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20 Year Student Loan Refinance vs Income-Driven Repayment

Considering the over trillion-dollar student debt-load carried by millions of graduates in the U.S., it’s not exactly a surprise that many are exploring options for what their repayment journey will look like. For those looking for a lower monthly payment, a common option is income-driven student loan repayment.

For some students, an income-driven repayment plan, could be the best available choice. For example, this may be the correct course of action for those planning on having their loans forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Other times, this might not be the best or most affordable option over the long run, even for those looking for a lower overall monthly payment. That’s because lowering your payments often means extending your repayment timeline, which could mean paying more interest over the life of the loan.

It can be hard to do an apples-to-apples comparison of the two common options (a student loan income-driven repayment plan via the federal government and a student loan refinance from a private lender). That’s simply because what a borrower might pay on an income-driven repayment plan varies from person to person. However, it is still possible to make an informed decision about which makes more sense for your financial and personal situation and money goals.

The first step is gaining a thorough understanding of both common options. Then, you can make an informed decision about which is a better fit to your life and goals. Below, we’ll look at some pros and cons of both.

Income-Driven Student Loan Repayment

To understand income-driven repayment plans, it helps to first wrap your head around a standard repayment plan. Most people who take out a federal student loan or loans are opted into a repayment plan parsed out over 10 years. But standard repayment might not be the best option for everybody, because those carrying high debt balances may have a sky-high monthly payment.

The federal government also offers four income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, which are need-based options where monthly payments correspond to your income. Depending on your income, and by stretching these payments out over as many as 20 or 25 years, monthly payments could be quite minimal compared to the standard 10-year repayment plan.

You may have already caught onto this, but a student loan income-driven repayment plan is only offered on federal student loans. Federal loans typically offer more flexibility in repayment than private loans, which are procured from a bank, credit union, or other lender.

If you are looking for some respite from your monthly payments on private loans, you’ll have to speak with each lender to see whether they can work with you. (That, or you can consider refinancing, which we’ll discuss below.)

While choosing one of these plans may help to lower monthly payments, they generally will not lessen how much you pay over time. Spreading your loan out over 20 or 25 years could actually increase how much you pay in interest.

Why does this happen? Because with a low monthly payment, the borrower might not be chipping away at much of the loan’s principal, on top of which interest payments are calculated. Even worse, if payments are too low they might not even cover the entire interest charge for the month, which means that interest is added to the balance of the loan (is capitalized).

Because your monthly payment amount is contingent on your income, your income and corresponding payments will be reassessed each year. This means that your monthly payments will likely fluctuate over time.

Loans on an income-driven repayment plans are often forgiven at the end of the 20 or 25-year repayment period. But, under the income-driven repayment plans, any amount that is forgiven will be taxed as ordinary income in the year that the loan is forgiven. For many graduates, this is a harsh realization in the year that the loans are forgiven, especially if the loan has grown in size over time due to capitalized interest.

Any person considering one of these plans in order to have their loans forgiven will want to seriously consider the implications of a hefty tax bill. You should consider how you will be prepared to pay this bill. Will you save extra each month for taxes, in addition to your monthly student loan payment? These are all questions that you may want to research on your own, and potentially discuss with your loan servicer or a financial advisor.

Refinancing Student Loans

People with a student loan or multiple loans, especially loans with higher rates of interest, could consider refinancing instead. With refinancing, the new lender will pay off a borrower’s old loans with a new one.

Depending on the lender, this can be done with both federal or private loans. Generally, the bank or lender evaluates a potential borrower’s financial situation to see if they qualify for a better interest rate. At this point, the potential borrower can also look at options for lengthening or shortening the repayment timeline. This is typically called “changing the terms” of your loan.

Let’s talk about what it means to change the terms of a student loan. In an ideal world, you’re either keeping the same term (or even shortening the term), and when combined with a (hopefully) better rate of interest, you’ll likely save some money on interest. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way. You could also extend the length of the loan, remove cosigners, change from a variable rate to a fixed rate, and so on.

Why might one extend the life of their loan via refinancing? Usually, a borrower would do this to get lower monthly payments than they have on a standard, 10-year repayment plan. To be clear, this could cost a borrower more over time even if the loan is refinanced to a lower rate. That said, for some borrowers it still may be a better option than switching to an income-driven repayment plan.

Of course, you’ll want to do a side-by-side comparison of both options, although that’s not a particularly easy task considering that you can’t really predict how much you’ll pay on an income-driven repayment plan over the duration of a student loan, because it varies depending on your income each year.

And with a 20-year fixed-payment refinanced loan, you’re actually paying off the entire balance of the loan. This means you won’t have any part of the loans forgiven, which saves you from a potentially high tax bill .

Something else to consider: When you do a 20-year refinance that allows you to pay extra toward your loans without penalty, you can pay your student loans back faster than the 20-year period. For example, you could potentially pay a 20-year loan back in 10 years by making extra payments, all while keeping the flexibility of the resulting lower monthly payment.

Every lender has their own criteria for determining whether someone qualifies for particular types of loan and at what rates, but it’s usually based on credit score and history and your income (and may include other factors).

When is refinancing not a good idea? Basically, if you are ever planning to use one of the federal loan repayment or forgiveness options, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Because refinancing is the process of paying off loans with a private loan, refinancing federal loans with a private lender means you won’t have access to these federal repayment programs anymore.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to make an informed decision about which of the two options is best for you and your financial situation. Good luck in your journey and in paying back your student loans!

Checking to see whether you qualify to refinance your student loans costs nothing and is unbelievably easy. SoFi offers competitive rates, borrower protections, and award-winning customer service.

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.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
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 about bankruptcy.

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How to Consolidate Multiple Debts into a Single Payment

It’s not exactly a surprise that the average American has plenty of debt . Households with credit card debt carry an average balance of over $15,000. Frustratingly, these debts often come with exorbitant interest rates.

While some folks are able to manage their debts just fine, some may feel overwhelmed juggling loan payments of varying sizes with due dates scattered throughout the month. When life gets busy, missing a payment is too easy and can land you even further behind. Having multiple debts can be stressful and can make budgeting and planning for the future challenging. And let’s be real: No one likes feeling overwhelmed by multiple debt payments.

For most people, the goal with paying back debt—especially consumer debt, like credit card debt—is to do so as quickly and painlessly as possible. If this is your goal, you have options. One of those options is debt consolidation, where you pay off qualifying debts using a new loan, often called a “debt consolidation loan” or a “debt relief loan.” To determine whether consolidating your debts into one single payment is the right choice for you, read on.

Should I Consolidate My Debts?

It may be worth considering consolidation if it will help you simplify your finances and lower the amount of interest you pay overall on your combined sources of debt. For example, if you have multiple credit cards and each has a high interest rate, consolidating to one loan with a lower interest rate could get you out of debt sooner. That, and you could enjoy the sweet relief of only having one payment to manage for the debt you consolidated.

Consolidating your credit cards to a lower interest rate with a debt consolidation loan could help you get out of debt sooner.

Pros of Debt Consolidation

1) You can streamline multiple debts into one payment, making the payback process easier and more efficient.

2) If you consolidate your debt, you may pay less interest over the life of your loan.

3) Consolidating credit card debt can lower your revolving credit utilization ratio, which is a factor considered by most credit bureaus in the calculation of credit scores. If you lower your balance on several credit cards, but keep them open, you’ll decrease your credit utilization ratio. That’s a good thing! Revolving credit utilization ratios are also often considered by lenders when making credit decisions.

That said, debt consolidation isn’t for everyone. Taking out a new loan may come with fees, so you’ll want to do the math and make sure it’s worth it before moving forward. You should also be mindful of the repayment period and ensure you only finance the debt on a timeline that works for you. Be wary of a loan term that’s too long—even if the loan has a lower interest rate, you can pay more in interest over time with longer repayment periods.

Cons of Debt Consolidation

1) If the loan term is longer than necessary, you could potentially pay more in interest even if the rate is lower.

2) Some debt consolidation programs are scams. It is important to understand that not all loan consolidation tactics are created equal. There have been some unsavory and even fraudulent loan consolidation services that don’t really help get your debt under control. If a lender is asking for money upfront to consolidate your debt, for example, that’s a red flag.

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How Do I Consolidate My Debt?

Debt consolidation, in theory, is very simple. You, or a lender, pays off all of your unsecured debts (like credit cards and personal loans) using a new loan. Then, moving forward, you’ll only make one monthly payment on your new loan.

A “debt consolidation loan” or a “debt relief loan” is often just a personal loan. This means that you have the option to seek out personal loans from reputable banks, credit unions, or online lenders. You do not have to work with a debt consolidation services provider that you don’t feel 100% comfortable with. Think of it this way: If it sounds sketchy, it probably is.

When it comes to low-rate personal loans, at SoFi we pride ourselves on transparency and a level of customer service unmatched in the lending industry. Also, our personal loans come with no origination fees, prepayment penalties, or late fees.

Learn more about how a SoFi personal loan can help you manage your debt.

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.
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 on credit.

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Debt Financing a Small Business or Startup

Starting your own business is one of the most challenging—and rewarding—leaps you can take with your career. Turning your idea into a successful, thriving firm takes ingenuity, determination, and grit. It also takes a decent chunk of capital. You have to spend money to make money, right?

According to the U.S. Small Business Association, 57% of start-up businesses rely on personal savings to get their firms going. But if you’re just starting out or are planning an expansion to take your business to the next level, you might need more than you feel comfortable taking out of your savings.

Luckily, there are other sources of financing available that can help offset your costs. In fact, a recent National Small Business Association report found that available financing for small firms is on the rise, with 73% of businesses being able to access the financing they need.

Whether you need to get your business off the ground, expand your reach, or have cash on hand, it can take some creativity to find the right financing to help you thrive. Here are the basics of debt financing to help you find the right solution for your business.

What is Debt Financing?

Debt financing is the technical term for borrowing money from a lender to help run your business (as opposed to raising equity to cover your costs). Examples of debt financing include small business loans and lines of credit. Small businesses use debt financing to cover a range of expenses including start-up costs, operations, equipment, and repairs.

How Does Debt Financing Work?

Essentially, debt financing means borrowing money from a lender that you agree to pay back, typically with interest. If you’ve ever taken out a loan, you’ve financed a debt. The terms of the financing are agreed upon in advance, and you are mostly free to use the money however you wish.

Getting debt financing with favorable terms can be dependent on your credit score and financial profile. However, it is a relatively quick way to secure funds.

What’s the Difference Between Debt Financing and Equity Financing?

Equity financing refers to selling shares of a business in exchange for capital. Basically, this means finding investors who, in exchange for a portion of the business, help fund it. Equity financing can include everything from raising funds from friends and family to securing multiple rounds of financing from angel investors and venture capital firms.

A benefit of equity financing is that it’s money that is given rather than lent, meaning that you won’t have to pay interest. Another benefit is the investors themselves: Having good relationships with them can lead to important connections, mentorship, and resources to help your business grow.

Of course, a potential downside to equity financing is losing some control over the business and its operations (for example, many investors may want a seat on your board in exchange for funding . It can also take a long time—and a lot of effort—to attract and secure investors.

What’s the Difference Between Short and Long-Term Debt Financing?

Debt financing can be divided up into categories of short-term and long-term. Short-term debt financing refers to loans that are repaid over a period of a year or less. This includes everything from using a credit card, to opening a line of credit that you repay as you use it. Short-term financing can be useful for everyday expenses, small emergency repairs, and to cover cash flow.

Businesses use long-term debt financing to cover larger purchases such as expensive equipment, renovations, or real estate purchases. This can include mortgages or business loans which have multiple-year repayment plans. Often lenders require these types of loans to be secured by the assets that they are helping you purchase. For instance, a property mortgage would be secured by the property itself.

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What Debt Financing Options are Available?

If you’re looking for an immediate solution, short-term debt financing may be a good place to start. For covering smaller day-to-day expenses that you plan to pay back quickly, a credit card might be the easiest and most familiar option.

Opening a line of credit can also be a handy way to manage cash flow or finance an expansion over a period of time. A line of credit works a bit like a credit card, but with more flexibility.

Lines of credit tend to be larger than credit card limits, and they usually have more competitive interest rates. Just like a credit card, you can borrow what you need as you need it, and then make monthly repayments.

About SoFi

SoFi is a new kind of finance company that offers personal loans, student loan refinancing, mortgage refinancing, and more. Learn more today to see how SoFi can help you reach your financial goals.

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.


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How Divorce Loans Can Help

When you walked down the aisle, you never dreamed that you would one day be Googling divorce attorneys. But, unfortunately, life doesn’t always turn out the way we planned.

Deciding to get a divorce is difficult enough without having to worry about the expense of it. But all those internet searches likely showed you something you already suspected: Getting divorced can be costly.

So, just how expensive is a divorce? According to a survey by Nolo , the average cost of a divorce is $15,500. The total costs of a divorce can range from as little as a few hundred dollars to well over $100,000, or even into the millions if you’re a Hollywood starlet or Wall Street tycoon.

Why so expensive? In addition to obvious costs like attorney’s fees, there are costs for other things like time off work, court costs, mediator costs, real estate fees, a financial planner’s fees, accountant’s fees, and maybe even a plane ticket to the Bahamas so that you can take a break from it all.

Before you get worried about your divorce costing six figures, let’s break down the real cost of divorce and discuss some ways to finance it.

A Breakdown of Typical Divorce Costs

Are you crossing your fingers and hoping that you’ll have one of those divorces that only costs $400? If your divorce is not contested, or you agree on everything from the distribution of your assets to who gets your kids during the holidays, it could be relatively simple and inexpensive. Often couples draft up their own agreement and just bring it to a lawyer to make it official.

But let’s be honest, when was the last time you agreed on everything with anyone, let alone with your ex-spouse about things that important? Couples often need at least a mediator to help them come to an agreement.

If you disagree over dividing your finances (and you don’t have a prenup), or you can’t decide who should have custody of the kids, then you’ll likely both look to hiring attorneys.

Further, you could end up going to court if you’re not able to reach a settlement. Attorney’s fees make up the bulk of divorce costs with the average couple in Nolo’s survey paying $12,800 in lawyer’s fees to break up.

After that, there are court costs, and the cost of experts to bolster your case. Not sure what experts you could possibly need? Think child custody evaluators, accountants, and real estate evaluators. Speaking to any or all of them can continue to rack up a tab.

The Hidden Divorce Costs You’ll Need to Prepare For

Unfortunately, the total costs of your divorce are broader than just what it takes to reach a financial settlement and custody agreement. You might have to sell your home even if the market is not so great, or sell investments during a downturn.

There are real estate and closing costs, down payments on new houses, and moving costs. That alone could cost thousands and might include one costly trip to Ikea. If you have kids, you might even need to buy extra clothes and toys for both houses so that your kids don’t feel like they’re living out of a suitcase.

There are also other hidden costs that come with going to court. You might miss out on work and income in order to meet with lawyers, or have to pay for child care while you’re both meeting to finalize the details. You might also need help from your financial planner or accountant as you separate your finances and plan for your own financial future. If you have shared debt, there could even be costs associated in figuring out how to divide it or pay it off.

Then there are ongoing costs related to child support or alimony. If one partner used to stay home with the kids but is now re-entering the workforce, day care or after-school care could be another added ongoing expense. Counseling could also be necessary to deal with the difficulties and changes in your life—for both yourself or your kids.

That’s not even counting all the pints of chocolate ice cream or books about restarting your life after divorce that you may or may not impulse buy.

How a Personal Loan Can Help Finance a Divorce

The challenge with divorce costs is that they are often all due around the same time. Since we don’t generally save for a potential divorce in an account labeled Divorce Fund, there’s often not enough cash on hand to cover everything.

Many people resort to using credit cards, but expensive interest rates only make your divorce cost more in the long run. Getting a divorce loan might sound strange, but it’s often a crucial way to pay for your divorce without going into credit card debt.

A divorce loan is essentially a personal loan that you take out to finance your divorce. If you have good financial history and a good job, you’ll be might be eligible to qualify for a much lower interest rate on a personal loan than a credit card would offer.

A personal loan can pay for divorce attorney’s fees or allow you to pay the movers. It can help you pay off existing joint debt, and even be put towards a new budget.

Having the funds from a personal loan can give you time to space out the costs over a longer period of time so that you don’t have to sell that painting your Aunt Mary left you. A personal loan to fund divorce costs could mean breathing room, peace of mind, and respite in a difficult time.

If you think a personal loan sounds like the plan for you, check out SoFi’s personal loans to help finance your divorce.

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.

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