Credit Checks For Employment - What To Know

Credit Checks For Employment – What To Know

Let’s face it: the hiring process can be a bit of a … process.

You show up to the job interview looking extra fresh, feeling confident in your ability to conquer the long list of questions about your qualifications, but what you might not be prepared for is a potential employer taking a deep dive into your financial history.

A credit check for employment can be an extra hurdle in the hiring process that helps the company assess more than just your resume. However, employers have certain requirements and limitations when it comes to vetting potential employees using credit checks.

What’s a Credit Check for Employment?

Pre-employment credit checks happen when a company uses a third-party company to check a candidate’s credit history and see their past approach to consumer debt.

It’s often slipped in with the traditional pre-employment background check that scans for criminal activity and is a tool that helps the potential employer make a decision about whether or not to hire the candidate.

Credit checks are more commonly used in industries that deal directly with money, like accounting, banking, and investing, but any employer could decide to run pre-employment credit checks.

How Does a Pre-Employment Credit Check Work?

Once the job offer is on the table, an employer will solicit a third-party provider to run a credit check for employment purposes that features the following information about the potential employee:

• Full name and previous names.

• Current address and past addresses.

• Social Security number.

• Incurred debts such as credit card debt, car loans, mortgages, student loans, and personal loans, including the full payment history on each account and any late payments.

One thing pre-employment credit checks cannot include is the potential employee’s date of birth because it could allow their age to be used against them in a discriminatory manner.

Federal Limits on Pre-Employment Credit Checks

The Federal Trade Commission’s Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is federal legislation that protects the personal information collected by consumer reporting agencies and ensures that any entity that uses the information notifies the consumer of adverse actions taken on the basis of the report.

Here are a few of the FCRA requirements for employers who run a background credit check for employment on potential or current employees:

• Employers cannot legally obtain background information on an employee “based on a person’s race, national origin, color, sex, religion, disability, genetic information (including family medical history), or age (40 or older).”

• Employers must inform employees in writing of their intention to perform a background check or credit check, indicating they might use the information to make decisions about their employment.

• Employers must then get written approval from the applicant or employee to perform the background check and certify to the third-party provider that the employer:

◦ Notified the applicant and received their permission to obtain a background report.

◦ Fully complied with FCRA requirements.

◦ Will refrain from discriminating against the applicant or employee or misusing the information as a violation against Equal Opportunity laws or regulations.

• Before taking any adverse employment actions against an applicant or employee, employers must provide them with a notice that includes a copy of the report itself and a copy of A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act .

• After taking any adverse employment action, the employer must inform the applicant or employee:

◦ Of the name, address, and phone number of the company that conducted the background check, and the fact that it did not make the final decision.

◦ That they were rejected because of information in the report.

◦ That they reserve the right to dispute the report’s accuracy or completeness and receive a free report from the same reporting company within 60 days.

State and Local Limits on Pre-Employment Credit Checks

For the most part, many U.S. states allow employers to obtain credit reports in the hiring process in a fair and equitable way. Certain states, however, restrict how the obtained information can be used. Those states include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Several other states have legislation pending that could prohibit or place restrictions on credit inquiries for employment.

Certain localities also have prohibitions and restrictions on pre-employment credit checks, including New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

What Are Employers Looking for in Your Credit Report?

So, if they’re digging deep into your credit history to determine whether or not to hire you, what exactly are employers looking for in a credit report? Here are a few things that could help them with their hiring decision:

History of Handling Money

Particularly in cases where a potential employee would be handling large amounts of money on behalf of a company’s clients (like an investment broker or a bank), a pre-employment credit check can help ensure trustworthiness and the ability to keep their funds safe and secure.

If there’s a history of mismanaging money in a credit report, it can be seen as a red flag for potential employers who are concerned the candidate would mismanage the business’s money.

Decision-Making Ability

Even in cases where a potential employee isn’t directly handling money, certain dings in their credit history can still signal a red flag to employers. Negative credit events like foreclosures, numerous bank account closings, late payments, high credit utilization rate, or liens against a job applicant can be seen as signs of negligence or carelessness that they don’t necessarily want in their workforce.

Potential for Criminal Activity

Another reason for running a background credit check for employment is to assess whether a job candidate could be a risk for criminal behavior. For example, if a potential employee has several large debts, it could leave the employer wondering whether they’d be tempted to embezzle or commit fraud to cover their own debts and financial issues.

Anticipating an Employer Credit Check

Being prepared in advance of an employer credit check can sometimes be half the battle.

Here are a few steps you can take before the job interview even begins:

1. Obtain a copy of your credit report as soon as you can. You’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report per year from all three of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) and can get it by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com . Allow plenty of time to look into any errors and file disputes, if necessary.

2. Address any errors on your credit report. If you notice any discrepancies when you pull up your free credit report, you can provide a brief statement to dispute the findings and get on top of it before the potential employer sees it. You can also write statements that explain the cause for a discrepancy like a late payment. For example, perhaps you were late on a mortgage payment because of a disability or illness.

3. Provide your written permission for the employer to run the credit check. This way, you’re fully prepared for the next step in the hiring process and have done everything you can to put your best foot forward.

The Takeaway

A credit check for employment purposes can throw you for a real loop in the job interview process, but it isn’t necessarily the end of your candidate experience. If you’re prepared for an employment credit check in advance, there’s a good chance you can present your case in a clear and compelling manner that resonates with the employer.

Checking your credit reports is the first step to knowing what information a potential employer might access. After that, handling your finances with a cash management account like SoFi Money® is a good way to keep tabs on transactions and limit surprises that might come up in a credit check for employment. Using the SoFi app is an easy way to access and manage your money anytime, from anywhere.

Learn more about the benefits of using SoFi Money.

Photo credit: iStock/ljubaphoto


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

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.
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31+ Ways to Save on Back to School Shopping

31 Ways To Save On Back to School Shopping

Back-to-school time is here, which means that it’s time to start spending money on all the necessary supplies for the upcoming school year. In 2021, back-to-school shopping will cost an average of $498, and one in three parents of school-aged children say that they will go into debt to be able to afford supplies.

Here are 31 back-to-school shopping tips that will save you money this school year and beyond.

1. Check the Circulars

You might receive weekly circulars in the mail that include coupons to local stores that can help you save money on school supplies. If you don’t receive any circulars or you want more, using a website like Flipp can give you access to digital circulars and coupons you can use at the store.

2. Download Honey

The Honey browser extension is helpful when it comes to back-to-school savings. Installing Honey on your web browser will enable the extension to automatically search for coupon codes and deals when you check out online, saving you both time and money.

3. Use Online Coupons

Some websites, such as Coupons.com, RetailMeNot, and Savings.com, offer online coupons. Browsing these sites may lead to savings on school supplies you need.

4. Join Target Circle

Doing back-to-school shopping at Target will let you earn rewards through Target Circle . You can access hundreds of deals as well as earn 1% back when you shop (or 5% back when you shop with your Target RedCard). Then, you can redeem your savings on later purchases.

5. Use Cash Back Credit Cards

Making school-supply purchases with a cash-back credit card is another option to save some money. Then, you can put your savings towards future purchases or use the cashback to pay a portion of your credit card bill.

6. Get Cash Back for Shopping

On sites like Rakuten and Swagbucks , you can earn cash back when you shop at your favorite stores. Check these sites for cash back offers before heading out for back-to-school shopping.

7. Sign Up for Store Emails

If there are a few stores you know you’re going to be shopping at this year, then sign up for their email list ahead of time to receive coupons and find out when they are running sales. Some stores offer a percent-off coupon or a dollar-amount discount for signing up for their emails or texts.

8. Download Store Apps

Along with signing up for emails, you can also download store apps to receive exclusive savings and deal alerts. You may receive a one-time coupon at the beginning and then additional deals after that.

9. Ask Friends for Their Old Supplies

If you have friends who aren’t using their old supplies anymore, they may be willing to give them to you so they don’t go to waste. This could save you a lot of money, especially when it comes to
paying for college textbooks.

Recommended: College Essentials: What to Bring to College

10. Join Parent Groups

Consider joining local parent groups on Facebook or other social media platforms to see if anyone is giving away supplies or selling them at a steep discount. Connecting with other parents before the first day of school can also be a good way to form friendships and trade back-to-school shopping tips.

11. Look on Used Goods Marketplaces

You may also be able to find the supplies you need on used goods marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Keep safety precautions in mind when meeting strangers to complete a transaction: consider meeting at a police station, bring someone with you, and trust your instincts if you feel the situation is unsafe.

12. Wait to Make Some of Your Purchases

Your children are not going to need all of their school supplies on the first day, or perhaps even in the first month of school. Instead, you can ask your children’s teachers what they will need right away and then wait to shop for the rest of the supplies when retailers start marking down their inventory, which typically happens in September or October.

13. Create a Budget

Before setting foot into a store, come up with a back-to-school monthly budget so you know exactly how much you can spend and avoid impulse purchases. Without a plan, it can be easy to spend too much and get caught off guard when you get your credit card statement in the mail.

14. Take Inventory of What You Already Have

You may already have what you need for back to school in your home. Look around for extra pencils, art supplies, books, and other items that you thought you needed to purchase but may already own.

15. Pay With Cash

One of the old tricks for sticking to a budget and saving money is to pay with cash instead of a debit or credit card. Paying with cash may make you more mindful of your purchases because you see the cash disappear when you spend it. You might not be tempted to spend as much if you opt for good, old-fashioned dollar bills and coins.

Recommended: Pros & Cons of Living Cash-Only

16. Negotiating on a Cash Purchase

Cash is also helpful for negotiating. Though you may not be able to negotiate prices at a big-box store, you might be able to at a local shop, flea market, or yard sale if that’s where you’re headed for school supplies. Let the merchant know how much you’re willing to pay, and they may just be willing to cut a deal with you.

17. Look for Price Matching

Some stores will match another store’s price if you show them that their competitor is offering a better price on the same product. Prior to going to the store, take a few minutes to compare prices online, and bring proof of the lower price when you shop. Price matching policies vary from store to store and can usually be found on a store’s website.

18. Buy in Bulk

When it comes to how to save on school supplies, you may be able to save big if you buy in bulk from warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. Some of the best things to buy in bulk for back-to-school include pens and pencils, folders, and notebooks. Bulk purchases of things like paper towels, toilet paper, and shampoo might also make good financial sense. Joining other parents to split costs on bulk purchases might just result in a new, like-minded friend group.

19. Buy Refurbished Electronics

If you need to pick up electronics like laptops, tablets, or phones, consider buying a refurbished version instead of a new device. Certified used models are often available directly from the manufacturer or from reputable online sellers.

20. Head to the Dollar Store

While the dollar store isn’t the ideal place for all your back-to-school shopping needs, you can find a number of inexpensive items there to save money on. These items include pencils, pens, crayons, folders, and clipboards.

21. Shop on Tax-Free Days

Some states hold annual tax-free days, usually in July or August, which is perfect for back-to-school shopping. Check online to see if and when your state offers this money-saving option.

22. Use Your Student Discount

College students may be able to use their college ID or student email address to score discounts on electronics and other items. Check out stores around your college that offer deals to students.

23. Buy Used Textbooks

Another way to score some back-to-school savings is to purchase used textbooks. BookFinder.com searches all the bookseller websites to find the best deals on your textbooks.

24. Keep Your Receipts

If you keep your receipts and find out that items you purchased have been discounted further, then you may be able to get a price adjustment or a partial refund to make up for the price difference. Policies vary by retailer, but it doesn’t hurt to check sales after you’ve made a purchase and ask the store if they offer price adjustments.

25. Buying From Thrift Stores

Thrift stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army often have back-to-school essentials like clothing and backpacks. Plus, buying used items can be environmentally friendly. Families who are facing financial difficulty affording school supplies may qualify for assistance through various charitable organizations, such as The Salvation Army, or even their local school districts.

26. Find Brand Giveaways

By following brands on social media or contacting them directly, you may get free samples or promo codes to get discounts on goods.

27. Turn in Those Rebates

Sometimes, you won’t be able to access back-to-school savings at the time of purchase. Instead, you’ll need to send in rebates. Look for products that offer rebates and remember to keep your receipts and anything else required for the savings.

28. Invest in Quality Purchases

While you may want to buy everything at discount stores, poor-quality items may not even last an entire school year. For items that get a lot of use, such as a backpack, consider paying a bit more so they last. For example, you may be able to use the same high-quality, well-made backpack for several years before it wears out.

29. Use Alternatives for Your Kids’ Favorite Characters

Your child might really want a backpack with a specific character on it, but next year’s favorite character will probably be different. Buying your child a plain backpack and then adding some keychains or stickers that feature their favorite character is an inexpensive compromise that will keep your kids happy and save you big bucks.

30. Buy Reusable Items

While plastic and paper bags may be convenient, you’ll save much more money (and the environment) if you buy a reusable lunch bag and containers instead. Find a lunch bag that’s easy to clean to save time as well.

31. Hold a Clothing Swap

Kids quickly grow out of clothes, so it’s not budget-friendly to buy a lot of expensive new garments. You can invite over some friends and neighbors who have kids and swap used clothing instead.

The Takeaway

Taking some pre-shopping time to estimate costs is a good practice when trying to figure out how to save on school supplies. Setting a financial goal and saving a little bit at a time is a good thing to do whether the goal is purchasing school supplies or something a little more expensive. Whatever the goal, a cash management account like SoFi Money® can help you get to where you’re headed, financially speaking.

There are no account fees with SoFi Money, including no ATM fees within the Allpoint® Network worldwide, and using the SoFi app makes it easier to manage your account wherever you spend money.

Consider SoFi Money a part of your back-to-school plan.

Photo credit: iStock/TARIK KIZILKAYA


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.
The SoFi Money® Annual Percentage Yield as of 03/15/2020 is 0.20% (0.20% interest rate). Interest rates are variable subject to change at our discretion, at any time. No minimum balance required. SoFi doesn’t charge any ATM fees and will reimburse ATM fees charged by other institutions when a SoFi Money™ Mastercard® Debit Card is used at any ATM displaying the Mastercard®, Plus®, or NYCE® logo. SoFi reserves the right to limit or revoke ATM reimbursements at any time without notice.
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.
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What Are Traveler's Checks and How Do They Work?

What Are Traveler’s Checks and How Do They Work?

Traveler’s checks were once a necessity for keeping your money safe when traveling internationally. But with digital payment options and ATMs located around the world, do we really need traveler’s checks anymore?

While you might not want to travel solely with traveler’s checks these days, having a few as a backup can be useful.

The main advantage of traveler’s checks is that they function like cash–you can use them to pay for goods and services at any business that accepts traveler’s checks. Unlike cash, however, if these checks get lost or stolen, you can get your money back.

You can also use traveler’s checks to get local currency at many banks and hotels while traveling.

However, these days traveler’s checks are somewhat outmoded and have largely been replaced by plastic and electronic payments.

Read on to learn how these checks work, where to get them, as well as their pros and cons.

What Is a Traveler’s Check?

Traveler’s checks are paper documents that can be used as a traditional paper check and also like cash. They are intended to aid tourists and are typically used by people on vacation in foreign countries.

Issuers print checks in varying denominations, such as $10, $20, or $50, and they are available in a range of currencies.

You can use these checks just like cash to pay merchants for goods and services, as long as they accept traveler’s checks. Typically any change due back to you will be given in local currency.

You can also get the checks converted into cash in the local currency at many banks, hotels, and foreign exchange offices.

If traveler’s checks get lost or stolen, the issuer will replace the checks or give you a refund.

Recommended: Where to Cash a Check Without Paying a Fee

How Do Traveler’s Checks Work?

Traveler’s checks are issued by a bank or other financial institution. Right after you purchase your checks, you sign each one. When you are ready to use the check, you fill in the payee and date, and then sign the check again.

For the second signature, the person or business you’re paying must be present to watch you sign. The two signatures should match. This is a deterrent to would-be criminals who for that reason may think twice about stealing them.

Though traveler’s checks function like cash, they also are similar to paper checks in that each check has a unique check number. If that check is lost or stolen, the issuer cancels it and issues you a new one.

Where Can I Get a Traveler’s Check?

You can still buy traveler’s checks in the U.S. and other countries. In the U.S, companies that still issue travel checks include American Express, Visa, and AAA.

You can also purchase traveler’s checks online from the American Express website, but you will need to be registered with an account. In addition, Visa offers traveler’s checks at Citibank locations nationwide, as well as at several other banks.

You may also be able to get traveler’s checks from your local bank. If your bank offers them, you may be able to get them for free. If you are buying them elsewhere, you will likely pay a 1% to 2% purchase fee.

Pros and Cons of Traveler’s Checks

Traveler’s checks are handy for tourists who do not want to risk losing their cash or having it stolen while abroad. But they come with a few disadvantages as well. Here’s a look at the pros and cons.

Pros

They keep your money safe. If something should happen to your traveler’s checks, they can be quickly replaced, typically within 24 hours.

They don’t expire. If you bought them and end up not taking your trip, you can use them, or redeem them, at any time in the future.

They protect your identity. Traveler’s checks are not linked to your bank account or line of credit and do not contain personally identifiable information, thus eliminating risk of identity theft.

Cons

They aren’t as widely accepted as they once were. You could find yourself not able to spend them as freely as you like. Outside of major tourist regions, you may find that few shops or hotels accept traveler’s checks as payment.

They can be hard to get. There are a limited number of issuers today.

You may have to pay a fee. Unless you’re getting them from the financial institution where you have an account, you’ll likely have to pay a fee to purchase a traveler’s check.

Do I Need Traveler’s Checks When Going Abroad?

You certainly don’t need them, but they may come in handy–depending on where you’re traveling.

Before purchasing traveler’s checks, it can be a good idea to research how widely this form of payment is accepted in the city or region you are planning to visit. You can simply Google something like, “Where can I spend traveler’s checks in Paris” to get this information.

As an alternative, you might consider going with a prepaid travel card, which is the modern-day version of a traveler’s check. You can load the card with money from your bank account and then use it like a debit card at an ATM (to get local currency), or a credit card at stores and restaurants.

Like traveler’s checks, prepaid cards are not linked to your bank account, which prevents anybody from draining your checking account if the card gets lost or stolen—and you can’t go into debt.

Another alternative to traveler’s checks is your debit card, which you can use to get local currency at ATMs and also to make purchases. However, you may want to watch out for fees, which may include both an out-of-network ATM fee, as well as an international ATM fee, for every withdrawal you make.

Your credit card is another option. These cards can offer you fraud protection. However, there may be fees involved with using your card overseas, called foreign transaction fees.

And, unless it’s an emergency, you’ll likely want to avoid using your credit card for getting cash at an ATM. When you perform a cash advance from a credit card, you can get hit with a fee (around $10 or more), as well as interest, which can run around 25%.

Recommended: Ways to Be a Frugal Traveler

What Can I Do With Old Traveler’s Checks?

Because traveler’s checks don’t expire, those that you have tucked away in a drawer can be used for your next adventure.

You can also redeem traveler’s checks, no matter how old. Some banks allow account holders to deposit their traveler’s checks (including foreign currency traveler’s checks) into their bank account. It’s a good idea to check with your bank first, and also find out if they will charge a fee for clearing the checks.

You can redeem your unused American Express Travelers Cheques online at the company’s website .

Recommended: Here’s What You Can Do with Leftover Foreign Currency

The Takeaway

Traveler’s checks are a form of payment issued by financial institutions such as American Express. These checks function like cash but are more secure since you can get your money back if the checks are lost or stolen.

While traveler’s checks can be handy for tourists who do not want to risk losing their cash or having it stolen while abroad, they are not as widely issued or accepted as they used to be.

Today’s travelers may prefer to use a prepaid debit card, which functions in a similar way to a traveler’s check, and/or their credit cards to pay for expenses while traveling overseas.

Love to travel? If you open a SoFi Money® cash management account, you’ll be able to withdraw cash free of charge at 55,000+ ATMs worldwide.

Learn how SoFi Money makes it easy (and free) for travelers to access their cash.

Photo credit: iStock/AndreyPopov


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.
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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What Is A Fully Funded PhD Program and How To Find One

Graduate school has a reputation for being expensive and it can be. But did you know that you can pursue earning a PhD for free? While it can cost anywhere from $12,000 (public institution) to $28,000 (non-profit private institution) per year to attend a PhD program, there are fully funded PhD programs that allow students to get their degrees for free.

Not only can students skip out on paying tuition and fees, but they may also receive a stipend that can cover their living expenses and health insurance, as well as get assistance to finance the research and travel necessary to earn their graduate degrees.

Attending a fully-funded PhD program can be one way to save money on education costs and to make obtaining one of these degrees more financially feasible.

What is a PhD Program?

PhD programs (also known as doctoral programs) give students the opportunity to do graduate-level research in the field of their choice and can range across a variety of subjects such as engineering, English, public health, and computer science.

The application process for PhD programs can be competitive and the programs themselves can be very time-consuming. Working while pursuing these specialized degrees can be challenging, which is why it can be so helpful when these programs offer an annual stipend.

What Does Fully Funded Mean?

While not all PhD programs are fully funded, some are and they include both full tuition reimbursement and a stipend to help cover the cost of living while pursuing the degree. Programs have varying funding requirements.

In some cases, students may receive a “no-strings-attached” fellowship where they are given funding but don’t owe the university anything in return aside from doing research for the university.

In many cases, to receive funding a student will need to work part-time for the university by providing teaching or administrative assistance. These experiences can give students an opportunity to build out their resume while helping them pay for graduate school.

More often than not, these fellowship positions are the main way to receive full funding to attend a PhD program and are commonly offered in research-based degree programs.

Some fellowships may be offered in the form of scholarships or stipends which are not usually taxed as income by the IRS. Some schools may offer assistantships, where students earn an income from the university, which can be taxed as income.

They are less commonly offered for professional degree programs. Generally, these positions are given to the doctoral students who are doing research in order to complete their theses or dissertations.

While all PhD programs have their own unique funding packages, many fully-funded PhD programs help cover the costs of:

Tuition and Fees

Typically, fully-funded PhD programs provide students with what are called “tuition waivers’ and they cover the cost of attending the university by paying for any tuition and university fees. In some cases book stipends, reduced-fare transit passes, and other benefits are given to students to lessen their financial burden.

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

Living Expenses

Through either fellowship funding or working for the university, students can receive a stipend that covers some living expenses. These stipends can generally be used to pay for food, rent, and anything else they may need to cover.

These stipends aren’t always enough to cover a student’s full living expenses depending on the cost of living in their area and their lifestyle choices, especially during the summer as typically stipends are only given out during the academic year.

Students might choose to work or take out loans to cover the costs of living during the summer, but some programs do offer summer funding.

Recommended: Using Student Loans for Living Expenses Off Campus

Health Insurance

Many doctoral programs include health insurance benefits, but this isn’t a guarantee, so it’s an important benefit to check for when applying for graduate school programs. It’s very common for these student health insurance packages to only allow students to receive health care at on-campus facilities. Some programs automatically enroll their students in one type of healthcare plan and others allow students to choose their plan during the annual open enrollment period.

If a student is married or has dependents, they may be able to add them to their student health insurance plan, but there may be an additional cost.

Research and Travel Funding

If necessary, some programs allow doctoral students to apply for funding to help them do their research (buying equipment, technology, textbooks, etc.) or to travel to conferences, archives, or summer programs. This is something students apply for on an as-needed basis and is not a guarantee.

In some cases, students will pay the costs up front and then be reimbursed. Grants and scholarships can also help cover research and travel expenses, so students could apply for those to get their hands on extra funding.

Recommended: Finding & Applying to Scholarships for Grad School

How to Find a Fully Funded PhD Program

While there are platforms such as FindAPhD that allow you to search for PhD programs that are fully funded, one of the best ways to discover which programs are fully funded is to do research into a variety of programs.

Before submitting an application to a PhD program, the student will want to research the program fully. That includes learning more about the university’s resources, their faculty members, and what their requirements are for graduation.

Look into the specifics of the funding options available at each university you plan to apply to, as PhD programs may address funding differently.

While some universities will automatically give grants or fellowships to their admitted students, other programs make their students complete a separate funding application. These applications can require submitting letters of recommendations or personal statements and can have deadlines that are different from the application deadline for the doctoral program.

Examples of Fully Funded PhD Programs

It’s possible to find fully funded PhD programs across a variety of subjects at many different schools. From a PhD in biological sciences at Harvard, to education at Stanford, to nursing at Duke, fully funded PhD programs run the gambit.

Paying Down Student Loan Debt

If a student has student loan debt from an undergraduate or master’s degree that they want to pay down before or while attending a PhD program, student loan refinancing could help them save money in interest over the life of the loan and pay down their debt faster.

Student loan refinancing involves taking out a new loan at a new interest rate and/or a new term that is ideally better than the current rate or terms that the borrower currently has. It is possible to refinance both federal and private student loans.

It’s worth noting that federal student loans carry special benefits and protections such as income-driven repayment plans and economic hardship programs that borrowers will lose access to if they refinance to a private student loan.

SoFi offers student loan refinancing with flexible terms and competitive fixed or variable rates for qualifying borrowers. The application process is entirely online and there is live customer support available to assist applicants seven days a week.

The Takeaway

A fully-funded PhD program can help students pursuing advanced degrees pay for their education. Fully funded PhD programs can vary from school to school, but generally cover the cost of tuition and may involve a stipend to help students cover their living expenses. In some cases, PhD candidates will be required to do research or teach as part of the agreement to receive funding.

Learn more about SoFi’s student loan refinancing options today.



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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house next to a condo

House or Condo: Which is Right For You? Take The Quiz

There’s something to be said for having peace of mind, even if it might cost you. For many, that can easily take the form of having a place to truly call your own—space that gives you privacy and the ability to customize it to your dream preferences.

Deciding on a condo vs. house may hinge on your desires about privacy, a yard, rules, the amount of upkeep, and initial and ongoing costs.

There are upsides and downsides to both buying a single-family home and a condo.

To find out what might be right for you, you’re invited to take the House vs. Condo Quiz, which can help to answer two important questions:

•  Does it make sense to purchase a home or condo, or should I stay where am I for now?

•  If it does make sense to buy, which one could be better for me?

Now that you’ve taken the quiz, are you clear about which direction you want to take?

You might want to take these pros and cons into consideration as well, and check out this home affordability calculator.

Pros and Cons of Buying a House

Cost is a factor, especially when buying in a hot market.

The median sales price of existing single-family homes was $367,000 in July 2021, compared with $307,100 for existing condos and co-ops, the National Association of Realtors® reported.

These are typical factors to weigh when buying a house vs. a condo.

Pros of Buying a House

•  More privacy and space, including storage

•  A yard

•  Ability to customize your home

•  Room to garden and create a pleasing outdoor space

•  Control, including pet ownership

•  Sometimes no homeowners association (HOA) or dues

•  Generally considered a better investment

Cons of Buying a House

•  Higher initial and ongoing costs

•  More maintenance inside and out

•  Higher utility bills

•  Higher property taxes and homeowners insurance

•  Possibly fewer amenities

If, after taking the quiz and weighing the pros and cons, buying a house feels like the right choice, you can start brainstorming about size, style, location, and price; attending open houses; and looking online.

Learning how to win a bidding war might also come in handy, depending on the temperature of the market.

Check out local real estate
market trends to help with
your home-buying journey.


Pros and Cons of Buying a Condo

Condominium owners share an interest in common areas, like the grounds and parking structures, and hold title to their individual units. They are members of an HOA that enforces the community rules.

This is the general lay of the land in the condo vs. house universe.

Pros of Buying a Condo

•  More affordable

•  Amenities included

•  Less expensive homeowners insurance and property taxes

•  Covered repairs and upkeep

•  Lower utility bills

•  Security, if the community is gated or patrolled

•  Access to urban perks

Cons of Buying a Condo

•  Less privacy

•  No yard

•  Rules and restrictions (noise levels, outside wall colors, pets, and more)

•  Typically less overall space

•  HOA fees

•  Limited parking

•  Slower appreciation in value

Plus, the mortgage interest rate and down payment are often higher on a condo vs. a house of the same value, though that isn’t always the case, especially for a first-time buyer of an owner-occupied condo.

Conventional home loan mortgage lenders sometimes charge more for loans on condo units; they take into consideration the strength of the condo association financials and vacancy rate when weighing risk.

Mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) are available for condos, even if they are not part of an FHA-approved condominium project, with a relatively new process called “spot approval.”

An FHA loan is easier to qualify for and requires as little as 3.5% down, but you’ll pay upfront and ongoing mortgage insurance premiums.

What Are the Costs of a House or Condo?

Of all of the costs listed above, perhaps monthly maintenance fees and HOAs come to mind most when thinking about condos vs. homes.

Fees and boards are often associated with condos, but new-home residential developments include HOAs at increasing rates, according to iPropertyManagement, which provides information about property management, investing, and real estate law.

Homeowner fees are growing more than twice as fast as the average home value, iPM says, and vary drastically, from under $200 a month to thousands, depending on amenities and ZIP code.

For condos, the fees can go toward basic upkeep, maintenance of building exteriors, amenities, and insurance that doesn’t fall under individual homeowner’s insurance. (Condo owners typically are responsible for the interior of their units, while townhouse owners are usually responsible for maintaining the inside and outside alike, so their HOA fees may be smaller.)

Buying into a co-op means purchasing shares or an interest in the entire building. The monthly fees for co-ops tend to be higher than condo fees.

Before buying into an HOA community, it’s imperative to vet the board’s finances, including its reserve fund, how often it has raised rates in recent years, whether it has collected any special assessments or plans, and whether it’s facing any lawsuits.

Recommended: How to Buy an Apartment

When Is a Good Time to Buy?

You may know what you’d like to buy (condo vs. house) and where (in what neighborhood), but do you feel as though now is the right time? If so, fantastic.

You might decide, though, that you want to rent for a while longer under certain circumstances, which can include:

•  Hoping to wait out an overheated market and looking at price-to-rent ratios

•  Wanting to save more money for the down payment and closing costs

•  Needing to boost your credit score first

•  Wanting to pay down credit card debt or other debt

•  Needing more time to look at houses and condos before deciding

If you feel ready, is now a good time to buy? If your finances are stable and you can get a mortgage at historically low rates, buying may make sense. Then again, you may not want to or be able to pay top dollar.

The Takeaway

The condo vs. house decision depends on a multitude of things, but giving thought to the pros and cons of buying a condo vs. a house can at least give you a direction to lean toward.

If you’re ready to get prequalified for a home loan, know that SoFi offers mortgages for single-family homes and condos with as little as 5% down.

Check your rate on a SoFi Home Loan today.


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 Home Loans
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

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