Buying a Multifamily Property With No Money Down

Buying a Multifamily Property With No Money Down: What You Should Know First

Real estate investments make money through appreciation and rental income. Real estate can diversify a portfolio and act as a hedge against inflation, since landlords can pass rising costs to tenants. But the down payment on multifamily investment properties? At least 20%, or 25% to get a better rate.

It’s true that eligible borrowers may use a 0% down U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan for a property with up to four units as long as they live there. But those loans serve a relative few and are considered residential financing. Properties with more than four units are considered commercial.

So how can a cash-poor but curiosity-rich person tap the potential of multifamily properties? By not footing the entire bill themselves.

Can You Buy a Multifamily Property With No Money?

When you buy real estate, you typically have two options: Buy with cash or finance your purchase with a mortgage loan.

There are various types of mortgages. If you take out a home loan, you’ll likely need to pay a portion of the purchase price in cash in the form of a down payment. The minimum down payment you make will depend on the type of mortgage you choose — the average down payment on a house is well under 20% — and it will help determine what terms and interest rates you’ll be offered by lenders.

This money needs to come from somewhere, but it doesn’t necessarily need to come from your own savings account. When investors buy multifamily properties with “no money down,” it just means they are using little to no personal money to cover the upfront costs.

If you don’t have much cash of your own, there are several ways that you can fund the purchase of a multifamily investment property.


💡 Quick Tip: Jumbo mortgage loans are the answer for borrowers who need to borrow more than the conforming loan limit values set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency ($766,550 in most places, or $1,149,825 in many high-cost areas). If you have your eye on a pricier property, a jumbo loan could be a good solution.

6 Ways to Pay for a Multifamily Property

Find a Co-Borrower

If you don’t have the money to front the costs of a property yourself, you may be able to partner with a family member, friend, or business partner. They may have the money to cover the down payment, and you might pull your weight by researching properties or managing them.

When you co-borrow with someone, you’ll each be responsible for the monthly mortgage payments. You’ll also share profits in the form of rents or capital gains if you sell the property.

Give an Equity Share

You may give an equity investor a share in the property to cover the down payment. Say a multifamily property costs $750,000, and you need a 20% down payment. An equity investor could give you $150,000 in exchange for 20% of the monthly rental income and 20% of the profit when the property is sold.

Borrow From a Hard Money Lender

Hard money loans are offered by private lenders or investors, not banks. The mortgage underwriting process tends to be less strict than that of traditional mortgages. Depending on the property you want to buy, no down payment may be required.

These loans (also called bridge loans) have high interest rates and short terms — one to three years is typical — with interest-only payments the norm. For this reason, they may be used by investors who may be looking to flip the property in short order, allowing them to make a profit and pay off the loan quickly.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


House Hack

House hacking refers to leveraging property you already own to generate income. For example, you might rent out an in-law suite or list your property on Airbnb.

Another option: You could rent out your primary residence and move into one of the units in a multifamily property you buy. This way, you’d probably generate more income than if you had rented out the unit to a tenant.

Finally, you could hop on the ADU bandwagon if you own a single-family home. Accessory dwelling units can take the form of a converted garage, an attached or detached unit, or an interior conversion. The rental income can be sizable. To fund a new ADU, homeowners may tap home equity, look into cash-out refinancing, or even use a personal loan.

Seek Seller Financing

If you don’t have the cash for a down payment on a property, you may be able to forgo financing from a lending institution and get help instead from the seller.

With owner financing, there are no minimum down payment requirements. Several types of seller financing arrangements exist:

•   All-inclusive mortgage: The seller extends credit for the entire purchase price of the home, less any down payment.

•   Junior mortgage: The buyer finances a portion of the sales price through a lending institution, while the seller finances the difference.

•   Land contracts: The buyer and seller share ownership until the buyer makes the final payment on the property and receives the deed.

•   Lease purchase: The buyer leases the property from the seller for a set period of time, after which the owner agrees to sell the property at previously agreed-upon terms. Lease payments may count toward the purchase price.

•   Assumable mortgage: A buyer may be able to take over a seller’s mortgage if the lender approves and the buyer qualifies. FHA, VA, and USDA loans are assumable mortgages.

Invest Indirectly

Not everyone wants to become a landlord in order to add real estate to their portfolio. Luckily, they can invest indirectly, including through crowdfunding sites and real estate investment trusts (REITs).

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2013 allows real estate investors to pool their money through online real estate crowdfunding platforms to buy multifamily and other types of properties. The platforms give average investors access to real estate options that were once only available to the very wealthy.

REITs are companies that own various types of real estate, including apartment buildings. Investors can buy shares on the open market, and the company passes along the profits generated by rent. To qualify as a REIT, the company must pass along at least 90% of its taxable income to shareholders each year.

As investment opportunities go, REITs can be a good choice for passive-income investors.


💡 Quick Tip: To see a house in person, particularly in a tight or expensive market, you may need to show the real estate agent proof that you’re preapproved for a mortgage. SoFi’s online application makes the process simple.

The Takeaway

Buying a multifamily property with no money down is possible if you take the roads less traveled, including leveraging other people’s money. And if you have the means to make a down payment on a property, your first step is to research possible home mortgage loans.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Can I buy a multifamily home with an FHA loan?

It is possible to buy a property with up to four units with a standard mortgage backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) if the buyer plans to live in one of the units for at least a year. The FHA considers homes with up to four units single-family housing. The down payment could be as low as 3.5%. There are loan limits.

A rarer product, an FHA multifamily loan, may be used to buy a property with five or more units. The down payment is higher. You’ll pay mortgage insurance premiums upfront and annually for any FHA loan.

Is a multifamily property considered a commercial property?

Properties with five or more units are generally considered commercial real estate. Commercial real estate loans usually have shorter terms, and higher interest rates and down payment requirements than residential loans. They almost always include a prepayment penalty.


Photo credit: iStock/jsmith

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 Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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.

¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.

SOHL-Q224-1842703-V1

Read more

I Make $100,000 a Year. How Much House Can I Afford?

On a salary of $100,000 per year, as long as you have minimal debt, you can afford a house priced at around $311,000 with a monthly payment of $2,333. This number assumes a 6.5% interest rate and a down payment of around $30,000.

The 28/36 rule is often used as a guide when deciding how much house you can afford. The rule stipulates that you should not spend more than 28 percent of your salary on overall housing costs and no more than 36 percent on housing costs and your debt. On a salary of $100K with debts of about $250 per month, a house costing $311,000 just fits in your budget.

However, how much home you can afford depends on other factors also, such as where you intend to live and how much you have saved as a down payment.

This article looks at how all of these factors affect your home purchase and gives some examples of how much home you can realistically afford on a salary of $100,000.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.


What Kind of House Can I Afford With $100K a Year?

Another rule of thumb often applied when buying a home is to not spend more than three times your annual income on a home. If you earn $100,000 a year, that would be $300,000.

A salary of $100,000 is well above the national median income (according to Census data, the national median income was $74,580 in 2022). That puts you in a good position if you want to buy a home, particularly if the cost of living is low in the area that you are targeting. If you have substantial savings for a down payment and little debt, you’re even better positioned. Debt is important because lenders look at how much debt you have when they qualify you for a mortgage.

Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is the amount of income you receive relative to the amount of payments you make each month to cover your debt. You’ll get better loan terms, and your monthly mortgage loan payments will be less, if you have less debt.

That’s why many experts also recommend the 28/36 rule. So, if you earn $100K, your housing costs should be less than $28,000, $2,333 a month, and your debt and housing costs should not exceed $36,000, or $3,000 a month.

Your Down Payment

Unless you qualify for a zero-down USDA or VA loan, most lenders will expect a down payment of between 3% and 20%. The more you put down, the more house you can afford, but as you think about your down payment amount, make sure you reserve funds for closing costs, moving costs, and an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.

Home Affordability

Homes are more affordable in certain areas. Some areas have a higher cost of living and higher property taxes.

Your credit score will also affect how much home you can afford. If you have a high credit score, you will qualify for a lower interest rate loan. If you pay less interest, you can borrow more and still meet your monthly payments.

Depending on where you want to live, the housing market might dictate how big a home you can afford. House prices are affected by the economic conditions, and low unemployment rates and healthy economic growth gives buyers more purchasing power. If buyers have more purchasing power, they can afford bigger loans, and this will push up house prices.


💡 Quick Tip: When house hunting, don’t forget to lock in your home mortgage loan rate so there are no surprises if your offer is accepted.

How to Afford More House with Down Payment Assistance

Some people, such as first-time buyers or certain professionals like nurses and teachers, can qualify for down payment assistance from federal, state, and local government, private entities, and charitable organizations. Assistance might be in the form of a low-rate loan, cash grant, tax credit, or a reduced interest rate.

Applying for down payment assistance can add weeks or months to your home buying timeline, but for more information, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) keeps a list of programs listed by state, county, and city.

Here are typical down payment amounts for various types of mortgages.

•   Conventional mortgages require a 3% down payment for first-time buyers

•   FHA mortgages require 3.5% down

•   VA mortgages require 0% down

•   USDA: These zero down payment loans serve low-income borrowers in rural areas.

Home Affordability Examples

Let’s take a look at some hypothetical examples for those wondering, “If I make $100K how much home can I afford?” These examples assume an interest rate of 6.5% and average property taxes.

Example #1: Low Down Payment and Significant Debt

Gross annual income: $100,000
Down payment: $10,000
Monthly debt: $1000

Home budget: $238,441

Monthly mortgage payment: $2,000

Payment breakdown:

•   Principal and interest: $1,444

•   Property taxes: $208

•   Private mortgage insurance: $264

•   Homeowner’s insurance: $83

Example #2: Bigger Down Payment, Less Debt

Gross annual income: $100,000
Down payment: $40,000
Monthly debt: $300

Home budget: $333,212

Monthly mortgage payment: $2,333

Payment breakdown:

•   Principal and interest: $1,853

•   Property taxes: $208

•   Private mortgage insurance: $188

•   Homeowner’s insurance: $83

How to Calculate How Much House You Can Afford

You need a budget to find out how much house you can afford. Keeping a budget will show you how much you are spending each month versus how much income you have. Whatever you have leftover after paying essentials like food, clothing, and utilities is how much you can afford to spend on housing.

You can also use a mortgage calculator to help you. Just plug in your own numbers to find out what your monthly payments would be.


💡 Quick Tip: Not to be confused with prequalification, preapproval involves a longer application, documentation, and hard credit pulls. Ideally, you want to keep your applications for preapproval to within the same 14- to 45-day period, since many hard credit pulls outside the given time period can adversely affect your credit score, which in turn affects the mortgage terms you’ll be offered.

How Your Monthly Payment Affects Your Price Range

The more you can afford to pay each month for your mortgage and other housing expenses, the more house you can afford. However if you have significant debt payments each month, or you have a poor credit score that results in a higher interest rate for your loan, that will reduce the amount of loan you can afford and the price range.

Types of Home Loans Available to $100K Households

Four types of loans are the most common. These are conventional loans, FHA loans, USDA, and VA loans.

Conventional loans typically require a credit score of 620 or more, but the down payment can be as low as 3 percent. Remember that a lower down payment means higher monthly payments because you will have to borrow more.

FHA loans. With an FHA loan, home buyers with a credit score over 580 can borrow up to 96.5% of a home’s value. Home buyers with a lower credit score, between 500 to 579, can still qualify for a loan as long as they have a 10% down payment.

USDA: USDA loans are zero down payment financing for low-income borrowers in designated rural areas.

VA: VA loans also require no down payment and are available to qualified military service members, veterans, and their spouses.

The Takeaway

If you are looking to buy a home and would like a more realistic idea of what you can afford, first find out how much you are spending on necessities like food, clothing, transportation, and, most importantly, debt. What you have leftover is how much you can spend each month on housing expenses.

Once you have a grasp on your finances, you can use an affordability calculator to see how much of a house you can afford. The size of home that the amount will buy depends on the local housing market and the cost of living where you want to live.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Is $100K a good salary for a single person?

A salary of $100k is above the national median income (according to Census data, the national median income was $74,580 in 2022). This is a good salary, but you still might struggle to buy a home in areas with a high cost of living. The larger down payment you have, and the better your credit score, the bigger house you can buy.

What is a comfortable income for a single person?

A comfortable income for a single person is dependent upon where that person lives. The findings from a study using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate the cost of necessities to determine a living wage shows wide variance existing among states. According to the study, Hawaii is the most expensive state, and singles require an annual salary of $112,411 to live comfortably. In Mississippi, you can live comfortably on $45,906 a year.

What is a liveable wage in 2023?

A liveable wage will vary depending on where you live. However, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology determined that $104,07 per year was a liveable wage before taxes in 2022. This was for a family of four with two working adults and two children.

What salary is considered rich for a single person?

According to Internal Revenue Service data, an income of $540,009 per year puts a person in the top 1% earnings category.


Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

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 Mortgages
Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.


*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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.

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.

+Lock and Look program: Terms and conditions apply. Applies to conventional purchase loans only. Rate will lock for 91 calendar days at the time of preapproval. An executed purchase contract is required within 60 days of your initial rate lock. If current market pricing improves by 0.25 percentage points or more from the original locked rate, you may request your loan officer to review your loan application to determine if you qualify for a one-time float down. SoFi reserves the right to change or terminate this offer at any time with or without notice to you.

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.

¹FHA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by FHA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. FHA loans require an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium (UFMIP), which may be financed or paid at closing, in addition to monthly Mortgage Insurance Premiums (MIP). Maximum loan amounts vary by county. The minimum FHA mortgage down payment is 3.5% for those who qualify financially for a primary purchase. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.
Veterans, Service members, and members of the National Guard or Reserve may be eligible for a loan guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are subject to unique terms and conditions established by VA and SoFi. Ask your SoFi loan officer for details about eligibility, documentation, and other requirements. VA loans typically require a one-time funding fee except as may be exempted by VA guidelines. The fee may be financed or paid at closing. The amount of the fee depends on the type of loan, the total amount of the loan, and, depending on loan type, prior use of VA eligibility and down payment amount. The VA funding fee is typically non-refundable. SoFi is not affiliated with any government agency.

SOHL0124051

Read more

Should I Go to Community College?

When considering higher education, you have options. Some might include applying to a four-year college or considering community college. Everyone’s path is different, just know that you can chart your own course.

If you’re wondering, “Should I go to community college?”, let’s take a look at some important factors to think about first.

What is Community College?

Community colleges typically offer two-year degrees known as an associate’s degree. Students often attend community colleges for two years before transferring to a four-year university to gain their bachelor’s degree.

Working with a counselor can help you solidify your academic goals and work towards them, from choosing a major to earning the right credits that can be transferred to your bachelor’s degree.

This can be an exciting time in your life, but also an overwhelming one. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of attending community college, in addition to other factors you should consider when choosing a college.

Pros and Cons of Community College

Attending community college can have some upsides, but like anything, it may not be the right option for everyone. Just remember — your own experience is going to be unique and what might be best for you might not be the same case for your classmates or friends. No need to feel pressured by what might be the “right” or “wrong” path.

Read on for more pros and cons of community college.

Pros of Going to Community College

Some benefits of attending a community college include affordability, increased flexibility in classes, and the opportunity to stay local.

Affordability

Because community college can be less expensive than their four-year counterparts, attending a community college before a university could help you cut tuition costs significantly. According to Education Data Initiative, the average cost of tuition at a two-year college in 2023 was $3,501, as compared to $9,678 at a four-year public institution with in-state tuition.

Students attending community college may also be able to live at home, which can cut down on living expenses, too. Living at home while taking community college classes can also offer you some transitional time to get accustomed to a new schedule and new academic expectations before committing to a four-year university.

Easier Admissions Requirements

It’s also relatively easy to gain admission into community college. Some community colleges even have open admission policies, which generally means that there are limited academic requirements needed for admission, so most students who apply are accepted.

Note that even if a community college has an open admission policy, certain more competitive programs, like a nursing program, might have more stringent academic requirements.

Flexibility with Classes

Another major benefit of community college is that students have flexibility with classes and the opportunity to explore a variety of academic interests before committing to a major at a four-year university. Class times also may be more suitable for students that work full-time or have other commitments outside of school.

In addition, community colleges can offer you the chance to experience smaller class sizes (instead of large lecture hall classes that can be common at universities).

Recommended: Financial Benefits of Community College

Cons of Going to Community College

While there are many pros to attending a community college before transferring to a four-year university, there are some cons to consider, as well.

Possible Limited Academic Offerings

While community college can offer the opportunity to explore courses, the academic offerings may be more limited at a community college than at a four-year institution. Consider finding out which classes are available at each community college you are interested in so you can make sure they have exactly what you need. Not all community colleges might include the classes you are interested in taking.

Generally, community colleges are limited to associate degrees, so if you are interested in obtaining a bachelor’s, you’ll need to eventually transfer to another institution. It can be helpful to talk to a counselor at the community college about what classes you might choose so that you don’t end up earning too many credits that can’t be transferred.

Missing Out on Social Benefits

Another potential downside to attending community college is that students may miss out on some of the social benefits of attending a four-year college, including friendships, extracurriculars, and enjoying campus life. While you can experience all of these things if you transfer, it can be challenging to make friends as a transfer student.

Choosing Which College to Go To

If you know for sure that you want to attend community college, now it’s time to see what options are available near you. According to The Princeton Review, 90% of the U.S. population is within commuting distance of a community college.

Due to one life situation or another, many students attend colleges as commuter students, trading a fully on-campus experience for greater flexibility. As a commuter student, you can choose to live somewhere more affordable and create a schedule that works with your work hours.

Commuter student life can also include a mix of on-campus classes and online work. Some community colleges offer a variety of online classes. Taking advantage of these resources can help if you find yourself with a complicated schedule, or if you just want more flexibility.

Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a College

Your academic goals will guide which college you choose. As you evaluate colleges, take a look at which colleges offer the major you want to pursue. If you are in the process of choosing your major, see if you can find out more about the programs that the community college near you offers. You could talk to current students or professors and evaluate whether it seems like a good school for your interests.

If you are applying for a mix of community colleges and public universities, creating a list of all your potential applications can be helpful.

You can organize this list by “match,” “reach,” and “safety” schools in order to help you consider all your options.

Thinking About the Cost of Community College

While the cost of community college is less than a four-year university, it’s still an expense that should not be taken lightly. You might consider a combination of scholarships, grants, and loans to help offset the total costs of college.

To start, students can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) each year. This application is used to determine aid including work-study, federal student loans, scholarships, and grants.

Once you start tackling the process of paying for community college, keep in mind that the financial aid offices can be a great resource if you have any questions about finding aid for college. You can find more information on whether or not the college offers its own scholarships and how to apply.

There may also be state-specific financial aid available, and it’s recommended to use a scholarship search tool to find scholarships you may qualify for.

If these resources aren’t enough, it is possible to borrow private student loans for community college. While private loans can be helpful, they’re generally considered after other options have been exhausted. That’s because they don’t have to offer the same benefits to borrowers as federal student loans do — things like income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness.

Financing Your Education

Whether you decide to attend a community college first or head straight to a four-year institution, you’ll need to find a way to pay for your education. A few options may include federal student loans, scholarships, and grants.

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


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

FAQ

Is going to community college worth it?

Going to community college can be a worthwhile experience, offering students an opportunity to take college-level coursework at an affordable price. Other benefits include increased flexibility in scheduling and the possibility to live at home while taking classes. Students also have the opportunity to transfer to a four-year college.

Does community college look bad on a resume?

Including your time at community college does not look bad on a resume. If you earned a professional certificate or other degree at the community college, feel free to include it.

Is it hard to get a job after community college?

The ease of finding employment after community college may be influenced by the field you studied. For example, students graduating with a certificate in a high-demand field such as nursing or dental hygiene may find it is relatively easy to secure employment.


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.

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.

SOIS0124014

Read more
Low-Income Student Loans: Financial Aid Options

Guide to Low-Income Student Loans

With the average annual cost of college now $36,435, figuring out how to pay for college as a low-income student can be daunting. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that students from low-income backgrounds often qualify for grants and scholarships (which you don’t have to pay back), as well as student loans.

Federal student loans are available to all college students, regardless of income, and don’t require a credit check. If you still have gaps in funding after tapping financial aid and federal loans, you may also be able to qualify for private student loans, even with a low income.

Read on to learn more about the financial aid options available to you if you qualify as a low-income student and how to apply for student loans.

What Are Student Loans?

Student loans are an often-used option to help pay for college. In fact, nearly 52% of students who complete their undergraduate programs take out federal loans at some point during their college years, according to the Education Data Initiative.

Student loans can be used to pay for tuition, room and board, and other fees, as well as other associated costs of college like books and rent.

Students can use either federal or private student loans to pay for college. Students who take out federal student loans borrow money from the government, through the U.S. Department of Education. Federal student loans typically offer low, fixed interest rates and other benefits, such as income-driven repayment plans and access to forgiveness programs.

Private student loans, by contrast, are available from banks, credit unions, and other private lenders. These lenders set their own interest rates and conditions for their student loans. To qualify for a private student loan, you need to fill out an application and disclose personal financial information, such as your income and credit score.

Since students typically don’t have well-established credit histories, many private student loans require a cosigner. A cosigner is someone who agrees to pay back the loan if the primary borrower is unable to do so. Because private student loans don’t offer the same borrower protections that come with federal student loans, you generally only want to consider them after you’ve depleted all of your federal student aid options.


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

Can You Get Student Loans With a Low Income?

Yes, you can get student loans if you have a low income. If you can’t cover the full cost of college with scholarships and grants, student loans can help you take care of the remaining costs of college.

You can access federal student loans no matter your income level, but you do need to meet specific qualifications. You must:

•   Have a high school diploma or a recognized equivalency, such as a GED, or have completed a state-approved home-school high school education.

•   Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen

•   Have a valid Social Security Number

•   Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment as a regular student in an eligible degree or certificate program

•   Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college

You may also be able to qualify for some private student loans if you have a low income (more on that below).

Recommended: Finding Free Money for College

Low-Income Financial Aid Options

Students and their families pay for college in a variety of ways, including savings, scholarships, grants, work-study, and student loans. Indeed, paying for college often looks like a puzzle — all the pieces fit together in different ways to make everything “fit.”

Here’s a look at how to access low-income student aid options.

FAFSA

Every student (whether they’re low-income students or not) can file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is the free form you can fill out to apply for financial aid for undergraduate or graduate school, and is one of the most important steps students and their families can take to pay for college.

In conjunction with the school you plan to attend, the FAFSA determines your eligibility for need-based and non-need-based financial aid. The FAFSA results determine the amounts you receive for federal grants, scholarships, work-study, and/or federal student loans. In addition to subsidized federal student loan (which are need-based) and unsubsidized federal student loans (which are not need-based), there are two other types of federal aid low-income students may qualify for based on the FAFSA:

•   Federal grants Students who demonstrate financial need may qualify for federal grants, which you do not need to pay back. Some examples of federal grants include Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants. Each grant has its own eligibility requirements. Some, like the TEACH Grant, even have requirements you must fulfill after you attend school. Look at each grant’s eligibility requirements to determine whether you qualify.

•   Work-study Colleges and universities offer part-time work-study opportunities through the Federal Work-Study program. Graduate and undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need can get it whether they are part- or full-time students, as long as your school participates in the Federal Work-Study Program.

How Do You File the FAFSA?

Typically, the FAFSA becomes available on October 1 for the following academic year. The 2024-2025 academic year, however, is an exception. Due to upcoming changes to the FAFSA (and some adjustments to how student aid will be calculated), the application will be available some time in December 2023.

Since some aid is distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, it’s a good idea to complete the FAFSA as soon after its release as possible. Here’s how:

1.    Create your Federal Student Aid ID, also called an FSA ID. You can do this in advance of getting your materials ready and filing the FAFSA.

2.    Make a list of schools you’d like to attend. You can add up to 20 schools on the 2024-2025 FAFSA.

3.    Gather financial documents you’ll need. You’ll need information for both yourself and your parents, such as your Social Security numbers, Alien Registration numbers (if you’re not a U.S. citizen), most recent federal income tax return, W-2s, details of any untaxed income you’ve received, current bank statements, records of any investments you have.

4.    Complete the FAFSA. Using your FSA ID, log in to the website, read the directions, and submit your information.

5.    Review your FAFSA Submission Summary to make sure your information looks correct. The FAFSA Submission Summary, formerly known as the Student Aid Report (SAR), is a document that summarizes the information you provided when filling out the FAFSA. It includes your Student Aid Index (SAI), previously called Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Colleges and universities receive your SAI to determine your eligibility for federal and nonfederal student aid.

Federal Pell Grant

Your SAI will determine your eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant, so you have to file the FAFSA in order to qualify.

Undergraduate students who qualify for a Federal Pell Grant must show exceptional financial need. These grants are usually reserved only for undergraduate students, though some students enrolled in a post-baccalaureate teacher certification program might qualify.

How much can you receive from a Pell Grant? The amount varies, depending on your SAI, the cost of attendance of your school, whether you are a part-time or full-time student, and whether you will attend for a full academic year or not. The maximum Pell Grant award for the 2023-2024 academic year is $7,395. (The amount for 2024-2025 has not been announced yet.)

Scholarships for Low-Income Students

Colleges and universities may offer need-based scholarships. The money is yours to use for education — you do not need to pay it back. The results of the FAFSA help colleges and universities determine your eligibility for need-based scholarships and scholarships for low-income students.

You can also find need-based scholarships through employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofit organizations, religious groups, and professional and/or social organizations. There are a number of online scholarship search tools that can help you find scholarships you might qualify for.

Student Loans for Low-Income Families

As mentioned above, you can tap into either federal or private student loans for low-income students. Here’s a closer look at both.

Federal Student Loans

Based on the results of the FAFSA, you may qualify for a few types of federal student loans. Subsidized federal loans are need-based, while unsubsidized federal student loans are available to all students regardless of income or financial need.

Here’s a quick overview of three main types of federal loans:

•   Direct Unsubsidized Loans can go to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. They are not need-based but you are responsible for paying all interest, which begins accruing as soon as the loan is dispersed.

•   Direct Subsidized Loans are for undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. The government pays the interest on these loans while you’re in school, during any deferment, and during the six-month grace period after you graduate.

•   Direct Plus Loans are available for graduate or professional students or parents of undergraduate students and are not need-based or subsidized. Borrowers must undergo a credit check to look for adverse events, but eligibility does not depend on your credit scores.

Private Student Loans

Federal student loans don’t fully cover the cost of attendance for many students, and some students may consider tapping into private student loans as well.

Private lenders set their own requirements, however, and some students may find it challenging to qualify for a private loan if they have:

•   Little to no income

•   A negative credit history

•   A bankruptcy on file

•   A low credit score

How do you get around these issues? You may need to get a job while in school to prove you have some income. You may also want to work on building your credit before you apply for a private student loan. While you may be able to qualify with low income and low credit, you may make up for it by paying more in interest.

Another way to qualify for a private student loan with a low income and/or poor (or limited) credit is to apply with a cosigner. A student loan cosigner is a creditworthy adult who signs for a loan along with you. It’s a legally binding agreement stating that they’re willing to share the responsibility of repaying the loan on time and in full. Many borrowers turn to a family member for cosigning.

How to Apply for Student Loans

How to apply for student loans will differ depending on whether you are interested in federal or private student loans.

To apply for federal student loans, the first step is to fill out the FAFSA. Once you’ve filed the FAFSA, you basically sit back and wait to see what the school you’re planning to attend will offer you in federal aid, which may include a mix of grants, scholarships, and federal student loans. Your school will tell you how to accept all or a part of the loan.

Before you receive your loan funds, you will be required to complete entrance counseling, a tool to ensure you understand your obligation to repay the loan, and also sign a Master Promissory Note, agreeing to the terms of the loan.

Applying for private student loans involves directly going to a lender website or simply talking to your college or university’s financial aid office. Many institutions put together what they call “preferred lenders.”

Even if your school makes it easy for you to apply for a private student loan, it’s a good idea to do your research outside of the preferred lender list to find low interest rates and compare interest rate types (fixed or variable), repayment schedules, and fees. You want to find the terms and conditions that best fit your needs.

As you are researching private student loans, you’ll want to make sure that you (or your cosigner) meets the requirements to qualify for the loan.


💡 Quick Tip: Federal student loans carry an origination or processing fee (1.057% for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans first disbursed from Oct. 1, 2020, through Oct. 1, 2024). The fee is subtracted from your loan amount, which is why the amount disbursed is less than the amount you borrowed. That said, some private student loan lenders don’t charge an origination fee.

The Takeaway

Even if you’re a low-income student, you can access student loans. To find out what federal student loans you are eligible for, you’ll need to fill out the FAFSA. As a low-income student, you may qualify for subsidized federal student loans, which won’t accrue any interest while you’re in school and for six months after you graduate. This makes them more affordable than unsubsidized federal student loans and private student loans.

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


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

FAQ

What qualifies as a low-income student?

The U.S. Department of Education defines a low-income student as an individual whose family’s taxable income for the preceding year did not exceed 150% of the poverty income level established by the Census Bureau. For example, a student from a family of four living in the contiguous U.S. with a household income of $45,000 or less is considered low-income.

Do low-income students get free college?

Some low-income students are able to go to college for free through financial aid or merit scholarships. But even without a full ride, low income students can often pay for college through a combination of scholarships, grants, and loans.

Does FAFSA help low-income students?

Yes. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA, gives low-income students access to financial aid, including grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and federal student loans.


Photo credit: iStock/Souda

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.


Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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

SOIS1023018

Read more
What Is Indexed Universal Life Insurance (IUL)?

What Is Indexed Universal Life Insurance (IUL)?

When life insurance policy types are listed and described, the focus is usually on two of them: term life and whole life policies. There are more types than those two, though, and they’re typically more complex. They include universal life insurance — and, as a subset, indexed universal life insurance, or IUL. This is an advanced type of policy, where interest on the cash value component is linked to a market index.

In this post, we’ll define IUL, explain how it works, share its pros and cons, and more.

Definition of Indexed Universal Life Insurance (IUL)

First, let’s define universal life insurance. Universal life insurance is a permanent policy, which means that it doesn’t have a set term (say, for 10 or 20 years) and it comes with a cash value. A universal life insurance policy allows policyholders to flexibly adjust premiums and death benefits, though this can have an adverse effect on the policy.

Now, what is IUL? Indexed universal life insurance adds another twist to the equation. This is a type of universal life insurance that doesn’t come with a fixed interest rate. Instead, its growth is tied to a market index. (More about the index soon.)


💡 Quick Tip: With life insurance, one size does not fit all. Policies can and should be tailored to fit your specific needs.

How Does IUL Work?

After someone buys an IUL policy, they pay premiums, which is similar to other types of life insurance policy structures. Part of that premium covers the insurance costs that, like with other types of life insurance, are based on the insured’s demographics. Remaining fees paid go towards the cash value of policy. Interest paid is calculated in ways that are based on an index (or indexes).

This may sound similar to investing in the stock market, but there’s a key difference. The part of the premium that goes towards the cash value of the policy doesn’t get directly invested in stocks. Instead, the market index(es) is how the interest rate and amount is determined, with a minimum fixed interest rate usually guaranteed.

IULs typically offer policyholders a choice of indexes and allow them to divide the cash value portions of their premiums between fixed and indexed account options.

Explaining the “Index” Feature

A market index represents a broad portfolio of investments with the use of weighted average mathematics to come up with the index figure, which then plays a central role in the amount of interest paid. The three most commonly used market indexes in the United States are the Dow Jones, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite.

Note that funds invested for the cash portion of the insurance policy do not need to be invested in the index used to calculate the interest. Many times, insurers invest these dollars in bonds rather than stocks.

Benefits and Drawbacks of IUL Insurance

Like other types of life insurance policies, indexed universal life insurance comes with pros and cons. Here is an overview of the benefits and drawbacks of IUL.

Benefits of IUL Insurance

Benefits include:

•   There’s a death benefit for beneficiaries, as well as the cash value of the policy.

•   Withdrawals can be tax-free up to the amount of premiums paid.

•   Premiums are flexible — you can pay different amounts each month as long as it’s enough to cover fees and doesn’t go beyond an IRS limit.

•   Gains are locked in each year, which means you can’t lose the previous years’ gains. However, if the market is down the following year, it can decrease unless the policy has a built-in floor.

•   Because of the annual reset feature, you never need to make up any losses from prior years.

•   No mandatory distributions exist.

•   You can explore your tax benefits with your accountant or other financial advisor, and they may be significant for your situation.

•   You can borrow against this policy and, if you do, you typically won’t face negative tax consequences.

Recommended: Life Insurance Definitions

Cons of IUL Insurance

Challenges include:

•   An IUL is complicated and, to get the most benefits from this policy, you’ll need to understand how to maximize its value.

•   Although you can pay a minimal premium amount when you want, this can have a negative overall effect on the policy’s cash value.

•   Because the cost for the insurance portion depends on your rating, how much is insured and your age, the cost will go up over the years as you get older.

•   Although the rate is based on an index, policies come with a cap. So, during high index years, you likely won’t realize the full benefit because of this cap. On the flipside, however, many policies also have built-in floors to offset the cap.

•   Fees can take a big chunk out of the policy, causing you to lose much of its value.

•   If you don’t keep the policy in force, you may lose the death benefit (which is true of other types of policies), along with the extra money paid into the premiums.

Alternatives to IUL Insurance

Whether you’re not sold on IUL insurance or simply want to know what your other life insurance options are, here are some of the alternatives to indexed universal life insurance:

•   Adjustable life insurance: This combines aspects of term life insurance with whole life and provides policyholders with the flexibility to adjust the policy’s amount, term premiums and more. Adjustable life policies also come with a cash value component. A key benefit of adjustable life insurance is that you can make adjustments to your policy without the need to cancel the current policy or buy a new one.

•   Variable universal life insurance: Variable universal life is similar to IUL, as it is a permanent life insurance policy that has a cash value and flexible premiums. The investment portion comes with subaccounts and can resemble investing in mutual funds. When the market is doing well, this can benefit the policyholder, but when it’s not, significant losses can occur.

•   Standard universal life insurance: Then, of course, there are universal life insurance policies. These come with a fixed interest rate rather than one tied to an index.

•   Whole life insurance: Additionally, there’s the more basic whole life insurance policy with standard premiums. There is also a guaranteed death benefit and a cash value component.

•   Term life insurance: Then, life insurance at its simplest: term life insurance policies. These don’t come with cash value components or any real bells and whistles. These policies have a term limit (perhaps 10 to 20 years) and are more straightforward and affordable than other options, coming with a death benefit to beneficiaries when the covered individual dies while the policy is paid up and in force.

•   Current assumption whole life insurance: Another type of cash value insurance is called current assumption whole life (CAWL), and it has similarities to universal life insurance policies. Premiums are fixed for a certain period of time and, on predetermined dates, premiums are recalculated (and perhaps the death benefit is, as well). Plus, interest is handled in a way that’s similar to universal life.

Recommended: How to Buy Life Insurance

Is IUL Insurance Right for Me?

By comparing this overview of indexed universal life insurance with, say, term or whole life insurance, you can see that IUL insurance is quite complex. If, though, you’re earning a high income or want to explore long-term investment opportunities, it can make sense to consider whether the tax benefits associated with an IUL would be worthwhile.

For those who do consider moving forward with exploring indexed universal life insurance, it’s important to compare its pros or cons against those of other types of life insurance. Also take the time to research and compare different life insurance policies.


💡 Quick Tip: Term life insurance coverage can range from $100K to $8 million. As your life changes, you can increase or decrease your coverage.

The Takeaway

Although the question of “What is IUL?” is quite short, the answer isn’t. If this type of policy interests you, consider exploring it in more depth to ensure that you’re clear about its complexities.

SoFi has partnered with Ladder to offer competitive term life insurance policies that are quick to set up and easy to understand. Apply in just minutes and get an instant decision. As your circumstances change, you can update or cancel your policy with no fees and no hassles.

Explore your life insurance options with SoFi Protect.


Photo credit: iStock/DragonImages

Coverage and pricing is subject to eligibility and underwriting criteria.
Ladder Insurance Services, LLC (CA license # OK22568; AR license # 3000140372) distributes term life insurance products issued by multiple insurers- for further details see ladderlife.com. All insurance products are governed by the terms set forth in the applicable insurance policy. Each insurer has financial responsibility for its own products.
Ladder, SoFi and SoFi Agency are separate, independent entities and are not responsible for the financial condition, business, or legal obligations of the other, Social Finance. Inc. (SoFi) and Social Finance Life Insurance Agency, LLC (SoFi Agency) do not issue, underwrite insurance or pay claims under Ladder Life™ policies. SoFi is compensated by Ladder for each issued term life policy.
SoFi Agency and its affiliates do not guarantee the services of any insurance company.
All services from Ladder Insurance Services, LLC are their own. Once you reach Ladder, SoFi is not involved and has no control over the products or services involved. The Ladder service is limited to documents and does not provide legal advice. Individual circumstances are unique and using documents provided is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice.


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.

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.

SOPT0224007

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender