What is Debt Consolidation and How Does it Work_780x440

What is Debt Consolidation and How Does it Work?

If you’re repaying a variety of different debts to different lenders, keeping track of them and making payments on-time each month can be a hassle. It isn’t just tough to keep track of these various debts, it’s also difficult to know which debts to prioritize in order to fast track your debt repayment. After all, each of your cards or loans have different interest rates, minimum payments, payment due dates, and loan terms.

Rather than trying to master all those numbers in your head or creating an epic spreadsheet, you might just want to consolidate your various lines of credit. Debt consolidation is when you combine existing debts into a new, single loan. If you’re able to secure a lower interest rate it can help reduce the cost of debt over the life of the loan, can simplify your monthly payments, or potentially help you get out of debt more quickly.

What Is Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation is actually pretty easy to understand. It’s when you take out one loan or line of credit and use it to pay off your various debts—whether that’s student loans, car loans, or credit card debt.

It consolidates all of those existing loans into one loan, which means you go from having several monthly payments and various interest rates to just one. This is not the same as debt or credit relief, where a credit counselor helps you reduce interest rates or eliminate debt altogether. Credit relief programs can help you consolidate your debt, but they aren’t getting you a new loan—it’s only consolidation.

While you are able to consolidate many different types of loans, the process for consolidating student loans is different. Keep reading to understand how they are different.

Applying For a Debt Consolidation Loan

When choosing a debt consolidation loan, look for one that has an interest rate and terms that fit into your overall financial picture. The overall goal when consolidating debt is to save you money, either on interest in the long term, or on monthly payments in the short term (which may end up making it more costly over the life of the loan).

Once you apply and are approved for a debt consolidation loan, it may take anywhere from a few days to a week to get your money. Sometimes the lenders will pay your debts off directly, other times they will send you the loan money, and you’ll pay the debts off yourself.

The Benefits Of Debt Consolidation

The most significant benefit of consolidating debt is that it is possible to qualify for a more competitive interest rate, which could help save money over the life of the loan. Debt consolidation loans tend to come with lower interest rates than credit cards.

A debt consolidation loan may be an option to consider if your monthly payments are feeling way too high. When you take out a new loan, you can extend the term length to reduce how much you pay every month.

It’s important to note that the longer the term length of your loan, the more you’re likely to pay in interest over the life of your loan. Still, if you’re struggling with your monthly payments, it might be worth it to consolidate your debt and extend your repayment timeline. This way, you won’t be struggling to stay afloat every month, and you’re less likely to miss payments.

Alternately, you could shorten your term length if you’re trying to aggressively pay off your debt and get rid of it more quickly. This could help reduce the cost of interest over the life of the loan.

Consolidating could potentially help improve your credit score. That’s because if you carry debt on credit cards or lines of credit, your score might suffer if you’re using more than 20% to 30% of your available credit. By taking out a consolidation loan and depending on how much you qualify for, you could be creating more available credit, instead of racking up a credit card tab.

Finally, if some of your current debts are secured loans, debt consolidation might be worth considering because they are typically unsecured loans. With secured loans, you use an asset like a home or car to guarantee the loan. If something happens and you cannot repay the loan, then the bank can seize the asset that is acting as collateral. An unsecured debt consolidation loan can help you avoid putting other assets on the line.

Consolidating Credit Card Debt

Tired of dealing with mounting credit card debt? Consolidating credit card debt is the most obvious form of debt consolidation. This is because people can save a considerable amount by consolidating their high interest credit card debt with a new lower-interest loan.

The first step is generally applying for a credit card consolidation loan. There are many banks, credit unions, and online lenders who offer loans for consolidating debt. In some cases, the application process can be completed online.

Generally, people seeking debt consolidation loans have multiple sources of debt and want to accomplish two things: First, lower their interest rate—and thereby pay less each month—and reduce the amount they have to pay over the life of their loan. Second, they are trying to merge multiple loans into one, making it easier to keep track of monthly payments.

With a lower rate of interest, it’s possible to lower the monthly payment, shoring up money for other expenses or financial goals. Another option is to opt for a shorter repayment term, which shortens the payback period and to help get the borrower out of debt faster.

Related: See how much you will pay in interest alone with our Credit Card Interest Calculator.

For example, say a borrower has $10,000 on a credit card, paying 20% in interest, and the minimum payment is 4%. If they pay the minimum statement balance each month, it would take 171 months, or 14 years and three months, to pay it back. It would cost a total of $6,989.36 in interest.

But if you consolidate that debt with a new loan that has an 8% interest rate and a 10-year term, you will pay $4,559.31 in interest. Not only would you save money in interest by consolidating your credit card debt, but you could potentially improve your credit score by paying back your consolidated loan on time.

Who is Eligible for a Personal Loan for Debt Consolidation?

Borrowers who have one or more sources of debt where the interest rate is higher than 10%, it may be worth exploring a personal loan. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll find a lower interest rate, you can’t know unless you get quotes from a few lenders. (And these days, it’s a pretty painless process because lenders often offer quotes online. If it proves difficult, find yourself a different lender.)

Those with the best credit scores will typically qualify for the best rates on their new personal loans, but don’t let an average or even low score keep you from requesting quotes. This is especially true if you have more than $10,000 in credit card debt and those cards charge exorbitant interest rates.

Also know that credit score isn’t the only data point that’ll be considered in determining whether someone qualifies for a loan and at what rate. Potential lenders typically also consider employment history and salary, and other financial information they deem important in determining loan-worthiness.

A personal loan isn’t for everyone. If you’re doing it only for convenience and there isn’t a legitimate financial motive, it’s probably not worth it. Instead, focus that energy on paying back the money you owe as efficiently as possible.

While personal loans can be a great tool to reduce interest payments, it doesn’t reduce the actual debt you owe. If you’re looking to get out of debt so you can focus on other financial goals, but the interest rates on your debt are making it nearly impossible, a personal loan could be helpful.

When Consolidating Debt Makes Sense

Which types of debt make the most sense to consolidate? Any debt that has high interest rates or unappealing terms. If the loan term is longer than you want it to be, if the interest rate is variable and you’d prefer fixed, if your loan is secured and you’d rather it not be attached to collateral—these are all reasons that might merit debt consolidation.

There are many loans to consolidate debt, but some may have their drawbacks. Make sure you shop around when looking for consolidation lenders, and only choose a reputable lender that you know you can trust.

Some people considering a personal loan feel overwhelmed by having multiple debt payments every month. A personal loan could lighten this load for two reasons. For one, it may be possible to lower the interest paid on the debt, which means it’s potentially possible to save money in interest over time.

Secondly, it can also make it possible to opt for a shorter term, which could mean paying off credit card debt years ahead of schedule. If it’s possible to get lower interest than you have on your current debt, or a shorter term on your debt to pay it off faster, a personal loan could be worth looking into.

On the other hand, you’ll also want to be careful about fees that might come with your new loan, separate from the interest rate you’ll pay. For example, some online lenders charge a fee just to take out a personal loan, and some don’t, so you’ll want to do your research.

Debt Consolidation for Student Loans

It’s possible to consolidate student loans like other forms of debt. Consolidating student loans with a private lender is often referred to as “refinancing.”

If you have only federal student loans, you can consolidate them with a Direct Consolidation Loan. This program allows borrowers to combine all their federal loan into a single, consolidated loan. The new interest rate is the weighted average of the existing loans, so it won’t result in a decreased interest rate. Direct Consolidation loans still qualify for many federal loan protections and programs.

Borrowers with both private and federal loans are able to roll them all into one refinanced loan with a private lender. Student loan refinancing could potentially allow you to qualify for a lower interest rate than the federal loan consolidation program.

The major drawback is that refinancing your federal loans with a private lender means you give up your federal student loan protections, including access to the income-driven repayment programs, deferment, and forbearance.

The Takeaway

Debt consolidation allows borrowers to combine a variety of debts, like credit cards, into a new loan. Ideally, this new loan has a lower interest rate or more preferable terms to help streamline the repayment process.

In the long term, debt consolidation could potentially help people spend less money over the life of the loan, if they are able to secure a lower interest rate on the consolidation loan.

One type of debt consolidation is student loan refinancing. This could help borrowers streamline their student loan repayment by consolidating debt into one loan. Depending on the terms and interest rates, borrowers could also spend less money in interest long-term.

Thinking about consolidating your debt or refinancing your student loans? SoFi loans can help you get there—and may save you money along the way.



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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (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.

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
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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.
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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 SEPTEMBER 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.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. A hard credit pull, which may impact your credit score, is required if you apply for a SoFi product after being pre-qualified.
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 SEPTEMBER 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.
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 on credit.
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Understanding How Income Based Repayment Works

Understanding How Income Based Repayment Works

If you graduated recently, you’re gearing up to launch your career and start a new chapter of your life. But graduating may also mean it’s time to start paying back your student loans, which is less exciting.

If you have unconsolidated federal student loans, you are likely signed up for the standard 10-year repayment plan. Upon graduation or once your grace period ends, you begin making payments in order to pay back your loans in 10 years.

Many grads will not make tons of money right out of the gate, of course, and that can make paying off student loans at the beginning of a career challenging. If your loan payments with the standard plan are high in proportion to your income, an income-based repayment plan might be an option.

The Four Income-Driven Repayment Plans

While people often use the term “income-based repayment” generically, there are actually four income-driven repayment plans for federal student loans:

•   Income-Based Repayment, or IBR
•   Pay As You Earn, or PAYE
•   Revised Pay As You Earn, or REPAYE
•   Income-Contingent Repayment, or ICR

The number of people on income-driven repayment plans has risen dramatically, a 2020 report from the Congressional Budget Office found. The volume of loans in income-driven plans has grown even faster than the number of borrowers because borrowers with larger loan balances—such as those who took out loans for graduate studies—are more likely to select such plans, the CBO said.

Not only do the plans limit payments to a percentage of borrowers’ income, but they promise loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years.

The CBO report estimates that $40 billion worth of federal loans disbursed from 2020 to 2029 will be forgiven. The forecasted figure is much higher for graduate borrowers—$167 billion of their student loans forgiven.

As of now, though, very few of the 8 million-plus borrowers enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan—including 2 million who have been in repayment for 20 years or longer—have seen balances canceled. (In fact, the National Consumer Law Center counted 32, and blames federal student loan servicers for steering borrowers “away from IDR and into high-cost repayment options such as forbearance that are temporary in nature and offer no long-term path to debt cancellation.”)

How Does Income-Based Repayment Work?

In general, borrowers qualify for lower monthly loan payments if their total student loan debt at graduation exceeds their annual income.

An income-driven repayment plan adjusts monthly student loan payments based on your discretionary income, family size, and state. Essentially, if too much of your income is going toward student loan payments, qualifying for an income-based repayment plan might make your monthly payments more manageable.

Income-based repayment plans allow borrowers to make monthly payments equal to 10% to 20% of monthly discretionary income and have any balance forgiven after 20 or 25 years of on-time payments.

(All new borrowers in the federal student loan program as of 2014 can use the most generous version of the program, IBR, which sets payments at 10% of discretionary income and vows loan forgiveness for any unpaid balance after 20 years.)

To figure out if you qualify for a plan, you must apply and submit information to have your income certified. Your monthly payment will then be calculated.

If you qualify, you’ll simply make your monthly payments to your loan servicer under your new income-based repayment plan.

You’ll have to recertify your income and family size yearly. Your calculated payment may change as your income changes.

What Might My Payment Be?

Qualifying for income-driven repayment depends on your income—specifically how much of your discretionary income goes toward student loan payments.

For the IBR, PAYE, and REPAYE plans, the required monthly payment is generally a percentage of your discretionary income. (Discretionary income is the difference between your adjusted gross income and 150% of the poverty guideline for your family size and state of residence.)

For the IBR plan, the monthly payment is 10% of discretionary income for someone who borrowed on or after July 1, 2014. If a student took out loans before that date, the monthly payment is 15% of discretionary income.

Under the PAYE and REPAYE plans, the monthly payment is 10% of discretionary income.

An example:

•   You are single and your family size is one. You live in one of the 48 contiguous states or the District of Columbia. Your adjusted gross income is $40,000.
•   You have $45,000 in eligible federal student loan debt.
•   The 2021 HHS Poverty Guideline amount for a family of one in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia is $12,880, and 150% of that is $19,320. The difference between $40,000 and $19,320 is $20,680. This is your discretionary income.
•   If you’re repaying under the PAYE or REPAYE plan or if you’re a newer borrower with the IBR plan, 10% of your discretionary income is $2,068. Dividing that amount by 12 results in a monthly payment of $172.33.

Under the ICR plan, the monthly payment will be the lesser of 20% of discretionary income or the amount a borrower would pay under a standard repayment plan with a 12-year repayment period, adjusted using a formula that takes income into account.

For the ICR plan, discretionary income is the difference between adjusted gross income and 100% of the federal poverty guideline amount for your family size and state.

The Federal Student Aid office recommends using its loan simulator to compare estimated monthly payment amounts for all the repayment plans.

Which Loans Pertain to Which Plan?

Most federal student loans are eligible for at least one of the plans. For the details, see this Federal Student Aid chart .

Private loans are not eligible for any federal income-driven repayment plans—though some private loan lenders will negotiate new payment schedules if needed.

Potential Drawbacks of Income-Driven Repayment

Income-based repayment usually lowers your monthly payment, but stretching payments over a longer period means probably paying more in interest over time. In some cases, your minimum payment might not even cover all the interest on your loan.

Even if income-based repayment makes sense for you, you’ll need to recertify your income and family size every year.

If a borrower gets married and files jointly, the combined income could increase his or her monthly loan payment.

Finally, the process can be pretty darned confusing.

The Takeaway

Income-driven repayment plans have surged in popularity. Low payments tied to income and a promise of loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years make the plans attractive to many, but they sometimes give borrowers reason to hesitate.

Borrowers with one or more student loans, especially loans with higher rates of interest, could consider refinancing instead. With refinancing, a private lender pays off loans with a new one, hopefully with a lower interest rate.

You can calculate how much you might save by refinancing your student loans with SoFi’s student loan calculator.

Maybe your income doesn’t qualify you for an income-driven repayment plan. If not, consider refinancing with SoFi.

You can refinance both private and federal student loans. Just realize that refinancing federal student loans with a private lender renders them ineligible for federal repayment plans, but if you don’t plan to use those benefits, refinancing might be a good option.

Check your rate in a snap.



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 SEPTEMBER 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.
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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Can You Use A Credit Card To Pay Off Your Student Loans_780x440

Can You Use A Credit Card To Pay Off Your Student Loans?

Making student loan payments with a credit card can be tempting. After all, if your credit card offers you rewards like points or miles, by putting your student loan payments on your card, you could be cashing in on points and scoring a free flight to Vegas, right?

On the flip side, you might be looking for a way to make your monthly student loan payment during a month when your checking account isn’t quite as full as you’d like.

So is it even possible to pay down your student loans with a credit card? The short answer is yes, but make sure you have all the information.

Can I Make a Student Loan Payment With My Credit Card?

Paying your student loans with many credit cards can be more complicated than charging dinner with your favorite food-delivery app.

Federal student loan servicers as a rule do not allow credit card payments directly. Payments have to go through a third-party platform, for a fee. If private student loan companies allow credit card payments, they may also charge a transaction fee.

Unfortunately for phone-hating millennials, the best way to make a student loan payment with your credit card is to call your student loan servicer and ask if it’s an option. Some allow credit card payments in certain situations, such as if it’s the last day before your payment becomes overdue.

And then there are credit cards that welcome payments on certain student loans. Stay tuned.

Is Using a Credit Card to Pay on a Student Loan a Good Idea?

Even if your student loan servicer accepts credit card payments, the practice could have downsides.

First of all, your credit card likely has a higher interest rate than your student loans. In other words, you might end up paying even more interest on your loans by using your credit card.

So while racking up those credit card points can seem enticing, they might not be such a great deal if you’re paying more on your student loans in the long run.

You might want to also consider your credit score. Your credit usage makes up 30% of your FICO® score. Typically, you don’t want to use more than a third of the credit available to you. If you put a large student loan payment on your credit card, you might use a bigger chunk of your available credit, bringing down your credit score.

On top of the credit risks, if you’re unable to keep up with your student loans, using a credit card to pay them down could land you with student loan and credit card debt.

Is There a Better Way to Manage Student Loan Debt?

If you feel like you’re going to fall behind on student loan payments, using a credit card isn’t your only option.

If you have federal student loans, income-driven repayment plans are intended to make payments more affordable.

A Direct Consolidation Loan could lower your monthly payment by giving you up to 30 years to repay your federal student loans.

If you’re not able to make your monthly payments, you could ask your loan servicer about forbearance or deferment, both of which pause payments until your financial situation improves. (Of course in 2020-21, there was an extended period of government forbearance, when payments and interest were waived.)

You could also consider refinancing your student loans with a private lender. Refinancing consolidates student loans into a new loan, one ideally with a lower interest rate and a more favorable loan term.

The Takeaway

Can you make student loan payments with a credit card? Yes, either in a roundabout way or directly. Should you? It just depends. Being informed about the pros and cons is key.

Here’s a pro: The SoFi credit card allows you to earn 2% unlimited cash back when you redeem* points toward a SoFi student loan refinance balance.

The SoFi card is designed to help you save, invest, or pay down your eligible SoFi debt.

See how a SoFi credit card can work for you.



*See Rewards Details SoFi.com/card/rewards.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri (TBOM) (“Issuer”) pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
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.
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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A Look into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program_780x440

A Look into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is a government program that was created with the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 .

The goal was to help professionals working in public service who have more federal student loans than their public sector salaries allow them to easily repay.

It’s aim is to ensure that the best and the brightest don’t feel as though they have to leave these important jobs to join corporate America just so they can pay down their student debt.

Stressed out about your debt and hoping you qualify? Here’s some things you need to know about being eligible and getting your student debt forgiven.

Who is Eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program?

To qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), borrowers must meet the eligibility criteria. This includes:

Working for a Qualified Employer

Part of PSLF eligibility requires working for a qualified government organization (municipal, state, or federal organizations count) or a qualified 501(c)(3) organization is required. Full-time AmeriCorps or Peace Corps volunteers are also eligible for PSLF.

Some other types of non-profits also qualify, but not labor unions, political organizations, and most other non-profits that don’t qualify for 501(c)(3) status. Work for a government contractor? Unfortunately, that doesn’t cut it. You have to be working directly for the qualifying organization.

In addition to working for a qualifying organization, you have to work full-time. Generally, those who meet their employer’s definition of full-time or work a minimum of 30 hours per week. People employed at multiple qualifying organizations in a part-time capacity can also be considered full-time as long as you’re working a combined 30 hours per week.

Note that time spent working in religious instruction or worship does not count toward meeting the full-time requirement.

Having Eligible Loans

But working for the right type of employer is only half the battle. You also have to have eligible loans, which include any Direct loans such as Stafford loans, PLUS loans (but not Parent PLUS loans), and Federal Direct Consolidation loans.

If you want to have your Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) or Perkins loans forgiven, you may be able to, however, you’d have to consolidate those loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan first. However, any payments you made on the FFEL Program loans or Perkins Loans before you consolidated won’t count towards the necessary payments.

Private student loans are not eligible for Federal forgiveness programs.

Applying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness

There are a few hoops to jump through in order to pursue PSLF. To apply for the program,

1. Consolidating any FFEL Program loans and Perkins loans you want forgiven into a Direct Consolidation Loan. This is necessary because if you consolidate your loans afterward, you won’t get credit for any qualifying payments you made on those loans. Already consolidated your Direct loans? Consider consolidating your Perkins Loans separately and start making new qualifying payments.

2. Signing up for an income-driven repayment plan .

There are four income-driven repayment plans to choose from; There’s Pay As You Earn, income-based repayment, income-contingent repayment, or Revised Pay as You Earn. This will likely allow you to pay less per month toward your loans than you would on the standard plan.

There are separate eligibility requirements for these plans, so be sure to check if you qualify.

3. Certifying your employment. To do this, print out an Employment Certification form and get your employer to fill it out and send it in for approval. The Federal Student Aid website suggests filling this form out annually or at least every time you switch jobs.

You can also use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Help Tool to find qualifying employers and get the forms that you’ll need to fill out.

4. Making 120 qualifying monthly payments on your student loans while you’re employed by a qualified public service employer. What if you switch employers? So long as you are still working for a qualifying employer, you’ll still qualify.

5. After you make the final payment, you can apply for forgiveness. You fill out an application , send it in, and wait. Then (hopefully!) you can celebrate your loan forgiveness.

The Current State of the Program

Because the program was created in 2007, the first people to qualify to have their loans forgiven applied for forgiveness in September 2017. But while the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the program could cost just under $24 billion in the next 10 years , and the U.S. Government Accountability Office believes that more than four million student loan borrowers qualify for the program, some aren’t aware that it exists. And even more graduates have gotten bad information from loan servicers that rendered them ineligible.

In 2018, just 1% of applicants were approved for loan forgiveness through PSLF. In November 2020, the US Department of Education released updated information indicating that 2.4% of applicants have been approved for PSLF.

Pros and Cons of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The Advantages of the Program Are Pretty Straightforward:

1. Your balance of student loans are forgiven after a set time, which can be a relief. This works as a kind of bonus to make up for the low pay people working in the public sector may earn.

2. The amount forgiven usually isn’t considered income, so you aren’t taxed on it (that means you don’t have to save additional money to account for the IRS bill). There are other loan forgiveness programs that will forgive your loans, but you might see a big tax bill when they do.

3. You get rewarded for being a do-gooder (just like your mom promised you would). It will feel great to know that you’re making a difference, and your government appreciates it enough to give you a break on your federal student loans.

4. You may pay less monthly because you’re on an income-driven plan. This means paying out less of your hard-earned cash every month.

The Disadvantages of the Program Are That:

1. The program is only open to those with certain types of employers. And it’s contingent on you staying with a qualifying public service employer for 10 years, which might not be a guarantee.

2. Some people aren’t aware of the program, which is partly because of a lack of education by employers, loan servicers, and schools.

3. There are a lot of hoops to jump through to get your loans forgiven. Sounds fun, right? Plus, if you don’t jump through a hoop properly, you could jeopardize your forgiveness.

4. The extra money that could potentially be earned from working for a corporate employer may help you pay off your loans sooner than through PSLF.

5. You might end up paying more interest by making 120 payments than if you budgeted to aggressively repay your loans in less than 10 years. Also, if you enroll in the PSLF program and then stop working for a public service employer, you might be left with a larger loan to repay because of the interest that’s accumulated under the income-based repayment plan.

Alternatives to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Another program available to some individuals is the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. This program is available to full-time teachers who have completed five consecutive years of teaching in a low-income school. This program also has strict eligibility requirements that must be met in order to receive forgiveness.

These federal forgiveness programs do not apply to private student loans. If you are looking for ways to reduce your interest rate or monthly payments on private student loans, refinancing with a private lender could be an option.

It is important to mention that refinancing your federal student loans with a private lender may make you ineligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program should you choose that route.

The Takeaway

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program can be one way for eligible borrowers to have their federal student loans forgiven. The program has stringent requirements that cna make successfully receiving forgiveness through PSLF challenging.

Refinancing is another option that can allow borrowers to secure a competitive interest rate on student loans. Refinancing federal loans eliminates them from borrower protections.

Interested in seeing if you qualify for a lower interest rate? Check out SoFi’s student loan refinancing to find out.



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 SEPTEMBER 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.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (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.

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.
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 SEPTEMBER 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.

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7 Tips for Acing a Video Interview

Whether you just graduated school or are just seeking a new job, work interviews have modernized. Video interviews —conducted online— are increasingly common. In some industries, IRL interviews are (for now) a thing of the past—as more companies take on remote hires and millions are working from home.

And, with the rapid rise in digital job interviews, what are some ways to ace the video interview?

Here are seven tips for giving an impactful and memorable video interview—from practicing potential answers out loud ahead of time to tweaking the lighting for your camera.

There are various ways to get a first job after college. Being prepared for video interviews is one way to make a positive first impression.

Dressing for the Video Interview

For remote jobs, it’s quite possible that applicants may do a video interview through their tablets or computers. And, while the job interview location may now be a digital platform (and your couch), certain interview expectations stay the same—namely presenting yourself with professionalism and dressing for the job. Even when (especially when) you’re interviewing from home.

It may be helpful to ask about the expected dress code for a remote position. Asking questions like this may show a hirer that you’re aware that businesses have diverse expectations for professionalism. Even if they say you can wear whatever you want, you’ve shown that you’re unafraid of asking questions to grasp what’s expected of that role.

There’s an old adage— dress for the job you want, not the role you have. In a video interview, this could mean opting to dress a touch more formally—even if HR said the employees usually go for business-casual. (And, yes, you should wear pants during video interviews.)

It’s hard to feel like you’re going to shine if you’re in coffee-stained PJs.

It’s also not a bad idea to confirm the logistics of the video interview (in addition to outfit- planning). Some video interview logistics questions could include:

•   Will you get a calendar invite or event link for the interview?
•   What time zone will the interviewer be calling in from?
•   Which video conferencing platform will be used?
•   Will you need to download software to be able join the interview?

Knowing the answers to logistics can help bring more confidence to the video interview.

1. Practicing to Make Perfect

Different companies or organizations may use different platforms to host the interview—from Zoom to Google Hangouts to other programs. Don’t worry: You don’t need to become a pro at all the expert features. Still, it’s a good idea to become comfortable at:

•   Dialing in to scheduled calls
•   Checking the audio and the camera
•   Understanding what the interviewer can see
•   Ensuring the WiFi signal is strong enough for the video interview

If an interviewer mentions a program you’ve never used, it’s advisable to download and try it out well before the actual call. Opening up an unfamiliar program just before the interview only to realize it’s not compatible with your technology might create a positive first impression. So, make sure you double-check that you have all logins or passwords for the call. It’s best not to keep interviewers waiting because you failed to check the video interview details.

Try to make a mental checklist of digital distractions you’ve run across, as well. Then, see what you can do to minimize (if not outright eliminate) those common distractions before the live video interview. For example, you could turn off notifications or sounds for texts and emails during the interview time slot.

2. Setting the Surroundings

Generally, it’s a good idea to do a test call on the planned video-interview platform. This could help you assess how you and your surroundings appear via video. You may even want an extra set of eyes and ears–asking a friend or family member to do a “mock” call to ensure the audio and visuals are clear.

When prepping for a video interview, put yourself in the position of whoever will be interviewing you. Some questions to chew on:

•   What can the interviewer see of your space?
•   Are you easily visible or is more light needed?
•   Are there any distractions in the camera frame?

Some digital platforms allow users to record sessions. So, interviewees may want to record themselves talking and then watch and listen. You could run through the main things you want to say in the real video interview. Talking aloud on camera can help some people to become more aware of their own nervous tics and body language.

3. Taking Notes Beforehand

With job interviews, researching the company beforehand could give you ideas of how to connect previous work experience with the brand’s values or role’s job. One of the benefits of a video interview is that you can make these research notes quite literal.

Write out key points on a big piece of paper near your computer. Or, jot down some ideas or accomplishments on a sticky note next to your camera. It’s likely that the employer conducting the video interview will have no idea you’re looking at those pre-prepared notes—just make sure you keep your notes short, so you can naturally weave in keywords.

Talking points are a good idea. You may want to skip long sentences that sound like you’re reading.

4. Minimizing Off-Screen Distractions

Above all else, keep your on-screen image distraction-free. It’s worth remembering that the only person the interviewer wants to interact with is you–not your adorable pets, lovely roommates, or kid sister. You ask the folks you share a living space with to keep quiet or stay in their rooms during your interview. Plan ahead so the conversation isn’t distractingly interrupted by unexpected visitors.

5. Wearing Headphones

It would be a shame to have the audio cut out mid interview. Nothing can derail a smooth interview back-and-forth than the inability to hear the other person. It’s likely neither the interviewer or the job applicant wants to say, “What?” or “Can you repeat that?” during the video call.

There’s no need to invest in fancy, studio-quality headphones, thankfully—if you’re comfortable with earbuds, those should work fine. They also have the added benefit of not being visually intrusive.

6. Going Outside for a Breather

It’s hard to feel energetic and friendly if you’re cooped inside all day. A good way to minimize nerves is to get fresh air. Don’t just open up a window—put on sunscreen, maintain social distancing, and go outside. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, a jolt of sunlight and breeze can reset the mind.

7. Remembering to Be Yourself

After preparing for the logistics of a video interview, it can be easy to forget one simple thing: Be yourself. While a strong WiFi signal and well-lit space won’t hurt your chances during a video interview, it’s helpful to recall that interviews are conversations between two or more people. Be prepared and share who you are.

Getting to Work

Acing a job interview—video interview or otherwise—is just one part of navigating life after college. Being ready for a video interview is just one new way to get noticed these days.

On top of looking for a full-time or better-paying job, some grads also want to find ways to reduce their outstanding debt balances—including long-term bills, like student loan repayments.

After exhausting federal options (like income-driven repayment or loan forgiveness programs), some borrowers decide to refinance their student loans with a private lender.
Refinancing student loans could reduce monthly bill payments or the amount paid in interest during the duration of the loan.

Learn more about refinancing your student loans with SoFi.



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

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

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