What Is A Personal Line of Credit & How Do You Get One?

What Is a Personal Line of Credit & How Do You Get One?

A personal line of credit is a type of revolving credit line that can be used to pay for a variety of personal expenses. It works in a similar way to a credit card — a lender approves you for a specific credit limit, and you draw only what you need and pay interest only on the amount you use. This is different from a personal loan, which is a type of installment loan. With an installment loan, you receive a lump sum of money up front that must be repaid at specified intervals.

While both options allow you to borrow money, each comes with its own benefits and drawbacks. Continue reading for more information on personal lines of credit and when this type of financing may make the most financial sense.

What Is a Personal Line of Credit?

A personal line of credit is what’s known as a revolving credit vehicle. It’s similar to a credit card in that:

•  It has a maximum credit limit.

•  A minimum payment is required every month.

•  When the debt on the credit line is repaid, money can be withdrawn again.

Although a personal line of credit doesn’t include a physical card, you can generally write checks, withdraw cash at an ATM, and transfer money into another account using the line. Generally speaking, the interest rates on a personal line of credit are lower than those on a credit card.

Personal lines of credit may be secured (requiring collateral) or unsecured (not requiring collateral). Whether secured or unsecured, some lines of credit require minimum payments of interest and principal, while others only require interest payments for a period of time, known as the draw period. That means that for a set period, you can draw money from your line of credit and only need to make interest payments during that time. After the draw period is over, the line of credit is no longer revolving (meaning, you can’t borrow against it anymore), and you’re typically required to make interest and principal payments.

Unlike personal loans, which tend to have fixed interest rates, a personal line of credit may have a variable rate during its draw period, then switch to a fixed rate once that period ends.

Where to Get a Personal Line of Credit

Personal lines of credit can be found at some banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. However, not every lender offers them.

How to Get a Personal Line of Credit


The process for applying for a personal line of credit is usually similar to applying for other loans or credit cards. Lenders may accept applications online, in-person, or over the phone, and specific application requirements may vary by lender.

Before formally applying, it’s a good idea to review your credit score and shop around at different lenders to compare the rates and terms you may qualify for. Many lenders will allow you to see if you prequalify, which may require a soft credit check, which won’t impact your credit score. Also be sure to evaluate any fees associated with the line of credit and review the draw period and repayment periods.

Once you’ve determined which loan you’d like to apply for, you’ll need to gather the required documentation (such as statements for proof of income). Your chosen lender will generally have a list of required documents. From there, you’ll fill out the application and wait for approval. At this stage, the lender will usually complete a hard credit inquiry which may temporarily impact your credit score.

When to Use a Personal Line of Credit


Personal lines of credit typically offer greater flexibility when it comes to accessing the loan and repaying it than other types of financing, such as a personal loan.

If you’re planning to do a home renovation, for example, you may not need a big chunk of money all at once. A line of credit allows you to access money over time to pay for things in dribs and drabs as you pick out the tile for your kitchen and your contractor finally gets around to installing it. This flexibility can reduce your interest charges because you are only borrowing money you plan to use immediately.

Another benefit of a line of credit is that you can pay it off and then typically borrow from it again. This can make it a good backup to have in case you suddenly experience an expensive emergency that you don’t want to put on your credit cards.

You may also be able to choose a line of credit with a draw period that allows you to only pay interest on the money borrowed for a period of time.

Awarded Best Online Personal Loan by NerdWallet.
Apply Online, Same Day Funding


Drawbacks to a Personal Line of Credit


One drawback is that unsecured lines of credit can be more difficult to qualify for than some other types of loans, such as a home equity line of credit (HELOC). This is because unsecured loans are generally more risky for the lender. Without collateral, the lender needs to be sure that the borrower has the ability to pay back their loan. That’s why for some, it may be easier to qualify for a HELOC (which uses your home as collateral) than a personal credit line. However, keep in mind that with a HELOC, you are taking on some additional risk by putting your house on the line.

Also, the flexibility that comes with a line of credit may be a double-edged sword. The ability to keep borrowing for an extended period of time could lead to feeling tempted to take on more debt or take longer to pay off debt… all of which could mean more interest charges over time.

Using a Personal Loan as a Personal Line of Credit Alternative


When comparing a personal line of credit vs. a personal loan, the major difference is that a personal loan is an installment loan. Like a personal line of credit, personal loans can be used to pay for nearly any personal expense. Borrowers receive a lump sum payment and pay back the loan in installments.

A personal loan may make more sense for borrowers who have a firm idea of their budget or a fixed expense, such as for medical bills, buying an engagement ring, or consolidating debt. Additionally, depending on creditworthiness, the average interest rate on a personal loan may be lower than that of a personal line of credit. Though interest rates will vary by lender so evaluate the options available to you.

Also compare any fees or penalties associated with the personal loan. If a personal loan has a prepayment penalty, you may not be able to benefit from paying off the personal loan early.

Other Personal Line of Credit Alternatives

•   HELOC: With a home equity line of credit, borrowers tap into the equity in their home to borrow a line of credit. This is a secured loan where the home functions as the collateral. This can help borrowers qualify for a more competitive interest rate than with an unsecured personal line of credit, but it also means that if the borrower has issues repaying the HELOC, their home is at risk.

•   Credit Card: In certain situations, a credit card may be used to help pay for emergency expenses. Be aware that credit cards generally have high interest rates — the average credit card interest rate was 27.65%, as of June 4, 2024.

•   Secured loans for a specific purpose: For example, if you are buying a car, you may be better off with a car loan over a personal line of credit or personal loan.

The Takeaway


Personal lines of credit offer flexibility for borrowers because they are a revolving line of credit that functions similarly to a credit card. Borrowers can continue drawing on the line of credit for a set period of time to cover the cost of necessary expenses. For a one-time expense, however, you may be better off with a personal loan vs. a personal line of credit.

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.


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.

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.

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 .

SOPL-Q224-1910113-V1

Read more
How to save for your dream wedding

How To Save For Your Dream Wedding

Getting married can be a pricey proposition, with the average wedding in the U.S. now running $35,000. If you don’t have access to a large stockpile of cash, you may think you’ll never be able to afford the kind of wedding you envision. But that’s not necessarily the case. The key is to start budgeting and saving well ahead of the big day.

Whether you long for a fairy tale wedding or you prefer something more scaled back, there are ways to save for your dream day that will ensure you have the magical moment you’ve always wanted without having to start off your marriage mired in debt.

Set a Budget

Do you want a big lavish wedding worthy of the royals? A destination wedding? Or maybe you want something more intimate with just a few friends and family? There are different levels of spending when it comes to weddings, and deciding what is most important to you can help you determine just how much you’ll need to save.

Is the venue a priority? The number of people? The food? The DJ (or band)? It’s smart to start by making a list and getting a solid estimate of the costs for each of your need-to-haves and your want-to-haves. It’s also wise to leave a little wiggle room for unexpected wedding costs. Little things like the marriage license, dress or suit alterations, and even insurance costs, can start to eat into your budget pretty quickly.

Start a Savings Plan

Before you’ve locked in the date, you and your partner can start a savings plan. Some couples open a separate bank account and set up automatic monthly transfers to that account to build their wedding fund. When savings are automated, you often don’t notice the missing funds. And by picking an account with a competitive interest rate, your money can make money while you continue to plan and save.

If you’re thinking about financing part of your wedding, you’ll want to start investigating your options, which can range from credit cards to personal loans (which typically have lower rates than credit cards), early on and weigh the pros and cons of taking on debt.

Put the Wedding First

Sure, you may want to go on vacation, eat at fancy restaurants, and buy those new clothes, but that will put you further from your goal. Instead of spending on those luxuries now, cutting back and putting that money into your shared dream wedding account can help you get to your savings goal quicker.

There are also some simple ways to cut back that won’t make you feel deprived. For example, you can take local day trips or regional vacations instead of traveling afar. Eating out just once a month and cooking at home more can cut costs. You could even get swanky and hold cocktail hour with friends at your house instead of going to happy hour. Your new bank account will thank you.

Recommended: The Cost of Being in Someone’s Wedding

Do It Yourself

One way to keep wedding costs down is to plan the majority of the wedding yourself. If you already have experience managing projects, then this should be within the realm of your abilities. Researching the typical steps and fees associated with weddings before making any concrete decisions can be helpful. If that feels daunting, you may want to keep in mind that wedding planners cost an average of $2,100. And while there are advantages to using a planner (they already have a contact list of professionals and know their rates, saving you a lot of time and energy), the downside is you could be getting a one-size-fits-all experience instead of the personalized ceremony and party you may want.

Recommended: 8 Tips for a Budget Dream Wedding with Budget Breakdown

Comparison Shop

Just like other big expenses, getting more than one quote for each service you need can help you find the best price point to fit your needs and wants. Does your preferred venue charge a premium for a wedding, but a lower price for a party? You may want to consider negotiating the price. Calling multiple DJs and catering services can help you ensure you are not overpaying. New York City is going to have very different rates than, say, Asheville, North Carolina. This might even be a factor in deciding when to have your wedding, too. For a better idea of how much costs can vary, you can check out this comparison of costs by state .

You can wind up saving a ton of money by doing away with an expensive venue altogether and looking for a free or really inexpensive location, like parks, gardens and even beaches.

And if you’re able to hold your celebration on a weekday or during off-season, you’re likely to find some additional savings. For example, you can pick Friday instead of Saturday; or you can have a fall or winter event to help lower your costs.

Reassess the Dress

Maybe your dream wedding includes a Vera Wang gown, but your bank account can’t swing that. Consider shopping for a vintage dress and having it altered. Or if you want a more modern look, you don’t necessarily have to buy brand new — wedding dresses are usually only worn once and then either sit in the back of a closet or get sold or donated. Resellers often offer beautiful dresses at a fraction of the initial cost.

Consider this: Dresses less than three years old are usually sold for half their original price. And that Vera Wang might not be out of reach after all if you buy it used. Designer brands can sell for 60% to 70% of their original cost.

Recommended: What is the Ideal Wedding Budget?

Where not to Cut Costs

While you might not have much of an appetite on your big day, your guests likely will, so it’s a good idea not to scrimp on the food. It doesn’t have to be a five-star, multi-course meal, but if you want to create a memorable experience for all, it’s smart to offer quality food that doesn’t leave anyone grumbling about “wedding food.”

And what good is a dream wedding if you have bad or no photos to remember it? A good photographer can capture all of the moments of both you and your guests. These are photos that you will cherish when you are older and wiser, that will adorn your dresser and be sent out to family, so skimping here is best avoided if you can. The average cost of a wedding photographer is about $2,900, but It could end up being the best you put toward your special day.

Recommended: 2024 Wedding Cost Calculator with Examples

The Takeaway

Saving for your dream wedding might seem impossible, but it’s within your grasp if you’re willing to put in the time and effort. By cutting a few everyday costs and making automatic transfers into a high-yield savings account every month, you and your soon-to-be spouse will be able to slowly but surely build your wedding fund.

You can also find ways to trim wedding costs while still staying true to your vision for the day. If you find you’ll still need to rely on some type of financing to pay for your big day, be sure to look at all your options to find one with the least cost.

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.


Photo credit: iStock/standret

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.

​​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.

SOPL-Q224-1908101-V1

Read more
What to Know Before Accepting Unsubsidized Student Loans

What to Know Before Accepting Unsubsidized Student Loans

When financial aid like scholarships and grants comes up short, federal student loans can help bridge the gap.

Unsubsidized Direct Loans may be offered to undergraduate and graduate students in a financial aid package.

Subsidized Direct Loans may be offered to undergrads only, and have benefits in terms of who pays the interest during certain periods.

When a college sends an aid offer, the student must indicate which financial aid to accept. Here, we’re looking at Unsubsidized Direct Student Loans and how they can help you pay for college.

What Is an Unsubsidized Student Loan?

The Department of Education provides Federal Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans as one of four options under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. (Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans are the other types.)

Unsubsidized loans provide undergraduate and graduate-level students with a fixed-rate financing option to help fund their college education.

Unlike Direct Subsidized Loans, unsubsidized student loans are not based on financial need. This means that any student may receive unsubsidized loan funding, as long as it meets the Department of Education’s general eligibility requirements.

How Do Unsubsidized Student Loans Work?

If you’re eligible for Direct Unsubsidized Student Loans, the amount you’re offered for the academic year is determined by your school, based on its cost of attendance minus other financial aid you’ve received (such as scholarships, grants, work-study, and subsidized loans).

You will need to complete entrance counseling to ensure you understand the terms and your obligation to repay the loan. Then you’ll sign a master promissory note stating that you agree to the loan terms.

The government will send the loan funds directly to your school. Your institution will then apply the money toward any unpaid charges on your school account, including tuition, fees, room, and board.

Any remaining money will then be sent to you. For example, if you were approved for $3,800 in unsubsidized loans but only $3,000 was applied to your education costs, the school will send the remaining $800 to you.

The Education Department’s Federal Student Aid office recommends accepting grants and scholarships first, then work-study, then loans. And it advises accepting a subsidized loan before an unsubsidized loan, and an unsubsidized loan before a PLUS loan.

A Matter of Interest

As soon as any student loan is disbursed, it starts accruing interest. For federal student loans and most private student loans, you can defer payments until after your grace period, which is the first six months of leaving school or dropping below half-time status.

Here’s the kicker: With a subsidized student loan, the government pays the interest while you’re in school and during your grace period and any hardship deferment.

With an unsubsidized federal student loan or private student loan, unpaid interest that accrues will be added into your loan’s principal balance when you start repayment.

Pros and Cons of Unsubsidized Student Loans

Although unsubsidized student loans offer many benefits, there are also some downsides to know.

Unsubsidized Loan Pros

Unsubsidized Loan Cons

Eligibility is not based on financial need Interest accrues upon disbursement
Available to undergraduate and graduate students You’re responsible for all interest charges
Can help cover educational expenses up to an annual limit Graduate students pay a higher rate
No credit check or cosigner required Interest capitalizes if payments are deferred
Can choose to defer repayment
Multiple payment plans are available

Applying for Unsubsidized Student Loans

Applying for federal financial aid starts with the FAFSA® — the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students seeking aid complete the FAFSA each year.

Where to Apply

Applying for the FAFSA can be done at studentaid.gov, or you can print out a paper FAFSA and mail it.

Based on the information you included in your FAFSA, each school that you listed will determine your financial aid offer, including whether you’re eligible for an unsubsidized loan.

Typical Application Requirements

You must have an enrollment status of at least half-time to be eligible for a Direct Loan. You must also be enrolled in a degree- or certificate-granting program at a school that participates in the Direct Loan Program.

The Department of Education has general requirements to be eligible for federal aid. Applicants must:

•   Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen

•   Have a Social Security number

•   Prove that they qualify for a college education

•   Maintain satisfactory academic progress

•   Sign a certification statement

In the certification statement, you’ll need to confirm that you aren’t currently in default on a federal student loan and don’t owe money on a federal grant, and affirm that you’ll only use aid funds toward educational costs.

How Long Will You Have to Wait?

After submitting your FAFSA, it can take the Department of Education three to five days to process your application. If you submitted your FAFSA by mail, processing can take up to 10 days.

Once you’ve told your school which financial aid you want to accept, loan disbursement timelines vary. Generally, first-time borrowers have up to a 30-day waiting period before they receive their funds. Other borrowers may receive funding up to 10 days before the start of the semester.

How Much Can You Borrow?

There are annual limits to how much in combined subsidized and unsubsidized loans you can borrow. These limits are defined based on the year you are in school and whether you’re a dependent or independent student.

Here’s an overview of combined subsidized and unsubsidized loan limits per year for undergraduate students:

Undergraduate Year

Dependent

Independent

First-year student $5,500 $9,500
Second-year student $6,500 $10,500
Third year and beyond $7,500 $12,500

Graduate students are automatically considered independent and have an annual limit of $20,500 for unsubsidized loans (they cannot receive subsidized loans).

There are also student loan maximum lifetime amounts.

Subsidized vs Unsubsidized Student Loans

Another type of loan available through the Direct Loan Program is a subsidized loan. Here’s a quick comparison of subsidized vs. unsubsidized loans.

Subsidized Loans

Unsubsidized Loans

For undergraduate students For undergraduate and graduate students
Borrowers aren’t responsible for interest that accrues during in-school deferment and grace period Borrowers are responsible for interest that accrues at all times
Borrowers must demonstrate financial need Financial need isn’t a requirement
Annual loan limits are typically lower Annual loan limits are generally higher

Alternatives to Unsubsidized Student Loans

Unsubsidized student loans are just one type of financial support students can consider for their education. Here are some alternatives.

Subsidized Loans

Direct Subsidized Loans are fixed-rate loans available to undergraduate students. As discussed, borrowers are only responsible for the interest charges that accrue while the loan is actively in repayment.

Scholarships and Grants

In addition to accessing potential scholarships, grants, and loans through the FAFSA, students can seek financial aid from other entities.

Scholarships and grants for college may be found through your state or city. Businesses, nonprofits, community groups, and professional associations often sponsor scholarships or grants, too. The opportunities may be based on need or merit.

Private Student Loans

Private lenders like banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions offer private student loans. Some schools and states also have their own student loan programs.

Private student loan lenders require borrowers, or cosigners, to meet certain credit thresholds, and some offer fixed or variable interest rates. Many lenders offer pre-qualification without a hard credit inquiry.

Private student loans can be a convenient financing option for students who are either ineligible for federal aid or have maxed out their federal student loan options. One need-to-know: Private student loans are not eligible for federal programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and income-driven repayment.

SoFi Private Student Loan Rates

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

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

FAQ

What are unsubsidized loan eligibility requirements?

To be eligible for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, undergraduate and graduate students must be enrolled at least half-time at a qualifying school. They must also meet the basic eligibility requirements for federal aid, including being a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen, having a Social Security number, and completing the FAFSA.

How long does it take to receive a Direct Unsubsidized Loan?

Loan disbursement for first-time borrowers can take up to 30 days after the first day of enrollment. For others, disbursement takes place within 10 days before classes start.

What is the maximum amount of unsubsidized loans you can borrow?

Dependent students can borrow a maximum of $5,500 and $6,500 per year during their first and second academic years, respectively. Students in their third year of school and beyond can borrow an annual maximum of $7,500. The aggregate loan limit for dependent students is $31,000 in combined subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

Graduate or professional students may receive up to $20,500 per year in unsubsidized loans. Their aggregate loan limit is $138,500 (which includes all federal student loans received for undergraduate study).


Photo credit: iStock/LPETTET

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


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.


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.

SOIS-Q224-1902912-V1

Read more
A Guide to Nursing Student Loans

Guide to Nursing Student Loans: What You Should Know

Pursuing a nursing program can lead to a rewarding career, but as the cost of higher education grows, paying for nursing school might just cause your blood pressure to rise.

Financial aid, including nursing student loans, can help fill the gap between money on hand and education costs, but it’s good to think about your future pay compared with the debt you’re willing to take on.

Keep reading to learn more on nursing school loans, the different types of student loans available, and alternative ways to pay for nursing school.

What Are Nursing School Loans?

Nursing school student loans are a type of financial aid available to eligible college students who are enrolled in a program for licensed practical or vocational nurses, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, or nurse anesthetists.

Depending on the loan program, federal student loans for nursing degrees can either be need-based or not. Another option to fill in gaps in need: private student loans.

Unlike grants and scholarships, nursing school loans must be repaid, though special programs like the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program and National Health Service Corps Loan Repayment Program offer loan forgiveness.

Most loan programs, federal and private, have a grace period during school and after graduation before repayment must begin.

Types of Loans Available for Nursing School Students

The Department of Education provides options for federal nursing student loans under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.

Eligible borrowers can also explore private student loans for additional funding, if needed.

If you do borrow, you’ll be in good company. Take a guess at how many people have student loans. The answer is about 45 million Americans; the vast majority have federal student loans.

And the cost of nursing school? It varies by institution and length of study. Getting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing generally costs the same as most bachelor’s degrees.

Direct Subsidized Loans

A Federal Direct Subsidized Loan is available to undergraduate students who are enrolled at least half-time at a participating school. Students are required to demonstrate financial need to qualify.

If a nursing student qualifies for a Direct Subsidized Loan, the school determines how much they can receive for that academic year. The government pays the interest that accrues on the loan while the student is enrolled at least half-time, during a six-month grace period after leaving school, and during any deferment granted for economic hardship, cancer treatment, or a few other reasons.

In comparing subsidized vs. unsubsidized loans, the first type favors borrowers more, thanks to how accrued interest is paid.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students. These loans are not based on financial need, but schools still decide how much students can borrow toward an academic year.

The key difference with this nursing loan option is that students are responsible for interest charges as soon as the loan funds are disbursed.

Direct PLUS Loans

Another federal option for nursing student loans is the Direct PLUS Loan. Grad PLUS Loans are available to graduate students who are pursuing an advanced degree like a Master of Science in Nursing.

Parents of an undergraduate student can help fund their child’s education through a Parent PLUS Loan; undergrads don’t have direct access to this loan option.

Direct PLUS Loans are non-need based and require a credit check. Borrowers are responsible for all interest that accrues. They can receive up to the school’s cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received.

Private Student Loans

Nursing students who need funding beyond federal student loans can consider private student loans. Private student loans are offered by private financial institutions like banks, credit unions, and online lenders.

Each lender has its own eligibility requirements, interest rates, and loan terms. If you’re eligible for a private student loan, your interest rate and loan details will depend on various factors, including your credit score. Most lenders welcome your bringing a solid cosigner aboard.

Pros and Cons of Loans for Nursing School

The average student loan debt among all health care professionals can be eye-opening, yet healers usually feel the need to heed the call, no matter the cost.

Nursing student loans can be a fast way to finance your college education. However, before jumping in, weigh the benefits of student loans against their disadvantages.

Pros

Cons

Quick financing for college costs Will make years of payments after leaving school
Some student loans let you borrow up to the cost of attendance Can cause borrowers to postpone other life goals during repayment
Can make paying for higher education possible for those who are ineligible for other types of financial aid You may need a cosigner to qualify
Repaying student loans on time can help build your credit history Defaulting on student loans can harm your credit and result in additional financial hardship

Applying for Nursing Student Loans

The process to apply for nursing student loans depends on the loan option chosen.

Comparing Loans

If you’re thinking about taking out student loans, you might want to compare federal student loans you might be offered in your aid package, as well as private student loans.

Prioritizing federal student loans before private student loans can be a good idea, since federal loans offer advantages like income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which forgives any remaining federal student loan balance after certain borrowers make 120 qualifying payments.

If private nursing student loans are still needed to pay for college, check offers across multiple private lenders. Comparing a handful of private student loan offers can help you find competitive rates and terms.

Applying for Loans

Federal nursing student loans and private student loans have distinct application processes. You must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) before the academic year to see if you’re eligible for federal aid.

Private student loans don’t require the FAFSA. Instead, private nursing student loan applications can be submitted online, in person, or by mail, depending on the lender. They require the would-be borrower, or a cosigner, to meet credit and income requirements.

After Applying

It’s a good idea to start the process early when seeking federal student loans for your nursing education. The time between submitting the FAFSA and disbursement of the loan funds to your school can be months.

The turnaround time after applying to receive private student loan funds can be notably shorter. Getting pre-qualified for a loan can take just minutes.

In general, if you’re approved for a private nursing student loan, you can expect to wait up to 10 weeks after your loan is approved to receive the funds.

Alternative Financing Options for Nursing Students

Securing nursing school student loans is only one of many ways to finance your higher education. Other options include personal loans, grants, and employer sponsorship.

Personal Loans

Personal loans are a general-purpose loan option that can be used toward nursing school. A credit check is required.

Repayment begins as soon as funds are disbursed. Check your rate and decide if a personal loan makes sense. One perk of personal loans is you could get funding within 24 hours of loan approval.

Grants

Grants are provided through the federal government, state, your school, nonprofit entities, and private organizations. Since grant funding doesn’t need to be paid back, this aid alternative lets nursing students leave school with less student debt.

Employer Sponsorship

If you plan on working while you’re enrolled in nursing school, you can ask if your company has a sponsorship program. Generally in this situation, your employer will send funds directly to your school.

Private Student Loans From SoFi

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

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

FAQ

How do nursing students get loans?

Nursing students can see if they’re eligible for federal student loans by submitting the FAFSA. Private nursing student loans are also available through various private lenders.

Can nursing school loans be forgiven?

Nursing professionals might be eligible for loan forgiveness through federal programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program.

What is the average student loan amount for a nurse?

The median student loan debt among nurses ranges from $40,000 to $55,000, according to the most recent report by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Those who pursue a Master of Science in Nursing are often left with more than $47,000 in student loan debt, according to NurseJournal.

For perspective, in terms of educational investment and earnings, registered nurses earned a median annual wage of $86,070 in 2023, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. RNs usually have earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing or a diploma from an approved nursing program.

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, who complete a state-approved educational program that typically takes about one year, had median pay of $59,730 per year.
Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, who must earn at least a master’s degree, had median pay of $129,480 per year.


Photo credit: iStock/erdikocak

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


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.


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.

SOIS-Q224-1902868-V1

Read more
Maxed-Out Credit Card: Consequences and Steps to Bounce Back

Maxed-Out Credit Card: Consequences and Steps to Bounce Back

When you’ve maxed out on your card — or reached your credit card spending limit — it can have a negative impact on your finances. Here’s a closer look at what happens if you max out on a credit card and how it can affect your credit score, as well as how to prevent maxing out your card or bounce back if you already have.

When Is a Credit Card Maxed Out?

So, what is a maxed out credit card? Maxing out on a credit card simply means that you’ve reached the credit limit on your credit card. For instance, if you have a $20,000 credit limit on a card, and your balance hits that $20,000 mark, it’s maxed out. As such, you may not be able to put any more purchases on that card.

Recommended: What Is a Charge Card

What Happens If You Max Out Your Credit Card?

There are a number of financial impacts of a maxed-out credit card. For starters, your card will likely get declined if you try to make a purchase. This is because rather than overdrafting a credit card, your credit card is typically just turned down (though in some cases, you could instead face fees for exceeding the limit, and the charge will go through).

Additionally, you could end up paying quite a bit in interest if you can’t pay off your entire statement balance in full. Plus, it could take you a long time to pay off your balance, further increasing the interest you pay over time. Your minimum payment due may also increase, depending on how it’s calculated by your issuer.

A maxed-out credit card also means that your credit score will take a hit. That’s because your credit utilization — how much of your available credit you’re using — makes up 30% of your credit score. If you’re maxing out a credit card, it looks as if you’re overextended financially, which signals to lenders that you’re a risk.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Guide to Prevent Maxing Out Your Credit Card

To avoid maxing out on your credit card, here are some steps to take:

•  Establish an emergency fund: Without an emergency fund, you’ll likely resort to using your credit card in a pinch, which could lead you to max out your credit card. To avoid ending up in this situation, aim to stash away at least three to six months of living expenses. If that seems like a tall order, start with one month of living expenses, and go from there.

•  Keep tabs on your spending: A golden rule of using a credit card responsibly is to check your credit card statements to monitor usage. Aim to check your balance at least once a week, if not more frequently.

•  Know how much of your credit you’re utilizing: Another of the golden credit card rules is to know what a reasonable balance to keep is and how much of your credit card is being utilized at any given time. For instance, if 30% is the maximum amount you’d like to maintain on your card, and your credit limit is $5,000, then $1,500 is the highest balance you should aim to carry. Many financial experts advise keeping to no more than 30% or, better still, 10% of your credit limit.

•  Request an increase to your credit limit: If you increase your credit limit, it would lower your credit use. However, keep in mind that you also run the risk of racking up a higher credit bill. When considering requesting a credit limit increase, you’ll want to make sure you won’t end up simply spending more.

How Maxed-Out Credit Cards Can Affect Your Credit Score

If you’re wondering if it is bad to max out your credit card, know that it absolutely can have a negative impact on your credit score due to how credit cards work.

When you carry a high balance on a card, it drives up your credit utilization ratio, which can drag down your score. It’s generally recommended to keep the amount of your total credit you’re using at no more than 30%, preferably closer to 10%. If your cards are all maxed out, your ratio is closer to 100%.

However, you can save your score from the negative effects of a maxed-out credit card if you can pay off the balance in full before the statement period closes. If you do this, the maxed-out balance would not get reported to the credit bureaus. That will also help you avoid interest on credit cards.

Tips on Bouncing Back from a Maxed-Out Credit Card

If you’ve hit your credit card spending limit, it is possible to recover. Here are some tips for how to bounce back from what happens when you max out your credit card.

Consider a Balance Transfer Card

Transferring your existing balance to a balance transfer card with a 0% APR interest rate could help you save money on interest. However, you’ll need to have a plan in place to pay off the balance in full before the interest rate kicks in and you’re back in the same place once again. Also note that balance transfer fees may apply, which are generally 3% to 5% of the amount you’re transferring. Also make sure you understand how a balance transfer can impact your credit, as you will likely have a hard inquiry temporarily lowering your score.

Request Help

If you’re really struggling to keep your credit card spending down or are having trouble making payments, consider working with a professional. A credit counselor or nonprofit credit counseling organization can sit down with you to learn about your debt situation and the state of your finances. From there, they can suggest a game plan to help you manage your debt.

Consider Personal Loans

Another way to bounce back from maxing out on a credit card is to take out a personal loan to pay off your credit card debt. This might make sense financially if you qualify for a lower interest rate with the loan than you have on your credit cards. It could also simplify the payment process by rolling all your debts into a single loan.

The Takeaway

If you’ve hit your spending limit on your credit cards, it can negatively impact your credit score and translate to paying more in interest over time. While it’s best to avoid, should you max out on your cards, there are ways to recover and rebuild your credit.

Whether you're looking to build credit, apply for a new credit card, or save money with the cards you have, it's important to understand the options that are best for you. Learn more about credit cards by exploring this credit card guide.

FAQ

What happens if I max out my credit card but pay in full?

If you max out your credit card but pay off your balance in full before the statement period ends, your credit utilization ratio won’t be impacted. In turn, it won’t have a negative impact on your score.

Can I still use my card after reaching the credit limit?

After you’ve reached the credit limit on your card, you generally won’t be able to make purchases on it. Your card won’t go through, and transactions will be declined. In some cases, however, your transaction may go through and you’ll instead owe a fee.

Is it bad to max out your credit card?

Hitting the spending limit on your credit card can have a negative financial impact. First, it can bump up your credit utilization ratio, which can bring down your credit score. It also could equate to a higher monthly minimum payment, and more interest paid over time. Plus, you likely won’t be able to put any more purchases on that card.

How can maxing out your credit card affect your credit score?

When you hit the spending limit on a card and don’t pay it off before the statement period ends, it impacts your credit utilization ratio, which makes up 30% of your credit score. In turn, your credit score will take a hit. On the flip side, decreasing the balances on your card can help build your score by lowering your credit utilization.


Photo credit: iStock/nensuria

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.

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 .

SOCC-Q224-1909344-V1

Read more
TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender