi Money.

Photo credit: iStock/hiphotos35


SoFi Money®
SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC .
Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank. SoFi Money Debit Card issued by The Bancorp Bank. SoFi has partnered with Allpoint to provide consumers with ATM access at any of the 55,000+ ATMs within the Allpoint network. Consumers will not be charged a fee when using an in-network ATM, however, third party fees incurred when using out-of-network ATMs are not subject to reimbursement. SoFi’s ATM policies are subject to change at our discretion at any time.
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.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
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Top Medical School Scholarships For Students

Top Medical School Scholarships For Students

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

There are plenty of scholarships for medical students and more general scholarships that they can apply for to help pay for college. Keep reading for a roundup of the best medical student scholarships, how to apply for them, and how much they’re worth.

Related: Finding & Applying to Scholarships for Grad School

Brown Medical and Educational Society Healthcare Scholarship

Dollar amount: Unknown

Application process: To apply for the Brown Medical and Educational Society Healthcare Scholarship , students must complete an application, submit an official college or university transcript in a sealed envelope, and submit three letters of recommendation.

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

Chinese American Physicians Society Scholarships

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

Application process: The application for the 2021-2022 school year is set to open in December 2021. Applicants can expect to submit essays as a part of the application.

Eligibility: To receive a Chinese American Physicians Society Scholarship , applicants must be a student at a US based medical school and applicants are judged on their financial needs, academic achievements, essays, and community service records.

Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund

Dollar amount: Unknown

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

Eligibility: Students must be US citizens and attend a US based accredited and designated higher education institution as a graduate student. National descent is not taken into consideration and students are not limited to pursuing Armenian studies.

The Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship

Dollar amount: NHHF has awarded $1,555,000 to 306 awardees as of January 2021.

Application process: Applicants must submit the following supporting documents as a part of their application for the The Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship :

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

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

• One letter of recommendation

• Proof of their US citizenship DACA status, or residency

• Unofficial copy of their school transcripts

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

• Medicine (allopathic or osteopathic)

• Dentistry

• Pharmacy

• Nursing (including BSN)

• Public Health or Public Policy

• Physician Associate

Joseph Collins Scholarship

Dollar amount: $10,000

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

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

The National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program

Dollar amount: Full year of scholarship support up to four years.

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

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

Eligibility: To be eligible for this scholarship, applicants have to be either a US citizen or a US national and be able to submit proof of their status. Applicants must also be enrolled as full-time students and attend an accredited school or academic program in the US or in a US territory.

MPOWER Global Citizenship Scholarship

Dollar amount: $1,000 to $5,000

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

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

Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

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

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

• Personal and contact information

• Higher-education history

• Information about the graduate program they are seeking support for

• Three to five recommendations

• Resume

• Two essays

• College and graduate school transcripts

• Standardized test scores

• Optional exhibits

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

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

Pisacano Scholars Leadership Program

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

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

• Official copy of undergraduate and graduate school transcript if applicable

• Official copy of medical school transcript

• Copy of MCAT scores

• Copy of USMLE score or COMLEX score

• Copy of current CV

• Essay

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

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

How Student Loan Refinancing Can Help

Those who already have medical school debt and may no longer be eligible for medical school scholarships may want to consider refinancing their existing student loans. Under the right terms, refinancing student loans can save money and help them pay down their debt faster. Refinancing student loans involves consolidating student loans through a private lender into a new loan that ideally comes with a better rate and term.

The student loan refinancing process varies by lender, but generally, the borrower ends up with a new loan, which can be easier to manage than multiple loans.

While some lenders only refinance private student loans, SoFi refinances both private and federal student loans. If the applicant can secure a better interest rate, they may end up paying less over the life of their loan.

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

It’s worth noting that refinancing federal student loans into private ones causes the borrower to lose out on federal protections. Private lenders may not offer forbearance, deferment, and hardship programs.

Recommended: Private vs. Federal Student Loans

The Takeaway

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

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

Learn more about SoFi student loan refinancing.

Photo credit: iStock/JohnnyGreig


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

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF JANUARY 2022 DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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

46 Tips for Joining the Real World

It’s finally happened: You got the degree, a fancy new job (or a few prospects to choose from), a lease or mortgage, and maybe a dog or cat. Life is great, right?

Well, maybe not quite.

Now that your college days are over, so too are the comforting routines of class courses, odd (but fun) jobs, late nights out, and the “I’m just a student” excuse to blow off “adult things” like learning what ROI stands for or finding an in-network doctor.

46 Tips for Recent College Grads

Whether you’re just out of college or several years out, you’re hardly alone if you feel you are struggling to pull up your big boy, gal, or non-binary pal pants — or gym shorts if you’re working remotely. Read on for tips for joining the real world and finessing your finances, career, and personal life.

1. Your overall financial situation

Your finances can include a ton of stuff, especially as you get older and your investments and income become more complex. But at its most basic, understanding your financial situation means knowing your credit score, taking stock of your outstanding debts, figuring out ways to pay off student loans (if you haven’t already), and what your monthly bills are.

Recommended: What Is Considered a Bad Credit Score?

2. Budget

Once you know how much money you have, owe, and make, it’s time to figure out your budget. Even if you have one already, post-graduation is a perfect time to reconsider your budget and make updates as needed. Never made one before? Check out these personal budget tips to help you get started.

3. Job perks

No matter if your job is still shiny and new or an old hat at this point, it’s good to take time to review your employee handbook for perks you may have overlooked. Check out your company’s retirement plan types and health insurance plans. You’ll also want to review potential bonuses and perks, such as free gym memberships, commute stipends, or work-from-home stipends.

4. Retirement savings/401(k)

This may not be the most fun thing to review, but your future self will thank you for taking a weekend to dive into your current 401(k) or review your options for starting one. If you’re not sure where to start (or if you’re not even sure what this is, check out this primer on 401(k) plans.

5. Where you live

Location, local, location, right? Depending on said location, it can be hard to find affordable housing or even a job if your industry isn’t hot in your market. Before signing on the dotted line, consider how much home you can afford to buy or rent, and whether or not you’re ready to commit if you’re buying.

6. Your living situation

You may have been looking forward to living alone for the first time, but your first few years after college may not be the time to make this dream a reality. It can be expensive to live alone, and you may not be approved without a cosigner. Keeping roommates can be a great way to save money.

7. Your salary

Talking numbers can be intimidating for recent grads. Having knowledge about what a good entry-level salary is for your job ahead of negotiations can help you ensure you’re getting a fair offering.

8. Your social media

Even if you’ve already got a job, you may want to take stock of your social media. A professional online presence may help prevent current or future employers from second-guessing hiring you.

9. Networking

Networking is crucial to helping you achieve your career goals. Whether through industry conferences or social media sites like LinkedIn, it’s smart to stay connected with professionals in your industry to get career advice and learn about job openings you may be the perfect fit for.

10. Job offers

When you’re first starting out, it can be tempting to take the first job offer that comes your way. But if you know it’s not a great fit and you’re already viewing the job as a stepping stone until you can find something else, you may be better off continuing your job search. Check out this list of things you should consider before taking a job offer.

11. Quality over quantity

This adage exists for a reason, and it applies to friends, experiences, clothes, possessions, and even the way you spend your time. Being mindful of your decisions is a great habit to get into.

12. “You” time

This tip can help you get important stuff done, both professionally and personally. Exercising or taking a 15-minute meditation break may boost your job performance and help you avoid burnout.

13.Emergency fund

Life is full of the unexpected, and that’s why it’s smart to have an emergency fund. Once you have a steady income, it’s wise to take a few weeks (or months, depending on your salary and bills) to build up your emergency fund. Don’t know where to start? This article on how to start an emergency fund could be helpful.

14. Medical care

This tip is especially important if you’ve moved to a different state or city. Out-of-network bills can be costly, so having a doctor and knowing which hospitals are in-network can help you save money and stress in the long run.

15. First-aid kit and emergency bag

No, that free purse-sized first-aid kit you got your freshman year in college probably isn’t going to cut it. Store-bought first aid kits may be good starting points, but allergy relief pills, antacids, and other over-the-counter medicines will take your kit to the next level.

If you’re inclined to ready an emergency go-bag, consider packing at least three days’ worth of clothes, a mini first aid kit, cash, a flashlight, and other provisions you think you (and your pets or loved ones) may need if you need to leave your home in a rush.

16. Life insurance

If your employer offers life insurance as a benefit, you may be wondering what it is — and if you should pay more to increase the amount. Understanding life insurance types and reviewing these Life Insurance Policy Tips can help you make the right decision for you.

17. Hobbies

Not everything you do has to relate to your career. In fact, it’s likely healthier if you have interests outside of your career. You can learn to play instruments, sing, run, join a local soccer team, play games online, or enjoy any other hobby that helps you unwind and relax.

18. Taxes

Being organized ahead of tax season can help you avoid filing them late. Whenever you get an important piece of paperwork that’ll affect your taxes (such as W2s, charitable contribution receipts, or even home office receipts), you can put these in a safe place so you’re ready to go come tax time.

19. Work-life balance

We all have different ideas for work-life balance. If you’re not sure what yours is, consider taking the first few weeks on the job to figure that out. If you feel tired or overwhelmed, it may be time to renegotiate those work-life boundaries.

20. Basic home repairs

Home repair costs, can add up but you could save a lot by doing them yourself, especially if or when you own your own place and don’t have a landlord to pay for those costs. If you do have a landlord, you could get a discount on your rent by making simple repairs yourself. Just be sure to get a signed agreement from your landlord outlining how that will work.

21. Fear of asking for help

Don’t know how to format a spreadsheet? Can’t remember the protocol for that report? Ask for help. Reaching out for help is key to creating healthy work relationships (and personal ones).

22. Subscriptions

Monthly subscriptions can add up, be them boxes, auto-reorder groceries or personal care items, streaming services, or magazines. Consider looking at what you’re actually subscribed to. Do you really need both Hulu and Netflix, and do you really need that wine-of-the-month membership?

23. Boundaries

It’s easy to lose track of time, especially in a work-from-home situation. You may also feel you need to put in extra hours to impress your boss. But working to the point where you have no time to yourself can be counterproductive.

24. Cooking

Takeout is great, but you could save a ton of money and calories if you cook most of your meals at home. It’s also helpful to plan your groceries ahead of time to avoid overspending and food waste.

25. Speaking up and out

If you think you don’t have much to add to the conversation, agreeing with what someone has said — and tacking on an extra thought — can be a way to participate and not feel like a wallflower.

26. Regular bedtime

Going to sleep around the same time every night can help to ensure you get enough zzz’s so you can make good decisions and keep healthy habits.

27. Investing

The idea of investing may sound intimidating, but you don’t have to be a Wall Street wolf to invest. Many rookies start small. Check out these tips for investing in your 20s.

28. Avoiding compare yourself to others

We all have different goals for our lives, and we all take different paths to get there. It’s smart to embrace your uniqueness and try to avoid the compulsion to compare yourself to coworkers, online friends, or even friends and family.

29. Mistakes are just part of learning

If you are open to criticism, you can be more likely to learn from the experience. Everyone makes mistakes, especially when they’re new. That’s why it’s important to let your mistakes be growth/learning opportunities, both professionally and personally.

30. You’re good enough, smart enough …

Your social media may be full of engagement photos, job promotions, and new puppies. That’s because most people don’t post about fights with loved ones, struggles with balancing their cash accounts, or troubles at work. Keeping that in mind can help you avoid joining the proverbial rat race.

31. Mentors

They can help you navigate your workplace’s ladder, offer advice, and keep you motivated and sane when things get stressful. They also have contacts that may be helpful for you to know.

32. Changing your mind

You’ve probably heard that tons of people end up with jobs outside of what they studied, even after getting a master’s or MBA. It could be that there aren’t a lot of jobs in that field –or maybe they realized that what’s interesting in theory is not in practice. If this turns out to be the case for you, just remember that fulfillment can be found outside of work. And people can change their minds.

33. Getting help

Unemployment, Medicaid, and other social nets exist for a reason. There are going to be choppy waters, and these services are meant to help. Using them because you got laid off or furloughed isn’t shameful.

34. Home maintenance

When was the last time you cleaned your dryer vents? Do you know how to change the filter in your HVAC? Avoiding these kinds of things for too long can result in big maintenance bills — and potentially be a safety hazard. Not sure what to clean? Check out this ultimate house maintenance list.

35. Growth mindset

When you’re starting out in a new career, you know that you have a lot to learn and need to put in time and effort to advance. After a few years on the job, though, the learning curve can become less steep, making it easy to attribute your success to talent more than to anything else. That is the definition of a fixed mindset. Someone with a growth mindset knows that the key to advancing in one’s career (and evolving as a human being) is to continually be open to learning, improving, and taking on new challenges.

36. Travel

Hopping on a plane and traveling to far-flung places can get a lot harder to do the more “adult” you become. You have to take time off work, arrange a house sitter, find kid- or pet-friendly destinations (or pay a sitter to take care of them) and maybe even have to schedule time for important work meetings or tasks even while you’re on vacation. Even if you’re broke and paying off debt, it’s possible to travel cheap!

37. Saying no

Don’t want to go out for drinks? Can’t finish that report by Monday? Your best bet may be to just be honest. Taking on too much may only backfire, so learning to say no without feeling guilty can be important for your mental health and work-life balance.

38. Lifestyle creep

Lifestyle creep can ruin your budget. The more your income increases, the more you may want to spend. While a pay raise may mean you can splurge on that fancy latte with oatmeal foam, double-shot espresso with coconut milk, and a pump of vanilla, you may want to double-check that the increase in lattes doesn’t mean a decrease in your savings.

39. Sales versus deals

Cheap clothes or stuff on clearance aren’t a deal if you don’t need them or they don’t last very long. For some things, such as your new professional wardrobe, Tip No. 11 about quality over quantity definitely applies.

Recommended: 9 Tips for Finding the Best Deals Online

40. Side jobs

Seems like everyone is hustling, but you may want to be careful that the side gig doesn’t take up too much mental or emotional bandwidth. If it is, you may want to dial it back or find a new side job that doesn’t unduly add to your stress — and possibly interfere with your ability to do your main job.

41. Meal planning

Now that you’re shopping for your own groceries, planning out your meals can be an easy way to save money on food. Taking an extra half hour to take stock of your leftovers and cabinet items can save you from buying stuff you already have or throwing out perfectly good leftover lasagna.

42. Your home office

Are you going to be working from home for some or all of your week? Having ergonomic, comfortable, and functional furniture can help keep your back and neck from hurting and your mind from getting distracted. Click here for some home office ideas if you’re in need of some inspiration.

43. Pets

Before bringing a pet home, you may want to check if you can afford vet bills and cover emergency situations, like a dog biting a visitor or having to kennel your dog for a sudden trip out of town. It may also be important to consider the time pets take. Will you be able to take your pup on walks or to the dog park? Before you dive in, you can check out this list of cheapest pets for lower maintenance friends you may want to adopt instead.

44. Your caffeine fix

Basically, your mom was right: as convenient as buying a coffee on your way to work is, it can add up day after day, week after week, year after year. Making your morning caffeinated drink at home can lead to real savings.

45. Car insurance

If you have a car that’s over 10 years old, you may want to consider auto insurance. This could save you money in the long term if you need maintenance or repair work done to your trusty old wagon.

46. What’s most important to you?

You may think and feel that you can do it all. And maybe you can at first. But at some point, you may find yourself having to back-burner some of your goals. When that happens, you may want to make sure they aren’t all the ones that reflect your values and bring you joy.

The Takeaway

Your post-college years can be exciting and fun while also being confusing and difficult. With your increase in income and independence may come a host of challenges of responsibilities you have to manage. That’s why it may be smart to ask friends, family, and mentors for help.

And if your student loan payments are getting in the way of you living your best post-college life, you may want to consider refinancing your student loans. (Please note: in refinancing, you’ll be forfeiting certain federal student loan benefits including payment suspension and repayment programs.) SoFi is a leader in the private student loan space, offering refinancing options with no application or origination fees.

Check out your interest rate in just a few minutes—with no strings attached.

Photo credit: iStock/Rattankun Thongbun


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

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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How Much Does Culinary School Cost?

How Much Does Culinary School Cost?

If you’re passionate about food, a career in culinary arts may be right for you. Going to culinary school can help students acquire the knowledge, skills, and hands-on experience required to work in the field.

But how much does it cost to go to culinary school compared to trade school or traditional college? Simply put, it depends. Culinary school cost varies based on institutional reputation, program type, and the duration of study.

This guide will examine culinary school cost factors and payment options to help prospective students decide if it’s the right move for their future.

Tuition Rates for Culinary Schools

In 2019, the median public in-state tuition for culinary school was $3,635, while median out-of-state and private tuition was $19,504.

When evaluating a program’s sticker price, keep in mind that the curriculum structure and schedule for culinary school can differ from four-year or community college.

Some culinary programs may condense more coursework and in-person instruction into a semester or year, while others offer a more extensive course of study.

Tuition pricing may reflect the entire program cost rather than a standalone semester, too. For instance, the Institute of Culinary Education offers a range of six- to 13-month diploma programs, while a technical certificate from Florida State College at Jacksonville takes 14 months to complete.

Why is Culinary School So Expensive?

Culinary school costs can be steep. For example, tuition and fees amount to $77,310 for the two year associate’s degree program at the Culinary Institute of America’s California Campus.

Culinary schools can have an intensive structure. Condensed schedules can translate to more time spent in both the classroom and kitchen than typical college students.

Whereas a lecture hall can accommodate hundreds of students for an Intro to Economics course, culinary students typically receive more one-on-one instructions in smaller class sizes. Also, culinary coursework that involves cooking and baking has the added cost of buying ingredients and materials.

Culinary school costs might also include purchasing cooking equipment, such as knives, cutting boards, and a kitchen uniform. Depending on the program, these may be automatically factored into the tuition price or tacked on as an additional fee.

Types of Culinary Degrees Available

Prospective students have a variety of options to choose from for a culinary degree. The types of institutions offering culinary degrees include technical schools, community colleges, four-year colleges, and independent culinary institutes.

Students can choose from certificate programs, an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts.

Certificate programs are usually the shortest to complete with one to two semesters of coursework and training. Associate’s programs can vary from one to two years and may incorporate a mix of hands-on training, internships, and coursework. Bachelor’s degrees require more time―generally four years―to complete but can help further develop culinary skills and knowledge in related subjects like business and nutrition.

Culinary degrees can also focus on a specific discipline, such as baking and pastry arts or hospitality and restaurant management. Interested students can explore this list of accredited culinary schools to find a program that suits their needs and career goals.

How Can You Pay for Culinary School?

A combination of funding sources may be required to cover tuition, equipment, and related expenses. Prospective students and parents can consider the following options to pay for culinary school.

Grants and Scholarships

Figuring out how much culinary school is going to set you back starts with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to determine eligibility for federal financial aid. Students may qualify for assistance in the form of grants if they have significant financial need.

There are also numerous culinary-specific scholarships that students can apply for. The National Restaurant Association awards merit-based scholarships between $2,500 to $10,000 for students pursuing undergraduate degrees in culinary arts and related fields.

Some additional grant and scholarship opportunities include:

• The James Beard Foundation: This nonprofit organization awards scholarships, tuition waivers, and work-study grants to students attending accredited culinary schools.

• The American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF): Full-time students attending accredited culinary schools can apply for an AIWF scholarship from local chapters in California and Kansas.

• Rachel Ray, Yum-o!:The famous Food Network chef’s nonprofit funds culinary scholarships in partnership with the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation.

Students can also explore grants for college from state government and private organizations for additional funding.

Federal Student Loans

Students may need to use student loans when scholarships and grants aren’t sufficient, and they cannot afford to pay out of pocket.

Through the Federal Direct Loan Program, students can access both subsidized and unsubsidized loans to pay for school. Subsidized loans are awarded based on a student’s financial need. The Department of Education pays the interest on subsidized loans while borrowers are studying at least half-time, and during the six-month grace period after leaving school. Students may be eligible to defer loan payments further if they attend graduate school, join the military, or experience financial hardship.

Unsubsidized loans don’t require students to have financial needs to be eligible. Schools determine how much students can borrow based on the cost of attendance and a student’s total financial aid package. Borrowers are responsible for paying interest on unsubsidized loans once disbursed.

Dependent students can get up to $31,000 in federal student loans for four years of full-time study. Only $23,000 of this can be subsidized loans. Independent students, however, can take out up to $57,500 in federal loans, with subsidized loans also capped at $23,000.

Recommended: Types of Federal Student Loans

Employment

If financial aid isn’t enough to cover culinary school costs in full, working while studying could help pay the remainder.

Students with financial need may qualify for part-time employment through the Federal-Work Study program. Work-study jobs are typically geared towards a student’s area of study or community service. Awards can vary according to the student’s need, the timing of application, and how much total funding is available at a given participating school.

Finding part-time work at a restaurant or food-related enterprise is another funding option that also supports professional development.

Private Student Loans

If financial aid and other sources aren’t enough to pay for culinary school in full, students can consider a private student loan.

Students may obtain private student loans from banks, credit unions, private organizations, or colleges. Some students may need a cosigner to qualify for private student loans due to a lack of credit history and income.

Private student loan interest rates and loan terms vary by lender, which gives borrowers more choice in term length. However, private student loans do not carry the same borrower protections as federal student loans, such as income-driven repayment plans, deferment or forbearance, or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Students may want to consider private student loans as an option only after they have exhausted all other sources of aid, including federal student loans.

The Takeaway

While many food-service and restaurant jobs don’t require education beyond a high school diploma, completing culinary school could lead to a higher-paying career. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary in 2020 for chefs and head cooks was $58,740, compared to just $26,000 to $27,000 for line cooks and food preparation workers.

If you need to borrow to cover culinary school costs, SoFi can help. SoFi offers private student loans with competitive rates, flexible payment options, and no fees.

Finding your interest rate can be done in a few minutes online, and there’s no pressure to sign up.

Learn more about private student loans with SoFi.

Photo credit: iStock/visualspace


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

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

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

How Many Grad Schools Should You Apply To?

Applying to grad school can sometimes feel reminiscent of applying for undergrad. After all, you’re familiar with the process of gathering application materials, and some things, like asking professors for references and taking standardized tests, may not be as intimidating as they were when applying for undergrad.

But there still may be other unknowns. Not only may you be unsure about how to effectively create a list of which schools to apply to, but you also may be wondering about how you might pay for your graduate degree.

Thinking about these two questions—where you’ll apply and how you’ll pay—in tandem can help you make smart choices for your future career and your future bank account. Here, how to decide how many grad schools to apply to.

Follow the Money and Consider Cost

Just like undergrad debt, grad school debt can impact your future career path. And if you finished undergrad without debt, you may be unsure what you’re taking on. Grad students currently shoulder a significant portion of student debt—while they make up only 15% of all borrowers, they account for nearly 40% of federal loans issued each year. Federal loans can reach the six figures, and many graduates of grad programs may not have earning power to pay back these loans comfortably until years or even decades after their degree is conferred.

If you’re in the early stages of considering going to grad school, here are a few questions and actions that may help you navigate the choices available to you:

• Talk with people who have gotten a similar master’s degree. What did they wish they had known?

• Talk with the department or departments at the schools you’re considering and ask about graduate scholarships, fellowships, and other programs that may lower program cost.

• Consider your career path. Look on various salary sites for median salaries for your proposed field of study.

In the early stages of heading to grad school, you may also want to determine how you’ll pay for graduate school, as this may impact the school you choose to attend. Here are a few suggestions for crafting a plan to pay for your graduate education.

Recommended: The Return on Education (ROEd): Salary Trajectory by Degree

Talk with your family

Some students have found that their family may support some or all of their grad school journey. Contributions such as free housing or the use of a family car add up as well, so it can be important to factor those in. For example, some students may look at programs where they can live at home, so they don’t need to pay for housing and travel expenses. If this is the case, make sure everyone is very clear about expectations so there are no surprises later on.

Apply for Federal Student Aid

Fill out the FAFSA®. Unlike undergrad education, direct subsidized loans are not available to graduate students. Your loans will also be considered in conjunction with any federal loans you took out as an undergrad when it comes to determining the number of federal loans you’re eligible for as a grad student. Talking to the financial aid office at the schools you’re considering attending can also help you understand what loans, scholarships, and other programs may be available to you.

Recommended: What is the Maximum Amount of Student Loans for Graduate School?

Consider Private Loans

Private lenders generally won’t lend more than what it costs to go to school, and rates and terms will vary. Some students may find they need more money than they are offered in federal loans. Note that because private student loans lack the borrower protections that federal loans offer (like Public Service Loan Forgiveness or deferment options) it’s generally recommended that borrowers rely on these after exhausting all federal aid options.

Consider Relevance And Practicality

In addition to prestige, it’s also important to consider degree relevance and how it may be practical for your future career path. Looking at salaries from people who graduated from that program or with that degree can help you assess what the future after graduation will look like. Sometimes, students can become so focused on getting into a grad program and affording the program that they may forget that the first year out of grad school may require a few months to find a job and find footing in a new career.

Asking yourself some questions can help you further drill down into the best programs to apply for:

How Much Will Expenses Cost?

Room, board, and travel all add up. Considering those costs can help assess overall expense. It can also be helpful to consider the cost of living, too, which can vary based on where the program is based.

Can I Work and Study Simultaneously?

Some programs may be structured for grad students to do both; others might be created primarily for students who can devote all their time to their studies. If you’re self-funding your grad school experience and are currently employed, it may be worth speaking with your HR office to see if there are any options for your company to fund your studies if you are planning to study and go to school at the same time.

How Long Is The Program?

Different grad programs have different time frames. While some, such as law schools, may have relatively standard coursework for traditional students, other programs may offer different structures depending on the school. And it may make sense to see how long or how short the degree can take depending on life circumstances. It can also be helpful to know if an internship or other hands-on experience is essential for the degree, as that may influence feasibility with fitting the degree in with other work.

Consider All Information

When applying to grad programs, getting as much data as possible can be helpful in determining the next steps. Talking with professors, people currently working in the industry, current students, and faculty at several schools you’re considering can all be helpful in assessing how well you may fit in a program—and why a program may be the best fit for you. Because graduate departments tend to be smaller than undergrad departments, you may find it easier to have these sorts of conversations.

It can also be helpful to speak to graduates of a program and to talk with mentors and employers about how a grad degree may enhance your career can be helpful. While some career paths demand a grad degree, such as an attorney, social worker, or doctor, there are other career paths where a grad degree may not be necessary—or may be subsidized by an employer when they consider it essential. So having a range of opinions can be helpful when it comes to homing in on the best grad school programs for your needs.

Recommended: Applying to Graduate School: Smart Tips & Strategies

The Takeaway

Preparing for grad school requires a lot of legwork, but the more prepared you are now in narrowing down your application list, the less overwhelmed you might be when acceptances start rolling in. While not a substitute for federal loans, scholarships, and work-study programs, private student loans can give some flexibility in how you’ll fund your grad school career.

Private student loans do not have the same borrower protections as federal loans—such as income-driven repayment plans—so they are generally borrowed after all other aid options, including federal student loans. Imagining several scenarios and planning for what-ifs can help mitigate “how to pay” stress so you can focus on the next step in your academic career.

Learn more about using a private student loan from SoFi to pay for graduate school.

Photo credit: iStock/MicroStockHub


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

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

Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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