How to Earn Money Renting Your RV – Rent Out RV, Profit, Repeat

You love your RV. But chances are, you’re not using it every day of the year. In fact, there are more than 18 million RVs in the U.S, that sit idle for 350 days out of the year. Not only that, but RVs are often the second-most expensive purchase Americans make outside of their home.

If you’ve got a road-ready RV sitting in storage or in your driveway while you make payments on it, you have an opportunity to offset that major expense and let it pay for itself. We’re talking about renting it on an RV rental marketplace like Outdoorsy.

Years ago, homeowners couldn’t fathom allowing “strangers” to rent out their homes. The same way homeowners found online vacation rentals a lucrative and safe enterprise, Outdoorsy is proving that RV rentals can deliver similar success.

RV owners are making up to $50,000 annually by renting out their travel trailers, campers, conversion vans and luxury motorhomes on Outdoorsy.

Entertain the question for a moment and learn just how much you can make by renting out your RV to vetted and verified renters who share your passion for the RV lifestyle and the great outdoors.

How Much Money Can You Make Renting Out Your RV?

No doubt, there’s more to renting out your travel trailer or conversion van than simply listing your property online, accepting a reservation and swapping your keys for money.

Outdoorsy is built on trust. And thoughtful assurances, at every level, are what make that trust rock solid.

Every prospective renter on Outdoorsy has their driving record verified, so you know your RV will be in safe hands with a strong track record of defensive driving.

And then there’s trip insurance, up to $1 million in coverage, and roadside assistance, both of which help strengthen the trust between owner and renter.

Once you account for the insurance costs, listing and reservation fees and driver background checks, RV owners take home about 80% of what renters pay for the pleasure of renting your RV.

Here are some estimates on how much you could make by renting out your RV for just one to two weeks:

  • Class A: $2,569 – $5,138
  • Class B: $1,624 – $3,248
  • Class C: $1,540 – $3,080
  • Camper van: $1,204 – $2,408
  • Truck camper: $875 – $1,750
  • Travel trailers: $693 – $1,386
  • Folding trailer: $490 – $980
  • Fifth wheel: $1,113 – $2,226
  • Toy hauler: $770 – $1,540
  • Passenger van: $420 – $840

RV owners can make even more than these estimates if a renter exceeds your mileage or generator restrictions. Outdoorsy accepts even more RVs than those listed above — anything from conversion vans to luxury motorhomes.

You’re paid handsomely for every little bit of wear and tear your RV could potentially sustain for everyday use and insurance protects your property from abuse.

It’s free to list your RV on Outdoorsy. They won’t charge you anything until a renter pays to rent out your RV.

How to List Your RV and Start Earning

Creating a listing is simple, and there will likely be strong interest when you do set out in the RV rental business. But creating a great listing takes a little bit of effort and will be worth your while when renters start to rate the experience.

Signing Up

It’s not a commitment to anything. Signing up for Outdoorsy only indicates you’re open to learning about what could come next.

You’ll need to supply your name, email address and your contact number. You can sign up in a web browser or download the Outdoorsy app.

Creating Your Listing

Outdoorsy will do its part to ensure you can trust renters. With your listing, you’ll have to do your part to attract renters and help them understand just how great of an opportunity renting your RV will be for them.

Take photos showing off your RV. Staging your photos is fine, even encouraged, as it’ll help renters start to daydream about it. You can select the amenities your RV offers and Outdoorsy will compile them on your listing.

You’ll also need to establish your rules for your RV: how many miles they can put on it, the types of places they can take it, how much they can use the generator and so on.

Accepting Reservations

You are never obligated to accept any reservations. But if you’re still nervous about handing over the keys, it gets a lot easier each time.

Also, it’s perfectly acceptable to throw a few questions at potential renters before accepting their booking requests to rent out RV time from you.

Preparing for the Next Renters

More than just removing personal belongings, you’ll want to make sure your RV is clean and is road ready. Your renters will do the same for you when they return it — neither side wants to clean up after the other.

Swapping the Keys for Money

It’ll be back before you know it, and in as good a condition as you remember. The last thing a renter wants is to be liable for insurance costs.

You get to determine where you’ll meet renters to drop off the keys and where they’ll have the RV delivered. But remember, going the extra mile to accommodate your guest will probably earn you rave reviews and will ultimately help attract even more guests.

Getting Paid

Once the key exchange is done, you’ll be paid through Outdoorsy about 24 to 48 hours later. Your bank may take the usual three to five business days to update your ledger, however.

Outdoorsy won’t charge you a dime until a renter has paid to borrow your RV. Once Outdoorsy is paid, they’ll collect insurance and other fees before initiating your payout.

How Insurance Works

If you’ve ever thought about renting out RVs in the past, you were probably dissuaded by your insurance policy’s commercial exclusion clauses and RV rental restriction.

Nearly all RV insurance policies rule out renting out your RV.

Episodic Insurance built into the Outdoorsy Platform

Roamly’s  “episodic” insurance coverage begins covering your RV from the moment you hand over the keys to the renter until the moment you get them back. The renter must purchase Roamly’s episodic insurance as part of the RV booking process, ensuring that the renter, and your RV, are protected on the trip.

This comprehensive policy comes with up to $1 million in liability coverage for each trip.

Personal RV Insurance with No Commercial Exclusions

While your RV is protected through Roamly’s episodic insurance when it’s being rented out, you’ll want to make sure that your RV insurance carrier even allows you to rent it out in the first place. That’s where Roamly’s personal lines of insurance can help.

Roamly’s RV policies explicitly allow you to rent out your RV when you’re not using it by removing the commercial-use restriction found in traditional RV policies. While other carriers will deny legitimate claims or drop your coverage if you rent out your RV, Roamly won’t. In fact, Roamly encourages it, and it offers unique premium discounts the more you rent out your RV on Outdoorsy.

And yes, you really can save up to 25% in many cases by switching over to Roamly, an insurance company that was built by RV enthusiasts just like you.

To see how much Roamly could save you, get a quote here. It takes just 60 seconds and can be done completely online.

Get Paid to Share the RV Lifestyle

People don’t just want to see our country’s National Parks and scenic drives, they want to savor them through immersive experiences that a car or SUV just can’t accommodate.

Ready to rent out your RV? Even if you aren’t quite ready, joining the Outdoorsy community is the next step and it’s completely free.

You can learn from other RV owners who are using extra income from Outdoorsy to pay for their grandkids’ tuition, pay for home improvements or cover all the expenses for their next big adventure.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Examining the Different Types of Student Loans

With the average annual cost of college for the 2021-2022 school year $10,740 for public four-year in-state and $38,070 for private non-profit four-year schools, it’s not uncommon for students to use loans to help pay for their education.

The two major umbrellas to consider are federal student loans and private student loans. Federal student loans are those backed by the U.S. Department of Education, while private student loans are offered through financial institutions such as banks, online lenders, and credit unions.

Knowing what types of student loans are available to you and understanding your student loan statement can help you figure out the best way to save money in the long run.

What Are The Different Types of Student Loans?

One of the first things to understand is the difference between federal and private student loans.

Federal student loans are loans offered by the government, at a fixed interest rate and with certain restrictions. Depending on borrower needs, students could qualify for either subsidized or unsubsidized federal loans (more on those, later). Federal student loans come with protections for borrowers’ loans like income-driven repayment options, deferment, forbearance, and access to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Most federal student loans also have annual lending limits .

For some students, federal student loans aren’t enough to cover the cost of a college education. Some turn to scholarships, grants, or a part-time job to fill in the gaps. Other students rely on private student loans, offered by lenders and financial institutions, to cover the cost of college.

Applying for Federal Student Loans

The first step in the federal student loan process is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). That will involve compiling some family financial history. Even students who don’t think they’ll qualify for financial aid will likely still want to fill out a FAFSA. All federal student loans require a FAFSA first. And some schools use information from the FAFSA to determine eligibility for other types of aid like scholarships or grants.

All federal student loans require a FAFSA first.

After filling out the FAFSA, students will receive a financial aid package which includes any federal aid awarded to the student including grants, work study, and loans. Depending on financial circumstances, the loans will either be subsidized or unsubsidized.

The Different Types of Federal Student Loans

Think of federal student loans as an overarching category. There are different types of federal student loans, each of which have different eligibility requirements, borrower maximums (or not), and interest rates. Understanding all your options means you’ll be better prepared to determine the best way to finance your education.

Recommended: Private Student Loans vs. Federal Student Loans

For the 2022-2023 school year, the interest rate on Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans for undergraduates is 4.99%, the rate on Direct Unsubsidized loans for graduate and professional students is 6.54%, and the rate on Direct PLUS loans for graduate students, professional students, and parents is 7.54%. The interest rates on federal student loans are fixed and are set annually by Congress.

Direct Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized Loans

Federal Direct loans, also known as Stafford Loans, can be either subsidized or unsubsidized. With a subsidized student loan, the government will cover the accrued interest while the borrower is enrolled in school, during the grace period, and during any periods of deferment. Not having to pay interest on your loans during school can really help—especially since interest accrues and capitalizes, or gets added to the principal loan amount, and then accrues more interest. There are no subsidized federal loans for graduate students—only for undergrads.

The government does not pay the interest on unsubsidized Direct loans. That means, even while you’re in school, the loans are accruing interest. You don’t have to make payments on the loans while you’re a full-time student, but interest is building up. As the interest accrues, it is added to the loan’s principal.

Recommended: Student Loan Grace Periods: What You Need to Know

That’s why it’s possible to have a higher remaining loan balance than the initial loan amount after graduation. Individuals with an unsubsidized student loan do have the option to make interest-only payments on the loan during periods of deferment, including while they’re in school, but are not required to do so.

Federal loans have fixed interest rates (that are set annually), meaning they don’t change over the life of the loan.

Federal student loan borrowing limits vary depending on factors like your year in school and whether or not you are a dependent student. For example, first-year undergrads who are considered independent or whose parents are not able to take out parent loans have a maximum borrowing amount of $9,500 (of which only $3,500 can be subsidized) annually. The maximum for dependent students is $5,500 in their first year, with the same $3,500 cap on subsidized loans.

PLUS Loans

Direct PLUS loans can be borrowed directly by a graduate student, or Parent PLUS loans can be taken out by an undergrad’s parents. PLUS loans, in both forms, have the same benefits as other federal loans in that the interest rate is fixed and there are flexible repayment options.

Unlike other federal loans, PLUS loans require a credit check. They’re designed for graduate and professional students, who have had more time to build up a credit score. The maximum PLUS loan amount you can borrow is the full cost of tuition less any other financial assistance.

When taking out student loans for college, a lot of the options depend on your FAFSA and what’s determined to be your family’s financial need or ability to pay. If you’re a dependent student , then there will likely be some expectation of parental contribution and your parents may be offered the option of taking out Parent PLUS loans.

Parent PLUS loans are similar to Direct PLUS loans, except parents are expected to begin repaying the loan while the student is still in school—though they can request a deferment until graduation.

Direct Consolidation Loans

After graduation, students might have a number of different federal student loans. That can obviously be confusing. If you want to consolidate all federal loans into one place, then you may be able to pool them into a Direct Consolidation Loan. This allows you to only make one monthly payment towards all your federal student loans.

A Direct Consolidation loan will not lower your overall interest rate.

A Direct Consolidation loan will not lower your overall interest rate. The interest rate on your new Direct Consolidation Loan is simply a weighted average of the interest rates, rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percent, of your existing federal loans. Consolidation could also wipe out any history of payments you were making toward PSLF. Only federal loans can be consolidated with a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Related: A Look Into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

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

Private Student Loans

Students who don’t receive enough funding from the federal government, may look to private student loans as an option to finance their education. Private loans are offered by lenders such as banks, online lenders, and credit unions.

Applying for Private Student Loans

Private lenders do not use the FAFSA to determine a potential borrower’s creditworthiness. Instead, students interested in borrowing private loans will fill out a loan application directly with a lender. Before applying, lenders will generally allow people to get a quote to see if they pre-qualify and at what rates. This can be helpful when evaluating different lenders.

The terms, interest rates, and borrowing limits on private loans may vary by lender. Lenders will use factors like the borrower’s credit score to determine the interest rate they qualify for. When borrowing a private student loan you’ll generally have the option to choose between a fixed or variable interest rate.

Student loan repayment options will be determined by your lender. Some offer deferment plans while the borrower is enrolled in school and others require payments to start as soon as the loan is disbursed.

Another private student loan option is to consolidate or refinance your existing student loans after graduation. This might be beneficial if it lowers your interest rate and saves you money over the life of your loan. Federal student loans offer unique borrower benefits and protections like income-driven repayment plans. Refinancing federal loans eliminates them from these benefits.

Understanding the Student Loan Statement

When you take out a loan, you sign a promissory note, which outlines the interest rate, loan amount, and repayment terms. If you hold federal student loans, when you graduate you select a repayment plan. If you don’t do anything, you’ll automatically be put on the Standard Repayment plan.

For most federal loans, the Standard Repayment plan is a set monthly payment for up to 10 years. There are a few other repayment plans to choose from, including four income-driven repayment plans. The different plans allow you to pay back your loan over different time periods. The longer the repayment term, the more you’ll pay in interest over the life of the loan.

When you look at your student loan statement, you’ll see each loan listed as the total loan amount, how much principal remains, how much interest has accrued since your last payment, your current interest rate, and how much your current monthly payment is—in addition to any fees, such as late fees, you might owe.

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The Benefits of Refinancing Student Loans

It’s possible to consolidate both federal and private student loans into one new loan when you refinance your student loans with a private lender. If an applicant qualifies for a lower interest rate and a shorter term, it could reduce the amount of money paid in interest over the life of the loan.

Make sure to weigh the benefits that come with your federal loans against the value of refinancing. When you refinance federal loans they will no longer be eligible for federal borrower protections.

Some private lenders offer similar borrower protections. For example, borrowers who refinance with SoFi may qualify for Unemployment Protection. This can help eligible borrowers pause their loan payments if they unexpectedly lose their job through no fault of their own. To see what refinancing could mean for you, take a look at SoFi’s student loan refinancing calculator.

The Takeaway

The two main categories of student loans are private and federal. Federal loans are awarded to students based on information they provide in their FAFSA annually. Federal loans have a fixed interest rate and are eligible for a variety of repayment plans, as determined by the U.S. Department of Education.

Undergrads may qualify for unsubsidized or subsidized federal loans, depending on their financial need. Graduate students may qualify for unsubsidized loans or PLUS loans. Parents of undergraduates may also borrow Parent PLUS loans.

Private student loans are offered by private financial institutions. In order to borrow a private student loan, individuals will generally need to file an application with a lender. The lender will review factors like the applicant’s credit history, among others, in order to determine the terms they qualify for.

Check out what kind of rates and terms you can get in just a few minutes.


We’ve Got You Covered


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.

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.


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Source: sofi.com

These 14 Major Employers Offer Part-Time Jobs With Benefits

Think you need to work long hours to qualify for company-backed retirement plans, tuition reimbursements and affordable health insurance?

Actually, you don’t have to have to be a full-time employee to get those perks. There are many companies that offer generous benefit packages for their hourly part-time employees.

These 14 companies lead the way in offering part-time jobs with benefits. You could land a flexible role that also allows you to attend school, take care of family or do whatever you please.

14 Companies That Offer Part-Time Jobs With Benefits

If you’re looking for part-time work, start your job hunt with these employers.

1. Costco

Hourly part-time employees can receive benefits from Costco once they’ve accumulated 450 hours. Healthcare coverage includes medical, vision, prescription drugs and core dental coverage.

All hourly employees working at least 10 hours per week can enroll in voluntary short-term disability insurance, which provides tax-free income replacement in the event of a non-work related accident or illness that prevents work.

2. Lowe’s

Part-time employees at Lowe’s are immediately eligible for medical benefits, including prescription drugs, short-term disability, life insurance and dental and vision coverage..

After one year, Lowe’s offers an employee stock purchase option to its part-time workers, as well as a 401(k) after 180 days. Eligible family members can also opt-in for group medical, dental and vision coverage and dependent life insurance.

3. REI

Part-time employees at REI become eligible for a benefits package if they work an average of 20 hours per week over a 12-month evaluation period.

The company pays the majority of employees’ medical and dental coverage and the full cost for basic life and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D), employee assistance program, business travel accident insurance and long-term disability insurance.

REI also provides a generous PTO package, a wide variety of leave options, and “Yay Days” twice a year – a program that allows employees to take part in their favorite outdoor activity,  take on something new or participate in a stewardship project.

They also offer a public transit benefit which provides a 50% pre-tax subsidy on public transit expenses up to the current IRS limit through payroll deduction.

4. Staples

Staples offers its part-time associates access to dental and vision coverage, life, dependent life, accidental death and short-term disability insurance coverage. They’re also eligible for the company’s 401(k) plan after one year and 1,000 hours of service.

Stick with the company for a year and average 30 hours per week, and you’ll be eligible to enroll in a full-time medical plan. Staples also offers 10% employee discounts on online or retail items, adoption assistance and its own confidential employee counseling program.

A Starbucks employee holds a drink up while working the drive through counter at Starbucks.
Photo courtesy of Starbucks

5. Starbucks

Starbucks is well-known for its benefits program for part-time employees. All you have to do to be eligible is work at least 240 hours over three consecutive months, then continue to average 20 hours per week.

Health coverage offered by Starbucks includes routine visits, hospitalization and more, along with dental,vision and life insurance coverage. Alternative care options, like acupuncture or chiropractic treatment, are covered too. After 90 days, employees can opt-in to Starbucks’ 401(k) plan.

Other employee benefits include up to a $10,000 reimbursement for adoption expenses, confidential counseling, full tuition reimbursement, and one pound of Starbucks coffee or Teavana tea every week!

6. UPS

Part-time employees who work between 225 and 400 hours at UPS within a three month period are eligible for medical and dental coverage, vision insurance, hearing, prescription drugs and an employee assistance program.

Part-time employees who exceed 400 hours over three months are eligible for the same benefits as full-time employees.

Part-time employees can also take advantage of the Earn and Learn tuition assistance program  that provides up to $5,250 in assistance per calendar year (with a lifetime maximum of $25,000). Eligibility begins on the day of hire.

7. Trader Joe’s

After three months and working an average of 30 hours per week, Trader Joe’s “crew members” are eligible for medical, dental and vision coverage at a cost as low as $25 per month.

The company also offers a matching 401(k) plan and contributes 10% of a crew member’s salary annually to the plan, according to an employee.

Other employee benefits include a 20% store discount, scholarship programs, store tastings, employee assistance programs and paid relocation and transfers.

8. Aerotek

Aerotek is one of the world’s leading staffing agencies. Part-time employees who work a minimum of 20 hours per week are eligible for contributory medical, dental and vision insurance.

The company also offers a 401(k) and 529 plan, a tuition reimbursement after six months, dependent care flex spending accounts, a free counseling service and an employee discount program with Aerotek’s many retail partners.

9. Chipotle

All hourly crew members at Chipotle are eligible for its robust benefits package that includes medical, vision and dental insurance, as well as a 401(k) match after one year of employment.

Part-time employees also receive a salary percentage-based annual bonus, mental health assistance, education assistance up to $5,250 annually, stock purchase plan, gym membership discounts and one free meal per shift. Free burritos on Chipotle!

10. JPMorgan Chase

The global banking institution offers benefits to its part-time employees, after 90 days, who work between 20 and 40 hours per week.

Benefits include medical, dental, vision, life and accident, disability, before-tax flexible spending accounts and group legal services. JPMorgan Chase also offers a 401(k) match starting at 3% annually and increasing by 1% every year up to a maximum of 10%.

Other offered benefits are an employee stock purchase plan, a comprehensive health and wellness program, parental leave, backup child care options and discounts on banking services.

A postal office workers loads a cart around with letters to post office trucks.
Letter carriers load mail trucks for deliveries at a U.S. Postal Service facility in McLean, Va., Friday, July 31, 2020. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

11. USPS

The United States Postal Service hires career and non-career (temporary/seasonal) workers. Part-time career workers are eligible for its benefits package which includes the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program – a plan in which the federal government pays two-thirds of the health insurance premiums for employees and retirees.

They also offer federal group life insurance (FGLI), and federally-backed long-term care, dental and vision and a flex spending account.

The USPS retirement system, also available for part-time career workers, offers a fixed annuity based on years of service, a defined contribution 401(k) THRIFT Savings Plan with a 5% employer match and Social Security.

12. Wal-Mart

Part-time and temporary associates at Wal-Mart who work an average of at least 30 hours per week over a 60-day period are eligible for benefits.

After the initial 60 days, associates must wait another 60 days to enroll. Once you enroll you’re eligible for the remainder of the calendar year as well as the year after. Benefits include medical, dental, vision, AD&D, critical illness insurance and accident insurance, as well as a 6% 401(k) match after one year and a 10% in-store discount.

Wal-Mart also offers Resources for Living – a free counseling service that offers unlimited phone support anytime and up to 10 no-cost counseling sessions or 10 free weeks of no-cost, chat-based therapy.

13. American Red Cross

Employees at this major nonprofit are eligible for part-time health benefits if they work 20 hours per week Those who work 30 or more hours per week are eligible for full-time benefits.

The American Red Cross also offers a 401(k) plan with a match up to 4%.

14. Kaplan

The American educational training company offers eligible part-time employees access to a third-party company that helps enroll in a range of health insurance policies from multiple insurance carriers. Options include a supplemental hospital plan, life insurance, a dental and vision option, disability insurance and a free prescription discount card.

Part-time employees and their families also have access to free or significantly discounted educational courses offered by Kaplan.

Robert Bruce is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder. Lisa Rowan is a former staff writer.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

What Is IRS Tax Form 1098 (Mortgage Interest Statement)?

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Additional Resources

In an effort to help make filing taxes easier this year, we are breaking down the various IRS tax forms to help you know if you need them, and how to use them.

There’s nothing like a love letter from your mortgage lender with an IRS tax form to make you swoon with joy.

As tax forms go, the 1098 ranks among the simplest as you prepare your tax return. But there are some things you need to know about Form 1098 and how to use it in your tax return.

What Is IRS Tax Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement?

The IRS Form 1098 informs you how much interest you paid on your mortgage loan for the last tax year. 

Mortgage lenders send you this document in case you want to itemize your deductions on your tax return. They also send a copy to the Internal Revenue Service for their records, so don’t get any ideas about taking liberties with your interest deduction. 

Far fewer taxpayers itemize their deductions since the standard deduction jumped in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. That makes Form 1098 less relevant to the average American than it once was, though it does contain information you may need.

However, the form remains relevant to real estate investors, who deduct mortgage interest on Schedule E of their tax return. Mortgage interest is an expense for investment properties and comes off their taxable profit. Deducting it from your investment property profit doesn’t require you to itemize your deductions. 


Who Should File Form 1098?

Property owners don’t file Form 1098 as part of their federal tax return. They simply list the amount of mortgage interest in the appropriate place on their return: Schedule A for homeowners, Schedule E for investment property owners.

Mortgage lenders need to file Form 1098 with the IRS if the borrower paid more than $600 in a given year and send you a copy — which you can frame if you so choose. They typically send the form in February with the total mortgage interest paid in the previous year.


How to File IRS Form 1098

While you don’t need to file Form 1098 as a borrower, it helps to be able to read it. 

The most important information lies in Box 1: the amount of mortgage interest paid in the previous year. However, the form contains other useful information, including:

  • Box 2: Outstanding mortgage principal (your remaining loan balance)
  • Box 3: Mortgage origination date (your loan start date)
  • Box 4: Refund of overpaid interest (if applicable)
  • Box 5: Mortgage insurance premiums (if you paid private mortgage insurance for a conforming loan or mortgage insurance premium for a Federal Housing Administration loan, it appears here)
  • Box 6: Points paid on the purchase of the principal residence (you may be able to deduct these as well)
  • Boxes 7-11: Identifying information about your loan, such as the property address

You’ll also find identifying information about yourself, such as your name and Social Security number.


Other 1098 Forms

While the mortgage interest statement is the most common type of 1098 form, it’s not the only brat in the pack. You may also come across the following 1098 forms.

Form 1098-C, Contributions of Motor Vehicles, Boats

If you donated a vehicle — including boats or airplanes — to a charitable organization last year, you’ll receive a 1098-C from the charity. 

Charities often give these vehicles to individuals in need or sell them at below-market rates and use the profit to fund programs. Alternatively, the charity might auction the car to raise money for their cause.

Form 1098-C confirms you weren’t part of that transaction. However, if you donated a beater worth less than $600, you may not receive one of these forms. Read the instructions for Form 1098-C for more information.

Form 1098-E, Student Loan Interest Statement

You may feel like you’ll be paying off your student loans for the rest of your life, but at least you get a tax break. Maybe. 

Each year, you’ll receive a 1098-E detailing how much interest you paid to each loan servicer if it exceeded $600. You can deduct the interest from your taxable income on your 1040 without itemizing your deductions as long as you meet the income requirement.

You can deduct up to $2,500 in student loan interest for loans used to pay for qualified expenses while you were in school. However, the deduction does phase out if your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) falls between $70,000 and $85,000 (between $140,000 and $170,000 if married filing a joint return). You cannot take a student loan interest deduction if your MAGI exceeds $85,000 or more ($170,000 or more if you file a joint return). 

If you paid less than $600 in student loan interest last year, the servicer may not send you a 1098-E, but you can still deduct this interest as long as you have a record of how much you paid. If you don’t know, ask your servicer and record it in your tax file.

As a bonus, if your parents or someone else pays student loans in your name for you, the IRS considers the money a gift, and you can still deduct the interest on your own taxes. However, if the loan is in someone else’s name, that person is entitled to take the interest deduction as long as he or she is the one paying on it.

Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement

If you or one of your dependents is currently in school, the school will send an IRS Form 1098-T at the end of the year detailing all fees you paid for qualified tuition and other related expenses. Calculate all education-related tax deductions and credits, such as the tuition and fees deduction, the lifetime learning credit, or the American opportunity tax credit.

The amounts on the form encompass all money you paid to the school, even if you paid in advance — the payment appears on the tax form for the year in which you actually paid it. 

For example, if you pay your spring semester tuition in December of the previous year, it will show up on the prior year’s 1098-T. These amounts include any money used from loans to pay for tuition and education expenses and list financial aid like college scholarships and grants separately.

Some expenses, such as college textbooks and school supplies, are not generally reported on the 1098-T, but you can still claim them for higher education tax credits or deductions so long as they’re classified as qualified expenses by the IRS.


Form 1098 FAQs

If you still have burning questions about 1098 tax forms, these answers to frequently asked questions can help clear them up.

How Do I Get a 1098 Form?

Your mortgage lender sends you a Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement. If you haven’t received it by late February, blow off some steam by yelling at your lender. (Just kidding. Be nice. They literally still own part of your house. But thinking about yelling at them should make you feel better.)

Form 1098-C comes from the charity you donated a vehicle to, while Form 1098-E comes from your student loan servicer. Form 1098-T comes from your college or university. 

Do I Need to File Form 1098 With My Tax Return?

No, you don’t. You need only include the information in the appropriate field on your tax return.

When in doubt, ask your accountant or tax advisor. Alternatively, you can use an online tax preparation service, which will ask you for the amount you paid and fill it into the right field for you. 

What Happens if I Don’t File a 1098 Form?

The IRS doesn’t require borrowers to file a 1098 form at all. But if you ignore them, you might miss out on valuable income tax deductions and make an involuntary donation to Uncle Sam. 

If you are a lender, charity, student loan servicer, or university, you are required by law to both send a 1098 form to the payer and file it with the IRS. Failure to do so will result in your immediate execution — no, not really, but the IRS may penalize you, audit you, or otherwise make your life unpleasant. 


Final Word

With a higher standard deduction these days, most Americans don’t have to stress over documenting and itemizing every single deduction anymore. It makes filing your tax return that much simpler.

However, homeowners who itemize their personal deductions do still want to include their mortgage interest among them. And the mortgage interest deduction offers another way for real estate investors to lower their taxes while leveraging other people’s money to build their portfolio of properties. Get tax advice from a qualified tax professional if you have any questions about these tax benefits.

Whether you deduct mortgage interest on your tax return or not, keep your 1098 forms in your tax records for at least three years after filing. You never know when Uncle Sam will pay you a nasty visit with an audit, and every deduction could help if he does. 

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G. Brian Davis is a real estate investor, personal finance writer, and travel addict mildly obsessed with FIRE. He spends nine months of the year in Abu Dhabi, and splits the rest of the year between his hometown of Baltimore and traveling the world.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Guide to Grad PLUS Loans

Grad PLUS loans are federal student loans for graduate and professional students. Although Grad PLUS loans have higher interest rates and fees than some other types of federal student loans, they also have a major benefit — virtually no borrowing limits. You can borrow up to the full cost of attendance of your school, minus any other financial aid you’ve already received.

Read on for more on how Grad PLUS loans work, including their eligibility requirements, interest rates and repayment options.

What Are Grad PLUS Loans?

If you’re planning to attend a graduate or professional program, a Grad PLUS loan could help cover costs. Issued by the Department of Education, Grad PLUS loans are student loans designed for graduate and professional students.

PLUS loans are not the only federal loans available to you as a graduate student — you can also borrow Direct unsubsidized loans. Direct unsubsidized loans have lower interest rates and fees than PLUS loans, but they come with borrowing limits.

If you’ve hit your limit and need additional funding, a Grad PLUS loan could cover the gap. As mentioned above, you can borrow up to the full cost of attendance of your program, minus any other financial aid you’ve already gotten. This flexibility can be helpful for students who are attending pricey programs.

Recommended: How Do Student Loans Work? Guide to Student Loans

What Can Grad PLUS Loans Be Used for?

Grad PLUS loans can be used for tuition, fees and other education-related expenses. These expenses include,

•   Housing

•   Food

•   Textbooks

•   Computers and other supplies

•   Study abroad expenses

•   Transportation

•   Childcare costs

A Grad PLUS loan will first be disbursed to your financial aid office, which will apply the funds toward tuition, fees, room and board, and any other school charges. The financial aid office will then send any remaining funds to you.

Recommended: What Can You Use Student Loans For?

Who Is Eligible for Grad PLUS Loans?

To be eligible for a Grad PLUS loan, you must be a graduate or professional student enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school. What’s more, your program must lead to a graduate or professional degree or certificate.

You’ll also need to meet the eligibility requirements for federal financial aid (more on this below), as well as submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

Typical Grad PLUS Loan Requirements

Besides being enrolled in an eligible graduate or professional program, you need to meet a few other requirements to take out a Grad PLUS loan:

Meet the Requirements for Federal Student Aid

Since Grad PLUS loans are part of the federal student aid program, you must be eligible for federal aid to borrow one. Here are some of the criteria you need to meet:

•   Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen

•   Have a valid Social Security number (with some exceptions)

•   Have a high school diploma, General Educational Development (GED) certificate or other recognized equivalent

•   Maintain satisfactory academic progress while in school

•   Not already be in default on a federal student loan or owe money on a federal grant

If you’re a non-U.S. citizen or have an intellectual disability or criminal conviction, additional requirements might apply.

Submit the FAFSA

You’ll need to submit the FAFSA before you can borrow a Grad PLUS loan. After applying to grad school, you can submit this form, free of charge, on the Federal Student Aid website, with the myStudentAid mobile app or via the mail. Since the FAFSA only applies to a single academic year, you’ll need to submit it every year you’re in school and want to receive financial aid.

Complete the Grad PLUS Loan Application

Along with submitting the FAFSA, you’ll also need to fill out a separate application for the Grad PLUS loan. You can find and submit this application on the Federal Student Aid website, though some schools have separate processes. Your financial aid office can advise you on the steps you need to take.

If your application is approved, you’ll need to agree to the terms of the loan by signing a Master Promissory Note. If you haven’t borrowed a Grad PLUS loan before, you’ll also be required to complete student loan entrance counseling.

Not Have Adverse Credit History (or Apply With an Endorser)

While you don’t need outstanding credit to qualify for a Grad PLUS loan, you can’t have adverse credit. According to the Department of Education, you have adverse credit if one of the following applies to you:

•   You have accounts with a total balance greater than $2,085 that are 90 or more days delinquent

•   You’ve experienced a default, bankruptcy, repossession, foreclosure, wage garnishment or tax lien in the past five years

•   You’ve had a charge-off or write-off of a federal student loan in the past five years

If you have adverse credit, you have two options:

•   Appeal the decision due to extenuating circumstances. For example, you could provide documentation showing that you paid off a delinquent debt on your credit report.

•   Apply with an endorser who does not have adverse credit. Your endorser will be responsible for repaying the loan if you fall behind on payments.

Grad PLUS Loans Interest Rates

Grad PLUS loans come with fixed interest rates that will remain the same over the life of your loan. They also have a disbursement fee, which is a percentage of your loan amount that gets deducted from your loan.

Congress sets rates and fees on federal student loans periodically. These are the current Grad PLUS loan interest rates and fees:

Interest Rate (for loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2021 and before July 1, 2022) Disbursement Fee (for loans disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2021, and before Oct. 1, 2022)
6.28% 4.228%

Repaying Your Grad PLUS Loans

Grad PLUS loans are eligible for a variety of federal repayment plans:

•   Standard repayment plan, which involves fixed monthly payments over 10 years.

•   Income-driven repayment, specifically Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), Income-Based Repayment or Income-Contingent Repayment. These plans adjust your monthly student loan payments to a percentage of your discretionary income while extending your loan terms to 20 or 25 years. If you’ve made on-time payments but still have a balance at the end of your term, it may be forgiven. The amount forgiven may be considered taxable income by the IRS.

•   Extended repayment, which extends your repayment term to 25 years and lets you pay a fixed or graduated amount.

•   Graduated repayment, which lowers your student loan payments in the beginning and increases them every two years. You’ll pay off your loan over 10 years, and your final payments won’t be more than three times greater than your initial payments.

Grad PLUS loans are also eligible for certain federal forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Other Options to Pay for Grad School

Grad PLUS loans aren’t the only way to pay for graduate school. Here are some alternative options:

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

You can borrow up to $20,500 per year in Direct Unsubsidized loans as a graduate student with an aggregate loan limit of $138,500, including any loans you borrowed as an undergraduate.

Here are the interest rate and disbursement fee for graduate students:

Interest Rate (for loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2021 and before July 1, 2022) Disbursement Fee (for loans disbursed on or after Oct. 1, 2020, and before Oct. 1, 2022)
5.28% 1.057%

Grants and Scholarships

Besides student loans, you can also pursue grants and scholarships for graduate school. You can find grants and scholarships from a variety of sources, including the Department of Education, your state, your school or a private organization. By earning grants and scholarships, you might not need to borrow as much in student loans.

Private Student Loans

You can also explore your options for private graduate student loans from banks, online lenders or credit unions. Some lenders offer interest rates that start lower than Graduate PLUS loan interest rates and don’t charge an origination fee.

Although private student loans aren’t eligible for federal repayment plans or programs, some lenders offer flexible repayment options or deferment if you need to pause payments. But, because private student loans aren’t required to offer the same borrower benefits as federal student loans, they are generally borrowed as a last resort option after all other sources of financing have been exhausted.

The Takeaway

If you’re looking for ways to pay for graduate school, a Grad PLUS loan could help. You can use this flexible loan to cover your school’s cost of attendance, as well as choose from a variety of federal repayment plans when it comes time to pay it back.

A Grad PLUS loan, however, might not be your most affordable borrowing option. Depending on your credit and other factors, it may be possible to find a private student loan with an even lower interest rate than a Grad PLUS loan.

SoFi offers private student loans with competitive rates, no fees and flexible repayment terms. Learn more about SoFi’s no-fee private student loans.

FAQ

What kind of loan is Grad PLUS?

The Grad PLUS loan is a federal graduate student loan issued by the Department of Education. It is designed specifically for graduate and professional students.

Is there a max on Grad PLUS loans?

There is virtually no limit on the amount you can borrow with a Grad PLUS loan. You can borrow up to your school’s cost of attendance, minus any other financial aid you’ve already received.

Can Grad PLUS loans be used for living expenses?

Yes, you can use Grad PLUS loans to cover your living expenses while at school. You must use your loan on education-related expenses, which can include housing, food, supplies, transportation and other costs related to attending school.


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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.

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.
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 Is a Trust Fund – How It Works, Types & How to Set One Up

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When most people hear “trust fund,” they think of wealthy people living in fancy estates using them to pass immense amounts of wealth to their heirs. But that isn’t always the case.

A trust fund is simply a legal entity that holds assets of value like property or stocks and bonds on someone else’s behalf (in trust). They’re useful for numerous reasons, including estate planning, protecting assets, avoiding complications during probate, and minimizing taxes.

Trust funds are helpful for estates of varying sizes. But before you set one up, it’s best to understand what it is and what it can and can’t do.


What Is a Trust Fund?

A trust fund is a legal entity that can hold valuable assets on behalf of an individual person, group, or organization. There are many different types of trust fund, each designed to achieve a different goal.


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Trusts give the person establishing them more control over their estate than a will does. They can also provide legal protections or tax benefits that reduce the taxes the person establishing the trust or its beneficiaries may owe.


How a Trust Fund Works

Establishing a trust fund requires three parties:

  1. The Grantor. The person who establishes the trust and places assets into that trust is the grantor. They determine the beneficiaries and any rules or stipulations they wish to put in place, such as only allowing the beneficiary to use the money to pay for college.
  2. The Beneficiary. The person, people, or organization that benefits from the trust is the beneficiary. They don’t own the assets but will benefit from them, often by receiving access at some point or getting monetary distributions from the trust.
  3. The Trustee. The person or organization responsible for managing the trust and its assets is the trustee. They must act as a fiduciary for the beneficiary and follow the rules or stipulations laid out in the trust documents.

To establish a trust, the grantor typically works with a lawyer to draw up a document outlining the terms of the trust, the beneficiaries, the trustee, and the details of how the trust will work. 

For example, a grandparent might establish a trust for their grandchildren, name their children as trustees, and stipulate that they must use the money for their grandchildren’s college education.

One perk for beneficiaries is that they do not pay taxes on their distributions. Instead, the IRS taxes the trust directly.

Trusts are a popular estate planning tool because they’re more binding than something like a will. In the example, the grandchildren must use the trust fund to pay for college costs. If the grandparent instead distributed that money in a will simply noting they want it to go toward college costs, the grandchildren don’t have the same legal obligations to use it for that. 


Types of Trust Funds

One of the benefits of trusts is their flexibility. You can establish one for almost any purpose. And there are many types of trust funds available to suit various needs. 

Living Trusts

Living trusts are trusts that you create while you’re alive. The benefit of a revocable trust is that they let the assets in the trust avoid probate, the process by which the executor of the estate determines how to distribute the property left behind. Probate can be a lengthy process, which living trusts let families avoid.

They come in two primary forms: revocable and irrevocable.

A revocable trust gives the grantor more power over the trust’s assets. The grantor can amend the trust documents at any time after creating a revocable trust, changing the terms of the trust, or naming different beneficiaries. 

Once the grantor dies, a revocable trust becomes an irrevocable trust and cannot be altered.

In contrast, irrevocable trusts are more permanent. Once the grantor establishes an irrevocable trust, they cannot make changes to it or name different beneficiaries without the consent of the current beneficiaries.

An irrevocable trust has additional tax benefits for the grantor. Because they can’t make changes or remove assets after forming the trust, any assets placed in the trust are no longer the grantor’s property.

That means the grantor can take advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion by making gifts to an irrevocable trust.

Testamentary Trust

You can also create a testamentary trust through your last will and testament. Essentially, it instructs the executor to create the trust after your death.

While that means testamentary trusts don’t provide all the benefits of avoiding probate you could get from a living trust, they still carry other benefits. For example, it allows the decedent to establish another kind of trust, like an educational trust, for an heir. It also lets them place more restrictions on how their heirs use the money left behind.

Educational Trust

An educational trust simply specifies the beneficiary must use the assets for educational purposes. It can be revocable or irrevocable.

Depending on the grantor’s wishes, the trust can specify where the beneficiary has to study, what subjects they need to study, how frequently it will make distributions, and what types of expenses it will cover.

For example, it could state that it will only cover the beneficiary’s tuition costs or make a lump-sum distribution each year the beneficiary is in school and leave it to the beneficiary to decide how best to spend the money for education.

Of course, these restrictions could have consequences. If the beneficiary doesn’t go to college or leaves money in the trust once they leave school, you need a plan for what to do with it.

Special Needs Trust

A special needs trust is a trust designed to help care for someone who is disabled or otherwise requires accommodations without disqualifying them from receiving government assistance.

Many government assistance programs require aid recipients to have a limited income or limited assets. If their income rises or they receive a large gift, it can stop them from receiving essential government aid.

A special needs trust can hold assets on behalf of someone receiving government care and ensure the trustee uses those assets to help the beneficiary.

The rules for these trusts can vary from state to state, but they must typically be irrevocable and give the trustee significant control over how to use or distribute the assets.

Charitable Remainder Trust

Charitable remainder trusts allow the grantor to benefit from charitable contribution tax deductions while still receiving income from their assets. In exchange, the funds remaining in the trust go to a charity once the grantor dies.

For example, Brianna could establish a charitable trust and name a local museum as the charity of her choice. If she places $100,000 in the trust, the trust might give her (or another named beneficiary) an annual payment of $5,000 each year until she dies.

When Brianna establishes the trust, she receives a tax benefit for making a charitable contribution to the museum. However, she does have to pay taxes on the distributions she receives.

Once Brianna dies, whatever money she left in the trust goes to the museum.

Charitable remainder trusts can be highly complex when it comes to taxes, so it’s essential to work with a tax professional when considering whether one is right for you.

Common Collective Trust Fund

A common collective trust fund is a trust fund managed by a bank or trust company. It combines assets for multiple investors, often pooling assets from things like profit-sharing, pension, and employee stock bonus plans. 

These funds are very similar to mutual funds and are commonly held in employer retirement plans.

Perpetual Trust Fund (Dynasty Trust)

A perpetual trust fund, also called a dynasty trust, is a trust that aims to pass wealth to future generations while avoiding taxes like the estate tax, gift tax, or generation-skipping transfer tax. A properly designed dynasty trust can last for many generations, creating a family dynasty of wealth.

These trusts usually include clauses to change their beneficiaries over time. For example, it might start benefiting the grantor’s children, then change to benefit the grantor’s grandchildren once they reach a certain age or all of the grantor’s children die.

Because the goal of dynasty trusts is to last for a long time or even forever, the grantors of these trusts typically name a financial institution or bank the trustee.

Assets in the trust aren’t the property of any of the beneficiaries, so they can avoid taxes like capital gains and estate taxes. However, they do have to pay income tax on distributions.

Spendthrift Trust

A spendthrift trust is one designed to protect the beneficiary from creditors and their own poor financial habits. These trusts typically give the trustee more control over the assets in the fund.

The effect is that the beneficiary can’t sell the trust’s assets or access significant amounts at once to squander. But neither can creditors if the beneficiary racks up considerable debt.

Social Security Trust Fund

The Social Security Trust Fund is the trust fund the Social Security Administration uses to hold all the assets used to pay benefits like Social Security and disability. It’s not a trust you can create, but almost every American pays into it and hopes to benefit from it someday, so it’s important to know how it works.

The trust fund owns interest-bearing government securities, such as bonds, and gets its funds from payroll tax deductions paid by both employees and employers.

When the benefits paid out by Social Security exceed the income received from payroll taxes, money from the trust fund pays those benefits. When payroll taxes exceed benefits paid, the additional revenue goes into the trust.

As of the Social Security Administration’s 2021 report, the Social Security Trust fund held $2.908 trillion in assets.


Advantages & Disadvantages of Trust Funds

Trusts have many tax benefits and can give the person establishing the trust more control over how the beneficiary ultimately uses their money. However, they’re not perfect for every situation.

Advantages of Trust Funds

Trusts can give their grantors control over their hard-earned money in life and in death, ensuring more of it goes to their beneficiaries than the government. A trust’s many benefits include: 

  1. Grantor Control. The person establishing the trust can set rules for how beneficiaries should use the funds in the trust, and the beneficiary must follow those wishes, even after the grantor dies.
  2. Tax Incentives. Various types of trusts can help the grantor and beneficiary avoid or reduce taxes like capital gains and estate taxes.
  3. Probate Avoidance. When someone dies, their estate goes through probate, a legal process by which the state or executor distributes assets, whether or not they have a last will and testament. Assets in a trust can skip this process, meaning loved ones can access the assets sooner. It also reduces the chance of the grantor’s wishes being ignored.
  4. Privacy. The probate process is public, which means the estate and wishes of someone who dies become public record. Trusts offer a more private option.

Disadvantages of Trust Funds

Though there are advantages to trusts, they aren’t right for everyone. Carefully consider these disadvantages before setting one up.

  1. Limited Benefit for Small Estates. One of the reasons to establish a trust is to avoid taxes. But smaller estates are unlikely to face taxes, anyway. For 2022, the estate tax exclusion is $12.6 million federally, though some states have lower limits. For example, Massachusetts and Oregon have the lowest exclusions as of this writing, taxing estates that exceed $1 million.
  2. Cost. Setting up a trust means working with expensive professionals like lawyers and tax professionals. The cost may exceed the benefit for some.
  3. Finding a Trustee. Establishing a trust means finding a trustee to manage it. You either have to ask a friend or relative to take on this task, which might be a large one depending on the trust’s assets, or pay a professional to handle the work.
  4. Loss of Control. While trusts give the grantor more control in some ways, setting up an irrevocable trust means losing control in others. Once you establish an irrevocable trust, you can’t make changes, which means losing some level of control over your assets.

How to Set Up a Trust Fund

Setting up a trust fund is a multistep process. If you’re looking to create a simple trust, you could finish in a few weeks. If you want to construct a more complicated one with many restrictions and beneficiaries and a large number of assets, you should expect a monthslong process. But the steps you take are the same either way.

1. Figure Out the Goals of Your Trust

The first step to set up a trust fund is to figure out your goals for establishing the trust.

Do you want to use the trust to have more control over how your beneficiaries use your assets after your death? Is avoiding taxes your primary goal? Do you want a way to donate money to charity but retain a stream of income for retirement? 

You can use a trust to accomplish each of these goals, but each requires a different type of trust.

2. Find a Trust Professional

Once you know your goals, you’re ready to sit down with a professional. Most major financial institutions offer fee-based trust services if you have sufficient assets with them. For example, Fidelity manages trusts of $1 million or more. Fees start at 0.45% of the invested assets, but the percentage decreases as you add funds. You can work with the professional to hammer out details.

3. Choose a Trustee

You also have to determine who the trustee and the beneficiary will be. For some types of trusts, such as a dynasty trust, you need a professional trustee, like a bank or financial institution. Other trusts, like educational trusts or spendthrift trusts, more naturally lend themselves to having a family member serve as trustee.

4. Make the Trust Official

Once you’ve worked out the details, your estate planning attorney, the trustee, and any financial advisors will help draft the trust documents. You just have to sign on the dotted line to make it official. 

5. Fund the Trust

Once you’ve signed the paperwork, you’re ready to start funding the trust. You can put pretty much any asset of value into the trust, including cash, real estate, and stocks.

6. Register the Trust

You must register your trust with the IRS so it can get a taxpayer identification number and file tax returns. If you’re working closely with a financial institution to manage the trust, your trustee can help. Otherwise, the tax professional, lawyer, or brokerage company holding the trust’s assets can help register it.


Trust Fund FAQs

Trusts are complicated, and there are many ways to set them up. But first, it’s essential to understand how they work and how you can use them to accomplish your financial goals.

What’s the Difference Between a Trust & a Trust Fund?

People often use the terms trust and trust fund interchangeably, but they’re slightly different things.

A trust fund is the legal entity that contains assets or property for the benefit of someone else. A trust is a legal document outlining the rules of who the trust fund benefits and how the beneficiary can use assets in a trust fund.

How Is a Trust Fund Handled in Probate?

One of the most popular reasons to set up a trust is to avoid the probate process, which can be lengthy and prevent your loved ones from accessing the money you leave behind when you die.

Any assets in a trust avoid probate court and can skip the normal legal process.

Who Should I Make My Trustee?

Naming your trustee can be difficult because you’re trusting that person with managing your assets and following the wishes you outlined in the trust. 

Some types of trusts naturally lend themselves to making a family member the trustee. For example, if you establish a trust to benefit your grandchild, it makes sense to name their parents (your own child) as the trustee.

Longer-term trusts may require a financial institution or a long-lasting entity to serve as the trustee. But that can mean paying management fees.

How Does a Trust Fund Affect Estate Taxes?

You can use a trust fund to reduce or avoid estate taxes to some degree. The IRS considers money placed in an irrevocable trust a gift in the year you place it in the trust.

Each year, taxpayers may make gifts up to a certain amount ($16,000 in 2022) without it counting against their lifetime gift limit. That means the grantor of a trust can add $16,000 to the fund each year and pay no taxes on that amount, reducing their potential estate tax liability.

What Is a Trust Fund Baby?

A trust fund baby is a pejorative term used to describe a young person whose parents or family established a trust fund for them. This trust provides them with a sufficient income to live comfortably without having to work or find significantly gainful employment.

The common image of a trust fund baby is that of a privileged young adult coasting their way through life with little to no responsibilities.

These situations certainly exist, but the term doesn’t accurately describe most people benefiting from trust funds. Trust funds are simply a legal tool people can use to protect their assets and ensure their beneficiaries follow their wishes. 

Many middle-class families use trust funds for reasons as simple as avoiding probate or keeping assets safe from creditors, not to let their children live a life of luxury without having to work.


Final Word

Trust funds are a powerful legal tool you can use for reasons ranging from estate planning and tax avoidance to caring for a loved one. Though they may have a negative reputation as a toll available only to the wealthy, many groups can benefit from using them.

If you’re thinking about setting up a trust fund, it’s also a good opportunity to think about taking inventory of your finances and ensuring everything is in order. You might also consider talking to an estate planning attorney to draft a will if you don’t already have one. Being prepared only benefits your family in the long run.

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TJ is a Boston-based writer who focuses on credit cards, credit, and bank accounts. When he’s not writing about all things personal finance, he enjoys cooking, esports, soccer, hockey, and games of the video and board varieties.

Source: moneycrashers.com

The Best Student Loans of May 2022

College costs are overwhelming for a lot of families. So students turn to student loans to cover them. Most students, following expert recommendations, start with federal student loans, but those aren’t always enough to cover costs.

When federal student loans don’t cut it, you can turn to private student loan lenders to fill in the gap.

Unlike federal student loans, private student loans offer a variety of options for interest rates, loan amounts and terms that could make picking one daunting. So we’ve pulled together a list of some of the best student loans available to make it easier for you to compare and vet your options.

Federal student loans have been in the news a lot lately as the U.S. Education Department has

Keep reading below the table for more details on every lender, plus all the information you need to find the college funding plan that’s right for you and your family.

Interest rates accurate as of late April 2022 and subject to change. Variable rates listed are margins added to a base rate such as LIBOR or SOFR, which could add around 0.30% to 1%.

Best Student Loans at a Glance

Lender Variable APR with Autopay Fixed APR with Autopay Loans for
Credible 0.94% – 11.98% 3.02% – 14.08% Undergrad and grad, refinancing
Earnest Starting at 0.94% Starting at 2.99% Undergrad and grad
College Ave 0.94% – 11.98% 3.24% – 12.99% Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing
Sallie Mae 1.13% – 11.23% 3.50% – 12.60% Undergrad, grad and career training
SoFi 1.05% – 11.78% 3.47% –11.16% Undergrad and grad, refinancing
Ascent .47% – 11.31% 4.36% – 12.75% Undergrad, grad, career training and bootcamp
LendKey Starting at 1.57% Starting at 3.99% Undergrad and grad, refinancing
Citizens Bank n/a 3.48% – 10.78% Undergrad and grad, refinancing
PNC Bank Starting at 1.09% Starting at 2.99% Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing
Purefy 1.74% – 7.24% 2.43% – 7.94% Refinancing
Sparrow 0.99% – 11.98% 2.99% – 12.99% Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing
Student Loan Authority n/a 2.99% – 4.61% Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing
Chicago Student Loans n/a 7.53% – 8.85% Undergrad (juniors and seniors)
Funding U n/a 7.49% – 12.99% Undergrad
Discover 1.79% – 11.09% 3.99% – 11.59% Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing
Splash Financial 1.74 – 8.27% 1.99% – 8.27% Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Credible

Best for Comparing Loan Rates

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Compares rates from top lenders
  • See multiple offers without hard credit check
  • Variable APR as low as 0.94%

Through Credible’s loan marketplace, you can fill out an application to see pre-qualified rates for multiple lenders in one place. Select options that work for you, like deferred or interest-only payments while you’re in school, fixed or variable rates, and loan terms that fit your plan. Once you choose a loan offer, you can finish your application and sign your loan agreement with the lender directly.

Credible

Variable APR

0.94% – 11.98%

Fixed APR

3.02% – 14.08%

Loans for

Undergrad and grad, refinancing

Earnest

Best for Flexible Repayment Options

5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • 9-month grace period
  • Skip one payment/year
  • Pay monthly or every two weeks

Earnest offers an easy-to-use, modern platform to find loans for undergrad, grad school and professional degrees with a nine-month grace period before beginning repayment after school. Loans come with an option to defer one payment every 12 months with no extra fees or interest. Apply online, and get an offer within 72 hours.

Earnest

Variable APR

Starting at 0.94%

Fixed APR

Starting at 2.99%

Loans for

Undergrad and grad, refinancing

College Ave

Best for Affordable In-School Repayment

3.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Variable APR as low as 0.94%
  • Parent and cosigned loans available
  • 4 repayment options

College Ave is a mainstay in student loans and refinancing. Apply for loans to cover undergrad, grad and professional degrees, and career training programs. The online application is quick and easy, and borrowers tout the company’s customer service, so you’ll be on top of your loan from application to repayment. Choose how you repay while you’re in school to save money and fit your budget.

College Ave

Variable APR

0.94% – 11.98%

Fixed APR

3.24% – 12.99%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Sallie Mae

Best for College Financial Planning

2 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Faster applications for returning borrower
  • Scholarships available
  • Credit cards and banking options

Sallie Mae is a private lender and platform for financial products for students. The business no longer originates or services federal loans, as it’s most known for. Apply for private student loans, credit cards and savings accounts designed for students. With Multi-Year Advantage, returning borrowers have fast applications and high approval rates to make it easier to get your money each year.

Sallie Mae

Variable APR

1.13% – 11.23%

Fixed APR

3.50% – 12.60%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training

SoFI

Best for SoFi Banking Clients

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • No fees
  • Unemployment protection
  • Earn rewards to repay loans faster Summary

SoFi is well known for student loan refinancing, and it offers other types of loans including in-school student loans with no hidden fees. As a SoFi member, you get access to perks, including subscriptions to products like Grammarly, Evernote and Coursera, to support your education. With unemployment protection, you get forbearance on loans for up to three-month increments if you lose your job.

SoFi

Variable APR

1.05% – 11.78%

Fixed APR

3.47% –11.16%

Loans for

Undergrad and grad, refinancing

Ascent

Best for Graduated Repayment

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Graduated repayment available
  • Hardship repayment options
  • Bootcamp loans available

Ascent offers student loans and scholarships for your full academic career. Apply online with no application fees to see your prequalified rates without a hard credit check. Use loans to pay for everything from a traditional undergrad or grad program to career training and even career-boosting bootcamps.

Ascent

Variable APR

1.47% – 11.31%

Fixed APR

4.36% – 12.75%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad, career training and bootcamp

LendKey

Best for Loan Reconnaissance

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Work with community banks and CUs
  • Student loans and refinancing options
  • Rates as low as 1.57%

LendKey is a student loan servicer and a platform for finding the best student loan and refinancing options from partner community banks and credit unions. LendKey’s platform streamlines the process, so you get the benefit of working with a community-oriented institution without the headache of multiple application processes.

LendKey

Variable APR

Starting at 1.57%

Fixed APR

Starting at 3.99%

Loans for

Undergrad and grad, refinancing

Citizens Bank

Best for Citizens Bank Customers

3 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Loyalty discounts
  • Cosigner release option
  • Multi-Year Approval

Citizens Bank is an established financial institution with more than 40 years of experience providing student loans and other financial services. With multi year approval, you can get approved for new loans year after year with a faster application and no hard credit check. Citizens Bank customers can get an interest rate discount up to 0.25 percentage points.

Citizens Banks

Variable APR

n/a

Fixed APR

3.48% – 10.78%

Loans for

Undergrad and grad, refinancing

PNC

Best for Undergraduate Loans

2.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Established traditional bank
  • Cosigner release option
  • Student loans and refinancing options

PNC Bank is one of the largest banks in the United States, with nearly 200 years of experience in financial services. Student loans and refinancing are among its vast services. The PNC Solution Loan is designed specifically for undergraduates, to bridge the gap when federal student loans don’t cover all your expenses. It also offers graduate and professional loans.

PNC Bank

Variable APR

Starting at 1.09%

Fixed APR

Starting at 2.99%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Purefy

Best for Refinancing Student Loans

3 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Student and parent loan refinancing
  • Compare multiple lenders
  • No hard credit check

Purefy is for anyone out of school, repaying student loans and looking for ways to save money. Use the platform to compare student loan refinancing options from multiple lenders side-by-side. The platform is free to use, and you can see prequalified rates in minutes. You can refinance private or federal loans through its partner lenders.

Purefy

Variable APR

1.74% – 7.24%

Fixed APR

2.43% – 7.94%

Loans for

Refinancing

Sparrow

Best for Easy Student Loan Repayment

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Compare offers from multiple lenders
  • App to automate loan repayment
  • Manage private and federal loans

Sparrow is a platform for student loans, refinancing and repayment in one place. You can fill out a single application to see prequalified offers from multiple partner lenders for private loans or refinancing. Then use the app to manage and automate repayment of your private and federal student loans in one place.

Sparrow

Variable APR

0.99% – 11.98%

Fixed APR

2.99% – 12.99%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Rhode Island Student Loan Authority

Best for Income-Driven Repayment

5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Income-based repayment available
  • Fixed interest rates
  • Less-than-halftime students eligible

RISLA is a nonprofit organization offering student loans and refinancing for borrowers all over the U.S. Its loans have more borrower protections than most private student loans: You have income-driven repayment options, a fixed interest rate and two repayment terms to choose from (10 or 15 years). Limited loan forgiveness is even available for students who complete internships.

Rhode Island Student Loan Authority

Variable APR

n/a

Fixed APR

2.99% – 4.61%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Chicago Student Loans

Best for Equitable Lending

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Merit-based approval and interest rates
  • No cosigner needed
  • Income-based repayment options

Chicago Student Loans by A.M. Money works with limited schools around the Midwest, but if your school is eligible, this is a great option for equitable lending. Approval and interest rates are determined based on your academic achievement, not your credit or income. And income-based repayment plans are available if you can’t afford your monthly payment.

Chicago Student Loans

Variable APR

n/a

Fix APR

7.53% – 8.85%

Loans for

Undergrad (juniors and seniors)

Funding U

Best for Merit-Based Lending

5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Approval by GPA and non-credit factors
  • No cosigner needed
  • More than 1,000 eligible schools

Funding U makes undergraduate loans based on a student’s GPA, not their family’s credit history. It uses a credit check to set interest rates, but also factors in your GPA and year in school — the rate goes down as you progress nearer to graduation! Funding U works with more than 1,460 nonprofit colleges and universities.

Funding U

Variable APR

n/a

Fixed APR

7.49% – 12.99%

Loans for

Undergrad

Discover

Best for Rewards for Good Grades

3.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • No origination or late fees
  • Cash reward for good grades
  • Variable APR as low as 1.79%

In addition to its full suite of financial services, Discover offers student loans for undergrads, grad students and professional degrees with no origination or late fees. You’ll get rewarded for good grades: Get a 1% cash reward for each new loan if you have a GPA of at least 3.0 for the term(s) the loan covers.

Discover

Variable APR

1.79% – 11.09%

Fixed APR

3.99% – 11.59%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Splash Financial

Best for Refinancing Undergrad and Med School Loans

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features

  • Compare offers from multiple lenders
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • Exclusive interest rates from partner lenders

Splash Financial lets you compare in-school student loans and student loan refinancing (and personal loans) from multiple lenders with a simple and quick online application. In addition to its search function, Splash partners with its lenders to offer exclusive interest rates — with fixed rates as low as 1.99% — to help you get the best deal possible.

Splash Financial

Variable APR

1.74 – 8.27%

Fixed APR

1.99% – 8.27%

Loans for

Undergrad, grad and career training, refinancing

Types of Student Loans

The first thing you need to know before applying for any student loans is the difference between federal and private student loans. These two types of loans are treated differently and offer significantly different options for repayment and forgiveness down the line, so know what you’re signing up for before you borrow.

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans are backed by the U.S. government and make up the vast majority of student loans borrowed every year in the country.

Application: You apply for federal loans along with other types of federal student aid for college through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a form you fill out every year to demonstrate your family’s financial situation. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) approves basic undergraduate loans and grants based on financial need, not creditworthiness, so students can apply for federal financial aid without a cosigner.

Types of loans: The government makes four types of student loans: Direct Subsidized, Direct Unsubsidized, Direct PLUS for parents or graduate students, and Federal Perkins Loans for students with exceptional financial need. It also awards grants and work study awards based on financial need. PLUS loans are granted based on creditworthiness, but might still be easier to get than some private loans.

Interest rates: Federal student loan interest rates are standard and not based on a borrower’s credit history. Congress sets them each year for loans disbursed that year, and you keep that rate for the life of your loan. For example, the interest rate for 2021 was 3.73% for Direct undergraduate loans, 5.28% for graduate student loans and 6.28% for PLUS loans.

Repayment plans: The required repayment for federal student loans starts six months after leaving school (or going less than half time), and the standard repayment plan splits monthly payments evenly over 10 years. Subsidized loans don’t accrue interest while you’re in school, while unsubsidized loans do.

Federal student loans are originated and serviced by private institutions, but they’re backed by a guarantee from the federal government, so ED sets repayment terms. You can opt into a graduated payment plan or income-driven repayment, both which would extend your time to repay and could give you a more affordable monthly payment (as little as $0).

Only federal loans are eligible for forgiveness under programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and for national forbearance periods like we’ve seen during the pandemic. The pause on loan payback has been extended six times since the start of the pandemic.

Refinancing options: Even though you receive one lump payment (if you get a refund) each semester, you might have multiple student loans to your name. You can combine them with a Direct Consolidation Loan, a student loan consolidation option creates one balance and one monthly payment, and sets the interest rate at the average of all the loans. This isn’t a money-saving step, but could make repayment simpler.

You can also refinance federal student loans using a private refinancing option, which could save you money if you have strong credit and can keep up with payments. This would pay off your federal loan balances and replace them with a private loan. It removes the repayment and forgiveness options that come with federal loans.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans are consumer loans made by private banks, credit unions and financial institutions. They’re treated differently from other types of private loans, but don’t come with as much flexibility as federal loans.

Application: You apply for private student loans directly with the lender or servicer providing the loan. Lenders approve loans based on creditworthiness, just like other credit products, so you have to have a strong credit history or apply with a creditworthy cosigner to be approved. Most (but not all) lenders include an option to release the cosigner after a few years of steady payments.

Types of loans: Private student loan lenders typically offer student loans for undergraduate students, graduate students and professional degrees. Some also offer loans for career training or alternative education like bootcamps. The loans all offer the same basic terms, but interest rates and loan amounts usually vary based on the degree covered.

Interest rates: Private student loan interest rates are set based on creditworthiness and can range from less than 1% to 12% or more depending on the prime rate. Fixed rates are set when you take out a loan and stay the same for the life of the loan, while variable interest rates fluctuate up and down when the Fed adjusts the prime rate.

Repayment plans: Private lenders don’t offer the same amount of protection in repayment as the federal government, but they usually offer a variety of repayment options so you can choose a plan that helps you save money without being overwhelmed by payments. You usually get to choose whether to pay off interest and/or principal while in school, or defer all payments until six months or more after school.

Many private lenders offer forbearance options of a few months at a time, so you can pause payments due to financial hardship without defaulting on your loan. They don’t, however, offer income-driven repayment, so your monthly payment is unaffected by your ability to pay it.

Private student loans aren’t eligible for forgiveness under federal plans, but you might be able to discharge them in bankruptcy under limited circumstances.

Refinancing options: If your financial situation improves, you can apply to refinance your student loans with the same or a different private lender. This pays off your existing loans and replaces them with a new loan with better terms, like a lower interest rate or lower monthly payments.

Should You Take out a Federal or Private Student Loan?

Nearly every expert will tell you to use private student loans as your last resort to pay for school. First exhaust free funding, like grants, scholarships and work study. Then take on federal student loans. Then, if your costs aren’t covered, take out private student loans to fill the gap.

That’s because private loans are the riskiest of all those options.

Federal student loans may be subsidized to save on interest, and they come with flexible repayment plans that offer relief when your income is low. And they’re eligible for forgiveness for student loan borrowers who qualify. Most private loans don’t have those options.

However, private student loans could come with significantly lower interest rates than federal student loans if you have good credit. Federal loans come with standard rates between 3% and 7% and don’t reward good credit (or punish bad credit).

After exhausting free funding, the most ideal route is to borrow a subsidized federal loan — which won’t accrue interest while you’re in school — then consider refinancing once the repayment period starts, you’ve built a strong credit history and feel confident in your ability to make monthly payments for the term of the new loan.

Even most private student loan lenders encourage borrowers to look into federal funding before taking out a private loan while you’re in school. They’re generally designed to fill gaps for students who aren’t eligible for enough in federal student loans to cover their costs to attend college.

Student Loan Costs to Consider

When you evaluate private student loan offers, you’ll probably focus on the interest rate, because that has a significant impact on the long-term cost of the loan. But there are other costs to consider.

Before accepting any loan offer or signing the agreement, make sure you know how much you’ll pay (if anything) in these common costs:

  • APR: Annual percentage rate is commonly called the interest rate (though they’re a little different). It’s usually the most prominently advertised feature of student loans. Student loan interest rates tend to fall between 3% and 11% and can be fixed or variable — the latter means they’ll change with the prime rate. A higher credit score can get you a lower interest rate and vice versa.
  • Origination fee: Some lenders charge a fee to receive your loan, though that’s less common with student loans than other types of loans. Origination fees are usually around 2% or 3% of the loan amount. They come out of the amount disbursed to the school, so you likely won’t notice them unless you’re very particular about math.
  • Late fee: Most loan agreements come with a fee for late payments, usually a percentage of the payment due. Many student loan lenders are doing away with late fees and building in options for flexible repayment, so shop around to compare your options!

What Is a Cosigner?

A cosigner is someone who shares the responsibility of a loan with the borrower. If you — the borrower — can’t qualify for a loan on your own because of bad credit or no credit, you could apply with a cosigner with good credit to qualify.

You receive the funds, but you both bear responsibility for repaying the loan, and repayment or default impacts both credit scores.

Cosigners are common for private student loans, because many people entering college are young and have almost no credit history. You can cosign with a parent, guardian or other creditworthy person, who basically guarantees the loan in case you don’t repay.

Student loans often come with an option for cosigner release, so the cosigner doesn’t have to stay tied to the loan for years after the student’s left school and gone off on their own. Cosigners can usually be released after around 12 to 36 months of on-time payments, with proof of the borrower’s income.

Who Can Take out a Private Student Loan?

Any student can usually apply for a student loan from a private lender, but creditworthiness determines whether you’ll be approved.

Lenders generally have basic requirements for student loans, as well, including:

  • You must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting institution.
  • You must be the age of majority in your state (usually 18 or 19).
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or resident.

Some lenders make exceptions for these, though. For example, Ascent offers a Bootcamp Loan, which wouldn’t come with the enrollment requirement. Some lenders also make loans for international students who aren’t U.S. residents.

How to Get a Private Student Loan

Follow these steps to apply for a private student loan.

  • Weigh your options. Before turning to private loans, fill out a FAFSA to see your options for federal financial aid. This doesn’t commit you to taking out a federal loan, and it has no affect on your credit score; it just gives you all the information you need to make a decision. If federal aid won’t cover your costs, look into private loans.
  • Find a cosigner. If you don’t have strong credit, get a cosigner on board before you apply. Use a site like Credit Sesame or Credit Karma to check your credit score and history for free to see where you stand.
  • Get pre-qualified. Lenders let you fill out a little information about yourself — usually all online — and run a soft credit check to give you an idea of the interest rate and loan terms you could qualify for. That lets you compare offers before submitting to a hard credit inquiry that impacts your score. Marketplaces like Credible and LendKey let you see and compare several pre-qualified offers with one application.
  • Choose a lender. Choose the loan offer that looks like the best fit for you, and finish your application with the lender. You can usually do this part all online, too. The lender will run a hard credit check and might need more information from you, like proof of income. You could get a decision as soon as the same day or after a few days, depending on the lender’s process.
  • Accept your loan. Once approved, you can review and sign your loan agreement — remember to note any fees! — and accept your funds. Lenders send student loan funds directly to your school to pay for tuition and fees, and the school will send you a refund for any extra amount.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Student Loans

We’ve rounded up the answers to some of the most common questions about where to get the best private student loans.

What Type of Loan is the Best Value to Students?

Which student loan options are best for you depends on your family’s financial situation. Private student loans can be an optimal option financially, because of potentially low interest rates and short repayment terms. But they’re only available to students with good credit or creditworthy cosigners. Federal student loans are available based on financial need and come with a host of repayment and forgiveness options that could protect low-income borrowers in the long run.

What Type of Student Loan Has the Lowest Interest Rate?

Private student loans can have interest rates as low as 1% but might be as high as 12% or more, depending on your credit. Federal loan rates are set by Congress for all borrowers and fall around 3% to 5% for undergraduate loans. If you (or your cosigner) have good credit, a private student loan could get you the lowest interest rate.

What is the Biggest Student Loan You Can Get?

The size of your student loan depends on what kind of loan you take out. For private student loans, it’s determined by your credit and the term of the loan you want. Some private lenders set caps on student loan amounts, and some will lend up to your full cost of attendance. For federal loans, your loan amount is determined based on your cost of attendance and expected family contribution. If you demonstrate financial need, your federal loan might go beyond tuition, and you could receive a refund to help cover living expenses. Undergrads can borrow a max of between $5,500 and $12,500 each academic year, and grad students can borrow up to $20,500. 

Contributor Dana Miranda is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® who has written about work and money for publications including Forbes, The New York Times, CNBC, Insider, NextAdvisor and Inc. Magazine.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Tax Changes and Key Amounts for the 2022 Tax Year

Now that this year’s tax filing season is over, it’s time to start thinking about next year’s return. After all, the more tax planning you do, the more money you may be able to save. But proper tax planning requires an awareness of what’s new and changed from last year — and there are plenty of tax law changes and updates for the 2022 tax year that savvy taxpayers need to know about.

Big tax breaks were enacted for the 2021 tax year by the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed into law in March 2021. But most of those tax law changes expired at the end of 2021. As a result, the child tax credit, child and dependent care credit, earned income credit and other popular tax breaks are different for the 2022 tax year than they were for 2021. Other 2022 tweaks are the result of new rules or annual inflation adjustments. But no matter how, when or why the changes were made, they can hurt or help your bottom line — so you need to be ready for them. To help you out, we pulled together a list of the most important tax law changes and adjustments for 2022 (some related items are grouped together). Use this information now so you can hold on to more of your hard-earned cash next year when it’s time to file your 2022 return.

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Child Tax Credit

picture of &quot;child tax credit&quot; spelled out in lettered blockspicture of &quot;child tax credit&quot; spelled out in lettered blocks

Major changes were made to the child tax credit for 2021 – but they were only temporary. The credit amount was increased, the credit was made fully refundable, children up to 17 years of age qualified, and half the credit amount was paid in advance through monthly payments from July to December last year. President Biden and Congressional Democrats tried to extend these enhancements for at least one more year, but they haven’t been able to get that done so far (and probably won’t be able to later).

As a result, the child tax credit reverts back to its pre-2021 form for the 2022 tax year. That means the 2022 credit amount drops back down to $2,000 per child (it was $3,000 for children 6 to 17 years of age and $3,600 for children 5 years old and younger for the 2021 tax year). Children who are 17 years old don’t qualify for the credit this year, because the former age limit (16 years old) returns. For some lower-income taxpayers, the 2022 credit is only partially refundable (up to $1,500 per qualifying child), and they must have earned income of at least $2,500 to take advantage of the credit’s limited refundability. And there will be no monthly advance payments of the credit in 2022.

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Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

picture of form for the child and dependent care tax creditpicture of form for the child and dependent care tax credit

Significant improvements were also made to the child and dependent care credit for 2021. But, again, the changes only applied for one year.

By way of comparison, the 2021 credit was worth 20% to 50% of up to $8,000 in eligible expenses for one qualifying child/dependent or $16,000 for two or more. The percentage decreased as income exceeded $125,000. When you combine the top percentage and the expense limits, the maximum credit for 2021 was $4,000 if you had one qualifying child/dependent (50% of $8,000) or $8,000 if you had more than one (50% of $16,000). The credit was also fully refundable in 2021.

For 2022, the child and dependent care credit is non-refundable. The maximum credit percentage also drops from 50% to 35%. Fewer care expenses are eligible for the credit, too. For 2022, the credit is only allowed for up to $3,000 in expenses for one child/dependent and $6,000 for more than one. When the 35% maximum credit percentage is applied, that puts the top credit for the 2022 tax year at $1,050 (35% of $3,000) if you have just one child/dependent in your family and $2,100 (35% of $6,000) if you have more. In addition, the full child and dependent care credit will only be allowed for families making less than $15,000 a year in 2022 (instead of $125,000 per year). After that, the credit starts to phase-out.

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Earned Income Tax Credit

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More workers without qualifying children were able to claim the earned income tax credit (EITC) on their 2021 tax return, including both younger and older Americans. The “childless EITC” amounts were higher, too. However, once again, those enhancements expired at the end of last year.

Without the 2021 improvements in place, the minimum age for a childless worker to claim the EITC jumps back up to 25 for 2022 tax returns (it was 19 in 2021). The maximum age limit (65 years of old), which was eliminated for the 2021 tax year, is also back in play for 2022. The maximum credit available for childless workers also plummets from $1,502 to $560 for the 2022 tax year. Expanded eligibility rules for former foster youth and homeless youth that applied for 2021 are dropped as well. In addition, the rule allowing you to use your 2019 earned income to calculate your EITC if it boosted your credit amount no longer applies.

There are also several inflation-based adjustments that modify the EITC for the 2022 tax year. For example, the maximum credit amount is increased from $3,618 to $3,733 for workers with one child, from $5,980 to $6,164 for workers with two children, and from $6,728 to $6,935 for workers with three or more children. The earned income required to claim the maximum EITC is also adjusted annually for inflation. For 2022, it’s $10,980 if you have one child ($10,640 for 2021), $15,410 if you have two or more children ($14,950 for 2021), and $7,320 if you have no children ($7,100 for 2021).

The EITC phase-out ranges are adjusted each year to account for inflation, too. For 2022, the credit starts to phase out for joint filers with children if the greater of their adjusted gross income (AGI) or earned income exceeds $26,260 ($25,470 for 2021). It’s completely phased out for those taxpayers if their AGI or earned income is at least $49,622 if they have one child ($48,108 for 2021), $55,529 if they have two children ($53,865 for 2021), or $59,187 if they have three or more children ($57,414 for 2021). For other taxpayers with children, the 2022 phase-out ranges are $20,130 to $43,492 for people with one child ($19,520 to $42,158 for 2021), $20,130 to $49,399 for people with two children ($19,520 to $47,915 for 2021), and $20,130 to $53,057 for people with more than two children ($19,520 to $51,464 for 2021). If you don’t have children, the 2022 phase-out range is $15,290 to $22,610 for joint filers ($14,820 to $21,920 for 2021) and $9,160 to $16,480 for other people ($8,880 to $15,980 for 2021).

Finally, the limit on a worker’s investment income is increased to $10,300 ($10,000 for 2021).

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Recovery Rebate Credit

picture of a tax form, government check, and one-hundred dollar billpicture of a tax form, government check, and one-hundred dollar bill

Americans were thrilled last March to hear they were getting a third stimulus check in 2021. Those checks were for up to $1,400, plus an additional $1,400 for each dependent in your family. (Use our Third Stimulus Check Calculator to see you how much money you should have gotten.) But some people who were eligible for a third-round stimulus check didn’t receive a payment or got less than what they should have received. For those people, relief was available in the form of a 2021 tax credit known as the recovery rebate credit.

However, there are no stimulus check payments in 2022. As a result, there is no recovery rebate credit for the 2022 tax year.

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Tax Brackets

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Although the tax rates didn’t change, the income tax brackets for 2022 are slightly wider than for 2021. The difference is due to inflation during the 12-month period from September 2020 to August 2021, which is used to figure the adjustments.

2022 Tax Brackets for Single/Married Filing Jointly/Head of Household

Tax Rate

Taxable Income (Single)

Taxable Income (Married Filing Jointly)

Taxable Income (Head of Household)

10%

Up to $10,275

Up to $20,550

Up to $14,650

12%

$10,276 to $41,775

$20,551 to $83,550

$14,651 to $55,900

22%

$41,776 to $89,075

$83,551 to $178,150

$55,901 to $89,050

24%

$89,076 to $170,050

$178,151 to $340,100

$89,051 to $170,050

32%

$170,051 to $215,950

$340,101 to $431,900

$170,051 to $215,950

35%

$215,951 to $539,900

$431,901 to $647,850

$215,951 to $539,900

37%

Over $539,900

Over $647,850

Over $539,900

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Long-Term Capital Gains Tax Rates

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Tax rates on long-term capital gains (i.e., gains from the sale of capital assets held for at least one year) and qualified dividends did not change for 2022. However, the income thresholds to qualify for the various rates were adjusted for inflation.

In 2022, the 0% rate applies for individual taxpayers with taxable income up to $41,675 on single returns ($40,400 for 2021), $55,800 for head-of-household filers ($54,100 for 2021) and $83,350 for joint returns ($80,800 for 2021).

The 20% rate for 2022 starts at $459,751 for singles ($445,851 for 2021), $488,501 for heads of household ($473,751 for 2021) and $517,201 for couples filing jointly ($501,601 for 2021).

The 15% rate is for filers with taxable incomes between the 0% and 20% break points.

The 3.8% surtax on net investment income stays the same for 2022. It kicks in for single people with modified AGI over $200,000 and for joint filers with modified AGI over $250,000.

For more on long-term capital gains tax rates, see What Are the Capital Gains Tax Rates for 2021 vs. 2022?

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Standard Deduction

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The standard deduction amounts were increased for 2022 to account for inflation. Married couples get $25,900 ($25,100 for 2021), plus $1,400 for each spouse age 65 or older ($1,350 for 2021). Singles can claim a $12,950 standard deduction ($12,550 for 2021) — $14,700 if they’re at least 65 years old ($14,250 for 2021). Head-of-household filers get $19,400 for their standard deduction ($18,800 for 2021), plus an additional $1,750 once they reach age 65 ($1,700 for 2021). Blind people can tack on an extra $1,400 to their standard deduction ($1,350 for 2021). That jumps to $1,750 if they’re unmarried and not a surviving spouse ($1,700 for 2021).

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1099-K Forms

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Starting with the 2022 tax year, third-party payment settlement networks (e.g., PayPal and Venmo) will send you a Form 1099-K if you are paid over $600 during the year for goods or services, regardless of the number of transactions. Previously, the form was only sent if you received over $20,000 in gross payments and participated in more than 200 transactions. The gross amount of a payment doesn’t include any adjustments for credits, cash equivalents, discount amounts, fees, refunded amounts, or any other amounts.

This change to the reporting threshold means more people than ever will get a 1099-K form next year that they will use when filling out their income tax returns for the 2022 tax year. However, remember that 1099-K reporting is only for money received for goods and services. It doesn’t apply to payments from family and friends.

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Charitable Gift Deductions

picture &quot;charity donation&quot; written on blackboardpicture &quot;charity donation&quot; written on blackboard

The “above-the-line” deduction for up to $300 of charitable cash contributions ($600 for married couple filing a joint return) expired at the end of 2021. As a result, it isn’t available for the 2022 tax year (it was available for 2020 and 2021). Only people who claimed the standard deduction on their tax return (rather than claiming itemized deductions on Schedule A) were allowed to take this deduction.

The 2020 and 2021 suspension of the 60%-of-AGI limit on deductions for cash donations by people who itemize also expired, so the limit is back in place starting with the 2022 tax year.

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Retirement Savings

picture of a compass pointing to the word &quot;retirement&quot;picture of a compass pointing to the word &quot;retirement&quot;

Here’s some good news for retirees: The IRS updated the table used to calculate required minimum distributions (RMDs) to account for longer life expectancies beginning in 2022. That means RMDs should be a bit smaller starting in 2022 than they were before.

For people who are still saving for retirement, many key dollar limits on retirement plans and IRAs are higher in 2022. For example, the maximum contribution limits for 401(k), 403(b) and 457 jumps from $19,500 to $20,500 for 2022, while people born before 1973 can once again put in $6,500 more as a “catch-up” contribution. The 2022 cap on contributions to SIMPLE IRAs is $14,000 ($13,500 in 2021), plus an extra $3,000 for people age 50 and up.

The 2022 contribution limit for traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs stays steady at $6,000, plus $1,000 as an additional catch-up contribution for individuals age 50 and up. However, the income ceilings on Roth IRA contributions went up. Contributions phase out in 2022 at adjusted gross incomes (AGIs) of $204,000 to $214,000 for couples and $129,000 to $144,000 for singles (up from $198,000 to $208,000 and $125,000 to $140,000, respectively, for 2021).

Deduction phaseouts for traditional IRAs also start at higher levels in 2022, from AGIs of $109,000 to $129,000 for couples and $68,000 to $78,000 for single filers (up from $105,000 to $125,000 and $66,000 to $76,000 for 2021). If only one spouse is covered by a plan, the phaseout zone for deducting a contribution for the uncovered spouse starts at $204,000 of AGI and ends at $214,000 (they were $198,000 and $208,000 for 2021).

More lower-income people may be able to claim the “saver’s credit” in 2022, too. This tax break can be worth up to $1,000 ($2,000 for joint filers), but you must contribute to a retirement account and your adjusted gross income (AGI) must be below a certain threshold to qualify. For 2022, the income thresholds are $34,000 of adjusted gross income (AGI) for single filers and married people filing a separate return ($33,000 for 2021), $68,000 for married couples filing jointly ($66,000 for 2021), and $51,000 for head-of-household filers ($49,500 for 2021).

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Teacher Expenses

picture of a man teaching an elementary school classpicture of a man teaching an elementary school class

For the 2022 tax year, teachers and other educators who dig into their own pockets to buy books, supplies, COVID-19 protective items, and other materials used in the classroom can deduct up to $300 of these out-of-pocket expenses ($250 for 2021). The maximum deduction for 2022 jumps to $600 for a married couple filing a joint return if both spouses are eligible educators – but not more than $300 each.

An “eligible educator” is anyone who is a kindergarten through 12th grade teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide in a school for at least 900 hours during a school year. Homeschooling parents can’t take the deduction.

This is an “above-the-line” deduction. So, you don’t have to itemized to claim it.

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Kiddie Tax

picture of a child dressed in a suit with bags of moneypicture of a child dressed in a suit with bags of money

The kiddie tax has less bite in 2022. The first $1,150 of a child’s unearned income is tax-free if the child is 18 years old or younger, or a full-time student under 24. The next $1,150 is taxed at the child’s rate. Any excess over $2,300 is taxed at the parent’s rate. (For 2021, only the first $1,100 was exempt and the next $1,100 was taxed at the child’s rate.)

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Adoption of a Child

picture of family with adopted childrenpicture of family with adopted children

For 2022, the adoption credit can be taken on up to $14,890 of qualified expenses ($14,440 for 2021). The full credit is available for a special-needs adoption, even if it costs less. The credit begins to phase out for filers with modified AGIs over $223,410 and disappears at $263,410 ($214,520 and $254,520, respectively, for 2021).

The exclusion for company-paid adoption aid was also increased from $14,440 to $14,890 for 2022.

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Bonds Used for Education

picture of U.S. savings bondspicture of U.S. savings bonds

The income caps are higher in 2022 for tax-free EE and I bonds used for education. The exclusion starts phasing out above $128,650 of modified AGI for couples and $85,800 for others ($124,800 and $83,200 for 2021). It ends at modified AGI of $158,650 and $100,800, respectively ($154,800 and $98,200 for 2021). The savings bonds must be redeemed to help pay for tuition and fees for college, graduate school or vocational school for the taxpayer, spouse or a dependent.

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Parking and Transportation Benefits

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Employers can provide a little more to their workers in 2022 when it comes to parking and transportation-related fringe benefits. The 2022 cap on employer-provided tax-free parking goes up from $270 to $280 per month. The 2022 exclusion for mass transit passes and commuter vans is also $280 ($270 in 2021).

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Americans Working Abroad

picture of woman holding a U.S. passport and an airplane boarding passpicture of woman holding a U.S. passport and an airplane boarding pass

U.S. taxpayers working abroad have a larger foreign earned income exclusion in 2022. It jumped from $108,700 for 2021 to $112,000 for 2022. (Taxpayers claim the exclusion on Form 2555.)

The standard ceiling on the foreign housing exclusion is also increased from $15,218 to $15,680 for 2022 (although overseas workers in many high-cost locations around the world qualify for a significantly higher exclusion).

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Payroll Taxes

picture of pay stub showing payroll deductionspicture of pay stub showing payroll deductions

The Social Security annual wage base is $147,000 for 2022 (that’s a $4,200 hike from 2021). The Social Security tax rate on employers and employees stays at 6.2%. Both workers and employers continue to pay the 1.45% Medicare tax on all compensation in 2022, with no cap. Workers also pay the 0.9% Medicare surtax on 2022 wages and self-employment income over $200,000 for singles and $250,000 for couples. The surtax doesn’t hit employers, though.

The nanny tax threshold went up to $2,400 for 2022, which was a $100 increase from 2021.

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Standard Mileage Rates

picture of a car odometer and speedometerpicture of a car odometer and speedometer

The 2022 standard mileage rate for business driving rose from 56¢ to 58.5¢ a mile. The mileage allowance for medical travel and military moves also increased from 16¢ to 18¢ a mile in 2022. However, the charitable driving rate stayed put at 14¢ a mile — it’s fixed by law.

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Long-Term Care Insurance Premiums

picture of nursing home worker pushing a resident in a wheelchairpicture of nursing home worker pushing a resident in a wheelchair

The limits on deducting long-term care insurance premiums are higher in 2022 for one age group. Taxpayers who are age 61 to 70 can deduct up to $4,510 for 2022, which is a $10 decrease from the 2021 amount.

The 2022 deduction limits for all age groups are the same as the 2021 amounts. Here’s the complete list of limits by age:

  • 40 years old or less = $450
  • 41 to 50 years old = $850
  • 51 to 60 years old = $1,690
  • 61 to 70 years old = $4,510
  • 71 years of age or older = $5,640

For most people, long-term care premiums are medical expenses deductible only by itemizers on Schedule A. However, self-employed people can deduct them on Schedule 1 of the 1040.

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Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

picture of piggy bank next to HSA savings jarpicture of piggy bank next to HSA savings jar

The annual cap on deductible contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs) rose in 2022 from $3,600 to $3,650 for self-only coverage and from $7,200 to $7,300 for family coverage. People born before 1968 can put in $1,000 more (same as for 2021).

Qualifying insurance policies must limit out-of-pocket costs in 2022 to $14,100 for family health plans ($14,000 in 2021) and $7,050 for people with individual coverage ($7,000 in 2021). Minimum policy deductibles remain at $2,800 for families and $1,400 for individuals.

For 2023 HSA-related amounts, see HSA Contribution Limits for 2023 Are Out.

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Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)

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For 2022, the limit on employee contributions to a healthcare flexible spending account (FSA) is $2,850, which is $100 more than the 2021 limit. If the employer’s plan allows the carryover of unused amounts, the maximum carryover amount for 2022 is $570 ($550 for 2021).

On the other hand, workers can’t contribute as much to a dependent care FSA in 2022 as they could in 2021. Last year, as a COVID-relief measure, a family could sock away up to $10,500 in a dependent care FSA without paying tax on the contributions. But for 2022, the normal limit of $5,000-per-year on tax-free contributions applies once again.

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Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)

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There’s good news for anyone worried about getting hit with the alternative minimum tax: AMT exemptions ticked upward for 2022. They increased from $114,600 to $118,100 for couples and from $73,600 to $75,900 for single filers and heads of household. The phaseout zones for the exemptions start at higher income levels for the 2022 tax year as well — $1,079,800 for couples and $539,900 for singles and household heads ($1,047,200 and $523,600, respectively, for 2021).

In addition, the 28% AMT tax rate kicks in a bit higher in 2022 — above $206,100 of alternative minimum taxable income. The rate applied to AMTI over $199,900 for 2021.

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Tax “Extenders”

picture of scissors cutting paper with &quot;tax&quot; written on itpicture of scissors cutting paper with &quot;tax&quot; written on it

There’s a group of tax breaks that are constantly scheduled to expire, but that keep getting extended by Congress for another year or two. These tax breaks are collectively referred to as “tax extenders.”

But so far, Congress hasn’t passed legislation to renew the “tax extender” deductions and credits that expired at the end of 2021. Most of the expired tax breaks were for businesses, but the following expired tax breaks impacted individual taxpayers:

  • Mortgage insurance premiums deduction;
  • Health coverage tax credit for medical insurance premiums paid by certain Trade Adjustment Assistance recipients and people whose pension plans were taken over by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation;
  • Nonbusiness energy property credit for certain energy-saving improvements to your home (e.g., new energy-efficient windows and skylights, exterior doors, roofs, insulation, heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters, etc.);
  • Fuel cell motor vehicle credit;
  • Alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit; and
  • Two-wheeled plug-in electric vehicle credit.

At some point, lawmakers may swoop in and extend some or all of these tax breaks once again as they have in the past. They sometimes even make the extensions retroactive, so the tax breaks list above could still be available for the 2022 tax year. We’ll just have to wait and see what Congress decides to do with these “tax extender” deductions and credits – stay tuned for future developments.

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Self-Employed People

picture of self-employed businessmanpicture of self-employed businessman

If you’re self-employed, there are a couple of 2022 tax law changes that could impact your bottom line. First, a key dollar threshold on the 20% deduction for pass-through income was increased for 2022. Self-employed people (along with owners of LLCs, S corporations and other pass-through entities) can deduct 20% of their qualified business income, subject to limitations for individuals with taxable incomes in excess of $340,100 for joint filers and $170,050 for others ($329,800 and $164,900, respectively, for 2021).

Second, tax credits that were allowed for self-employed people who couldn’t work for a reason that would have entitled them to pandemic-related sick or family leave if they were an employee have expired and aren’t available for the 2022 tax year.

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Estate & Gift Taxes

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The lifetime estate and gift tax exemption for 2022 jumped from $11.7 million to $12.06 million — $24.12 million for couples if portability is elected by timely filing IRS Form 706 after the death of the first-to-die spouse.

The special estate tax valuation of real estate also increases for 2022. For the estate of a person dying this year, up to $1.23 million of farm or business real estate can receive discount valuation (up to $1.19 million in 2021), letting the estate value the realty at its current use instead of fair market value.

More estate tax liability qualifies for an installment payment tax break, too. If one or more closely held businesses make up greater than 35% of a 2022 estate, as much as $656,000 of tax can be deferred and the IRS will charge only 2% interest (up to $636,000 for 2021).

Finally, the annual gift tax exclusion for 2022 rises from $15,000 to $16,000 per donee. So, you can give up to $16,000 ($32,000 if your spouse agrees) to each child, grandchild or any other person in 2022 without having to file a gift tax return or tap your lifetime estate and gift tax exemption.

Source: kiplinger.com

Similarities and Differences Between Financial Aid vs Student Loans

Figuring out how to pay for school can be stressful, so it’s important to compare financial aid vs student loans so that you can reduce your financial burden as much as possible and find out what’s right for you.

When college financial aid isn’t enough, people use federal or private student loans to help cover costs. Private student loans can also close gaps between what you qualify for and how much you need. We’ll compare student loans vs financial aid and explore some features that can help you determine what makes the most sense for your financial situation.

What Is Financial Aid?

Financial aid is funding that is available to students to help make college or career school more affordable. College financial aid comes in several forms and helps students pay for higher education expenses, including tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies and transportation.

Here are several types of financial aid available to students:

•   Scholarships: A scholarship is a form of financial aid that’s awarded to students to help pay for school. Scholarships are typically awarded based on academic or athletic achievement, community involvement, job experience, field of study, financial need and more.

•   Grants: A grant is a form of financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid and is generally based on financial need.

•   Federal work-study programs: The federal work-study program offers funds for part-time employment to help eligible college students in financial need.

•   Federal student loans: Student loans are borrowed money from the federal government or private lenders to help pay for college.

Financial aid can come from federal, state, school, and private sources. Federal Student Aid, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, is the largest provider of student financial aid in the U.S. Federal aid is distributed to 13 million students each year, totaling $120 billion.

Recommended: Am I Eligible for Work-Study?

What Are Student Loans?

A student loan is money borrowed from the government or a private lender to help pay for school with the expectation that you will pay it back. Like most other types of loans, the amount borrowed will accrue interest over time. Student loans can be used on school-related expenses including tuition, room and board, and other school supplies.

Loans are different from grants or scholarships and it’s essential that you understand the differences between financial aid vs student loans. If you receive a grant or a scholarship, you typically don’t have to pay that money back. Student loans are also different from work-study programs, where students in financial need to work part-time jobs to earn money to help pay for school.

It’s common for college students to take out student loans to finance their education, but you should first compare federal vs private student loans. Federal student loans offer some borrower benefits that make them preferable to private student loans.

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans are loans that are backed by the U.S. government. Terms and conditions of the loan are set by the federal government and include several benefits, such as fixed interest rates and income-driven repayment plans. To qualify, students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) every year that they want to receive federal student loans. The FAFSA also allows students to apply for federal aid including scholarships, grants, and work-study. Colleges may also use the information provided on the FAFSA to determine school-specific aid awards.

There are four types of federal student loans available:

•  Direct Subsidized Loans are student loans for undergrads in financial need to help pay for expenses related to higher education. The government covers the accruing interest on this type of loan while the borrower is enrolled in school at least half-time and during the loan’s six month grace period after graduation.

•  Direct Unsubsidized Loans are made to eligible undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Eligibility is not based on financial need. Borrowers are responsible for all accrued interest on this type of loan.

•  Direct PLUS Loans are made to graduate or professional students, known as the Grad PLUS loan, or parents of dependent undergraduate students, known as the Parent PLUS loan. These loans are meant to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid.

•  Direct Consolidation Loans allow students to combine all eligible federal student loans into a single loan.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans can also be used to help pay for college. Private student loans are offered by banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Understanding how private student loans work is essential before borrowing. While federal student loans are generally the first option potential student borrowers pursue, private student loans may be an option to consider for borrowers who are trying to pay for college without financial aid. Unlike federal student loans, which have terms and interest rates set by the federal government, private lenders set their own and conditions that vary from lender to lender.

Private student loans are also credit-based. The lender will review an applicant’s credit history, income and debt, and whether they’re enrolled in a qualified educational program. Applicants who may lack credit history, or have a less than glowing credit score may consider applying with a cosigner to improve their chances of approval.

Unlike federal student loans, interest rates can be fixed or variable. A fixed interest rate stays the same for the life of the loan but a variable interest rate may change. The interest rate a borrower qualifies for will also depend on the lender as well as the borrower’s creditworthiness.

Not all private student loans are the same. Because of this, it’s important that you understand the annual percentage rates (APRs) and repayment terms before taking on the loan.

Financial Aid vs Student Loans Compared

When comparing financial aid vs student loans, you need to be aware of the similarities and differences between financial aid vs student loans. Here are some key comparisons.

Similarities Differences
They can both be used to help fund education-related expenses. Financial aid doesn’t typically need to be repaid. Student loans must be repaid within a given loan term, plus interest.
FAFSA® must be filled out for financial aid and federal student loans. Financial aid and student loans may be paid out differently.
Financial aid and student loans have certain eligibility requirements. Some financial aid, like scholarships, may be awarded based on merit. Federal student loans can be both need and non-need based. Lending criteria on private student loans is determined by the lender.

Similarities

Financial aid and student loans are both used to help fund education-related expenses, like tuition, room and board, books and classroom supplies, and transportation. Financial aid and student loans backed by the federal government also require students to fill out FAFSA® for each year that they want to receive federal student loans or federal financial aid. Financial aid and student loans also have some sort of eligibility requirements, whether that be based on financial need, merit or creditworthiness.

Differences

The biggest difference between financial aid vs student loans is whether or not you need to pay back the money you are given to help pay for college. Financial aid is either money that doesn’t need to be paid back, known as gift aid, or earned through a federal work-study program.

Student loans must be repaid within a given loan term. Not only are students expected to pay back student loans, but there’s typically interest that accrues over the life of the loan.

There may also be differences in how financial aid and student loans are paid out to the student. Private student loans are usually paid in one lump sum at the start of each school year or semester; however, you may not receive the full amount of a scholarship award upfront. Government grants and loans are generally split into at least two disbursements and If you have a work-study job, you’ll be paid at least once a month.

Some private student loans may also come with greater flexibility and offer more money than financial aid.

Recommended: Gift Aid vs Self Help Aid For College

Pros and Cons of Financial Aid

Pros of Financial Aid

•  Money received through financial aid does not typically have to be repaid.

•  Potential to decrease future debt by minimizing the amount you have to borrow.

•  Opens up new opportunities for many students to attend a better school than they could without financial assistance.

•  Allows students to focus on their education instead of worrying about paying tuition.

Cons of Financial Aid

•  Most financial aid does not cover all school-related costs.

•  Scholarships, grants, and work-study programs can be highly competitive.

•  You may have to maintain certain standards to meet eligibility requirements during each semester.

•  There’s less flexibility on how you can spend funds.

Pros and Cons of Student Loans

Pros of Student Loans

•  Student loans offer financial support for those who would otherwise be unable to attend college.

•  You don’t need any credit history for federal student loans and you can use a creditworthy cosigner for private student loans.

•  Student loans can be used for things beyond tuition, room and board, and books.

•  Paying off student loans may help you build credit.

Cons of Student Loans

•  You start off with debt after graduating from college.

•  Student loans can be expensive.

•  Defaulting on student loans can negatively impact your credit score.

•  If you borrowed a private student loan, the interest rate may be variable.

Private Student Loans from SoFi

Financial aid and student loans financially support students by relieving some of the financial burden that’s often associated with higher education. When financial aid isn’t enough, students may seek private student loans to help cover their college costs. Although private student loans don’t come with as many perks as federal student loans, and are generally borrowers only as a last resort option as a result, they can help fill in the gaps between what you qualify for and how much you need.

Private student loans from SoFi can help serve as a supplement to federal aid. SoFi student loans offer plenty of benefits, such as no origination fees, no application fees, no late fees, and no insufficient fund fees. You can find out if you pre-qualify within minutes.

Learn more about private student loan options available with SoFi.

FAQ

Does FAFSA loan or grant money?

FAFSA is an application that you fill out in order to determine your eligibility for receiving a federal loan or federal student aid such as grants and scholarships. While a federal student loan is borrowed money that must be repaid after graduation, funds received through grants, scholarships, and work-study programs do not need to be repaid.

Can you get financial aid and student loans at the same time?

Yes. If you apply for financial aid at your school, you may be offered loans as part of your school’s financial aid offer to help cover the remaining costs.

Do scholarships count as financial aid?

Yes, scholarships are a type of financial aid that is considered gift aid and typically do not have to be repaid.


Photo credit: iStock/Altayb

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