Guide to Refinancing Your Student Loans After Marriage

After getting married, you’ll start to merge your life, your home, and possibly your finances with your partner. As you plan for the future, it’s helpful to consider the implications of student loans and marriage—which can affect your credit, your ability to get a home mortgage, and even the repayment of your student debt.

Consolidating your federal loans or refinancing student loans after marriage may be options to consider as you begin handling finances in your marriage and working together to reach your financial goals

Student Loans and Marriage

There are currently over 45 million borrowers in the U.S. and the total amount of student loan debt is $1.7 trillion. So the odds are high that either you or your partner may have student loans. As you begin planning for your financial future together, it’s helpful to look at how marriage can affect student loan payments.

Recommended: What is the Average Student Loan Debt?

What Happens to Student Loans When You Get Married?

If you haven’t already had a conversation about student loans and marriage before tying the knot, you and your partner should sit down and discuss your individual student loan debt: how much you have, whether you have federal or private student loans, as well as what your balances, payment status, and monthly payments are. It’s important to share this information since getting married may change your debt repayment plans.

If someone has federal student loans and is on an income-based repayment (IBR) plan when they get married, for example, their monthly payments may increase post-marriage as income-based repayment plans are determined by household income and size. Depending on how a couple chooses to file their taxes, the government may take a new spouse’s salary into account when determining what the borrower’s monthly payments should be.

Because federal student loan borrowers on an income-based repayment plan have to recertify each year, the current year’s income is taken into account which may be higher after marriage if both spouses work. If the borrower’s new spouse doesn’t earn income then they may actually see their monthly payment requirements drop as their household size went up, but their household income remained the same.

Household income also affects how much student loan interest a borrower can deduct on their federal taxes. It’s worth consulting an accountant if a newly married couple needs help figuring out where they stand financially post-marriage.

It’s also important to be aware of how marriage affects your credit score as how someone manages their student loan debt is a factor. Since spouses don’t share credit reports, marrying someone with bad credit won’t hurt your credit score. That said, when it comes time to apply for a loan together, a bad credit score can make getting approved harder—which is another reason it’s key to get on the same page about repaying any debt on time.

Recommended: Types of Federal Student Loans

Refinancing Student Loans After Marriage

Refinancing student loans gives borrowers the chance to take out a new student loan with ideally better interest rates and terms than their original student loan or loans. Some borrowers may choose to consolidate multiple student loans into one newly refinanced loan to streamline their debt repayment process.

The result? One convenient monthly payment to make with the same interest rate and the same loan servicer instead of multiple ones.

As tempting as it may be to combine debt with a spouse and work toward paying it off together, married couples typically cannot refinance their loans together and each spouse would need to refinance their student loans separately. But even though a couple can’t refinance their student loan debt together, they’ll still want to be aware of what’s going on with their partner’s student loans.

Recommended: Top 5 Tips for Refinancing Student Loans in 2022

How to Refinance Student Loans After Marriage

Refinancing student loans after marriage looks the same as it does before marriage and is pretty straightforward. The student loan borrower will take out a new loan, which is used to repay the original student loan.

Ideally, this results in a better interest rate which will help borrowers save money on interest payments, but this isn’t a guarantee. Before refinancing, it’s important that borrowers shop around to find the best rates possible as factors like their credit score and income can qualify them for different rates.

Borrowers have the option of refinancing both federal and private student loans, but it’s worth noting that refinancing a federal student loan into a private one removes access to valuable federal benefits like income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness for public service employees.

Refinancing vs. Consolidating Student Loans After Marriage

Borrowers can choose to refinance or consolidate their student loans before or after marriage.

If a borrower has multiple federal student loans, then they can choose to consolidate their different loans into one Direct Consolidation Loan. This type of loan only applies to federal student loans and is offered through the U.S. Department of Education.

This type of loan takes a weighted average of all of the loans consolidated to determine the new interest rate, so generally this is an option designed to simplify debt repayment, not to save money. If a borrower chooses to consolidate through a private lender, they will be issued new rates and terms, which may be more financially beneficial.

Consolidating through a private lender is a form of refinancing that allows borrowers to take out one new loan that covers all of their different sources of student loan debt. While some private lenders will only refinance private student loans, there are plenty of private lenders that refinance both private and federal loans. As mentioned earlier, refinancing a federal loan means losing access to federal protections and benefits.

Refinancing can be advantageous if the borrower is in a better financial place than they were when they originally took out private student loans. If they’ve improved their credit score, paid down debt, and taken other steps to improve their financial picture, they may qualify for a better interest rate that can save them a lot of money over the life of their loan.

Another option in refinancing student loans after marriage is co-signing a partner’s loan. Doing so may mean that you can leverage greater earning power and possibly better credit, but it also means both partners are responsible for the loan, and can put one partner at risk in the event of death or divorce.

Student Loan Refinancing With SoFi

SoFi refinances both federal and private student loans, which can help borrowers save because of our flexible terms and low fixed or variable rates. Borrowers won’t ever have to worry about any fees and can apply quickly online today.

Learn more about refinancing student loans with SoFi.

FAQ

What happens when you marry someone with student loan debt?

If someone’s new spouse has student loan debt, this indirectly affects them. While the debt won’t be under their name or affect their credit score when it comes time to apply for credit products with their spouse (such as a mortgage loan) their credit score and current sources of debt will likely be taken into account.

Is one spouse responsible for the other’s student loans?

No one spouse is directly responsible for their spouse’s student loans, but it’s important to work together to pay off student loan debt. Again, once it comes time to apply for a joint loan, any student loan debt can have an effect on eligibility.

Does getting married affect student loan repayment?

Getting married can affect student loan repayment if a borrower is on an income-based repayment plan for their federal student loans. This type of repayment plan takes household size and income into account when determining what the borrower’s monthly payment should be. If their spouse brings in an income they may find their monthly payments are higher, but if their spouse doesn’t have an income their payments may become smaller.


Photo credit: iStock/South_agency

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1, 2022 DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
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.

SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
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How to Check Your Credit Card Balance: A Step-By-Step Guide

It’s easy to swipe a credit card and lose track of exactly how much you’re spending. That’s why it’s critical to check your credit card balance on a regular basis. By checking your credit card balance, you’ll know how much you owe so you can make payments or adjust your spending accordingly.

As for how to check a credit card balance, you can do so online, over the phone, or on the monthly statement that comes in the mail. Keep reading to learn more about how to check a balance on a credit card and why your credit card balance matters.

What Is a Credit Card Balance?

There are two different types of balances consumers will come across when it comes to their credit cards: current balances and statement balances.

The statement balance is the total balance owed at the end of the billing cycle. If someone wants to avoid paying interest, they need to pay off their statement balance in full each month. The current balance, on the other hand, is the total amount owed plus any fees, charges, credits, and payments that have been added to the account since the billing cycle ended. Given how credit cards work, it’s not necessary to pay the entire current balance to avoid interest charges.

In addition to their current balance and statement balance, each month the cardholder will also be told what their credit card minimum payment is. This is the lowest amount of their balance that they can pay in order to remain in good standing with their credit card issuer. They’ll need to pay interest on the remaining unpaid balance.

Recommended: Charge Cards Advantages and Disadvantages

Why Is It Important to Know Your Balance?

A credit card balance represents the total amount owed to the credit card issuer. If the cardholder wants to avoid paying interest on their remaining balance, they’ll need to pay off their credit card balance in full each month. So, for budgeting purposes, it’s helpful to know what that balance is.

A credit card balance also can indicate how high or low someone’s credit utilization ratio is. This ratio compares how much credit someone is using to how much credit they have available based on their credit card limits. It’s generally advised to keep your credit utilization ratio under 30% — but the lower, the better. Paying off a credit card balance in full each month can also help keep credit utilization low.

Additionally, checking your credit card balance each month can allow you to spot any unusual or potentially fraudulent charges on your credit card. If anything is amiss, you could then quickly contact your issuer and dispute the credit card charge. This could result in a credit card chargeback, allowing you to get the money back.

Reviewing a credit card statement can also help consumers identify where to cut back their spending so they can save more or afford to pay down more credit card debt.

How to Check a Credit Card Balance

Even if you’re confident you can pay off your balance in full each month, it’s smart to stay on top of your credit card balance for the reasons mentioned above. Read on to learn how to check the balance on your credit card.

Log In to the Mobile App or Go Online

Thanks to mobile banking and credit card apps, it only takes a few seconds to check a credit card balance from a smartphone. These mobile apps are helpful for checking a credit card balance on the go. It’s also possible for consumers to check their credit card balances by logging onto their online accounts from a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Call the Card Issuer

It’s also possible to call the credit card issuer directly to confirm what your current credit card balance is. The phone number to call is printed on the credit card and also listed on the credit card issuer’s website. Keep in mind your issuer may provide different numbers to call depending on your reason for calling.

Send a Text to Your Bank

Don’t love making phone calls? Some banks and credit card issuers also allow account holders to text them to check their account balance, which is a speedy and convenient way to get an update.

Check Paper Statements

Each month, the account holder will receive a paper credit card statement through the mail or over email. The Account Summary section of the statement will outline what the statement balance on the credit card as well as the following details, which are given what a credit card is:

•   Payments and credits

•   New purchases

•   Balance transfers

•   Cash advances

•   Past due amount

•   Fees charged

•   Interest charged

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due

Consider the SoFi Credit Card

As you can see, making a point to regularly check your credit card balance is smart for a number of reasons. In addition to helping you stay on top of your spending and how much you owe, it can also help you to monitor your credit utilization and check charges for any fraudulent activity. Checking your credit card balance is easy to do online, over the phone, via text, or on your credit card statement.

Feeling on top of your credit card balances and looking for a new credit card? The SoFi Credit Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. Plus, SoFi cardholders earn 2% unlimited cash back when redeemed to save, invest, or pay down eligible SoFi debt. Cardholders earn 1% cash back when redeemed for a statement credit.1 Apply for a credit card online today with SoFi.

Check out everything the SoFi credit card has to offer.

FAQ

Can you transfer a balance to a new credit card?

It’s possible to transfer a balance from one credit card to a new one by using a balance transfer credit card. Typically, balance transfer cards come with a low or 0% introductory APR, which makes it possible to pay down debt without spending too much on interest for a temporary period of time. Keep in mind that balance transfer fees will typically apply.

What is a credit card balance refund?

When someone pays off their credit card balance before getting a refund for a purchase they made, that results in what is known as a negative credit card balance. To get that money back, you can either request a refund or wait for the funds to get applied to future credit card balance.

What happens if I overpay my credit card balance?

If someone overpays their credit card balance for whatever reason, they can either have that balance applied to a future purchase or they can request a credit card balance refund.

What does a negative balance on a credit card mean?

Having a negative credit card balance means that someone has a credit card balance that is below $0. For example, if someone pays off their credit card balance and then requests a refund from a merchant for $250, they would end up with a negative balance of $250. The credit card issuer would then owe that money to the account holder.

What happens if you cancel a credit card with a negative balance?

If someone chooses to close a credit card that has a negative balance, they need to request a refund before they close their account as they won’t be able to apply that negative balance to a future bill. Some credit card issuers will issue this refund automatically, but it’s best to confirm the refund is happening before closing an account.


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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’swebsite .
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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Guide to Extending Student Loan Repayment Terms

Did you know that you may be able to draw out student loan repayment for 20 or 30 years? That means lower monthly payments (cool!) but more total interest paid (less cool).

But if your payments are a strain, consolidating and refinancing student loans are two ways to stretch out repayment terms and tame those monthly bills.

Federal student loans may be consolidated into one. Both federal and private student loans can be refinanced into one new loan, preferably with a lower rate. A guide of student loan refinancing could be a helpful read.

How Long Are Student Loan Repayment Terms Usually?

Federal student loan borrowers are placed on the standard repayment plan of 10 years unless they choose a different plan. They enjoy a six-month grace period after graduating, leaving school, or dropping below half-time enrollment before repayment begins.

You won’t see a standard repayment plan for private student loans, but the general repayment term for private student loans is also ​10 years.

In the case of both private and federal student loans, you may be able to extend your student loan payments.

For example, if you have federal student loans, you can explore the following options:

•   Graduated repayment plan: You’d start with lower payments, and payments would increase every two years for up to 10 years, or up to 30 years for Direct Consolidation Loans. Consolidation combines all of your current federal student loans into one, with a weighted average of the loan interest rates, and often extends your repayment time frame.

•   Extended repayment plan: With this plan, you can repay loans for up to 25 years, though you must have $30,000 or more in Direct or Federal Family Education Loan Program loans.

•   Income-driven repayment plan: The four income-based repayment plans allow you to make payments based on your income, particularly if your income is low compared with your loan payments. You can become eligible for forgiveness of any remaining loan balance after 20 or 25 years of qualifying payments or as few as 10 years if you work in public service.

Private student loans and federal student loans may be refinanced by a private lender to a long term.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Extending Repayment Terms?

Let’s take a look at three pros and three cons of extending your student loan repayment terms:

Pros Cons
Allows for lower monthly payments You’ll pay more total interest
Gives you more flexibility Takes more time to pay off loans
Frees up cash for other things May have to pay a higher interest rate

Lower monthly payments can give you more flexibility and free up your money to go toward other things. However, you could pay considerably more interest over time. You’ll also spend more time paying off your loans.

Here’s an example of what extending student loan repayment can look like, using a student loan calculator:

Let’s say you have $50,000 of federal student loan debt at 6.28% on a standard repayment plan. Your estimated monthly payments are $562.16, the total amount you’ll pay in interest will be $17,459, and your total repayment amount will be $67,459.

•   Term: 10 years

•   Monthly payments: $562

•   Total interest amount: $17,459

•   Total repayment amount: $67,459

Now let’s say you choose to refinance. Refinancing means a private lender pays off your student loans with a new loan with a new interest rate and/or term. In this case, let’s say you opt to refinance to a 20-year term and qualify for a 5% rate. Your estimated monthly payments would be $329.98. You’d pay $29,195 in total interest, and the total repayment would be $79,195 over the course of 20 years.

•   Term: 20 years

•   Monthly payments: $330

•   Total interest amount: $29,195

•   Total repayment amount: $79,195

In this example, doubling the term but reducing the interest rate results in lower monthly payments — a relief for many borrowers — but a higher total repayment sum.

Can you achieve a 25- or 30-year student loan refinance with private lenders? Yes. It’s called consecutive refinances.

How Long Can You Extend Your Student Loans For?

You can extend your federal student loan repayment to 30 years on a graduated repayment plan if you consolidate your loans.

Most private lenders limit refinancing to a 20-year loan term, but borrowers who are serial refinancers may go beyond that.

Consecutive Refinances

You can refinance private or federal student loans as often as you’d like, as long as you qualify, for no cost. Doing so can benefit you when you find a lower rate on your student loans, but be aware of the total picture:

Pros Cons
May save money every time you refinance Will lose access to federal programs like loan forgiveness, income-driven repayment, and generous forbearance and deferment if federal student loans are refinanced
May allow for a lower interest rate and lower monthly payments
No fees are required (such as origination fees or prepayment penalties)

How do you know when to refinance student debt? If you find a lower interest rate, you could save money over the life of the new loan.

You can use a student loan refinancing calculation tool to estimate monthly savings and total savings over the life of the loan.

Refinancing Your Student Loans to a 30-Year Term

You cannot directly refinance your student loans into a 30-year term because almost all refinance lenders offer a maximum of 15 or 20 years. But you could take advantage of consecutive refinances to draw out payments for 30 years.

Or you could opt for consolidation of federal student loans for up to 30 years.

Consecutive Refinance Approach

Since there’s no limit on the number of times you can refinance your federal and private student loans, as long as you qualify or have a solid cosigner, you can refinance as many times as you need to in order to lengthen your loan term.

Direct Consolidation Approach

If you have multiple federal student loans, you can consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan with a term up to 30 years. Because the loan remains a government loan, you would keep federal student loan benefits.

You’d apply on the Federal Student Aid website or print and mail a paper application form.

Other Ways to Reduce Your Monthly Student Loan Payments

One of the best ways to reduce your monthly student loan payments is to talk with your loan servicer to determine your options.

Some student loan servicers shave a little off your interest rate if you make automatic payments.

More employers are considering offering help with student loan payments as an employee perk.

And through 2025, employers can contribute up to $5,250 per worker annually in student loan help without raising the employee’s gross taxable income.

Ready to Refinance Your Student Loans?

Is a 30-year student loan refinance a thing? It can be, for serial refinancers. Then there’s the 30-year federal student loan consolidation option. The point of a long term is to shrink monthly payments.

SoFi refinances both federal and private student loans. Find out if one new loan with a new rate and term could help, again paying heed to the fact that refinancing federal student loans will remove access to federal programs like income-driven repayment plans.

It might be the right time right now to refinance student loans with SoFi.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1, 2022 DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
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.

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.

Photo credit: iStock/blackCAT
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Source: sofi.com

7 Financial Aid Secrets You Should Know

As a student (or parent) it can be easy to focus solely on the college application process, and completely forget about financial aid. You spend so much time studying for the SATs (or ACTs) and tweaking your college essay so it perfectly represents you, that after you’ve been accepted and the reality of tuition payments set in, you might feel momentary panic.

It’s no secret that college tuition is expensive. Students and parents save for years to pay for higher education, but sometimes that’s just not enough. According to a Sallie Mae® study, “How America Pays for College 2021 ,” parent income and savings covered 45% of college costs while student income and savings covered 8% of the costs.

Many of us rely on financial aid to bridge the payment gap. Financial aid may come from multiple sources, including scholarships, grants, work-study, federal student loans, and private student loans.

Scholarships and grants are extremely useful forms of financial aid, since students are not typically required to pay back the money they receive. An online survey of students and parents found 72% of college families in 2021 relied on scholarships and grants to cover a portion of college expenses, according to Sallie Mae’s study.

Scholarships, grants, and savings often aren’t enough to cover the cost of attending college. Sallie Mae says 47% of college families borrowed money to help pay for college in 2021. Some families used home equity loans and credit cards, but federal student loans represented the most frequently used source of borrowed money followed by private student loans.

To top it all off, the financial aid application process can be confusing. Between federal aid and other scholarships, it can be difficult to keep everything straight.

Most often, the first step in applying for financial aid is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). You can begin filling out the FAFSA on October 1 for the following academic year. The federal FAFSA deadline for the 2022–23 academic year is June 30, 2023, while colleges and states may have their own FAFSA deadlines.

Some schools use an additional form to determine scholarship aid — the College Scholarship Service Profile .

Taking the effort to apply for financial aid early can have a positive impact on your tuition bill. Below we highlight seven financial aid secrets you should know.

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1. Decision Day vs Summer Melt

May 1 is usually decision day, the deadline when prospective college students must decide which college they plan to attend in the fall. But even after this deadline, students can change their minds. This phenomenon is known to industry professionals as “summer melt,” and sometimes it’s triggered by FAFSA verification setbacks.

Students who receive insufficient need-based financial aid, for example, might be compelled to reconsider their college enrollment decisions. Summer melt can give you an opportunity to select a more affordable school for you if you’ve encountered a FAFSA verification roadblock.

Summer melt is a common problem that causes schools to lose students during the summer. Because of this, schools may have a bit of secret wiggle room in their acceptance policy to admit new students over the summer for the fall semester.

2. Writing a Letter

You might be able to take advantage of summer melt with this secret: write a letter. After you get your financial aid offer, you could write a letter to your school’s financial aid office to open the lines of communication.

Let them know how excited you are to attend school in the fall. That’s where you could include a thoughtfully worded inquiry for any additional aid that you might qualify for as a result of summer melt.

When students decide to switch schools or not attend at the last minute, it means that they also won’t be using their financial aid award — which could now be available to other students.

3. Calling the Financial Aid Office

Another way to potentially take advantage of summer melt is to call your school’s financial aid office. Instead of calling immediately after you receive your financial aid award, think about calling in June or July. This allows financial aid offices time to account for students who have declined their financial aid packages.

An appropriately timed call to the financial aid office at your school could mean additional financial aid is allocated to your package — no guarantees, of course, but it never hurts to ask.

4. Submitting Paperwork and Applications On Time

Every school’s financial aid office has to follow a budget. Some financial aid is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, so it helps to submit forms, like the FAFSA, and other applications, on time or even ahead of schedule.

You may be out of luck if you apply for assistance after your university’s financial aid office has met their budget for the year. Some states have early winter deadlines for awarding scholarships and grants. Tennessee residents, for example, must complete their FAFSA by February 1 to be considered for a state-funded Tennessee Student Assistance Award grant.

You can check the deadlines for financial aid in your state through the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website .

Repay your way. Find the monthly student loan
payment and rate that fits your budget.

5. Being Prepared

Have the basics ready to go before you sit down to fill out the FAFSA. If you have all of the information you need before you begin filling out the FAFSA, you’ll likely have an easier time filling out the information.

Usually, each parent and the student will need to create a username and password, which is called the Federal Student Aid ID (FSA ID). You’ll also need:

•   Social Security numbers (for you and your parents)

•   Bank statements and records of untaxed income (possibly)

•   You and your parents’ tax returns (aid awards are based on income from two years ago)

•   Any W2 forms

•   Net worth calculations of your investments (for students and parents)

6. Being Wary of Services that Charge You for Help

If you need assistance filling out the FAFSA, avoid any services that charge you. The first F of FAFSA stands for “Free,” so there is no need to pay for a service to fill the form out for you.

If you need assistance filling out the FAFSA, there are plentiful online resources through the U.S. Department of Education .

7. Filing the FAFSA Every Year

For every year you are a student and want to receive federal aid, you’ll have to file the FAFSA. Get in the habit of filing it every fall, so you’re closer to the top of the financial aid pile.

The Takeaway

Scholarships and grants can be super-helpful additions to a federal financial aid package. The money can reduce your tuition bill and doesn’t usually need to be repaid. Work-study can also be beneficial in helping college students make ends meet.

If you need additional help financing your college experience, SoFi offers private student loans with an entirely digital application process and no fees whatsoever. Potential borrowers can choose between a variable or fixed interest rate and have the option to add a cosigner to the loan.

Learn more about SoFi’s flexible repayment plans and application process for private student loans.


External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs.
SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility 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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Source: sofi.com

How Many Americans Have Student Loan Debt?

Student loan debt and education continue to go hand in hand. According to the latest figures from the Federal Reserve, 30% of U.S. adults had student loan debt upon leaving school.

Federal student loan relief under the CARES Act, which is set to end in May 2022, has paused monthly federal student loan payments, enacted a 0% interest rate, and halted loan default collections.

However, as the relief window comes to an end, Americans must continue to face their outstanding student debt.

How Many People in the USA Have Student Loans?

The total federal student loan debt crisis amounts to $1.61 trillion in unpaid federal student loans. This outstanding balance is spread among 43.4 million U.S. borrowers.

A 2021 MeasureOne report found that unpaid balances within the federal student loan system account for 92% of U.S. student loan debt. However, U.S. adults are also burdened by private student loans.

As of Q2 2021, the Americans have amassed a total of $131.1 billion in unpaid private student loans — accounting for nearly 8% of outstanding student loans in the country.

Who Is the Typical Borrower?

The CollegeBoard’s “2021 Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid” report found that the average four-year, bachelor’s degree graduate left school with an average $26,700 in student debt. Bachelor’s recipients from private nonprofit institutions left school with an average of $33,600 in student debt.

Student Loan Distribution by Institution

Borrowers who were enrolled in a public, four-year U.S. institution received the highest distribution of federal Direct Loan funding.

Nearly 45% of distributed Direct Subsidized Loan funds went toward students enrolled at a four-year school, as did 41% of Direct Unsubsidized Loan funding.

Similarly, 51% of disbursed Parent PLUS Loan funds — designed for parent borrowers on behalf of their college-bound dependant — were for a public, four-year education.

Graduate and professional students who attended a private nonprofit college also received a variety of federal loan funding. Graduate-level students enrolled at a private nonprofit institution saw the highest percentage of total dispersed Grad PLUS Loan funds (68%).

In some cases, student loans for certificate programs may also be borrowed. Some certificate programs are offered at two-year institutions, which make up about 11% of Direct Subsidized loans.

Student Loan Debt by Age

US Adults ages 35 to 49 have a total aggregated balance of $613 billion in federal loans across 14.3 million borrowers. On average, a borrower in this age group has a student debt balance of $42,900, according to CollegeBoard data.

Age Total Balance Average Balance per Borrower
Up to age 24 $113.7 billion $15,200
25 to 34 $500.6 billion $33.600
35 to 49 $613.0 billion $42,900
50 to 61 $273.7 billion $43,400
62 $92.7 billion $38,600

The next-highest total balance, at $500.6 billion, falls on borrowers ages 24 to 34. The 14.3 million borrowers in this age group have an average loan balance of $33,600.

Borrowers with the highest average balance ($43,400) are those who are ages 50 to 61 — this group accounts for 6.3 million borrowers in the U.S.

Student Loan Debt by Race and Gender

According to a report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), two-thirds of the total U.S. student loan debt is held by women.

Men borrow an average of $29,270 in student loans. By contrast, each woman borrower carries an average of $31,276 in student debt.

Race/Ethnicity (Women) Cumulative Debt
American Indian or Alaska Native $36,184.40
Asian $27,606.60
Black or African American $41,466.05
Hispanic or Latina $29,302.45
Pacific Islander/Hawaiian $38,747.44
White $33,851.98

Black women face the greatest hurdle when it comes to student loan debt. According to AAUW, one year after graduating, Black or African American women carry the highest cumulative student debt by race and ethnicity at $41,466.05. This figure includes the principal amount and student loan interest rate charges.

What Percentage of College Students Take Out Student Loans?

The percentage of students who borrow student loans vary, based on factors like degree type and institution.

According to the latest data published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the 2019-2020 academic year, 31.8% of undergraduate students received student loans from the federal student loan program.

About 47.6% of bachelor-seeking students attending a private nonprofit received federal student loans, while 13.5% of bachelor’s students enrolled at a public college received federal loan aid.

Among master’s degree students, 51.5% who attended a private nonprofit school received federal aid, compared to 40.5% who attended a public institution.

Finally, 57.4% of students pursuing a non-professional doctorate degree at a private nonprofit received federal loans. Of those who attended a public college, 33.4% of doctoral candidates got a federal loan.

What Is the Total Amount of Money Owed by Americans on Student Loans?

Collectively, Americans have an outstanding student loan balance of $1.61 trillion in federal student loans. This includes Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loans, and Perkins Loans. However, this figure doesn’t include education loans from the private sector.

Total private student loans that U.S. adults still owe is estimated at $131.1 billion, according to MeasureOne.

The Takeaway

Americans are carrying a significant student debt burden after leaving school. New and currently enrolled college students will likely see continued rising education costs.

Despite these figures, one of the benefits of student loans is that they can provide access to college for students who might otherwise not be able to finance their education. SoFi Private Student Loans lets eligible students borrow up to the total cost of attendance, through a fast and completely digital process.

Find out if you pre-qualified in just a few minutes.

FAQ

Who holds the majority of student debt?

According to the CollegeBoard, borrowers ages 35 to 49 hold the majority of outstanding federal student debt at $613 billion, with an average balance of $42,900 per borrower.

What is the average student debt in the US?

The average student debt for a public, four-year bachelor’s degree graduate is $26,700, based on 2021 figures from the CollegeBoard.

What is the total amount of student debt owed by Americans?

In total, Americans owe a total of $1.61 trillion in unpaid student loan debt, according to the National Student Loan Data System.


Photo credit: iStock/Prostock-Studio

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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs.
SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility 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.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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Source: sofi.com

What Determines Student Loan Refinance Rates?

Private lenders that refinance student loans base rates they offer on the loan term, the borrower’s risk profile, and a rate index. Typically, the most financially stable applicants get the lowest rates.

When the goal is a lower rate, lower monthly payments, or both, the fixed or variable rate you qualify for makes all the difference.

Here’s a look at what you need to know about how interest rates for student loan refinances work.

Student Loan Refinancing, Explained

When you refinance, you take out a new private loan and use it to pay off your existing federal or private student loans. The new loan will have a new repayment term and interest rate, which hopefully will be better.

Most refinancing lenders offer fixed or variable interest rates and terms of five to 20 years. Shortening or lengthening your existing student loan term or terms can affect your monthly payment and the total cost of your new loan. The two key ways to save money by refinancing are:

•   A shorter repayment term

•   A lower rate

Then again, someone wanting lower monthly payments might choose a longer term, but that may result in more interest paid over the life of the loan.

There are no fees to refinance student loans. Nor is there any limit to the number of times you can refinance. Lenders will want to see a decent credit score, a stable income, and manageable debt. Adding a cosigner may strengthen your profile.

Refinancing federal student loans into a private student loan renders federal benefits moot.

Is Consolidation the Same as Refinancing?

Student loan consolidation and refinancing are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are not technically the same thing. Student loan consolidation most often refers to a federal program that allows you to combine multiple types of federal student loans into a single loan. The new loan will have a new term of up to 30 years, but the new rate will not be lower.

Refinancing of student loans is offered by private lenders, such as banks and credit unions. Federal and/or private student loans are refinanced into one new loan that ideally has a better rate.

What Are Interest Rates?

Interest rates are the amount lenders charge individuals to borrow money. When you take out a loan, you must pay back the amount you borrowed, plus interest, usually represented by a certain percentage of the loan principal (the amount you have remaining to pay off).

When interest rates are high, borrowing money is more expensive. And when interest rates are low, borrowing can be cheaper.

Interest rates can be fixed, variable, or a hybrid. For fixed interest rates, lenders set the rate at the beginning of the loan, and that rate will not change over the life of the loan.

A variable interest rate is indexed to a benchmark interest rate. As that benchmark rises or falls, so too will the variable rate on your loan. Variable-rate loans may be best for short-term loans that you can pay off before interest rates have a chance to rise.

Hybrid rates may start out with a fixed interest rate for a period of time, which then switches to a variable rate.

How Is Interest Rate Different From APR?

While interest rates refers to the monthly amount you’ll need to pay to borrow money, annual percentage rate (APR) represents your interest rate for an entire year and any other costs and fees associated with the loan.

As a result, APR gives you a better sense of exactly how expensive a loan might be, and helps when comparing loan options.

What Factors Influence Student Loan Interest Rates?

Interest rates for federal student loans are set by Congress each year. Federal loans use the 10-year Treasury note as an index for interest rates. These rates apply to all borrowers.

Private lenders, on the other hand, will look at other factors when determining interest rates, such as credit score. Typically, lenders see those with higher scores as more likely to pay off their loans on time, and may reward this with lower interest rates. Lenders see borrowers with lower scores as being at greater risk of defaulting on their loans. To offset the risk, they tend to offer higher interest rates.

Some lenders offer a rate discount if you sign up for their autopay program.

What Drives Student Loan Refinancing Rates?

Student loan refinancing rates are driven by many of the same factors that drive rates on your initial loan, such as credit score. You may want to consider refinancing during this era of low rates or if your financial situation has improved. For example, if you’ve increased your income or you’ve paid off other debts and your credit score received a boost, you may look into refinancing your loans at a lower interest rate.

Many graduates haven’t had much time to build a credit history. A cosigner with good credit may help an individual qualify for a refinance at a lower rate. Cosigners share responsibility for loan payments, of course. So if you miss a payment, they’ll be on the hook.

Refinance Student Loans With SoFi

You might choose to refinance student loans when interest rates remain low or your financial situation has improved, potentially providing access to a new private student loan at a lower rate.

Refinancing may be a good move for borrowers with higher-interest private student loans and those with federal student loans who don’t plan to use federal programs like income-driven repayment, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or forbearance.

A student loan refinancing calculator can help you determine how much you might save by refinancing your student loans.

When you’re ready to refinance student loans with SoFi, get your rate in minutes.

FAQ

How are student loan refinancing rates calculated?

Lenders base interest rates largely on factors like an applicant’s credit history, income, and debt.

Does refinancing save you money?

When you refinance your student loans with a new loan at a lower interest rate, you will pay less interest over the life of the loan, given the same or similar loan terms.

What is an average interest rate for student loans?

Federal student loan interest rates currently range from 3.73% to 6.28%, not including disbursement fees. Private student loan rates have a wide range for fixed- and variable-rate loans. The average rate among all student loans, federal and private, is 5.8%, according to Education Data researchers.


SoFi Loan Products
SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC), and by SoFi Lending Corp. NMLS #1121636 , a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law (License # 6054612) and by other states. For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1, 2022 DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
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.

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.

Photo credit: iStock/Kateryna Onyshchuk
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Source: sofi.com