rolled dollar bills

Return on Education: How Graduate Degrees Impact Lifetime Earnings

That master’s degree in art history may help you understand cubism, but is it going to help you buy a Picasso one day? While material gain is not the only driving factor in most people’s decision to pursue higher education, it is worth considering, especially as more Americans become conscious of graduating with large outstanding student loan debt.

Lifetime Earnings by Education

When you’re considering graduate school, you have a lot to think about, including which programs best fit your interests, where the school is located, how much it costs, and how you’ll pay for it. The price of some grad programs can be dizzying: One year at Harvard Business School may set you back over $109,000.

A potentially hefty price tag means you have to consider whether a degree is worth the cost, especially if you have to take out student loans to help you get there. One way to help you do this is to examine the ratio of the cost of obtaining a new degree relative to the income it will help you generate once you graduate.

This measure is very much like return on investment—the ratio between net profit and cost from an investment of resources.

Your time and tuition can be considered your investment resources, and your future income is your profit. For the purposes of this article, we’ll call this measure a return on education, or your ROEd. And of course, your ROEd depends on how much of a boost you get by going for a graduate degree and how much money you put into securing the degree.

So what graduate degrees are yielding students a high ROEd? Unfortunately, a grad degree in the humanities may provide a relatively small boost in income.The average salary for a graduate with an MA in the
is $68,000. Other degrees—especially professional degrees like JDs, MDs, and MBAs—can provide a significant boost to your post graduation prospects. Stanford University Class of 2018 MBA grads have an average starting salary and bonuses of nearly $174,000, the highest in the country.

It’s clear that in some cases a graduate degree can have a huge impact on your lifetime earning potential, offering a high ROEd. Yet, this isn’t always the case, and with a low ROEd, you’ll want to weigh the benefits of a degree carefully.

Weighing a Graduate Degree

Your ROEd and other factors can help you decide whether a graduate program is worth it before you apply to graduate school.

Determining need: Determine whether or not you need a graduate degree to advance in your field. If you want to go into academia, you’ll likely need a PhD. However, if you have an undergrad engineering degree, you may not need more school to rise through the ranks of your company.

Factoring in your undergrad degree: not all undergrad degrees are created equal. Some undergrad degrees, like business, engineering, and mathematics degrees, are relatively lucrative out of the starting gate. Will a grad degree really produce a significantly higher salary? If you asked a Magic 8 ball this question, it would say “signs point to yes”: Someone with a bachelor’s in business can expect to earn an average entry-level salary of $56,720, whereas an MBA can earn a projected starting salary of $78,332.

Considering job prospects: When you achieve your graduate degree, will it be easy for you to find a job? With a PhD in an obscure subject, you may be competing for very few available positions. More general degrees may give you more job options and flexibility to grow.

Examining opportunity cost: The value of one choice relative to another alternative is known as opportunity cost. This concept is particularly relevant when you consider the financial opportunities you might lose by taking a few years off from working while you’re in school.

In other words, you won’t be getting a salary while you’re hitting the books. And if you’re already working at a relatively lucrative position, your opportunity cost could be high. You might want to factor this cost in when considering ROEd.

Note: There are ways to offset opportunity cost, such as working while you’re in school. Some employers will offer to pay for part of your schooling in exchange for an agreement that you will work for them for a given period of time.

Making conservative estimates: When calculating your own ROEd, being conservative with how much you think you will earn when you graduate, especially in your first years out of school, can be a big help. A conservative estimate helps keep you from overestimating your ROEd and can give you a better chance of arriving at a decision that’s financially beneficial to you.

Tipping the Balance

One way to improve your ROEd is by lowering the amount you pay for your degree. Look for scholarship programs that can help you pay for your tuition. Also, some degree programs offer full rides to students, often in exchange for teaching undergrad classes.

Sadly, help with tuition can be a rarity for degree programs that typically lead to high-paying jobs, such as MBAs, law degrees, and medical degrees.

If you need to take out student loans to pay for your degree, being smart about terms and interest rates can help you keep your costs down. When you’re considering student loans, shop around for lenders who offer low interest rates, low fees, and favorable terms.

You can refinance your student loans through lenders such as SoFi to help secure lower interest rates or a more flexible loan term. Doing so can be a good idea if you have a better financial profile than when you originally took out your loans.

Lowering the interest rate on your loan can reduce the amount you’ll pay over the life of the loan, helping to improve your ROEd. You can also refinance for a longer loan term—that would get you a lower monthly payment, but wouldn’t help your ROEd because it ultimately might mean paying more interest on your loan overall. Keep in mind that if you do refinance, keep in mind that you’ll lose access to federal loan benefits when refinancing for a private loan.

Also, don’t forget to look into student loan forgiveness programs. If you plan to find employment with a nonprofit or a government organization, you may be able to receive loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program after you make 10 years worth of qualifying monthly payments.

You may also want to consider looking for employers who will help you pay back your loans as part of the benefits package they offer to employees.

Intangible Benefits

Though money is an important part of your decision about whether to go to grad school, it isn’t everything. There are lots of benefits that can’t be pegged to a dollar amount, including social connections and whatever extra skills you acquire that aren’t directly related to your degree.

Visit SoFi to learn more about how to pay for graduate school, and how student loan refinancing could aid your repayment plan after grad school.

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 a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.


Read more
white balloons on teal background

How Credit Card Payments Can Balloon When Interest Rates Rise

Standing in line at a coffee shop, it’d almost be weird to see someone pay using cash. Cash? What’s that? At this point, credit cards are ubiquitous in the United States. Although, we’re not all using them the same.

Ideally, we would all pay our credit cards off every month, but this is not always how it works out. If you carry a balance on your credit card, you’re not alone. According to a NerdWallet study , the average American household carries $6,929 in revolving balances on their credit cards.

Credit cards can be difficult to pay off, due to their notoriously high interest rates. According to the Federal Reserve, the average interest rate on a credit card was 14.73% at the end of 2018; compare that to the 4.55% average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at the end of 2018.

Credit card interest rates have risen as a result of nine increases to the federal funds rate since 2015, which is set by The Federal Reserve. Although “The Fed” does not control interest rates on credit cards directly, credit card interest rates are often pegged against the prime rate , which changes with the federal funds rate.

A change in interest rates is likely to impact anyone with a variable rate on their credit card balance. There is some good news though—in 2019, we have yet to see a rate hike from The Fed.

Below, we’ll discuss why interest rates go up and how that affects credit card interest rates. We’ll also provide some ideas for dealing with a high credit card bill.

How Interest is Calculated

Credit card companies design credit cards to be easy to use, but many may be difficult to fully understand. If you’re confused by all of the fine print that accompanies a credit card offer or the thought of an APR calculation makes you rub your forehead in pain, you aren’t the only one. To understand how rising rates can affect your credit card payment, it helps to understand a bit about how credit card interest is calculated.

First, there are two types of consumer loans: installment loans and revolving credit. A mortgage, student loan, or car loan are all examples of installment loans. With an installment loan, the borrower is loaned an amount of money (called the principal) plus interest to be paid back over a designated amount of time.

Revolving credit, on the other hand, is not a loan disbursed in one lump sum, but is a certain amount of credit to be used by the borrower continuously, up to a designated limit. A credit card is revolving credit. A borrower’s monthly payment is determined by how much of the available credit they are using at any given time; therefore, minimum payments may change from month to month.

Installment credit is sometimes easier than revolving credit to understand and calculate. First, installment loans often come with fixed rates, which means that the interest rate doesn’t change (unless you miss payments). For example, the rate on a federal student loan or a 30-year fixed mortgage won’t change, even if government-set interest rates shoot to the sun. Revolving credit almost often has a variable rate, which means that the interest rate applied to the credit balance fluctuates.

The average rate on credit cards generally falls between 15% and 20% , quoted as an Annual Percentage Rate, or an APR. The APR is the approximate interest rate that a borrower will pay in one year.

Why approximate? First, the prime rate could fluctuate based on when the Fed changes the federal fund target rate. Next, interest charges on credit cards are actually calculated daily.

Generally, when the Fed raises the federal funds rate, it can slow economic growth because it dissuades banks from lending money—and discourages consumers from borrowing at a subsequently higher interest rate. While this may be a normal and natural part of an economic cycle, it can be frustrating for anyone who is currently carrying a credit card balance and is stressed about making payments or paying off their balance.

What Does a Rising Federal Funds Rate/Prime Rate Rate Mean for Credit Card Holders?

When the Fed raises federal funds interest rates, it can be expected that credit card interest rates may follow. How much would your credit card interest rate increase? It depends on your credit card. Generally, credit cards move in sync with rate hikes, which usually happen in quarter-percent increments. (As of this writing, there have been nine rate hikes totaling 2.25% since December 2015 —however, as we mentioned above, rates have remained unchanged so far in 2019.)

How to Combat a High Credit Card Bill

Here are some ideas for battling a high credit card bill and potentially paying less in interest over time:

1. Paying off your credit cards faster by paying more than the minimum payment

If at all possible, paying off as much of your credit card balance as you can each month by making payments greater than the minimum amount due can help reduce your balance. The faster you can work on reducing the actual principal balance on your credit card, the less interest you’ll likely pay.

2. Transferring to a 0% card

Some credit cards have 0% APR introductory offers lasting for six months or a year. If you’re serious about getting rid of your debt, you could transfer your debt over and actively work on paying off the debt while you’re not paying interest.

If you do this, make sure to look for a card that has no transfer fee. Beware: If the root of the problem is actually overspending, this will not be a good long-term solution. Sometimes, 0% APR cards have interest rates that jump up dramatically after the trial period is over. And the 0% APR may no longer apply if you make a new purchase on the card.

3. Negotiating for a lower rate

Some folks are surprised to find out that a credit card rate can be negotiable. It may be worth giving your credit card company a call and seeing whether they can reduce your rate.

Remember, there’s another person on the other end of the line, so explain your situation, be kind to them, and see what happens. Again, this isn’t a permanent solution or a guaranteed outcome, but it could help give you a leg-up on the payback journey.

4. Signing up for credit counseling

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling offers free and affordable advice for people who are struggling to manage debt on their own. If you’re unable to envision a path to paying down debt, it could be a good idea to ask for assistance.

5. Looking into a fixed-rate personal loan

One tactic to consider in an environment where prime interest rates are rising is paying off credit card balances with a fixed-rate unsecured personal loan.

These are sometimes referred to as “debt consolidation loans,” and allow a qualified borrower to pay off high-interest debt, such as credit cards, with this lower-rate personal loan. With a fixed-rate personal loan, the rate never changes (as long as payments are made on time), and it helps provide the borrower with a defined plan to pay off the debt.

If you decide to go this route, it’s a good idea to shop around to ensure that you’re getting the best rate. You can get a personal or debt consolidation loan from banks, credit unions, and online lenders, such as SoFi.

Each lender sets its own terms for making these types of loans, so be sure to ask lots of questions. To compare estimated personal loan interest charges to credit card interest charges, you can use a tool like SoFi’s personal loan calculator.

If you’re interested in paying off your credit card debt with a fixed-rate personal loan, check out your rates with SoFi. It’s easy to check your rates, and exploring your options cost nothing.

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 .

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.


Read more
pink credit card with confetti

Does Debt Consolidation Hurt Your Credit?

You may have heard that consolidating your debts can hurt your credit score. So, if you’re considering this financial strategy to free up cash flow and otherwise streamline debts, it’s natural to wonder if that’s true. And like so many questions related to finances, the answer depends upon your specific situation.

It’s important to remember that a combination of many factors can affect credit scores and to understand how those factors are considered in credit score algorithms. We’ll use FICO® as an example—according to them, the high-level breakdown of credit scores is as follows:

•  Payment history (35%): This includes delinquent payments and information found in public records.

•  Amount currently owed (30%): This includes money you owe on your accounts, as well as how much of your available credit on revolving accounts is currently used up.

•  Credit history length (15%): This includes when you opened your accounts and the amount of time since you used each account.

•  Credit types used (10%): What is your mix? For example, how much is revolving credit, like credit cards? How much is installment debt, such as car loans and personal loans?

•  New credit (10%): How much new credit are you pursuing?

Now, here is information to help you make the right debt consolidation decision.

Benefits of Debt Consolidation

When you’re juggling, say, multiple credit cards, it can be easy to accidentally miss a payment. Depending on the severity of the mistake, that can have a negative impact on your credit score. This, in turn, can make it more challenging to get loans when you need them, or prevent you from getting favorable loan terms, like low interest rates. Plus, even if you don’t miss a payment, when you have numerous credit card bills to juggle, you probably worry that one will get missed.

Plus, it’s not uncommon for credit cards to have high interest rates, and when you only make the minimum payments on each of them, you very well may be paying a significant amount of money each month without seeing balances drop very much at all.

So, when you combine multiple credit cards into one loan, preferably one with a lower interest rate, it’s much more convenient, making it less likely that you’ll accidentally miss a payment. And paying less in interest will likely make it easier to pay down your debt.

How you handle your debt consolidation, though, and the way in which you manage your finances after the consolidation each play significant roles in whether this strategy will ultimately help you.

Steps to Take: Before the Debt Consolidation Loan

Debt accumulates for different reasons for different people. For some, unexpected medical bills or emergency home repairs have served as culprits. For others, being underemployed for a period of time may have caused them to start carrying a credit card debt balance. For still others, it may be about learning how to budget more effectively.

No matter why credit card debt has built up, it can help to re-envision a debt consolidation strategy as something bigger and better than just combining your bills. As part of your plan, analyze why your debt accumulated and be honest about which ones were under your control and which were true emergencies.

And if you end up using a lower-cost loan to consolidate your bills, consider using any money saved to build up an emergency savings fund to help prevent the accumulation of credit card balances in the future.

The reality is that, if you consolidate your debts in conjunction with a carefully crafted budgeting and savings plan, then debt consolidation can be a wonderful first step in your brand-new financial strategy.

Debt Consolidation: When It Can Help Your Credit Score

Based on the factors used by FICO, here are ways in which a consolidation loan can help credit scores:

Payment history (35%)

Because making payments on time is the largest factor in FICO credit scores, a debt consolidation loan can help your credit if you make all of your payments on time.

Amount currently owed (30%)

Although you may not instantly reduce the amount you owe by, say, consolidating all of your credit card balances into a personal loan, there can be a benefit to your credit score here. That’s because the credit score algorithm looks at credit limits on your cards, as well as your outstanding balances, and creates a formula that calculates your credit card utilization.

Here is more information about credit card utilization, including how to calculate and manage yours.

Credit types used (10%)

As you may know, there are several different types of credit, such as credit cards, retail accounts, installment loans, finance company accounts, and mortgage loans. According to myFICO , responsibly using a mix of these, such as credit cards and installment loans, may help your credit score.

However, it’s certainly not necessary to have one of each, and it’s not a good idea to open credit accounts you don’t intend to use.

Debt Consolidation: When It Can Hurt Your Credit Score

Now, here are ways that the same initial step—taking out a debt consolidation loan—may hurt your credit.

Payment history (35%)

As is the case with most loans, making late payments on a consolidation loan can hurt your credit score (depending on the severity of the situation). Loans in a delinquent status are mostly likely to have a negative impact on your credit, depending on the lenders’ policies.

Learn more about payment history .

Amount currently owed (30%)

Now, let’s say that you pay off all your credit cards with a personal loan and then you begin using them again to the degree that you can’t pay them off monthly. Any gain that you saw in your credit score will likely disappear as your credit utilization numbers rise again.

Another way that credit consolidation can harm your score is if you combine all of your credit card balances to just one credit card, resulting in a high utilization rate. But if you are able to keep it relatively low, it is less likely to negatively affect your score.

Learn more about amounts owed .

Credit history length (15%)

If you close credit cards that you pay off, you’ll reduce the age of your accounts, overall, and this can hurt your credit score.

Learn more about length of credit history .

Credit types used (10%)

If you combine all of your credit card balances into just one credit card, as described above, you won’t have opened an installment (personal) loan, so that won’t help with diversifying credit types.

Learn more about credit mix .

New credit (10%)

If you apply for a personal loan or a balance-transfer credit card and are rejected, this can cause your credit score to decrease. And if you apply for multiple loans or credit cards, looking for a lender that will accept your application, this can also hurt your score. Multiple requests for your credit report information (known as “inquiries”) in a short period of time can decrease your score, though not by much.

Learn more about new credit .

Concerned about building or rebuilding credit? Check out a few tips SoFi put together on how to strategically boost your credit score.

Investigating a Personal Loan for Debt Consolidation

When it’s time to apply for the personal loan, you’ll want to get a low rate. In February 2019, the average credit card interest rate was reported as 17.67%; this means that, by not consolidating your credit cards into a personal loan with a lower interest rate, you could be paying more interest than if you did.

When choosing a lender, ask about the fees associated with the loan. Some lenders charge fees; others,like SoFi, don’t. You can always use a lender’s annual percentage rates (APRs) as a way to understand the true cost of financing.

Also, you may consider calculating the shortest loan term that your budget can comfortably accommodate because, the more quickly you pay off the debt, the more money you’ll save over the life of the loan because you’re paying less in interest.

You can find more information about saving money as you consolidate your debts, and you can also calculate payments using our personal loan calculator.

Consolidate Your Debt with a SoFi Personal Loan

If you’re ready to say goodbye to high-interest credit cards and to juggling multiple payments each month, a SoFi personal loan may be a good option.

Benefits of our personal loans include:

•  Fast, easy, and convenient online application process

•  Low interest rates

•  No origination fees required

•  No prepayment fees required

•  Fixed rate loan

You deserve peace of mind. And by taking out a personal loan to consolidate debt, the stress of juggling multiple credit card payments can be history. Ready for your fresh start?

Learn more about how using a SoFi personal loan to consolidate high-interest credit card debt could help you meet your goals.

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, 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.


Read more
top down hands on laptop

Finding Grants to Help Pay Off Student Loans

College students are graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, which can make it difficult to make monthly student loan payments, let alone get by financially each month.

For those looking to get some help, the federal government offers some potential options, including income-driven repayment plans and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Or refinancing your student loans can also help you potentially lower your interest rate or your monthly payment.

One option you may not be aware of is to apply for repayment program “grants.” These grants function similarly to scholarships in that you don’t have to pay them back, at least not monetarily. Instead, post-graduation, you’ll typically agree to work in a certain field for a set period in exchange for the help.

There are several student loan repayment programs that act like grants but don’t technically refer to themselves as such. You might consider them grants to pay off student loans, however, because they don’t require you to pay back the money plus interest.

Here are a few repayment programs to look into:

National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program

Qualifying health care providers can receive up to $50,000 if they agree to a two-year commitment to work in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).

You can apply if you’re a licensed primary care physician, nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, physician assistant, dentist, dental hygienist, or a qualifying behavioral and mental health provider.

In addition, to be eligible for this grant you must have qualifying student loan debt and also be:

•  A U.S. citizen or national

•  As applicable, a provider or be eligible to be a provider in Medicare, Medicaid, or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program

•  Fully trained and licensed to practice

National Institute of Mental Health Loan Repayment Program

If you work or plan to work in biomedical, behavior, social, or clinical research, you may qualify for a grant to pay off student loans up to $35,000. You can apply the award to qualifying undergraduate, graduate, or medical school loans.

In return, you’d “agree to engage in at least two years of qualified research funded by a domestic nonprofit organization,” according to the National Institute of Mental Health .

NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program

The Health Resources and Services Administration provides this program to registered nurses (RN), advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), and nurse faculty with nursing debt that meets the program’s qualifications. To qualify, you must also:

•  Commit to working at least two years in an eligible Critical Shortage Facility (CSF) in a high-need area or an accredited school for nursing

•  Have received your nursing education in an accredited school of nursing in the U.S.

If you qualify, you may receive up to 85% of unpaid nursing debt over three years—that’s 60% over the first two years with an option to extend to a third year for an additional 25%.

Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program

This grant is for health professionals who agree to work in an American Indian or Alaska Native community for at least two years. In exchange, you can receive up to $40,000 in grants to help pay off student loans.

Recipients also have the option to extend their contract each year until their debt is completely paid.

Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program

If you’re a veterinarian working in an area designated by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture as a “shortage area,” you may be eligible to receive up to $25,000 each year for a (minimum) three-year service commitment. The grant is reserved only for veterinary school student loan debt, however.

John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program

This program provides assistance to local, state and federal public defenders, and state prosecutors. To qualify, you would agree to work as a prosecutor or public defender for at least three years.

In return, you may be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in assistance per year up to a total of $60,000.

Department of Justice Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program

If you agree to a three-year service obligation with the Department of Justice as an attorney, you may be able to qualify for loan repayment assistance of up to $6,000 per year in matches based on your payments.

To be eligible, you must have at least $10,000 in qualifying federal student loan debt. The maximum amount you can possibly qualify for is $60,000 in total.

Armed Forces Repayment Programs

Each major branch of the military offers free grants to help enlisted service members pay off student loans. Here’s a high-level overview of some of the notable programs:

•  Army Student Loan Repayment Program (College Loan Repayment Program): If you meet specific qualifications and are active duty, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard Soldiers, you can get up to $65,000 of your student loans repaid by the Army.

•  National Guard Student Loan Repayment Program: If you enlist for a minimum of six years and satisfy other requirements , you can receive up to $50,000 in assistance.

•  Navy Student Loan Repayment Program: With a three-year commitment, you may be eligible to receive up to $65,000 in repayment assistance over that time.

•  Air Force JAG Student Loan Repayment Program: Once you’ve completed one year of service as a JAG officer , you may be eligible to receive up to $65,000 in grants to pay student loans over a three-year period.

State-Based Grants

Several states offer free grants to help pay student loans for borrowers who agree to live and work in the state, usually in a specific field. Here are some examples:

•  New York State Young Farmers Loan Forgiveness Incentive Program: Eligible college graduates pursuing a career in farming who agree to operate a farm in New York state for at least five years can receive up to $10,000 per year to help pay their student loans.

•  North Dakota Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Student Loan Program: Qualifying college graduates who work in STEM-related fields in North Dakota may be eligible to receive up to $1,500 per year and up to $6,000 total student loan forgiveness.

•  Pennsylvania Primary Health Care Loan Repayment Program: If you’re a physician, dentist, or another practitioner who commits to two-years in an underserved area in Pennsylvania , you may be eligible to receive between $30,000 and $100,000 in student loan repayment assistance.

•  California Bachelor of Science in Nursing Loan Repayment Program: RNs living in California who agree to a one-year service commitment may receive up to $10,000 to help repay their student loans. They can also renew that commitment for up to two more years and receive up to $10,000 each year they qualify.

•  Maine Alfond Leaders Program: If you live in Maine and work in a STEM-designated job, you may qualify for repayment of up to half of your outstanding student loan debt, with a $60,000 maximum.

What to Do While You’re Waiting for Your Grant Money

If you qualify for a grant or student loan repayment based on your career or where you choose to work and live, the assistance can make a world of difference for your student loan repayment strategy.

But in the meantime, you’ll still have to make regular payments on your loans. One way to potentially get a lower payment or interest rate is student loan refinancing.

Depending on the terms you qualify for, you could significantly reduce the amount of money you pay in interest over the life of the loan. Or you could extend your loan term and potentially reduce your monthly payments, but that would mean you’d pay more in interest overall (longer term=more payments).

One thing to keep in mind, though: If you’re applying for grants that only apply to federal loans, you may want to hold off on refinancing, because you’ll lose your federal loan benefits when you refinance.

If you qualify to refinance with SoFi, there are no origination fees or prepayment penalties. You can even use our convenient student loan refinancing calculator to compare your current loan with a SoFi loan to get an idea of how refinancing could help you accelerate your student loan repayment.

Ready to see how refinancing your loans with SoFi could help you take control of your student loan repayment plan? You can get a quote in less than two 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 a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.

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.


Read more
coin stacks on turquoise background

5 Money Rules You Don’t Have to Follow

Navigating your financial life can sometimes feel like you’re traversing rocky terrain. How much of my paycheck should I put toward my savings? What’s a 401(k) and how much should I be contributing to it?

Do I need an IRA, too? Should I save for retirement or my child’s college education? The questions are endless. But figuring out how you’re going to save for the future and still enjoy your life is important to ensure your security and happiness—both now and in the years ahead.

The internet offers a wealth of information on how to plan out your finances and deal with common money issues, but sometimes all that information can be too much. Trying to follow the rules of money and the vast amount of financial advice can be mind-boggling.

Part of what makes navigating personal finance so difficult is that it’s just that—personal. What applies to one person might not apply to you. Here we’ve compiled a list of five money rules you don’t necessarily need to follow to meet your financial goals.

1. Save Every Penny of Your Money

There’s no question—saving is an integral part of creating a successful financial plan. But setting strict or unrealistic spending limits in the hopes of saving more could potentially be a detriment to your long-term financial plan.

If you eliminate all frivolous spending you’re more likely to slip up and veer off course from your savings goals. If you set a realistic budget, including room for discretionary spending, you’re more likely to follow it.

Life, especially when it comes to your finances, can’t always be about restriction—it’s should be about moderation. So when you review your finances, set a realistic budget that you’ll be able to follow. That way you can save for retirement, pay your bills, and still live your life.

Having a place where you can save and track your spending could be the first step to getting your finances on track and saving goals in order. SoFi Checking and Savings is a checking and savings account that let’s you save, spend, and earn all in one place.

With SoFi Checking and Savings, you’ll have instant access to your funds. Plus, there are no account fees. Our goal is to eliminate as many fees as possible. That being said, our fee structure is subject to change at any time. With clear visibility, you can keep your savings on track while also indulging in life’s little pleasures.

2. Check Your Investment Accounts Every Day

Investing can be an important part of your financial goals. But, should you be checking your investments every day? Probably not! The goal of investing is to grow your money over time. And while regular rebalancing is an important part of ensuring your investing goals, there’s really no need to check in on the markets and your investments every single day.

Reviewing stock prices too often can cause an emotional response to sell or buy, instead of a more mediated approach, which can pay off in the long run. While there is some inherent risk and no guarantees when it comes to investing in the stock market, historically, it’s been proven to have some of the best returns—approximately 10% annually .

There are plenty of investment options that take the guesswork out of investing for you. Consider SoFi Invest®, which combines cutting-edge auto investing technology with advice from human financial advisors.

When you open a SoFi Invest account, we’ll work with you to determine your goals and risk tolerance. Your account will be automatically rebalanced to maintain your desired level of risk as the markets fluctuate.

3. Expensive Education Means a Better Job

Paying for an expensive private college or university doesn’t always lead to a better education. And while the prestige of attending an Ivy League school may earn you a higher salary post-graduation, that may not always be the case. So, as you or your children are picking a college consider weighing all the factors before committing to a school.

You might look to see if the schools you are interested in publish employment rates for recent graduates. If their rates are high, you can expect that you will likely be able to find a job after graduation.

Another factor to consider is the alumni networks at the school you want to attend. As you think about starting your career, having a built-in network of professionals you can tap into after graduation is a huge asset.

It can be helpful to compare and contrast the different schools you are considering. You can weigh the cost benefits of each school based on your personal finances and your educational and career goals. Certain college majors may have more lucrative income potential than others, so be sure to factor that in as you weigh the cost of the school and how much money you plan to take out in student loans.

An additional consideration—do you plan on attending grad school? If so, be sure to factor the cost of that degree into your financial plan. You may find it worthwhile to save a little money on your undergraduate education so you have more wiggle room to invest in your graduate degree.

4. Work Hard to Give Your Kids Financial Support

As a parent, you want to give your kids the world. But giving them endless financial support may not be necessary. It’s important to teach your kids how to handle money, and part of that process will require them to support themselves financially.

Today, we are surrounded by instant gratification, but it could be good to teach our children that getting what they want may require some patience, saving, and perseverance.

Explaining concepts like saving and spending to your kids at an early age will pay off in the long run. Studies suggest that most kids’ spending habits are formed by the time they turn seven.

One proven way to instill the value of a dollar is to experience scarcity. Legendary American investor Jack Bogle, who grew up during the Great Depression, attributes much of his success to having to work for what he got.

One easy way to teach your kids the value of a dollar is an allowance. While allowances are a personal choice for each family, having your children earn money for the chores they perform around the house can help them develop important money-management skills.

And don’t feel like you can’t help your kids at all—the goal is to support them while also allowing them to earn their financial independence.

5. Paying Rent Is Throwing Money Away

So many young people compare renting to just tossing money away. Well, sometimes that just isn’t the case. Renting can give you freedom and flexibility.

Buying a house is a long-term commitment, while renting offers you mobility. if you plan on living somewhere for less than five years , renting is often a good idea. Due to the large upfront costs of buying a home, it usually takes more than five years to see any return.

Plus as a renter, you’re not responsible for any upkeep, maintenance, or landscaping. If the sink springs a leak, the ceiling fan no longer works, or the air conditioning is on the fritz, you can simply call the landlord.

When you own your home, you are responsible for all costs associated with maintaining the property—and those can add up quickly. Renting gives you the opportunity to save or invest what would be a down payment in a diversified portfolio until you plan to stay put for a while.

Save for Your Financial Goals Using SoFi Checking and Savings

Whether your next financial goal is taking a luxurious vacation, buying a house, renovating your basement, or buying a car, SoFi Checking and Savings is here to help.

SoFi Checking and Savings makes it easy to track your money by showing you your weekly spend in a dashboard in the app. With SoFi Checking and Savings, you can access your money in seconds with mobile transfers, photo check deposits, and great customer service.

Ready to get started with SoFi Checking and Savings? Learn more today!

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
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.


Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender