Is a Post-Grad Certificate Program Worth It?

As you’re exploring the job market and reading up on expected qualifications, you may be at a crossroads, wondering whether a master’s would be beneficial in increasing your salary potential. If you’re already actively job-hunting, you may wonder if a master’s could make you more competitive in the job market.

But there is another option that may make sense depending on what industry you’re in — a certificate program. Not as long (or as expensive) as a master’s program, a certificate can prove highly-specialized competency in certain areas. This could open doors to further professional opportunities.

But a certificate program, which typically requires the completion of three and five graduate-level courses, can still cost thousands of dollars. It may also require significant study time, which can be hard to balance if you’re also working full time. In a job market where companies are fighting for top talent, however, you may find that your company might pay for a certificate program, rather than you going out and paying for it yourself. Read on for more information on post-grad certificate programs so you can assess whether one fits with your financial goals.

What Is The Value Of A Post-Grad Certificate Program?

A post-grad certificate program is a program that provides specialization in a field. While the program may not take as long to complete as a master’s degree and may be less expensive, it can also be intense, requiring a significant amount of time set aside to study.

Post-grad certificate programs can be found in all fields, from medicine to economics to marketing. These programs may cost anywhere from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. People may complete these certificates because they may be quicker and less expensive than a degree, and may either boost income or boost your competitive value as a job candidate. Post-grad certificate courses may be done online, in-person, or a combination of both, and often, people balance managing a certificate program with working full time.

Because a post-grad certificate can be beneficial, you may find that employers may potentially be willing to subsidize the cost of training. It may be worth it to ask your manager or your HR department. It can also be beneficial to talk to people who have done the certificate program to hear about any pros and cons. It can also be helpful to understand the level of commitment required in the program, and how people have managed to set aside time to study to prepare for any testing.

💡 Quick Tip: SoFi offers low fixed- or variable-interest rates. So you can get a private student loan that fits your budget.

Graduate Certificate Versus Master’s Degree

If you’re right out of college, you may be wondering what the next step is, professionally. While that depends on your career goals, many post-grads find it helpful to explore the professional lay of the land by getting some work experience right after their bachelor’s degree. Also, if the labor market is tight when you get out of college, there can be advantages to looking for a job immediately after graduation, before you get any higher degrees or pursue certification. In some cases, employers may subsidize or help pay for higher education.

A certificate program tends to be in a niche area, so it may be good to explore your field and decide whether that certification is right for you. A master’s program may be more intense, but of course, can be a requirement if you want to pursue a job in a certain field, such as law.

Bottom line: No certificate or graduate degree can “guarantee” that you’ll make a certain amount of money or get a certain kind of job. Every career path is different. That’s why it can be helpful to speak to alums of certain programs or people who have received certain certifications, to hear their experience and advice.

Recommended: How to Pay for Grad School

Is a Graduate Certificate Equal to a Master’s Degree?

Is a graduate certificate equal to a master’s degree? That depends on how you define “equality.” The two are different paths that help you achieve certain goals. In general:

•   A certificate is less expensive than a graduate degree.

•   A certificate takes less time to complete than a graduate degree.

•   A certificate provides targeted knowledge and a specific skill set about a certain subject area. Generally, a certificate may be about 10 to 15 hours of coursework compared to the 30+ required for graduate programs. Requirements vary based on school and program.

•   A certificate generally requires a less comprehensive application process.

•   A graduate certificate may or may not be affiliated with an accredited degree program. In some cases, certificate coursework can count toward degree hours for a higher-ed degree.

•   Not all graduate certificate programs qualify for federal student loans. You may be able to use a private graduate student loan for a certificate program, or could also explore a personal loan to cover a certificate program.

Is a Graduate Certificate Worth It?

A graduate certificate can be worth it, especially if you’re passionate about the field. It can be helpful to get some “real world” knowledge under your belt and understand exactly how the certificate will benefit you and your career goals.

Because a graduate certificate can be a lot of work, it’s also important to make sure you carve out time to be able to do coursework, study, and complete the certificate exam. Asking any questions prior to applying for the certificate program, or asking to speak to people who have completed the program, can be helpful.

Because graduate certificates can be expensive, and may not be covered by federal aid, you may be wondering how to pay for it. Some financing options include:

•   Subsidization through your current employer

•   Saving up to pay for the program

•   Applying for scholarships or financial aid through the certifying organization

•   Exploring other scholarship programs that may be available for you (such as graduate scholarships for military veterans)

•   Considering federal or private student loans for a certification program

Some certification programs may be eligible for federal student aid, including federal student loans and work-study. If this is the case, students can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what types of aid they qualify for.

Private student loans may be another option for students to consider. These loans don’t always offer the same borrower protections (such as deferment or forbearance options) that come with federal loans. But some private lenders do offer student loans for graduate certificate programs.

Recommended: FAFSA 101: How to Complete the FAFSA

Estimating the Value of a Certificate Program

You may wonder how much a certificate will increase your market value as an employee. And of course, that answer depends on your field and the certificate program you are pursuing. To estimate the value of a certificate program, it can be helpful to:

•   Read review sites and salary ranges on employers you’re interested in.

•   Talk to people who have done the certificate program.

•   Talk about your career trajectory with your current manager or HR department.

•   Speak with the career development office at your alma mater for their perspectives on potential certificate programs.

But in addition to financial value, there’s also the educational value. Is this a topic you find interesting and feel you can lean into? Does the material inspire you and excite you? Because you’ll be spending a significant amount of time working on the material, it can be important to have some motivation to do so.

Costs Associated with a Certificate Program

It can also be important to carve out associated costs with the degree program. In addition to the certificate program itself, you also may need to pay:

•   Application fee

•   Exam fee

•   Certification fee, which may be several hundred dollars and may be required that you renew your certification annually

•   Fee for any materials, including text books

Making sure you know exactly what is required of you financially before you enroll can be helpful in planning how you’ll cover the degree.

Recommended: How to Pay for a Grad Certificate Program

How to Decide on a Certificate or Post-Grad Studies

So how do you know which path to take? The answer depends on, you guessed it, your individual goals. But answering these questions may help you decide:

•   What do I want out of my studies?

•   What do I want my work-life balance to look like as I study?

•   What do I hope to gain out of my degree/certificate? What would be the best/worst-case scenario?

•   What are my short-term professional goals?

•   What are my long-term professional goals?

•   What do I like about my work right now? Is there anything I want to dive into more deeply?

•   What is the lack of a degree holding me back from?

•   How will I pay for it? Am I already juggling student loans from undergrad and how comfortable would I feel adding to my debt?

These can be some big questions, and it can be helpful to get perspective by speaking with a mentor, career coach, or someone from your school’s career development office.

You could also consider a certificate program that could go toward credits for a master’s degree. This can be helpful in allowing you to lean into the material and have a head start if you do decide you’d like to pursue a full master’s degree.

💡 Quick Tip: It’s a good idea to understand the pros and cons of private student loans and federal student loans before committing to them.

The Takeaway

A certificate isn’t taking the easy road — the courses can be intense, and it can be challenging to balance coursework with career obligations. But a certificate can potentially set you up on the path to success and can help you further define your career goals.

Because certificates can be expensive, consider having a discussion with your employer and see if they would be amenable to paying for part or all of your certificate, or discuss the path in which to do so. A certificate can be a way to further your education without stopping your career, and it can be a good in-between step for you to decide whether or not to pursue a master’s degree in your chosen field.

Depending on the certificate program, students may potentially qualify for federal aid, including federal student loans. If that aid isn’t enough, however, some students may look into 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.

Photo credit: iStock/PeopleImages

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 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 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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mother and daughter laughing

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.


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.

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 Equal Housing Lender.

Student Loan Refinancing
If you are a federal student loan borrower you should take time now to prepare for your payments to restart, including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. (You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.) 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, such as the SAVE Plan, 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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How to Pay for a Graduate Certificate Program

How to Pay for a Grad Certificate Program

While a graduate certificate program is not as long or intense as a graduate degree, certificate programs can still be a significant commitment — both in terms of time and money. On top of tuition, there may be ongoing additional fees to consider, such as materials, exam fees, and professional association fees.

Not all certificate programs qualify for federal aid, although some may. Fortunately, there are other financial aid avenues that can potentially help you afford your graduate certificate. To help you decide which path is right for you, here’s a look at some of your financing options, plus the pros and cons of each.

Finding Financial Aid for Graduate Certificate Programs

There are many reasons to pursue a graduate certificate, including access to more job opportunities and the ability to earn more money. In some fields, such as finance, employers may encourage their employees to obtain certificates to move up in their fields. In these cases, employers may provide financial assistance to pay for the certificate program.

Some people may obtain a graduate certificate with an eye toward completing additional coursework toward a master’s degree in the future. While some graduate certificates have discrete coursework unique to the certificate, other post-grad certificates have credits that may go toward a master’s degree. If you’re considering a grad degree, then it may be a good idea to explore what the coursework entails and whether you may be able to use those credits toward a master’s in the future.

If you’re planning on funding your graduate certificate yourself, it may be helpful to speak to people who have done the certification program to hear the pros, cons, and time commitment required. It can also be helpful to hear how other people have funded the certificate, because it could open up certain avenues, such as specific scholarships for that certificate that you may not have heard of yet.

Strategies to fund your graduate certificate include self-funding, funding from your employer, funding from scholarships, or a private student loan. Here, some of the considerations of all avenues.

Recommended: A Guide to Private Student Loans

Funding From Your Employer

In some cases, your employer may recommend you obtain a post-grad certificate. In other cases, you may need to ask your manager and go through your employer’s process for tuition reimbursement.

Pros of funding from your employer:

•   Your employer is covering some or all of the financial burden.

•   Your employer is invested in your career.

•   You can be confident that the certificate will be useful to your future career path.

•   There may be coworkers who have done the certificate as well as who can walk you through their experience as well as specifics about the HR process in getting the certificate funded.

Cons of funding from your employer:

•   Balancing work and studying may be challenging.

•   Your employer may have oversight into your success.

•   You may be on the hook for the costs of the certificate if you leave or are terminated during a set period of time.

•   You may still be responsible for part of the tuition, or for additional materials fees.

Free tuition is an obvious pro when it comes to having a certificate employer-funded. But other considerations come into play: How will you simultaneously manage work and studying? What happens if you don’t pass? And if you do accept employer funding, is there a contract that locks you into employment for a certain period of time? Knowing the stipulations can be helpful in managing expectations. And of course, talking to coworkers who have already done the program can be helpful in figuring out the ins and outs of how your specific employer expects you to complete the course and what they anticipate for your career future.

Recommended: Is it Possible to Take Online Classes While Working?

Funding From scholarships

Private scholarships may be available to help pay for the course. They may be issued by the institution granting the certificate. For example, the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) certificate, a popular financial certificate, has a host of scholarships presented on their website . These scholarships may be distributed by private foundations in honor or memory of certain people. Each scholarship may have specific requirements; some may be exclusive for people who demonstrate financial need, others may be exclusively focused on merit.

Pros of scholarships:

•   They can help offset tuition costs.

•   They can be gratifying to receive and provide motivation for success.

Cons of scholarships:

•   They typically require applications, which can be time-consuming to complete.

•   They may have admission requirements, such as being a U.S. citizen or already completing certain coursework.

•   Receiving the full amount of money may be contingent on performance.

•   You may be required to declare the scholarship on your taxes; scholarships for non-degree programs are generally considered taxable. If that’s the case for you, consider putting aside money for taxes on the scholarship.

Scholarships can be a great way to cover the cost of your certificate. It’s a good idea to research the certificate program you’re considering to uncover scholarship opportunities. Your alma mater’s career development office may also have leads for you to pursue.

Recommended: Finding & Applying to Scholarships for Grad School

Self-Funding a Certificate Program

Maybe you have savings set aside or maybe your family has offered to cover the cost of your degree program. But if you have the funds, should you write the check?

Pros of self-funding:

•   It’s a seamless process — write the check after you’ve been accepted, and you no longer need to worry about payment.

Cons of self-funding:

•   The money used for the degree program may diminish your savings or emergency fund.

•   Payment may come with strings if a family member is covering the program.

If you have the money to cover a certificate program and still have a comfortable emergency fund, then this can be a great option. But if you’d need to decimate your emergency fund or use a credit card to cover the payment, then it could be a good idea to consider other ways to cover the cost.

Student Loans for a Certificate Program

The fourth option is applying for student loans to cover the cost of a certificate program. Unlike a degree program, certificate programs are generally not eligible for federal student loans.

In the case that your certificate program is eligible for federal financial aid, it’s worth filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). This form will help determine your eligibility for federal aid, including federal student loans.

But private graduate student loans may be an option. Note that private student loans are not subject to the same requirements as federal student loans and don’t offer the same borrower protections, such as the option to pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness or deferment protections. Be sure to shop around and read all the terms and conditions closely.

Pros of private student loans:

•   You won’t need to deplete your savings.

•   You can compare private loans to find the lowest interest rate.

•   You may be able to find a payback structure that makes sense within your overall budget.

Cons of private student loans:

•   Additional debt can be challenging to take on, especially if you’re not working.

•   Depending on credit history, some lenders may require a cosigner.

How do you choose which company to get private student loans for a certificate program? In addition to checking your interest rate — which will typically not affect your credit score — you also may want to consider additional elements of the loan. Are there any additional fees? Are there any hardship clauses, if you were unable to make payments for a month? What does the payment structure look like?

In addition to comparing lenders, it can also be helpful to ask yourself some what-ifs. These include:

•   How will these payments fit into my budget?

•   What happens if I don’t obtain the job or payment bump I’m expecting along with my certificate?

•   How will I budget to make sure that my loan payment doesn’t feel like a liability?

Because graduate certificate programs are generally less expensive than degree programs, loan terms may be smaller and shorter-term. Still, applying for any loan is a big deal, and it’s good to go through a few scenarios before you decide on the right avenue for you.

The Takeaway

Even though they may seem lower-commitment than a full degree program, certificate programs have the potential to be time-consuming and expensive. Resources are available for payment, but some expenses, such as professional fees or exam fees, may not be covered under certain scholarships or by your employer. Understanding the full scope of expectations for tuition coverage and knowing how any payback terms may fit into your budget can be key for paying confidently for your certificate program.

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/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

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 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 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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Could Hyperinflation Occur in the United States?

What Is Hyperinflation: Can It Happen in the US?

Hyperinflation occurs when prices for goods and services rise uncontrollably. It is an economic condition that fuels nightmares for consumers and for economists alike.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University professor Steve Hanke, there have been more than 60 documented instances of hyperinflation since the 1700s, and in every instance, economic conditions deteriorated so fast that in all cases, national currencies failed, meaning that they lost nearly all of their purchasing power both domestically and internationally.

That begs a key question: Could hyperinflation come in the United States? And, if so, could hyperinflation take down the U.S. dollar and trigger a recession?

Theoretically, the answer is “possibly.” Realistically, the answer is “not likely.” Let’s take a look at hyperinflation and evaluate the possibility of inflation on steroids taking root in the U.S. economy.

What Is Hyperinflation?

If you’re still not quite clear on what is hyperinflation, economists define the term as when the price of goods and services rises uncontrollably over a specific timeframe, with no short-term economic remedy able to bring those prices back down again.

While figures linked to hyperinflation vary, some economists say hyperinflation occurs when the price of goods and services in a country’s economy rise by 50% over the period of one month.

The causes of hyperinflation typically stem from a skyrocketing boost in a country’s money supply without any accompanying economic growth. That scenario usually occurs when a country’s government essentially prints and spends money in short-term bursts, thus triggering a rise in that country’s money supply.

When a government pursues a high level of short-term economic spending at a rate significantly higher than the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) rate, more money flows through the economy. When that happens, the real value of a nation’s currency declines, the price of goods and services rises, and inflation spikes.

💡 Quick Tip: Before opening an investment account, know your investment objectives, time horizon, and risk tolerance. These fundamentals will help keep your strategy on track and with the aim of meeting your goals.

Is Hyperinflation Coming to the United States?

While U.S. inflation rates and the prices of many goods and services are on the upswing, economists dismiss the notion that U.S. hyperinflation is looming for the country for several reasons. First, it’s important to remember that hyperinflation and inflation aren’t the same thing, and the Federal Reserve would likely raise interest rates if inflation concerns grew.

According to data published in September 2023, the annual U.S. inflation rate was 3.7% for the 12 months that ended in August 2023. That’s a significant drop from June of 2022, when the inflation rate was 9.1%, which was led by certain items such as airline tickets, lumber, and hotel rates. Many economists attributed this to ongoing inventory shortages and supply chain issues and the release of post-pandemic pent-up demand.

Even the largest inflation rate in U.S. history — 23% in June, 1920 — wouldn’t come close to approaching hyperinflation levels of 50% in a month. Still, ongoing inflation is something that the U.S. economy hasn’t seen in more than four decades, and it’s a risk that investors may want to consider when devising their portfolio strategy.

How Can Hyperinflation Affect the United States?

Economists have largely downplayed the chances of a hyperinflation in the USA, but with inflation on the rise, it’s helpful for consumers to get a better grip on hyperinflation, in particular, and on inflation in general.

Hyperinflation Causes:

These are some of the typical causes of hyperinflation:

Falling Dollar Value

Like most major global currencies, the dollar trades on foreign currency exchanges. When a country faces inflationary risks, investors grow skittish, and may bypass that country’s currency in favor of more stable currencies. Even without hyperinflation, a weaker dollar can significantly hurt the U.S. economy.

(Hyperinflation is the extreme opposite of what happens during deflation, in which prices for goods and services decline and the value of a currency rises.)

Fewer Major Purchases

As inflation seeps into an economy, high prices may prompt individuals and businesses to defer or cancel large purchases. Consumers, for example, could hold off buying new homes, new vehicles, or major household appliances. Businesses might postpone big-ticket purchases like heavy machinery, office buildings, and commercial vehicles.

Some investors may hesitate to put money into stocks in a down market. All of those decisions could stall economic growth, as fewer dollars are circulating through the economy.

Monetary Policy

When inflation occurs, banks and financial institutions may not lend money or extend credit to consumers and businesses, as confidence in the overall economy wanes.

The economic fix for skyrocketing inflation typically comes from a country’s central bank. In the United States, that would be the Federal Reserve. When necessary, the Federal Reserve uses monetary policy to slow rising inflation by curbing the U.S. money supply, often by raising interest rates. Higher interest rates give consumers and businesses more incentive to save and less incentive to spend. That, in turn, slows rising inflation.

Recommended: What Is Monetary Policy?

Lower Investment Returns

Inflation eats into real investment returns. As the value of a dollar declines, investors need to earn more than their average return on investment in order to generate the same purchasing power.

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How to Combat Hyperinflation

Individuals can’t do much to combat hyperinflation on their own. In fact, during hyperinflation, economies and societies can break down or collapse. Fortunately, periods of hyperinflation are rare. And remember, the 3.7% inflation rate as of August 2023 in the U.S. is nowhere near the levels of 50% in a month, which is when many economists believe hyperinflation occurs.

That said, there are things that might help individuals lessen the impact regular or high inflation might have on their investments. These actions include having a balanced and diversified portfolio, and investing in Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), in which the principal amount invested adjusts with inflation.

💡 Quick Tip: Are self-directed brokerage accounts cost efficient? They can be, because they offer the convenience of being able to buy stocks online without using a traditional full-service broker (and the typical broker fees).

Real-World Examples of Hyperinflation

Zimbabwe offers a relatively recent example of hyperinflation. Just over a decade ago, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate stood at a staggering 98% daily inflation rate as the country’s economy went into free fall. That means consumer prices doubled on a daily basis.

Today, the Zimbabwe dollar is very weak, as the country continues to struggle with the issues that often lead to hyperinflation, such as an increased money supply, political corruption, and a major decline in economic activity.

Even historically stable country economies have experienced hyperinflation.

In the immediate aftermath of World War I, the Weimer Republic of Germany fell into economic decline due to war reparation debts and significantly reduced economic activity. The German government printed too much money in an effort to handle its economic obligations and to ignite a stagnant economy. The country faced an inflation rate of 323% per month by November, 1923 — that’s an annual inflation rate of three billion percent.

In today’s dollars, the consumer impact of hyperinflation is particularly onerous. For example, a small cup of coffee that normally would cost $3 would cost $22 at a 1,000% inflation rate. Similarly, a rental payment for an apartment in a major U.S. city might normally cost $2,000. With a 1,000% inflation rate, that rent would cost $22,000.

Hyperinflation also exists on the world’s economic stage in 2023. Venezuela, for example, has an estimated inflation rate of about 400%.

The Takeaway

While hyperinflation is certainly an economic condition any country would strive to avoid, there’s no compelling evidence suggesting it’s on the U.S. economic horizon — now or anytime in the near future. Still, the country has been in an inflationary period since 2022, so investors may consider using some inflation-hedging strategies to reduce its impact.

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How does hyperinflation differ from regular inflation?

Inflation is the rate at which prices for goods and services are rising in a given economy. Hyperinflation is considered out-of-control inflation, at levels of about 50% in one month, and it can be a sign that a severe economic crisis is on the horizon.

Has the United States ever experienced hyperinflation in its history?

No. The closest the U.S. has come to hyperinflation is when annual inflation peaked at almost 30% during the Revolutionary War in 1778.

Are there any warning signs or indicators that could suggest the onset of hyperinflation?

Signs that might suggest that hyperinflation could happen include significant price increases of goods and services (such as increases of 50% in one month), the value of a country’s currency plummets, and economic activity slows or stops.

How can individuals protect their assets and finances during periods of hyperinflation?

Hyperinflation is quite rare, especially in countries with a central bank, like the Federal Reserve, that works to control inflation. However, there are things an investor might do to help limit the impact regular inflation might have. This includes having a balanced and diversified portfolio, and investing in Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), in which the principal invested adjusts with inflation.

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What is a PPO plan?

What Is a PPO Plan?

A preferred provider organization (PPO) is a type of health care plan that offers lower out-of-pocket costs to members who use doctors and other providers who are part of the plan’s network.

These preferred providers have signed onto the network at a lower negotiated rate than they might charge outside of the network.

PPOs also offer members the flexibility to see providers outside of the plan’s network, although they will most likely pay more in out-of-pocket costs to do so.

To learn more about PPOs, and how this type of plan compares to other health insurance options, read on.

How Does PPO Insurance Work?

When you join a PPO health plan, you’re joining a managed care network that includes primary care doctors, specialists, hospitals, labs, and other healthcare professionals. PPO networks tend to be large and geographically diverse.

If you see a preferred provider, you will likely pay a copay, or you might be responsible for a coinsurance payment (after you meet the plan’s deductible).

While you are free to see any health care provider whether or not they are in the PPO network, if you see a provider outside of the network, you may pay significantly more in out-of-pocket costs. In return for flexibility, large networks, and low in-network cost sharing, PPO plans typically charge higher premiums than many other types of plans.

PPOs are a common, and often a popular, choice for employer-sponsored health insurance.

Recommended: Common Health Insurance Terms & Definitions

What Are the Costs of Going Out of the PPO’s Network?

If you see a provider who is not part of the plan’s network, you will likely be expected to bear more of the cost. PPOs typically use what’s called a “usual, customary and reasonable” (UCR) fee schedule for out-of-network services.

Insurers calculate UCR fees based on what doctors in the area are charging for the same service you were provided.

If your doctor charges more than what your insurance company determines to be usual, customary, and reasonable, you most likely will be charged for the difference between the amount charged for the service and the amount covered by your insurer.

Depending on where you live and the service you received, this difference could be significant. It may also come as a surprise to policyholders who assume their medical costs will be covered and don’t fully understand the distinction between in-network and out-of-network providers.

A good way to avoid surprise charges with a PPO (or any health plan) is to talk to your provider and your insurer before you receive treatment about the total cost and what will be covered.

💡 Quick Tip: When you have questions about what you can and can’t afford, a spending tracker app can show you the answer. With no guilt trip or hourly fee.

How PPOs Compare to Other Types of Health Care Plans

PPO plans are most often compared with health maintenance organizations (HMOs), another common type of managed care health plan.

HMOs typically offer lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs than PPOs in exchange for less flexibility.

Unlike a PPO, HMO members typically must choose a primary care physician from the plan’s network of providers. Care from providers out of the HMO network is generally not covered, except in the case of an emergency.

Also unlike a PPO, an HMO’s network of providers is usually confined to a specific local geographic area.

Another key difference between these two types of plans: HMO members typically must first see their primary care doctor to get a referral to a specialist. With PPOs, referrals are not usually required.

PPOs are also often compared to point of service (POS) plans.

POS plans are generally a cross between an HMO and a PPO. As with a PPO, POS members generally pay less for care from network providers, but may also go out of network if they desire (and potentially pay more).

Like an HMO, POS plans require a referral from your primary care doctor to see a specialist.

PPOs (as well as HMOs and POS plans) are very different from high deductible health plans, or HDHPs.

HDHPs charge a high deductible (what you would have to pay for health care costs before insurance coverage kicks in).

This means that you would need to pay for all of your doctor visits and other medical services out of pocket until you meet this high deductible. In return for higher deductibles, these plans usually charge lower premiums than other insurance plans.

You can combine a HDHP with a tax-advantaged health savings account (HSA). Money saved in an HSA can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses.

HDHPs are generally best for relatively healthy people who don’t see doctors frequently or anticipate high medical costs for the coming year.

Recommended: Beginner’s Guide to Health Insurance

What Are the Pros and Cons of PPO Insurance?

As with all health insurance options, PPOs have both advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few to consider.

Advantages of PPOs

•   Flexibility. PPO members typically do not have to see a primary care physician for referrals to other health care providers, and they may see any doctor they choose (though they may pay more for out-of-network providers).

•   Lower costs for in-network care. Out-of-pocket costs, such as copays and coinsurance, for care from in-network providers can be lower than some other types of plans.

•   Large provider networks. PPOs usually include a large number of doctors, specialists, hospitals, labs, and other providers in their networks, spanning across cities and states. As a result, network coverage while traveling or for college student dependents can be easier to access than with more restricted plans.

Disadvantages of PPOs

•   High premiums. In return for flexibility, PPO members can expect to pay higher monthly premiums than they may find with other types of plans.

•   High out-of-pocket costs for out-of-network care. Depending on where you live, the treatment you receive, and how your insurer calculates “usual, customary, and reasonable” fees, you may find you are responsible for a large portion of the bill when you receive care outside of the PPOs network.

•   Might be more insurance than you need. If you rarely see doctors and wouldn’t mind potentially switching doctors, you may be able to save money by going with an HMO or a HDHP.

💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.

The Takeaway

PPOs are a popular type of health plan because of the flexibility, ease of use, and wide range of provider choices they offer. PPO networks tend to be large and varied enough to include a patient’s existing doctors. If not, members still have the option of going out-of-network and receiving at least some coverage from a PPO. PPO members pay for this flexibility, however.

PPOs typically come with higher premiums, along with extra costs associated with out-of-network care. That can be prohibitive for many consumers.

Your employer’s benefits department or an experienced insurance agent or broker can help you compare PPOs to other types of health care plans and determine which choice is right for your health care needs and your budget.

Before choosing a plan, it can also be helpful to track your spending for a few months to see how much you are currently spending on medical care. This can help you ballpark costs for the coming year and make it easier to compare plans.

Take control of your finances with the SoFi Insights money tracker app. Connect all of your accounts in one convenient dashboard. From there, you can see your various balances, spending breakdowns, and credit score. Plus you can easily set up budgets and discover valuable financial insights — all at no cost.

With SoFi, you can keep tabs on how your money comes and goes.

SoFi’s Insights tool offers users the ability to connect both in-house accounts and external accounts using Plaid, Inc’s service. When you use the service to connect an account, you authorize SoFi to obtain account information from any external accounts as set forth in SoFi’s Terms of Use. SoFi assumes no responsibility for the timeliness, accuracy, deletion, non-delivery or failure to store any user data, loss of user data, communications, or personalization settings. You shall confirm the accuracy of Plaid data through sources independent of SoFi. The credit score provided to you is a Vantage Score® based on TransUnion™ (the “Processing Agent”) data.

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.

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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