Math Degree: How You Can Use It & How to Pay For It

Math Degree: Is It Worth the Cost?

College is more expensive than ever, making it more important for college students to determine ahead of time whether their degree is worth the cost. Math degrees are often worth the cost as they allow alumni to pursue many lucrative careers.

Math majors can be mathematicians, but they can also pursue analytical professions. Many of those career paths lead to high-paying jobs, but some pay more than others. Salaries depend in large part on the type of math degree you have and the career path you choose.

What Is a Degree in Math?

A degree in math is one that students earn by studying various mathematical disciplines, such as algebra, calculus, statistics, set theory, and stochastics. Math majors might also study applied mathematics, which is more theoretical in nature.

Those who earn math degrees develop the analytical skills necessary to solve real-world problems. The problem-solving skills that math students learn is one of the reasons they do well in fields beyond mathematics itself.

There are many types of math degrees that can lead to an even greater number of career paths. This has led to a slate of fast-growing fields for math program graduates, some of which make a math degree well worth it.

What Kinds of Math Degrees Are There?

Students who want to pursue a math degree have options throughout the post-secondary education system, ranging from associate’s degrees to doctoral degrees.

Associate Degree in Math

An associate degree in math is one that students can often complete in two years or less. These degrees are often earned at community colleges and usually require about 60 credit hours.

Associate degrees in mathematics are a great way for math majors to start their academic journey. Those who earn associate degrees in math often enroll in four-year colleges; credit hours from associate degree programs can be transferable to four-year math degree programs.

Bachelor’s Degree in Math

A bachelor’s degree in math is an undergraduate degree that provides training in both applied and core mathematics. These are generally four-year degrees requiring 120 credit hours.

Students will be expected to analyze and solve problems, construct mathematical solutions, and apply mathematical solutions to real-world problems. Students can pay for these degrees with undergraduate loans.

Master’s Degree in Math

A master’s degree in math is a graduate-level degree that may offer more specialized training in mathematics. These degrees usually take about two years to complete and prepare you for a career in either a teaching position or an industry job.

It may involve basic courses in real analysis and linear algebra. Later, you may complete fundamental courses such as probability, scientific computing, and differential equations. Students can pay for these degrees with graduate loans.

Doctoral Degree in Math

A doctoral degree in mathematics is typically a Ph.D. program that takes five to six years to complete. There might also be graduate school requirements that students must complete, plus a residency.

The curriculum for a doctoral degree might involve courses in the areas of algebra, analysis, and topology. There are also exams, a dissertation, and a thesis to complete.

Are Finance and Math Degrees the Same?

Math and finance degrees are both analytical in nature, and both math and finance majors are likely to engage in quantitative analysis as a part of their professions. Despite the overlap in skills, though, the two degrees are not the same.

Both math and finance majors might enroll in introductory mathematics courses, such as calculus I. But beyond the basic courses, the two majors usually diverge. Math majors will learn more complex mathematical theory, while finance majors’ curricula will be more focused on business.

What Jobs Can You Get With a Mathematics Degree?

One of the best things about mathematics degrees is the number of career paths that may follow. Mathematics majors can be math teachers or mathematicians, but they can also have several other types of roles.

Computer and Information Research Scientists

Computer and information research scientists find ways to use new and existing technology. They study and solve complex problems in business, science, medicine, and other fields.


Physicists study the interactions of matter and energy. They might design and perform experiments with sophisticated equipment such as particle accelerators, lasers, or electron microscopes.


Actuaries analyze the financial costs of risk and uncertainty. This makes them essential to the insurance industry. They use mathematics, financial theory, and statistics to assess the risk of potential events.

Mathematicians and Statisticians

Mathematicians and statisticians analyze data, applying computational methods to solve practical problems in the areas of business, engineering, science, and other fields. They develop mathematical or statistical models to analyze data.

Mathematics College Professors

Mathematics college professors teach courses around mathematical concepts, statistics, and actuarial science. They also teach courses on the application of mathematical techniques in solving specific problems.

Mathematics High School Teachers

Mathematics high school teachers plan and teach math lessons to students in secondary education. Their primary responsibilities include grading assignments and quizzes and tracking students’ progress.

What Is the Average Salary if You Have a Math Degree?

Math occupations had a median annual wage of $98,680 in May 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, some math majors earn more than others.

For example, actuaries have a median pay of $105,900, while mathematicians and statisticians have a median of $96,280. Not only that, but actuaries also need just a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions, while mathematicians and statisticians need at least a master’s degree.

Ways to Pay for a Math Degree

Much like other types of degrees, there are multiple ways to pay for a math degree. That includes financial aid, merit-based scholarships, 529 plans, and more.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is one of the most common ways to pay for college. Grants vs. scholarships vs. loans are three large umbrellas of federal financial aid. Grants and scholarships are both considered gift aid which students are typically not required to repay. Federal student loans do require repayment.

Federal student loans have many benefits for borrowers, such as income-based repayment (IBR) plans and public student loan forgiveness (PSLF). To apply for financial aid, students will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) yearly.

Merit-Based Scholarships and Grants

There are thousands of scholarships and grants that may be available to students pursuing a math degree. These scholarships range from amounts of just a few dollars up to covering the entire cost of college.

One of the biggest benefits of scholarships and grants is that unlike student loans, they usually don’t have to be repaid. While “merit-based” often refers to academic merit, it can be based on other criteria, such as athletics or leadership.

With so many scholarships available, you may want to leverage a combination of resources to find relevant opportunities. For example, you contact your school’s financial aid office and check with federal and state agencies. The U.S. Department of Labor also has a scholarship search tool available.

529 Plans

529 plans are college savings plans sponsored by a state or state agency. These plans are investment accounts that offer tax benefits and can cover qualifying education expenses such as tuition and textbooks.

529 plans are often opened by parents to save for their children’s future college education, but anyone 18 and over can open an account. You can even open an account for yourself and still take advantage of the tax benefits they offer.

Personal Savings

Personal savings is always an option when paying for your math degree. While it isn’t “free money” like a scholarship or grant, personal savings can help in some situations.

For example, certain expenses don’t qualify for the tax benefits of a 529 plan, such as entrance exams and test prep. You might decide to use your personal savings for non-qualified expenses and reserve your 529 for qualified expenses.

Private Student Loan

Private student loans are available from private financial institutions. You can qualify as long as you meet certain requirements, such as being enrolled in an eligible school and meeting credit and income criteria. Private student loans may offer lower interest rates for qualifying borrowers than federal student loans but may also lack some of the protections that federal student loans offer.

The Takeaway

Math degrees remain an excellent choice for anyone starting college as they are highly valued in sectors such as finance and tech, in addition to mathematics. Those pursuing a math degree can earn degrees ranging from associate degrees up to doctoral degrees.

However, college is expensive and most of us need help covering the costs. SoFi private student loans are one option. There are rate discounts, a six-month grace period, and absolutely no fees. You can even repay your student loans using rewards points.

Find out if you qualify for a no fee student loan from SoFi in just a few minutes.


What can you do with a mathematics degree?

Math degrees allow people to pursue careers not only as mathematicians and teachers but also as actuaries, physicists, and computer scientists.

What are degrees in math?

Math degrees allow students to study and apply concepts learned in mathematical disciplines such as algebra, calculus, and statistics. In doing so, students learn analytical skills they can apply in solving real-world problems.

How can I pay for a math degree?

There are many ways to pay for a math degree, including scholarships and grants, federal and private student loans, and 529 plans.

Photo credit: iStock/bob_bosewell
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.

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.


Read more
Guide to Student Loans for Cosmetology School

Guide to Student Loans for Cosmetology School

Cosmetology school teaches learners about the application of ingredients and chemicals of beauty products as well as how to care for clients’ hair, nails, skin, and more. Cosmetologists can study a single beauty area or specialize in a range of areas. In general, cosmetology school takes less than two years to complete, but it depends on whether you choose to attend school full- or part-time, your state requirements, and the program and school you choose to attend.

Paying for cosmetology school may involve obtaining a mix of grants, scholarships, work-study, and cosmetology loans. You may also choose to pay for school with money you’ve saved.

Read on for more information on how to pay for cosmetology school. We’ll focus on aid that must be repaid (student loans) and will also touch on other types of aid that do not need to be repaid — grants, scholarships, and work-study.

What to Consider When Choosing a School for Cosmetology

It’s a good idea to visit community colleges or cosmetology school campuses prior to choosing the right cosmetology school for you. In general, it’s a good idea to interview an admissions representative or other professional about graduation rates, loan default rate, job placement rate, and school costs. The answer to these questions can give you a good indication of the quality of the school and whether the school might be a good fit for you.

You may also want to consider whether or not you’d like to attend an accredited institution, since many good cosmetology schools choose not to become accredited. An accredited institution is one that meets specific academic and institutional requirements by an institution that offers accreditation. An accrediting body will typically take a look at facilities and staff as well as the curriculum of the school and admission requirements.

Graduation Rate

The graduation rate can tell you a lot about the satisfaction of current and past students at a particular cosmetology school.

The most recent data shows that, about 34% of full-time undergraduate students who began a certificate or associate’s degree at two-year institutions received their certificate or degree within 150% of the normal time required.

On the other hand, 14% of that same cohort had transferred to another institution within 150% of normal completion time. A total of 10% stayed enrolled in that same institution. The rest of the students in the cohort were no longer enrolled in the original institution nor were they recorded as a transfer at a different institution — a total of 42% of students.

Look for a school that offers a high retention rate, which measures the percentage of first-time students who return to the institution to continue their studies the following fall. One way to measure retention and graduation rates is to use College Navigator “>College Navigator, which offers this information about nearly 7,000 colleges and universities in the U.S.

Loan Default Rate

Consider asking about the student loan default rate for a particular institution. The loan default rate indicates whether students are successful in paying off their student loans. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Education publishes the cohort default rate (CDR) which shows how well prior students have done at repaying their student loans. You can check the Department’s cohort default rate database for specific institutions.

Why should you worry about loan default rate? It illustrates the relationship between the quality of the degree and the ability of graduates to obtain jobs that can help them pay off their loans. While a low default rate doesn’t automatically put a particular cosmetology school into the “good school” category, it’s a great metric to have at your disposal.

Job Placement Rate

Job placement rate might be one of the most important questions you can ask a particular college or university. The job placement rate is the percentage in which graduates of the program obtain job placement. Most schools survey students to obtain this data and will showcase it on their websites.

However, there’s no universal method that schools use to arrive at their numbers. That’s why it’s also a good idea to ask deeper questions when you tour cosmetology schools. Dig into whether students who graduate are employed by salons or other cosmetology-related businesses. Ask about how often they open up their own salons. Ask for admission professionals to give you examples of successful alumni and if possible, lists of where the most current graduating alumni currently work.

Also ask about exam rates, because states require students to take a licensing exam in order to be able to practice. How many students successfully pass and how many have passed in recent years?

School Costs

A cosmetology school program may cost between $5,000 to $20,000. Find out how much each school costs and learn the cost breakdown. You should be able to find this information on the school’s website, but it’s a good idea to make an appointment with the financial aid office at the institutions you’re considering to get an exact estimate of all costs as they pertain to your situation.

Furthermore, don’t forget to ask questions about how much tuition will increase over the time you’ll be at the cosmetology school and whether financial aid will match the increasing tuition.

Cosmetology Career Options

As mentioned before, cosmetology careers can encompass a wide range of career options. It’s important to study the types of programs a particular cosmetology school offers in order to make sure it matches up with your career goals. Many cosmetology programs offer full programs in hair styling, skin care, nail care, and makeup. However, many cosmetology programs also offer training in esthetics, nail technology, electrolysis, and teaching as well:

•  Esthetics: Students in this area learn to apply makeup, wax, and perform facials. They also learn how to give clients massages and perform reflexology.

•  Nail technology: Going a step beyond nail care, nail technology includes studying nail art, design, and how to implement tips, wraps, and gels.

•  Electrolysis: Learners who study electrolysis learn the art of permanent facial and body hair removal methods.

•  Teacher training: Students who want to prepare future cosmetologists may choose to enter into a teacher training program.

Cosmetology School Financing Options

The amount of financial aid you receive could be affected by whether a school chooses to become accredited or not. Schools often become accredited in order to offer Title IV government funding to cosmetology students through the U.S. Department of Education. If you attend a schools that is not accredited, you won’t be eligible for federal student aid like federal student loans.

The next sections will review information about scholarships and grants, payment plans, trade school loans, work-study programs, and federal and private student loans.

1. Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are two methods you can use to pay for college. Scholarships, which can be considered free money and don’t have to be repaid (unless there are caveats in the scholarship requirements — for example, you may be required to finish the program). They can come from a wide variety of agencies, institutions, and organizations. Know the scholarship requirements in depth before you apply. It’s also a good idea to look into a wide variety of scholarship opportunities. Opportunities can come from your cosmetology school or your community.

Grants can be awarded to students from the federal government, state government, or your cosmetology school. Most of the time, you won’t have to pay the money back. However, if you don’t finish your program or fail to fulfill some other requirement, you may have to repay all or a portion of your grant money. The U.S. Department of Education offers several federal grants, including Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants.

The American Association of Cosmetology Schools (AACS) partners with various sponsors in the beauty industry to offer scholarships and grants to help students pay for tuition at their chosen institutions.

2. Cosmetology School Payment Plans

Cosmetology schools may allow you to make incremental payments. This means that instead of paying the full tuition bill at the beginning of a new semester, you make small, likely interest-free payments as you complete each course. Students who want to pay for cosmetology school without loans may prefer this method of chopping up payments into smaller bits.

The financial aid offices at the schools on your list will have more information about how payment plans work.

3. Trade School Loans

Learners who attend trade schools can get both private and federal student loans. Federal student loans come from the federal government, while private student loans come from a bank, credit union, or other financial institution. Both types of loans must be repaid with interest, which will vary depending on the type of loan you receive.

Some private lenders offer specific loans for those attending trade schools. It’s important to look into the details before you apply for a trade school loan, such as interest rates, repayment plans, and more.

4. Work-Study Programs

The Federal Work-Study Program provides part-time jobs for students to help pay for expenses related to education. Work-study often gives students enough of a stipend to pay for small expenses such as books. As long as you are enrolled at least part-time, you may apply for a job as long as your school participates in the Federal Work-Study Program. Check with your school’s financial aid office to find out if your school participates.

Because work-study is part of a federally funded program, you must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) in order to qualify.

5. Federal Student Loans for Cosmetology School

The federal student loan program can offer loans for cosmetology school that come from the U.S. Department of Education through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. You may be able to tap into Direct Loans, including the Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Direct PLUS Loans:

•  Direct Subsidized loans: Cosmetology school students who have financial need may be awarded the Direct Subsidized Loan to help pay for career school. The federal government will pay the interest while you’re in school.

•  Direct Unsubsidized loans: After filing the FAFSA, cosmetology students may want to take advantage of Direct Unsubsidized loans. This federal student loan is not based on financial need and the government does not take care of the interest while you’re in school.

•  Direct PLUS loans: Parents of undergraduate students can help pay for cosmetology students’ education with a Direct PLUS loan. Parents will have to undergo a credit check. An adverse credit history may require an additional credit check.

The interest rates of federal student loans are typically lower than that of private student loans and they offer income-driven repayment plans and other perks such as public service loan forgiveness. Keep in mind that, as mentioned, one of the federal student loan requirements is attending an accredited institution.

6. Private Student Loans for Cosmetology School

You can also obtain private student loans for cosmetology school. Private student loans for cosmetology school are different from federal student loans because they come from different organizations. However, they also diverge further from there. Private student loans may require you to make payments while you are still in school. They may have variable or fixed interest rates. Federal interest rates, on the other hand, are always fixed.

Private cosmetology school loans are not subsidized, which means that your lender doesn’t pay the interest on your loans while you’re in school. You’re usually completely responsible for paying the interest on your loans.

In addition, you must also have to have a positive credit history or a cosigner to get a private loan. You cannot consolidate your loans (turn them into one loan) like you can with a federal Direct Consolidation Loan or take advantage of loan forgiveness programs with a private student loan. Because private student loans lack the benefits offered with federal student loans, they are often considered a last-resort option.

Are student loans worth it? It’s important to remember that private student loans can fill in the gaps between scholarships, grants, your own cash, and cosmetology loans for school. Check on the student loan requirements among private student loans as well as when to apply for student loans.

Explore Private Student Loan Options With SoFi

If you decide to take advantage of your federal student loan options but still need more loans to cover your tuition bill, private student loans with SoFi may help. SoFi private student loans may be an option for certain eligible certificate programs.

SoFi offers competitive rates for qualifying borrowers as well as flexible repayment options. You also won’t pay any extra fees to get a private loan with SoFi.

Explore your cosmetology student loan options with SoFi.


Are there student loans for cosmetology school?

Yes, you can take advantage of both federal student loans and private student loans for cosmetology school. You may also want to consider tapping into trade school loans as well. It’s worth meeting with the financial aid office at your cosmetology school in order to make the right decision about the type of loans for your particular situation.

How do you get money for cosmetology school?

In order to get money for cosmetology school, you’ll want to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal and institutional financial aid, including institutional scholarships, federal student loans, and grants. If you want to apply for outside scholarships, you may have to seek out and apply for independent scholarships.

How do I go to cosmetology school for free?

You may be able to get free training while still in high school. Many high schools have agreements with technical or vocational schools or community colleges that allow you to attend at no cost. Some community colleges also offer free tuition to certain students as long as they meet certain requirements.

Photo credit: iStock/Natalia Rusanova
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.

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.


Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender