woman on her phone

Are You Ready to Buy a House? – Take The Quiz

Buying a house can be the biggest financial investment you’ll make in your lifetime, so it can make sense to step back and decide if you are, in fact, ready to take that step.

Issues to consider typically include:

•   what you have saved for a down payment
•   your monthly income
•   your monthly expenses
•   your credit score
•   the condition of the housing market
•   lifestyle considerations

In the rest of this post, we’ll delve into these factors more deeply, to shed light into how to know if you are ready to buy a house. We have also created a quiz and a first-time home buyers guide, so you can be informed and prepared! We encourage you to review the guide and take the quiz today.

Financial Factors

The first four bullet points focus on your personal financial situation, and each deserves a closer look before you move forward. As far as the down payment, ideally lenders like to see 20% down (although SoFi offers flexible down payment options as low as 10%), plus you’ll need to have enough money left over for closing costs, moving costs, and any renovation costs involved.

Lenders also want to see two years of steady income, because both job continuity and consistent income are important. Then, you’ll need to see if your monthly income is high enough to afford the mortgage payment you’d be taking on; in other words, you’ll need to calculate your debt-to-income ratio.

As just one example, let’s say that you make $6,000 a month, before taxes. You’re paying $1,500 a month in rent and, when you add in car payments, credit card debt, and student loan payments, that equals another $800.00. You’ve got monthly expenses, then, of $2,300; when you divide that by your monthly income ($2,300/$6,000), then your debt-to-income ratio is 38.3%, which is in the range of what many lenders like to see.

To find out more specifically what a lender requires for a down payment, debt-to-income ratio, credit score and more, it can make sense to get prequalified or even pre-approved for a certain mortgage amount before you go house shopping. That way, you’ll know what you can afford.

Housing Market Conditions

When you’re looking for a house, a key factor is its location. You’ll want your home to be in a desirable location, however you define “desirable.” It could mean being in the heart of a busy city—or in a peaceful place along a river. If you have or plan to have a family, quality schools are likely important, and so forth.

In desirable locations, competition is fierce today, with homes often selling quickly after being put up for sale. And, as demand has increased, available housing (especially for first-time home buyers looking to purchase in affordable price ranges) has therefore decreased. So, you’ll have to be prepared to compete in the current housing market conditions, which means having your financial situation in order so you can make a timely offer on a house of choice.

Earlier in this post, we focused on financial factors, and we’ll expand that concept to say that it’s important to make sure you have the financial resources you need for the home you want in the location you desire.

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


Lifestyle Considerations

Let’s say you’re confident that you have the financial resources to purchase a home in your neighborhood of choice. But, before you move forward, here are a couple of lifestyle issues to consider:

•   Are you ready to do your own home maintenance? If you’re used to renting, your landlord has played a key role in home repairs and so forth. If you buy a home, you would now be your own landlord.
•   Are you ready to settle down in a particular community for at least a few years? If not, you may not break even when you sell the house you bought, because it can take time to recoup closing costs and other costs you paid when purchasing the home.
•   Are you ready for the responsibility associated with a long-term loan? You’ll also need to pay for repairs, renovations, general upkeep, utilities, taxes, insurance, and more.

Ready to Buy? SoFi Mortgage Loans

If you ultimately decide it’s time to buy, then we’ve got plenty of resources to share, including a post that provides 12 tips for first-time homebuyers. Plus, you can get painlessly pre-qualified for a SoFi mortgage loan, with both fixed and adjustable rate programs available.

Ready to explore getting a mortgage? We invite you to discover what SoFi has to offer!


SoFi Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

SOMG19021

Read more
laptop on world map

Can You Serve in the Peace Corps With Student Loans?

Joining the Peace Corps after college or grad school is a noble way to start your career. Volunteers in the government program deploy to more than 60 countries around the world for two-year stints of public service.

That can mean anything from teaching secondary school, to working with farmers, to promoting health awareness. If you’re considering following this path, you’d be joining more than 230,000 American adults who have served since the program was founded almost sixty years ago.

But if you’re like most students these days, you might be graduating with a significant amount of educational debt. Today, 70% of undergraduates finish school with debt, with the average borrower owing more than $37,000, and that’s before interest adds up over the years.

Committing to the Peace Corps, which pays only a local living allowance while you’re enrolled, can be daunting when you’re facing that burden. You may be wondering whether the Peace Corps will even allow you to join with a heavy debt load.

The answer is yes—he Peace Corps and student loans can go together. You’re still responsible for your loans if you become a volunteer, but you could be eligible for additional benefits as a result of your service that can make paying them off easier. If you’re seriously thinking about the Peace Corps, here’s what you need to know about managing your debt during and after your time abroad.

Options for Reducing Loan Payments During Your Service

If you join the Peace Corps right after school, you may not have to start repaying your loans immediately. That’s because anyone who has certain federal loans (Direct Loans and Stafford Loans) gets a six-month grace period before payments are due, although interest will might start accruing.

You don’t qualify for a grace period if you have a PLUS Loan, and with Federal Perkins Loan, you’ll have to check with the school that issued it. If you were enlisted in active duty military service, the grace period can be extended for up to three years. However, that doesn’t apply to the Peace Corps.

Still, like the military, the Peace Corps is considered a form of government service. As a result, if you have federal loans, you may be eligible for certain options to pause or reduce your payments while you’re a volunteer.

First, as a Peace Corps member you may qualify for deferment . This allows you to stop making payments, or reduce the amount you pay, during the time you’re in the field, for up to three years.

During deferment, you are not responsible for paying interest that builds up if you have certain kinds of loans, including Direct Subsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, or Perkins Loans. You are responsible for interest, however, if you have unsubsidized federal loans or Direct PLUS loans.

Note that your deferment will not automatically kick in when you join the Peace Corps—you’ll need to submit an application and documentation to your loan servicer.

Your loan servicer may also have you re-apply for deferment after a year, so make sure you turn in the necessary paperwork. If you’re still in the six-month grace period for any of your loans, ask your lender about the right time to apply for deferment.

Another way to reduce your monthly payment on federal loans is to apply for an income-based repayment plan . The government offers four repayment plans designed to make payments affordable if you’re on a limited income. These plans tie how much you pay every month to how much you make, limiting your outlays to between 10% and 20% of your discretionary income.

The specific plan you qualify for depends on the types of loans you have and when you borrowed. If you stick with the plan when you get back, your balance may be forgiven if you continue making minimum payments for 20 or 25 years, depending on the plan.

If you have private loans, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to pause or reduce those payments. But some private lenders do offer flexibility during periods of economic hardship, so approach yours to ask whether they can offer you any options while you’re a volunteer.

How You Can Get Your Loan Partially Cancelled

If you have a federal Perkins Loan, you may qualify for another perk thanks to your Peace Corps service: partial cancellation .

You can get 15% of your loan canceled after your first year of service and another 15% after your second year, then 20% after your third and fourth years, respectively. That adds up to having 70% of your loan canceled after four years!

This also includes the interest that accumulated during that time. All borrowers who have Perkins Loans are eligible, regardless of when you took the loan out, but only service completed after Oct. 7, 1998, qualifies. This benefit can make it easier to sign up for the Peace Corps with student loans, but keep in mind that other types of loans aren’t eligible.

The Peace Corps and Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Since the Peace Corps is clearly a way of doing good in the world, it shouldn’t be too surprising that as a volunteer you may be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Under the program, if you make payments for 10 years on your loans under a qualifying income-based repayment plan, you may be able to have the balance on your loans forgiven.

Because you have to make 120 monthly payments to qualify, you would only be eligible if you continue in a public service job full-time at some point after leaving the Peace Corps. Other qualifying fields include government organizations, 501(c)(3) nonprofits, public service agencies such as libraries and police departments, and more.

The payments don’t have to be consecutive, meaning you may qualify if you go back to public service after a few years doing something else. Note that this program applies only to Federal Direct Loans, but not Perkins Loans or loans under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. If you’re hoping to qualify for this, complete an Employment Certification form every year, starting with your time in the Peace Corps, or when you switch jobs.

When you look into options for student loan forgiveness, beware of the scams out there, some of which target young graduates like you. One prominent example is the Obama Student Loan Forgiveness Plan, which doesn’t exist but sometimes lures borrowers to pay fees for paperwork they could’ve completed themselves or for nothing at all. Stick with the forgiveness options offered directly through the Department of Education .

How Student Loan Refinancing Can Help

If you’re looking for other ways to make payments more affordable while you’re in the Peace Corps, or after you leave, consider refinancing your student loans. You can refinance federal loans, private loans, or both.

When you do so, you take out a new loan from a private lender to pay off your existing loans, which might make sense if you qualify for a better interest rate or lower monthly payments than you previously had. A loan refinancer will take a look at your personal information, income, credit history, and other factors when deciding what terms and interest rates to offer you.

Fixed rates will stay the same for the term of your loan, while variable rates will shift over time. Keep in mind that refinancing federal loans will mean you have to give up government benefits like deferment, partial cancellation, income-based repayment, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. But for some people, refinancing can be a great way to make student debt manageable while you’re a volunteer and for the ensuing years.

Don’t Let Student Loans Stop You from Following Your Dreams

If your goal after college or grad school is to join the Peace Corps, or engage in any public service for that matter, your student debt doesn’t have to be an obstacle . With federal loans, there are options for delaying or reducing payments or getting part of your debt canceled or forgiven.

And regardless of what kinds of loans you have, refinancing can be a way to make payments more affordable. Plus, when your two years of service are complete, you’ll get $8,000 from the Peace Corps that you can put toward your loans if you want to. Coming up with a plan to pay your loans is important, but that doesn’t have to come at the expense of making a difference.

Thinking of going into the Peace Corps or another public service role? Look into refinancing your student loans with SoFi.


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.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.

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.


SOSL19041

Read more
child getting in car

Planning the Ultimate Family Road Trip This Summer

Summertime is nearly here, which can only mean one thing: It’s time to take a vacation. And not just any vacation. It’s time to take a family road trip.

Seriously, now is the time to hit the open road for a trip as you’ll have plenty of good company along the way. According to MMGY Global’s 2017 to 2018 Portrait of American Travelers study , 39% of U.S. leisure travel in 2016 included a road trip.

The spike in roadtrips isn’t just rooted in love for the open road. The MMGY study reveals it’s mostly a matter of convenience; it’s nice to be in control of the route, and that’s never more true than when you’re in the driver’s seat.

And of course, the fact that it often costs less than an international trip is a perk, too. Because here’s the thing: You really don’t have to spend a fortune on your road trip this summer. It can be tempting to splurge, splurge, splurge because you’re saving money by not buying plane tickets.

But there are plenty of ways to have a memorable road trip without breaking the bank or taking out a family planning loan. Here’s how a list of a few road trip essentials can help you save a little dough as you put the pedal to the metal.

Planning the Road Trip Route of Your Dreams

The first step in planning one glorious road trip is picking your route. Ask your family for their feelings on driving coast-to-coast, road tripping along the entire west coast, or something in-between. If you need a few road trip ideas for some of the best drives in America, Road Trip USA has you covered.

You could also consider picking a theme instead of a route like seeing all the state capitals, visiting your favorite ballparks for a few games, or snapping a photo in every national park in Utah. It’s your trip, so you’re in control!

Once you pick a route, you can then figure out the right time to depart. For example, if you’re taking a southern route from east-to-west across the country, you may want to head out in late spring or early summer as July in Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, and the rest of the southern border can be quite unforgiving with the heat and humidity.

And once you finalize your path, you can also start picking out all the roadside attractions you absolutely must see, along with hotels to stay at, and places to eat. This way, you can then start tallying your daily budget for entertainment, accommodations, food, and gas.

Ready for a Better Banking Experience?

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account and start earning 1% APY on your cash!


Making a Gas Station Plan

Since you’ve already planned your route, you can also plan your gas station stops as well. To help you calculate the fuel cost of your trip, head over to The U.S. Department of Energy’s website and plug your information into its nifty calculator .

From there, you could try tracking down the cheapest gas on your route by using sites and apps like
GasBuddy . On the app, pop in a location and it will tell you the closest—and cheapest—fill-up locations.

Picking the Perfect Car for Your Road Trip

Here’s one of the best parts of going on a road trip: You can drive any car you’d like, so long as you’re willing to pay for it. For a road trip, drivers either have the option of renting a car or driving their own. Driving a rental could be a good option because you won’t be liable for general wear and tear on the vehicle during the journey.

AARP broke down just how much you’d be saving by taking rental vs. driving your own car this way: The IRS allows people to claim 58 cents per mile for business miles driven in their own car as a deduction. This accounts for wear and tear and more. That means, according to the IRS, your car depreciates in value at 58 cents per mile driven.

So, at the end of a 1,000-mile road trip, your car is now worth $580 less than it was before. And if you drive the 2,789 miles from New York to Los Angeles that means your car will be worth $1,617 less than when your journey began.

Furthermore, with a rental you may be able to save by choosing a car with better fuel efficiency than your own, so you can save at the pump and preserve your own car’s current value at the same time.

Creating a Food Menu and Budget

One thing that can quickly eat into your road trip budget is food. Because you’re on the road, and likely far away from a kitchen, prepared foods will likely become your mainstay. But, just because you’re dining out a lot doesn’t mean you can’t stick to a budget.

One of the easiest ways to save on food is to try and build meals in with your hotel stays along the way. Some chains offer complimentary continental breakfasts and snacks with your stay.

If you aren’t staying somewhere that includes breakfast, you can instead head to the grocery store for a loaf of bread and some orange juice to keep meal costs down.

Beyond free breakfast, try to create a per-meal budget and stick to it for the entire trip. According to Value Penguin , which analyzed data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey , Americans spend an average of $33 per day on food when on a vacation within the U.S. That breaks down to $11 per person per meal.

As it found, vacationers spend about $27 at restaurants each day of their vacation and about $6 on food they prepare themselves. So, if you can, try to pack as much food as possible to save. You could even consider limiting yourself to one meal out per day.

Having a Road Trip Emergency Plan

A roadside emergency can be a huge setback on a road trip. Be it a flat tire, an overheating engine, or a set of keys getting locked inside the car, having to pull over and call a tow truck could cost big bucks. This is why it could be a good idea to invest in AAA membership prior to your departure.

A membership at AAA starts at around $60 per year . This makes you eligible for 24/7 roadside assistance, and could even save you money along the way thanks to its exclusive discounts for hotels, dining, entertainment, and more.

Don’t Forget to Have Some Fun

There are a few other things you should do before a road trip that have nothing to do with money but could still prove to be invaluable. That includes creating the perfect road trip playlist, picking out a few road trip games to play along the way, and ensuring your camera is fully charged to capture all the stops along the way. This is a vacation after all.

No Matter Where You Go, SoFi Checking and Savings is Here for You

No matter which route you take, or who you take on your road trip, know you’ll never be logging miles alone as long as you have SoFi Checking and Savings®.

With a SoFi Checking and Savings online bank account, withdrawing cash is fee-free at 55,000+ ATMs worldwide. Plus, members can earn up to 3.75% APY.

Looking to hit the open road? SoFi Checking and Savings® is with you at every mile.


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.
SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2022 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
SoFi Money® is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member
FINRA / SIPC .
SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A. 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.
SoFi members with direct deposit can earn up to 3.75% annual percentage yield (APY) interest on Savings account balances (including Vaults) and up to 2.50% APY on Checking account balances. There is no minimum direct deposit amount required to qualify for these rates. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.20% APY on all account balances in Checking and Savings (including Vaults). Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 12/16/2022. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SOMN19011

Read more
pharmacist from behind

Student Loan Forgiveness for Pharmacists

When people talk about student loans in the medical community, the conversation can often revolve around physicians. While it’s true that doctors have exorbitant tuition bills, the same can be said for many other medical professionals.

Pharmacists are no exception. The average pharmacy student with student loans owed $166,528 on average in 2018 , and nearly 85% of pharmacists graduated with student debt.

Thankfully, being in the medical field also gives pharmacists access to multiple loan forgiveness options. Read ahead to learn why loan forgiveness is so important, which programs are worth looking into, and how they work.

Considering Loan Forgiveness as a Pharmacist

Loan forgiveness programs exist to help incentivize graduates to pursue potentially lower-paying, but essential positions. One of the more well-known programs, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), was created in 2007 under the College Cost Reduction and Access Act.

After working a predetermined amount of time and following very specific guidelines, qualifying borrowers may be eligible to have certain amount of their federal student loans forgiven. The amount may or may not be taxable depending on the particular program, and eligibility requirements vary .

Achieving loan forgiveness would allow you to sidestep potentially decades of loan payments. So instead of throwing large chunks of your public service salary at a loan balance that never seems to go down fast enough, the goal of PSLF is to make it easier for you to focus your time and energy on building your career instead of worrying so much about your student loans.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The PSLF program is available to eligible government and nonprofit workers with federal student loans. The stipulations require borrowers to make 120 qualifying payments before becoming eligible for forgiveness. Further, the employer must be qualified by the federal government.

You must work full-time to qualify, (typically, at least 30 hours per week or whatever your employer deems to be full-time, whichever is more). If you work two part-time jobs, your hours must equal at least a combined average of 30 hours to qualify.

Only Direct Loans not in default are eligible for PSLF . FFEL and Perkins loans may become eligible for PSLF if you are able to consolidate them under the Direct Consolidation Loan program. However, when you consolidate your loans you’ll lose credit for any previous payments you may have made toward PSLF prior to consolidation.

To qualify for PSLF, you would sign up for an income-driven repayment program such as Income-Based Repayment or REPAYE. Choosing an income-driven strategy would give you lower monthly payments as you work toward loan forgiveness

The first round of borrowers applied for loan forgiveness in 2017, and one thing is clear: this program takes its eligibility requirements very, very seriously. Only 96 applicants out of the first 33,000 were approved for loan forgiveness; the vast majority were often rejected because of minor eligibility missteps. If you choose PSLF, it’s important to tread carefully and check your eligibility status frequently.

The National Health Service Corps State Loan Repayment Program

This program is available to many medical and social work professionals, including pharmacists. The program forgives portions of both private and federal loans, including loans that have already been refinanced or consolidated.

To qualify, health care professionals must work in a Health Professional Shortage Area for at least two years, but may work longer to receive more loan reimbursement. They may work part-time or full time to be eligible, and the amount paid out toward a borrower’s loans varies from state to state.

For example, Louisiana pays up to $15,000 toward medical professionals’ loans a year for three years. (Medical professionals for this particular program don’t include pharmacists but might include physicians, psychiatrists, or dentists.)

California pays $50,000 for the first two years of full-time service, $20,000 a year for the next two years and then $10,000 for the following two years. A full-time pharmacist could get $110,000 of their loans repaid if they served the maximum time allotted.

It’s worth keeping in mind that offerings may change every year and the state isn’t obligated to grant the maximum reimbursement amount available.

Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Program

This program was created to deal with the growing opioid epidemic. Pharmacists who are selected must work three years and can have up to $75,000 forgiven if they work full-time, and up to $37,500 if they work part-time.

They must already work at or have a letter of employment from a qualifying clinic, which must be located in a Health Professional Shortage Area. Pharmacists who have training in substance abuse disorders or who have previously worked in a similar center will receive priority.

Serious savings. Save thousands of dollars
thanks to flexible terms and low fixed or variable rates.


The National Institute of Health Loan Repayment Program

This program was designed to give medical professionals the chance to work in research, which generally pays less than private employment. Pharmacists receive up to $35,000 a year annually in tuition reimbursement.

They must have a student loan to income ratio of 20% or more to qualify and work at least 20 hours a week. Both private student loans and federal loans are eligible. There is no limit to how long a researcher may serve in this program, and it’s possible to have all their loans repaid through this system.

Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program

This loan repayment program provides up to $40,000 worth of loan forgiveness if pharmacists work two years in a facility primarily serving native Americans or native Alaskans. The contract may also be renewed in one-year increments until the borrower’s loans are completely paid off or there is no longer a need.

Private and federal loans are both eligible for forgiveness. Full-time hours are required for this program, and those seeking renewal are given priority over new candidates. Candidates who are native American or native Alaskan will also receive special consideration, though native American or Alaskan heritage is not an application requirement.

The payments are taxable, but the LRP will pay 20% of the borrower’s liability. Most facilities in this program are stationed in rural or remote areas.

U.S. Army Pharmacists Loan Repayment Program

The U.S. Army provides a $30,000 lump sum payment during the pharmacist’s first assignment. After that, the army pays $40,000 a year for up to three years. This is for active duty service members only. Army Reserve members may be eligible for future education reimbursement, but not previous student loan forgiveness.

Pharmacists who become Army officers will receive even more benefits, including salary increases every two years . Those who serve for 20 years or more will receive access to retirement benefits including TriCare health coverage.

Refinancing Your Student Loans

If loan forgiveness isn’t an option for you, there are other ways to get out of debt quickly, including refinancing. You may be able to refinance your student loans at a lower interest rate and a shorter loan term, which could get you out of debt faster—and reduce the amount of interest paid over the life of the loan. To see how your loan could be impacted when you refinance, you can check out our easy-to-use student loan refinance calculator.

SoFi student loan refinancing is available for both federal and private student loans. If you have both, and are getting your federal loans forgiven through a government program like PSLF, refinancing might not be the right choice for you, because refinancing with a private lender means forfeiting access to all federal loan benefits, including PSLF.

Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be a great candidate for refinancing. It may help to be an applicant with a positive credit history and a steady income.

SoFi makes refinancing your student loans simple. You can fill out the application online and see what rate you prequalify for in just a few minutes.


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.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.

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.


Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
SOSL18126

Read more
hands holding plush heart

Managing Student Debt While Volunteering

Do you love volunteering, but feel held back by your student loans? Maybe you’ve taken on a new side gig to help manage your student debt payment, and now there’s just not enough time in the day. If this sounds like you, there’s good news—you could potentially help pay off your student loans by volunteering!

There are a number of organizations that will let you volunteer to pay off student loans. From teaching in an underserved area to helping out a local non-profit in need, you may be able to get cash to put towards your student loans while making the world a better place. That’s not just a great way to multitask, but it’s also a fun way to pay off your loans. Who doesn’t love helping people?

On top of that, it’s a fabulous way to gain work experience that can boost your resume and help you stand out in your post-graduation job search and beyond.

Many employers love to see volunteer work and many of the types of positions that help you repay your loans require you to take initiative and be a leader which will help you grow professionally.

Here are some ways to volunteer and possibly pay down your student loans:

AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps is a government initiative that has been around since 1965. Its goal is to help young people take on service positions where they’re able to learn important work skills, help local communities, and earn money towards their education or student loans.

In order to qualify, you need to be at least 17 years old. If you want to participate in the AmeriCorps VISTA program , you need to be 18 or older.

Participants in the program may qualify to have their qualified student loans put into forbearance while they’re working. After 12 months of full-time volunteering, you qualify for a Segal AmeriCorps Education
Award
, which can be used to “pay educational expenses at eligible post-secondary institutions,” according to the program.

Those who volunteer for the VISTA program can get a cash stipend instead . While volunteering with the program, you will also get a living allowance and health benefits.

If you volunteer to pay off qualified federal student loans via the AmeriCorps program, your time in the program also counts towards the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF).

Shared Harvest Fund

The Shared Harvest Fund has a goal to help repay $20 million in student debt by 2020. The organization was started by three physicians with the goal of reducing graduates’ student loan stress.

Each time you volunteer to reduce student loans with the Shared Harvest Fund, you earn Stipend Coins which you can cash in with your student loan lender. You can earn up to $1,000 per project.

To get started, simply log into their website and find a cause or a project that interests you. You’ll be able to refine your work skills while doing good in your community.

Some examples of organizations that they work with include UnCommon Law , which helps adults and children who are struggling within the criminal justice system, and the Elgin Foundation , which helps kids in rural Appalachia with dental care and literacy programs.

Peace Corps

The Peace Corps is a government-run program that was founded in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. The program allows you to pay off student loans by volunteering around the world at a grassroots level. You gain work experience and become a global citizen while earning money that can help you repay your student debt.

The program is open to anyone over the age of 18, and while you are an active Peace Corps volunteer, you may qualify for deferment or forbearance on your federal student loans.

As a volunteer with student loans , you may also qualify for income-driven repayment. Since Peace Corps volunteers earn fairly low salaries, your payments could be as low as $0. If you hold a Perkins Loan, you could qualify for 15% to 70% forgiveness.

If you have a federal Direct Loan, you could qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. It’s important to thoroughly review the details of PSLF —for those who qualify, it could dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend repaying your student loans. Full-time AmeriCorps and Peace Corps volunteers can qualify for PSLF, but it requires 120 qualifying monthly payments made on an income-based repayment plan.

National Health Service Corps

If you’re a medical professional such as a doctor, dentist, or behavioral health professional, another way to pay off student loans by volunteering is via the National Health Service Corps .

You can get part of your student loans forgiven if you volunteer to work in an underserved area through the National Health Service Corps. The program helps ensure that those in impoverished, underserved, or remote areas have access to quality health care.

In addition to getting a regular paycheck from working in those areas, you’ll also get up to $50,000 to repay your student loans if you commit to working for two years, full-time, in one of those underserved areas. Also, it is not treated as income in the same way that other forms of student loan forgiveness are, so you won’t be taxed on it.

Not Able to Volunteer to Repay Your Loans?

Unfortunately, not everyone is able to volunteer to pay off student loans. It’s also important to consider whether it makes sense to volunteer to help reduce some of your student loans. For example, if you’re a doctor, you might have a much lower income working in a remote area and miss out on far more than just $50,000 worth of billings during those two years.

That money wouldn’t just give you more cash to repay your loans yourself, but it would also help you build an income that could have a long-term impact on your annual earnings. As with most things, volunteering as a way to repay your student loans has an opportunity cost.

Similarly, when you look at the volunteer opportunities available, you might want to look at how much you’re ‘earning’ for each hour you volunteer.

You might be better off getting a side hustle if you’re only looking to repay your student loans quickly.

If you don’t qualify to volunteer or are looking for an alternative to reducing your student loan debt burden, you could consider refinancing. When you refinance your student loans you could potentially qualify for a lower interest rate, which might cost you less in interest over the life of the loan, depending on the new term you choose. If you qualify to refinance with SoFi, there are no origination fees. You’ll be able to select a new term length and choose between a fixed or variable rate loan.

If you’re looking to simplify your repayment plan, refinancing could be great for you since you’ll only have to worry about one monthly payment. However, refinancing your student loans with a private lender means you’ll forfeit your access to federal student loan benefits.

For those interested in refinancing with SoFi, we offer member benefits like Unemployment Protection and Career Coaching. To see how refinancing could impact your student loans, take a look at SoFi’s easy-to-use student loan refinance calculator.

If volunteering isn’t an option to reduce your student loan debt, consider refinancing. You can get a rate quote from SoFi in just two minutes.


SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.

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.


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.
Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
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.
SOSL18273

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender