## How Is Savings Interest Calculated?

In a world where it can seem hard to make and stretch a dollar (hello, inflation!), isn’t it nice to know that there’s a way to earn money without any effort? That would be by collecting interest on a savings account. Your financial institution pays you for the privilege of using the cash you have on deposit, pumping up your wealth without the least bit of work on your part.

Knowing how to calculate interest helps you more effectively compare savings accounts.

While the basic concept may sound simple, understanding the different rates offered on interest-bearing accounts (typically savings accounts, though some checking accounts may earn a bit too) can get complex.

Here, you’ll learn the ins and outs of how interest works. For those trying to grow their money to achieve financial goals, it’s helpful to know how to calculate interest on a savings account. This knowledge can help you determine how much money earned in interest you can expect. It can also aid you when you are deciding which savings account best meets your needs.

## What Is Interest?

Interest is the amount of money that a bank pays a depositor who is keeping their money with the financial institution. While that money remains accessible to the account holder, the bank uses money on deposit for other purposes, such as lending it out for a mortgage loan. One way banks can make money is via the differential between the interest they pay for money on deposit (say, 3%) and the interest they charge when someone else borrows it (say, 6% on a home loan).

## Simple Interest Formula

Calculating interest involves some not-too-complex math; in fact, it’s primarily multiplication you need to use. The formula for simple interest looks like this:

Simple Interest = P x R x T

Where:

•   P stands for the principal, or the amount on deposit.

•   R stands for the interest rate, expressed as an annual rate usually, in decimal form.

•   T stands for time, or how long the money is held by the bank.

## How Do You Calculate Interest in a Savings Account?

Now, consider how this formula could be used to calculate the interest earned on savings you deposit at a financial institution.

If you deposited \$5,000 in a bank for one year at a 3% interest rate, the simple interest after one year would be, using the PxRxT formula:

5,000 x .03 x 1 = \$150

So, by calculating savings interest, you see that you’ve earned \$150. To put it another way, at the end of one year, your \$5,000 would have grown to \$5,150.

This, of course, represents simple interest. When putting your money in the bank today, you may well earn compound interest. Read on to see how that works or use the savings account interest calculator below to see how much interest you can earn.

## Simple vs Compound Interest

When you earn interest on the principal amount alone, such as in the example above, it’s called “simple interest.”

But the reason savings accounts can be such an effective tool for growing money is that not only is interest earned on the amount deposited, but the interest also earns interest. This is called compounding.

Depending on the account, interest may compound daily, monthly, or quarterly. Each time this happens, the interest earned to date becomes part of the principal, and the amount of interest earned from the compounding date onwards will be based on both the principal plus the interest earned to date. You might think of it as accelerating your money’s growth as time passes.

Example

Here’s what compound interest looks like in action, using the same \$5,000 initial deposit, but that 3% interest compounds on a monthly basis.

•   After one month, the account would have \$5,000 plus interest totalling one-twelfth of the 3% annual interest, \$12.50.

•   The next month, the interest would be calculated on \$5,012.50, adding \$12.53 to the principal for a new total of bringing the new principal to about \$5,025.03, and so on.

•   At the end of the year, the account would have \$5,152.08.

•   After 10 years, monthly compounding will grow that initial \$5,000 to \$6,746.77, without adding a single penny more to the account.

Compounding means you earn interest on the interest you’ve already earned.

Here’s a chart showing the difference simple vs. compound interest can make at a rate of 3% on \$5,000 deposit:

Time

Simple Interest

Interest Compounded Daily

Account opened \$5,000 \$5,000
1 year \$5,150 \$5,152.27
5 years \$5,796.37 \$5,809.14
10 years \$6,719.58 \$6,749.21
20 years \$9,030.56 \$9,110.37

It may not seem like a huge difference, but adding to the principal regularly can grow your money faster. In addition, seeking out a higher interest rate can of course boost your cash faster as well.

## APY vs Monthly Interest Rate

Calculating compound interest can get complicated; the equation involves more complicated math. But some banks simplify an account holder’s potential earnings into a single rate called the annual percentage yield, or APY. The APY factors in both the interest rate and the effect of compounding into an actual rate of return over the course of one year. To calculate how much interest will be earned on a savings account using the APY, simply multiply the principal by the APY.

This simplicity makes APY a more helpful rate to use when comparing interest rates for different accounts or banks, because it includes the effect of compounding, regardless of how frequent. Banks will usually post this information because the APY is higher than the stated interest rate. A savings account interest calculator can be helpful when calculating interest on savings accounts and to see how different rates of compounding will affect earnings.

### Earn up to 4.50% APY with a high-yield savings account from SoFi.

No account or monthly fees. No minimum balance.

10x the national average savings account rate.

Up to \$2M of additional FDIC insurance.

Sort savings into Vaults, auto save with Roundups.

## Understanding Interest Rates

In comparing savings accounts at different banks (or even within the same bank), consumers may notice that interest rates can vary with the type of account. What’s more, interest rates posted by the Federal Reserve may vary considerably from the interest rates banks offer their customers.

Tasked with maintaining economic stability, the Fed uses signals such as employment data and inflation to determine its rates. During economic slowdowns, the Fed typically lowers rates to reduce the cost of borrowing and incentivize big businesses to spend more, stimulating the economy. Conversely, when the economy appears to be growing too quickly, the Fed may raise rates, increasing the cost of borrowing in order to slow spending. This has been the case in recent years, with the Fed repeatedly raising rates in an effort to bring inflation down.

How does this play into the interest rate consumers might earn on their own savings? There are a number of factors that determine the interest rate a bank posts:

•   The target federal funds rate, set by the Fed, is one such cue.

•   Banks, however, set their own interest rates and these may vary depending on factors such as promotions the bank may have in place to attract new customers or incentivize greater account balances, as well as how much work an account takes to administer.

This last factor is why checking accounts, which are often used for a higher volume of everyday transactions, often pay less interest than savings accounts, where customers are more likely to let their money sit and accrue.

•   Interest rates also change over time, so the posted rate when an account is opened may not remain the same.

•   Banks may also have tiered interest rates, where account holders earn different rates of interest depending how much they have in their account, or balance caps, in which an interest rate can only be earned up to a certain amount.

Recommended: What Is a High-Yield Savings Account?

## What Is a Good Savings Account Interest Rate?

What is a good savings account interest rate will vary with the times. During the 1980s, the interest rates on savings accounts were around 8%, while from 2018 to 2021, the average was barely one-tenth of one percent, which could hardly keep pace with inflation.

As you shop around for the right account at the right rate, you may find that online banks offer among the higher rates. Since they don’t have bricks-and-mortar locations, they can pass their savings on to their clients. As of March 2023, online banks were offering in the 3% to 4% range, while some of the big traditional banks were still offering just a fraction of a percentage point.

## Questions to Ask When Considering a Savings Account

It’s hard to dispute the appeal of earning money on savings. But in addition to knowing how to calculate interest on a savings account, there are other considerations that could affect the flexibility and ease with which that account will help a person achieve their goals. Some account holders may find they need multiple bank accounts to meet both their everyday and long-term financial needs and goals.

Here are some things to consider.

### Will You Be Penalized for Everyday Transactions?

Savings accounts typically provide higher interest rates than checking accounts because they require less work for the bank to administer since they’re not meant to be used for everyday transactions.

But savings accounts may limit the number of transactions or transfers account holders can make in a month, or charge a fee for such actions. The Federal Reserve’s Regulation D, which imposed a six-transaction-per-month limit, was loosened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some banks now follow the new rule; others don’t. Inquire at a potential new home for your funds before opening a savings account.

### Is There a Minimum Balance?

Some banks incentivize or penalize customers to encourage them to keep more money in their accounts. For example, an account may be subject to fees unless the balance is maintained above a certain amount. Tiered savings accounts provide a higher rate of interest on bank balances above certain levels.

### Can the Money Be Accessed Easily?

Some types of savings accounts provide higher interest rates but limit access to the money for a predetermined earnings period. For example, a certificate of deposit (CD) is a savings vehicle that holds an investor’s money for a certain period of time. At the end of that term, the account holder is paid the original principal plus the interest earned. There may be penalties imposed on early withdrawals from a CD.

### Can the Account Help Achieve Money Goals?

Earning interest is a key way a savings account can help savers achieve their financial goals. But they might have multiple reasons for saving, from being able to afford a vacation or other luxuries to ensuring they have enough money in an emergency fund for unforeseen circumstances. If that’s the case, it’s helpful to be able to know at a glance what is saved towards each need. At some banks, separate accounts might need to be opened for each purpose, while others may provide tools to organize your savings within a single account.

## How to Streamline Your Savings

High interest rates can indeed be a compelling motivator for opening a savings account. And knowing how to calculate interest on an account is a helpful tool for finding the right financial product. But incurring fees to make necessary transactions or losing flexibility in other ways may negate the benefits of earning interest.

With SoFi online banking accounts, members can earn a competitive APY and not pay any account fees. Plus, SoFi members can access the Allpoint network of more than 55,000+ fee-free ATMs as well as use Vaults and Roundups to help grow their wealth. Plus, whether online or using the SoFi app, members can spend, save, and earn all in one convenient place.

SoFi Checking and Savings: The smart, simple way to bank.

SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.50% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate. SoFi members with direct deposit are eligible for other SoFi Plus benefits.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.50% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than \$5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant. SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits are not eligible for other SoFi Plus benefits.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or \$5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.50% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or \$5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or \$5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or \$5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 8/27/2024. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at http://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

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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## 10 Benefits of Federal Student Loans

There are many different types of college financial aid available to college-bound students, with student loans being an option that many students consider. Roughly 46 million students have federal student loan debt.

Students who need additional financial aid can choose between federal student loans or private student loans. However, there are many benefits of federal student loans that private loans don’t always guarantee.

## 10 Benefits of Federal Student Loans

### 1. No Credit History Is Required

A significant advantage of federal student loans is that many government-owned student loans don’t require a credit history or credit check. The only federal student loan that requires a credit check to determine eligibility is a Direct PLUS Loan.

To see if you’re eligible for federal student loans, you’ll need to submit a completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

Recommended: How Credit History can Impact Student Loans

### 2. No Cosigner Required

Private student loan lenders might require a cosigner for student borrowers who don’t have a credit history or credit score. However, students who haven’t established their credit are still eligible to apply for a federal loan without a cosigner.

Having no cosigner requirement is an additional step to lending that federal student loan borrowers can avoid.

### 3. Fixed Interest Rates

Fixed interest rates are among the notable benefits of student loans owned by the Department of Education.

Generally, private student loans allow borrowers to choose between fixed or variable interest rates. A fixed rate doesn’t increase or decrease throughout the loan term, making monthly payment amounts easier to anticipate.

Variable student loan rates can be advantageous during a low-rate environment, but borrowers risk their interest rate changing at any point during the repayment term. This variable feature can make it more challenging to predict how much money to budget toward monthly payments during repayment.

### 4. Low Interest Rates

A higher interest rate increases how much you’ll pay toward your college education overall. Generally, federal student loan rates are lower than private student loans or when using high-interest credit cards to pay for college expenses.

### 5. Interest Doesn’t Accrue During College

Federal Direct Subsidized Loans are designed so that borrowers aren’t responsible for paying back interest that accrues while in school.

Interest that accrues on loans from this federal program is paid by the government while the student is enrolled at an eligible school at least half-time. When you leave school, any interest that accrues on Direct Subsidized Loans is the borrower’s responsibility to repay. Students who borrow Direct Unsubsidized Loans or PLUS Loans are responsible for repaying interest that accrues while they are in school. Subsidized federal loans are only available to undergraduates.

### 6. Forbearance and Deferment Options

Some private loan lenders offer forbearance and deferment options to borrowers who need to temporarily pause their student debt repayment. However, these options vary between lenders and some might not offer forbearance and deferment at all.

An advantage of federal student loans is that they offer extensive forbearance and deferment options for different situations. For example, eligible borrowers can request deferment while undergoing cancer treatment, during economic hardship, while enrolled in school, during unemployment, and more.

Federal student loans offer general or mandatory forbearance, depending on your situation. Borrowers who are eligible for forbearance can request it if they need to pause or reduce their monthly payment for a short period.

### 7. Repayment Grace Period

Another benefit of federal student loans is that they come with an automatic six-month grace period. The grace period kicks in when the student graduates, leaves school, or drops below half-time enrollment.

This time frame gives federal loan borrowers additional time to get their financial situation ready, like securing an income or a job, in preparation for repayment.

### 8. Income-Driven Repayment Options

Borrowers who are unable to afford their monthly student loan payment may be able to enroll in an income-driven repayment plan.

Income-driven repayment plans offer 20- or 25-year terms. Payment amounts are limited to 10% to 15% of a borrower’s discretionary income. Depending on a borrower’s situation, their payments might be as low as \$0 per month.

### 9. Student Loans Can Be Discharged

Borrowers of federal student loans might not be required to repay their federal loans in certain circumstances. A federal loan discharge might apply when:

•   The school closes while the borrower is enrolled.

•   A borrower experiences total and permanent disability.

•   The borrower dies.

•   The borrower of a Perkins Loan works as a teacher or other eligible professional.

•   The borrower’s school affected the loan or the borrower’s education in some way.

•   A school falsely certifies the borrower’s loan eligibility.

•   The borrower who has withdrawn from school doesn’t receive a refund of the student loan funds from their servicer.

### 10. Student Loan Forgiveness

Access to student loan forgiveness is another advantage of federal student loans. Unlike student loan discharge which requires borrowers to have experienced an extraneous situation to qualify, student loan forgiveness is more accessible to borrowers.

The Department of Education offers loan forgiveness through Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), Teacher Loan Forgiveness, and loan forgiveness under an income-driven repayment plan.

For example, PSLF requires participants with Direct Loans to make 120 qualifying monthly payments under an income-driven repayment plan. Borrowers must be working full-time at a qualifying employer. Qualifying employers include nonprofit organizations or government entities during the time the required payments were made.

After the required payments are made, their remaining Direct Loan balance can be forgiven. Note that the forgiven balance may be considered taxable income by the IRS  under certain situations.

## Alternatives to Student Loans

Although federal loans offer borrowers many benefits, there are limits that mean not all students are able to finance their education entirely with student loans. Student loans are one type of financial aid, but there are other ways students can finance their education. These include:

### Grants

Grants can be need- or merit-based. They’re provided through the federal or state government, by the student’s school, or via third-party organizations. Pell Grants and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants are a couple types of federal grants.

Unlike student loans, recipients aren’t generally required to pay back grants for college.

### Scholarships

Scholarships, like grants, aren’t repaid by the student after leaving school. Scholarships can be found through schools, private and nonprofit organizations, community groups, employers, and professional associations.

This aid option might be available based on students’ merit or need.

### Private Student Loans

Federal student loans offer many benefits, but as briefly mentioned, there are annual and aggregate borrowing limits. For students who either don’t qualify for federal loans or have reached the maximum limit, applying for private student loans is another option.

Private student loans are available from state organizations, banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Borrowers must have qualifying credit, and loan features and terms of private student loans vary by lender. Again, it’s important to note that private student loans are not required to offer the same borrower benefits as federal student loans.

## The Takeaway

Federal student loans offer a variety of borrower benefits, including no credit score requirements, fixed interest rates, and deferment and forbearance options for borrowers who face financial difficulty during repayment. However, students may need to rely on a variety of different finding sources to pay for college.

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 is the average student loan debt amount?

In 2024, the Education Data Initiative reported that the average student loan debt is just over \$40,000. This includes both federal and private student loans.

### Are student loans bad for your credit score?

Borrowers’ student loan payment status is reported to credit bureaus. Student loans can be advantageous toward building a credit history when payments are made on-time and in full.
However, making late payments or missing payments can adversely affect a borrower’s credit score.

### What are the key advantages of federal over private student loans?

There are numerous benefits of student loans from the federal government compared to private student loans. The main advantage is that federal loans offer multiple repayment options, including income-driven plans that can bring monthly payments as low as \$0, and most federal student loans do not have a credit score or credit history requirement.

Additionally, federal borrowers receive automatic deferment during school, and an automatic grace period after leaving school.

Photo credit: iStock/AndreaObzerova

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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## Guide to Student Loans for Certificate Programs

When you’re thinking about earning more money in the quickest way possible, you might consider targeting a certificate program. Certificate programs have a major added benefit in that once you have your credentials in hand, they can help you boost your financial situation, sometimes significantly.

Graduates of all levels can take advantage of certificate programs, whether you’re a high school graduate or whether you have completed graduate school. (You may have come across information about paying for graduate certificates in your graduate school program.)

Keep reading to learn the definition of certificate programs, whether you’re eligible for student loans with a certificate program, funding options for certificate programs, the pros and cons of taking out a student loan for certificate programs, and more.

## What Are Certificate Programs?

Certificate programs can help you specialize in a specific trade or update your professional skills. These programs teach practical skills and training related to a specific career field — you don’t take general courses toward a degree.

Why might you want to tap into a certificate program? In addition to increasing your salary potential, you may want to get updated career training or learn about technological advancements or updates in your field.

Students who have a high school diploma or general educational development (GED) can use undergraduate certificate programs to go straight into the workforce with an entry-level position within a specific field.

Students who have already earned bachelor’s or graduate degrees may be interested in enrolling in certificate programs related to their field and level. Certificates could also give those who have already earned a bachelor’s degree an option to advance their career while avoiding graduate school altogether. (However, it’s important to distinguish the difference between a certification and a certificate. A certification usually means a stepping-stone credential that you must have for certain career paths. This article primarily discusses certificate programs, but some careers may require a certificate, even after getting a bachelor’s or graduate degree.)

Recommended: Is a Post-Grad Certificate Program Worth It?

### Cost of Certificate Programs

The earning potential relative to the low cost of a certificate program can pay off. For example, consider that in the 2023-2024 academic year, students at private nonprofit four-year institutions paid \$41,540 on average for tuition and fees.

Students can spend far less on a certificate program — around \$5,000 per program (or more or less, depending on the type of program you choose to complete). The variations in cost depend on the college, program, and credit requirements. For example, an online program at a community college will most likely cost less than through an in-person state or private college certificate program.

Let’s take a look at a few types of certificate programs and potential earnings:

•   Surgical technologists: Earn a median income of \$60,370 per year as of 2023 and will see 5% job growth through 2032, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

•   Construction and building inspectors: Earn a median income of \$67,700 per year as of 2023, according to the BLS, though it is anticipated the industry will see a 2% decline through 2032.

•   Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters: Earn a median income of \$61,550 per year as of 2023, according to the BLS. This job is expected to experience a 2% increase in growth through 2032.

•   Court reporters: Earn a \$63,940 median income per year as of 2023, according to the BLS. The industry will see a 3% increase in job growth through 2032.

•   Sheet metal workers: Earn a \$58,780 median income per year as of 2023, according to the BLS. The industry is expected to see no increase in job growth through the year 2032.

## Are Certificate Programs Eligible for Student Loans?

Yes, you can get a student loan to help you pay for a qualifying certificate program. As long as you attend an eligible school, you may qualify for a federal or private student loan to pay for a certificate program.

However, certain certificate programs may not qualify for federal student aid, depending on the nature of the certificate program. For example, if you need to take a class to boost your credentials as a criminalist in the DNA section of your state’s crime lab, you may not be able to borrow student loans to cover that class. In some cases, your employer may cover the fees for your course.

We’ll dive into the exact funding options for certificate programs below.

## Funding Options for Certificate Programs

Before embarking on a certificate program, you need to figure out how you’re going to pay for it. Talk to the financial aid office at the college, university, or career school you plan to attend. Options for paying for certificate programs include:

### Private Student Loans

Can you get student loans for certificate programs, or more specifically, private student loans for certificate programs? Answer: Yes!

A private student loan refers to money you borrow for educational expenses and pay back over time, with interest. You can get a private student loan to cover the cost of a certificate program. Private student loans can come from a bank, credit union, or another financial institution.

Interest rates are usually slightly higher for private student loans compared to federal student loans. Federal loans also come with borrower protections and forgiveness options. In general, it’s best to exhaust your federal student loan options prior to tapping into private student loans, if you’re eligible. The amount you can borrow depends on the cost of your degree and personal financial factors like your credit score and income.

Check out the private student loan guide for more information about student loans.

### Federal Grants

You may qualify for federal grants to cover the costs of a certificate program. Federal grants are typically free money, assuming you meet the obligations.

In order to qualify for a federal grant, you must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). The FAFSA will also verify whether your certificate program qualifies for federal student aid under the U.S. Department of Education.

You may qualify for a Pell Grant , the largest program under the Department of Education. Pell Grants are awarded to students with financial need and no prior degree. You may also be able to tap into Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG).

Recommended: FAFSA Grants & Other Types of Financial Aid

### Federal Student Loans

Just like federal grants, you must file the FAFSA in order to qualify for federal student loans. The difference between federal grants and federal student loans is that you must repay the money you borrow for loans. You must also meet some basic eligibility criteria to qualify for federal student loans.

Undergraduate certificate students who show evidence of financial need may qualify for a Direct Subsidized Loan. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students can qualify for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, but eligibility is non-need-based. It’s important to discuss both of these options as well as Direct PLUS Loans for graduate or professional students with financial aid offices to determine whether you can get any one of these loans to cover the costs of your certificate program.

You must go through entrance counseling to make sure you understand your loan repayment obligations to get a federal graduate student loan or undergraduate loan, as well as sign a Master Promissory Note. The Master Promissory Note states that you agree to the terms of the loan.

Recommended: Types of Federal Student Loans

### Personal Loans

It may also be possible to borrow money from a bank, credit union, or online lender in the form of a personal loan. You’ll pay back a personal loan in fixed monthly payments or installments, usually over the course of two to seven years.

Just like a student loan, a personal loan is an unsecured debt. This means that it isn’t backed by collateral. If you stop making payments, none of your assets will be seized by the lender.

Interest rates may be higher for personal loans compared to private student loans and federal student loans, however. Do your homework before selecting one option over the other.

### Employer Funds

If you’re currently employed and a certification relates to your current job description, your employer may pay for a portion or all of the cost of your certificate program. Companies like Starbucks, Google, and Target all have tuition assistance programs. Many companies will offer tuition assistance for college courses and some may even cover professional certifications.

Explore your options with your human resources office or ask your supervisor for more information.

Recommended: How to Pay for a Grad Certificate Program

## Pros and Cons of Taking Out Loans for Certificate Programs

What are the pros and cons of taking out loans for certificate programs? Let’s walk through a few.

### Pros of Taking Out Loans for Certificate Programs

•   Offers career change opportunities: You may want to branch out or change your career completely, and getting a loan for a certificate program may allow you to do so.

•   Costs less than a traditional degree: A certification usually costs less than pursuing a four-year or even a two-year degree. You may quickly pay off a loan, particularly because it may take you only a few months to attain a certificate.

### Cons of Taking Out Loans for Certificate Programs

•   You owe money with interest: The obvious downside to taking out a loan is that you’ll owe money at the end of your program — with interest. Because a certificate program can generally be completed in a relatively short time frame, though, you may be able to repay your loan (and minimize the interest rate impact) in a short period of time.

•   Choosing the right option can be complicated: You may feel as if you’re in a maze with so many different options at your disposal. It’s a good idea to reach out to a financial aid professional at the school you’ve chosen to go over all your financing options. They can also guide you through the scholarships and grant opportunities that you can obtain.

## Explore Private Student Loans With SoFi

It’s almost impossible to ignore the allure of a quick certification that can result in a lifetime of job satisfaction. Options for paying for certification include cash savings, grants, scholarships, federal student loans, and private 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

### Can federal student loans be used for certificate programs?

Yes, in certain cases, you can get federal student loans to cover the cost of certificate programs. However, your school and program must qualify under the Department of Education rules. Talk to the financial aid office at your college or career center for more information about your eligibility for federal student loans.

### Can grants and scholarships be used for certificate programs?

Yes, you can obtain grants and scholarships to cover the cost of certificate programs. Talk to the financial aid office at your college or career center for more information. Your school may offer specific scholarships, but don’t forget to check into professional organizations or local chapters for the certificate program of which you plan to enroll.

### Do some companies pay for employee certifications?

Yes, many employers pay for employee certifications to help boost employee retention and put employees at the top of their field. These may differ from certificate programs, however, so make sure you understand how your career-based certification may differ from a certificate. Ask your human resources office for information about continuing education or certification training.

Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages

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.

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.

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.

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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## TEACH Grant: Defined, Explained, and Pros and Cons

If a student has goals of pursuing a career as a teacher, they may find that the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant can help them meet their goals and reduce their educational expenses. The TEACH Grant is a form of federal financial aid that is focused on helping those pursuing a career in teaching pay for their college expenses.

As part of the TEACH Grant, recipients are required to complete a teaching service obligation in order to get the grant. If this obligation isn’t completed, the grant will be transitioned into a loan that will need to be repaid with interest.

Keep reading for more information on the TEACH Grant, including how it works, pros and cons of the TEACH Grant, and how to apply.

## What Is a TEACH Grant?

The TEACH Grant is a federal financial aid program designed to help students pursuing teaching careers pay for college expenses. In order to receive a TEACH Grant, applicants have to agree to teach a subject that is considered “highly needed” in a low-income area with a shortage of specific subject teachers. These schools can be elementary and secondary schools.

Grant awards are up to \$4,000 a year when the recipient is in school. Once they start working, they will be paid their normal salary without the addition of any grant funds.

TEACH Grants are eligible for multiple subject areas, including:

•   Bilingual education and English language acquisition

•   Foreign language

•   Mathematics

•   Reading specialist

•   Science

•   Special education

•   Any other field that has been identified as high-need by select governing agencies

After graduating, recipients have to teach at a low-income school or educational agency for a minimum of four years. This four-year teaching requirement must be completed within eight years of the recipient’s graduation.

Recommended: FAFSA Grants & Other Types of Financial Aid

### TEACH Grant Eligibility

The TEACH Grant comes with certain eligibility requirements, including:

•   Student must be eligible for federal student aid programs

•   Student has to be an undergrad or graduate student

•   The recipient’s school has to participate in a TEACH Grant-eligible program of study

•   Student has to be enrolled in one of these eligible programs

•   Recipient must score above the 75th percentile on one or more portions of a college admissions test or has to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or higher

## How the TEACH Grant Works

Students who qualify for the TEACH Grant program may receive up to \$4,000 a year in funding if they are in the process of completing — or one day plan to complete — the coursework required to start a teaching career.

In order to qualify for a TEACH Grant, the student has to sign a TEACH Grant agreement to work full-time as a teacher for four years at an elementary or secondary school or educational service agency that serves low-income students. They also need to teach in a high-need field and have to finish their teaching obligations within eight years after they graduate from or stop being enrolled at the institution of higher education where they received a TEACH Grant.

### Do You Have to Pay It Back?

If the recipient fulfills all service obligations of the grant, they won’t have to repay their TEACH Grant. However, if they don’t fulfill the TEACH Grant requirements, then all TEACH Grants they received will be converted to Direct Unsubsidized Loans that they must repay in full. They will be charged interest starting from the day of their TEACH Grant disbursement.

### Can It Be Used for Living Expenses?

The TEACH Grant is intended to fund coursework (up to \$4,000 annually) for students who are in the process of or will one day complete the coursework required to begin a teaching career. Consider consulting with the financial aid department of the school the student is attending to see if these funds can also be used for living expenses.

## Pros and Cons of a TEACH Grant

Like any program, the TEACH Grant has some unique advantages and disadvantages associated with it.

Pros

Cons

Up to \$4,000 in funding each year to pursue the coursework required to become a teacher Must work full-time as a teacher for four years at an elementary or secondary school or educational service agency that serves low-income students
If service obligation is fulfilled, the grant doesn’t need to be repaid If the service obligation is not completed within eight years, the grant will need to be repaid in the form of a Direct Unsubsidized Loan

## Applying for a TEACH Grant

The TEACH Grant application is a part of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Students can apply for the TEACH Grant when they submit their FAFSA. Some grants may have limited funding, so it’s generally recommended that students submit the FAFSA earlier rather than later. When the student receives their financial aid offer, they’ll find out if they received a TEACH Grant.

Students must continue to apply for the TEACH Grant each year by submitting the FAFSA annually. They will also be required to complete TEACH Grant counseling and sign a new Agreement to Serve every year.

Not all schools participate in the TEACH Grant, so it’s helpful to contact the school’s financial aid office to find out if they participate in the program and to learn what specific areas of study are eligible for the program.

## Alternative Forms of Funding

If a student doesn’t qualify for the TEACH Grant, finds it is not a good fit for their needs, or knows that they don’t want to complete the service obligations, these are some other options they may have for pursuing funding to help pay for college.

### Scholarships

When a student receives a scholarship, they don’t have to repay those funds. It’s worth applying for multiple smaller scholarships, not just big ones. Those smaller scholarships can really add up.

Recommended: The Differences Between Grants, Scholarships, and Loans

### Other Grants

Like scholarships, generally students don’t have to repay grants for college (unless the grant has obligations like the TEACH Grant). A student’s financial aid office can help point them in the direction of available grants and filling out the FAFSA annually can help them qualify for other federal grants, such as the Pell Grant.

Recommended: FAFSA Guide

### Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans are funded by the U.S. Department of Education and there are a handful of different types of federal loans available to both undergraduate and graduate students. To qualify for federal student loans, students have to fill out the FAFSA each year. Federal student loans generally have better interest rates and terms than private student loans and they come with unique federal protections.

### Private Student Loans

Students can borrow private student loans to help fill the gaps that scholarships, grants, and federal student loans leave behind. As mentioned, private student loans may not offer the same benefits as federal student loans, and for this reason, they are generally considered an option only after other funding resources have been exhausted.

Recommended: Guide To Private Student Loans

### Part-Time Work

If students are looking to avoid taking on student loan debt or want to lighten their student loan load, they could work part-time to help cover higher education costs and living expenses. There are often on-campus jobs designed to help college students balance their school work and their need to earn an income.

## The Takeaway

Paying for college is expensive and a TEACH Grant can help soon-to-be teachers pay for the cost. That being said, the service obligations of this grant won’t appeal to all students and they may find they need to pursue alternative funding, including federal and private 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

### Is the TEACH Grant worth it?

Each individual needs to consider carefully if the service obligation attached to the TEACH Grant makes the \$4,000 in financial assistance worth it to them. If they don’t want to live or teach in an area that services low-income students, they may find this program isn’t a good fit.

### Do you have to pay back a TEACH Grant?

Recipients may have to pay back their TEACH Grant if they don’t meet the full requirements of their service obligation. If a recipient failed to meet these obligations, the grant funds they received through this program would be converted to Direct Unsubsidized Loans that have to be repaid in full with interest charges.

### What does TEACH Grant stand for?

The acronym TEACH of TEACH Grant stands for Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH).

Photo credit: iStock/Marcus Chung

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.

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.

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.

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 Long Does It Take to Get Accepted Into College After Applying?

After all the work that goes into applying to college — researching schools, submitting transcripts, taking entrance exams, and writing essays — students probably welcome a feeling of relief once that application is officially submitted.

The relief may be instant, but also fleeting. The next phase of getting into college can be painstaking because it’s the waiting phase. Acceptance letters don’t have one standard date for being sent out. Admissions decisions can be delivered as early as December for early action or early decision applicants and as late as April for regular admission applicants.

Learn more on different types of college admissions applications and see how their submission deadlines and acceptance date periods differ.

## Types of Applications

Just as there isn’t a standard date for acceptance letters to be sent out, there isn’t one standard submission date for applications, either. There are a few early submission options available, as well as regular submission and rolling admissions. The due date of the application will depend on which type of application is being submitted, and this will also determine when you receive the school’s decision.

Options for applying early include early decision, early action, and single-choice early action.

### Early Decision

The early decision application is binding, meaning that students who are accepted are committed to enrolling. Because this application is binding, students can only apply to one school as an early decision. These applications are due in November and the decisions go out in December. If students decide to apply with this early decision option, this school should be their top choice and the one they’d prefer to go to over all others.

### Early Action

The early action application is similar to the early decision in regard to the due date (due in November) and decision timeframe (decisions go out in December), but it differs in that it isn’t binding. It’s okay to apply to multiple schools via early action, and if you’re accepted you’re not required to enroll until the normal reply date of May 1.

Recommended: Early Action vs Early Decision

### Single Choice Early Action

This option is similar to the early decision in that students can only apply to one school this way, but it’s not binding. If students choose to apply to a school via single-choice early action, it’s a way of saying they’re especially interested in attending that school. The deadline and acceptance period is the same as the other early options.

When it comes to applying early, no matter which type of early application you choose, the applications will usually be due in November and decisions will be sent out in December.

### Regular Decision

Regular decision college applications are the most common of the application options. For these applications, the deadline is usually in January or February and the decision letters go out by April. The deadline for submitting your application will differ between schools, so make sure to check the website for each school and mark the dates on a calendar.

Recommended: Ultimate College Application Checklist

### Rolling Admission

Rolling admission allows students to apply until the school runs out of space. Applications may be accepted until April or later. Students are encouraged to apply using the same deadline as the regular decision, though, to have a better chance of being accepted before the colleges run out of spaces.

Some colleges will also have differing numbers of spots open based on specific majors. If the major the student lists on an application is impacted at some schools, it might be better to apply by the deadline for regular applications since impacted majors are likely to have more students apply than there are spots available. The average turnaround for rolling admission is about four to six weeks, so the date that decisions are sent out will depend on when students submit their application.

Recommended: College Search – College Finder Tool

## The Dreaded Waitlist

After waiting for one to two months to receive a school’s decision, it can be frustrating to open that letter or email and see that there’s more waiting to do. Being on the school’s waitlist isn’t necessarily bad, however.

There are many reasons that students end up on the waitlist. They may have met the academic criteria to get into the school, but the school might not have space yet for these students.

Most schools will require students to contact them and accept their spot on the waitlist to be considered for admission, so don’t forget that step.

Since the number of students that can be accepted from a waitlist depends on the number of students who choose to enroll, students on the waitlist won’t hear back until after decision day.

Decision day is May 1, and it’s the day that seniors are required to notify their school that they accept their admission and will enroll.

After the decision day, the schools will know how many students will enroll, and then they’ll be able to start accepting students from the waitlist if there’s space. This means students on the waitlist can expect to hear back from their school by the end of May, but sometimes it can take up until the fall semester starts to hear back.

## Paying for College

Planning for college goes beyond getting accepted. Once accepted, students have to figure out how to pay for college, including tuition, books, and housing. Luckily, there are many good options for financing higher education, which can include financial aid from the government (grants and/or loans), scholarships, and private loans.

Recommended: Ca\$h Course: A Student’s Guide to Money

### Financial Aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is the form students will need to complete as the first step in applying for student aid. Depending on a student’s Student Aid Index (SAI), they may be eligible for federal student loans, grants, or work-study.

Grants don’t usually have to be repaid, but loans do. The amount of aid students can receive from the federal government will depend on their financial need, so not everyone will be eligible.

Recommended: What Is the Student Aid Index?

### Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans come with some benefits that are not guaranteed by private student loans, like lower fixed interest rates and flexible repayment options. Federal loans also offer borrower protections, such as deferment and forbearance, and student loan forgiveness programs for those that qualify.

### Scholarships

Scholarships can be merit-based, meaning they’re awarded based on some kind of achievement, or need-based. There are many scholarships available, and it’s perfectly acceptable to apply to as many as possible to further the chances of receiving one — or more. Some scholarships are specific to a school or the local community, so check your school’s website for information.

### Private Student Loans

Private student loans may be another option for paying for college. Since every financial institution is different, do some research and explore options available. Loan amounts and rates will depend on an applicant’s financial situation, including their credit history and income. Those with little of either may need a cosigner to be approved for a private loan.

Even if the cost of attendance might be covered by scholarships, grants, or federal student loans, there may be other costs of living a student might need assistance for. That’s where private student loans can be helpful when considered responsibly.To learn more about private student loans, college-bound students might want to check out this guide to private student loans.

Keep in mind, though, that private student loans do not offer the same protections as federal student loans, so it’s best to explore federal loans before relying on private ones.

## The Takeaway

It can take a few weeks to a few months to hear back for a college admissions decision, depending on the type of application you submitted. Early applicants — such as early decision or early action — will generally hear back in December while regular decision applicants will receive their admission decision in April.

Taking some time to think about college costs and how to pay for the upcoming years of education can be a wise way to spend that time waiting for all of those acceptance letters to come rolling in. Options for paying for college include cash savings, grants and scholarships, federal student loans, and private 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 long does it take to hear back after applying to college?

It usually takes four to six weeks to hear back after applying to college, depending on the school’s admissions process and the type of application. Early decision applicants may receive a response in November or December, while regular decision applicants typically hear back between March and April.

### What’s the difference between early decision and early action?

Early decision is a binding agreement where, if accepted, you must attend the college, while early action is non-binding, allowing you to apply to multiple schools and decide later.

### Do colleges send rejection letters?

Yes, colleges send rejection letters to applicants who are not accepted. These letters are typically sent around the same time as acceptance letters, either by mail or email, depending on the school’s process.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 .

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