Guide to Extending Student Loan Repayment Terms

Guide to Extending Student Loan Repayment Terms

Did you know that you may be able to draw out student loan repayment for 20 or 30 years? That means lower monthly payments, but you’ll pay more total interest over the loan term.

But if your payments are a strain, consolidating or refinancing your student loans may allow you to stretch out repayment terms and tame those monthly bills. If you have federal loans, you may also consider an Extended Repayment Plan that increases the term of your loan from 10 to 25 years. While it may make your monthly payments lower in the short term, in the long term, you’ll pay more interest with any of these options.

Ahead, we look at how student loan repayment terms work, the pros and cons of extending your loan term, and other options that might help you make your monthly payments more affordable.

How Long Are Student Loan Repayment Terms Usually?

Federal student loan borrowers are automatically placed on the standard repayment plan of 10 years unless they choose a different plan. They enjoy a six-month grace period after graduating, leaving school, or dropping below half-time enrollment before repayment begins.

There isn’t a standard repayment plan for private student loans, but the general repayment term is also ​10 years.

In the case of both private and federal student loans, you may be able to extend your student loan payments.

For example, if you have federal student loans, you can explore the following options:

•   Graduated repayment plan: You start with lower payments, and payments increase every two years for up to 10 years, or up to 30 years for Direct Consolidation Loans. Consolidation combines all of your federal student loans into one, with a weighted average of the loan interest rates, and often extends your repayment time frame.

•   Extended repayment plan: With this plan, you can extend your loan term to 25 years, though you must have $30,000 or more in Direct or Federal Family Education Loan Program loans.

•   Income-driven repayment plan: The four income-driven repayment plans – including the newest plan, SAVE – allow you to make payments based on your income. This is a good option if you’re struggling to pay your monthly bill because your income is low compared with your loan payments. You may be eligible for forgiveness of any remaining loan balance after 20 or 25 years of qualifying payments or as few as 10 years if you work in public service or use the SAVE Plan.

If you have private student loans, you may be able to refinance your loans for a longer term. You can also refinance federal loans, but you’ll lose access to many of the benefits including the chance to consolidate and receive a longer loan term.


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

What Are the Pros and Cons of Extending Repayment Terms?

Let’s take a look at three pros and three cons of extending your student loan repayment terms:

Pros

Cons

Allows for lower monthly payments You’ll pay more total interest
Gives you more flexibility Takes more time to pay off loans
Frees up cash for other things May have to pay a higher interest rate

Lower monthly payments can give you more flexibility and free up your money to go toward other things. However, you may pay considerably more interest over time. You’ll also spend more time paying off your loans.

Here’s an example of what extending student loan repayment can look like, using a student loan calculator:

Let’s say you have $50,000 of student loan debt at 6.28% on a standard repayment plan. Your estimated monthly payments are $562.16, the total amount you’ll pay in interest will be $17,459, and your total repayment amount will be $67,459.

•   Term: 10 years

•   Monthly payments: $562

•   Total interest amount: $17,459

•   Total repayment amount: $67,459

Now let’s say you choose to refinance. Refinancing means a private lender pays off your student loans with a new loan, and you receive a new interest rate and/or term. In this case, let’s say you opt to refinance to a 20-year term and qualify for a 5% rate. Your estimated monthly payments would be $329.98. You’d pay $29,195 in total interest, and the total repayment would be $79,195 over the course of 20 years.

•   Term: 20 years

•   Monthly payments: $330

•   Total interest amount: $29,195

•   Total repayment amount: $79,195

In this example, doubling the term but reducing the interest rate results in lower monthly payments — a relief for many borrowers — but a higher total repayment sum. You’ll pay nearly double in interest charges over the life of the loan.

How Long Can You Extend Your Student Loans For?

You can extend your federal student loan repayment to 30 years on a graduated repayment plan if you consolidate your loans.

Most private lenders limit refinancing to a 20-year loan term, but borrowers who are serial refinancers may go beyond that. With consecutive refinances you can stretch a private loan term to 25 to 30 years.

Consecutive Refinances

You can refinance private or federal student loans as often as you’d like, as long as you qualify. Refinancing can benefit you when you find a lower interest rate on your student loans, but be aware of the total picture:

Pros

Cons

May save money every time you refinance Will lose access to federal programs like loan forgiveness, income-driven repayment, and generous forbearance and deferment if federal student loans are refinanced
May allow for a lower interest rate and lower monthly payments If you choose a longer loan term, you may pay more interest over the life of the loan
Most student loan providers don’t charge fees for refinancing such as origination fees or prepayment penalties) You may not qualify for the best rates if you have a poor credit score

How do you know when to refinance student debt? If you find a lower interest rate, you could save money over the life of the new loan.

You can use a student loan refinancing calculator to estimate monthly savings and total savings over the life of the loan.

Refinancing Your Student Loans to a 30-Year Term

You cannot directly refinance your student loans into a 30-year term because almost all refinance lenders offer a maximum of 15- or 20-year terms. But you could take advantage of consecutive refinances to draw out payments for 30 years.

Or you could opt for consolidation of federal student loans for up to 30 years.

Consecutive Refinance Approach

Since there’s no limit on the number of times you can refinance your federal and private student loans, as long as you qualify or have a cosigner, you can refinance as many times as you need to in order to lengthen your loan term.

Direct Consolidation Approach

If you have multiple federal student loans, you can consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan with a term up to 30 years. Because the loan remains a government loan, you would keep federal student loan benefits and may even qualify for loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years.

While extending your loan term may reduce your monthly payments in the short-term, it’s likely it will cost you more in interest in the long term. If you are struggling to make your federal loan payments, you might be better off choosing an income-driven repayment plan instead of extending your loan term.

Other Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Student Loan Payments

One of the best ways to reduce your monthly student loan payments is to talk with your loan servicer to determine your options.

Some student loan servicers shave a little off your interest rate if you make automatic payments.

More employers are considering offering help with student loan payments as an employee perk.

And through 2025, employers can contribute up to $5,250 per worker annually in student loan help without raising the employee’s gross taxable income.

Ready to Refinance Your Student Loans?

Is a 30-year student loan refinance a thing? It can be, for serial refinancers. Then there’s the 30-year federal student loan consolidation option. The point of a longer term is to shrink monthly payments. To reiterate, though, you may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.

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/blackCAT

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


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

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What Are Excessive Transaction Fees?

Excessive transaction fees are penalties incurred by consumers when they make too many withdrawals from a savings account or money market account in a single month.

These fees were once mandated by federal law (Regulation D), but they became optional for banks to leverage at the start of the pandemic, as its economic impact became apparent. These charges are still optional today; some financial institutions collect them; others don’t.

Since most people want to avoid fees as often as possible, read on to learn how excessive transaction fees work and how much they cost.

What Is an Excessive Withdrawal Fee?

Excessive transaction fees, also called excess transfer fees, withdrawal limit fees, or excessive withdrawal fees, refer to penalties for excessive withdrawals from a savings or money market account. Historically, Regulation D restricted consumers to six “convenient transfers and withdrawals” each month.

Banks and credit unions could start leveraging these fees after as few as three transactions per month, though the regulation specified a savings withdrawal limit of six. If consumers regularly exceeded the regulatory six, financial institutions legally had to take action, like converting from a savings account to a checking account or closing it altogether.

Though Regulation D has changed since the COVID-19 crisis and looks to stay that way indefinitely — meaning convenient withdrawals aren’t capped at six a month — some banks have chosen to maintain the excessive transaction fee.

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Recommended: What Is the Difference Between a Deposit vs. Withdrawal

Types of Transactions Considered

Not every withdrawal from a savings account counts toward the transaction limit. Below are the types of transactions that could get you to the six-a-month max:

•   Electronic funds transfers (EFTs), like when you transfer money from your savings account to checking account (or transfer money from one bank to another)

•   Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments, including online bill pay

•   Pre-authorized transfers, like overdraft transfers to avoid overdraft fees

•   Wire transfers

•   Online and phone transfers

•   Debit card and check transactions drawing from the savings account.

Notably absent from this list are in-person withdrawals at banks and ATMs. Such withdrawals do not count toward the transaction limit. You can also move funds from savings to checking at an ATM or with a teller in person without it counting toward your limit.

Worth knowing: Some banks may also impose ATM withdrawal limits.

How Much Do Excessive Transaction Fees Cost?

Though Regulation D previously specified a maximum of six convenient withdrawals, it did not specify the amount of the resulting excess transfer fee. Financial institutions were free to set that amount — and still are today, if they continue to charge excessive transaction fees.

Typically, excessive transaction fees cost between $3 and $25 per transaction. Under the current form of Regulation D, financial institutions must disclose the fee amount (if applicable) at account opening; if the bank changes the amount afterward, it must legally notify you at least 30 days before the change.

If you’re not sure what your bank charges, you can typically find this information on the bank’s website or in the fine print of your account documents.

Recommended: What Are Bank Transaction Deposits?

Why Do Banks Charge Excessive Transaction Fees?

Before the Federal Reserve suspended the portion of Regulation D requiring that banks charge excessive transaction fees, the answer was easy: Banks charged excessive transaction fees because they legally had to.

The federal government created Regulation D to ensure that financial institutions had enough cash reserves available. Though this meant consumer funds were a little less liquid in a savings account or money market account, banks made such accounts appealing to consumers by offering interest on those funds. Consumers who wanted easier access to their money could use a checking account.

Now that the Federal Reserve has eradicated that mandate, some banks choose to continue to charge fees. The reasoning for this decision may vary at each financial institution, though banks generally leverage fees to make a profit (they are a business, after all!).

And remember: The federally imposed transfer limit previously served to ensure banks maintained proper cash reserves; banks still charging this fee may be doing so to discourage excessive withdrawals and thus protect their reserves.

Recommended: Smart Short-Term Financial Goals

Tips to Avoid Excessive Transaction Fees

How can you avoid excessive transaction penalties? Consider these tips to cut out this common bank fee.

•   Finding a bank that doesn’t charge excess transfer fees: Some banks do not charge excessive transaction fees.

•   Using your checking account: Banks may leverage fees when you make too many savings withdrawals by swiping a debit card, writing a check, or paying bills online. Rather than using your savings account for such transactions, you may benefit from using a checking account, where such fees don’t apply, and making withdrawals from the cleared funds in that account.

•   Banking in person or at ATMs: Withdrawals at physical bank branches and ATMs typically don’t count toward your limit. By using these options to take funds out of your savings account (or money market account), you should be able to avoid excessive withdrawal fees. Just keep in mind that there may be ATM withdrawal limits in terms of how much you can take out in a certain time period.

•   Making fewer (but bigger) withdrawals: If you’re able to anticipate your needs throughout the month, you may be able to make one or two big electronic funds transfers from savings to checking each month, rather than several smaller ones. Doing so may mean you can avoid excess transfer fees.

•   Opting out of overdraft coverage: If your savings account is tied to your overdraft program and you overdraw too many times in one month, you could wind up paying an excessive transfer fee. You can avoid this by opting out of overdraft protection (though it’s crucial that you understand what that means for your checking account if you overdraw). Or you might tap a line of credit (say, by using a credit card) as the source for your overdraft protection instead of your savings account.

•   Getting bank alerts: Checking your bank account activity is good for several reasons, including fraud monitoring and low balance alerts (to avoid overdrafts). Opting into banking notifications can also help you keep track of when you’re approaching the monthly withdrawal limit.

The Takeaway

Though federal regulations have changed since the onset of COVID-19, many banks and credit unions still charge excessive transaction fees. To avoid such fees, it’s important to monitor your monthly transactions and find other ways to access your savings. For example, you may be able to avoid excessive transaction fees by using ATMs or making fewer, larger transfers and/or withdrawals. Finding a bank whose policies are flexible and suit your needs is a wise move too.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.


Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

How much are excessive transaction fees?

Excessive transaction fees can typically range from $3 to $25 each, depending on the institution’s policies.

Do all banks charge excessive transaction fees?

Not all banks charge excessive transaction fees. Before signing up for any account, it’s a good idea to read the fine print, including the fee structure. Federal law requires that banks disclose these fees to consumers.

Why do banks charge excessive transaction fees?

Regulation D was initially created to ensure banks could maintain enough cash reserves. Though Regulation D no longer limits convenient withdrawals to six, many banks still charge these fees, potentially to protect their reserves and/or to make a profit.


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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% 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.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% 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 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 4.60% 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 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://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.

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What Are Wire Transfer Fees & How Much Are They?

All You Need to Know About Wire Transfer Fees

Wire transfers are a way to quickly and conveniently send and receive money, both domestically and internationally. Maybe you want to securely send some cash as a security deposit to a landlord across town ASAP. Or perhaps you need to pay for a painting you bought at an auction overseas. Either way, a wire transfer may be a good option.

However, there are often wire transfer fees in exchange for their speed and convenience. The cost to send and receive money via wire transfer varies, but international wires are usually costlier than domestic wires.

However, with the right steps, you can reduce or even eliminate the fees you’ll pay using wire transfers.

Here, you’ll learn important details about this technique for transferring funds, including:

•   What are wire transfer fees?

•   How much do wire transfer fees cost?

•   How do international wire transfer fees vs. domestic compare?

•   How can you avoid wire transfer fees?

•   What are other ways to send and receive money?

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Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


What Are Wire Transfer Fees?

A wire transfer is an electronic funds transfer between financial institutions. Wire transfers can be faster than bank transfers, with same-day processing possible for most domestic wires. Wire transfers can occur domestically or internationally, but most banks charge fees both for sending and receiving funds in this way.

In addition to speed, another reason to use wire transfers is when sending money internationally, as a regular bank transfer isn’t possible in this situation. But international wire transfers can have higher wire transfer fees than domestic wires, and there might be more steps involved. For instance, the transaction might have been processed by the foreign country’s system and also possibly involve a currency conversion.

Recommended: ACH vs. Check: What Are the Differences?

How Much Do Wire Transfer Fees Cost?

As mentioned earlier, how much wire transfer fees cost can vary. Some financial firms waive wire transfer fees in certain situations, and others waive them entirely. When sending and receiving international wires, there can be a fee of $50 or more for each transaction

Typically, you might expect the following fees:

•   For domestic wire transfers, outgoing fees usually range from $0 to $35; incoming fees can range from $0 to $15.

•   For international wire transfers, outgoing fees can often range from $35 to $50; incoming fees are likely to be between $0 and $16.

Wire Fees by Financial Institution

Below is a list of wire transfer fees for large banks in the United States. However, third parties may be involved that charge additional fees, especially for international wires.

BankIncoming domesticOutgoing DomesticIncoming internationalOutgoing international
Bank of America$15$30$16$45 or $0 when sent in foreign currency
Capital OneUp to $15Up to $30Up to $15$40-$50
Chase$0-$15$25-$35$0-$15$0-$50
CitiUp to $15Up to $25Up to $15Up to $35
Fidelity$0$0$0$0
PNC$15$25-$30$15$40-$45
TD Bank$15$30$15$50/td>
USAA$0$20$0$45
U.S. Bank$20$30$25$50
Wells Fargo$15$30$16$45

Do International Fees Cost More Than Domestic?

On average, international wire transfer fees are higher than domestic ones. But as is often the case, averages don’t tell the whole story. Some financial institutions don’t impose wire transfer fees, even for international transactions.

Still, it’s important to remember that there may be extra fees when dealing with international wire transfers. For instance, there may be a currency conversion fee when sending money between two countries that use different currencies. When sending or receiving money internationally, you’ll need information like an international bank account number (IBAN) or a SWIFT code to move the funds to the right account. Overall, it’s a somewhat more complex transaction than a domestic one.

Why Do Banks Charge Wire Transfer Fees?

Banks charge wire transfer fees because of the work that goes into processing wire transfers. For instance, wire transfers are processed individually as they are received. This differs from automated clearinghouse (ACH) transfers, which are processed in batches.

You also pay a premium for the faster processing speed. Domestic wire transfers can sometimes be completed within a few hours and are usually processed the same day. International wire transfers can be completed within one to two business days.

Another reason banks charge wire transfer fees is their higher transaction limits. Wire transfer limits are usually much higher than bank transfer limits, so they can be worth using if you must send a large amount in a single transaction.

Lastly, the international reach of wire transfers can lead to higher fees. For instance, when large amounts of foreign currency are exchanged, banks charge what is known as a midmarket, or interbank, exchange rate. The bank will often charge a higher markup if that currency must be converted. This results in higher wire transfer fees.

Recommended: How to Earn More Interest on Your Money

Tips to Avoid Wire Transaction Fees

While wire transfer fees are common, they aren’t always a given. Here are some ideas about how to avoid wire transfer fees in some situations:

•   Send money in foreign currency. For outbound international wires, it can be smart to send money in the currency used by the foreign company, if possible. In this scenario, some banks waive wire transaction fees since no currency conversion is necessary.

•   Do it yourself digitally. Some financial institutions allow you to initiate a wire transfer using their website or app, and doing so may reduce the fees or even eliminate them.

•   Look for firms that don’t charge wire transfer fees. Some banks and nonbank providers waive wire transfer fees in some cases, or they don’t charge them at all.

•   Open an account with no wire transaction fees. Shop around: Some of the most popular banks offer accounts that let you wire money with no transaction fees.

Alternative Ways to Send and Receive Money

Some methods of sending money may allow you to reduce or eliminate transaction fees. You can do so by using one of the following methods to conduct the transfer:

•   Use a payment app. Payment apps like Venmo, Zelle, and PayPal generally let you send money electronically to friends and relatives without paying a fee. However, sending money to those who are not “friends and family” may incur fees.

•   Send money with a bank transfer. A bank transfer, or ACH transfer, might be preferable if you send money domestically. In 2022, the same-day transfer limit was increased to $1 million, enabling large funds transfers in a single day.

However, note that limits on single transactions might be lower, and there might be ACH fees.

•   Use a cashier’s check. A cashier’s check is an alternative to wire transfers because it can be suitable for large transactions. This type of check draws the funds from the bank’s reserves rather than your account. However, the check must be delivered to you, so this method can take longer than a wire transfer. In addition, there might still be fees involved.

The Takeaway

Wire transfers can be a quick, secure way to send money domestically or internationally. These transfers have several benefits, such as shorter processing times and larger transaction limits than ACH transfers. But wire transfers can also have significant transaction fees, especially when dealing with international transfers.

If you prefer to avoid costly wire transfer fees, look for firms that don’t charge them or offer accounts that don’t charge for wire transfers. You can also consider alternative methods of sending money, like using a payment app or sending a cashier’s check.

If you’re looking for other ways to save on your banking costs, consider opening an online bank account. With SoFi Checking and Savings, for instance, you won’t pay any account fees, and your money will earn a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), both of which can help your cash grow faster. You’ll also spend and save in one convenient place, have a suite of tools (like Vaults and Roundups) that can amp up your savings, and, for qualifying accounts with direct deposit, you can get paycheck access up to two days early.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.

FAQ

Do you pay a fee to receive a wire transfer?

It depends, but most banks do charge a fee for income wire transfers. However, the fee for incoming wires is usually considerably less (maybe 50% lower) than the fee for outgoing wires.

Why are wire transfers so expensive?

Wiring money can be expensive for several reasons, such as their shorter processing times and higher transaction limits than bank transfers. Also, international wire transfers have more processing steps, which can increase their cost.

Do all banks charge wire transfer fees?

The majority of banks charge wire transfer fees in at least some situations. Some waive them in certain situations, while nonbank providers are more likely to waive them entirely.


Photo credit: iStock/Ridofranz

SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% 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.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% 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 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 4.60% 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 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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.


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 Do You Have to Pay Off Student Loans?

The standard time to pay off federal student loans is 10 years, but terms can range from five to more than 20 years depending on the type of loan and repayment program. Your situation will also determine how long it takes to pay off student loans, including how much you owe in student loans and how much of a payment you can afford to make each month.

Paying Back Student Loans

You need to start paying back student loans after you graduate from college, withdraw, or drop below half-time enrollment. Most federal loans, including Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and many private loans, come with a six-month grace period, meaning your payments won’t actually be due for six months until leaving school.

When it comes time to pay back your student loans, one of the most important things you can do is make sure your payments are on time each month. Making late student loan payments or failing to make your payments can have serious consequences, including student loan default.

How Long to Pay Off Student Loans

Once your loans become due, you’ll have the option of choosing a student loan repayment plan. Options for federal student loans include the Standard Repayment Plan, Extended Repayment Plan, Graduated Repayment Plan, and income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. These various repayment options come with their own pros and cons, so it’s important to understand your needs and which one makes the most financial sense.

If you don’t make a choice, your federal loans will automatically be enrolled in the Standard Repayment Plan. Here, the length of your repayment period is set to 10 years.

If you have private student loans, your repayment period is what you agreed to when you signed the loan. These will vary by lender and your personal situation. Those that can make larger monthly payments are typically able to pay off their loans in a shorter amount of time, assuming the debt loads are similar.


💡 Quick Tip: Get flexible terms and competitive rates when you refinance your student loan with SoFi.

Standard Repayment Plan: 10 Years

You have 10 years to pay off your student loans under the Standard Repayment Plan. You’ll pay a set amount every month (minimum $50) and may pay less overall for the student loan because of the relatively short loan term. (Many income-driven repayment plans, for comparison, can have terms of up to 25 years!)

For most federal student loans, the standard repayment option includes a six-month grace period that allows recent graduates to get a head start on finding a job. The clock starts ticking the moment you graduate, leave school, or fall below half-time enrollment. Loans that offer a student loan grace period include:

•  Direct Subsidized Loans

•  Direct Unsubsidized Loans

•  Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans

•  Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans

While having extra time before making your first payment sounds nice, be aware that interest continues to accrue during those months on unsubsidized loans and will be added back into the loan, increasing the principal. Direct Subsidized Loans do not accrue interest during the grace period.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Standard Repayment Plans might not be a good choice for you if you’re trying to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Borrowers pursuing this program agree to work in underserved areas for a government entity or certain nonprofits and must meet rigorous requirements to have their loan forgiven after 120 qualifying payments. To qualify for this program, you’ll have to change to an income-driven repayment plan as opposed to the Standard Repayment Plan.

Direct Loan Consolidation

Combining your federal student loans on the Standard Repayment Plan into a Direct Consolidation Loan could open up several repayment options. Consolidation combines your federal loans into one loan with a single interest rate, which could simplify the repayment process. The interest rate is the weighted average of the loans you are consolidating, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percentage.

Your loan term will depend on the amount of student loan debt that you have, ranging from 10 to 30 years. Extending your loan term may lower your monthly payment, but keep in mind that you’ll most likely end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan.

Recommended: Student Loan Repayment Calculator

Graduated and Extended Plans

Graduated Repayment Plans: 10 Years Standard; Up to 30 Years Consolidated

Generally, all federal loan borrowers can opt for the Graduated Repayment Plan. This plan could be an option for borrowers who expect their income to rise over time. It starts off with low monthly payments that gradually increase at two-year intervals. The idea is that recent graduates’ salaries at entry-level positions may start off low, but will rise over 10 years via promotions or new jobs.

The downsides of the Graduated Repayment Plan are that you could be paying more over the life of the loan, and if your salary doesn’t increase as anticipated, the later payments can become burdensome. The bright side — you could switch to an income-driven plan or the Extended Repayment Plan (below) which may make loan payments more affordable.

So how long do you have to pay back your student loan under the Graduated Repayment Plan? Borrowers have between 10 and 30 years to pay off the loan.

Extended Repayment Plans: Up to 25 Years

Like the Graduated Repayment Plan, the Extended Repayment Plan allows qualified applicants to extend the term of the loan, making monthly payments smaller. Borrowers may end up paying more in interest the longer the loan term, but there are options for a fixed monthly payment or a graduated payment that will rise throughout the term.

Extended Repayment Plans are geared toward borrowers who owe sizable sums. To qualify, you must owe $30,000 or more in federal student loan debt.

Neither Graduated Repayment Plans nor Extended Repayment Plans qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

Income-driven repayment plans are designed to make repayment easier if you can prove that paying back your student loans is a significant financial burden. This is based on factors including your discretionary income and family size. However, the longer terms mean you could easily pay more in interest over the life of the loan.

How long do you have to pay back student loans under income-driven repayment plans? Each of the following four plans has a different payback period. Under all four plans, remaining balances on eligible student loans are forgiven after making a certain number of qualifying on-time payments.

Saving On A Valuable Education (SAVE) — 10 to 25 Years

This is the newest IDR plan that replaced the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) program. Currently under SAVE, monthly payments are capped at 10% of your discretionary income. In July of 2024, that threshold will fall to 5% for borrowers with undergraduate loans. Graduate borrowers will pay a weighted average between 5% and 10% of their discretionary income.

Also starting next year, borrowers with original principal loan balances of $12,000 or less can have their remaining balances forgiven after 10 years of payments. For each additional $1,000 borrowed above $12,000, you’ll continue to make payments for another year, up to 20 or 25 years, depending on the degree.

Pays As You Earn (PAYE) — 20 Years

Your monthly payment is roughly 10% of your discretionary income and you’ll make 20 years of payments.

Income-Based Repayment (IBR) — 20 or 25 Years

Again, your monthly payment will be about 10% of your discretionary income. You’ll have 20 years to pay back the loan if you’re a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014. If you borrowed before that date, you will have 25 years to finish making payments.

Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) — 25 Years

Under ICR, your monthly payment amount will be either 20% of your discretionary income, or the amount you would pay on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over 12 years, whichever is less. Any remaining balance is forgiven after 25 years.


💡 Quick Tip: Refinancing could be a great choice for working graduates who have higher-interest graduate PLUS loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and/or private loans

Which Repayment Plan Is Right for You?

Choosing a student loan repayment plan is a personal decision that will depend on factors such as the amount of student loan debt you have, the industry you work in, your current income and expenses, your estimated future income, and your career goals. For example, if you plan to work in the nonprofit industry and are pursuing PSLF, switching to an income-driven repayment plan may make the most sense.

Are Repayment Terms the Same for Private Student Loans?

Private student loans are not required to offer the same benefits or repayment plans as federal student loans. The term and repayment plan available to you will be determined by the private lender at the time you borrow the loan. This is based on your credit profile and debt-to-income ratio, among other factors. If you have private student loans and have questions about your loan term, contact your lender directly.

Can You Shorten Your Student Loan Repayment Term?

It is possible to shorten your loan term. Borrowers can do this by refinancing their student loans and selecting a shorter term. Shortening the loan term can also decrease the total amount spent on interest over the life of the loan, especially if you qualify for a lower interest rate, too.

However, keep in mind that refinancing federal loans means you are no longer eligible for federal protections or payment plans. If you’re interested in using federal benefits like an income-driven repayment option or student loan forgiveness, refinancing may not make sense.

You can also indirectly shorten your student loan repayment term by making extra payments toward your loan, either monthly or as you can. Before making an extra payment, make sure to contact your lender and have them apply the extra payment to the principal amount. If you don’t do this, the payment may go toward your next month’s payment, which would include interest.

The Takeaway

How long you have to pay off student loans depends on the types of loans you have, the student loan repayment option you choose, and how large of monthly payments you can make.

Options for paying off student loans include the Standard Repayment Plan, Extended Repayment Plan, Graduated Repayment Plan, and income-based repayment plans. You can also choose to consolidate your federal loans into one loan with one monthly payment or refinance federal and/or private student loans into a new loan with a new interest rate.

If you choose to refinance your student loans, the benefits include the potential of a lower interest rate or a lower monthly payment. If you choose a shorter loan term, your monthly payment will be higher but you’ll most likely pay less in interest over the life of the loan. A longer loan term will get you a lower monthly payment, but you’ll pay more in interest overall.

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.

FAQ

Is there a time limit to pay off student loans?

There is a time limit for paying off student loans. This is determined by the loan term and repayment plan selected by the borrower. For example, under the Standard Repayment Plan, borrowers repay their student loans over a period of 10 years. On some income-driven repayment plans, the repayment period is extended up to 25 years.

Do student loans go away after 25 years?

For borrowers enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan, the remaining balance is forgiven or canceled at the end of the loan term, which may be 20 or 25 years. This forgiven balance may be considered taxable income by the IRS, so be sure to understand if that is the case for you.

Are student loans forgiven after 7 years?

No, student loans do not go away after seven years. There are no federal programs offering loan forgiveness after seven years.


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


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


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

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

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Law School Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Options

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

In June 2023, the Supreme Court announced its decision to reject the Biden-Harris Administration’s Student Debt Relief Program on the grounds that it required Congressional approval. Additionally, the debt ceiling bill officially ended the payment pause, requiring interest accrual to resume Sept. 1 and payments to resume Oct 1.

Fortunately, there are still some forgiveness and repayment options available to law school debt holders. Here’s what’s available.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs

A Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) is one type of financial assistance provided to law school graduates in government and lower paying legal fields. LRAPs may be run by the state, state bar, federal government, or individual law schools.

In many cases, funds are provided via a forgivable loan that is canceled when the recipient’s service obligation is completed. These loans are structured in a way that they are not taxable income, unlike grants. If you receive loan repayment assistance, it’s important to find out if your funds are taxable. (Learn how to find your student loan tax form.)

An LRAP shouldn’t be confused with the repayment plan borrowers agree to when they first sign for their loans. Most people with federal student loans are on the Standard Repayment Plan, meaning they pay a fixed amount every month for up to 10 years.


💡 Quick Tip: Get flexible terms and competitive rates when you refinance your student loan with SoFi.

5 Law School Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Programs

Below are the five most widely used law school student loan forgiveness and repayment programs. If you’re already receiving one or more of these benefits, remember that you may have to reapply each year.

You may apply to as many law school debt forgiveness programs as you qualify for. In some cases, you may even accept more than one grant or loan at a time, but check the fine print on your program applications.

Recommended: Can Private Student Loans Be Forgiven?

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Best for: Lawyers who plan to work for the government or in the nonprofit sector.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program may be the most well-known option in terms of loan forgiveness for lawyers. The premise is simple: If you work in a qualifying public service field, then the remainder of your direct student loans can be forgiven after you make 120 consecutive qualifying monthly payments over 10 years. However, many people attempting to meet those requirements can find the process confusing and difficult.

The first step to qualifying for public service loan forgiveness is filling out the employment certification form.

In order to earn loan forgiveness, you must work for a qualifying government organization or tax-exempt non-profit organization, and you must be enrolled in a qualifying repayment plan — generally a federal income-driven repayment plan.

The next step is to make your monthly loan payments promptly. If you meet all those requirements and payments, then at the end of 10 years, the remainder of your debt could be forgiven.

Obviously, if you put all that time and money in and then it doesn’t pay off, it could cost you. Since the original Public Service Loan Forgiveness program went into effect in 2007, the first students eligible were set to have their loans discharged in October 2017.

However, the PSLF program was overhauled in Oct. 2021, and since then, $42 billion was approved for more than 615,000 borrowers. Additionally, borrowers who are still awaiting approval can now track their application’s status under the My Activity section of their StudentAid.gov account. This recently implemented feature can allow borrowers to see if their employers digitally signed their PSLF form and view when it was actually processed

Income-driven Repayment Plans (IDR)

Best for: Lawyers with low incomes.

An income-driven repayment plan sets your monthly student loan payment based on your income and family size. Most federal student loans are eligible for at least one income-driven repayment plan. If your income is low enough, your payment could be $0 per month. There are four income-driven repayment plans:

•   Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE Plan)

•   Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE Plan)

•   Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR Plan)

•   Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR Plan)

The Federal Student Aid website breaks down the eligibility for each program. If you have Parent PLUS loans, you must consolidate your loans to become eligible for an IDR plan.

Recommended: How To Avoid Student Loan Forgiveness Scams

State Loan Repayment Assistance Programs

Best for: Lawyers who qualify for their state’s program.

Most states have LRAPs providing a type of law school loan forgiveness if you work in that state — often in the public sector, for a qualifying nonprofit, or in underserved communities. Repayment assistance varies, so check the guidelines for your state. For instance, the District of Columbia offers one-year interest-free forgivable loans up to $12,000; in New York, forgivable loans of up to $10,000 per year are available for a maximum of three years or $30,000.

Law School-Based Loan Repayment Assistance Programs

Best for: Lawyers with low incomes or those who work in high-need areas.

Many schools offer their own LRAPs for lawyers. Applicants for the 2023 funding cycle must have had at least $75,000 in eligible law school loans and a maximum income of $62,500 in most states.

The specifics of the loan repayment assistance programs vary from school to school, so you’ll have to check with your law school’s financial aid office. Here is a comprehensive list of law schools with LRAPs.

Up to $5,600 each is awarded to each of around 125 attorneys annually through an application process that opens in August.

Department of Justice Attorney Student Loan Repayment Program

Best for: Lawyers who work for the Department of Justice.

The Department of Justice Attorney Student Loan Repayment program is a type of law school loan forgiveness aimed at encouraging newly minted attorneys to work for the Department of Justice. Applications for the program open in the spring (typically on March 1).

In return, you can receive up to $6,000 per year (for a maximum of $60,000 total) paid toward your student loans. It’s not exactly law school loan forgiveness, but it is law school loan repayment.

The fine print: You must commit to three years of full-time employment for the Department of Justice, and if you don’t fulfill your commitment then you could be on the hook for any loan payments made on your behalf. You must have at least $10,000 in eligible student loans, which includes Stafford Loans, PLUS loans, Perkins Loans, and a few other types of student loans. (All criteria information is available on the Department of Justice’s program website.)

Payments are made directly to the loan servicer and all loan repayments made by the Department of Justice ASLRP are considered taxable income. It’s also a highly competitive program, but if you’re looking at a career working for the DOJ, then it could be a great way to get your start and wipe out some debt.

The Takeaway

Law school loan forgiveness sounds great, but it can cost you money in the long run if you end up paying higher interest rates or don’t pursue the career you want in the hope of securing loan forgiveness. Consolidating federal student loans is an option, but it can be complicated. Through the Direct Loan Consolidation program, your new interest rate is the weighted average of your existing loans’ rates.

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

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


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


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


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

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.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

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

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