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Strategies for Traveling With Children

No matter your age or your experience, traveling can be stressful. Add kids to the equation and the stress levels multiply. Tickets, boarding times, strollers, snacks, tablets, and tantrums —- it’s a lot to manage. So much so, it can be easy to forget to enjoy the incredible experience of traveling itself.

But that doesn’t mean you have to give up on going on vacation until your kids get older. Whether you’re dreaming of taking your crew to a foreign country or just a nearby city, these tips for traveling with kids could make your next family getaway seamless and memorable (for all the right reasons).

8 Tips for Traveling With Kids

Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do before you ever leave home to help minimize headaches on the road and help ensure your trip is fun for both kids and grown-ups alike. Here are eight tried-and-true family travel tips to try.

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1. Pre-Book as Much as Possible

When it comes to tips for traveling with children, the more advance planning you can do, generally, the better. While you can’t anticipate every challenge you might face on the road, you can eliminate many of them by doing plenty of advance scouting.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to schedule transportation and accommodations far in advance to not only secure your reservations but also to potentially save some money.

Beyond the essentials, you may also be able to pre-book a lot of the activities you want to do, including sightseeing excursions and even meals. This can help ensure your family is experiencing a new place to the fullest and that the kids stay busy.

While having activities planned might be a lifesaver, it’s also ok to have a little bit of downtime and flexibility too. Exhausted children can be difficult to manage, so you might include some time for naps or relaxation to avoid meltdowns.

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2. Selecting the Right Places To Stay

Researching and booking the right hotel ahead of time might help you find one with fun features for the kids, like a pool or complimentary breakfast. You could also talk with the hotel staff once you get there to inquire about upgrades, cots for the kids, or extra pillows.

If you’re not interested in the hotel experience, you might consider staying in a vacation rental property, which could give your family more space and feel more like a home.

3. Packing Smart

When you’re traveling with children, especially more than one, you might have a lot of stuff to manage. Why make it more complicated by packing more than you need? You could plan out the days ahead of time based on any activities or travel and anticipate what you and your kiddos might wear each day.

If it’s a long trip or you need to pack lots of layers, you could roll the clothes rather than fold them, which might free up some space for those extra outfits your little ones (and maybe you!) might need in case of spills.
As for shoes, you might opt for slip-ons if you’re going through airport security and save the sneakers for the suitcase.

4. Getting the Kids Excited for Travel

You might want to talk to your kids before the trip about where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and what you’ll be doing. If your child is a first-time traveler, they may feel nervous doing something so new if they don’t understand what’s going on.

Even months in advance, you could talk about this fun trip on the horizon and all the cool things you will see and do when you get there.

5. Leaving Plenty of Time

While you likely want to minimize waiting time (and boredom), you also don’t want to have to rush. It can be wise to give yourself lots of time to spare, especially if you’re traveling by plane. This will not only give you plenty of time to check bags and get through the security, but might also give your kids some time to explore all the interesting things at the airport and get some snacks.

If you’re traveling by train or car, there may be fewer pressures, but it can still be wise to build in time for the unexpected. Whatever your mode of transport, you’ll want to make sure that all necessary documentation (for you and the kids) and any snacks, drinks, and essential medicines are easily accessible.

Recommended: Calculating If It’s Cheaper To Drive Or Fly Somewhere

6. Bringing the Proper Gear

For the plane, you might take a backpack or bag that can hold everything you need. From baby wipes and hand sanitizer to chargers and snacks, all the little things could help you feel more prepared for any surprises. If your little one needs a stroller, you could consider swapping your day-to-day one out for something that might be easier to travel with.

If it’s a late flight and you need your kids to sleep in transit, you may want to bring small pillows or blankets to help them be comfortable. While new presents are fun and exciting (more on that later), you might also want to keep your child’s comfort toys or blankets nearby. They might feel more at ease if they have something familiar.

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7. Bringing Your Car Seat on the Plane

While it may seem like a major hassle to carry a car seat to the gate and onto the plane, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommends placing children under the age of two in an approved car seat and not in your lap. Kids can safely ride just like they do in the car — either rear-facing or front-facing.

Also, if you are renting a car at your destination, you’ll need a car seat once you arrive. Car rental companies often cannot guarantee that a car seat will be available.

Recommended: Have Baby, Will Travel: Tips for New Parents

8. Bringing Surprises — and Plenty of Snacks

Kids love surprises, so you may want to buy some new toys or coloring books to keep them occupied during travel time. Also be sure to have lots of their fave snacks on hand. It’s great if they are healthy (fresh and dried fruits are easy to take on the road), but if all rules go out the window and its candy and snacks galore, that’s fun too. And while some parents rarely let their kids watch TV, changing that up for travel time might be one great exception. TV shows and fun games on the tablet might be a nice activity to keep kids busy on a long flight.

Recommended: When Is the Best Time to Book Summer Travel?

Should You Wait Until Your Kids Are Older?

There are pros and cons to traveling with kids at every age. Babies are very portable and typically fly for free. Preschoolers, on the other hand, are out of diapers and naturally curious about everything, so they don’t need expensive vacations to keep them entertained.

Travelling tends to get easier when kids are school age — no more bulky car seats and strollers. They’re still naturally curious but also have more patience. Pre-teens and teens are sponges and can learn a lot through travel — this can be a great age to plan travel to other countries and more exotic locales. Letting them get involved in the planning can also keep them excited and engaged.

Recommended: Airfares: What You Need to Know

Enjoying Your Vacation

You’ve put in the time to plan a vacation your entire family will (hopefully) remember. Now you can get ready to enjoy it! But you might want to accept that some things will undoubtedly go wrong. No amount of planning and outfit coordination will allow you to avoid every single mishap or meltdown, and that’s okay. You can adjust the plan as needed so you and your family can still have fun on your trip.

The Takeaway

Planning ahead, packing smart, and having all the tools at the ready, from snacks to little presents, might lead to your best family vacation yet. Whether it’s your first time traveling with kids or your tenth, it’s always wise to be prepared.

Since travel isn’t cheap (especially with kids), you’ll also want to be financially prepared for your trip. You might want to think about what the trip will cost, set a savings goal, and start stashing cash in your vacation fund well in advance. If you want to earn a high rate and pay the lowest fees, consider opening an account at an online bank. Without the added expenses of large branch networks, online banks are often able to offer more favorable returns than national brick-and-mortar institutions.

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.

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FAQ

What do you need when traveling with kids?

It depends on the child’s age, but these items can come in handy when you’re on the road:

•   Extra clothes (in case of spills, accidents, or travel delays)

•   Hand sanitizer

•   Disposable wipes

•   Refillable water bottles

•   Disposable bags

•   Healthy snacks

•   Books, toys, and games

•   Medicines

•   First aid kit

What is the hardest age to travel with a child?

Every child is different, but kids between 12 and 18 months can be particularly challenging to travel with since they are typically mobile, don’t like to sit still for long stretches, and are too young to understand and follow directions.

What is the best age to take kids on vacation?

Every age has pros and cons but travel with kids generally gets easier after age six.


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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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Can a Parent PLUS Loan Be Transferred to a Student?

If you’ve taken out a Parent PLUS loan to help your child through college, you may be wondering if it’s possible to transfer the loan into your child’s name now that they have an income. While there are no federal loan programs that allow for this, there are other options that allow your child to take over the debt.

How to Transfer a Parent PLUS Loan to a Student

In order to transfer a Parent PLUS loan to a child or student, the student can apply for student loan refinancing through a private lender. With a student loan refinance, the child takes out a refinanced student loan and uses it to pay off the Parent PLUS loan. The student is then responsible for making the monthly payments and paying off the loan.

To get a student loan refinance and use the funds to pay off a Parent PLUS loan, simply have your child fill out a student loan refinancing application. Make sure to include the Parent PLUS loan information in the application.
If approved, the student can pay off the Parent PLUS loan with their new loan and begin making payments on the new loan.


💡 Quick Tip: Ready to refinance your student loan? With SoFi’s no-fee loans, you could save thousands.

Advantages of Refinancing a Parent PLUS Loan

The main advantage of refinancing a Parent PLUS loan is to get the loan out of the parent’s name and into the student’s. However, there are other potential advantages to refinancing student loans, including:

•   Lowering your interest rate

•   Reducing your monthly payments

•   Paying off your loan quicker

•   Allowing the student to build a credit history

Disadvantages of Refinancing a Parent PLUS Loan

While it may be beneficial to get the loan out of the parent’s name and into the student’s, there are some disadvantages that should be considered, such as:

•   Losing federal student loan benefits, including income-driven repayment, deferment options, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness

•   Possibly getting a higher interest rate, especially if the student has poor credit

•   The student is now responsible for the monthly payment, which might become a hardship if their income is low

If you do choose to refinance your Parent PLUS loan by means of a student loan refinance, you should note that this process is not reversible. Once your child signs on the dotted line and pays off the Parent PLUS loan, the debt is now theirs.

Parent PLUS Loan Overview

The Department of Education provides Parent PLUS loans that can be taken out by a parent to fund their child’s education. Before applying, the student and parent must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Then the parent can apply directly for a Parent PLUS loan, also known as a Direct PLUS Loan.

The purpose of a Parent PLUS loan is to fund the education of the borrower’s child. The loan is made in the parent’s name, and the parent is ultimately responsible for repaying the loan. Parent PLUS loans come with higher interest rates and origination fees than federal student loans made to students. Further, these loans are not subsidized, which means interest accrues on the principal balance from day one of fund disbursement.

Parents are eligible to take out a maximum of the cost of attendance for their child’s school, minus any financial aid the student is receiving. Payments are due immediately from the time the loan is disbursed, unless you request a deferment to delay payment. You can also opt to make interest-only payments on the loan until your child has graduated.


💡 Quick Tip: Federal parent PLUS loans might be a good candidate for refinancing to a lower rate.

Pros and Cons of Parent PLUS Loans

Parent PLUS loans allow you to help your child attend college without their accruing debt.

Pros of Parent PLUS loans include:

You can pay for college in its entirety. Parent PLUS loans can cover the full cost of attendance, including tuition, books, room and board, and other fees. Any money left over after expenses is paid to you, unless you request the funds be given directly to your child.

Multiple repayment plans available. As a parent borrower, you can choose from three types of repayment plans: standard, graduated, or extended. With all three, interest will start accruing immediately.

Interest rates are fixed. Interest rates on Parent PLUS loans are fixed for the life of the loan. This allows you to plan your budget and monthly expenses around this additional debt.

They are relatively easy to get. To qualify for a Parent PLUS loan, you must be the biological or adoptive parent of the child, meet the general requirements for receiving financial aid, and not have an adverse credit history. If you do have an adverse credit history, you may still be able to qualify by applying with an endorser or proving that you have extenuating circumstances, as well as undergoing credit counseling. Your debt-to-income ratio and credit score are not factored into approval.

Cons of Parent PLUS loans include:

Large borrowing amounts. Because there isn’t a limit on the amount that can be borrowed as long as it doesn’t exceed college attendance costs, it can be easy to take on significant amounts of debt.

Interest accrues immediately. You may be able to defer payments until after your child has graduated, but interest starts accruing from the moment you take out the loan. Subsidized loans, which are available to students with financial need, do not accrue interest until the first loan payment is due.

Can a Child Make the Parent PLUS Loan Payments?

Yes, your child can make the monthly payments on your Parent PLUS loan. If you want to avoid having your child apply for student loan refinance, you can simply have them make the Parent PLUS loan payment each month. However, it’s important to note that the loan will still be in your name. If your child misses a payment, it will affect your credit score, not theirs. Your child also will not be building their own credit history since the debt is not in their name.

Parent PLUS Loan Refinancing

As a parent, you may also be interested in refinancing your Parent PLUS loan. Refinancing results in the Parent PLUS loan being transferred to another lender. By transferring your loan, you may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate. Securing a lower interest rate allows you to pay less interest over the life of the loan — and if you also shorten your loan term, you can pay off the loan more quickly.

When you refinance Parent PLUS loans, you do lose borrower protections provided by the federal government. These include income-driven repayment plans, forbearance, deferment, and federal loan forgiveness programs. If you are currently taking advantage of one of these opportunities, it may not be in your best interest to refinance.

At SoFi, you can refinance federal Parent PLUS loans and qualified private student loans into one new loan with one convenient payment. You can do this on your own and keep the Parent PLUS loan in your name, or you can have your child apply for student loan refinancing and use that money to pay off your Parent PLUS loan. With SoFi, there are no application fees, no origination fees, and no prepayment fees.

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

What if I can’t pay my Parent PLUS loans?

If you are struggling to pay your Parent PLUS loan, we recommend getting in touch with your lender and asking for a deferment or forbearance to temporarily suspend your payments. Keep in mind, though, that interest will continue to accrue on your loan even if payments are postponed. You could also consider switching the repayment plan you are enrolled in to an extended repayment plan, or refinancing your loan in order to get a lower interest rate. If you’re able to consolidate your Parent PLUS loan with a federal Direct Consolidation loan, you can also make it eligible for the Income-Contingent Repayment plan. This plan adjusts your monthly payment to 20% of your discretionary income while extending your repayment terms to 25 years.

Can you refinance a Parent PLUS loan?

Yes, it is possible to refinance a Parent PLUS loan through a private lender. Doing so will make the loan ineligible for any federal borrower protections, but it might allow you to secure a more competitive interest rate or have the refinanced loan taken out in your child’s name instead of your own.

Is there loan forgiveness for parents PLUS loans?

It is possible to pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) with a Parent PLUS loan. To do so, the loan will first need to be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation loan and then enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan. Then, you’ll have to meet the requirements for PSLF, including 120 qualifying payments while working for an eligible employer (such as a qualifying not-for-profit or government organization). Note that eligibility for PSLF depends on your job as the parent borrower, not your child’s job.


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


SoFi 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.


Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

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

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

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

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Are Scholarships Taxable?

Are Scholarships Taxable?

Generally, scholarships used to pay for qualified educational costs at an eligible educational institution aren’t considered taxable income. The same goes for any grants used to pay for college tuition and fees.

However, there are some cases in which scholarship or grant money may be taxable. For example, if you have money left over after covering your qualified education expenses and use it for other costs (such as room and board or school supplies not required by your program), these funds typically count as taxable income.

If you or your student received scholarship funding, it can be helpful to know ahead if it will contribute to your tax liability. Here’s what you need to know about identifying taxable scholarships and handling filing requirements.

Scholarships That Are Tax-Free

Students can be exempt from paying taxes on their college scholarships if they satisfy certain criteria. For one, they must be enrolled at an accredited college, university, or educational institution that maintains regular attendance.

Additionally, scholarship funds must be used to pay for qualified education expenses — a determination made by the IRS. Under this definition, qualified education expenses include the following:

• Tuition

• Mandatory fees (e.g., athletic and tech fees)

Textbooks

• Equipment and supplies (e.g., lab equipment)

When it comes to textbooks, equipment, and supplies, anything that is required by your school to complete coursework would be free from taxes. If you use the funding towards an extra-curricular activity, such as a club or intramural sport, however, the amount you spend would be considered taxable.

If the scholarship is used for a certificate or non-degree program, the entire amount is taxable whether or not funds are used for qualified education expenses.

It’s important to note that any scholarship funds leftover after paying for qualified education expenses would become taxable income.

Scholarships Considered Taxable Income

How are scholarships taxable? According to the IRS, scholarships used for expenses outside the scope of qualified education expenses must be reported in gross income — making them taxable.

Scholarship funds used for the following costs are considered taxable by the IRS:

• Room and board

• Travel

• Medical expenses

• Optional equipment (e.g., new computer)

But are scholarships taxable income in any other situations?

Scholarships that are awarded in exchange for services like teaching or research, often known as fellowships, are classified as taxable compensation in most cases. Students would have to pay taxes even if their fellowship money is used to pay for tuition and other qualified education expenses.

However, there are a few exceptions when education-related payments could be tax-exempt. Specifically, students do not have to pay taxes on funds received for required services through the following scholarship programs:

• National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program

• Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship and Financial Assistance Program

• Student work-learning-service programs operated by a work college

Other forms of financial aid could be considered taxable income as well.

Earnings through the Federal Work-Study program are subject to federal and state payroll taxes. If you stay below 20 hours a week while enrolled full-time, you won’t have to pay FICA (taxes for Medicare and Social Security) taxes.

Even Pell Grants — a federal aid program for students with significant financial need — are taxable if they’re not used for qualified education expenses.

Making it Legal: Reporting Taxable Awards

If a college scholarship is considered taxable, the student would need to report the scholarship (or portion of the scholarship) on their tax return.

Some students may receive a W-2 form from the scholarship provider outlining the taxable amount. Otherwise, they may need to calculate and enter the amount on their own tax return.

The student would report any taxable amount of a scholarship, grant, or fellowship as follows:

• If filing Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR, you would include the taxable portion in the total amount reported on Line 1a of your tax return. If the taxable amount wasn’t reported on Form W-2, enter it on Line 8 of Schedule 1 (and attach the form).

• If filing Form 1040-NR, you would report the taxable amount on Line 8 and fill out and attach a Schedule 1.

If you have questions about whether or not any portion of your scholarship money is taxable and how to report those funds on your tax return, it’s a good idea to consult a tax professional for personalized guidance.

How Education Tax Credits Fit in

Students and their family members may be eligible to claim the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) or the Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) if they paid for college and related costs in the past year. Take note that you can’t use both tax credits for the same student in the same year.

To claim either tax credit, you’ll need Form 1098-T from your college. This form shows any reportable transaction for an enrolled student.

To qualify for the AOTC or LLC, you could have paid educational expenses out of pocket or with student loans. Expenses that were paid for by tax-free scholarships are not eligible for a tax credit.

The AOTC and LLC differ in scope and eligibility, so it’s helpful to compare both to see which may apply and provide a greater tax return.

American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC)

The AOTC can be used for qualified education expenses — tuition, fees, textbooks, and necessary supplies — for a student’s first four years of college.

The maximum credit currently stands at $2,500 a year for eligible students. This is calculated as 100% of the first $2,000 in qualified education expenses paid for an eligible student plus 25% of the next $2,000 in qualified education expenses.

If the AOTC reduces your taxes to zero, it’s possible to have 40% of the remaining credit (up to $1,000) refunded.

Eligibility for the AOTC is based on the tax filer’s modified adjusted gross income (MAGI). If you’re filing separately, your MAGI must be $80,000 or less to qualify for the full AOTC credit. The threshold is $160,000 for married filing jointly.

It’s possible to receive a reduced AOTC amount if filing separately with MAGI between $80,000 and $90,000 or $160,000 and $180,000 for married filing jointly.

Recommended: 23 Tax Deductions for College Students and Other Young Adults

The Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC)

The LLC can apply to a broader range of expenses than the AOTC. It can be used to claim up to $2,000 for tuition and related educational expenses for undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree courses. Costs of non-degree programs that improve job skills are also eligible for the LLC.

This credit does not have a limit on the number of years it can be claimed on your tax return. However, the LLC has stricter income requirements.

For Tax Year 2022, the amount of your LLC is gradually reduced (phased out) if your MAGI is between $80,000 and $90,000 ($160,000 and $180,000 if you file a joint return).

You can’t claim the credit if your MAGI is $90,000 or more ($180,000 or more if you file a joint return).

Recommended: Can You Deduct Your Child’s Tuition from Taxes?

Don’t Forget Deductions

If you’re paying interest on a student loan, you may be eligible to deduct up to $2,500 of that interest with the student loan interest deduction. To be eligible, interest payments must be legally obligated and your filing status can’t be married filing separately.

There are also income requirements, which can vary annually, to factor in for the deduction calculation. For the tax year 2022, the filer’s MAGI must be less than $85,000 (or $170,000 if filing jointly) to be eligible for the full $2,500 deduction.

If your MAGI is between $70,000 and $85,000 (or $140,000 and $170,000 if filing jointly), you could qualify for a reduced deduction.


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

The Takeaway

Scholarships, grants, and fellowships can help make college more affordable. Not only that, the funds you receive typically aren’t taxable.

A general rule is that your college scholarship is tax-free when it is used to pay for “qualified education expenses.” Exceptions include any part of the scholarship or grant you used to pay for supplemental things (not required for a course) or as payment for work or services you performed.

If scholarships, grants, other aid, and federal student loans are enough to cover the cost of your college education, you may want to consider applying for a private student loan. Loan limits vary by lender, but you can often get up to the total cost of attendance. Interest rates may be fixed or variable and are set by the lender. Generally, borrowers (or cosigners) who have strong credit qualify for the lowest rates.

Keep in mind, though, that private loans may not offer the borrower protections — like income-based repayment plans and deferment or forbearance — that automatically come with federal student loans.

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


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

Photo credit: iStock/pixelfit


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.


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


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

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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How to Save for College

College is expensive, with the yearly cost of attendance at some private schools now topping $75,000. Looking at these numbers, you may wonder how you will ever possibly afford to send your kids to college.

But before you get too disheartened, it’s important to understand that a college’s published “sticker price” is often very different from what you actually have to pay (known as the net price). What’s more, just putting a small amount of money aside each month in a college fund can add up to a significant sum over time, especially if you take advantage of a tax-advantaged college savings account.

Read on to learn key things about how to save for college — from estimating how much you need to set aside to picking the right college saving fund.

Determining the Cost of College for Your Children

Tuition costs vary widely, depending on the type of school your child wants to attend, the type of degree they’ll earn (bachelor’s or associate), and even geographic location.

According to the College Board, the average annual college tuition costs for the 2022-23 school year were:

•   $10,940: public four-year in-state (a 1.8% increase from 2021-21)

•   $28,240: public four-year out-of-state (a 2.2% increase from 2021-22)

•   $39,400 : private nonprofit four-year (a 3.5% increase from 2021-22)

•   $3,860: public two-year in-district (a 1.6% increase from 2021-22)

The College Board also studied the annual, inflation-adjusted change in college tuition and fees over the last decade:

•   -1%: four-year public schools

•   -4%: two-year public schools

•   +6%: four-year private (nonprofit) schools

If your kids are young, you may wonder how much college will cost when it’s time for them to head off. Fortunately, there are many online calculators that can help you figure this out, taking factors like your child’s age, the type of school you expect your child to attend, and the expected rise in the cost of college into account.


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

Net Price vs. Sticker Price

Every college and university, private or public, lists a sticker price, which is also known as the cost of attendance (COA). This price includes tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, and miscellaneous expenses.

The net price, on the other hand, is what a student would actually pay, after factoring in any financial aid provided by the college and the federal government.

Financial aid is based on your family’s income, as well as the student’s academic achievement. Aid is offered in the form of grants, scholarships, work-study, and sometimes federal student loans. Schools offer aid based on financial need, a student’s “merit,” or a combination.

When you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you will receive a Student Aid Index, or SAI. (Previously, this was called the Estimated Family Contribution, or EFC.) Colleges use this number to determine the amount of financial aid they award to accepted students. Typically, colleges come up with a financial aid package to help bridge the gap between the school’s sticker price and what your family can afford to pay.

Indeed, sometimes colleges with the highest sticker price end up costing less than a college with a much lower sticker price.

Recommended: How to Start Saving for Your Child’s College Tuition

Using a Net Price Calculator

Fortunately, you can get an idea of what the net price will be for a particular college before you apply by using the government’s net price calculator. This tool can help students and their families get a better idea of the cost of college, after subtracting scholarships, grants, and other financial aid.

Keep in mind, though, that the net price calculator is going to require specific details about your income and assets, so the more transparent you are regarding your personal finances, the more precise your calculation is likely to be.

When is a Good Time to Start Saving for Your Child’s Education?

Generally, the sooner the better. In fact, it can be wise to set up and start making small monthly contributions to a college savings fund soon after your child is born.

For some familes, however, it may not be possible to start saving that early. It’s equally important to pay attention to your other expenses and family’s needs. For example, you may want to prioritize building an emergency and paying off expensive credit card debt over saving for college. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re on track with retirement savings. At the end of the day, students are able to get loans for an education but it’s not possible to take out loans to fund retirement.

Some Options for Saving

529 Plan

A 529 education savings plan is an investment account that can be used to save for the beneficiary’s qualified education expenses. The funds can be used to pay for higher education or private elementary or high schools. A 529 plan allows your savings to grow tax-free, and some states even offer a tax deduction on your contributions.

All 529 plans are set up at the state level. However, you don’t have to be a resident of a particular state to enroll in its plan.

If your child decides not to go to school, it’s possible to roll the account over into the name of another family member. If the funds aren’t used for education-related expenses, there may be taxes and penalties.

Family members and friends can also contribute to a child’s college savings plan. They may choose to make deposits to an existing 529 account or set up one themselves, naming a beneficiary of their choice.

Some 529 savings plans offer an age-based investment option to automatically adjust the risk of the investment strategy as the beneficiary gets older. This type of investment approach might be similar to how a target date fund works in your retirement plan.

Regular Savings Accounts

You can also save for your child’s college tuition using a savings account at a traditional bank, credit union, or online bank. Just keep in mind that interest rates, even for high-yield savings accounts, tend to be relatively low. Plus, savings accounts don’t offer the tax advantages you can get with some other college savings vehicles.

It may be difficult to reach education financing goals through a traditional savings account alone since the interest rate might not keep pace with the inflation of college expenses.

Roth IRAs

Although generally used for retirement savings, a Roth IRA can be used to pay for the cost of college. Contributions to a Roth IRA are made with after-tax dollars but earnings grow tax-free.

Generally, to withdraw the earnings from an IRA without paying a penalty (or taxes), the account holder needs to be at least 59 ½ years old. However, if you made the first contribution to your Roth IRA at least five years before, you can also withdraw the growth penalty-free for qualified education expenses, including tuition, books, and supplies.

Keep in mind that, while there may not be an early withdrawal fee, the earnings withdrawn may still be subject to income tax.

Other Options to Pay for College

Sometimes saving alone isn’t enough to cover the cost of college. In that case, there are other funding options available that could help students and their families pay for college.

Private Scholarships

Scholarships are essential free money for college because you don’t have to pay them back. Scholarships are typically merit-based and are offered through a variety of organizations and institutions, including nonprofits, corporations, and even directly from universities and colleges. In some cases, scholarships are awarded on the basis of nationality, ethnicity, or economic need. There are a number of searchable databases that compile different scholarship opportunities.

Federal Financial Aid

When you complete the FAFSA each year, you will become eligible for federal financial aid. This can include scholarships, grants, work-study, and federal student loans (which may be subsidized or unsubsidized).

Private Student Loans

If savings and financial aid aren’t enough to cover the full cost of college, you can fill in gaps using private student loans. These are available through private lenders, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders.

Loan limits vary from lender to lender, but you can often get up to the total cost of attendance, which gives you more borrowing power than with the federal government. Interest rates vary depending on the lender. Generally, borrowers (or cosigners) who have strong credit qualify for the lowest rates.

Keep in mind, though, that private loans may not offer the borrower protections — like income-based repayment plans and deferment or forbearance — that automatically come with federal student loans.


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

The Takeaway

College tuition can be a daunting expense. Setting up a dedicated account to save for college tuition can help make the process much more manageable. There are accounts, like 529 plans, that are designed specifically to pay for educational expenses.

In addition to savings, students and their families may rely on scholarships, grants, federal student loans, or even private student loans to pay for tuition and other educational expenses.

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

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


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


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


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

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

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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Applying to Graduate School: Smart Tips and Strategies

Applying for Graduate School: Tips for Success

Attending graduate school can help some students achieve their career goals, and may even be required in some fields. While applying to grad school is similar to applying to college, three are some key differences to keep in mind. Graduation school programs also tend to be more competitive than undergraduate degree programs.

If you’re thinking about going to grad school, read on. What follows are some simple strategies that can help you navigate the graduate school application process, including how to find the right program, create an application timeline, write an effective statement of purpose and personal statement, and make a plan for covering the cost of tuition and expenses.

4 Tips and Strategies to Prepare for the Grad School Application Process

Below are some simple steps that can make it easier to find and apply to the right graduate school program.

Choosing the Right Graduate School

It can be a good idea to apply to four to six graduate schools, and include both safety and reach schools.

If you’re still in the early stages of exploring schools and mulling over which graduate program to pursue, now’s the time to weigh your interests, skills, talents, and career goals to find a few options that may make sense to apply to.

Here are some questions to ask as you search for the right grad school:

•  Which degree path do you want to pursue?

•  Does your chosen career encourage a Ph.D. or a Master’s degree?

•  Do the schools you’re considering offer that program?

•  What is the cost of tuition?

•  Are scholarships available, either full-ride or partial?

•  Is the degree program accredited?

•  Does this school have excellent professors?

•  Will this degree facilitate your entry into the career of your choice?


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

Grad School Application Timeline

There’s plenty of prep work that must happen months before you start applying to graduate school. One way to alleviate some stress and make sure all of the necessary application requirements are met is to start early. Here’s a timeline to keep in mind.

Two Years Before Applying: Research Schools and Programs

Narrow down the programs of interest and your career goals about two years before you plan to apply.

One Year Before Applying

•  Prepare for any standardized tests required for admission. Some programs may require students to submit GRE scores, while others may require the GMAT. Law students will generally need to take the LSAT and future med school attendees can anticipate taking the MCAT.

•  Start gathering application materials. This could include things like college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and prepping for any personal statements that may be required (more tips on that to follow).

Year of Grad School

Generally, graduate school applications open up about nine months before a student would be expected to start classes. Some programs may accept applications on a rolling basis. It’s generally wise to apply as soon as all of your application materials are ready to go.

Refining Your Graduate School Statement of Purpose and Personal Statement

The statement of purpose for graduate school (sometimes called a letter of intent or a research statement) is where you detail your future plans and how the school you’re applying to can help you achieve those goals.

Students who are applying to multiple schools may need to tweak their statement of purpose slightly to meet different application requirements, but in general, there are a few common threads that are included in a statement of purpose. These include:

•  What do you want to study at graduate school?

•  Why do you want to study it?

•  What experience do you have in that field? How would you add value to the existing program?

•  What do you plan to do with your degree once you have it?

To craft a successful graduate school statement, you’ll want to create an outline and make sure you highlight your relevant experience and motivation for applying to this specific graduate school and program. You want your statement to stand out and target the school you are applying to; avoid writing the same statement of purpose for each school.

A personal statement, meanwhile, lets the admissions committees see you as a person, including your goals and passions and what you are hoping to get out of the program. Personal statements are generally more biographical in nature than a statement of purpose. It may highlight things like your passion for a particular field or help you demonstrate characteristics that will help you excel in grad school.

Recommended: Graduate Student Loan Limits: How Much Can You Get?

Options for Paying for Graduate School

There are a variety of ways to pay for graduate school.

Federal Aid

As a first step, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is used to determine what federal financial assistance students may qualify for. Often, people applying for graduate school are considered independent students on the FAFSA. Independent students are not required to include their parents’ financial information on their FAFSA application.

Submitting the FAFSA allows students to apply for all federal aid, including:

•  Federal student loans

•  Grants

•  Scholarships

•  Work-study program

Scholarships and Grants from Your University

Take a look at the aid options available specific to the school you will be attending (or the schools you are applying to). It may be possible to apply for additional scholarships, grants, and fellowships depending on the program.

Universities sometimes use the FAFSA to make financial aid determinations, but some have their own application process. Again, check the graduate school website to find out relevant deadlines and procedures.

Recommended: How to Become a Graduate Assistant

Possibilities Beyond Federal or University Aid

Other possibilities include employer tuition reimbursement plans, private scholarships, and private graduate student loans. Private student loans usually don’t have the borrower protections offered by federal student loans (things like deferment or forbearance, income-driven repayment plans, and Public Service Loan Forgiveness), so you may want to consider them only after you’ve exhausted other forms of aid.

After graduating, some students may consider student loan refinancing. Qualifying borrowers can often secure a competitive interest rate or preferable terms. Refinancing federal student loans, however, will mean they no longer qualify for any federal borrower protections or programs.


💡 Quick Tip: Master’s degree or graduate certificate? Private or federal student loans can smooth the path to either goal.

The Takeaway

Applying to graduate school doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start by defining your career goals and determine which programs you want to apply to. From there, review the application requirements and set an application timeline. The steps involved in applying to graduate school include taking any required standardized tests, getting letters of recommendation, and writing a statement of purpose. Also consider how you will pay for the cost of graduate school. Options include federal student loans, scholarships, grants, 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.


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


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


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

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