31 Facts About FAFSA

31 Facts About FAFSA for Parents

Editor’s Note: The new, simplified FAFSA form for the 2024-2025 academic year is available, although applicants are reporting a number of glitches. Try not to worry, take your time, and aim to submit your application as soon as possible.

Applying for federal aid is a crucial step most high school students take while transitioning to college life. Parents going through the college admissions process for the first time, though, may not realize that they also play a huge role in helping their children apply for grants and scholarships through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA®.

Applications for the 2023-2024 round of FAFSA opened on Oct. 1 and will remain open until June 30, 2024. If you’re looking for facts about FAFSA that will help your child apply for college aid during the 2023-2024 academic year, we’ve compiled some of the most important information on how you can help your child during the FAFSA process.

Recommended: FAFSA Guide

FAFSA Facts and Tips

Filling out FAFSA for the first time? These facts and FAFSA tips can help you prepare for the application process and offer suggestions for getting the most aid.

1. FAFSA Is Required to Receive Government Student Loans

For those who may be new to the financial aid process, FAFSA is the form students fill out to apply for federal financial aid. Just over 18 million students fill out the FAFSA each year. Your child won’t be eligible for government-funded college aid, such as federal loans or grants if they don’t apply.

Recommended: 12 Steps to Filling Out the FAFSA Form for School Year 2023-2024

2. Your Child Could Qualify for Grants by Filling Out FAFSA

While you can get subsidized or unsubsidized loans through FAFSA, your child may also be eligible for grants. One common federal grant is the Pell grant, which is awarded to first-time undergraduate students who show exceptional financial need, such as coming from a low-income family.

Recommended: Types of Federal Student Loans

3. It Determines Work-Study Eligibility

Federal work-study is a way for students to earn income at a part-time job while in college. These jobs can be on or off-campus and vary by school, although not all schools participate in the program. You have to fill out FAFSA to determine if you’re eligible for work-study programs.

4. Some Schools Use FAFSA to Determine What Aid They Offer

If the schools your child applies to offer their own aid, such as need-based scholarships, they may use FAFSA to determine eligibility. You may want to check with the schools your child is applying to and ask if they have a separate application for internal scholarships and grants.

5. Most Applicants Under Age 22 Are Considered Dependents

Most students under the age of 22 who are neither married nor parents themselves won’t be able to apply as an independent student . As a result, for most incoming freshmen, their parents’ income is counted in the determination of financial need.

Recommended: Independent vs Dependent Student: Which One Are You?

6. Your Child Needs Your Information to Apply

If your child is filing as a dependent, then they’ll need some basic information about your finances, such as your income and paid taxes. You may also elect to apply for a Parent PLUS loan, which can help cover your child’s educational expenses if they don’t receive enough in loans and grants to cover costs. Note that you may need additional information to apply for a Parent Plus loan.

7. High-Income Families May Want to Still Apply

If your family is middle- or upper-class, you may wonder if your child will receive any FAFSA aid. However, applying is free, and family income is just one of many factors considered during the application process. Additionally, your child’s school still may require FAFSA to be eligible for institutional aid, so it may be worth applying for even if you don’t think your child will need or receive aid.

8. Grades Don’t Affect FAFSA Eligibility

FAFSA does not have a GPA requirement to apply. However, your child may want to keep in mind that they could lose any aid given to them through FAFSA if they have poor grades for multiple semesters after they receive the aid.

9. Deadlines May Differ by State and School

While the FAFSA doesn’t close until June 30, 2024 for the 2023-24 academic year, FAFSA application deadlines may vary by state and school. State and school deadlines may close prior to the federal deadlines. If you’re not sure what deadlines apply to your student, consider checking with the financial aid office of each school your child applies to and ask what their FAFSA deadlines are.

10. Having Multiple Kids in College No Longer Affects Financial Aid Awards

Since 2021, the number of children in a family who are in college or applying to college no longer affects aid eligibility. Before, families with multiple children in college may have qualified to receive more aid. This is one of many changes throughout the FAFSA Simplification Act, which aims to simplify the FAFSA form and therefore hopefully encourage more families to fill out FAFSA.

11. Expected Family Contribution Is Also Changing

Expected family contribution (EFC) is an estimate of how much FAFSA believes families can contribute to the cost of a student’s education. However, as part of the FAFSA Simplification Act, EFC will be replaced with the Student Aid Index, or SAI, starting on July 1, 2024 (for the 2024-2025 academic year). While that may sound far off, a freshman during the 2023-2024 academic year will be a sophomore when SAI is put into effect.

12. FAFSA Is Changing the Process for Children of Divorce

Before the new simplified FAFSA, in the case when a child’s parents are separated, the custodial parent’s information was included on the form. However, with the new changes, the parent who provides the most financial support to the student is responsible for filling out the FAFSA.

Recommended: How much FAFSA Money Can I Expect?

13. Your Child Will Need Their Social Security or Alien Registration Number

As your child prepares to fill out the FAFSA, they’ll need their Social Security or Alien Registration number.

14. Have Nontaxable Income at the Ready

One question that may trip up parents is what FAFSA considers nontaxable income. For FAFSA, that generally includes (but is not limited to):

•   Workers compensation

•   Disability benefits

•   Welfare benefits

•   Social Security income

•   Veteran’s benefits

•   Military or clergy allowances (if applicable)

•   Foreign income not taxed by any government

15. Your Child May Need to Report Grants and Scholarships

Most first-time college students won’t need to report any grants or scholarships they received. However, they may if they had to report them on their taxes, such as:

•   AmeriCorps benefits, such as living allowances or awards

•   Taxable work-studies, assistantships or fellowships

•   Combat pay, special combat pay, or cooperative education program earnings

•   Other grants or scholarships reported to the IRS

If you have any doubts about what types of grants may be taxable, consider consulting a tax professional.

16. Have Bank Statements Available

To fill out FAFSA, you’ll need bank statements for both you and your child. This information helps determine how much aid your child will be eligible for.

17. You Don’t Have to Have a Social Security Number to Sign the Form

If you’re filing for FAFSA online, you can create a federal student aid (FSA) ID . This is simply your login and password. Your child can create one here . But if you don’t have a Social Security number, you can print out the signature page of the form, sign it, and mail it in.

18. You Don’t Need to File Taxes Before Submitting FAFSA

If you filed for an extension for your tax return, you can use your W-2 or 1099 statements. But you will need to update FAFSA once you file. This is because which tax bracket you’re in can impact how much aid your child is eligible for.

Recommended: What Tax Bracket Am I In?

19. You’ll Need to Have a List of Assets Ready

FAFSA uses parental assets to help determine aid eligibility. You’ll need to know how much in assets you have, which include (but are not limited to):

•   Money in cash, savings, and checking accounts

•   Non-retirement investments (such as stocks and mutual funds)

•   Businesses that have more than 100 full-time equivalent employees and you and your family have minority stakes in

•   Investment farms (in other words, you don’t live on and operate the farm)

•   Other investments, such as real estate and stock options

20. 529 Plans Are Also Considered Assets

When filling out information about assets, you’ll also need to provide the value of all 529 College Savings Plans you own — including the accounts for siblings. Also, if your child owns a 529 plan (often called an UGMA or UTMA 529 plan), you will need to report it as a parental asset – and not as the student’s asset. (Please note, however, that if your child owns a UGMA or UTMA account that is not a 529 plan, you don’t list it as an asset — your child does as their asset.)

21. Your Primary Home Doesn’t Need to Be Listed as an Asset

One common FAFSA mistake is listing your primary home as an asset. However, FAFSA does not require you to do so. In fact, listing it as an asset can decrease the amount of aid your child receives.

22. You Don’t Need Your Retirement or Insurance Information

FAFSA also doesn’t count retirement or insurance accounts as assets. Again, including them can inflate the number of assets you have and therefore may decrease the amount of aid your child is offered.

23. You’ll Need to Include Each School Your Child Is Applying To

When you and your child fill out the FAFSA, you’ll want to have a list of all the schools your child may be interested in applying to. You’ll need each school’s federal school code to add them to the list of schools you want your FAFSA information sent to, although you can also search for this information on the form itself if you can’t find it on the school’s website. It may be wise to include schools your child isn’t sure they want to apply to yet since it’s easier to simply add the school to the list now than having to send the school your FAFSA information later.

24. Schools, Not the Government, Will Give You Financial Aid Updates

Part of the reason you’ll need to send your FAFSA to schools your child is considering applying to is because schools, not the government, send out financial aid packages. As such, each school your child applies to may offer a different financial aid package.

25. Skipping Information Can Be Costly

Before hitting submit, you might want to double check that every section of the FAFSA is filled out (and accurate). Skipping FAFSA sections may result in delays in your application being processed, errors that prevent you from submitting, or even a decrease in the amount of aid offered.

26. Your Child Will Need to Take Student Loan Exit Counseling

While filing FAFSA or talking to your school’s financial aid office, you may hear about something called student loan exit counseling. This is mandatory for anyone who gets federal student loan aid. Counseling is simply an online module that will help your child navigate how the student loan repayment process works. A reminder will be sent to your child’s email in their last year of school about when this exit counseling is due. However, you and your child may want to consider reviewing student loan exit repayment options before the counseling is due to ensure they pick the best option based on their financial situation.

27. File Early to Get the Most Aid

While it may seem like you have a ton of time to fill out the FAFSA, it may be best to complete it sooner rather than later. Delaying can mean financial aid for your state or school dries up before your child can even be considered for it. Additionally, knowing how much aid each school is offering your child may help them when deciding on which school to attend.

28. You Could Be Selected for FAFSA Verification

After your child receives their student aid report, they may get a message saying they were selected for verification. FAFSA verification is used by some schools to simply verify that students’ FAFSA information is accurate. Some schools randomly select people to be verified, some verify all students, and some may elect not to verify any students.

Recommended: 14 Must-Know College Financial Aid Terms for Parents

29. You Can Appeal Your Aid Package

Once your child has their financial aid packages, they may find that they were offered less than they expected or hoped for. If your child’s dream college didn’t offer enough aid (or perhaps even didn’t offer them any aid), they may be able to appeal for more financial aid. This process may be especially important if your financial situation has changed since you and your child first applied for FAFSA. While schools may deny the request, it doesn’t cost you or your child anything but time to ask for more aid.

30. You Can List Unusual Circumstances That Affect Your Finances

Another way to try and increase your financial aid package is by listing unusual financial circumstances both on your FAFSA and in an appeal letter to schools you’re applying to. Some common unusual circumstances include (but are not limited to):

•   Having tuition expenses in elementary and/or secondary schools

•   Experiencing unusual medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance

•   Having a family member become unemployed recently

•   Experiencing changes in income and/or assets that could affect aid eligibility

31. You’ll Have to Reapply Every Year

Once you’ve filed your FAFSA, you may want to keep your login information in a safe place. You’ll need that information to file for FAFSA every year your child is in school, and losing your FSA login information may delay your ability to apply next year. You may also want to set a reminder on your phone or calendar to apply next year, although FAFSA will send you an email reminder when next year’s FAFSA is open.

The Takeaway

Filing for FAFSA is an important first step in helping your child pay for college. Knowing how FAFSA works and how to optimize the amount of aid your child receives can help increase the amount of federal aid they’re offered.

However, if their financial aid package isn’t enough to cover college costs, they may want to consider private student loans. Private student loans aren’t required to offer the same borrower protections as federal student loans, and are, therefore, generally considered as an option only after all other sources of funding have been exhausted.

If you’re considering private loans to pay for college, you may want to review the differences between private and federal student loans to ensure that you and your child choose the best options for them to pay for college. SoFi offers private student loans that have no hidden fees and allow borrowers to choose between four repayment options.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.


Photo credit: iStock/wagnerokasaki

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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


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. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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.

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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Is It Possible to Pause Student Loan Payments?

Editor's Note: For the latest developments regarding federal student loan debt repayment, check out our student debt guide.

The average student loan borrower with federal loans graduates with $37,338 in debt. If you were to pay that amount on the Standard Repayment Plan at a rate of 5.50%, you’d have to shell out $405 per month for the next 10 years.

But depending on where life takes you after graduation, you may not be able to afford it. There are plenty of circumstances that may make repayment difficult, including going back to school, going into active military duty, and losing a job.

As such, it’s important to know how to pause student loan payments when you can’t afford them. Depending on who your lender is, though, the options can vary.

Repayment of federal student loans was effectively paused from spring 2020 until fall of 2023, but the Debt Ceiling bill required payments to restart in October 2023. However, there are still options available to borrowers who need to pause payment on their student loans.

Two Ways You Can Pause Student Loan Payments

Depending on your situation, you may be able to pause student loan payments through student loan deferment or forbearance. Each of these options has different requirements and outcomes, so it’s essential to understand how they work.

1. Student Loan Deferment

Student loan deferment allows you to reduce or pause your payments for a set period of time. In the meantime, however, the deferred loan will continue to accrue interest, in most cases. For example, if you have an unsubsidized loan or a PLUS loan, you’ll need to make interest-only payments during the deferment, otherwise the interest will capitalize (be added to the loan balance) at the end of the deferment period.

This means that you’ll have a new, higher balance that includes the principal amount at the beginning of the deferment period plus the unpaid interest that accrued during deferment.

The exception is if you have subsidized federal loans or Perkins Loans, in which case you won’t be responsible for paying accrued interest.

2. Student Loan Forbearance

Another option is putting loans in forbearance. Like deferment, forbearance allows qualified applicants to delay payments for a set period of time.

The primary difference is that you’re responsible for paying any interest that accrues during the forbearance period, regardless of which type of loan you have.

Again, it is possible to make interest-only payments during the forbearance period. Under new rules introduced in 2023, though, unpaid interest that accrues during forbearance will not capitalize at the end of the forbearance period.

While these general definitions apply to both federal and private student loans, some details differ between the two.


💡 Quick Tip: Enjoy no hidden fees and special member benefits when you refinance student loans with SoFi.

Federal Student Loans

The U.S. Department of Education offers both deferment and forbearance on all of its student loans. With the exception of the pandemic-era federal forbearance period that came to an end in fall 2023, neither comes automatically. Both deferment and forbearance need to be applied for through your student loan servicer. Here’s what you need to know about both options.

Qualifying for Federal Loan Deferment

If you have federal loans, you may be able to defer your student loan payments for up to three years. Here’s how to know if you may be eligible:

•   You have any federal student loan, subsidized or unsubsidized.

•   You’re enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school, and you received a Direct PLUS Loan or FFEL PLUS Loan as a graduate or professional student. In this case, your loans will be deferred while you’re in school at least half-time plus six months after you leave.

•   You’re a parent who took out a Direct PLUS Loan or FFEL PLUS Loan on behalf of your child student, and they’re enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school. In this case, your loans will be deferred while your child remains in school plus six months after they leave.

•   You’re enrolled in an approved graduate fellowship program.

•   You’re enrolled in an approved rehabilitation training program for the disabled.

•   You’re unemployed and unable to find employment.

•   You’re experiencing economic hardship.

•   You’re serving in the Peace Corps.

•   You’re on active duty military service in connection with a war, military operation or national emergency. In this case, your loans will be deferred while you’re on active duty plus 13 months afterward.

You can read more about deferment eligibility here .

Qualifying for Federal Loan Forbearance

The federal government has two types of forbearance: general and mandatory. Both can last for up to 12 months at a time. But if you still qualify once that period is up, you can request a renewal.

General forbearance is also sometimes called discretionary forbearance because your loan servicer gets to choose whether or not to approve your request.

You can request general forbearance if you’re unable to make your monthly payments due to:

•   Financial difficulties

•   Medical expenses

•   Change in employment

•   Other reasons your loan servicer will accept

Mandatory forbearance is not at the discretion of your loan servicer, and can be granted if you meet any of the following requirements:

•   You’re serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program and meet specific requirements.

•   The total amount you owe on all of your loans is 20% or more of your gross monthly income.

•   You’re serving in an AmeriCorps position for which you’ve received a national service award.

•   You’re a teacher and qualify for teacher loan forgiveness.

•   You qualify for partial payments on your loans through the U.S. Department of Defense Student Loan Repayment Program.

•   You’re a member of the National Guard and have been activated by a governor, but don’t qualify for the military deferment.

You can read more details about eligibility requirements for forbearance here .

A Note on the Temporary On-Ramp Period

If you’re currently struggling to manage federal student loan payments, you may be able to take advantage of a temporary repayment on-ramp period without having to rely on deferment or forbearance. This period, which takes place from Oct. 1, 2023 to Sept. 30, 2024, protects financially vulnerable borrowers from the consequences of missing payments. Those who miss payments will not have them reported to the credit bureaus or collections agencies, and loans will not be considered delinquent or in default. However, once this on-ramp period is over, any missed payments will be due.

Private Student Loans

While the options and requirements for these programs are clear on federal student loans, they can be a little trickier with private loans.

That’s because there are so many different private student lenders, and each has its own policy and criteria for determining eligibility.

Unfortunately, there’s no mandatory forbearance option like there is with federal loans. Instead, it’s typically at the lender’s discretion to determine whether you qualify.

Also, the deferment and forbearance periods can vary by lender. For example, you may need to apply every few months, and you may be limited on how often you can apply.

Since there’s no real consistency among private student lenders, if you borrowed a private loan it’s important to check with your lender directly to find out what their policy is.

How Deferment and Forbearance Can Affect You

When you request a deferment or forbearance on your federal loans, it will be noted on your credit report. However, neither option will have a negative impact on your credit score.

That said, if you miss a payment while you’re waiting for your deferment or forbearance request to get approved, it may hurt your credit. At 90 days overdue, your lender can report the missed payment(s) to the credit bureaus.

Because of this, it may be wise to continue making payments as usual until you receive the official approval for your deferment or forbearance with an effective date.

Also, since interest accrued during a deferment can capitalize at the end of the period, you could end up with a higher balance and monthly payment than when you started.

If you originally wanted to pause student loan payments because you couldn’t afford them, a higher payment could make things more difficult. Take interest into account while considering these options.

What If You Don’t Qualify to Pause Student Loan Payments?

Depending on your lender and situation, you may not be eligible for deferment or forbearance. If this happens, there are a couple of options to consider.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

If you have federal student loans, it may be possible to reduce your monthly payment by enrolling an income-driven repayment plan, such as the newest SAVE plan.

If you qualify, you can decrease your monthly payment to a percentage of your discretionary income. It won’t stop your loan payments altogether, but it can help make them more affordable.

Refinancing Your Student Loans

Whether you have federal or private loans, you can opt to refinance your student loans. Refinancing could help you save money by reducing your monthly payment, either by securing a lower interest rate or lengthening the repayment term. Note that you may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.

You may also be able to switch to a different lender that offers hardship programs or other support if you’re having trouble making payments. SoFi, for example, offers Unemployment Protection for its members. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you could qualify for loan forbearance for up to 12 months in three-month increments.

Keep in mind that refinancing federal loans with a private lender will cause you to lose certain benefits, including income-driven repayment options and access to federal loan forgiveness programs.

Determine If Pausing Student Loan Payments Is Right for You

As you’re considering your options and seeing whether you qualify, take a step back and think about whether deferment or forbearance are right for you in the long run.

And if you find that your current lender’s options aren’t enough, consider refinancing your student loans with a lender that provides what you need.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.

With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


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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.


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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


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.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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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What Is a Fully Funded PhD Program and How Do I Find One?

If you are motivated, you may decide to pursue a PhD program in your given field of study. However, you are probably aware that doing so not only requires time and energy but can also be an expensive proposition. According the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of a doctorate degree (which typically takes four to eight years) is $150,835. The average student loan debt for this kind of degree is $112,080.

That can be a daunting sum, but a fully funded PhD program can offset part or all of these costs. In addition to financing tuition and fees, these programs usually provide a stipend to help cover living expenses. Some may also pay for any research and travel necessary for students to complete their graduate degrees.

Since this can make a huge difference in a prospective student’s financial outlook, here’s a closer look at fully funded PhD programs, how they work, and how they can help lower the cost of a degree.

Table of Contents

•   What Is a PhD Program?

•   What Does Fully Funded Mean?

•   How to Find a Fully Funded PhD Program

•   Examples of Fully Funded PhD Programs

•   Paying Down Student Loan Debt

What is a PhD Program?

PhD programs, also known as doctoral programs, are often a next step after a master’s degree. They give students the opportunity to do graduate-level research in the field of their choice and earn the highest degree possible (sometimes referred to as a terminal degree). They span a variety of subjects, such as engineering, English, public health, and computer science.

The application process for a PhD program can be competitive, and the programs themselves can be very time-consuming, taking (as mentioned above) on average between four and eight years. Working while pursuing these specialized degrees can be challenging, which is why it can be so helpful when a program offers an annual stipend.


💡 Quick Tip: Ready to refinance your student loan? You could save thousands.

What Does Fully Funded Mean?

In a fully funded PhD program, the student typically receives full tuition reimbursement and a stipend to help cover the cost of living while pursuing the degree. Programs have varying funding requirements.

In some cases, students may receive a “no-strings-attached” fellowship. This means they receive funding but don’t owe the university anything aside from their research.

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

More often than not, these graduate fellowship positions are the main way to receive full funding to attend a PhD program and are commonly offered in research-based degree programs. Some fellowships may be offered in the form of scholarships or stipends, which are not usually taxed as income by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service).

Schools may also offer assistantships, where students earn an income from the university. Generally, these positions are given to doctoral students who are doing research in order to complete their theses or dissertations. Assistantships can be taxed as income.

While all PhD programs have their own unique funding packages, many fully funded programs are designed to help students cover a variety of costs. Here are some common ones.

Tuition and Fees

Typically, fully funded PhD programs provide students with so-called “tuition waivers.” The waivers cover the cost of attending the university, including tuition and fees. In some cases, book stipends, reduced-fare transit passes, and other benefits are included to lessen the student’s financial burden.

Recommended: How to Pay for Grad School

Living Expenses

Whether through fellowship funding or a university job, students in a fully funded PhD program can receive a stipend to pay for food, rent, transportation, and other living expenses.

Depending on a student’s cost of living and lifestyle choices, these lump sums might not be enough to fully cover costs. This may be especially true during the summer, when stipends are less likely to be given out. If their program does not offer summer funding, students might choose to work part-time or take out loans to make ends meet.

Recommended: Using Student Loans for Living Expenses Off Campus

Health Insurance

While many doctoral programs include health insurance benefits, some do not. As you’re exploring graduate school programs, it’s a good idea to find out if it provides this important type of coverage.

Generally, student health insurance packages only cover care and services at on-campus facilities. Some programs automatically enroll their students in one type of healthcare plan, and others allow students to choose their plan during the annual open enrollment period.

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

Research and Travel Funding

If necessary, some programs allow doctoral students to apply for funding to help them conduct their research or travel to conferences, archives, or summer programs. This is something students apply for on an as-needed basis and is not a guarantee.

In some cases, students will pay the costs up front and then be reimbursed. Grants and scholarships can also help cover research and travel expenses.

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How to Find a Fully Funded PhD Program

There are sites that allow you to search for various PhD programs around the world. But one of the best ways to discover which programs are fully funded can be by conducting your own research.

•   Before submitting an application to a PhD program, learn more about the university’s resources, faculty members, and requirements for graduation. Look into the specifics of the funding options available at each university you plan to apply to, as PhD programs may address funding differently. Often, schools will include information about these opportunities on their website.

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

Examples of Fully Funded PhD Programs

It’s possible to find fully funded PhD programs across a variety of subjects at many different schools. From a PhD in biological sciences at Harvard to education at Stanford to nursing at Duke, fully funded PhD programs cover an array of study areas.


💡 Quick Tip: It might be beneficial to look for a refinancing lender that offers extras. SoFi members, for instance, can qualify for rate discounts and have access to career services, financial advisors, networking events, and more — at no extra cost.

Paying Down Student Loan Debt

If you have student loan debt from an undergraduate or master’s degree that you want to pay down before or during a PhD program, you might consider exploring student loan refinancing. Refinancing could help you save money in interest over the life of the loan and pay down your debt faster.

Student loan refinancing involves taking out a new loan at a new interest rate and/or a new term that can be more favorable than the current rate or terms you currently have. It is possible to refinance both federal and private student loans.

But there are two important caveats:

•   When you refinance federal student loans with private loans, you forfeit access to federal benefits and protection, such as forbearance, forgiveness, and income-driven repayment plans.

•   Also, if you refinance for an extended term, while your monthly payments may decrease, you can pay more in interest over the life of the loan.

Think carefully about these points when deciding if refinancing could be the right option for you.

The Takeaway

Pursuing the highest possible graduate degree can be expensive, but a fully funded PhD program can offset all or part of the costs. Programs vary from school to school, but they typically cover the cost of tuition and may include a stipend to help finance living expenses and more. In some cases, PhD candidates will be required to do research or teach as part of the agreement to receive funding. Students can also explore other ways to cover the cost of school, including scholarships or grants.

In addition, PhD candidates who are paying off student loans from an undergraduate or master’s degree may want to consider student loan refinancing. Doing so with federal loans via a private loan means forfeiting federal benefits and protections. Also, refinancing for an extended term could mean paying more interest over the life of the loan.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.


With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


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.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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

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6 Scholarships for Moms: How Can Moms Pay for College?

6 Scholarships for Moms: How Can Moms Pay for College?

When you want to improve your income potential or change your career to offer your kids more opportunities, you’ll have to manage a myriad of responsibilities — possibly with a full course load to boot. Going back to college can demand a lot from moms physically, mentally, and financially.

The financial impact of going back to school as a mom can seem staggering, so consider scholarships for moms as one way to make an impact.

Keep reading to learn more on scholarships for moms, scholarships for single moms, and scholarships for working moms. We’ll also walk through how to find these scholarships and look into other ways of paying for college.

Who Is Eligible for Scholarships?

Almost anyone can get a scholarship, but you must meet the eligibility requirements set forth by the scholarship guidelines. Some scholarships will require students to be independent students. Independent students are defined by the U.S. Department of Education as those who are:

•   At least 24 years old

•   Married

•   Graduate or professional students

•   Veterans of the U.S. armed forces

•   Active duty members of the armed forces

•   Orphans, those in foster care, or wards of the court

•   People who have legal dependents other than a spouse

•   Emancipated minors

•   Homeless or at risk of becoming homeless

However, non-governmental organizations may have other requirements. Therefore, it’s important to take a look at the qualifications for each individual scholarship.

Recommended: A Guide to Unclaimed Scholarships and Grants

Types of Scholarships for Moms

Nontraditional students interested in receiving financial aid should first submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Colleges and universities will receive the results of the FAFSA and use that information to inform their aid decisions. The FAFSA is the first step in applying for federal financial aid, including grants, federal student loans, work-study, and other institutional aid. These could help you offset the cost of tuition and other education-related expenses. The FAFSA must be filled out each year the student is enrolled in school.

Other scholarships may require you to apply independent of the FAFSA — that is, the results of the FAFSA may not matter. However, many mom scholarships may require you to prove that you earn a low income. (Low-income thresholds depend on the size of your family and number of children, according to the United States Census Bureau.)

You can tap into many types of scholarships for moms, including single mom scholarships, scholarships for working moms, and other types of scholarships for women going back to college, as outlined below.

Single Mom Scholarships

Yes, organizations offer scholarships for single moms! Take a look:

Soroptimist’s Live Your Dream Award

If you provide the primary financial support for yourself and your dependents, you can qualify for the Soroptimist’s Live Your Dream Award, as long as you show evidence of financial need. You must also enroll or be accepted into a vocational/vocational skills training program or undergraduate degree program and be motivated to achieve your education and career goals.

Applicants must live in one of the following Soroptomist territory countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guam, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Taiwan, United States of America, or Venezuela.

Award amount: $1,000 to $10,000
Deadline: Application open from August 1 to November 15

Patsy Takemoto Mink Education Foundation for Low-Income Women and Children Education Support Awards

The Patsy Takemoto Mink Educational Foundation for Low-Income Women and Children
Education Support
awards offer college scholarships for single moms to low-income women with children who are pursuing education or training.

The criteria for the award state that you must:

•   Be a woman at least 17 years of age.

•   Be a mother with minor children.

•   Pursue your first degree at a post-secondary education level (vocational, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree) — this degree must add to the level of education accomplished (such as a bachelor’s degree after an associate’s degree or an advanced degree after a bachelor’s degree).

•   Pursue a degree or credential at an institution that does not discriminate on the basis of sex/gender, LGBTQ+ status or identity, race or ethnicity, religion, disability, or immigration status.

•   Enrolled in a nonprofit, accredited institution or program in the U.S.

•   Be low-income (earn less than $20,000 total in family income for a family of 2, less than $24,000 for a family of 3, or less than $28,000 for a family of 4).

​​Awardees are selected based on financial need, personal circumstances, educational path, vocational and occupational goals, service/activist, and/or civic goals.

Award amount: $5,000
Deadline: Information about the 2024-25 application will appear in May 2024.

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC Single Mother Scholarship

Rosenfield Injury Lawyers LLC offers two scholarships to single mothers returning to school, one for a single mother who will attend an undergraduate or community college program and another for a single mother who will attend accredited law school.

To qualify, you must write a 500+-word essay about the advantages of returning to school while raising children and how motherhood has prepared you for the challenges of becoming a student. You must also:

•   Submit a copy of your transcript that displays your grade point average (GPA) — unofficial transcripts are accepted.

•   Authorize Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC to post the material on its website and social media channels.

You may use the scholarship money for education-related expenses, including tuition and registration, textbooks, and other fees and supplies.

Award amount: $1,000
Deadline: TBD for the 2024-25 academic year


💡 Quick Tip: Fund your education with a low-rate, no-fee SoFi private student loan that covers all school-certified costs.

Scholarships for Working Moms

If you’re a working mom, you may want to first consider your current job’s scholarship opportunities. Some companies offer scholarships and/or education reimbursement for their employees.

Company foundations usually create scholarship programs for employees, employees’ children or relatives, or the children of deceased or retired employees. While not necessarily just geared toward working moms, they can still provide a major financial benefit of working and going to school. Visit your company’s human resources for more information about scholarships or other educational assistance you can qualify for. Note that some companies allow employees to take advantage of their education benefits right away, but yours may require you to work at your company for a specified length of time.

Take a look at the scholarship below, geared specifically for working moms.

Job-Applications.com Working Parent College Scholarship Award

Working parents currently in college or another accredited postsecondary educational institution can qualify for the Job-Applications.com scholarship by meeting specific criteria. You must:

•   Be enrolled as a part-time student who is in an accredited U.S. post-secondary educational institution (college, university, or trade school, or a similarly accredited program).

•   Have a current cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher at that institution.

•   Have worked an average of at least 12 hours for each of the previous four weeks during the application process.

•   Be a residential parent of at least one minor child.

•   Be a legal U.S. resident.

•   Be at least 18 years of age or older.

You must also submit a 600- to 1,000-word essay about the keys for balancing parenthood, working, and succeeding in college.

Award amount: $1,000
Deadline: TBD for the 2024-25 academic year

Scholarships for Moms Going Back to College

Moms pursuing graduate work may also need help finding grad school scholarships.

Society of Women Engineers Scholarship Program

Those who identify as a female/woman and who study at a community college, bachelor’s or graduate degree program with the intention of preparing for a career in engineering, engineering technology, or computer science may qualify for the Society of Women Engineers Scholarship Program .

To qualify, you must:

•   Plan to study at an undergraduate/community college or plan to get your master’s or Ph.D. at an ABET-accredited program.

•   Major in engineering, technology, or computing.

•   Must attend full time (though exceptions are made for reentry and nontraditional applicants).

•   Not be fully funded for tuition, fees, books, or the equivalent.

Award amount: $1,000 to $10,000
Deadline: TBD for the 2024-25 academic year

Chrysalis Scholarship

The Chrysalis Scholarship , funded by the Association for Women Geoscientists, helps women who experienced an interruption in their education due to raising children or other life circumstances and need financial help to obtain their graduate degrees in a geoscience-related field thesis or dissertation. The scholarship may cover drafting expenses, child care, defense travel, late-stage research and analyses, and more.

To qualify, you must:

•   Be a graduate student who has had an educational interruption due to life circumstances.

•   Approach the completion of your geoscience degree.

•   Plan to contribute to the geosciences and the larger world community.

Application materials include a letter of application in which you describe your background, career goals, and objectives, how you plan to use the scholarship, and the nature and length of the education interruption. You must provide letters of reference from your thesis/dissertation advisor and another scientist of your choice.

Award amount: $2,000
Deadline: TBD for the 2024-25 academic year


💡 Quick Tip: Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should fill out the FAFSA form. Many schools require it for merit-based scholarships, too.

Applying for Scholarships for Moms

When you’re applying for scholarships, it’s important to get organized. Make a list of due dates on your calendar and estimate how much time it’ll take you to complete each application. Research scholarships early so you don’t miss out on scholarship opportunities.

Read the eligibility guidelines carefully. Contact the organization sponsoring the scholarship if you have specific questions related to eligibility. Some scholarships may not get many applicants, so if you meet almost all the requirements, ask if you can apply anyway. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that the committee or organization will allow you to apply.

Finally, follow all the instructions. Stick to the word limit for the essay and send supporting materials as requested.

Recommended: What a Merit Scholarship Is and How to Get One

Finding Other College Scholarships for Moms

Put your feelers out for every type of scholarship that might apply to you — they don’t even need to be strictly “mom-related.” If you qualify in another way, such as for your interest in zoology or criminology, keep those options open. Look into the following sources for scholarships, as well:

•   Colleges and universities: Colleges and universities offer many different types of scholarships and grants. Make an appointment with an admission counselor and/or the financial aid office to learn more about scholarships you can apply for at each institution you’re interested in attending.

•   Charity organizations: Look into organizations in your community, such as the local Rotary Club. You just might scoop up a few scholarships based on the organizations you know. Ask around!

•   Professional organizations: What do you plan to major in? Check to see if professional organizations of your chosen industry offer scholarships and grants. It’s also possible to get internships and careers from these professional organizations right out of the gate after graduation.

Recommended: How to Pay for College

Other College Financing Methods

You might need other sources of financial aid to close the cost gap after scholarships for college are factored in. Generally, the first step, as mentioned, is filling out the FAFSA. The FAFSA is completely free and offers other financial aid beyond scholarships, including need-based and non-need-based federal financial aid.

Other options for paying for college include:

•   Federal grants: Students who demonstrate financial need may qualify for federal grants. You do not need to pay these back. For example, you could qualify for a Federal Pell Grant or the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant. Take a look at the eligibility requirements to determine whether you qualify.

•   Federal student loans: You may qualify for federal student loans through the U.S. Department of Education and through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. Direct Unsubsidized Loans are non-need-based, while Direct Subsidized Loans are awarded to students who demonstrate financial need.

•   Private student loans: Federal student loans, scholarships, and other funding sources may not fully cover the cost of attendance for students. In that case, students may tap into private student loans. However, private student loans do not have the same benefits or borrower protections as federal student loans (like deferment options or the ability to pursue certain federal loan forgiveness programs). For this reason, private student loans are generally pursued only after all other options have been thoroughly considered.

Recommended: Types of Federal Student Loans

The Takeaway

Scholarships for moms going back to college is one way to help fund your degree. You can find scholarships by asking your college or university about their options, looking into your local community, asking professional organizations in your field, and using an online scholarship search tool. Other options for paying for college include federal student loans, grants, and work-study.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.


Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.


Photo credit: iStock/Portra

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


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.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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.

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How to Recertify Your Income Based Repayment for Student Loans

How To Recertify Your Income Based Repayment for Student Loans

If you have federal student loans, you can enroll in an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan, which may make your monthly payments more affordable. That’s because the amount is calculated based on your income and the size of your family.

Income-Driven Repayment is the umbrella term for several federal repayment programs tied to salary, while Income-Based Repayment refers to one specific plan. (Yes, it’s a bit confusing.)

Once you are enrolled in an IDR, you will need to “recertify” annually, by providing updated information about your salary and family size — essentially reapplying for the plan. The government uses this information to calculate your payment amount and adjust it if necessary.

You can easily recertify online or by mail. Read on to find out when to recertify your income-driven repayment, how to do it, and more.

What Is Income-Based Repayment?

As noted above, the correct umbrella term is Income-Driven Repayment, which encompasses four different plans. These are available to federal student loan borrowers to help make their payments more manageable. It’s an option to keep in mind when choosing a loan or if your current federal loan payments are high relative to your income. The program is intended to make the amount you pay on your student loan each month more affordable.

The four income-driven repayment programs offered for federal student loans are:

•   Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan — formerly the REPAYE Plan

•   Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Repayment Plan

•   Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan

•   Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan

For all of these plans, your payment amount is generally based on a percentage of your discretionary income, which is defined by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) as “the difference between your annual income and 150% of the poverty guideline for your family size and state of residence.” There is a Loan Simulator tool you can use to see what your payments would be for each of the repayment programs.

IDR payments are determined as 10% of your discretionary income if you are a “new borrower,” who received their loan on or after July 1, 2014. You must also have no outstanding balance on a Direct Loan or Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL).

If you’re not a new borrower, payments are generally 15% of your discretionary income.

With an IDR plan, your payment will never be more than the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan amount, which is the typical repayment plan for the Federal Direct Loan program and FFELs.

Each income-driven repayment plan has a different loan term. For IDRs, it’s 20 years for new borrowers and 25 years for those who aren’t considered new borrowers. Any loan balance that remains unpaid at the end of the repayment period will be forgiven.

Recommended: Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness

Which Federal Loans Are Eligible for an Income-Driven Repayment Plan?

IDR plans are available for the following types of federal loans:

•   Direct Subsidized Loans

•   Direct Unsubsidized Loans

•   Direct PLUS Loans made to graduate or professional students

•   Direct Consolidation Loans that did not repay any PLUS loans made to parents

•   Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans

•   Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans

•   FFEL PLUS Loans made to graduate or professional students

•   FFEL Consolidation Loans that did not repay any PLUS loans made to parents

•   Federal Perkins Loans, if consolidated.

Income-Driven Repayment plans are not available to FFEL PLUS loans or Direct PLUS loans that are made to parents. They are also not available for Direct Consolidation Loans or FFEL Consolidation Loans that repaid PLUS loans to made parents.

You don’t need to consolidate your student loans to apply for an income-based repayment plan.

Recommended: Refinancing Student Loans Without a Cosigner

The New SAVE Plan

The DOE recently rolled out a new income-driven repayment plan called SAVE (Saving on a Valuable Education). It replaces the old plan known as REPAYE (Revised Pay As You Earn). Under the SAVE plan, the income exemption increases from 150% to 225% of the poverty line.

You can sign up for SAVE now. Those enrolled in SAVE pay 10% of their discretionary income toward their monthly student loan payments, and their loans will be discharged after 20 years for undergraduate loans, and 25 years for graduate loans. For comparison, on an IDR plan, borrowers pay between 10 and 15% of their discretionary income and loans are forgiven after 20 to 25 years.

As of July 2024, those on the SAVE plan will see their payments cut from 10% to 5% of their discretionary income. Borrowers who have $12,000 or less in federal loans will receive forgiveness after 10 years of on-time payments (even if their payment is $0 each month). Borrowers with more than $12,000 in loans should add a year for every additional $1,000 of debt they owe. So if they have $14,000 in loans, they will receive forgiveness after 12 years of on-time payments under the SAVE plan.

Under SAVE, if you are a single borrower earning $32,800 or less or a family of four earning $67,500 or less (amounts are higher in Alaska and Hawaii), your monthly payments will be $0. According to the DOE, borrowers earning more than this will save at least $1,000 per year compared to the other income-driven repayment plans.

What’s more, under the SAVE plan, interest will not accrue if you make your payment on time each month. For example, if your interest charge is $50 each month, and your payment is $30, you won’t be charged the remaining $20.

While many of the SAVE benefits will not be available until July 2024, you can still enroll now. Like other IDR plans, the SAVE plan will need to be recertified every year.

What Is Student Loan Recertification?

Since your repayment plan is based on your income and the size of your family, you need to reconfirm these details every year.

If you apply for an income-driven repayment plan online, the DOE will ask you for consent to access your tax information. If you give consent, they will automatically recertify your loan every year.

If you choose to apply manually (printing out a PDF and mailing it into your loan servicer), you will need to manually recertify every year with your loan servicer.

If your financial situation changes ahead of recertification — like you lose your job — you can reach out to your loan servicer and ask them to immediately recalculate your payments.

How to Recertify Income-Driven Repayments

You can apply for income-driven repayments and recertify your status by going online to StudentAid.gov. Filing your application online ensures that it is sent to each of your loan servicers if you have more than one. Alternatively, you may send paper applications to each of your loan servicers if you haven’t filed a tax return in the last two years or your income has changed significantly since you filed your last return.

To file online, go to the student aid website above, click on “Manage My Loans,” and then click on “Recertify an Income-Driven Repayment Plan.” You’ll need to log in with your federal student aid ID.

Next you’ll answer questions about your family, including family size, your marital status, and your spouse’s income, if applicable. You can connect your account directly to your tax return to verify your income information. And if your income has changed since your last tax return, you can upload more recent pay stubs.

To recertify by mail, you can download the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request form, which you can find in the Federal Student Loan Forms library. Fill out the form and attach the required documents. You’ll send the request to the address provided by your loan servicer.

When to Recertify Income-Driven Repayment Plans

The government paused income-driven repayments as part of its COVID-19 relief program. Paused payments still count toward IDR forgiveness.

Borrowers are not required to recertify before their payments restart. According to the DOE, the earliest you’ll need to recertify is March 1, 2024. If a borrower’s recertification date falls between when loan repayments start and March 1, 2024, it will be pushed out by one year. So if your recertification date is January 1, 2024, that date will be pushed out to January 1, 2025.

If your income has decreased or your family status has changed in the past three years, you may want to recertify earlier. You can fill out a recertification form at any time if you’re struggling to make your payments because your financial situation has changed.

If you fail to recertify your IBR plan by the annual deadline, your monthly payment will switch to the amount you will pay under the Standard Repayment Plan. You’ll be able to make payments based on your income again when you update your income information.

The Takeaway

Income-Driven Repayment plans are available to most federal student loan borrowers and can be a great way to make sure your student loan repayments work with your budget. Recertification is a critical step borrowers need to take each year to inform the government of changes to your situation that might affect your payment size.

Refinancing is another way to manage your student loan debt, especially if you have private student loans that don’t qualify for government assistance programs.

If you’re considering refinancing federal loans, just be sure the amount you save outweighs the benefits of income-driven programs, potential student loan forgiveness, or other federal loan protections, all of which you lose access to when you refinance with a private lender. Our Student Loan Refinance Calculator can help you run the numbers.

Visit SoFi to explore options for student loan refinancing. SoFi offers a competitive rate, flexible terms, no hidden fees, and no prepayment penalty — and you can view your rate in 2 minutes.

FAQ

Can you recertify student loans early?

Federal student loan borrowers who are on an income-driven repayment plan need to recertify their loans once a year. You can recertify early, and it may be a good idea if your family has grown or your income has decreased.

How do I recertify my student loans?

You can recertify your student loans online at the Federal Student Aid website (studentaid.gov), or by downloading and mailing in the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request form with any supporting documentation. If you mail in the request, you’ll need to send a copy to each of your loan servicers.

When should I recertify my student loans?

Your recertification date is the date one year after you started or renewed your IDR plan. Your loan servicers will send you a notice that it’s time to recertify your loan.


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.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal. Equal Housing Lender.


Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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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