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What is the Average Cost of College Tuition?

College tuition varies based on factors like where the school is located, and whether the school is public or private. The average cost of college for in-state students at a four year institution in 2020-2021 was $10,560. Students at private nonprofit four year institutions paid on average $37,650.

Read on for more information about the average tuition costs, and other expenses facing college students.

The Average Cost of College

The cost of tuition has been steadily increasing for decades. When it comes to four year colleges and universities, the statistics typically break down between two types—public and private.

According to the College Board’s annual “Trends in College Pricing ” report, the average cost of attending a four year college as an in-state student at a public university during the 2020-2021 school year was $10,560, as mentioned. As an out-of-state student attending a public four year college, the average rose to $27,020.

The average cost of attending a private four year institution was $37,650. These averages are based on the published price at a college or university. This includes tuition and room and board.

The cost of tuition can be a major factor in determining which school students commit to. According to the 2021 Sallie Mae survey “How America Pays for College 2021,” 60% of parents and students eliminated a college based on cost after receiving their financial aid package.

Historical Average Cost of Tuition

The cost of tuition has increased dramatically over time. For the 1985-86 school year, the average cost of college tuition at a public four year institution was $8,981 for a student receiving in-state tuition. In just 20 years, tuition rose to $15,411 for the 2005-06 school year.

U.S. News reviewed tuition costs at 389 ranked National Universities, those universities included as part of the annual college rankings. According to their data, the average tuition and fees at private National Universities increased by 144% in just 20 years from 2001 to 2021. During that time period, at four year public National Universities tuition for out-of-state students increased by 165%, and for in-state students it rose by 212%.

Average Total Cost of College

A traditional undergraduate college degree takes four years to complete, which means four years of tuition costs. According to, the cost of college has risen, on average, about 6.8% annually since 2001.

This isn’t always the case, so it can be challenging to predict exactly how much a student will pay in tuition costs over the course of their degree. For example, The College Board’s annual Trends in College Pricing found that in-state tuition costs at public four-year institutions increased just over 1% from the 2019-2020 to the 2020-2021 school year. For that same time period, tuition increased just over 2% at private nonprofit four-year institutions.

To get a rough estimate of how much college will cost in its entirety, you can take the current tuition rate and multiply it by four. Keep in mind this won’t account for any increase in the cost of tuition.

Average Additional College Expenses

Tuition generally makes up the majority of a student’s college expenses. But there are other fees and costs to factor in including the cost of room and board, books and other supplies. Beyond school specific costs, students might also need to factor in general living expenses.

What Is the Cost of Room and Board?

Some colleges charge “comprehensive fees” which reflect the total for tuition, fees, and room and board.

Other colleges and universities charge room and board separately from tuition and fees. The cost of room and board typically accounts for the cost of housing (i.e., a dorm room or on-campus apartment) and the cost of the meal plan.

The average cost of room and board for the 2020-2021 school year was $11,620 for four-year public institutions (for both in-state and out-of-state students, and $13,120 for four-year nonprofit institutions.

The cost will vary depending on the type of housing accommodations you live in and the type of meal plan you choose. Housing can be another determining factor for students. According to the same 2021 Sallie Mae survey , 83% of college students selected a college in their home state and 41% live at home or with relatives to save on housing costs.

The Cost of Extra Classes

Tuition at some schools may cover the cost of a certain number of credit hours. Depending on how many credit hours you take and the types of classes you enroll in, the number may change. If you exceed the number of credit hours covered by tuition, you may pay an additional fee.

Books and Supplies

On top of those expenses, don’t forget to budget for books and supplies. The average college student attending a four-year college spends over $1,240 on textbooks and supplies over the course of the year.


Transportation is another major category of expenses for college students. Will you have a car on campus? If so, plan to pay for gas, insurance, and a parking permit. How often do you plan to go home? Will a trip to visit your family require airfare?

Other Living Expenses

Then there are any additional personal expenses like eating out, laundry, or the cost of a cell phone bill. To get an idea of how much you’ll actually spend every month, you could review your current spending.

College may be the first time you’ve had to learn how to budget. Consider sitting down with your parents, an older sibling, or trusted friend who has already navigated their first year of college to get an idea of the types of expenses you may encounter.

Paying for College

There are, of course, options available to help you finance your education. If you’re planning on going to college for the first time, or returning for further education, consider looking into the following options:

First Thing’s First: The FAFSA®

A common first step for students interested in securing federal financial aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA®). In order to qualify for federal aid, students must meet some basic eligibility
, such as demonstrating financial need.

As you get ready to apply, pay attention to deadlines, as they can vary by school and state. After you fill out the FAFSA, you’ll receive an award letter detailing the type of aid you qualify for. This may include scholarships and grants, work-study, and/or federal student loans.

Recommended: How College Financial Aid Works

Planning ahead is one way to set yourself up to successfully pay for college. If you’re not quite ready to fill out the FAFSA yet, you can use the FAFSA4caster ​to get an idea of how much aid you might qualify for.

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants can be immensely helpful when it comes to paying for college since it’s money that doesn’t need to be repaid. In addition to filing the FAFSA, you could check to see if there are any other scholarship opportunities for which you may qualify. There are also online resources and databases that compile different scholarship opportunities.

The federal work-study program is another form of aid that can help students pay for college. If you are eligible for work-study and receive it in your financial aid award, you may still have to find your own employment at your university. Check with your school’s financial aid office to find out if your school participates and whether they will place you or if they have a work-study job board.

Recommended: Search for Scholarships and Grants by State

Student Loans

Student loans offer another avenue for students to finance their college education. Unlike scholarships and grants however, student loans must be repaid. There are two umbrellas when it comes to student loans—federal and private.

Federal Student Loans

Federal loans are also included as a part of a student’s financial aid package and as mentioned, applying for student loans requires filling out the FAFSA. Federal loans for undergraduates can be either subsidized or unsubsidized. With a subsidized loan, borrowers won’t be responsible for paying the interest that accrues on the loan while they are actively enrolled in school at least half-time. With an unsubsidized loan, borrowers are responsible for paying the accrued interest during all periods.

Whether subsidized or unsubsidized, loan repayment generally doesn’t begin until after graduation (or a student drops below half-time) and the grace period has lapsed.

Most grace periods for federal loans are six months. Interest rates on federal student loans are set by the government (and have been since July 1, 2006) and are fixed for the life of the loan.

Recommended: A Guide to Student Loan Interest Rates for the 2021-2022 School Year

Federal loans aren’t guaranteed to cover your undergraduate or graduate school tuition costs. There are borrowing limits that restrict the amount of federal loans a student can take out each year—for example, a first year undergrad, dependent student is currently allowed to borrow $5,500 in federal loans. In some cases, private student loans may be used to fill in the gaps.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are offered by lenders, credit unions, or other financial institutions. Terms and conditions of a private student loan are set by the individual lender.

Private lenders will likely review a borrower’s credit history and other financial factors in order to determine what type of loan they may qualify for. If an applicant is applying with a cosigner, private student loan lenders will look at their financial background as well, which might include things like their credit score and current income.

While federal student loans come with fixed interest rates, private student loans can have fixed or variable interest rates. Variable interest rates may start lower than fixed rates, but they rise and fall in accordance to current market rates.

Private student loans don’t always carry the same benefits and protections offered to federal student loans—such as income-driven repayment or deferment options. Some lenders may offer their own benefits. SoFi, for example, has Unemployment Protection, which helps eligible borrowers pause their loan payments if they lose their job through no fault of their own.

The Takeaway

As discussed above, the average cost of college tuition for the 2020-2021 school year was $10,560 for those paying in-state tuition at a four-year public institution. For out-of-state students, the average was $27,020. At a private four year institution it was $37,650.

Paying for college may require a compilation of financing options, including using savings, scholarships, grants, work-study, federal student loans or even private student loans.

Of course, private student loans aren’t going to be the right choice for every student. If they seem like the right idea for you, SoFi’s private student loans might be worth considering.

SoFi private student loans have no fees—that means no late fees or origination fees—and the application process is entirely online, even if you need to add a cosigner.

Learn more about financing your education with SoFi private student loans.

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 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 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 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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What is a Dogecoin Mining Pool?

What is a Dogecoin Mining Pool?

While Dogecoin may have its origins as a joke currency, but the process of mining it is very real. A mining pool is one way of mining a proof-of-work (PoW) cryptocurrency like Dogecoin. (The other way is solo mining in which an individual tries to solve for a block on their own, using significant time and computing power.)

A mining pool is a collection of miners who pool their resources and share the rewards. Individual miners receive a portion of block rewards in proportion to how much hashing power they contributed.

Miners may earn less overall when mining in a pool. But they receive rewards on a more consistent basis and can maintain a profitable operation even with smaller amounts of computing power.

Recommended: Is Crypto Mining Still Profitable in 2021?

Before moving on to the subject of Dogecoin mining pools, let’s take a quick look at how Dogecoin mining works:

How Does Dogecoin Mining Work?

Dogecoin mining works in much the same way that mining any other proof-of-work cryptocurrency works. Dogecoin is based off of Litecoin, which forked from the original Bitcoin source code.

The main difference between Bitcoin (BTC) and Dogecoin (DOGE) or Litecoin (LTC) is that the latter two are altcoins that use a mining algorithm known as Scrypt. Bitcoin mining, by contrast, uses an algorithm called SHA-256. Scrypt allows for faster block confirmation times, which means faster transaction times.

Here’s a quick, simplified rundown on crypto basics and how the mining process works.

• A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger technology (DLT).

Blockchain networks are the highways on which cryptocurrencies travel.

• The computers that maintain a blockchain network are called “nodes.”

• Some nodes can add new blocks of transactions to the network. These nodes are called “miners.”

• Miners solve complex mathematical problems to process transactions and achieve consensus on the network, ensuring everyone agrees which transactions are valid.

Like gold mining, mining for crypto requires time and energy, whether you’re mining Bitcoin or an altcoin like Dogecoin. But unlike gold mining, computers do all the work in crypto mining. Individuals only have to set everything up and monitor the process. For some, mining cryptocurrency offers an opportunity to obtain cryptocurrency without buying it on an exchange.

Recommended: How Does Bitcoin Mining Work?

How Do You Mine Pool Dogecoin?

To participate in a Dogecoin mining pool, you must have all the necessary hardware and software listed below.

Using a pool only involves one extra step: telling the miners where to “point” their hashing power. This typically involves entering a single line of computer code into the mining software. The mining pool will provide the specific command, likely somewhere on its website or in the software itself.

Dogecoin Mining Equipment

Crypto mining requires sophisticated and powerful computers known as Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). In the case of Dogecoin, the ASIC must be specifically designed to run the Scrypt algorithm.

While there might be some pools that allow users to use SHA-256 ASICs, contribute that hashing power to the pool, and take rewards in DOGE, those interested in mining DOGE specifically should stick to Scrypt ASICs.

ASICs take so much electricity that even smaller miners usually require a special power supply to connect to an electrical outlet. They also generate considerable heat, and miners must keep them cool to prevent damage.

In addition to the ASICs and their power supplies, miners will need a laptop or desktop computer. Running the mining software can take a considerable amount of central processing unit (CPU) or graphic processing unit (GPU) power, so that computer probably won’t be able to do much else while the mining is happening.

Recommended: What Is a Bitcoin Mining Pool? Should You Join One?

How to Join a Dogecoin Mining Pool

Most mining pools don’t have any special requirements for joining. They want to make it as easy as possible for new miners to contribute because they take a small fee from each block reward. The more miners in the pool, the more often the pool finds new blocks, and the more fees the pool will generate.

Mining pools often have instructions on their website that teach new miners how to join. It usually involves little more than entering a line of code into a mining program. Computers handle the rest.

Here is a rundown of the steps that an individual will take when joining a mining pool:

• Selecting a Dogecoin mining pool to join (more on this in the next section).

• Downloading and installing the software from the pool’s official site.

• Creating a DOGE wallet and entering the address into the software (so the software knows where to send the new coins.

• Obtaining the necessary hardware.

• Using a mining profitability calculator to estimate how profitable mining might be, based on variables such as electricity costs, hashing power, and mining difficulty.

• Each of these steps involves its own set of issues that need to be addressed.

How to Find the Best Dogecoin Mining Pool

To choose the best Dogecoin mining pool for you, consider the following factors:

• The fees charged by the pool.

• How the pool calculates and distributes rewards.

• The location of main servers.

• The total hashing power of the pool.

Because mining cryptocurrency comes with a significant investment of time and money, miners will want to choose a pool that earns them the greatest profit. That involves a pool with the lowest fees and most equitable reward structure. The biggest Dogecoin pool may or may not be the best, as there are other factors to consider.

Some mining pools mine multiple cryptocurrencies. This allows the pool to switch its mining activities should mining a different coin become more popular depending on the constantly changing variables of price and difficulty.

For example, some pools mine both Dogecoin and Litecoin since both rely on the same mining algorithm. If such a pool’s miners were focused on Dogecoin but the price of DOGE stagnates, it could become harder to mine DOGE due to difficulty increases, meaning reduced profits for miners absent a rise in DOGE. Then they could switch to Litecoin.

The Dogecoin mining pool power cost is also important to consider. Mining requires cheap electricity to be profitable. Many people turn to renewable energy sources like solar power for this reason, which also benefits the environment.

The Takeaway

Cryptocurrency mining is not an easy task and won’t be profitable for most people most of the time. All the right variables must align for an individual to make money mining in most instances. Many take up mining as a hobby and as a way to build a small crypto portfolio while contributing to the livelihood of the network of a particular coin.

If you’re interested in building a crypto portfolio without getting involved in mining, opening an account on the SoFi Invest brokerage platform is a great way to get started. SoFi members can trade crypto directly from the app, with the peace of mind of knowing that they’re keeping their holdings on a secure platform.

Photo credit: iStock/Thirawatana Phaisalratana

SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
1) Automated Investing—The Automated Investing platform is owned by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (“Sofi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC, an affiliated SEC registered broker dealer and member FINRA/SIPC, (“Sofi Securities).
2) Active Investing—The Active Investing platform is owned by SoFi Securities LLC. Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
3) Cryptocurrency is offered by SoFi Digital Assets, LLC, a FinCEN registered Money Service Business.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above, including state licensure of Sofi Digital Assets, LLC, please visit 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. Information related to lending products contained herein should not be construed as an offer or pre-qualification for any loan product offered by SoFi Lending Corp and/or its affiliates.
Crypto: Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies aren’t endorsed or guaranteed by any government, are volatile, and involve a high degree of risk. Consumer protection and securities laws don’t regulate cryptocurrencies to the same degree as traditional brokerage and investment products. Research and knowledge are essential prerequisites before engaging with any cryptocurrency. US regulators, including FINRA , the SEC , and the CFPB , have issued public advisories concerning digital asset risk. Cryptocurrency purchases should not be made with funds drawn from financial products including student loans, personal loans, mortgage refinancing, savings, retirement funds or traditional investments. Limitations apply to trading certain crypto assets and may not be available to residents of all states.

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Using Collateral on a Personal Loan_780x440

Using Collateral on a Personal Loan

There are a lot of reasons someone might need an injection of cash and seek out a loan from a bank: For emergencies, home repairs, to pay off credit card debt with a lower interest rate loan.

One consideration when taking out a personal loan is whether it is secured or unsecured. A secured loan is backed by an asset, called collateral, such as a home or car. An unsecured loan, on the other hand, is not collateralized, which means that no underlying asset is necessary to qualify for financing.

Whether to pursue a secured or unsecured loan will depend on a number of factors, such as your credit score, whether you have collateral, the type of financing you need, and when you need it. These personal loan requirements will be covered in full below, as well as discussing what can be used for a personal loan with collateral and financing options that don’t require collateral.

Of course, not all loans are created equal. If you’re planning to take out a loan, it’s important to do your research and find a loan that best fits your needs and financial situation. Learn more about when someone may borrow a personal loan with collateral.

Why Secured Loans Require Collateral

If collateral is used, a lender may be able to offer larger loans, more favorable interest rates, and better terms. That’s because the lender can take possession of the collateral if the loan isn’t repaid as agreed. This is not the case with an unsecured loan.

Because of the lack of collateral, unsecured loans are often limited to borrowers who are viewed as trustworthy. For example, higher credit scores are usually necessary for an unsecured loan.

Unsecured loans usually have higher interest rates, although this is changing somewhat as online-only lenders such as SoFi aim to offer competitive rates for unsecured personal loans. Unsecured loans can be easier to qualify for, simply because there are fewer hoops to jump through.

Digging up all the paperwork for the asset you’ll use as collateral can take quite a while, and then a bank needs to verify it all. When you’re not tying your loan to collateral, the approval process may be a bit smoother.

Fixed Rate vs Variable Rate Loans

Before diving into the details of collateral, it’s helpful to understand some additional loan terminology. One important distinction is whether a loan has a fixed or a variable interest rate. A fixed rate is just as it sounds; The personal loan interest rate stays fixed throughout the duration of the loan’s payback period, which means that each payment will be the same.

A variable-rate loan, on the other hand, is pegged to a floating rate that is typically associated with a benchmark such as the Fed or LIBOR. Usually, variable rates start lower than fixed rates because they come with the long-term risk that rates could increase over time.

Installment Loans vs Revolving Credit

An installment loan is issued for a specific amount to be repaid in equal periodic installments over the duration of the loan. These are generally good for borrowers who need a one-time disbursement.

For example, borrowers looking for a credit card consolidation loan or a mortgage to buy a home will need an installment loan. An installment loan can be both secured and unsecured. With a mortgage, typically the loan uses your house as collateral.

With a line of credit (also called revolving credit), a borrower can spend up to a designated amount on an as-needed basis. For example, if you have a $10,000 line of credit, you can spend up to that limit using what is similar to a credit card.

Related: How to Pay Tax on Personal Loans

Lines of credit are generally recommended for recurring expenses, such as medical bills or home improvements, and also come in secured and unsecured varieties. If you took out a home equity line of credit, it would often be secured (again, using your house as collateral).

What Can Be Used as Collateral on Personal Loans?

Lenders may accept a variety of assets as collateral on a personal loan. Some examples include:

House or other real estate

For many people, their largest source of equity is the home they live in. Even if you don’t own your home outright, it is possible to use your partial equity to obtain a collateralized loan.

If you use a home as collateral on a personal loan, the lender can seize the home if the loan is not repaid. Furthermore, it might take a while to get approved for the personal loan, because the bank has to verify your asset, which means you have to supply plenty of home-related paperwork.

Bank or investment accounts

In some instances, obtain a personal loan with collateral by using investment accounts, CDs, or cash accounts as collateral. Every lender will have different collateral requirements for their loans. Using your personal bank account as collateral can be risky, because it ties the money you use every day directly to your loan.


A vehicle is typically used as collateral for an auto title loan, though some lenders may consider using it as backing for other types of secured personal loans. A loan backed by a vehicle may be a better option than opting for other short-term loans, such as payday loans, but you run the risk of losing your vehicle if you can’t make your monthly loan payments.

Pros and Cons of Using Collateral on a Personal Loans

Using collateral to secure a personal loan can have pros and cons. While it can make it easier to gain approval from the lender, it’s important to review the loan terms in full before making a borrowing decision. Here are some more pros and cons of using collateral to back a personal loan.

Pros of Using Collateral

•   Using collateral can improve a borrower’s chances of being approved for a personal loan.
•   Borrowers may be able get approved for a larger sum, thanks to the collateral mitigating some of the lender’s risk.
•   Borrowers may be able to secure a lower interest rate with a secured loan than they would with an unsecured loan.

Cons of Using Collateral

•   If the borrower defaults on the loan, the asset being used as collateral could be seized by the lender.
•   In some situations, the lender could go even further to try and get the money owed by the borrower, sending the debt to a collection agency. As with any loan, missing payments could impact the borrower’s credit score.
•   Some lenders may have restrictions for how borrowers can use the money from a secured personal loan.

Qualifying for a Personal Loan

With a secured loan, a lender will likely require proof that you own the asset you are using as collateral. This is a simpler process if you are using bank accounts as backing for your loan, because bank statements are easier to obtain and verify.

When you use your home as collateral, it’s usually a more involved process because they require additional paperwork and an updated appraisal to determine the equity value of your home.

If you need a loan quickly, or don’t own a home or car (or don’t want to put either up as collateral), there are still options. Acquiring an unsecured personal loan can be a fast and simple process compared to obtaining a secured loan, and you aren’t putting your home or car at risk.

With both secured and unsecured loans, you will have to provide the lender with information on your financial standing, including your income, bank statements, and credit score. With most loans, the better your financial standing, the better the rates and terms you’ll qualify for.

If you’re considering taking out a loan—any kind of loan—in the near future, it can be helpful to work on improving your credit score while making sure that your credit history is free from any errors.

Shop around for loans, checking out the offerings at multiple banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Each lender will offer different loan products that have different requirements and terms.

With each prospective loan and lender, make sure you understand all of the terms; This includes (but is not limited to) the interest rate, whether the rate is fixed or variable, and all additional fees (sometimes called “points”).

Ask if there are any prepayment fees that would prevent you from paying back your loan faster than on the established timeline.

The loan that’s right for you will depend on how quickly you need the loan, what it’s for, and your desired payback terms. If you opt for an unsecured loan, it might allow you to expedite this process—and you have the added benefit of not putting your personal assets on the line.

The Takeaway

Using collateral to secure a personal loan can help borrowers qualify for a lower interest rate, a larger sum of money, or a longer borrowing term. However, if there are any issues with repayment, the asset used as collateral can be seized by the lender.

The right choice will vary depending on the borrower’s financial situation, including factors like the borrower’s credit score and history, how much they are interested in borrowing, and what item they have available to be used as collateral.

Looking for a personal loan that doesn’t require collateral? Check out SoFi personal loans, which have competitive rates and no fees.

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

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

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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How To Negotiate Medical Bills

How to Negotiate Medical Bills

Facing a staggering medical bill can feel overwhelming, but if you find yourself struggling to pay, don’t give up hope. You may be able to work with the hospital, doctor, ambulance service, or other health-care provider to negotiate a lower price tag. The costs involved aren’t always set in stone, and there might be some wiggle room if you just ask.

Here are some things to consider as you work your way through the negotiation process.

Preparing for Medical Bill Negotiation

Save Your Explanation of Benefits

A few weeks after you’ve received medical care, you should receive an explanation of benefits (EOB) from your insurance provider. It may look like a bill, but it isn’t—it’s a breakdown of recent medical services you were provided, what the doctor or hospital charged, what your insurance covered (and didn’t cover), what your insurance company agreed to pay your providers, and the amount you’re expected to pay.

This document can help you be sure you’re receiving the full benefits to which you are entitled under your insurance plan. And it can be useful to compare the information your insurance company has to the actual bill (or bills) you receive.

Your EOB also may offer a better description of the services you received than what’s on your medical bills.

If your EOB seems incomplete, it may be because it doesn’t reflect the most recent charges or payments made to or by your insurance provider. If you’re confused or if there seems to be an error, you can call the number listed on the EOB to get help.

Be sure to save your EOB when it comes in the mail. You may need it when you speak to your insurance company or your health care provider.

Be Clear About Who’s Billing You

It can be confusing when medical bills start showing up in your mailbox. For example, you might be billed by several different providers (the hospital, a specialist who saw you, or the ambulance, for example) for just one visit to the emergency room.

Adding to the complexity, the invoice you receive may come from a provider’s internal billing department, or it might come from a company that’s been hired to handle all invoicing and payments for a hospital, physician, or physician’s group.

To avoid mix-ups, it can be useful to carefully track who sent each bill as it arrives, to note if the billing was outsourced or done in-house, and to mark down who you’ve talked to about errors or making payments. Don’t forget to keep a copy of your EOB with those statements so you’re always prepared with the information it contains.

Don’t Delay Getting Help

As soon as you realize there’s a problem with a bill—either because it’s incorrect or it’s just too high for you to manage—it’s a good idea to get in touch with the provider who sent it.

As long as your medical debt remains with the original service provider, it won’t show up on your credit report. But if the bill goes to collections, it could eventually affect your credit score. You also may have fewer options for negotiating once the debt goes to collections.

Ways to Negotiate a Medical Bill

Can you negotiate medical bills? Absolutely, and there are a few different strategies you can adopt when negotiating a medical bill. If one tactic fails, you don’t have to give up—you can simply move on to another. The method that works effectively for how to negotiate a hospital bill down may depend on your situation and the provider. Here are a few to consider:

Disputing Any Errors

Errors on medical bills are surprisingly common. Look for things like duplicate charges, incorrect billing codes, charges for procedures that didn’t happen, errors in your insurance information, mistakes regarding whether a charge was in-network or out-of-network, or misstated quantities of medications. The provider’s billing representative can answer questions you have regarding your bill, so don’t hesitate to ask what certain line items are. If you catch any errors that inflate your bill, you may want to file a dispute to get the charges reduced or eliminated.

Offering to Pay a Lump Sum

Many hospitals would prefer to get a slightly lower payment at the time of billing than wait for a bill to drag through collections. You can offer to pay the bill immediately—ideally in cash rather than by credit card—if the provider will accept less than the total amount due.

A good rule of thumb is to start high when suggesting a discount, leaving room for the provider to negotiate downward. It’s perfectly reasonable to start by requesting a 50% discount. Even if you don’t pay the entire bill at once, ask whether the provider offers a self-pay discount for those paying out of pocket.

Showing Evidence of Overcharges

This is where doing your homework comes in handy. If you can show evidence that you were charged more than the average price points in your area, you may have leverage for requesting a discount on your bill. Besides checking online resources and calling competitors, you also can cite the amount Medicare allows for the service. Consider framing your request as your desire to pay what is usual, customary, and reasonable .

Negotiating a Payment Plan

Some facilities will agree to a payment plan that replaces the original bill’s due date with a schedule that’s feasible for you. See if you can sign on to a plan with zero interest. If that’s not an option, you can try asking for a lower interest rate. And just because you’ve negotiated a payment plan doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try asking for a discount on the total as well.

Researching Hospital and Government Resources

If you’re struggling, you don’t have to go it alone. There are several resources you may be able to tap for assistance.

Hospital Help

Hospitals often offer discounts or financial relief programs, such as forgiveness, for patients whose income falls below a certain threshold or for those who are uninsured. The hospital may refer to this help as “charity care,” “bridge assistance,” or simply “financial assistance.”

Even if you don’t meet income guidelines for government programs, it’s worth checking on what’s available at the hospital level.

Government Financial Assistance

If you weren’t on Medicaid but would have qualified for it when the original medical charges were generated, you may be able to get retroactive help. Depending on the state you live in, Medicaid (a federally authorized, state-administered insurance program for low-income individuals), may cover bills received up to three months before the month you apply for the program.

Ask for an Advocate

If you feel as though you need additional help negotiating with your insurance company or medical provider, you may want to contact a patient advocacy organization, such as the Patient Advocate Foundation , or state or local consumer protection agency .

Come Prepared to Negotiate

If you’re new to negotiating, here are some basics that could help:

Try to Stay Calm and Polite

Do your best to keep your emotions under control while communicating with billing department representatives. Expressing your requests in a clear and collected way will make it easier for the provider to understand your situation and could improve the chances the representatives you deal with will want to help. If you’re angry or despairing, cool off before picking up the phone.

Do Your Homework

You may have a better chance of succeeding if you’ve researched the average costs of the treatments you received—especially if you use data that’s specific to your area. You can find this information by contacting competitors, with a little online searching, or by consulting resources like Healthcare Bluebook .

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Empathy

Explain economic or other hardships you’re facing and why you’re struggling with repayment. Perhaps you’ve recently lost your job, or you just got out of college and you’re on your own for the first time. Calling on the other person’s sense of compassion and humanity may help your cause.

Write Down Everything

Keep clear notes with the dates, names, and affiliations for every phone call you have, as well as reference numbers if applicable. It’s easy to forget what you spoke about and with whom. Keep everything in one place. And ask to receive the final details of any agreement you make in writing.

Don’t Hesitate to Escalate

Start with the contact phone number on your bill. But if the person you’re speaking with seems unwilling or unable to help, don’t be afraid to ask for a supervisor. Be prepared to explain the situation, over and over again, to each person you speak with.

If all else fails, apply a bit of pressure. While remaining courteous, state that you probably won’t use this provider or facility again if they can’t meet you halfway. Mention that you’ll share your negative experience with your network, including on social media.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Medical Bills?

The worst thing you can do with overwhelming medical bills is ignore them. If you don’t make a payment by the due date on your bill, what happens next depends on the laws in your state.

After a few months, if you still haven’t paid, the hospital may pass your bill on to a debt collections agency, and that agency may report the past due balance to the credit bureaus that put together your credit reports. From there, individuals with medical debt have about six months to fix insurance or billing problems. Once that grace period is over, however, an unpaid bill can impact your credit score for years. And if a court issues a judgment in the hospital’s favor, your wages could be garnished. This means money could be taken directly from your paycheck and sent to the creditor, even without your consent.

Taking on Debt to Pay Medical Bills

Even if you use all the strategies described above, negotiation doesn’t always work. If you can’t get your bill reduced or eliminated by negotiating, there are other options, such as taking on debt by using a credit card or taking out an unsecured personal loan.

Using a credit card to pay medical bills is not generally recommended because of credit cards’ typically high interest rates. However, if you’ve exhausted all negotiating tactics and are still having trouble paying your outstanding balance after the six months’ grace period given by credit reporting agencies, it might be better to pay the balance with a credit card than to have your account sent to collections and have an adverse affect on your credit score.

Another option that might be considered is taking out an unsecured personal loan to pay the medical bills. Personal loans’ interest rates can be significantly lower than those of credit cards, particularly if you have a healthy credit score. They can be used for many purposes and since a fixed-rate, unsecured personal loan is installment debt—in contrast to the revolving debt of credit cards—the balance is paid on a fixed payment schedule.

If you qualify for an unsecured personal loan with a manageable interest rate and monthly payment, you can use it to pay off your medical bills immediately and avoid accruing late fees or having the bill move into collections.

The Takeaway

Medical bills can be stress inducing, especially when added to the stress of having medical treatment to begin with. But it’s best not to ignore them. Armed with the right tactics, you may be able to negotiate the amount due or get assistance to make the expense manageable. If that doesn’t work, a SoFi Personal Loan may be another option to look into so you can prevent medical bills from dragging you into a vicious cycle of debt.

An unsecured personal loan from SoFi offers competitive, fixed rates; no fees; and loan terms that can work with a variety of budgets.

Looking for a way to deal with unmanageable hospital bills? Check your rate for a SoFi Personal Loan to get started managing your medical debt.

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Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
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The Complete Guide to Out of State Tuition

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

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

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

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

What Does Out of State Tuition Mean?

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

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

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

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

Lowering the Bills on Out of State Tuition

Out of state tuition can cause sticker shock—and may lead to sizable loans. According to US News data , the average cost at a public out-of-state college or university was $21,184 for the 2020-2021 school year. In-state, tuition averages were around $9,687. This number is independent of additional costs, such as housing and books. And while the sticker shock is real, there may be some workarounds that open up your options without piling on unnecessary expense.

Reciprocal Tuition and Tuition Exchanges

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

For example, the New England Board of Higher Education offers a tuition break program that offers discounts to New England residents when they enroll in another New England college. This savings may be as much as $8,000. Certain rules and restrictions apply, for example, you may have to prove the degree you wish to receive is not offered within public universities in your state. Speaking with your guidance counselor or your financial aid office may be helpful in determining whether these types of programs are available and eligible for you.

Becoming a Resident

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

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

Starting at Community College

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

Recommended: Financial Benefits of Going to a Community College

Considering aid packages

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

Some public universities also may offer generous scholarship packages to out-of-state students who reflect academic or athletic talent. If you get accepted to a school and receive a financial aid package, it may be worth speaking with the financial aid office to make sure you understand what the package entails and to make sure you have all questions answered. It may also be possible to appeal a financial aid package, which may be beneficial if your personal circumstances have changed.

Should You Go Out-of-State for College?

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

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

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

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

The Takeaway

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

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

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

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

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

Interested in learning more about refinancing with SoFi? You can find out if you pre-qualify, and at what rates, in a few minutes.

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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.
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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