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Strategies for Lowering Your Student Loan Interest Rate

When you’re in college, you don’t have a lot of control over the interest rates on your student loans. With federal loans, the U.S. Department of Education sets the rate each year for all borrowers. And if you get private student loans, a limited credit history can make it hard for young people to score favorable terms.

But once you graduate, there are a few things you can try to save money on interest. Here are a few tips that may lower your interest rate on student loans.

Refinancing Your Student Loans

Scoring discounts with your current servicer can help you get a lower student loan interest rate, but there is another option to consider. Depending on your financial profile, you may qualify for a lower student loan interest rate than what you’re currently paying with student loan refinancing.

There are multiple advantages to refinancing student loans. You can potentially lower your interest rate by bundling several loans (federal and private) into one new loan. And if you shorten your loan term, you may be able to pay off your student loans much faster and pay less in interest over the life of your loan.

Student Loan RefinancingStudent Loan Refinancing

Student loan refinancing is ideal for borrowers with high-interest student loans who have good credit scores and know they won’t use any of the federal loan benefits, like student loan forgiveness. (All federal loan benefits, including income-based repayment, will be lost if you refinance.)

Here are a few things that can help you improve your chances of getting a lower student loan interest rate with refinancing:

•   A high credit score: Lenders typically have a minimum credit score requirement, so the higher your score, the better your chances of getting a low rate usually are.

•   A low debt-to-income (DTI) ratio: Your income is also an important factor that lenders consider, especially as it relates to your overall debt burden. If a smaller portion of your monthly income goes toward debt payments, it shows you may have more income to dedicate to your new loan’s payments.

•   A co-signer: Even if your credit and income situation is in good shape, having a co-signer with great credit and a solid income might help your case.

•   A variable rate: Some student loan refinance lenders offer both variable and fixed interest rates. Variable interest rates may start out lower but increase over time with market fluctuations. Fixed rates, stay the same over the life of the loan. If you’re planning on paying off your student loans quickly, a variable rate might save you money.

•   The right lender: Each lender has its own criteria for setting interest rates, so it’s important to shop around to find the best lender for your needs. Some lenders, including SoFi, even allow you to view rate offers before you officially apply.

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

Consolidate Your Student Loans

Have multiple student loans floating around that you’d love to combine into one? Consider loan consolidation, where you’ll merge all your student loans into one easy monthly payment with a single interest rate. Here’s the rub, though: Consolidation alone does not necessarily get you a lower student loan interest rate. It just offers you one payment instead of multiple.

When consolidating federal student loans, you can use a Direct Consolidation Loan. Your new interest rate is simply the weighted average of all your current student loan interest rates. The weighted average might be a smidge higher than the interest rates you were paying previously. Often folks utilize consolidation to stretch out the life of their student loan, which lowers your payments but may increase the amount you owe over time.

Even though consolidation itself is not a direct way to get a better rate on your student loans, it can be helpful if you’re having trouble keeping track of your monthly payments. Consolidation may also be useful if you want to merge non-direct federal loans (like Perkins loans) with direct loans, in order to qualify for income-driven repayment and/or loan forgiveness programs.

By the way, the term “consolidating” is often used interchangeably with “refinancing,” but they technically mean different things. When refinancing student loans, you also happen to be consolidating, but it is done with the goal of achieving a more favorable interest rate on your student loans.

Recommended: The Basics of the Student Loans

Set Up Automatic Payments

Many student loan servicers — both federal and private — offer an interest rate discount if you set up autopay on your account. Depending on the servicer, you can lower your student loan interest rate. SoFi, for example, offers a 0.25% autopay discount.

The reason servicers offer this discount is that by setting up automatic payments, you’re less likely to miss payments and default on the loan.

In addition to getting a lower student loan interest rate, you’ll also (hopefully!) have peace of mind knowing that you won’t accidentally miss a payment. If you feel you’re putting a little too much money toward student loans, check with your loan servicer to see whether they offer an autopay discount.

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

Get a Loyalty Discount

In addition to an autopay discount, some private student loan companies also offer a loyalty discount when you have another eligible account with them.

If you’re already a member with SoFi, for instance, you receive an interest rate discount of 0.125% on all new loans.

Other lenders may require that you have an eligible checking or savings account with them to qualify for the bonus, and you may even get a bigger discount if you make your monthly payments from that account.

To get an idea of how a change in interest rate would impact your loan, take advantage of a student loan refinance calculator to see what your new payments could be.

Choose the Right Repayment Plan

If you don’t choose a specific repayment path, you’re typically opted into the Standard Repayment Plan. In this plan, your payments are generally based on a 10-year timeline. But this one-size-fits-all plan is not the best option for everyone.

The federal government also offers four income-driven repayment (IDR) plans — Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE), Income-Based Repayment (IBR), and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) — where the monthly payments are based on your income and family size. While choosing one of these plans may lower your monthly payments, it will likely not alleviate how much interest you pay over time. In fact, you might even pay significantly more.

After 20 or 25 years, depending on the IDR plan, any remaining balance is forgiven. However, the amount forgiven may be considered taxable income by the IRS. So even though your student loan debt goes away, prepare yourself for a big tax bill that year.

Another money-saving repayment option for federal student loans is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. If you work in a qualifying public service job — for the government or a nonprofit organization — you might be eligible to have your student loans forgiven after 10 years of service.

You can confirm whether your work qualifies here. You’ll want to submit an Employment Certification as soon as possible to be sure that you’re on track to qualify.

Recommended: 4 Student Loan Repayment Options, and How to Choose

Lower Your Student Loan Interest Rate

There are several ways to get a lower student loan interest rate. It can be as easy as calling your servicer to find out what discounts are available. You can also choose a new repayment plan, consolidate your federal loans, or refinance federal and private loans. With refinancing, you may secure a lower interest rate if you have a high credit score, low debt-to-income ratio, a cosigner, or a variable interest rate. Just know that when refinancing federal student loans, borrowers lose federal protections and forgiveness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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What Is the Minimum Down Payment for an FHA Loan?

Saving up for a down payment is a common challenge for many prospective homebuyers. FHA loans allow qualifying borrowers to put as little as 3.5% down on a property, helping lower the barriers to homeownership for many.

With an FHA loan, borrowers may also be eligible for down payment assistance. But there are other out-of-pocket expenses to keep in mind when considering an FHA loan. Let’s take a closer look at FHA loan down payment requirements and how much money you’ll need to get to the closing table.

What Is an FHA Loan?

An FHA loan is a type of mortgage that’s issued by a lender, such as a bank or credit union, but insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The purpose of the FHA mortgage program is to make homeownership more affordable for low- to moderate-income buyers.

Since FHA loans are government-insured, they offer more flexible eligibility requirements for borrowers who might not qualify for a conventional home loan. FHA loans have lower minimum down payment and credit score requirements, making them popular with first-time homebuyers and applicants with limited savings or poor credit. Compared to conventional mortgages, FHA loan interest rates are typically lower, but will vary depending on the lender and on the borrower’s credit score and finances.

💡 Quick Tip: Buying a home shouldn’t be aggravating. SoFi’s online mortgage application is quick and simple, with dedicated Mortgage Loan Officers to guide you through the process.

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

FHA Loan Income Requirements

There aren’t any minimum or maximum income requirements to qualify for an FHA loan. However, there may be income limits for borrowers receiving down payment assistance through a state or local program.

In any case, lenders will look at an applicant’s ability to manage monthly mortgage payments and ultimately repay the FHA loan. Besides savings and assets, lenders assess an applicant’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which measures the percentage of monthly income that goes toward debt payments. A lower DTI ratio is typically viewed as favorable. Depending on the lender, borrowers can get an FHA loan with a DTI ratio of up to 50%. In comparison, conventional loans typically require a DTI ratio of 43% or less.

Recommended: How Much is a Down Payment?

What Is the Down Payment Required for an FHA Loan?

Down payments are calculated as a percentage of the home purchase price. Historically, lenders looked for buyers to put down one-fifth of a home’s purchase price upfront. But you no longer always need to put down 20% on a house. The minimum down payment percentage for FHA loans depends on a borrower’s credit score.

The average down payment on a house in the U.S. was 13% in 2022. But with an FHA loan, borrowers with a credit score of 580 or more may qualify for a down payment of 3.5% of the home purchase price. Those with credit scores between 500 and 579 will need to put 10% of the home price towards a down payment. For a $400,000 house, this translates to $14,000 for a 3.5% down payment and $40,000 for a 10% down payment.

💡 Quick Tip: Generally, the lower your debt-to-income ratio, the better loan terms you’ll be offered. One way to improve your ratio is to increase your income (hello, side hustle!). Another way is to consolidate your debt and lower your monthly debt payments.

What Other Cash Will I Need to Close?

Besides the down payment, the remaining amount you need to close on a house will depend mainly on the home’s purchase price. Taking out an FHA loan requires paying an upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) of 1.75% of the loan total. It may be possible to roll this cost into the loan, which would increase the loan principal and monthly payment amount.

Buyers will also be on the hook for FHA loan closing costs, which typically range from 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price. Borrowers can potentially avoid the upfront expense by rolling closing costs into an FHA loan. By financing closing costs, borrowers will pay a portion of the costs each month, plus interest. Note that financing closing costs can increase a borrower’s DTI ratio and potentially impact their ability to qualify for an FHA loan.

An alternative option to cover closing costs would be to ask for seller concessions. FHA loans allow the seller to contribute up to 6% of the home value for closing costs as a seller concession.

Recommended: What Do You Need to Buy a House?

How to Save for an FHA Loan Down Payment

Understanding how much house you can afford is a useful place to start to determine your housing budget and savings goal. Using an FHA loan mortgage calculator can help crunch the numbers to determine your down payment and monthly payment based on different loan terms. Not sure you will choose an FHA loan? Use a home affordability calculator to determine how much house you can afford.

With a savings goal in mind, calculate how much you can set aside each month after paying for debts and expenses. Consider cutting discretionary spending, such as dining out and travel, to increase monthly savings.

Buyers can also get the money they need for an FHA down payment in the form of a gift from family, friends, employer, charitable organization, or government program. Gifted funds need to be accompanied by a gift letter to show the lender that the money is going toward the down payment and doesn’t need to be repaid.

Is Down Payment Assistance Available for FHA Loans?

Borrowers who can’t afford a down payment on an FHA loan may be eligible for financial assistance. Down payment assistance can come in several forms, including grants and forgivable loans. These programs are available through local, state, and federal government programs, as well as nonprofit organizations.

Most down payment assistance programs are geared towards first-time buyers. They may include additional eligibility requirements, such as income limits and participation in homebuyer education courses. Consult a list of first-time homebuyer programs and loans to see what you might be eligible for. If it has been more than three years since you have owned a home, you may qualify for first-time homebuyer status.

Additional Cost Considerations for FHA Loans

In addition to the upfront costs of a down payment, closing costs, and MIP, there are other expenses to plan for.

The MIP includes an additional annual fee besides the 1.75% that’s required for closing. Annual payments range from 0.15% to 0.75% depending on the loan terms and loan-to-value ratio. The total annual cost is divided by 12 and spread out across the monthly payments in a given year. Note that MIP usually spans the life of the FHA loan unless a borrower refinances.

Depending on the property location, borrowers may also need to pay for flood insurance to get an FHA loan.

Pros and Cons of an FHA Loan

FHA loans are popular for their lower down payment mortgage requirements, but they’re not for everyone. Here are some advantages and drawbacks to consider when comparing home mortgage loan options.


•   Smaller down payments

•   More lenient credit score requirements

•   No income limits

•   Can finance closing costs


•   Required to pass an inspection and appraisal

•   Must be used for a primary residence.

•   Loan limits of $472,030 to $1,089,300 for a single-family home, depending on the cost of living by state.

•   Can require an inspection and stricter standards for the condition of the property.

The Takeaway

What is the minimum down payment for an FHA loan? Borrowers with credit scores of 580 or more can put just 3.5% down, while those with scores between 500 to 579 need to put 10% toward a down payment. The combination of lower minimum credit score and low down payment make FHA loans one attractive option for first-time homebuyers.

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.


What is the lowest down payment for an FHA loan?

The lowest down payment for an FHA loan is 3.5% of the loan amount. Borrowers can explore down payment assistance programs to help cover the cost.

What is the down payment for an FHA loan 2023?

The down payment for an FHA loan in 2023 ranges from 3.5% to 10% depending on the borrower’s credit score.

What will disqualify you from an FHA loan?

Borrowers could be disqualified from an FHA loan based on a high debt-to-income ratio, poor credit, or insufficient funds to pay for the down payment, closing costs, and monthly mortgage payment.

Photo credit: iStock/Edwin Tan

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.

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Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. Not all products are available in all states. See 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.

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


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How Much Does It Cost to Start a Business?

Looking to start your own business? You’re not alone. Some 76% of Gen Z and millennials dream of being their own boss, according to a 2022 Microsoft report.

While launching your own business allows you plenty of professional freedom, it can also be expensive. As you’re creating your business plan, one question you’ll likely face early on is, how much does it cost to start a business?

The average small business owner spends around $40,000 in their first full year. But that amount can vary based on a number of factors, including the size, type and location of your business.

Let’s take a closer look at the startup costs of different types of businesses and common ways to cover the expenses.

Typical Small Business Startup Costs

The old adage is true: You have to spend money to make money. And unfortunately, some of the biggest business costs can come during the startup phase, when you are defining your business goals, finding a location, purchasing domain names, and generally investing in the infrastructure.

In order to make sure your business is on firm financial footing, it’s important to estimate your small business startup costs in advance. Here are some common ones to keep in mind:


Many small businesses start out as a company of one. But if you’re planning on having employees, salary will likely be one of the biggest costs you’ll have. After all, offering an attractive pay and benefits package can help you recruit and retain top talent.

In addition to wages, you might also want to budget for other types of payroll costs, such as overtime, vacation pay, bonuses, commissions, and benefits.

Office Space

No matter what your business is, you’ll need somewhere to work. Are you leasing a storefront, or will you buy a membership to a co-working space or startup incubator? If you’re planning to work from home, consider whether your new business will increase your internet or utility bills.

And don’t forget about the supplies you’ll need to do the work. Depending on your business, this could include things like computers, phones, chairs and desks, paper supplies, or filing cabinets.

💡 Quick Tip: Some lenders can release funds as quickly as the same day your loan is approved. SoFi personal loans offer same-day funding for qualified borrowers.


If you’re starting a business that sells products, you’ll need to have some inventory ready to go. Calculating stock as part of your start-up costs ensures that you can buy your product in advance, so that you’re ready to serve customers from day one.

Licenses, Permits, and Insurance

Some businesses, especially storefronts and restaurants, require more legal leg work than others.

For example, if you’re starting a native-plants landscaping business, will you need a permit? If you’re starting a new bar, will you need a liquor license? Licenses and permits vary by city and state, but most come with an application fee.

Likewise, your new business may require one or more insurance policies to protect you in case of future litigation, so be sure to factor in the cost of monthly premiums.

And don’t forget about the costs associated with registering your business. Whether you plan to set up shop as a sole proprietorship, corporation, limited liability corporation or other business entity, you’ll need to pay a nominal fee. The amount will depend on the state where you operate.

And if you plan on enlisting the help of a lawyer, accountant or tax professional to get your business up and running, add those potential costs to your budget as well.


Getting the word out about your new business is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that business starts off strong. Whether you want to advertise on social media or take out a billboard, your startup costs should reflect money you plan to put toward taking out ads for your business.

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Differences in Startup Costs Based on Industry

The actual cost of starting a small business can vary by business and industry. Here’s what you might be looking at if you want to start a few common types of small businesses.

Online Business Startup Costs

Like brick and mortar stores, the cost of doing business online varies depending on the type of business you have. But in general, you’ll need to budget for things like:

•   Web hosting service and domain name

•   Web design and optimization

•   E-commerce software

•   Payment processing

•   Content creation and social media

If you’re selling products, you will need to invest in inventory and shipping. If you’re providing services, you may need to hire employees. All of these costs can be significant.

However, one benefit of starting your small business online is that you may be able to keep other costs low. For example, if you can conduct business from home, you may not need to rent office space, which can be a major savings. If you’re able to do the work without purchasing inventory or hiring employees, the startup costs can be even lower.

Average startup cost: $500 to $20,000 or more (depending on your business)

Storefront Startup Costs

If your business idea requires a physical space, your startup costs might range from $1,000 for a small kiosk inside a mall or park to more than $69,000 for something like a home goods store.

Although $69,000 might seem like a daunting number, remember that many smaller, independently owned stores began with a much smaller budget.

Average retail startup cost: $39,210

Restaurant Startup Costs

If you’re betting on bringing in bank by selling your grandma’s famous bánh mì, you could be looking at startup costs of anywhere from $40,000 for a used food truck or cart to up to $3.7 million to buy a franchise restaurant. Typically, small restaurant costs, including coffee shops, fall somewhere in the $80,000 to $3000,000 range.

Average startup cost: $375,000

How to Finance Your Startup Business

Many who want to start a business are overwhelmed by the initial costs, but there are several ways to fund your passion project.

Friends and Family

Perhaps one of the most common ways to raise money for your small business is to ask friends and family to invest in you.

Friends and family loans can be ideal for financing a new small business because you can negotiate low-interest rates, flexible pay-back schedules, and avoid bank fees. Of course, borrowing money from friends and family can quickly become complicated by family drama, so make sure to agree on conditions before taking out a family loan.

Outside Investors

When we hear about startup companies, we frequently hear about so-called “angel investors” sweeping in to fully fund new businesses. But there are other practical ways to fund your small business with outside investors.

Some small businesses use crowdfunding platforms to find investors who each contribute a small amount, and others use startup funding networks to find investors looking to fund their specific type of business. Outside investors want to know that your business is likely to succeed, so you’ll need a solid business plan to land outside funders.

Personal Savings and Investments

Most people end up covering some of their small business start-up costs out of their own pocket. Self-funding your new business venture can be the most convenient option. After all, if you’re your own funder, you don’t have to worry about family drama or picky investors. And putting your own money on the line can be an extra motivation to make sure that your business is set up to succeed.

Of course, it can seem overwhelming to save up enough money to fund your small business. Luckily, there are simple strategies to effectively manage your money.

Business Loans

If you’re looking to purchase equipment, inventory, or pay for other business expenses, a business loan might make sense for you.

There are various types of small business loans available, each with different rates and repayment terms. Note that in some cases, lenders may be reluctant to give loans to a brand-new business. You might need to put up some type of collateral to qualify for funding.

Personal Loans

A personal loan can be used for just about any purpose, which can make it attractive for entrepreneurs who want to turn their passion project into a reality. These loans are usually unsecured, which means they’re not backed by collateral, like a home, car, or bank account balance.

Personal loan amounts vary. However, some lenders offer personal loans for as much as $100,000. Most personal loans have shorter repayment terms, though the length of a loan can vary from a few months to several years.

While there’s a great deal of latitude with how you use the funds, you might need to get your lender’s approval first if you intend on using the money directly for your business.

💡 Quick Tip: Before choosing a personal loan, ask about the lender’s fees: origination, prepayment, late fees, etc. One question can save you many dollars.

The Takeaway

Going into business for yourself can be personally and professionally fulfilling. But it can also be expensive, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Estimating your startup costs early on can help ensure you’re on solid financial ground from the get-go. Labor, office space, and equipment are among the biggest expenses facing many entrepreneurs, but there are smaller fees and charges you’ll likely need to consider.

Fortunately, small business owners have no shortage of options when it comes to covering startup costs. Dipping into personal savings, or asking friends and family to invest are popular choices. Taking out a business loan or personal loan is another way to help finance a new business. The money can be used for a variety of purposes, and that flexibility can be especially useful when you’re just starting out.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.

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.

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

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SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at

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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Top Medical School Scholarships For Students

Top Medical School Scholarships For Students

Attending medical school can be an extremely rewarding path, but it can also be an expensive one. Luckily, there are some great medical school scholarships that can help ease the financial burden. Students thinking about attending medical school, or those who are currently enrolled, may want to look into scholarships for medical school.

There are plenty of scholarships for medical students as well as general scholarships that could help you cover the cost of college. Here’s a roundup of the best medical student scholarships, how much they’re worth, and how to apply for them.

Brown Medical and Educational Foundation Scholarship

Dollar amount: Approximately $1,000

Application process: To apply for this scholarship, students must complete an application, submit an official college or university transcript in a sealed envelope, and submit three letters of recommendation.

Eligibility: To qualify for this scholarship, which could help with paying for college, students must be an undergraduate or graduate student pursuing a degree at a U.S. based four-year university while studying a healthcare degree such as nursing, dentistry, medicine, and allied health. They must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher. Recipients must also identify as a member of select ethnic groups and must be U.S. citizens.

Recommended: Finding Free Money for College

Chinese American Physicians Society Scholarships

Dollar amount: $3,000 to $5,000

Application process: The application for the 2023-2024 school year is set to open in December 2023. Applicants can expect to submit essays as a part of the application.

Eligibility: To receive a Chinese American Physicians Society Scholarship, applicants must be a student at a U.S.-based medical school. Applicants are judged on their financial needs, academic achievements, essays, and community service records. Special credit is given to applicants who are planning to serve Chinese communities after they graduate.

Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund

Dollar amount: Covers the cost of tuition, plus an additional stipend for living expenses

Applicant process: The Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fund requires students to submit their application through the dean of the university at the school they are attending for graduate studies. Students can connect with their school’s fellowship or financial aid office to learn more about what the application process looks like for students at their school. Only certain schools participate in this program.

Eligibility: Students must be U.S. citizens and attend a U.S.-based accredited and designated higher education institution as a graduate student in the fields of humanities, social sciences or natural sciences. They must have an outstanding record as an undergraduate and have financial need. National descent is not taken into consideration.

Recommended: Finding & Applying to Scholarships for Grad School

The Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship

Dollar amount: For the 2023-2024 school year, the National Hispanic Health Foundation will give awards of $5,000 annually for up to four years, plus individual scholarship awards of $2,00 each. Overall, the NHHF has awarded $1,954,000 to 346 awardees as of January 2023.

Application process: By September 15, 2023, applicants must submit the following supporting documents as a part of their application for the The Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship:

•   Personal statement or essay that is double-spaced and a maximum of two pages outlining their career goals

•   Curriculum vitae that shares up to date employment experience, education history, extracurricular activities, and awards

•   One letter of recommendation

•   Proof of their U.S. citizenship DACA status, or residency

•   Unofficial copy of their school transcripts

•   Proof of enrollment

Eligibility: To be eligible for this scholarship opportunity, students must have a 3.0 GPA and be currently enrolled full time in a U.S. graduate program studying one of the following subjects:

•   Medicine (allopathic or osteopathic)

•   Dentistry

•   Pharmacy

•   Nursing (including BSN)

•   Public Health

•   Physician Associate

Joseph Collins Scholarship

Dollar amount: $10,000

Application process: Applicants for the Joseph Collins Scholarship must demonstrate an interest in the arts and letters or another type of cultural pursuit that falls outside of the field of medicine and needs to show an intent to specialize in psychiatry, neurourology, or become a general practitioner.

Eligibility: The moral character of the applicant and their scholastic record will be taken into account. Students who are attending medical schools east of the Mississippi river and are ranked in the top 50% of their class are eligible to apply.

The National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program

Dollar amount: Full year of scholarship support (tuition and fees plus monthly stipends) for up to four years).

Application process: To apply for the National Health Service Corps Scholarship Program, applicants must pass an eligibility screening, submit general information about themselves, their degree, and their backgrounds, as well as providing two letters of recommendation, and writing an essay.

In return, recipients of this scholarship will work in primary care in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). The time commitment may vary based on how much aid the student received.

Eligibility: To be eligible for this scholarship, applicants have to be either a U.S. citizen or a U.S. national and be able to submit proof of their status. Applicants must also be enrolled as full-time students and attend an accredited school or academic program in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory. They must be studying to be a physician, dentist, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or physician assistant.

MPOWER Global Citizenship Scholarship

Dollar amount: One $10,000 award and two $2,000 awards

Application process: To apply for this scholarship program, applicants must complete the application form provided by MPOWER. There is one essay question.

Eligibility: Recipients of the MPOWER Global Citizenship Scholarship must be international students that are legally allowed to work and attend school in either the U.S. or Canada. They must also be enrolled in a U.S. or Canadian school that MPOWER supports.

Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

Dollar amount: Up to $90,000 in financial support over two years.

Application process: In order to apply for the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, students must submit the following information and materials in an online application.

•   Personal and contact information

•   Higher-education history

•   Information about the graduate program they are seeking support for

•   Three to five recommendations

•   Resume

•   Two essays

•   College and graduate school transcripts

•   Standardized test scores

•   Optional exhibits (such as artwork, examples of written work, and so on)

Eligibility: Applicants must be aged 30 or younger by the time of the application deadline and need to plan on either starting or continuing a full-time graduate degree program in the U.S.

Students may apply before they begin graduate school or while they are enrolled. Applicants must also meet the scholarship’s definition of “new American,” which is an individual whose birth parents were born outside of the U.S. as non-U.S. citizens.

Pisacano Scholars Leadership Program

Dollar amount: $7,000 per year up to four years.

Application process: Applications can be mailed or emailed and must included the following information:

•   Official copy of undergraduate and graduate school transcript if applicable

•   Official copy of medical school transcript

•   Copy of MCAT scores

•   Copy of USMLE score or COMLEX score

•   Copy of current CV

•   Essay

Eligibility: In order to qualify for the Pisacano Scholars Leadership Program, applicants must be third-year medical students who have demonstrated a strong commitment to the specialty of family medicine.

Leadership skills, academic achievements, communication skills, identifiable character and integrity, and community service involvement will all be taken into consideration.

How Student Loan Refinancing Can Help

Those students who already have medical school debt and may no longer be eligible for medical school scholarships may want to consider refinancing their existing student loans. Under the right terms, refinancing student loans could help lower their monthly payments. Refinancing student loans involves consolidating student loans through a private lender into a new loan that ideally comes with a lower interest rate and better term.

If the applicant can secure a better interest rate, they may end up paying less over the life of their loan. However, if they lengthen the term of the loan to reduce their monthly payments, they may end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan.

When a borrower applies to refinance their loan or loans, the lender will generally take their credit score, credit history, and other key financial information into consideration to determine their rates and terms.

It’s important to know that refinancing federal student loans into private ones causes the borrower to lose out on federal protections such as forbearance, deferment, and income-driven repayment plans.

Recommended: Private vs. Federal Student Loans

The Takeaway

Scholarships can be an effective way to help medical students pay for med school.

Application processes and eligibility requirements will vary from scholarship to scholarship so it may be helpful to explore and research different scholarships that fit your unique educational and personal profile.

If you’re interested in refinancing your student loans, SoFi offers loans with flexible terms and no fees. A student loan refinance calculator can help you determine if refinancing makes good financial sense for you.

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

Photo credit: iStock/JohnnyGreig

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.

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


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Making Sense of the Rising Cost of Medical School

Making Sense of the Rising Cost of Medical School

The costs of medical school are rising at an alarming rate. According to Education Data, the cost of attending medical school rises by $1,500 per year.

Thirty-five years ago, medical students graduated with an average of $32,000 in student loan debt. Now, the average medical school debt for graduates is $202,450, according to the Education Data Initiative, with 73% of students graduating with debt.

The rising cost of medical school, plus the daunting number of years of education and training, is making some prospective medical students ask: Is an MD really worth it? That’s ultimately up to you.

It’s also worth noting that while medical school has traditionally been a path to a lucrative career, the steep up-front costs might be starting to make the endgame look less appealing.

This can be particularly true for would-be doctors interested in working in relatively low-paying fields, such as general practice (as compared to, say, anesthesiology).

While it might be relatively easy to pay down student loan debt for those entering a higher-paying specialty, a doctor going into general practice might take years (even decades!) to pay off their student loans.

To gain a better understanding of how much medical school actually costs, we’ll take a look at the costs of an MD, and some ways young doctors can get out of medical school debt faster after graduation.

How Much Does Medical School Cost?

The average medical school tuition varies depending on factors like whether the student is attending a public or private university.

The average total cost of in-state tuition for a student at a public university is $159,620. At a private school, the average total cost is $256,412.

But that’s only the cost of tuition, fees, and insurance — there’s also living costs to consider, which is why it’s useful to consider the entire cost of attendance (COA).

Each school publishes the estimated costs of attendance for their program, which typically not only include tuition and fees, but also costs like room and board, textbooks and supplies, and travel.

Why Is Medical School More Expensive Than Ever?

The rising cost of medical school tuition is part of a larger trend. It is estimated that the cost of college tuition and fees at private, nonprofit, four-year institutions in America grew at a rate of 3.5% from the 2021-2022 school years.

So what is driving the price increase? In general, college tuition has increased dramatically in the past 30 years, while wages have grown at a much slower rate. But what’s behind the dramatic uptick in college prices? The potential answer is two-fold. One factor is the demand for a college education has also dramatically risen over the last three decades.

Another factor more pertinent to public universities: a decline in state funding. It’s been observed in multiple states that as the education budget gets stripped, tuition costs paid by students also rises. And while lawmakers likely understand such a correlation exists, as long as federal financial aid is so freely available for students, there is likely little incentive to digress from such cuts.

How Long Does Paying for Med School Take?

So why do med students often go into so much debt?

It’s partly because the grueling requirements of their programs don’t often allow for part-time work. As a result, many students apply for financial aid to cover their college price tag, which means they graduate with significant amounts of student loan debt.

How long does it take to pay back the debt? Much of this depends on the student, the career path they take, and the medical loan repayments they make. However, the relatively low salaries young doctors earn during their residencies don’t typically allow for much opportunity to pay back loans until their first position after residency.

Let’s say, hypothetically, a borrower has federal Direct Loans, such as Stafford, PLUS, or a Direct Consolidation Loan. And let’s also say you can prove you have partial financial hardship (PFH), and qualify for an income-driven repayment plan.

In that situation, the monthly repayment would be capped at 10-15% of the borrower’s monthly discretionary income for a period of up to 25 years. After the 25 years, whatever hasn’t been repaid is forgiven (although that amount may be taxable).

However, if after residency, the borrower in question gets a position with an income that removes them from the PFH tier, they could switch to the Standard Repayment Plan for federal student loans and potentially pay off the loan more quickly.

Is It Possible to Shorten the Medical Debt Payment Timeline?

Here are some tips for those interested and able to shorten their repayment timeline, which can lower the amount of student loan interest paid over the life of the loan.

Repaying Loans During Residency

It is possible to start paying down medical school debt in residency. While some students may be tempted to put their loans in student loan forbearance in their residency years, doing so can add quite a bit in compounding interest to the bill.

Instead, consider an income-driven repayment plan to start paying back federal loans with an affordable payment. Another option is to look into SoFi’s medical residency refinance options to compare. Keep in mind, though, that if you choose to refinance your federal student loans, you will no longer be eligible for federal benefits and protections, including income-driven repayment plans, deferment, and student loan forgiveness.

Making Extra Payments

Another tactic to help pay off student loans faster is via simple budgeting. After getting your first position post-residency, consider committing to living on a relatively tight budget for just a few more years. Putting as much salary toward extra student loan payments as possible could potentially help cut time — and interest payments — off the repayment timeline.

Speeding Up Med School Debt Repayment With Refinancing Student Loans

If you refinance your medical student loans, iit may be possible to secure a lower interest rate and/or a lower required monthly payment – depending on the terms you choose, your credit score, and other factors.

A lower interest rate could help reduce how much money is paid in interest over the life of the loan. Extending your loan term could mean a lower monthly payment – but keep in mind that you’ll most likely pay more in interest over the life of the loan.

While refinancing could help borrowers save money over the life of the loan, it does mean giving up the benefits that come with federal student loans, like income-driven repayment, deferment, forbearance, and student loan forgiveness specific to physicians.

But for borrowers who don’t foresee needing these services, refinancing might be a viable option.

The Takeaway

The cost of medical school has risen in the past 30 years, and so has the amount of debt med students take on to pursue a career as an MD. But a career in the medical field can potentially be both lucrative and rewarding, so for some, medical school can be worth the time, effort, and cost.

Borrowers who are repaying student loans from medical school may consider strategies like income-driven repayment plans, making overpayments, or student loan refinancing to help them tackle their student loan debt.

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

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

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

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

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


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