What Is an Apprenticeship? Complete Guide to Apprenticeships

An apprenticeship program trains workers to become skilled in a trade or profession, combining paid on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Apprenticeship programs help workers gain professional skills and experience in a particular field while assisting employers in building a highly-skilled workforce.

There are over 24,000 apprenticeship programs across the nation, offering workers access to hundreds of occupations in fast-growing industries. Before you take on an apprenticeship, it’s important to be aware that these programs require a great deal of commitment and hands-on engagement from both employers and workers.

College may not be for everyone and an apprenticeship can be an alternative way to get your foot in the door in your preferred field. Here are some things you should know before taking on the responsibility of an apprenticeship.

What Is an Apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a way to acquire training, work experience, classroom instruction and mentorship in a particular trade. Not only are apprenticeships paid, but it’s also a doorway to well-paid, stable and in-demand jobs.

Approximately 92% of apprentices who complete an apprenticeship retain employment, according to the Department of Labor, and graduates earn $300,000 more over their lifetime compared to their peers who do not complete an apprenticeship. Apprentices also receive a nationally-recognized credential within their industry upon completion of the program, and may even earn academic credit towards a college degree.

How Do Apprenticeships Work?

The majority of apprenticeships are registered either with the U.S. Department of Labor or a state apprenticeship agency. While programs depend on the organization, registered apprenticeships must meet certain standards , according to the National Apprenticeship Act (Fitzgerald Act).

Upon entering the apprenticeship program, apprentices receive hands-on training under the guidance of an experienced mentor. Many apprenticeships also require apprentices to take academic courses related to that career, which may be taken in a classroom, through occupational or industrial courses or even online. Apprenticeships are also paid with pay raises being given to apprentices as skill levels increase.

The eligible starting age for an apprenticeship is 16; however, some occupations require apprentices to be at least 18 years of age. Each apprenticeship’s sponsor also develops minimum requirements related to education and the ability to perform certain job functions. Some apprentices may also have the option to enter a pre-apprenticeship program, which aims to better prepare workers for the apprenticeship program.

Upon completion of the program, a nationally accredited certification is awarded.

How Long Does an Apprenticeship Last?

The time required to complete an apprenticeship, which can range from one to six years , depends on the job and the program. However, the Labor Department specifies that apprentices must complete at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning plus 144 hours of classroom work.

Are Apprenticeships Paid?

According to the Department of Labor, the average starting wage for an apprentice is $15 per hour. Pay increases are received when new skills are learned. The average starting salary after completing an apprenticeship program is $72,000.

Do You Have to Pay for an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship training is typically offered by the employer at no cost to the apprentice. If there are costs associated with the program, they must be disclosed to apprentices before they agree to participate in the program.

Typical Apprenticeship Costs

Employers may ask apprentices to cover certain expenses, such as costs related to tools or educational materials. Additionally, employers may pay for the instruction but specify that if an apprentice leaves the program before completion, then related costs must be paid back to the employer.

What Types of Careers Offer Apprenticeships?

There are thousands of apprenticeship programs across a range of fields. Here are some industries that offer apprenticeships:

•   Advanced manufacturing

•   Construction

•   Energy

•   Financial services

•   Healthcare

•   Hospitality

•   Information technology and cybersecurity

•   Telecommunications

•   Transportation

Pros and Cons of an Apprenticeship

Pros Cons
Apprentices can earn a salary while avoiding student debt. An apprentice will typically start with a relatively low salary.
Build new skills through hands-on experience and classroom instruction. Apprentices can even earn credit towards a college degree. The competition is tough. Apprenticeships can be hard to get into.
It can open the door to well-paid and in-demand careers. Limited access to certain careers. If you decide to change career paths later in life, it could be challenging.

Pros

•   Earn while you learn: Apprentices can have a secure income while gaining experience in a particular field.

•   Build new skills: Apprentices can gain valuable and sought-after skills through their apprenticeship program. Not only can apprentices gain experience from field training, but there’s classroom instruction provided by apprenticeship training centers, technical schools, community colleges, and four-year colleges and universities, which can sometimes be completed online. Apprenticeship sponsors may also work directly with community colleges to provide college credit for apprenticeship experience.

•   Opens the door to new opportunities: Apprenticeships oftentimes lead to full-time employment and workers may have better access to careers that offer competitive pay and room for advancement.

Cons

•   Start with a lower salary: Although starting salaries for graduates are higher, apprentices are typically paid a lower salary at the beginning of the apprenticeship; however, there are salary increases as new skills are acquired.

•   It can be competitive: Entry into apprenticeship programs can be very competitive, especially in high-paying industries.

•   Limited to certain fields: Changing career paths down the road could be more of a challenge. A large number of occupations still require at least an undergraduate degree, particularly in medical and science fields.

Recommended: What Is a Trade School and Is It Right for You?

Apprenticeship vs Internship

Both apprenticeships and internships are similar in that they both aim to help you gain expertise with hands-on training in a certain industry, but several differences should be noted. Here are some of the most common differences:

•   Duration: Internships typically last only one to three months while an apprenticeship can last up to six years.

•   Pay: Apprentices receive at least the minimum wage specified by the Fair Labor Standards Act for hours on the job. Wage increases are earned as the apprentice gains and uses skills while working for the employer. Internships are usually unpaid, temporary positions.

•   Structure: Apprenticeships have a structured training plan and prepare an apprentice to fill an occupation within the organization. Internships aren’t always structured and only prepare interns through entry-level work.

•   Mentorship: Apprentices work with an experienced mentor. Internships don’t always include mentorship.

•   Credential: After completing an apprenticeship program, a nationally accredited certification is awarded. Interns generally don’t receive any type of credential.

•   Job opportunities: Interns are usually still in college or some students may complete an internship during high school. Internships give a student the opportunity for career exploration and development, and to learn some new skills. An apprenticeship provides in-depth training and apprentices can potentially transition into the same role after completion of the program and earn a higher salary.

Finding an Apprenticeship

There are thousands of apprenticeship programs across the country serving numerous industries and occupations, making them fairly easy to find and apply to. Here’s how you can find one and apply.

1. Choose a Field of Work

Before you begin your search for a program, you need to decide on a particular field of work that matches your interests and skills. It’s also important to consider whether or not you meet the requirements for programs in a particular industry.

2. Look for Apprenticeship Opportunities

There are several places to start your apprenticeship search. You can use the Labor Department’s Apprenticeship Job Finder to search by keyword and location, contact your state’s apprenticeship agency , check out trade or labor unions in your area or use traditional job search engines. If you need more guidance, find an American Job Center near you.

3. Review and Meet Application Requirements

Once you decide on a program, check the application requirements for applicants. Most programs require a high school diploma or GED and you must be physically capable of performing the work. Other minimum requirements vary by program but can include a clean criminal record, passing a qualifying exam, or an interview.

4. Submit an Apprenticeship Application

Apprenticeship vacancies open throughout the year with each one giving deadlines for applications and start dates. Once you decide on a program and find an open spot, you must apply directly with the employer or the program sponsor.

5. Start Your Apprenticeship

Once accepted, you’ll likely have to sign a formal agreement that outlines the details of the program and your responsibilities as an apprentice. Long-term employment with the organization may also be a possibility upon successful completion of the apprenticeship.

Alternatives to Apprenticeships

Not right for you? There are alternatives to apprenticeships, such as attending a four-year institution, a community college, or a trade school. There, you’ll be provided with a broader set of knowledge along with the key skills required for your area of study.

However, college can come with a hefty price tag and a large percentage of students turn to private student loans and federal aid for support. Many people also question whether college is worth it, considering there are other options available.

According to the College Board’s annual “Trends in College Pricing ” report, the average cost of attending a four-year college as an in-state student at a public university during the 2020-2021 school year was $10,560. Out-of-state students paid $27,020 on average. Community colleges are one option for students looking to make college more affordable, with the average tuition at about $5,222 per year for in-state students and $8,882 for out-of-state students.

Recommended: Options for When You Can’t Afford Your Child’s College

Beyond the cost of college tuition, whether you choose an apprenticeship or a degree, you’ll need to look closely at your preferred field of study and assess your personal situation to find the path that’s right for you.

For example, perhaps you are considering an apprenticeship vs going back to school. In this case, you may want to evaluate how you’ll pay for college as an adult in comparison to the salary you stand to earn if you pursue a degree. Then evaluate salary and career potential with an apprenticeship. Pursuing higher education is a personal choice and what’s right for you will depend on factors including your individual circumstances and career goals.

Explore Upper Education Loan Options from SoFi

Apprenticeships may not be for everyone, and students who choose to focus on a college degree may need help financing their studies. SoFi’s private student loans allow students to pay for college without the fees. That means no late fees, no application fees, or origination fees to stress about. While private loans can be helpful, because they lack the benefits and borrower protections available with federal loans — like deferment options or income-driven repayment plans, they are generally considered an option only after all sources of funding have been depleted.

The Takeaway

So what is an apprenticeship? An apprenticeship can be a suitable option if you prefer to get your foot in the door without paying for a four-year degree. Apprenticeships can also be an excellent way to gain access to a company or a particular field you wish to work in. However, they aren’t for everyone nor are they available in every field.

Students who are pursuing a college degree may look into private student loans after exhausting all other aid options, including federal student loans. If you think a private student loan may be right for you, consider SoFi’s Private Student Loans. There are no fees and borrowers can choose from four repayment plans.

Interested in learning more about using private student loans to help pay for your education? Check out what SoFi has to offer.

Photo credit: iStock/JohnnyGreig


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Can Student Loans Be Discharged?

Student loans can be discharged, but only in certain circumstances. When federal student loans are discharged, your requirement to pay back some or the entire remaining amount of your debt due is eliminated. However, this usually only happens in unique life situations, such as school closure, disability or death.

We will cover the circumstances under which you may qualify for student loan discharge, as well as your alternative options for handling student loan debt.

When You Can Discharge Student Loans

Interested in discharging your student loans? Here are some of the circumstances under which you may qualify.

Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

To qualify for a federal student loan discharge due to disability , you must have a “total and permanent” disability that can be verified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration or a qualified doctor. You also must complete a discharge application, which includes documentation showing you meet the government’s requirements for being considered disabled.

Veterans may be eligible for student loan discharge if they can provide paperwork from the VA demonstrating they either have a disability that is 100% disabling due to their service, or are totally disabled due to an individual unemployability rating .

For those individuals who are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, you may also qualify for loan discharge by providing documentation of your Social Security award.

Unfortunately, not all private student loans give you the option to discharge your loans if you’re permanently disabled. So while you might be able to discharge your federal student loans because of disability outside of the courtroom, that’s not necessarily the case for private loans. If you’re permanently disabled and looking to get out of private loans, you may have to consider legal action (but that’s up to you and your attorney to determine).

Student Loan Discharge Due to Death

Federal student loan discharge may also be granted if the borrower dies. Parents who have taken out Parent PLUS loans on behalf of a student may also have these loans forgiven if the student dies.

For this to occur, proof of death, such as an original death certificate or certified copy, must be submitted.

Declaring Bankruptcy and Discharging Student Loans

Filing for bankruptcy does not automatically cancel or discharge your student loans. In fact, your federal student loans will only be possibly eligible for discharge during bankruptcy if you file a separate “adversary proceeding.” That essentially asks the court to find that repayment of your loans would impose undue hardship on you and any dependents.

It’s best to consult with a qualified professional, such as an attorney specializing in bankruptcy law, before making any decisions. Also keep in mind that bankruptcy will impact your credit.

Closed School Discharge of Loans

For a 100% discharge of certain loan types, including Direct Loans, FFEL and Federal Perkins loans, you can also show that you were unable to complete your degree program because your school closed . However, for this to apply, you must meet one of the following criteria:

•   You must have been enrolled at the time the school closed

•   You must have been on an approved leave when the school closed

•   Your school closed within 120 days after you withdrew if your loans were first disbursed before July 1, 2020 (180 days if your loans were first disbursed on or after July 1, 2020)

Only federal student loans can be discharged directly with the application due to school closure and other circumstances. For private loans, you must contact your lender directly to see if you will qualify with them.

False Certification Discharge

In very rare circumstances, you may be eligible for a discharge if loans were issued but they should not have been given out to you in the first place. For instance, this may apply if:

•   Your school falsely certified that you had a high school diploma or GED

•   You had a disqualifying status, such as a physical or mental condition, criminal record or other circumstance, at the time of the school certified your eligibility

•   Someone else or your school signed your name on the loan application or promissory note

In all of the above circumstances, your loans might be discharged.

Unpaid Refund Discharge

If you leave school after getting a loan, your school may also be required to return part of your loan money. You can become eligible for a partial discharge if you withdraw from school and the college did not return the portion it was required to under the law.

In this case, only the amount of the unpaid refund would be discharged.

Alternatives to Discharging Student Loans

Since qualifying for a student loan discharge is only permitted under particular circumstances, it’s important to look at other options for federal loans. Here are some of the other choices you may have to help pay off your student loan debt:

Forbearance: Forbearance temporarily allows you to stop making your federal student loan payments or reduce the amount you have to pay. Usually you must be unable to make monthly loan payments because of financial difficulties, medical expenses or changes in employment.

Deferment: You can also opt to defer your loans in certain circumstances, such as going back to school. Depending on your loan type, your loans may still accrue interest while in deferment. However, if you qualify for deferment on federal subsidized loans, you generally will not be charged interest during deferment.

Income-based repayment: With income-based repayment, you can reduce your monthly student loan payments if too much of your income is currently going toward them. You’ll make monthly payments of 10% to 20% of your monthly discretionary income, and then after 20 or 25 years of on-time payments your remaining balance is forgiven.

Cancellation: There is also the possibility of cancellation of Perkins Loans if that is the type of loan you have. You can qualify for up to 100% cancellation if you have served full-time in a public or nonprofit elementary or secondary school system as a teacher serving low income students or students with disability or teach in a certain field.

Forgiveness: For certain qualifying public service jobs, student loan forgiveness may be an option. With this option, your remaining student loan balance will be forgiven after you make 120 qualifying monthly payments while working full-time for a qualifying employer, which can include government organizations and certain not-for-profit organizations.

When to Refinance Your Student Loan Debt

Unlike student loan forbearance or deferment, which are temporary, short-term solutions, student loan refinancing can be a long-term debt solution. If you don’t qualify for other options we’ve discussed, refinancing can help simplify your repayment process since all of your loans can be taken care of with one monthly payment. If you refinance with a private lender, you can also change the term length on your student loans.

It is important to remember that if you refinance your student loans with a private lender, you will forfeit your eligibility for federal loan benefits, such as student loan forgiveness or deferment.

The Takeaway

As you can see, it is possible to discharge student loans, but only in unique life circumstances, such as disability or false certification. If you do qualify, that could result in some or all of your student loans going away, though you may have to pay taxes on the discharged balance.

If you don’t qualify for student loan discharge or some of the alternatives, refinancing your loans with a private lender like SoFi can help get you a potentially lower interest rate, or a lower monthly payment if you extend your loan term.

Check your rate in two minutes and see if refinancing your student loans could help you with your financial goals!


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.
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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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 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.

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

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Student Loan Deferment vs Forbearance – Differences Between Them

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Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

The federal government has put federal student loan repayment on hold until Jan. 31, 2022, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But the current administration has announced that will be the final extension. Moreover, if you’ve got private student loan debt, your payments haven’t been on hold. 

Whether you’re dreading the impending deadline on your federal loans or are living paycheck to paycheck and can’t pay your private loans, you may be wondering how to postpone your payments. That’s especially true if you’re facing a period of unemployment or reduced income and can’t find a way to lower your monthly student loan payment.

If you only need to pause your monthly payment temporarily, you have two primary options: deferment and forbearance. While people often use the terms interchangeably, there are some key differences. And knowing what these are could impact how costly your student loan becomes.

What Is Student Loan Deferment?

A deferment allows you to temporarily suspend making payments on your student loans for reasons specified by your lender. Exactly how it works differs based on whether your loans are federal or private student loans. 

Federal Student Loans

Deferment is available on all federal student loans, which are loans from the United States Department of Education (ED). In addition to allowing you to suspend making payments, interest doesn’t accrue on any of your direct subsidized loans, the subsidized portion of direct consolidated loans, subsidized federal direct Stafford loans, the subsidized portion of FFEL (Federal Family Education Loan program) consolidation loans, and federal Perkins loans. 

All your unsubsidized loans continue to accrue interest. And any unpaid interest that accumulated during the deferment may be capitalized (added to the principal balance) at the end of the deferment period. Loan servicers (the companies who manage your loans for the government) only capitalize unpaid interest on direct loans and FFEL loans, never on Perkins loans. You can pay the interest during deferment to prevent capitalization.

You can defer federal student loans for a variety of reasons. The length of allowable deferment varies, depending on the reason for the deferment.

Deferment options include:

  • In-School Deferment. You can defer making payments for an unlimited amount of time as long as you’re enrolled at least half-time at an eligible college or career school. And if you’re a graduate or professional student who borrowed a PLUS loan, you qualify for an additional six months of deferment after you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment. In-school deferment is typically automatic. If it doesn’t happen automatically, complete an in-school deferment request form.
  • Parent PLUS Borrower Deferment. If you’re a parent and took out loans for your child’s education, you can defer those loans while they’re attending school at least half-time. As with in-school deferment, there’s no limit on the length of deferment as long as the student remains enrolled.
  • Graduate Fellowship Deferment. You can defer payments for the total amount of time you’re enrolled in a graduate fellowship program. To qualify, you must be enrolled in an approved fellowship program. There’s no limit on the length of deferment as long as you remain in the fellowship.
  • Economic Hardship Deferment. You can only receive this deferment for up to three years if you’re experiencing financial hardship. To qualify, you must work full time but earn income below 150% of the poverty guidelines for a family of your size in your state of residence. Or you must be receiving a means-tested benefit like welfare.
  • Unemployment Deferment. You can defer making payments up to three years if you’re unemployed, receiving unemployment benefits, or looking for full-time employment.
  • Active-Duty Military Service Deferment. You can use military deferment as many times as applicable. You must be on active duty in connection with a war, military operation, or national emergency. The military deferment ends when you resume enrollment in school at least half-time after active duty (but it switches to in-school deferment). Or it ends 13 months after active duty and any applicable grace period.  
  • Cancer Treatment Deferment. You can defer making payments for the total amount of time you’re in treatment and up to six months after treatment.
  • Rehabilitation Training Deferment. You can defer making payments for the total amount of time you’re enrolled in a rehabilitation training program for alcohol or drug abuse or for a program intended to provide mental health or vocational treatment.

Unlike private loans, federal loans let you use as many deferment conditions as you qualify for. For example, you could defer making payments for four years while in college, another three years for economic hardship, an additional two years to get a master’s degree, and another year for cancer treatment. And then you could go back to school to get a doctorate and defer again for another four to eight years. 

Private Student Loans

Deferment with private lenders is substantially different from the ED’s offerings. While deferment does suspend payments, most private lenders don’t suspend interest.

As with federal student loans, the conditions for deferment could include school enrollment, participation in a medical residency, military deployment, or economic hardship. But there are often fewer conditions for deferment with private lenders, and the conditions vary by lender.  

Additionally, private lenders typically have less generous caps on the amount of time you can defer payments over the life of your loan. For example, your loan might specify a cap of 12 months of total allowable deferment, including in-school deferment. 

Generally, the deferments for private lenders are also aggregate — meaning if you defer your loan for 12 months while in school, you use up all your allotted deferment time. You can’t later defer for another three months if you experience economic hardship. 

But private lenders’ terms vary. Some of the better private student loan companies have deferment conditions that aren’t aggregate. Always read the fine print before you accept any period of deferment so you know what you’re agreeing to.   


What Is Student Loan Forbearance?

As with deferment, forbearance allows you to suspend making payments for a set period. But there are some slight differences between the two. One particular difference makes deferment the better option if you can qualify for it: the way the options handle interest.

Federal Student Loans

Both deferment and forbearance allow you to stop making payments on your federal student loans temporarily. But only deferment suspends the interest on your subsidized student loans. 

Thus, even though you don’t have to make payments during a forbearance, interest continues to accrue on all your federal loans, both subsidized and unsubsidized. And the loan servicer will capitalize it on all direct loans and FFEL loans (not Perkins loans) at the end of the forbearance period. That means you end up owing a higher balance after the forbearance.

You can prevent that by making interest payments during the forbearance, although it’s not required.

There are two types of forbearance: general forbearance and mandatory forbearance. General forbearance is at the discretion of your loan servicer, but your servicer must grant mandatory forbearance. 

If you don’t qualify for a deferment but need to suspend your monthly student loan payments temporarily, you can request a general forbearance under the following circumstances:

  • You’re experiencing financial hardship
  • You have excessive medical expenses
  • You’ve experienced a change in employment
  • You’re experiencing any other circumstance that makes it temporarily difficult to repay your loan, which your servicer accepts as a reason to grant the forbearance

Because a general forbearance is at the discretion of your loan servicer, it’s ultimately up to them whether to grant it. However, it also provides the servicer with a lot of leeway, meaning they can grant you a temporary suspension of payments for nearly any reason as long as it seems reasonable.

You can only receive a general forbearance for 12 months at a time. At the end of 12 months, if you’re still experiencing financial hardship, you can request another forbearance. However, you can’t forbear your loans under a general forbearance for more than three years in total.

Your servicer must grant mandatory forbearance under the following conditions:

  • AmeriCorps. You’re serving in an AmeriCorps volunteer position for which you’ve received a national service award. Visit AmeriCorps for more information.
  • Student Loan Debt Burden. You have such an excessive amount of student loan debt that the total amount you owe each month on all your federal student loans exceeds 20% of your monthly gross income. Apply using the student loan debt burden forbearance request form.
  • Medical or Dental Residency. You’re serving in a medical or dental residency. Apply using the service-based forbearance request form.
  • National Guard Duty. You’re a member of the National Guard and have been activated by the governor but don’t qualify for military service deferment. Apply using the service-based forbearance request form.
  • Department of Defense Loan Repayment Assistance Program. You qualify for partial repayment of your student loans through the U.S. Department of Defense’s student loan repayment program. Apply using the service-based forbearance request form.
  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness. If you’re working toward qualifying for teacher loan forgiveness, you can forbear your loans during that time. Apply using the teacher loan forgiveness forbearance form.

Like general forbearances, you can only receive mandatory forbearances for up to 12 months at a time. At the end of 12 months, you can request another forbearance as long as you continue to meet the eligibility requirements. Unlike general forbearance, there’s no cumulative limit on most mandatory forbearances. The exception is the student loan debt burden forbearance, which you can only receive up to a cumulative maximum of three years.

Private Student Loans

A private student loan forbearance operates similarly to a deferment. Since few private lenders suspend interest on student loans for deferments, the difference with forbearance is primarily in the name. But it’s worthwhile to check your lender’s fine print to see if there are any differences in terms.

Occasionally, lenders have different qualification conditions for deferments versus forbearances or different mandatory term lengths. For example, a lender might specify that your loan provides 12 months of deferment, but forbearance is available upon request. So if you use up all your allotted deferment, you may still be able to request forbearance if you experience financial hardship.


Should You Postpone Your Student Loan Payments?

If you’re experiencing temporary financial hardship, deferment or forbearance is a quick and convenient solution. But if your situation is long term, deferment and forbearance aren’t ideal solutions. In fact, sometimes, they’re not ideal even in temporary circumstances.

That’s because the longer you defer or forbear, the more interest accrues on certain loan types. Then, when the loan servicer capitalizes the interest, your balance is even higher and you start racking up interest on the higher balance, meaning you’re now paying interest on top of interest.

Additionally, with the exception of economic hardship deferment, any time your federal student loans spend in deferment or forbearance, they aren’t earning credit toward forgiveness. 

So multiple years of deferments and forbearances could easily cause a manageable amount of student loan debt to spiral into an overwhelming debt burden.

Thus, you’re better off looking for an alternative that better suits your individual needs in most situations. That could include:

For more information on these options, read our article on your options for paying back federal student loans. 


Final Word

Many lenders, from the ED to private institutions, give you a lot of discretion when it comes to postponing repaying your loans. But that doesn’t mean you always should. Deferring or forbearing your loans can be costly due to the accumulation of interest.

However, sometimes unexpected financial emergencies occur that make it difficult or impossible to make your monthly payments. Always contact your student loan servicer immediately if you’re having trouble paying your student loans. Never just stop making payments, as there’s almost always a solution to help you avoid defaulting on your student loans. 

Default comes with serious consequences, including wage garnishment. The federal government can garnish your wages and capture your taxes or Social Security to repay your student loans, interest, and fees without having to sue you first.

Additionally, you generally won’t be able to defer or forbear your loans if you’ve defaulted on previous payments. 

Be aware that you must continue to make payments on your student loans until your servicer notifies you it has granted the deferment or forbearance, which could take 30 days. If you stop paying, your loans could become delinquent. And you may go into default. 

For federal student loans, you’re in default if you haven’t paid on your loans for more than nine months. But private student loans could go into default if you miss as few as one payment.

So to avoid negative consequences, reach out to your loan servicer as soon as you need to miss a payment.

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Source: moneycrashers.com

31 Ways To Save On Back to School Shopping

Back-to-school time is here, which means that it’s time to start spending money on all the necessary supplies for the upcoming school year. In 2021, back-to-school shopping will cost an average of $498, and one in three parents of school-aged children say that they will go into debt to be able to afford supplies.

Here are 31 back-to-school shopping tips that will save you money this school year and beyond.

1. Check the Circulars

You might receive weekly circulars in the mail that include coupons to local stores that can help you save money on school supplies. If you don’t receive any circulars or you want more, using a website like Flipp can give you access to digital circulars and coupons you can use at the store.

2. Download Honey

The Honey browser extension is helpful when it comes to back-to-school savings. Installing Honey on your web browser will enable the extension to automatically search for coupon codes and deals when you check out online, saving you both time and money.

3. Use Online Coupons

Some websites, such as Coupons.com, RetailMeNot, and Savings.com, offer online coupons. Browsing these sites may lead to savings on school supplies you need.

4. Join Target Circle

Doing back-to-school shopping at Target will let you earn rewards through Target Circle . You can access hundreds of deals as well as earn 1% back when you shop (or 5% back when you shop with your Target RedCard). Then, you can redeem your savings on later purchases.

5. Use Cash Back Credit Cards

Making school-supply purchases with a cash-back credit card is another option to save some money. Then, you can put your savings towards future purchases or use the cashback to pay a portion of your credit card bill.

6. Get Cash Back for Shopping

On sites like Rakuten and Swagbucks , you can earn cash back when you shop at your favorite stores. Check these sites for cash back offers before heading out for back-to-school shopping.

7. Sign Up for Store Emails

If there are a few stores you know you’re going to be shopping at this year, then sign up for their email list ahead of time to receive coupons and find out when they are running sales. Some stores offer a percent-off coupon or a dollar-amount discount for signing up for their emails or texts.

8. Download Store Apps

Along with signing up for emails, you can also download store apps to receive exclusive savings and deal alerts. You may receive a one-time coupon at the beginning and then additional deals after that.

9. Ask Friends for Their Old Supplies

If you have friends who aren’t using their old supplies anymore, they may be willing to give them to you so they don’t go to waste. This could save you a lot of money, especially when it comes to
paying for college textbooks.

Recommended: College Essentials: What to Bring to College

10. Join Parent Groups

Consider joining local parent groups on Facebook or other social media platforms to see if anyone is giving away supplies or selling them at a steep discount. Connecting with other parents before the first day of school can also be a good way to form friendships and trade back-to-school shopping tips.

11. Look on Used Goods Marketplaces

You may also be able to find the supplies you need on used goods marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Keep safety precautions in mind when meeting strangers to complete a transaction: consider meeting at a police station, bring someone with you, and trust your instincts if you feel the situation is unsafe.

12. Wait to Make Some of Your Purchases

Your children are not going to need all of their school supplies on the first day, or perhaps even in the first month of school. Instead, you can ask your children’s teachers what they will need right away and then wait to shop for the rest of the supplies when retailers start marking down their inventory, which typically happens in September or October.

13. Create a Budget

Before setting foot into a store, come up with a back-to-school monthly budget so you know exactly how much you can spend and avoid impulse purchases. Without a plan, it can be easy to spend too much and get caught off guard when you get your credit card statement in the mail.

14. Take Inventory of What You Already Have

You may already have what you need for back to school in your home. Look around for extra pencils, art supplies, books, and other items that you thought you needed to purchase but may already own.

15. Pay With Cash

One of the old tricks for sticking to a budget and saving money is to pay with cash instead of a debit or credit card. Paying with cash may make you more mindful of your purchases because you see the cash disappear when you spend it. You might not be tempted to spend as much if you opt for good, old-fashioned dollar bills and coins.

Recommended: Pros & Cons of Living Cash-Only

16. Negotiating on a Cash Purchase

Cash is also helpful for negotiating. Though you may not be able to negotiate prices at a big-box store, you might be able to at a local shop, flea market, or yard sale if that’s where you’re headed for school supplies. Let the merchant know how much you’re willing to pay, and they may just be willing to cut a deal with you.

17. Look for Price Matching

Some stores will match another store’s price if you show them that their competitor is offering a better price on the same product. Prior to going to the store, take a few minutes to compare prices online, and bring proof of the lower price when you shop. Price matching policies vary from store to store and can usually be found on a store’s website.

18. Buy in Bulk

When it comes to how to save on school supplies, you may be able to save big if you buy in bulk from warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club. Some of the best things to buy in bulk for back-to-school include pens and pencils, folders, and notebooks. Bulk purchases of things like paper towels, toilet paper, and shampoo might also make good financial sense. Joining other parents to split costs on bulk purchases might just result in a new, like-minded friend group.

19. Buy Refurbished Electronics

If you need to pick up electronics like laptops, tablets, or phones, consider buying a refurbished version instead of a new device. Certified used models are often available directly from the manufacturer or from reputable online sellers.

20. Head to the Dollar Store

While the dollar store isn’t the ideal place for all your back-to-school shopping needs, you can find a number of inexpensive items there to save money on. These items include pencils, pens, crayons, folders, and clipboards.

21. Shop on Tax-Free Days

Some states hold annual tax-free days, usually in July or August, which is perfect for back-to-school shopping. Check online to see if and when your state offers this money-saving option.

22. Use Your Student Discount

College students may be able to use their college ID or student email address to score discounts on electronics and other items. Check out stores around your college that offer deals to students.

23. Buy Used Textbooks

Another way to score some back-to-school savings is to purchase used textbooks. BookFinder.com searches all the bookseller websites to find the best deals on your textbooks.

24. Keep Your Receipts

If you keep your receipts and find out that items you purchased have been discounted further, then you may be able to get a price adjustment or a partial refund to make up for the price difference. Policies vary by retailer, but it doesn’t hurt to check sales after you’ve made a purchase and ask the store if they offer price adjustments.

25. Buying From Thrift Stores

Thrift stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army often have back-to-school essentials like clothing and backpacks. Plus, buying used items can be environmentally friendly. Families who are facing financial difficulty affording school supplies may qualify for assistance through various charitable organizations, such as The Salvation Army, or even their local school districts.

26. Find Brand Giveaways

By following brands on social media or contacting them directly, you may get free samples or promo codes to get discounts on goods.

27. Turn in Those Rebates

Sometimes, you won’t be able to access back-to-school savings at the time of purchase. Instead, you’ll need to send in rebates. Look for products that offer rebates and remember to keep your receipts and anything else required for the savings.

28. Invest in Quality Purchases

While you may want to buy everything at discount stores, poor-quality items may not even last an entire school year. For items that get a lot of use, such as a backpack, consider paying a bit more so they last. For example, you may be able to use the same high-quality, well-made backpack for several years before it wears out.

29. Use Alternatives for Your Kids’ Favorite Characters

Your child might really want a backpack with a specific character on it, but next year’s favorite character will probably be different. Buying your child a plain backpack and then adding some keychains or stickers that feature their favorite character is an inexpensive compromise that will keep your kids happy and save you big bucks.

30. Buy Reusable Items

While plastic and paper bags may be convenient, you’ll save much more money (and the environment) if you buy a reusable lunch bag and containers instead. Find a lunch bag that’s easy to clean to save time as well.

31. Hold a Clothing Swap

Kids quickly grow out of clothes, so it’s not budget-friendly to buy a lot of expensive new garments. You can invite over some friends and neighbors who have kids and swap used clothing instead.

The Takeaway

Taking some pre-shopping time to estimate costs is a good practice when trying to figure out how to save on school supplies. Setting a financial goal and saving a little bit at a time is a good thing to do whether the goal is purchasing school supplies or something a little more expensive. Whatever the goal, a cash management account like SoFi Money® can help you get to where you’re headed, financially speaking.

There are no account fees with SoFi Money, including no ATM fees within the Allpoint® Network worldwide, and using the SoFi app makes it easier to manage your account wherever you spend money.

Consider SoFi Money a part of your back-to-school plan.

Photo credit: iStock/TARIK KIZILKAYA


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How Does Tuition Reimbursement Work?

If you’re working and want to continue school but aren’t sure how to fund it, your employer may offer assistance.

Tuition reimbursement programs are offered by many companies. While each company has their own specific requirements, tuition reimbursement is when an employer pays for a portion of an employee’s continuing education costs.

Some employers may require employees meet certain requirements, such as working at the company for a specified time or maintaining a minimum GPA before approving their reimbursement.

Oftentimes, as the name suggests, employees will have to pay for the cost of tuition upfront and they will be reimbursed after the course is completed, so long as they continue to meet the program requirements.

What Is Tuition Reimbursement?

As mentioned, tuition reimbursement, or tuition assistance, is an arrangement where an employer pays for part or all of an employee’s continuing education.

Your employment contract may lay out the terms of the tuition reimbursement: how much of your tuition your company will cover, what courses qualify, any minimum GPA requirements, and the minimum time period of employment.

Tuition reimbursement is often offered as an employee benefit on top of a salary package, along with other benefits like health care, a 401(k), or transportation expenses.

This is different from student loan repayment assistance, when your company provides some amount of funding assistance for an employee’s existing student loans.

Not every company offers tuition reimbursement, but it is becoming an increasingly available benefit, as companies continue to compete for and retain skilled workers.

While this perk can help companies attract and retain employees, tuition reimbursement programs also benefit the company, since the courses you take may provide skills or knowledge you can put into practice back at work.

Some companies are upping their educational benefits as a way to stay competitive. SoFi at Work helps companies offer a range of benefits to their employees like student loan refinancing and student loan contributions.

How Does Tuition Reimbursement Work?

The specifics of each company’s education reimbursement policy may vary. The details are likely laid out in the employment contract or employee manual. If you have questions about whether your company offers tuition reimbursement, or the details of their program, head to HR. They’ll likely be able to help, or can connect you with someone who can answer your questions.

What Types of Classes are Covered?

It’s common for a company to offer tuition reimbursement only for courses related to your work. Sometimes they’ll reimburse classes pertaining to your current job description.

Other times, companies will approve courses focused on moving you into a management role or on gaining skills you can put towards other future roles or assignments.

For example, if you work in project management for a large corporation and are interested in learning how to use data visualization, you might be able to take community college courses in data production and visual graphics.

Eligibility Requirements

After understanding what courses qualify for tuition reimbursement, you could then consider looking over the other requirements. Some common requirements for tuition reimbursement programs include:

• Minimum GPA. Some may require a minimum grade point average before they issue a reimbursement. Others may offer reimbursement on a sliding scale, for example, a higher reimbursement percentage for better grades.

• Stipulations around how long you’ve worked or will work for the company. Some programs may require employees to work at a company for a certain amount of time. Others may require you to continue working there for a set amount of time after finishing school, since they’ve invested in your education and don’t want you to take those new skills to a competitor.

Paying for Classes

You’ll probably have to sign up and pay for the courses yourself first, so you’ll want to budget appropriately. In most cases you’ll need to pay for your courses out of pocket and then provide proof of completion and your grades in order to be reimbursed.

Is Tuition Reimbursement Taxable?

While you should always consult with a licensed tax professional regarding the current tax law, and in no way should any of this publicly-available information be considered tax advice, the IRS’ website currently states that employers can deduct the cost of tuition reimbursement (up to $5,250 annually). It’s a business expense for them.

The IRS website also states that the first $5,250 of tuition reimbursement isn’t considered taxable income. However, anything above that counts as part of your taxable wages and salary. Again, talking to a tax professional is always recommended.

The IRS does have some requirements on tax-free educational assistance benefits—which are not necessarily the same requirements your employer has. Typically, for the IRS to count your tuition assistance as tax-free, it should be used to pay for tuition, fees, textbooks, supplies, or equipment.

And typically, it can’t be used for meals, lodging, transportation, or any equipment you keep after the course. It’s also not applicable to sports, games, or hobbies—unless they’re a degree requirement or you can prove they’re related to your employer’s business. Again, consult with an accountant or tax attorney to get the complete picture.

What Are Other Options to Lower Education Costs?

The average cost of attending a four-year public college as an in-state student during the 2020-21 school year was $10,560 and that price tag only goes up for private schools and out-of-state students.

If you can’t get tuition reimbursement from your employer, there are other options that could be worth considering.

Federal Financial Aid

Depending on the type of course or program you are pursuing, federal financial aid may be an option. Federal financial aid, including scholarships, grants, work-study, and federal student loans, may be helpful as you cover the costs of going back to school.

To apply for federal financial aid, students are required to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) annually.

Private Student Loans

If you aren’t able to qualify for federal student loans, private student loans are another option to consider. They can fill in the gaps as you pay for tuition and school-related expenses. Private student loans don’t always offer the same benefits available to federal student loans—like income-driven repayment plans or options for deferment or forbearance—so they are generally only considered as a last resort.

Recommended: A Guide to Private Student Loans

SoFi offers no-fee private student loans with four different repayment options. (Again, private student loans don’t offer the same repayment benefits that federal student loans offer, so do your research.)

Refinance Existing Student Loans

If you already have student loans, when it comes time to repay you could consider refinancing those student loans at a lower interest rate. This could lead to cost savings in interest over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a lower monthly payment could help with budgeting in the short term, but may lead to more interest over the life of the loan.

If you choose to refinance your student loans, federal loan benefits will no longer be available to you, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), income-driven repayment options, or deferment or forbearance options.

The Takeaway

As defined above, when an employer offers to reimburse employees for a portion or all of their continuing education costs, this benefit is called a tuition reimbursement program. Again, even if your employer offers tuition reimbursement, you may still have to pay for the courses upfront. And if the cost of classes is higher than the amount offered, you may still need to pay the additional amount.

If you’re looking to refinance or borrow a private student loan, prequalifying online with SoFi takes just two minutes. SoFi offers student loan refinancing with no application or origination fees and no prepayment penalties. Plus, existing SoFi members may qualify for rate discounts.

Learn more about student loan options available with SoFi.


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

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Source: sofi.com

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 – thewonderforest.com

If you run a small business on Etsy, it’s a good idea to be on top of Etsy shopping trends and best-selling products, to give your business the best chance of being successful on the platform! Use this round-up of 15 profitable handmade products you can sell on Etsy to brainstorm new ideas for listings and inspire your creativity.

Don’t forget to stay on trend with clear, bright product photos, and saturate your listings with lots of lovely keywords that shoppers are using!

Profitable Handmade Products for the Home

Mushroom Cushion

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Mushroom cushion by Save Our Planet Clothes

Inspired by the popular cottagecore aesthetic, mushrooms are a charming motif that is popping up all over Etsy at the moment. Etsy has reported a 758% year-on-year increase in searches for “mushroom cushions” and cushion cases, but all forms of mushroom home décor are proving popular with shoppers. Take advantage of this trend by selling your own sewn mushroom-themed pillow covers!

Wavy Candle

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Wavy candle by LOFT The Label

Unique and wiggly shapes are also showing up all over trending home décor. Specifically, there has been a 28,858% increase in searches for “wavy candles”. Can you create some fun, uniquely shaped candles? Or apply these fun wavy shapes to other product ideas to take advantage of this trend.

Bird Feeder

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Bird feeder by Suburban Woodcraft

Following the impacts of being at home, and people wanting to spend more time outside with loved ones, shoppers are searching to build lovely outdoor spaces in their gardens. Specifically, 247% more searches for “bird feeder” have been reported so far this year. Why not try crafting your own unique bird feeder to sell on Etsy?

Halloween Décor

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Halloween Print by Honey Plum Paper Co.

Halloween is just round the corner, and shoppers are already thinking about it! There has been a 59% increase in searches for “Halloween outdoor décor” as well as an increase in “Halloween items”. Think prints, bunting, and spooky candle holders.

Profitable Handmade Products to Wear

Matching Sets

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Matching set by Baby Decore Boutique

What’s cuter than mini and Mom matching? Pick out colourful prints and match an outfit for Mom and an outfit for baby, and tap into the 86% increase in searches for “matching sets” on Etsy. Alternatively, think about creating matching sets for siblings, pets and their owners, or bridal parties.

Regency Gowns

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Dress by Lela Silk

Channelling their inner Bridgerton Regency vibes, shoppers have been all over this romantic trend. Add a modern twist with embroidery and cottagecore details. Etsy has reported a 2,164% increase in searches for “Regency gowns”. If you have the ability to sew, consider making this your niche!

Striped Shirts

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Striped shirt by Art Disco

Bold, colourful and patterned clothing is in! 54% more shoppers have been looking for “striped shirts” on Etsy, while there has been a noticeable increase in retro, floral and checkerboard designs on shirts, dresses and jumpsuits.

Floral Mask

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Mask by Modern Masquerade

With many people still choosing to wear masks or in a place where they are mandated, they are still hugely popular on Etsy at the moment. Floral designs seem to be most profitable, with 45,598 searches for “floral face masks” on Etsy in the first three months of this year. Designs featuring sunflowers are especially prominent.

Personalized Apron

A great idea for a gift, Etsy has seen a 108% increase in searches for “personalized aprons” on the platform. Can you add your own special twist or design to make yours stand out?

Profitable Handmade Products for Children

Ceramic Kits

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Photo by The Pottery Tree Gifts

A fun and practical project for the whole family to get involved in, “ceramic kits” have seen a 140% increase in searches. Offer a from scratch project, or create a product like a mug or trinket dish with all the kit needed to paint a beautiful design.

Halloween DIY Kits

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Pumpkin crochet kit by Little Conkers

In a similar vein, shoppers are looking for fun Halloween DIY kits and handmade art projects, as proved by a 1,368% increase in searches. Kid-friendly crafts and paint-by-numbers style kits will attract families who want to keep the kids busy on the weekend!

Custom Stickers

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Sticker by Werka Co

Ideal for decorating diaries and school planners, stickers are always a popular product, especially those aimed at kids. While there has been a 92% increase in searches for “custom sticker”, you can also tap into searches for “sticker packs”, “vinyl sticker” and “cute sticker”.

Birthday Banners

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Birthday banner by Hooray Days

People are constantly looking for fun ways to make birthdays special for young children. Beautiful decorations can add that magical touch to their big day! Etsy has reported a 68% increase in searches for “birthday banners”.

Initial Notebooks

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Initial Notebook by Masons Jars

Did someone say back to school? All kinds of stationery and school supplies are flying off the shelves at the moment, but Etsy has noticed a 116% increase in searches for “initial notebooks” – showing a common trend of shoppers searching for unique and personalised twists on a popular product.

Plus…Profitable Handmade Products: Gift Ideas for Men

15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021 15 Super Profitable Handmade Products You Can Sell in 2021
Leather Cord Organizer by Minustudio.co

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Moving With Kids: What Did They Love, Hate, And Learn?

Deciding to move is exciting, but the actual moving part can be downright tough. You try to plan for everything while juggling the process of settling into the new place. But, when you’re moving with kids, it’s a different challenge altogether! Not only are you tasked with helping them understand why they’re moving to a new place, they need help adjusting once you’re all there.

When we first decided to move, our youngest wasn’t on board, but our oldest was. It took a lot of discussion, but eventually everyone was excited for this new chapter. It’s been a month and a half since we moved, so I decided to sit down with my two kiddos, Kennedy (age 14) and Kelsey (age 13), to get their perspective on all things moving and the new house. 

moving with kidsmoving with kids
Kennedy and Kelsey sit down to give their own perspective on moving.

“What was your most favorite part of moving?”

Kennedy: “I love my new room!”
Kelsey: “We didn’t have a bathtub in our last house, so being able to take baths and use bath bombs is fun.”
Me: “Finally getting into the home we’ve been building for the past 6 months. In my head I’ve been planning things out, but it was finally time to make this house our home.”

TIP: When moving with kids, a great way to ease the transition is to celebrate any new home features that maybe you didn’t have before. In our case, we surprised the girls with bath gifts to celebrate having a new bathroom! It’s a small gesture, but can really help if they’re struggling to feel at ease. 

moving with kidsmoving with kids
To celebrate having a new bathroom, we surprised the girls with bath bombs and nail polish.

“What was the most stressful part of moving?” 

Kennedy: Figuring out which box I put my stuff in because I wasn’t very specific with my labeling.
Kelsey: Unpacking took FOREVER.
Me: Coordinating between all the deliveries and different companies who came to the house the first couple days. After that, getting unpacked and still enjoying the new neighborhood, it was definitely a balance.”

TIP: Moving with kids can be another level of stress not only for you, but for them. Having a smart, well-communicated moving plan and organized system in place can help minimize moving anxiety. 

(READ MORE: 5 Stress-Free Tips to Settle Into Your New Home Build!)

moving with kidsmoving with kids

“How have you made your new room feel like home?”

Kennedy: I’m redecorating my room the way that I want and what makes me happy.
Kelsey: I’m being more intentional with my room décor and only keeping things that I really like.
Mom: Even though I’m a DIY/ home décor blogger, I’m letting the girls take full control on their rooms. I haven’t decided if I’m even going to share their rooms on social media out of respect for their privacy. They’re getting older and privacy is a big thing right now.

“What do you wish you’d done to make the moving process easier?”

Kennedy: I should have labeled my boxes better.
Kelsey: I shouldn’t have dumped all my boxes out at once; I should have unpacked them one at a time.
Me: We didn’t have the wire racks put in the closets and wanted to do built ins instead. We should have installed the build-in closet system prior to moving. 

moving with kidsmoving with kids
Kelsey learned the hard way that dumping all the boxes at once wasn’t a good idea.

“What do you feel you need in the new environment? What are your concerns?”

Kennedy: Having everything in place and set up before we go back to school.
Kelsey: Making new friends in the neighborhood.
Mom: I want the girls to get adjusted to being in new schools and hopefully making new friends. We live in a great neighborhood, but they’re both in new schools this year and I want them to not feel so isolated like they did last year.

“What were you most thankful for during the moving process?”

Kennedy: The weather wasn’t too hot and we have a lot more room in our new house to move around.
Kelsey: I feel safer now that we live in a gated community.
Mom: The girls were able to go paddle board on the lake and go to the pool while we did the boring unpacking stuff. It’s great that they had that option and we felt safe letting them go do those things on their own. 

One of the perks of the new house is having a little lake behind the house for the girls to paddle board.

Always Remember to Check In and Show Gratitude

I loved sitting down and hearing what the girls had to say about moving and getting settled. Prior to moving, we all talked about packing, labeling, and unpacking — but in true teenager fashion, they didn’t quite listen. Now, they know firsthand why those plans were in place, and it gave us an opportunity to talk about what they’d learned and would do differently in the future. So take note, moving with kids can create some teachable moments!

Still, I give huge kudos to these two because they have been a tremendous help. Between loading the moving truck, unpacking, helping with the dogs, and countless other things, we were able to have a pretty successful move. Now that we’re almost two months into our new home, the move doesn’t seem that bad and now we can focus on making new memories as a family. 

Questions About Building a New Home?

If you’re considering a new home build, check out Homes.com’s “How to Build” guide, a comprehensive look at the process from start to finish. From financing to finishing touches, it’s your one-stop resource for all your home building questions!


Brooke has a lifestyle blog called Cribbs Style and currently lives in Charleston, SC. This wife, mom of two almost tweens, and mom of three fur children enjoys all things DIY and organizing. When she’s not helping others tackle the chaos of life, she’s either working out, at the beach, or just enjoying time with family and friends.

Source: homes.com

The History of Women’s Homeownership

The summer of 2020 has been an interesting one. Social distancing guidelines have changed the way we live during the “vacation” months, coronavirus has transformed back to school policies, and we’re in the thick of what is one of the hottest real estate markets yet. But, in August, we also celebrate women. On August 26, 2020 we celebrate National Women’s Equality Day– a day used to commemorate the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920 granting women the right to vote. Now, more than 100 years later from the amendment being passed, Homes.com wanted to look at the history of women and homeownership.

Beginning in 1718, the path to homeownership began in Pennsylvania when an act was passed allowing women to manage any owned property while their husband was at war. Although this act only applied to married women, that’s for a reason. Single women at this time were referred to as “femme sole,” which means a woman without a husband, and single women actually had more rights than women who were married. Once this act was passed, a ripple effect began in multiple other states throughout the 1880s where the Married Women’s Property Act helped abolish these laws that prohibited women from having control over any jointly-owned property.

history of women's homeownership timelinehistory of women's homeownership timeline
Sourced from the Guardian, Encyclopedia of Women’s History, UPenn Law, Britannica, Bureau of Labor Statistics, History.com, Yale School of Management, and Bank of America.

Fast forward to 2020, now we see women gaining control over the real estate market. In February of 2020, a Homes.com study found that 23% of women surveyed said they would prefer to buy a home while single. And, more recently, when polling potential homebuyers who visited Homes.com in August, 56% of those shopping for a home were female compared to only 35% being male. This isn’t a surprise since in 2008 following the housing crisis, women homeownership rates averaged at 51% compared to an average of 45% for men. In 2019, those numbers continued to grow and single women accounted for the second largest homebuying group behind married couples.

Read: A Timeline of the History of Real Estate

Single Women Homebuyers are on the Hunt for a Home

Fifty-five percent of the women who were surveyed on Homes.com’s site said they would be first-time homebuyers if they found, and purchased, a home this year. And, if you’re looking for a good enough reason to buy a home, you can find guidance, resources, and answers to any questions you may have on Homes.com’s How To section– a place that offers free, step-by-step guides for anyone on the homebuying, selling, or renting journey.

*Sourced from the Guardian, Encyclopedia of Women’s History, UPenn Law, Britannica, Bureau of Labor Statistics, History.com, Yale School of Management, and Bank of America.


Content Marketing Assistant at Homes.com | See more posts by this author

As Homes.com’s content marketing assistant, Sydney gets to combine one of her favorite pastimes with her job– keeping up with pop culture. Outside of work, she enjoys stepping away from her phone and computer and spending time with her friends, whether it’s just hanging out or traveling. Trying new foods, going snowboarding, and long road trips are some of her other favorite things to do, but what does she loves the most? When people read Homes.com’s blog articles, of course!

Source: homes.com

A Guide to the 3 Credit Bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion

The dreaded credit report. Scary, isn’t it? Much like your “permanent record” in every teen movie, it can often seem like your credit report determines your entire future.

What’s more is that, for most, your credit report is shrouded in mystery. Information surrounding how to access your credit report, what’s included on your credit report, and even what your credit report is used for may feel like a big question mark.

We’re here to demystify credit reports for you. Read on to learn about credit reports, how to access them, and why they’re important.

Have a particular question about the three credit bureaus? Jump to it using the links below:

  1. What is a credit report and why does it matter?
  2. What are credit bureaus?
  3. Where do credit bureaus get their information?
  4. What are the 3 major credit reporting agencies?
  5. How do I get a copy of my free credit report?
  6. What is a credit monitoring agency?
  7. What do I do if my credit report has incorrect information?

What is a credit report and why does it matter?

Before diving into your credit report, it’s important to understand “credit” itself. Most associate credit with credit cards, but “credit” refers to more than that. Any loan you’ve taken is considered credit. That may be a loan in the form of a credit card, which you pay off monthly, or a student loan, car loan or lease, home loan, or any other type of money you’ve borrowed.

A credit report contains information about the historical and current status of all of the above. Creditors (those who lend you money) submit information to credit bureaus, also known as credit reporting agencies, who compile that credit information into your credit report.

Your credit report also may contain the following information:

  • Your personal information, including name, address(es), birthdate, SSN, and phone number(s)
  • Your credit accounts
    • Current and historical credit accounts
    • Creditors name
    • Credit limits
    • Account balance
    • Payment history
  • Your collection items
  • Your public records
    • Liens
    • Foreclosures
    • Bankruptcies
    • Civil suits
  • A list of inquiries – or companies that have accessed your credit report

Typically, negative information like late payments, delinquent accounts, charge offs, and more stay on your credit report for 7 years, and bankruptcies stay for 10.

What are credit bureaus?

Credit bureaus are for-profit companies that aggregate information from creditors, public records, and other companies, and then compile the information into your credit report. These reports are then sold to companies who would like to legally access your credit information, like a landlord or a creditor with whom you’re applying for a loan.

Credit bureaus are not government owned or related to banks in any way. That said, these companies are regulated by the government through a piece of legislation called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

This act ensures the following:

  • You have the right to request access to your credit report once per year
  • Your credit report can only be accessed by those with a valid need and you have the right to know who accesses your credit report
  • You have the right to dispute anything in your credit report and the credit reporting agency must investigate and remove any inaccurate information
  • Negative information must be removed from your file in 7 years and bankruptcy in 10
  • Your credit report cannot contain medical information
  • You have the right to sue anyone who violates the Fair Credit Reporting Act and seek damages in court
  • And much more

Where do credit bureaus get their information?

Credit bureaus source their information from a number of different sources. First, creditors report your credit information to credit bureaus. This may be a bank or retailer with which you have a credit account or a loan company you’ve borrowed from in the past.

Creditors are not legally required to report information to all three of the major credit reporting agencies, which is why your credit information may vary from report to report. While most of the larger creditors relay your credit information to all three credit bureaus, smaller creditors may only relay their information to one.

Credit bureaus also source their information from debt collectors and public reports, like bankruptcies, liens, or court records.

What are the 3 major credit reporting agencies?

While the market used to be full of numerous credit reporting agencies, these days it’s dominated by 3 major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

As separate companies, credit bureaus don’t share information between each other, which is why your credit report may vary slightly from company to company. Each bureau collects its own information with slightly different focuses.

How do I get a copy of my free credit report?

The Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to one free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus each year.

But for many, accessing that credit report can feel like an impossible task. A quick search for credit report in any major search engine bombards you with credit reports for purchase.

In order to access your free annual credit report from each bureau, simply go to the aptly named www.annualcreditreport.com, or call (877) 322-8228. With a bit of identifying information, including your name, address, date of birth, and SSN, you’ll have your credit report in no time.

You may get all three of your free reports at once, or space them out as you choose—just remember that your information may vary from report to report.

For example, a report you access today from TransUnion may feature a particular blemish. When you download a separate credit report from Equifax 4 months later, you may no longer see that blemish on your report.

This may give you the false sense that the blemish has reached its full lifespan and fallen off your report. In reality, however, the blemish may have never existed on your Equifax report to begin with. It may, therefore be best to view all 3 in tandem.

What is a credit monitoring agency?

A credit monitoring agency or credit monitoring service is used to track an individual’s credit reports and scores and notify the individual of any changes. This may include the addition of new accounts or an inquiry into their credit report.

Credit monitoring agencies’ primary function is to monitor for illegal activity, such as identity theft. A criminal may open new credit accounts or make large purchases that require credit checks in your name, causing lasting damage to your credit report.

However, many offer additional services, including extensive credit score tracking and scans for personal information, including bank and social security information, across the web.

What do I do if my credit report has incorrect information?

If you spot incorrect information on your credit report, it’s important to dispute it.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act states that both the creditor and credit bureau are responsible for correcting inaccurate information, but they largely leave it in your hands to identify.

If you find inaccurate information, you may write a dispute letter to the credit bureau identifying the issue and explaining the dispute. You can also do this online at each credit reporting agency’s website, or file a dispute directly with the creditor who originally reported the wrong information.

Include documentation that supports your dispute and keep copies of everything for yourself.

Want to see a dispute in action? Let’s take a closer look at TransUnion’s dispute process, as TransUnion’s credit report is what Turbo uses to give you insight into your financial health.

You can file a dispute (fee-free) by phone, mail, or online.

Upon receiving your request, TransUnion initiates an investigation of any credit information that you are disputing. TransUnion may then alter your credit report based on the information you’ve provided, or contact the company that reported the information you’re disputing.

TransUnion will supply the company with any documentation you provided, along with any necessary supplemental information. The company is instructed to review the dispute, verify their information, provide a response, and update their records accordingly.

If you initiated your dispute using their online form, you’ll be notified via email when results are available online. If you initiated your dispute via mail or phone, you will receive results by mail.

Bottom Line

While most of the information collected by the three separate credit bureaus is similar, there are key differences to keep in mind when requesting a credit report.

Your information may vary between credit reporting agency, but it’s important to keep an eye out for errors and file a dispute if anything seems awry with your report.

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Source: mint.intuit.com