Refinancing Your Student Loans for Trade School

If you took out student loans to pay for trade school and are nearing graduation or have already entered the working world, you may be wondering about ways to make your debt more manageable.

Perhaps you are a recent grad renting your own home for the first time, and you have a lot of new expenses (electricity, WiFi, etc.). Or maybe you are finding that the job you will soon be starting doesn’t pay quite as much as you had hoped. Whatever the scenario, whether you have one loan or more, if money is tight, you might want to explore refinancing.

Here, you’ll learn what you need to know about refinancing your trade school loans, so you can make the best decision for your situation.

What Is Trade School?

College isn’t for everyone, and yet many people still want to train for a profession that will be fulfilling and pay well.

Many opt to go to a trade school, which is a vocational or technical institution that provides training and technical skills. These skills prepare people for jobs as mechanics, health technicians, cosmetologists, plumbers, electricians, truck drivers, and more.

Trade school programs often last one to two years, depending on the program. You may also hear them referred to as vocational schools. The curriculum is usually a mix of coursework and hands-on requirements. Again, depending on the program you take and the school you attend, you may be a part- or full-time student.


💡 Quick Tip: Some student loan refinance lenders offer no fees, saving borrowers money.

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Trade School Student Loan Options

Just like with colleges and universities, trade schools cost money, and when students can’t afford to pay out of pocket, they often take out student loans to help with the cost of trade school. One study recently found that the average trade school student takes on $10,000 in debt.

Let’s look at two options for trade school loans.

Federal Student Loans

Student loans for trade schools may be federal loans, though not all trade school programs qualify for these loans offered by the US Department of Education.

If your school is accredited and you qualify for federal loans, take time to understand the different types of federal student loans before you fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to see how much you can borrow.

Recommended: Important FAFSA Deadlines to Know

Private Student Loans

If your trade school isn’t accredited and you can’t get a federal loan, or you simply decide that a private student loan suits your needs better, there are private trade school student loan options. It’s important to understand how private student loans work because they are different from federal loans.

The interest on private loans may be higher than with federal loans, and unlike federal loans, you may be required to start paying back your loan immediately. Federal loans typically give you a grace period to finish your studies before beginning to pay back the loan. Federal loans also offer certain benefits and protections, unlike private student loans.

It may also be more difficult to qualify for a private loan, since you will need to prove you are creditworthy, and you may need a cosigner to get one.

Average Trade School Cost in the U.S.

Before you can look at trade school loans, you need to understand how much trade schools cost to attend.

On average, the net cost for a trade school is $17,600. This is the cost after receiving scholarships or grants.
The range of net costs is $12,000 to $20,000 depending on the field of study and where the school is located.

For example, the average net cost to become an auto technician is $17,000 to $22,000. The cost to become a veterinary technician is about $5,000 to $13,000.

5 Tips for Staying on Top of Your Trade School Loan Payments

When it comes to managing your financial wellbeing, paying off your debt, including trade school loans, should be among your top priorities. If you fall behind in your payments, you risk having a negative mark on your credit report, which could make it difficult for you to take out other loans or open credit cards later.

Here are a few tips to ensure you stay on top of paying for trade school loans.

1. Build It Into Your Budget

Your daily Starbucks fix isn’t a necessity; paying your trade school loan is. Make sure that loan payment is part of your monthly budget so that you always have enough to cover it.

2. Pay More Than the Minimum Payment

If you can afford even an extra $5 a month, pay the extra toward your loan. This will help reduce the time you spend paying it off. It can also lower the amount of interest you pay since you can pay the loan off early.

3. Automate Payments

You never have to worry about making your payment on time if you automate your finances. With your student loans, you can likely either do so through the lender’s website or as a bill pay from your bank. Some lenders even give you a reduction in interest if you sign up for automatic payments.

4. Choose the Date You Pay

Another thing many lenders do is allow you to select the day each month you’ll pay your bill. If you know you get paid on the fifth of each month, it makes sense to choose a date after that, like the eighth, so you are always sure you have enough in your account to cover the payment.

5. Refinance to Have a Single Payment

If you have multiple loans with different amounts due and different interest rates and payment dates, it may take you longer to pay them all off, not to mention increase your money stress. Refinancing your trade school student loan allows you to pay off the different loans and gives you another one with a single payment and interest rate.

However, it’s important to note that if you refinance for an extended term, you may pay more interest over the life of the loan. Also, when you refinance federal loans via a private loan, you forfeit federal benefits and protections.

Refinancing Loans for Trade School

If you’re considering refinancing student loans for trade school, there are many benefits to consider.

•   First, as mentioned, if you took out multiple loans for trade school, refinancing can be convenient. It can replace them all with a single new loan. You’ll now make just one payment each month, and you’ll have one interest rate.

•   Speaking of interest, depending on what the interest rate was when you took out your loans, refinancing them could help you get a lower interest rate.

•   If you’ve been struggling to make a high payment on your loan each month, refinancing for a longer period of time could help you lower your student loan payments (though you may pay more interest over the life of the loan).

If refinancing makes sense, explore lenders who offer refinance loans. Be sure to shop around, because interest rates and terms can vary considerably from one lender to another.

And before you apply, check your credit. The higher your credit score, the better the rates and terms you’ll qualify for. If your credit isn’t great, you might consider paying down some of your debt and waiting for your score to rise before applying for a loan so you can get a lower interest rate.

The Takeaway

Trade school can be a valuable way to train for a variety of career paths. But paying off trade school loans shouldn’t be a long-term struggle. In some situations, refinancing your trade school student debt can be a helpful option, as can adopting habits (like automating your finances) that help you prioritize your debt repayment.

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

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

FAQ

Does FAFSA cover trade school?

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) does cover trade schools, but only if they are accredited institutions.

How do you get trade school paid for?

If you don’t have the funds to pay for trade school out of pocket, there may be both federal and private student loans for trade school available. You can also research scholarships for trade schools.

Can you use student loans for trade school?

Yes. Student loans can be used to pay for trade school. Look into whether a trade school is accredited or not to determine what options may be available.


Photo credit: iStock/frantic00

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


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


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.

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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Guide to Credit Union vs Bank Mortgages

Guide to Credit Union vs Bank Mortgages

When looking for a home loan, the two main choices of financial institutions are credit unions and banks. Each option comes with pros and cons.

Here’s an overview to help you make the right choice for your situation. You might start with general tips when shopping for a mortgage.

How Credit Union and Bank Mortgages Are Similar

Common types of home loans include fixed-rate and adjustable-rate loans as well as conventional and government-insured loans (such as FHA and VA loans). Most of the different mortgage types are available at both credit unions and banks.

At a high level, approval processes are the same at each type of financial institution as well. Each will have mortgage underwriting guidelines, and after a borrower applies, the loan will be reviewed and approved, suspended, or denied.

Plus, both may offer mortgage preapprovals.


💡 Quick Tip: SoFi’s Lock and Look + feature allows you to lock in a low mortgage financing rate for 90 days while you search for the perfect place to call home

Differences Between Credit Union and Bank Mortgages

So, credit union or bank for mortgages? Beyond general similarities, differences exist. Let’s look at credit union mortgages and then bank home loans.

Benefits of Getting a Credit Union Mortgage

Are credit unions good for mortgages? In many ways they are. While a bank has stockholders, a credit union consists of members (account holders) who more or less serve in this role. A bank must satisfy its investors by making a profit; credit unions don’t, so they can return those dollars to members through more attractive interest rates, lower fees, and more.

To enhance their members’ financial wellness, credit unions typically provide the following benefits:

Looser Approval Criteria

In general, credit unions may approve more loans in the lower- to middle-income range for their members. Plus, when credit scores are less than ideal, a credit union loan is sometimes the better choice.

Lower Interest Rates

Overall, credit unions offer lower rates on their mortgage loans. To estimate how much money this may save you, use a mortgage calculator.

Fewer Fees

Credit unions can pass on savings to members through lower fees as well as lower rates.

The Personal Touch

Because credit unions are less likely to sell their mortgage loans to a third party, a borrower is more likely to know the loan servicer (the credit union). This can lead to more personalized service.

Recommended: How Does the Mortgage Preapproval Process Work?

Disadvantages of Getting a Credit Union Mortgage

Are credit unions better for mortgages? That depends on a borrower’s needs and preferences because disadvantages of credit union mortgages also exist, including these:

Membership is a Must

In most cases, a borrower must meet certain requirements to join a credit union. This can include living in a certain community, belonging to a certain profession, or otherwise having the appropriate affiliation.

Fewer Locations

Usually, credit unions have fewer branches, which can limit their geographical range. So when away from home, outside the credit union’s range, it may be harder to conduct all the financial transactions you might like. For example, the ATM network may be smaller and less convenient.

Stale Tech

Because credit unions are often more local institutions, they typically won’t have the up-to-date technology found at larger banks. So if a borrower wants first-class online and mobile banking, credit unions may not be the best choice.

Limited Menu

Credit unions may offer fewer financial products, especially on the savings and investment side. They may only offer checking and savings accounts, for example, plus credit cards. Although that may not affect a borrower’s ability to get a mortgage, this can limit what other products they can benefit from at the credit union.

Possibly Higher Interest Rates

Sometimes credit unions can’t compete with banks, especially when a large bank offers especially good interest rates. So be sure to compare rates if you’re looking for the most attractive ones.


💡 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.

Benefits of Getting a Bank Mortgage

Getting a home loan at a bank has its upsides, including these:

Variety of Services

Banks often offer a significant range of savings, lending, and retirement-related financial products, making it easier for a borrower to have an all-in-one financial institution.

Multiple Branches and ATMs

Banks, especially national ones, will typically allow you to have access to multiple branches in more locations as well as a larger ATM network. This can make for a more convenient experience.

New Tech

Banks are, overall, more likely to have the latest in banking technology, including the ability to bank online and to use more sophisticated mobile apps.

Disadvantages of Getting a Bank Mortgage

Meanwhile, drawbacks of getting a bank home loan can include the following:

Higher Interest Rates

Banks need to generate profit for stockholders — and credit unions don’t — so banks may charge a higher rate on home loans. But this isn’t universally true, so it’s always a good idea to compare rates.

Higher Fees

In general, banks charge higher mortgage fees than credit unions do. Although not always true, this is something to investigate.

Less Personalized Customer Service

Because credit union membership tends to be smaller and more local, bank customers may receive less personal service, especially when using a branch outside their more typical one (perhaps while traveling). Plus, banks are more likely to sell mortgage loans to a third-party loan servicer.

With any lender, bank, or credit union, a house hunter should feel at ease asking a range of mortgage questions.

The Takeaway

Credit union vs. bank mortgage? Each has its upsides and potential downsides. Borrowers looking for a home mortgage loan can explore the pros and cons to make the right choice for their specific situation.

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


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Is it better to get a mortgage at a credit union?

Not necessarily. It’s a good idea to look into what each route offers before making the right choice for you.

What are the disadvantages of credit unions?

Credit unions tend to be smaller and more localized than many banks, so disadvantages can include fewer locations, a smaller ATM network, and more limited financial products. Borrowers must qualify to become a credit union member; technology probably won’t be as modern as that at a larger bank; and, in some cases, costs can be higher.

Are credit unions safe for mortgages?

The National Credit Union Administration insures deposits of up to $250,000 at all federal and some state credit unions, protects the members who own credit unions, and regulates federal credit unions. Eligible bank accounts of the same amount are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Can I take out a HELOC or second mortgage through a credit union?

Not all credit unions offer the same products, but many of them do offer home equity lines of credit and home equity loans.


Photo credit: iStock/Lemon_tm

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


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


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

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

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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All You Need to Know About Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCCs)

All You Need to Know About Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCCs)

To make homeownership more affordable, the federal government offers programs for first-time homebuyers and buyers with low to moderate incomes. The mortgage credit certificate (MCC) program is one option that helps eligible first-time homebuyers save money on their mortgage.

This guide will unpack how a mortgage credit certificate works, the pros and cons, and claiming it on your taxes.

What Is an MCC?

A mortgage credit certificate, sometimes called a mortgage certificate credit, is designed to help homebuyers recoup a portion of the interest paid on their home mortgage loan. An MCC is a dollar-for-dollar federal tax credit of up to $2,000 on the mortgage interest paid annually. It’s a nonrefundable credit, which just means that the amount of your credit can’t exceed the amount of income tax owed for that filing year.

If you take out a mortgage to buy a home, your monthly payment has four components: principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. State and local housing finance agencies issue MCCs, and if you receive one you can claim the dollar equivalent as a tax deduction to reduce the amount you owe in federal taxes. (Not all states offer MCCs, however. Michigan offers one, for example, while Massachusetts does not.) Eligible homeowners can take advantage of an MCC even if they take the standard deduction rather than itemize deductions. If you are one of the few homeowners who itemizes, any remaining mortgage interest not accounted for in an MCC may qualify for the mortgage interest deduction.

Eligibility for this program is based on income and is generally only available for first-time homebuyers who qualify, though others may be able to buy a home in a “targeted area” designated by the state or Department of Housing and Urban Development and claim a mortgage tax credit.

Keep in mind that different mortgage types may have fixed or variable interest rates. Most fixed-rate loans are eligible for an MCC.

Recommended: First-Time Homebuyer Guide

How Does It Work?

Getting a handle on tax credits and deductions can be confusing as a new homeowner, and that’s OK.

To reiterate, an MCC lets you claim a tax credit for a portion of the mortgage interest paid in a year. This lowers your tax liability, which is the amount you owe to the federal government.

The portion of the mortgage interest you can claim with an MCC, known as the tax credit percentage, depends on the state you live in. Generally, the tax credit percentage ranges from 10% to 50% of a homeowner’s total annual mortgage interest.

The tax credit percentage, the mortgage amount, and interest rate are needed to calculate the total MCC. Note, however, that an annual MCC deduction is capped at $2,000 and can’t exceed a recipient’s total federal income tax liability after factoring in other deductions and credits.

It’s helpful to show how claiming an MCC works in practice. You’ll need to know some mortgage basics, like the interest rate, before getting started.

For instance, a homeowner with a $250,000 mortgage, 3.5% interest rate, and tax credit percentage of 20% could receive a first-year MCC tax credit of $1,750.

Here’s how to break this calculation down by steps:

1.    Determine the mortgage loan balance ($250,000), interest rate (3.5%), and tax credit percentage (20%)

2.    Multiply the loan balance and interest rate to calculate the total interest paid ($250,000 x 0.035 = $8,750)

3.    Multiply the total interest paid by the tax credit percentage to calculate the MCC tax credit ($8,750 x 0.2 = $1,750)

The $1,750 would be applied to your total federal tax bill, rather than deducted from your income. Let’s take a closer look at how claiming an MCC in this example would affect your federal income taxes.

With an MCC

Without an MCC

Income $70,000 $70,000
Mortgage Interest Paid $7,000 (total mortgage interest – MCC tax credit) $8,750
Taxable Income $63,000 $61,250
Federal Taxes Owed (22% tax rate) $13,860 $13,475
MCC Tax Credit $1,750 0
Total Federal Tax Bill $12,110 $13,475

In this example, a mortgage credit certificate could lower the amount owed in federal income taxes by $1,365. If you don’t have a mortgage yet, use this mortgage calculator to estimate your interest rate, loan amount, and, on the amortization chart, interest paid.

Mortgage Credit Certificate Pros and Cons

The mortgage credit certificate program was established by the Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 to make homeownership more affordable for low- and moderate-income first-time homebuyers. While an MCC tax credit can provide financial benefits, there are some potential drawbacks to consider, too.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of MCC pros and cons to help you figure out if an MCC is right for you if you’re a first-time buyer.

Pros

Cons

You can receive up to $2,000 in savings on taxes owed every year you’re paying mortgage interest, and carry over unused portions to following years. A portion of MCC benefits may be subject to a recapture tax if you move before nine years, have a significant increase in income, or experience a gain from the home sale.
MCCs can reduce the cost of interest and decrease your debt-to-income ratio to help with mortgage preapproval and qualification. If you have limited tax liability, a MCC tax credit may not pose much benefit since it’s nonrefundable.
MCCs are eligible with most fixed-rate mortgage options, including FHA, VA, USDA, and conventional loans. Obtaining a MCC may come with processing fees, depending on the lender.
First-time homebuyer requirement is more flexible than other programs and can be waived for active military and veterans or if purchasing a home in targeted areas designated by federal and state government. The mortgage tax credit cannot be applied to a secondary residence and might not be reissued when refinancing.

How to Get a Mortgage Credit Certificate

Borrowers are issued an MCC through their lender before closing. Thus, it’s important to discuss options early in the process and when shopping for a mortgage.

Eligibility for an MCC varies by location. State housing finance agencies (HFAs) have established requirements for obtaining an MCC, if one is offered. These include limits on household income, loan amount, and home purchase price.

Other criteria to get an MCC include the following:

•   HFA-approved lender: The HFA may require borrowing from an approved list of lenders.

•   First-time homebuyer status: Borrowers must not have owned a principal resident in the past three years.

•   Primary residence: Only owner-occupied homes are eligible for an MCC.

•   Homebuyer education: HFAs may require borrowers to participate in education courses during the purchase process.

Claiming a Mortgage Credit Certificate on Your Taxes

To claim the MCC each year on your taxes, fill out IRS Form 8396. You’ll need to know the amount of interest you paid on the mortgage that year and the tax credit percentage set for the MCC.

Once complete, you’ll also know if any credit can be carried over for the following tax year.

The Takeaway

What is a MCC? A mortgage credit certificate is a federal income tax credit on a portion of the mortgage interest paid annually for low- to moderate-income first-time homebuyers or people purchasing a home in a targeted area.

The home buying process is a serious undertaking, especially for first-time homebuyers. To get up to speed, SoFi’s mortgage help center is a useful place to start and have your mortgage questions answered.

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


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Who gives you the mortgage credit certificate?

A mortgage credit certificate program is administered by state-level housing finance agencies and issued by mortgage brokers or lenders.

Does everyone get a mortgage credit certificate?

No, mortgage credit certificates have borrower income limits and other eligibility requirements. For context, only 10,836 MCCs were issued in 2022, down from 22,298 issued in 2019, likely due to the fact that some states have discontinued their MCC program.

Can I refinance with a mortgage credit certificate?

A mortgage credit certificate does not prevent you from refinancing, but you’ll lose the MCC on your current loan. Many programs, though, allow borrowers to apply to receive a new MCC issued with their refinanced mortgage.

How do I know if I have an MCC?

Borrowers apply for an MCC prior to closing and receive a physical copy with a unique certificate number from their local or state government.

Do I lose my mortgage credit certificate if I refinance?

The original mortgage credit certificate becomes void if you refinance, but you may be able to have the MCC reissued if the principal balance on the refinanced loan is lower than the original.


Photo credit: iStock/Morsa Images

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


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


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

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

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.

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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What Happens When You Pay Off Your Mortgage?

What Happens When You Pay Off Your Mortgage? All You Need to Know

When you pay off your mortgage, you may have some paperwork and account switching (such as property taxes) to take care of. And you may look forward to greater cash flow.

But is paying off a mortgage always the right move? In some cases, a person who is about to pay off a mortgage may want to consider a couple of options that could make more sense for their particular financial situation.

Learn more about the payoff path and alternatives here.

Pros and Cons of Paying Off Your Mortgage

Paying off your mortgage is a fantastic milestone to reach, but it’s not without trade-offs. Here are a few considerations to help you make the best decision for your situation.

Pros of Paying Off a Mortgage

Cons of Paying Off a Mortgage

No monthly payment May lose tax deduction
No more interest paid to the lender Your cash is all tied up in your home’s equity
More cash in your pocket each month If you pay extra to pay off your home, you may miss out on investment strategies
You’ll need less income in retirement Lost opportunity costs for other uses for your money
Greatly reduced risk of foreclosure No tax deduction for mortgage interest, if you’re among the few who still take the deduction



💡 Quick Tip: Thinking of using a mortgage broker? That person will try to help you save money by finding the best loan offers you are eligible for. But if you deal directly with an online mortgage lender, you won’t have to pay a mortgage broker’s commission, which is usually based on the mortgage amount.

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


What Happens When You Pay Off Your Mortgage?

Here’s how mortgage payoff works:

•   To get the amount you need to pay off your mortgage, the first thing you need to do is request a mortgage payoff letter. If you pay the amount on your last statement, you won’t have the right amount. A mortgage payoff letter will include the appropriate fees and the amount of interest through the day you’re planning to pay the loan off.

•   Know that the payoff letter is only good for a set amount of time, and make sure to get your payment in on time.

•   Follow the instructions you’re given about where and how to submit the payment.

•   Once you’ve sent the payoff amount, your mortgage lender is responsible for sending you and the county recorder documentation to release the mortgage and lien on your home.

•   You should be sent any funds remaining in escrow.

•   You will want to contact your insurance company about this change if your insurance was paid along with your mortgage payment and have the bills switched over to you directly.

•   If your property taxes were paid as part of your mortgage, you will want to contact your local tax collector about shifting those bills to you as well.

What Documents Do You Get After Paying Off a Mortgage?

After paying off your mortgage, you should receive (or have access to) documents proving you paid off the mortgage and no longer have a lien attached to your home. These include:

•   Satisfaction or release of mortgage. This document will be filed with the county recorder (or other applicable recording agency). It states that the mortgage has been satisfied and the lien released.

•   A canceled promissory note. When you closed on your home, one of the documents you signed was called a promissory note. Now that the mortgage has been satisfied, you may receive this document back with a “canceled” or “paid in full,” though it’s also possible you may have to call and request the document.

•   A statement on the paid-off loan balance. Your lender should send you a statement showing that your loan has been paid in full.

What Should You Do After Paying Off Your Mortgage?

After you pay off your mortgage, you’ll need to take care of a few housekeeping items (a couple are mentioned above).

•   Close your escrow account. Since you’re no longer sending a mortgage payment to a mortgage servicer, you’ll need to take care of the items in your escrow account, primarily your taxes and homeowners insurance.

•   Contact your county recorder’s office to double-check that the mortgage satisfaction paperwork has been filed. Once that has been filed, you will have a clear title on the property.

•   Make plans for the extra money. Whether you want to make a bigger push in your retirement account, enlarge your emergency fund, or pay off other debts, you now likely have more cash to do it with. If you don’t make plans for the extra money, it might just evaporate.

Recommended: 2024 Home Loan Help Center

Is Prepaying a Good Idea?

Generally, paying off your mortgage early is a great idea. It reduces the principal, which in turn reduces the amount you’ll pay in interest over the life of your loan. Still, there are reasons that some homeowners consider not paying their mortgage off early.

Most lenders do not charge a prepayment penalty, but home loans signed before January 10, 2014, may include one. Nonconforming mortgage loans signed after that date may have a prepayment penalty that applies within the first three years of repayment. (The different types of mortgage loans include conforming and nonconforming conventional mortgages.)

The best way to find out if prepayment is subject to a penalty is to call your mortgage servicer. The terms of your mortgage paperwork should also outline whether or not you have a prepayment penalty.

Should You Refinance Instead?

Another option you may consider is refinancing your mortgage. There are several reasons you may want to refinance instead of paying off your mortgage.

Lower monthly payment. Getting a lower rate or different loan term may lower your monthly payment. Be sure to check out current rates, and use a calculator for mortgages to find out what a possible new payment would be.

Shorter mortgage term. Refinancing a 30-year mortgage to, say, a 15-year mortgage can keep you close to paying off your mortgage while also providing financial flexibility.

Spare cash. Whatever your need is — home renovations, college funding, paying off higher-interest debt — a cash-out refinance might be an option.



💡 Quick Tip: Compared to credit cards and other unsecured loans, you can usually get a lower interest rate with a cash-out refinance loan.

The Takeaway

What happens when you pay off your mortgage? After doing a jig in the living room, you’ll need to take care of a few housekeeping tasks and make plans for the extra money.

An option to consider: Would a refinance to a shorter term make more sense, or pulling cash out with a cash-out refi? It can be wise to review all your options as you move toward taking this major financial step.

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


SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.

FAQ

Is paying off your mortgage a good idea?

The answer depends on an individual’s situation. If you have the money and you’d love to shed that monthly obligation for good, paying off a mortgage is a good idea. But if you’re worried about funding your retirement or losing opportunities to invest, paying off your mortgage may not be a good idea for you.

What do you do after you pay off your mortgage?

Ensure that you have received your canceled promissory note, and update your property tax and insurance billers on where to bill you. Since you no longer will have a mortgage servicing company, you must pay your insurance and property taxes yourself.

Is it better to pay off a mortgage before you retire?

Paying off a mortgage could give you more money to work with in retirement. But if your retirement accounts need a boost, most financial experts contend that allocating money there is a better idea than paying off your mortgage. Paying off a mortgage when you have low cash reserves can also put you at risk.

Does paying off your mortgage early affect your credit score?

Surprisingly, paying off your mortgage early won’t affect your credit score much. Your credit score has already taken into account the years of full, on-time payments you made each month.


Photo credit: iStock/katleho Seisa

*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.

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


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


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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What Is the Difference Between APR and Interest Rate on a Personal Loan?

What Is the Difference Between APR and Interest Rate on a Personal Loan?

When researching personal loans, you may see the terms APR (Annual Percentage Rate) and interest rate used interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing. The interest rate refers to the cost of borrowing money, expressed as a percentage of the principal amount, but it doesn’t include any other fees or charges.

APR, on the other hand, includes not only the interest rate but also other fees and charges you may incur when borrowing money. This makes the APR a more important number to look at that interest rate.

Read on for a closer look at APR vs interest rate, what it means when these two numbers are different, and what it means when they are the same.

What Is Interest?

Interest is the cost you pay for the privilege of taking out a loan — the money you’ll owe along with the principal, or the amount of money you’re borrowing.

Interest is expressed in a rate: a percentage that indicates what proportion of the principal you’ll pay on top of the principal itself. Interest may be simple — charged only against the principal balance — or compound — charged against both the principal balance and accrued interest itself. Typically, personal loan rates are an expression of simple interest.


💡 Quick Tip: Before choosing a personal loan, ask about the lender’s fees: origination, prepayment, late fees, etc. SoFi personal loans come with no-fee options, and no surprises.

Loan APR vs Interest Rate

So what’s the difference between an APR vs. an interest rate?

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate and specifically designates how much you’ll spend, as a proportion of the principal, over the course of one year. Furthermore, the APR includes any additional charges on top of interest, such as origination or processing fees, which a straight interest rate does not.

In other words, APR is a specific type of interest rate expression — one that’s more inclusive of additional costs.

Interest Rate

APR

Expression of how much will be paid back to the lender in addition to repaying the principal balance Expression of how much will be paid back to the lender in addition to repaying the principal balance
Includes interest only Expresses cost of the loan over one year including any additional costs, such as origination fees

Why Is My Personal Loan APR Different Than the Interest Rate?

If your personal loan’s APR differs from its interest rate, that indicates that there are additional fees, such as origination fees, included in the total amount you’re being charged. If there were no fees, the APR and interest rate would be identical.

How Important Is APR vs Interest Rate?

A loan’s APR is generally more important than its interest rate because APR reflects the true cost of the loan — it accounts for interest as well as any fees tacked on by the lender. Looking at APR also allows you to compare two loan offers apples to apples. One loan may have a lower interest rate than another loan but if the lender tacks on high fees, then it may not actually be the better deal.

APR vs Interest Rate on Revolving Credit Accounts

Personal loans aren’t the only financial product that involve APR and interest rate. Revolving credit accounts — including credit cards — also have interest rates expressed as APR. However, with credit cards, these two rates are one and the same: APR is just the interest rate, and the terms can be used interchangeably.

Credit card issuers may charge other fees, e.g., cash advance fees, late fees, or balance transfer fees as applicable to individual usage. But it’s impossible to predict the type or amount of fees that might be charged to any one card holder.

Although these two expressions are the same, it’s important to understand that the interest rate on credit cards and other revolving credit accounts is usually compound interest, which is precisely why it can be so easy to spiral into credit card debt. When interest is charged on the interest you’ve already accrued, the total goes up quickly.

A single credit card account can have multiple APRs, depending on how the credit is used.

•   Purchase APR: the standard APR for general purchases.

•   Cash advance APR: the rate charged for cash advances made to the card holder.

•   Balance transfer APR: may begin as a low or zero promotional rate, but increase after the introductory period ends.

•   Penalty APR: may be charged if a payment is late by a predetermined number of days.



💡 Quick Tip: With average interest rates lower than credit cards, a personal loan for credit card debt can substantially decrease your monthly bills.

What Is a Good Interest Rate for a Personal Loan?

The interest rate on your personal loan — or any financial product — will vary based on a wide variety of factors, including your personal financial history (such as your credit score and income) as well as which lender you choose, how big the loan is, and whether or not it’s secured with collateral.

The average personal loan rate is currently about 12% APR. However, the rate you receive could be higher or lower, depending on your financial situation and the lender you choose.

Getting a Good APR on a Personal Loan

To get the best rate on your personal loan, there are some financial factors you can influence over time. Here are some action items to consider.

Improving Your Credit

It’s been said before, but it’s true: the higher your credit score, generally the better your chances are of achieving favorable loan terms and lower interest rates — not to mention qualifying for the loan at all. While there are loans out there for borrowers with bad credit and fair credit, improving your credit profile can make borrowing money more affordable.

Paying Down Your Debts

One way you may be able to improve your credit is to pay down your debts. And along with the opportunity to bolster your credit, paying down debt can also improve your chances of being approved for a loan because your debt-to-income ratio is one factor lenders look at when qualifying you for a loan. What’s more, paying down debt can make keeping up with your monthly loan payments a lot easier, since you’ll have more leeway in your budget.

Be Careful When Applying for Credit

Applying for too much credit at once can be a red flag for lenders and ding your credit score, so if you’re getting ready to apply for a personal loan, auto loan, or mortgage, try to limit how many times you’re having your credit score pulled. Typically, prequalifying for a loan involves a soft credit pull, which won’t impact your credit.

While credit scoring models do allow for rate shopping, it’s still a good idea to compare multiple lenders over a limited amount of time — a 14-day period is recommended — to find the lender that works best for your financial needs. If done in a short window of time, multiple hard credit pulls for the same type of loan will count as just one.

Recommended: Soft vs Hard Credit Inquiry

The Takeaway

Personal loans and other financial lending products come at a cost: interest. That’s the amount you’ll pay on top of repaying the principal balance itself. Interest is expressed in a percentage rate, most commonly APR, which includes both the interest and any other fees that can increase the cost of the loan.

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 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.

FAQ

Why is my personal loan APR different than the interest rate?

If the annual percentage rate (APR) on your personal loan is different from the interest rate, it means the lender is charging additional fees, such as origination fees or others.

How important is APR vs interest rate?

The annual percentage rate (APR) is generally the more important figure to look at, since it includes additional costs incurred in getting the loan, such as fees. The APR will give you a more holistic picture of the price of the loan product.

What is a good APR and interest rate for a personal loan?

Personal loan interest rates vary widely but currently average around 12% APR. Depending on your personal financial history, the type and amount of the loan you’re borrowing, and your lender, the rate you receive could be higher or lower.


Photo credit: iStock/Charday Penn

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


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

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.

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

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

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