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How Do You Find Non Academic Scholarships for College?

Imagine this: After spending 12 long years of education, it’s finally time to head to college. But hang on, because there’s a catch — tuition is much higher than you thought, and the school didn’t offer an academic scholarship.

One alternative for students can be to find a non-academic scholarship and keep pushing toward that dream. Here are tips on finding non-academic scholarships to help pay for a college education.

What Is a Non-Academic Scholarship?

Scholarships are one type of financial aid available to students that don’t need to be repaid and are typically awarded based on merit — that is, being especially knowledgeable or skilled in one area. Grants, which also do not need to be repaid, are typically awarded based on need and not based on academic or athletic merit. For example, Pell Grants are federal grants awarded to undergraduate students who exhibit exceptional financial need.

Scholarships can be awarded for many different reasons, including academic achievement. However, just because someone isn’t an A+ student doesn’t mean they can’t qualify for a scholarship. There are non-academic scholarships that are based on athletic or artistic achievement, community involvement, extracurricular activities, and more. Students may just need to put in a bit of legwork to find ones they qualify for and apply.

Recommended: Finding Free Money for College

Where to Find Non-Academic Scholarships

Often, the first step in getting a scholarship is to find it. Here are a few places to start your search.

School Counselor’s Office

High school students can check in with their high school counselor to see about any non-academic scholarship they may know about. The office may have a list of options available to students, and, because they may know the student, their skills, and their future aspirations, they may be able to hone in on the right scholarship for them.

School counselors may also have helpful information on navigating the financial aid process. One piece of the funding puzzle may be undergraduate loans if scholarships don’t cover all of the costs. Students may consider private student loans after exhausting federal aid, including federal student loans. This comprehensive private student loan guide dives into more detail.

College Admissions Website

If a high school student has already been accepted to school, they may check in with the college’s admission website. There, they could find a list of potential scholarships offered directly by the school. Students should also reach out directly to the admissions office or future academic counselors for assistance.

As the school year nears, you may consider checking in with your college’s financial aid office to see if they can guide you to unclaimed scholarships.

Scholarship Listing Websites

There are several scholarship search tools out there that roundup available scholarships to students, including destinations like FastWeb or CollegeBoard. Here, students can sift through hundreds of available scholarships and find help with the application process, as well.

Professional Associations and Clubs

Another place to find scholarships includes professional associations and clubs, such as churches, your parent’s employers, local businesses, minority groups, and more.

A quick Google search on professional organizations in your chosen field of study can lead to scholarships, too. Most are free to join and include fields such as marketing, engineering, graphic arts, law, and more.

Friends and Family

Sure, it may not seem as obvious, but merely asking around for scholarship opportunities can’t hurt. Students should reach out to their network and let everyone know they are on the hunt for financial assistance. Someone may know of a specific scholarship that could be the perfect fit for the student.

Connect With the Community

Explore connections with local religious groups, business, and other organizations. Having an existing connection can potentially improve an applicant’s chances of securing a scholarship. Plus, students may face less competition when they apply for more local scholarships.


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

Types of Non-Academic Scholarships

Need a little help thinking about what type of non-academic scholarship may fit? Here are a few types of scholarship ideas to get students started.

Talents

Have a unique talent? There’s probably a scholarship available for it. For example, you can find scholarships for duck calling, dancing, drawing, and much more.

Athletics

Each year, there are more than 180,000 athletic scholarships awarded to students. Scholarships are available for a wide variety of sports to both men and women, including volleyball, tennis, swimming & diving, skiing, lacrosse, golf, fencing, and more.

Heritage

Students may also find non-academic scholarships based on their heritage. Students from minority groups may find additional opportunities, including scholarships for African American or Hispanic students.

Some scholarships may be available through churches, while others can be found on websites like College Board. There, students of various backgrounds can search for a suitable match.

Interests

Students can apply to non-academic scholarships based on their various interests, too. For example, those interested in cars can apply for the National Corvette Club scholarship. Those students that love to cook can apply for the AAC Culinary Scholarships for High School Seniors .

Know a student who spends their Sundays completing The New York Times crossword puzzle in pen? Have them apply to the Crossword Hobbyist Crossword Scholarship . No matter the interest, odds are there is a scholarship out there for it.

Area of Study

Future and current college students may be able to find a scholarship that suits their future area of study. Students hoping to become their own CEOs can apply for The National Association for the
Self-Employed
’s Future Entrepreneur Scholarships, which helps promote “entrepreneurial thinking among aspiring business students.”

Again, if there’s an area of study, odds are there’s a scholarship available for it.

Area Code

Students looking for a non-academic scholarship can search for regional scholarships on many online databases. SoFi runs a state-by-state grant and scholarship database, so you can take a look at what is available in your area.

Other sources for regional or location-based scholarships may include local nonprofits and businesses.

Other, Outlandish Options

There are scholarships available for less obvious reasons, too. One of the more famous wacky scholarships is the Stuck at the Prom Scholarship Contest sponsored by Duck brand duct tape. Each year, the company awards a $5,000 scholarship to a teen who designs and wears a dress or tuxedo made out of their duct tape.

How to Get a Non-Academic Scholarship

There are thousands of non-academic scholarships available each year. In order to get a non-academic scholarship, you should first look for scholarships in line with your talents and career interests. From there, you can look to local businesses, friends and family, and your community to find other non-academic scholarships.

And finally, do a Google search for non-academic scholarships you think you may qualify for. There are scholarships available for almost every type of person and every interest, including scholarships for minorities, scholarships for people who dance, religious scholarships, first-generation scholarships, and more.

Tips for Finding & Applying for Non-Academic Scholarships

If you’re hoping to find and apply for non-academic scholarships to help pay for college, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting one.

Start Early

Starting your search early is one of the best things you can do to land a scholarship. Since many scholarships come from the school you’re attending, it’s recommended to fill out the FAFSAⓇ as soon as possible. Some grants and scholarships offered by schools are on a first-come, first-served basis.

It’s also a good idea to start your search early so you can make sure you can meet all the deadlines for the scholarships you hope to apply for. Many will require essays, and the sooner you know which scholarships you want to apply for, the sooner you can get your essays completed and submitted.

Read the Fine Print

Make sure to read the fine print of all scholarship applications. This will ensure you won’t miss any deadlines or important information regarding the scholarship.

Showcase Your Personality

When applying for scholarships and writing essays, it’s important to showcase your personality through your written word. Most non-academic scholarships are fun, so feel free to express yourself and make it so your application stands out from the rest.

Proofread Your Application

Proofreading your application is a great way to catch any grammar errors or application mistakes prior to submission. If it comes down to you and one other candidate, you don’t want to miss out because of easy grammatical errors you could have caught by simply proofreading your application beforehand.

Don’t Give Up

And finally, keep searching and applying for scholarships until you receive the amount of money you’re hoping for. Scholarships can be competitive, so don’t get down on yourself if you’re struggling to get one. Instead, keep the momentum going by continually searching and applying for new opportunities as they arise.

The Takeaway

Non-academic scholarships can be awarded based on talent, skill, interest, and more. Some scholarships may even be regional or location based. To find non-academic scholarships, consult with your guidance counselor, your college’s financial aid office, local business and nonprofits, and online scholarship databases.

If scholarships and federal financial aid aren’t enough to cover college costs, private student loans can help fill in the gaps.

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.


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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The SAVE Plan: What Student Loan Borrowers Need to Know

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to block the White House program for federal student loan forgiveness, President Joe Biden announced the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) program, a new income-driven plan for federal loan repayment. Monthly payments on loans will be lowered, based on discretionary income.

On Jan. 12, 2024, the White House announced that beginning in February, borrowers enrolled in SAVE who took out less than $12,000 in loans and have been in repayment for 10 years will get their remaining student debt canceled immediately.

Here’s what borrowers need to know about the SAVE Plan and who qualifies. As of January 2024, 6.9 million federal student loan borrowers were already enrolled in the plan.

Overview of the SAVE Plan

President Biden said he had created a new repayment plan, “so no one with an undergraduate loan has to pay more than 5 percent of their discretionary income.” It is part of his effort to make student loan debt more manageable especially for low-income borrowers, and it replaces the REPAYE program.

The SAVE Plan is the most affordable repayment plan for federal student loans yet, according to the Department of Education. Borrowers who are single and make less than $32,800 a year won’t have to make any payments at all. (If you are a family of four and make less than $67,500 annually, you also won’t have to make payments.)

For federal borrowers who are required to make payments (this depends on your income and family size) and have only undergraduate school loans, the monthly payments will be cut in half — from 10% of discretionary income to 5%, beginning in the summer of 2024. How long people will have to make payments depends on the size of their loan balance.

•   If their original undergraduate loan balance is $12,000 or less, they will need to make payments for 10 years – and after that, any remaining balance will be forgiven.

•   If their original undergraduate loan balance is more than $12,000, their payment period is capped at 20 years (the term goes up one year for every $1,000 above $12,000) — and any remaining balance will be forgiven.

For federal borrowers who have both undergraduate and graduate loans, their monthly payments will be a weighted average of 5% and 10% of their discretionary income. How long they will need to make payments is pending government guidance.

And for federal borrowers who have graduate school loans, their monthly payments will be 10% of their discretionary income. Also, under the SAVE Plan, those who originally took out $12,000 or less in loans are eligible for forgiveness after at least 10 years of monthly payments.

Recommended: Discretionary Income and Student Loans, and Why It Matters

How to Enroll in the SAVE Plan

Borrowers who are already enrolled in the REPAYE program will be automatically enrolled in the SAVE Plan. During the transition, the DOE says it will use the two plan names, SAVE and REPAYE, interchangeably.

Those who are not currently in the REPAYE program can apply now, and they will be switched to SAVE automatically.


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

How SAVE Is Better Than REPAYE

The SAVE Plan replaces the Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE). It is an improvement on it in several ways:

•   The SAVE Plan allows for low-income borrowers to make no payments at all.

•   The SAVE Plan requires low-balance borrowers ($12,000 or less) to make payments for only 10 years.

•   The SAVE Plan requires borrowers with only undergraduate debt to pay 5% (instead of 10%) of their discretionary income.

Additionally, if the required payment based on your income does not cover all of the interest that accrues every month, the uncovered amount will not be added to your balance. In other words, your balance will not grow if you are making your payments.

Recommended: Supreme Court Blocks Student Loan Forgiveness, Biden Vows More Action

Who Will Owe $0 in Monthly Federal Loan Payments Under SAVE?

Whether you will owe monthly federal loan payments under the SAVE Plan depends on two factors: your income* and your family size. Your payment will be zero if your income is at or under 225% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)**.

To find out if you will be one of the estimated million borrowers who still won’t have monthly payments to make after the federal payment pause ends, look up your family size in the table below. If your income* is equal to or below the corresponding “2023 Income Level Protected From Payment Under SAVE,”** your monthly federal student loan payment will be $0.

*Normally, the government uses adjusted gross income figures, but the DOE did not specify this in its factsheet .

**Usually the government uses the prior year’s FPL and your prior year’s income, but the DOE used 2023 figures in its factsheet.

 

2023 Income Levels Protected From Payment Under SAVE by Family Size
Family Size 2023 Incomes at Federal Poverty Level (FPL) 2023 Income Level Protected From Payment Under SAVE (FPL x 225%)
For individuals $14,580 $32,805
For a family of 2 $19,720 $44,370
For a family of 3 $24,860 $55,935
For a family of 4 $30,000 $67,500
For a family of 5 $35,140 $79,065
For a family of 6 $40,280 $90,630
For a family of 7 $45,420 $92,195
For a family of 8 $50,560 $113,760
For a family of 9+ Add $5,140 for each extra person $125,325+



💡 Quick Tip: If you have student loans with variable rates, you may want to consider refinancing to lock in a fixed rate before rates rise. But if you’re willing to take a risk to potentially save on interest — and will be able to pay off your student loans quickly — you might consider a variable rate.

 

How Much Your Monthly Federal Loan Payments Could Be Under SAVE

To calculate how much your monthly federal payments could be starting in October 2023 under SAVE, look up your family size in the table above and see the corresponding protected income level**. Subtract that dollar amount from your estimated 2023 income* and multiply it by 10%. Then take that figure and divide it by 12 to get your monthly payment amount.

(2023 Income* – 2023 Protected Income Level**) x 10% ÷ 12 = Monthly Federal Loan Payment Under SAVE

*Normally, the government uses adjusted gross income figures, but the DOE did not specify this in its factsheet.

**Usually the government uses the prior year’s FPL and your prior year’s income, but the DOE used 2023 figures in its factsheet.

When Will the SAVE Plan Take Effect?

The SAVE Plan will replace REPAYE by the time payments were due in October 2023. Originally, the full impact of SAVE was supposed to happen in July 2024, but President Biden announced in January that starting in February, borrowers enrolled in SAVE who took out less than $12,000 in loans and have been in repayment for 10 years will get their remaining student debt canceled immediately.

The other elements of SAVE are not expected to take effect until July 1, 2024. This means that borrowers who are eligible to have their payments cut to 5% of their discretionary income won’t see the reduction until this summer.

But the DOE is increasing the amount of income that is protected from payments, so that single borrowers who make up to $32,800 will not have to make payments and borrowers in a family of four making less than $67,500 also won’t have payments due.

Also, starting in October 2023, an important change was made in the amount of interest paid through SAVE. If you make your full monthly payment, but it is not enough to cover the accrued monthly interest, the government covers the rest of the interest that accrued that month. This means that the SAVE Plan prevents your balance from growing due to unpaid interest.

Who Is Eligible for the SAVE Plan?

The SAVE Plan is available to federal student borrowers with Direct student loans. This includes:

•   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

Additionally, you are eligible for the SAVE Plan if you consolidated a loan from the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, including Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans, FFEL Plus Loans for graduate or professional study, FFEL Consolidated Loans that did not repay parents’ PLUS loans, and Federal Perkins Loans.

The SAVE Plan is not available for private student loans or Parent PLUS loans. Also, borrowers must be in good standing with their student loan payments. Borrowers in default who provide income information that shows they would have had a $0 payment at the time of default will be automatically moved to good standing, allowing them to access the SAVE plan.

Other Programs

In addition to the SAVE program, President Biden announced that the DOE is instituting a 12-month “on-ramp” to repayment, running from October 1, 2023 to September 30, 2024, so that financially vulnerable borrowers who miss monthly payments during this period are not considered delinquent, reported to credit bureaus, placed in default, or referred to debt collection agencies.

Moreover, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program exists to help professionals working in public service who are struggling to repay federal student loans.

The Takeaway

Though the new SAVE Plan for federal student loan borrowers won’t take full effect until July 2024, some benefits will be implemented by February. Namely, the SAVE Plan will give borrowers who originally borrowed $12,000 or less forgiveness after as few as 10 years. Also, low-income borrowers may be exempt from making payments, while loan balances will not grow for borrowers making payments even if their required payment amount doesn’t cover all of the interest that accrues every month.

In July 2024, eligible federal borrowers with only undergraduate debt will see their monthly payments cut at least in half.

This article will be updated as the DOE releases more information about SAVE. To find more details yourself, this StudentAid page is a good place to start.

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.


Photo credit: iStock/Pekic

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.

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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52 Companies that Offer Student Discounts in 2024

College comes with a lot of expenses. On top of tuition, fees, books, and housing, you might also want to occasionally go out and have fun. Maybe you want to go shopping, see a movie, or meet friends for lunch or dinner. That’s not always easy on a student budget. Fortunately, there are widely available deals and discounts designed just for college students. Here’s where you can find them.

52 Places with Student Discounts

Major Retailers

1. Amazon

Amazon Prime Student gives you six free months of Amazon Prime, and after that it’s $7.49 per month (about half regular price). Plus, you’ll receive perks like free food delivery, 10% off flights and hotels, and one month free of homework help. You can cancel at any time.

2. Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club offers special membership pricing to college students through UNiDAYS , a site that verifies student status and offers exclusive student deals (sign-up is free). Once you register with UNiDAYS, you can get $40 off a Sam’s Club Plus Membership or 30% off a Club Membership. You’ll also qualify to get a $45 eGift Card when you spend $45.

3. Target

Target Circle’s College Student Appreciation program offers exclusive perks and discounts to students, which could come in handy when you’re shopping for your dorm room. To access deals, like 15% off your purchase, you need to join Target Circle for free, verify your student status (by uploading a student ID, class schedule, or tuition receipt), then check back later for offers.

4. Costco

A Costco membership can also help make college more affordable. College students who join Costco as a new Gold Star Member through UNiDAYS can receive a $30 Digital Costco Shop Card.


💡 Quick Tip: Some lenders help you pay down your student loans sooner with reward points you earn along the way.

Technology

5. Apple

Keep this in mind when you’re preparing for college: Apple offers special pricing for current and recently accepted college students (along with their parents). For example, you can get a 13” macbook air with the M2 chip for $999 (normally $1099) or an iPad air for $549 (normally $599).

6. Microsoft

Students (as well as parents and teachers) can save up to 10% off eligible computers and accessories with Microsoft’s student discount . You also get Office 365 and access to Teams for free.

7. Dell

Dell offers exclusive discounts on laptops, monitors, and accessories to students with a valid academic email address (such as one ending in .edu). Savings vary depending on the product, but currently you can save $300.00 (20%) on an XPS 15 Laptop.

8. Lenovo

College students get an extra 5% off their tech purchases at Lenovo . Incoming students can also access the deal by providing a letter of acceptance. You simply need to verify your student status through ID.me during checkout.

9. Adobe

Adobe Creative Cloud for Students allows you to get an All Apps plan for $19.99 a month for the first year, and $29.99 per month after that (it’s normally $54.99 per month). To get the deal, you need to provide a school-issued email address during purchase so you can be instantly verified.

Clothes

10. Aeropostale

Students can benefit from an extra 15% off at Aeropostale . To take advantage of the deal, you’ll simply need to register and verify your student status with UNiDAYS.

11. J.Crew

J.Crew gives students (and teachers) 15% off purchases when they present a valid college ID at checkout. The discount can be used up to four times a month.

12. Hanes

Need some basics, like tees or undergarments? Hanes offers students 10% off online purchases. To score your discount, you need to verify your student status through ID.me and get a promo code.

13. The North Face

The North Face gives students a 10% discount code to use at full-price locations (not factory stores), as well as online. You can redeem one code every 30 days.

14. Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger offers students 15% off online or in-store. First, you have to create or log in to your ID.me account.

15. Levi’s

Levi’s offers students 15% off online purchases after you verify your student status on the site.

16. Club Monaco

Students who are Club Monaco fans can get 15% off online and in-store. Simply register for an account with your .edu email address and a 15% off discount will automatically apply to your cart. If you’re shopping in-store, just present a valid student ID at the register.

17. Docker’s

Docker’s offers students a generous 25% off all purchases made online. You simply need to verify your student status through the site.

18. Outdoor Voices

Students shopping at Outdoor Voices can score 20% off through Student Beans (a site similar to UniDAYS that helps verify student status and offers discounts to partner stores). Once you register with Student Beans (which is free), you’ll get a discount code that you can use at checkout.

19. Champion

Champion offers 10% off to actively enrolled students. You simply need to verify your student status through ID.me to get the discount code.

Restaurants

20. McDonald’s

Right now, you can get a free Cheeseburger, Mayo Chicken, or McFlurry® Original when you buy any Extra Value or Wrap Meal and show your valid student or Student Beans ID.

21. Chick-fil-A

Student discounts vary by location, but many Chick-fil-As offer students a free drink with any purchase.

22. Dunkin’

Dunkin’ offers a 10% off student discount at participating locations. To claim the deal, simply show your student ID to your cashier.

23. Arby’s

You can save 10% on your Arby’s meal when you show your student ID at participating locations.

24. Buffalo Wild Wings

Want to catch the game and eat some wings with friends? Students can score 10% off at many Buffalo Wild Wings locations.

25. Waffle House

Looking for a late-night meal? Students can enjoy a 10% discount at participating Waffle Houses.

26. IHOP

If you don’t have a Waffle House nearby, many IHOP locations also offer 10% off for students.

27. Qdoba

Qdoba has two discount options for students at most locations: either a free drink with your purchase or a burrito meal for just $5.

28. Taco Bell

Craving a Crunchwrap Supreme? You can get a 10% student discount at participating Taco Bells.

Recommended: A Guide to Making Friends in College

Travel & Transportation

29. Greyhound

Through Student Advantage , Greyhound offers 10% off any fare. The Student Advantage card costs $30 a year and offers students — and parents — a wide range of discounts.

30. Amtrak

Students between the ages of 17 and 24 can travel by Amtrak train for 15% off when booking at least one day in advance.

31. United Airlines

United Airlines offers a 5% flight discount to any travelers who are 18 to 23 years old. To get the deal, you need to book through the United app.

32. Hotels.com

Through UNiDAYS, you can snag steep discounts at hotels.com , such as 35% Off last-minute hotel bookings and up to 40% off the site’s Weekend Getaway Deals.

33. FlixBus

You can get 15% off Flixbus tickets with Student Beans. Simply use your FlixBus student discount code at checkout.

34. Hertz

Hertz offers students 21 and older who have had a driver’s license for at least one year, 15% off cars and 20% off vans.

35. Budget Truck Rentals

Budget Truck Rentals offers students 20% off local moves and 15% off one-way moves any day of the week. Use the discount code TRUKU.

36. Penske

Penske offers college students a 10% discount on all truck rentals and unlimited miles on one-way moving truck rentals. Simply use the discount code STUDENT at checkout. You’ll need to provide a college ID or proof of enrollment status at pickup to receive the discount.

37. Red Coach

RedCoach offers high school, college, and graduate students up to 10% off tickets. To get the discount, check the student option at checkout then show your student ID card to the driver along with your ticket.

Recommended: College Move-In Day Tips for Parents

Entertainment

38. AMC

Students get a lower ticket price at select AMC theaters every day. Just bring your photo student ID (and maybe some extra money for popcorn).

39. Cinemark

Student discounts at Cinemark vary by location and time of day, so check with the local box office to see what kind of deal you can snag.

40. Apple Streaming

Apple’s Student Music plan is $5.99 per month for up to 48 months (normally $10.99 per month). You also get Apple TV+ (usually $6.99) free.

41. Hulu

Hulu offers students its ad-supported plan for just $1.99 a month (a 75% discount). If you’re interested in a bundle, check out the deal below.

42. Spotify Bundle

As a student, you can get Spotify Premium and Hulu (with ads) for just $4.99 per month. Spotify Premium normally costs $9.99 per month and Hulu (with ads) is $7.99 a month, so you can snag a monthly savings of $12.99 for as long as you’re going to college.

43. The Washington Post

The Washington Post has a digital all-access student subscription plan for just $1 every four weeks.

44. Paramount+

As a student, you can get a Paramount+ Essential monthly plan for just $4.50 per month (25% off). You can cancel anytime.

45. YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium (which allows you to enjoy YouTube and YouTube Music ad⁠-⁠free) is available to students at a discounted rate of $7.99 a month, after a free one-month trial. You can cancel at any time.

46. The Economist

The Economist offers students an annual digital subscription for a steep 75% off. You can get the Economist Espresso for $19.75 a year, or the Economist Digital for $52.25.

💡 Quick Tip: Need a private student loan to cover your school bills? Because approval for a private student loan is based on creditworthiness, a cosigner may help a student get loan approval and a lower rate.

Home Goods

47. Ghost Bed

As a student or teacher, you can get 50% off your entire order at GhostBed . To take advantage of the deal, just click on the ID.me button and then “Student ID” to sign up and get verified.

48. Mattress Firm

After verifying your student status through ID.me, Mattress Firm will give you a single-use coupon code that can be used in-store or online. You get an extra 20% off select purchases or an extra 10% off Purple with the code.

49. Purple

You can also get a 10% discount directly from Purple . Once you verify your eligibility, you’ll be emailed a coupon for 10% off your order.

50. Helix

You can get a discount code for 15% off a mattress at Helix through UNiDAYS.

51. Puffy

Puffy offers a generous student and educator discount — $1,425 off any Puffy mattress.

52. Brooklyn Bedding

Brooklyn Bedding offers a 30% discount and free shipping to students. You simply need to verify your eligibility through ID.me.

The Takeaway

Student discounts can help you save on everything from food and clothing to electronics and entertainment. Even with these deals, however, you may still need help covering your college expenses.

If you completed the FAFSA and didn’t get enough financial aid to pay all of your school bills, keep in mind that you may be able to get a private student loan to help fill in any gaps. Unlike federal student loans, which have strict application deadlines, you can apply for private student loans at any time — including mid-semester.

Private student loans also allow you to borrow up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance. Just keep in mind that private student loans don’t offer the borrower protections — like income-driven repayment plans and deferment or forbearance — that come with federal student loans.

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.

FAQ

How many times can you use a student discount?

It depends on the company. Some retailers and restaurants allow you to use your student discount once per visit or purchase; others limit you to a certain number of times per month or year.

How much is the average student discount?

Student deals typically give you 10% to 15% off, though you may find some discounts for 50% off or even higher. In some cases, a student discount may come with restrictions, such as only being able to use it on full-price merchandise. So it’s always a good idea to compare your student discount to any other available deals and sales.

Do student discounts only apply to college students?

Typically, student discounts only apply to college and graduate students. In some cases, high school students can get deals if they have an email that ends in .edu. The colleges and programs that retailers recognize can vary, but you can expect most major colleges and universities to be eligible.


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.


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.

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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Ways to Cut Costs on College Textbooks

After paying for tuition, fees, and housing, you may think you’ve got the cost of college covered. Not so fast. There is a hidden additional expense students face soon after they arrive on campus — the textbooks, online access codes, and supplies required for each class.

Despite increased use of e-books, the cost of course materials — necessary to be students in class — remains steep. According to the Education Data Initiative, the average annual cost of textbooks at a four-year public college is $1,226. If you complete your degree in four years, textbooks can add nearly $5,000 to your overall education expenses.

Fortunately, there are ways to pay for college books, including grants, scholarships, and student loans. You may also be able to get some of your textbooks on the cheap — even free. Here’s what you need to know.

How Much Do College Textbooks Cost?

If you’re wondering how much college books cost, here’s a closer look. Hard copy college textbooks can run as much as $400, with an average price falling somewhere between $80 and $150. You may need more than one book for each class, plus other supplies and materials, which can all add up.

The average college student spends more than $1,200 annually on textbooks and supplies for classes each year. That’s about 39% of tuition in a community college or 14% in a public four-year college.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, prices for college textbooks increased by 7% between 2020 and 2023, which is faster than tuition inflation (which was 4.7%).

Why are textbooks so pricey? One reason is that only a few publishers control the industry. Almost 80% of the textbooks industry in the U.S. is dominated by five publishers. This lack of competition allows publishers to command steep prices. Publishers also know they have a captive audience — textbooks are a college essential so students are forced to pay whatever price the market serves up.

While digital books typically cost less than hardcovers, that’s not always the case with college textbooks. Some schools have online access agreements or contracts with publishers. This means that students must purchase a code to access all of their course materials online, typically at full price. Digital textbooks also eliminate some of the ways students can save money on print versions, like sharing, borrowing, or buying used materials.


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

Grants and Scholarships That Pay for College Textbooks

There are a number of private scholarships and grants designed specifically to help pay for college books. You can search for book scholarships using online tools like FastWeb and Scholarships.com . You may also want to check out these book-specific scholarship opportunities:

•   BookScouter Every quarter, BookScouter awards $500 to a student to be used towards purchasing their textbooks. To apply, you need to fill out a questionnaire and record a short video.

•   Book Lover’s Scholarship. Bold.org offers $500 to support students who love reading books and believe in the power of reading to transform their lives. To apply, you need to tell them: If you could have everyone in the world read one book, what book would you choose and why.

•   Wilhelmina Foundation The Wilhelmina Foundation’s Textbook Scholarship offers $500 to qualifying students throughout the state of Florida to help them pay for college books.

•   Carl A. Scott Book Scholarship Every year, the Carl A. Scott Memorial Fund awards two $500 scholarships — one to a student pursuing a bachelor’s of social work, and the other to a student obtaining a master of social work degree.

Recommended: Finding Free Money for College

11 Tips to Spend Less on College Textbooks

These tips can help you keep up with your studies without breaking the bank.

11 Ways to Save Money on College Textbooks

1. Split the Cost with a Classmate

When thinking about how to pay for college textbooks, you might consider splitting the cost of books with a classmate to cut down on textbook expenses. While it may seem inconvenient, it could pay off.

There are a few ways to make sharing a textbook work. Try alternating study days so you each have the time you need to get your work done. Or, alternate highlighter colors to keep your notes straight. And as an added bonus, you have a built-in study buddy.

2. Buy Used Books

Sometimes on- and off-campus books stores will sell used copies of textbooks. You can also find used textbooks online at popular sites like Chegg , Abebooks , and Amazon. While you can’t examine the book before you buy online, you can often select the book’s condition (for example, Like New, Very Good, Good, and Acceptable).

When searching for used books, it’s important to make sure the book is the correct edition. The easiest way to confirm this is by using the book’s ISBN (a code that identifies specific book editions) to search.

Recommended: College Freshman Checklist for the Upcoming School Year

3. Rent Instead of Buy

In some cases, you may not need a particular text book after the semester ends. In those instances, you might consider renting. On average, renting textbooks can save you 50% compared to buying a new, printed textbook.

Some campus bookstores now offer the option of renting textbooks for a semester. Typically, you rent the book at the start of the semester and return it the first business day after finals. You can also rent textbooks through a number of online companies, including Chegg, CampusBooks , eCampus.com , and ValoreBooks . It can be a good idea to shop around and compare rental costs.

4. Get the E-Book

Printing costs are one reason for expensive textbooks. But if you don’t need to have a physical copy, and you’re not required to buy an access code through the school, you could save on college books by going with the e-book version. You can read it anywhere — your computer, tablet, or phone. Going digital can be particularly advantageous for textbooks you will refer to in the future, since the electronic version will typically include free updates.

You can buy e-textbooks from a number of online outlets, including Amazon, BooksRun , and Chegg.

5. Find a Book Swap

Some schools have clubs or organizations that run book swaps. This is where you turn in a book you’re not using to get one you need in return. While not all campuses and colleges have this available, it could be worth looking into.

You might also check with upperclassmen to see if they might be willing to sell you a textbook or even let you borrow it for the semester.

6. Settle for an Older Version

Many textbooks have new versions released every year or every few years. Sometimes professors request you have the newest version available, but not always. Check with your professor to see if an older issue is acceptable for the course.

Recommended: 10 Money Management Tips for College Students

7. Try the Library

Some classes don’t rely on books as much as others. If you know that a class will be light on the required reading, you can save on college textbooks by heading to the library. Be mindful that other students in the class might already have the same idea as you. In that case, it’s a gamble to see if you can take out a book that may not be available.

Some schools have reserve copies of textbooks in the library that you can borrow for a specific amount of time. This could mean you can get your assigned reading done without purchasing the book. But know that these library textbooks usually have some borrowing restrictions, so you may need to plan ahead.

Recommended: How to Save Money in College — 20 Ways

8. Tap into Student Loans

When you take out student loans, you can typically use that money to cover the cost of attendance, which includes not only tuition and fees but also other expenses necessary to earn your degree, like textbooks. If you have scholarships and grants, they can typically also go toward your textbooks.

If you aren’t eligible for federal financial aid or have reached the borrowing maximum for federal loans, an in-school private student loan can be a useful alternative.

With private loans, you can borrow up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance, and the loans can be used for textbooks, supplies, and other college expenses. Just keep in mind that private student loans may not offer the borrower protections — like income-driven repayment plans and deferment or forbearance — that come with federal student loans.


💡 Quick Tip: Would-be borrowers will want to understand the different types of student loans that are available: private student loans, federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans, Direct PLUS loans, and more.

9. Sell Old Textbooks

The cost of college textbooks is an unavoidable expense, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some of your money back.

You may be able to sell textbooks you’re finished with back to the bookstore where you bought them for immediate cash. Or, you might be able to sell them online at sites like Amazon, BooksRun,
CheapestTextbooks
, BookScouter , or Chegg. When you sell online, the process is often as simple as entering your book information, accepting an offer, sending it in, and getting paid.

If you know students who are going to take the same class you just took, you might offer to sell your textbooks to them for less than they would pay for a used book at the bookstore but more than you would get in a buyback, for a win-win.

10. Use Open Educational Resources (OERs)

Open educational resources (OERs) are course materials available for free online that can be downloaded and shared. A growing number of universities are allowing their faculty to adopt OER course materials to help reduce costs for students. You can find these free educational materials at OERCommons .

There are also other sites that offer free access to textbooks, including Project Gutenberg and OpenStax from Rice University.

11. Use Textbook Price Comparison Sites

These days, it’s fairly easy to compare textbook prices before you buy to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Some comparison sites to check out:

•   Amazon Offering one of the largest selections of college textbooks, you can access a large number of sellers on Amazon.

•   AbeBooks This website has a deep database of textbook sellers (including local sellers) to help you find the lowest available price.

•   BigWords This is a search engine designed to help you find the best prices and shipping costs on college textbooks.

•   Bookscouter This site compares a large number of textbook websites to help you find the best price to both buy and sell your textbooks.

•   CheapestTextbooks This is a free price comparison page for buying, renting and selling textbooks. They also price-compare e-books for rent or purchase.

•   SlugBooks Here, you can search by author and title or ISBN to find the best online deal for textbooks.

The Takeaway

Depending on your class needs and personal preference, you may be able to significantly cut the cost of college textbooks by heading to the library or opting for an e-book, a textbook rental, or a used copy of the book.

In addition, you might seek out and apply for a book scholarship to help cover some of your textbook expenses. If you have any type of student loan and can use it to make your textbook purchases, those funds can also be a big help.

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.

FAQ

What percent of college students can’t afford textbooks?

Around one in four college students decide not to acquire at least one course material, according to a 2023 survey from the National Association of College Stores. According to the Education Data Initiative:

•   25% of students say they have worked extra hours to pay for their books and materials

•   11% of student report skipping meals in order to afford books and course materials

•   One in five students say that the cost of books and materials directly influences their decision on what classes to take

How much should I budget for textbooks?

The average full-time, in-state undergraduate student at a four-year public university pays $1,226 for books and supplies in one academic year.

How do I use my financial aid to pay for textbooks?

Typically, financial aid money is sent directly to the school. If you have money leftover after covering tuition, fees, and other school charges, the school will make the money available to you to pay for textbooks no later than the seventh day of the term.


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.


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.

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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What to Do When Financial Aid Isn’t Enough

The average cost of college tuition and fees for the 2023-2024 academic year is $10,662 at public colleges for in-state residents, $23,630 at public colleges for out-of-state residents, and a whopping $42,162 at private colleges. And the price tag for an undergraduate degree typically goes up every year. Any way you look at it, college is a huge expense for students and their families.

Many schools offer financial aid to make college more affordable. But sometimes your initial financial aid offer — which may include scholarships, need-based aid, and federal loans you qualify for — just isn’t enough to cover the cost. And your family may not be in a position to help you make up the difference. What do you do if you can’t afford college, even with financial aid?

Take heart: There are many options out there to help you pay for higher education. Navigating them can be a challenge, though, especially if you haven’t had to manage major financial responsibilities until now. The key is doing the research and giving yourself enough time to take advantage of all the opportunities available to you.

What follows are a few ideas on how you could get more money for school.

7 Ways to Pay for College When Financial Aid Falls Short

Apply for Scholarships and Grants

There’s a lot of “free money” for college out there in the form of scholarships and grants. Your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will automatically match you with any federal scholarships and grants you’re eligible for, but there are many other types available.

You might start your search by asking the admissions or financial aid department at the school you plan to attend about opportunities the institution offers. Aid might be need-based, merit-based, or a combination of both.

You can also look for funding options outside your school of choice. A search engine like FastWeb or
FinAid
can help you hunt down scholarships that are a good fit. SoFi also offers a Scholarship Search Tool, as well as a state-based search tool.

To uncover more obscure scholarships, you may want to reach out directly to companies and organizations you have some connection to. This might include:

•   Family members’ employers and associations

•   Community service groups with whom you’ve volunteered

•   Identity/heritage groups listed on Scholarships.com

•   Religious communities you’re involved with

•   Special-interest groups, such as the Starfleet scholarship offered by the Star Trek Fan Association (there are many niche scholarships like this)

Once you’ve identified relevant scholarships and grants, you’ll need to carefully put together your application materials. Typically, you need to include a transcript, personal statement, and personal references. You may want to have a teacher, parent, or guidance counselor read over your materials and give you feedback.

Though time-consuming, this project can be well worth the effort. It’s remarkable how a bunch of smaller scholarships or grants can add up and help make college more affordable.


💡 Quick Tip: You’ll make no payments on some private student loans for six months after graduation.

How to Request More Financial Aid

You might consider appealing your financial aid award if there has been a change in your family or financial circumstances or if you believe the information on your FAFSA form does not accurately represent your ability to pay for college.

College financial aid office websites often provide information about what steps to take if you’ve had a change in financial circumstances since completing your aid application. In addition, financial aid staff are often available to provide you with guidance and discuss options if your financial aid awards or offers aren’t enough to cover your college expenses.

This appeal process will likely require you to submit additional documentation to your school’s financial aid office. If warranted, the financial aid office can then recalculate your eligibility, possibly resulting in a change to your financial aid offer.

Get a Work-Study Job

Another way to help pay for college is to work while you’re in school. Federal student aid packages may include a job through the Federal Work-Study program, which aims to fund part-time jobs that are (ideally) in the public interest or related to your field of study. Federal work-study is awarded based on financial need, so it may not be part of every student aid package.

These jobs may be on or off campus, at a non-profit organization, a government agency, or simply within your university. Some schools also set up work-study jobs with for-profit employers, and may be relevant to what you’re studying. These jobs pay at least minimum wage, but sometimes more, depending on the position.

With a work-study job, your school typically pays you by the hour, at least once a month. The number of hours you can work is limited and set by your school. To get the full low-down, ask your school’s financial aid office whether they participate in the Federal Work-Study program, how many hours you qualify for, and what job opportunities exist.

Note that qualifying for work-study doesn’t automatically guarantee you a job. You may still need to find one and apply for it. These opportunities are often limited, so it’s a good idea to start gathering information early if you decide to go this route.

Find A Part-Time Job

Another option is to look for a part-time job on your own. Your college might have internal job boards that list on-campus jobs for students or jobs that alumni have posted. Because you’re in the same network (either at your school or via alumni), you might have a leg up on outside applicants.

If you don’t find the right fit, be proactive by asking your professors, academic departments, family friends, and establishments around town whether they are looking for help. And of course, check external job sites for part-time opportunities.

Some part-time jobs, like research assistant or tutor, can help build your resume. But don’t discount flexible gigs outside your field of study that just pay well, such as waiting tables or working at an independent market like Trader Joe’s. If you play your cards right, your part-time job can more than make up for a financial aid shortfall.

Take Out Additional Federal Student Loans

If you still need more funds to fill the tuition gap, taking out additional student loans may still be an option. It’s likely that if you filled out the FAFSA and received a federal financial aid package, you may have already been awarded federal student loans.

Federal loans offer fixed interest rates and more flexible repayment terms than most private lenders. In most cases, student loans from the federal government don’t require a credit check or a cosigner, which can be especially helpful if you haven’t had time to build up a credit history.

As an undergraduate, you can take out two different types of loans under the Federal Direct Loan program. One of these is a Direct Subsidized Loan, which is awarded based on financial need. If you qualify for this loan, you will not be responsible for the interest that accrues while you’re in school and for six months after you graduate.

You can also take out a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, which does not depend on financial need. Interest on this loan will accrue while you’re in school and during the six-month grace period, though you will not be responsible for paying that interest until your repayment period begins. And you don’t have to start repaying subsidized or unsubsidized federal loans until you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment (and after the six-month grace period).

Currently, you can take out anywhere from $5,500 to $12,500 per year in federal loans as an undergraduate, depending on your dependency status and your year in school.

A parent can also take out a Direct PLUS Loan from the federal government to help you pay for school. They can borrow as much as your total cost of attendance, after any other financial aid you’ve gotten.

In order to qualify for a Direct PLUS Loan as a parent of a dependent undergrad, they will have to go through a credit check and must not have a problematic credit history. If parents request a deferment, they don’t necessarily have to start repaying their loans until six months after their child graduates or drops below part-time enrollment.


💡 Quick Tip: Parents and sponsors with strong credit and income may find much lower rates on no-fee private parent student loans than federal parent PLUS loans. Federal PLUS loans also come with an origination fee.

Apply for Private Student Loans

If you weren’t able to get enough in federal aid, including federal loans, you may be able to borrow additional loans through a private lender (such as a bank, credit union, or online lender) to cover the balance.

Private student loans typically come with higher interest rates than federal student loans and don’t offer the same borrower protections (like income-driven repayment plans). However, they come with higher borrowing limits. Typically, you can borrow up to the total cost of attendance, minus any financial aid received, every year, giving you more flexibility to get the funding you need.

Loans amounts, rates, and repayment terms vary by lender, so it’s a good idea to shop around to find the best options. As you compare lenders, keep in mind that a fixed interest rate will stay the same for the life of a loan, while a variable rate can change over time as market interest rates change.

Private student loan lenders often have a minimum credit score requirement to qualify, so you might need a cosigner to get approved for funding.

Ask Your School About Payment Plans

Some schools offer payment plans that allow you to spread the cost of tuition and fees over several payments throughout a semester, rather than having to pay in full up front. For example, you may be able to pay monthly without being charged late fees or getting dropped from your classes.

While a tuition payment plan may not reduce your expenses, it could at least make them easier to manage. You can find out about payment plans by contacting your school’s billing office (it may also be referred to as the bursar’s office, cashier’s office, or student accounts office).

Consider More Affordable Options

If you don’t qualify for financial aid, or your financial aid is not enough, you might try to reduce your costs by choosing a less expensive school. The average in-state cost of a public college is nearly 75% less than the average sticker price at a private college, according to data from U.S. News. There are even some schools that offer free tuition.

You can also reduce the cost of a bachelor’s degree by starting out at a community college, then transferring to your desired four-year school. A community college, particularly a public one, may offer a significantly lower sticker price. However, you’ll want to make sure that your prospective college will allow transfer credits.

If you have your eye on a specific career, you might also consider going to a technical college. Technical schools provide industry-specific classes that prepare students for a particular career or trade. Programs can take anywhere from less than two years to up to four years, after which you earn a certificate, diploma, or associate degree. The cost of tuition at a technical school is usually significantly less than a college or university — often as little as $5,000 per year.

The Takeaway

Just because you didn’t get enough financial aid doesn’t mean you can’t afford to attend college. By applying for grants and scholarships, taking on a part-time job, appealing your aid award, and applying for loans, you may be able to find a path to achieving your dreams.

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.

FAQ

How can I increase my financial aid for college?

You may be able to increase your financial aid by appealing your award. You can contact the school’s financial aid office to find out how its appeals process works. Your appeal is most likely to be successful if there was an error on your aid application, your family’s circumstances have changed since you first applied, or you have a competing offer from another school that you can ask your dream school to match.

You may also be able to get more aid for college by searching — and applying — for private scholarships. There are numerous private scholarships and fellowships available, often funded by foundations, corporations, and other independent organizations.

What income gets the most financial aid?

If you or your parents make less than $27,000, it will maximize your financial aid. However, income isn’t the only factor that goes into calculating your aid package. The government will also take your family’s assets (such as checking/savings accounts, 529s, and investment/brokerage accounts) into consideration when determining how much you can afford to pay for college.

What GPA does FAFSA require?

To remain eligible for federal student aid, students generally must maintain a GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale (or at least a C average) and pass enough classes to progress toward a degree.

Is there a limit to how much FAFSA you can get?

How much financial aid you can get by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) will depend on your financial need.

Federal aid programs (including grants, loans, and work-study) also have annual maximums. For example, here’s a look at the most a student could potentially get for the 2023-24 school year:

•   Pell Grant: $7,395

•   Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): $4,000

•   Direct Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loans: $5,500 to $12,500 (depending on year in school and per year and dependency status)

•   Federal work-study: Varies by school

To get a sense of how much you may qualify for, it’s a good idea to use the Federal Student Aid Estimator .


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.


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.

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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