10 Highest-Paying Jobs in Today’s Most Popular Career Fields

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You worked hard and graduated from college, and now you want to make the big bucks so you can pay back your student loans, right?

Well, according to Korn Ferry, the average salary for 2016 graduates is $49,785. Compare that number to the $37,172 in student loan debt the average 2016 graduate has. To put it in perspective, nearly 10 percent of a typical grad’s monthly salary would go to student loan payments on the Standard Repayment Plan, assuming a Direct Subsidized Loan at 4.25%.

Niche, a ranking and review website, recently released its list of the most popular college majors. To help young professionals find careers with the most value, we identified the highest-paying jobs in 10 popular fields of study, ranging from the arts to the sciences. Aside from executive titles such as CEO or CFO, here are the results.


Job: Financial manager

highest-paying jobs

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Financial managers are in charge of analyzing and maintaining the finances of a company or organization. Their tasks could include managing the company’s investments, creating financial goals and strategies to achieve them, and putting together fiscal reports.

“A job as a financial manager is best suited for analytical types, those who like working with numbers and those who can think strategically,” says Douglas A. Boneparth, financial expert and president of Bone Fide Wealth. “For this position, you may want to consider pursuing an MBA, and obtaining your CFA designation would also be ideal.”

  • Average earnings: $121,750 per year
  • Education and experience: To become a financial manager, you generally need a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of experience in a business or financial career. Your prior occupation could be an accountant, financial analyst, securities sales agent, or auditor, for example.
  • Rate of growth: Experts expect employment opportunities for financial managers to grow at a rapid pace — as much as 19 percent from 2016 to 2026. Key duties of the job, such as risk management and cash management, are anticipated to be in demand over the next 10 years.
  • Locations with the highest demand: San Antonio; Pittsburgh; Sunnyvale, California; Waller, Texas; Alpharetta, Georgia; Stanford, California; New York City; and Bridgehampton, New York


Job: Tax director

highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's degree

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Tax directors typically work with businesses to create, plan, and implement tax strategies. They also prepare quarterly tax reports, which might be published if the company is public, and ensure the company is compliant and its tax filings are accurate. If tax fraud is detected, a company can get in serious trouble.

  • Average earnings: $148,364 per year
  • Education and experience: Tax directors typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in tax accounting. Some employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree, but experience matters too. Most tax directors have worked their way up from an entry-level position.
  • Rate of growth: It’s difficult to determine the rate of growth for tax directors, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts career prospects for accountants, who could use their expertise to be tax preparers, will increase 13 percent from 2012 to 2022.
  • Locations with the highest demand: Top cities for accounting jobs are Boston; Chicago; Denver; Houston; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; New York City; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; San Francisco; San Mateo, California; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.


Job: Certified registered nurse anesthetist

highest-paying jobs

Image credit: Pexels

Like an anesthesiologist, a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) prepares and administers anesthesia to patients. For that reason, CRNAs require more education and training than registered nurses do.

  • Average earnings: $133,000 per year
  • Education and experience: Along with a bachelor’s degree, CRNAs must have at least a master’s degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program. You’ll also need to pass the National Certification Examination. The average student will complete 2,500 clinical hours and administer 850 anesthetics before becoming certified.
  • Rate of growth: Anesthesiologists are hard to find in rural areas, so the demand for CRNAs is increasing. The expected growth for CRNAs is 31 percent from 2012 to 2022.
  • Locations with the highest demand: This career is in high demand across the country. For this reason, many CRNAs can increase their salary by working as per diem and travel nurses. That means they also can get financial assistance from employers for housing and relocation costs.


Job: Psychiatrist

highest-paying careers

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Both psychologists and psychiatrists deal with mental health, but a major difference is the fact that a psychiatrist is a medical doctor. Psychiatrists specialize in mental health issues and can prescribe medications to help treat disorders.

“A person who is interested in becoming a psychiatrist should be a good learner, educator, and someone who genuinely wants to help people get better,” says child psychiatrist Rajinder S. Dhillon. “You have to go through a rigorous curriculum with high achievement, but psychiatry is one medical specialty in particular where physicians also get to be in tune with social, cultural, and other demographic factors that could also be affecting their patients.”

  • Average earnings: $228,852 per year
  • Education and experience: A psychiatrist must earn a bachelor’s degree, graduate from medical school, and complete a residency.
  • Rate of growthAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2014, there were approximately 28,200 psychiatrists in the U.S. In general, careers in the medical field are predicted to increase 15 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is a higher rate of growth than most jobs.
  • Locations with the highest demand: Wyoming, Texas, Iowa, Mississippi, Indiana, Nevada, and Idaho


Job: Social media director

highest-paying jobs

Image credit: Pexels

Although this career is relatively new, it’s important. As companies seek to increase their presence online, a social media director is in charge of figuring out that strategy on social media and other online platforms. This role requires you to be analytical and creative to determine how to reach an audience. You’ll also use data to track user trends and think outside the box to figure out how to implement the data findings.

  • Average earnings: $71,142 per year
  • Education and experience: Social media directors typically have a bachelor’s degree, and experience is important. Companies want you to show that you’ve established or grown a large web following. Seven to 10 years of social media experience is typically required.
  • Rate of growth: Digital marketing jobs, which include social media skills, continue to be in demand. According to McKinley Marketing Partners, 49 percent of companies surveyed reported they’d fill more digital marketing roles in 2015.
  • Locations with the highest demand: Jobs are in demand in California, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.


Job: Marketing director

highest-paying jobs

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You can work across industries in this position, but it basically involves using economic indicators, such as changes in supply and demand, to determine customer behavior both now and in the future. A marketing director will take this data, along with data on the competition, to figure out how best market the specific product or brand.

  • Average earnings: $152,800 per year
  • Education and experience: Marketing directors commonly have a bachelor’s degree in marketing or a related field. Employers often prefer an MBA as well as considerable experience.
  • Rate of growthJob prospects in advertising, marketing, and promotional fields are expected to increase by 9 percent between 2016 and 2026.
  • Locations with the highest demand: Demand for marketing directors is based on industry more than location. Marketing directors are paid the most in the following industries: oil and gas extraction, apparel and piece goods, securities and commodities, advertising, promotions, sales, education, social media marketing, and online marketing.


Job: Postsecondary academic dean

highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's degree

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Although the average starting salary for a teacher is $38,727, according to PayScale, postsecondary academic deans can make much more. In their role, they provide leadership, manage day-to-day operations, and direct educational programs.

  • Average earnings: $95,143 per year
  • Education and experienceRequirements vary, but postsecondary academic deans often have an advanced degree, and many have worked their way up from other positions.
  • Rate of growthIn general, administrators in colleges and universities will see their career opportunities grow by 10 percent between 2016 and 2026. Academic deans fall into this category and therefore have a positive career outlook.
  • Locations with the highest demand: There are nearly 1,000 jobs listed on Indeed in places that include Arkansas, Virginia, Kansas, Texas, and more.


Job: Technical writer

highest-paying careers

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As a senior technical writer, you could write articles in a specialized field or produce operating manuals and certification tests. At the senior level, you’ll likely handle most of the high-level technical writing and give other assignments to junior-level writers. These jobs are usually in computer hardware, software, engineering, or other industrial or professional fields. Fluency in the terminology of a particular field is required.

  • Average earnings: $62,637 per year
  • Education and experienceMost technical writers have a bachelor’s degree. On-the-job experience is required to move up to a senior-level position, and many senior technical writers have a dual degree or a master’s degree. Some companies might request a degree or certification in the particular field as well.
  • Rate of growthSince many companies now have an online component to their business, virtual product support is on the rise. That should drive the demand from technical writers up 11 percent between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Locations with the highest demand: There are over 2,200 technical writer jobs listed on Indeed in locations that include New York, Florida, Maryland, and Ohio, among others.

Computer science

Job: Software engineering manager

highest-paying jobs

Image credit: Pexels

A software engineering manager oversees the design and development of software applications for companies in a variety of fields that range from entertainment to banking. This position can require a lot of creativity since you’re helping a company innovate its business practices and develop new products.

“A software engineering manager should know what computer programming is all about, what difficulties software engineers face, and how projects are made,” says software engineering manager Gene Mal of Static Jobs, a job search site for computer professionals. “It’s best suited for former software engineers with managerial qualities.”

  • Average earnings: $139,776 per year
  • Education and experience: Software engineering manager jobs typically require a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field and about five years of experience in a related area, such as software development. Sometimes, previous managerial experience is required.
  • Rate of growthExperts expect the demand for software developers will increase 24 percent between 2016 and 2026 because there is an ever-growing demand for computer software across industries.
  • Locations with the highest demand: Seattle; San Jose, California; San Francisco; Madison, Wisconsin; Raleigh, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; Boston; Sacramento, California; and Portland, Oregon

Criminal justice

Job: Attorney

 highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's degree

Image credit: Shutterstock

Attorneys, also called lawyers, represent clients in litigation and other legal proceedings.

“Being an attorney is best suited for intense people who are passionate about what they do,” says Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney Ambrosio E. Rodriguez. “It’s a job that starts early and ends late. Most days involve driving to court, meeting with new and existing clients, and reviewing cases with my staff. Other times, I’m in trial.”

Rodriguez loves how versatile a law degree is. “You can be an attorney, or you can instead become an entrepreneur,” he says.

With that said, a law degree is costly, and law school is hard. “Make sure you’re ready for such a big commitment before enrolling and taking on the debt,” he adds.

  • Average earnings: $94,695
  • Education and experience: You must earn a bachelor’s degree and then attend law school for three years to obtain a law degree. After you graduate from law school, you must pass a state’s bar examination.
  • Rate of growth: Employment of lawyers is expected to increase at about the same rate as other occupations (9 percent from 2016 to 2026). Currently, there are more students graduating from law school than jobs available, so competition will continue to intensify.
  • Locations with the highest demand: Major cities are filled with lawyers, but states such as Georgia, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Nebraska are struggling. South Dakota even created a “Rural Attorney Recruitment Program,” which offers attorneys $120,000 per year for five years if they work in a county with 10,000 people or fewer.

So, no matter what field you’re interested in, there are plenty of high-paying jobs to pursue. Use this information as a starting point to determine which one is best for you.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.

© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 3.899% APR to 8.179% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.570% APR to 6.980% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. SoFi rate ranges are current as of September 14, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.570% APR assumes the current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 0.740% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.

5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.57%-8.17% (2.57%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.75%-8.69% (3.75%-8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Estimated average savings amount is based on 14,659 Education Refinance Loan customers who saved on loans between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018. The calculation is derived by averaging monthly savings across Education Refinance Loan customers whose payment amounts decreased after refinancing, calculated by taking the monthly payment prior to refinancing minus the monthly payment after refinancing. We excluded monthly savings from customers that exceeded $4,375 and were lower than $20 to minimize risk of data error skewing the savings amounts. Savings will vary based on interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of loans to be refinanced. Borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if monthly payments are lower.

2.57% – 6.98%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 5.87%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.47% – 8.03%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.80% – 6.22%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 6.25%5Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.57% – 8.17%6Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.