SoFi Student Loan Reviews: Solid Refinancing, New Loans

Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the

Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and relief efforts from the government, student loan lenders and others. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.

*          *          *

Pros of SoFi: Cons of SoFi:
● Competitive interest rates
● Prequalify for rates without hurting credit
● Accessible to associate’s degree-holders and seekers
● Deferment and forbearance options
● Products available for parents of students
● Career coaching, wealth management among unique membership perks
● Stiff, sometimes unclear credit requirements
● No cosigner release (for refinancing) and slow path to release (private student loans)

Social Finance, more commonly known as SoFi, became the first company to refinance both federal and private student loans in 2012 and has remained an industry leader. More recently, in 2019, the online lender began providing student loans for current students and their parents.

While sometimes restrictive with its eligibility requirements, SoFi reviews and improves its products to reward members with competitive interest rates, a high degree of repayment flexibility and unique, company-exclusive benefits.

SoFi review: Student loan refinancing

SoFi is one of the largest student loan refinancing companies in the industry. The online lender has refinanced $30 billion worth of student loans for more than 375,000 members, while delivering many features not offered by banks, credit unions and other traditional lenders.

SoFi student loan refinancing is a good fit for borrowers with an associate’s degree or higher who are seeking a lower interest rate on their debt while maintaining access to a bevy of loan repayment options, including deferment and forbearance. It’s less advantageous, however, for borrowers who eventually want to release their refinanced loan cosigner or combine their debt with a spouse’s.

SoFi student loan refinancing review: The basics

SoFi’s approach to refinancing student loans is different than that of many other lenders. Along with competitive repayment terms, the company also offers career support and wealth management services to its members. With these perks, SoFi offers you the opportunity for more than just repaying your student loans.

Here are some other features of a SoFi refinancing loan:

  • Check your eligibility, rates without submitting to a hard credit check
  • APR starting at 2.25% for variable and 2.99% for fixed
  • Rate quotes without affecting your credit
  • 25% interest rate discount if you enroll in AutoPay
  • Repayment terms of Up to 20
  • Deferment and forbearance option for those who go back to school, experience disability or serve in the military, among other situations
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • Minimum loan amount of $5,000, with no maximum borrowing amount
  • Loan discharge in the case of the borrower’s permanent disability or death

SoFi also offers an additional benefit for medical and dental school residents: They can refinance and make affordable $100 monthly payments for up to four years (although residency location loans aren’t eligible for SoFi refinancing).

To refinance loans with SoFi, you must meet eligibility rules, including:

  • Be at least 18 years old (or your respective state’s age of majority)
  • Citizenship, permanent resident or holder of one of several eligible visas
  • Nonpermanent resident without an eligible visa can apply with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner
  • Debt must be from a Title IV accredited college or university
  • Completed associate’s degree or higher
  • Employed or proof that your employment will start in the next 90 days
  • A good or excellent credit score

What to like about SoFi student loan refinancing

As you can see from our research and other SoFi reviews, the lender is one of the leading student loan refinancers in the country — and it’s not hard to see why. Here are some of the advantages you may find at SoFi:

Prequalify for rates without hurting credit

The baseline expectation you should have for reputable student loan refinancing companies is to be able to check your eligibility and potential interest rates without harming your credit score or taking too much time. This way, you can compare rates with multiple lenders before locking yourself into an agreement with one of them.

On this front, SoFi delivers. In fact, SoFi reviews your basic information and promises a verdict in just two minutes. Be aware, though, that if you like the loan offer, you’ll have to file a more formal loan application to complete the process.

Accessible to associate’s degree-holders

Unlike many student loan refinancing companies, SoFi doesn’t insist on a bachelor’s degree for you to qualify — an associate’s degree is all that’s needed.

If you’re an associate’s degree-holder currently combing through this and other SoFi reviews, keep in mind that other lenders will work with you too. Splash Financial is among lenders willing to refinance for borrowers with an associate’s degree.

Deferment and forbearance options

Not all refinancing lenders allow you to temporarily pause your payments through student loan deferment. However, SoFi reviews your situation generously, allowing you, for example, to defer your loans while in graduate school, as long as you’re enrolled at least half time. Similarly, you can defer your loans for active military service or if you are on disability rehabilitation.

Here are all the types of deferment and forbearance made available by SoFi student loan servicer MOHELA:

Deferment Forbearance
● Returning to school
● Disability rehabilitation training
● Unemployment
● Economic hardship
● Military service
● Unemployment
● Economic hardship
● Military mobilization
● Natural disaster
● National emergency (i.e. COVID-19)

Interest will still accrue during deferment or forbearance, however, and your loan will be reamortized to adjust for this.

Possible to transfer Parent PLUS Loans

If you’re a parent who took out Parent PLUS loans or private loans to pay for your child’s education, SoFi has solutions for you, too. They offer refinancing services for parent loans, helping you manage the debt you took on to help your child.

In addition, your child could refinance your Parent PLUS Loans into their name — so long as they’re the primary applicant. Transferring parent loans to your child is possible with other refinancing lenders too, including Laurel Road.

Repayment benefits for medical, dental school residents

If you’re a doctor- or dentist-in-training and want to keep loan costs low, SoFi probably sounds like the real deal. By refinancing with them, you could:

Just be sure to run the numbers to understand how these lower payments will increase the overall cost of your loan (interest wouldn’t compound, but it would accrue). Look into competing lenders with similar options to SoFi’s, including Splash Financial, which promises $100 payments during your residency or fellowship and for six months afterward.

Career coaching, wealth management among unique perks

When you refinance with SoFi loans, you get access to free career coaching. You can schedule one-on-one sessions with career coaches and get help setting career goals, learn about personal branding and even receive tips for creating or improving your resume.

This career strategy also comes into play as part of the lender’s job loss protection program. If you lose your job and enter your loans into forbearance, you could use the career strategy services offered by SoFi. The company is invested in getting you back on your feet so you can comfortably manage your student loan debt.

Not only can you get help with your career, but SoFi also offers its members access to wealth planning services. Through a combination of digital and person-to-person advising, you can set money goals and get help achieving those goals.

SoFi’s investment services help you manage your student loans and build wealth through tools like diversification, portfolio selection and automatic rebalancing of your investments.

What to keep in mind when considering SoFi loans

Even though SoFi is a respected lender, there are some potential disadvantages, depending on your financial situation. Here’s what you should know:

Cagey about credit requirements

SoFi reviews used to include the staple information that a 650 credit score was required to qualify. The lender has grown more secretive of late, saying officially only that you need a “good or excellent” score (or a cosigner with one).

While SoFi reviews other criteria, including your financial history and your career experience, you won’t qualify to refinance student loans if you have a low credit score.

What is a “good or excellent” credit score?
FICO®’s credit score ranges include:
Good: 670-739
Very good: 740-799
Exceptional: 800-plus
Still not sure about the strength of your application? Take our student loan refinancing eligibility quiz.

If you’ve had credit problems in the past, you can increase your chances of approval by adding a cosigner to your SoFi loan. A qualified student loan cosigner can improve your chances of becoming eligible — and help you get a better interest rate. However, it can also add time to the student loan refinancing process.

No cosigner release

If you do use a cosigner on your application, know that SoFi doesn’t allow cosigner release, as some other lenders do. Cosigner release is granted upon the cosigner’s death — otherwise, you would have to refinance a second time to remove them from the account.

College dropouts ineligible

What if you attended school, but didn’t complete your degree? Unfortunately, SoFi student loan refinancing won’t be an option for you.

Unless you have at least an associate’s degree, you won’t qualify for refinancing with this lender.

With that said, not all lenders require a diploma. At Citizens Bank, for example, you could be eligible to refinance without a degree if you’ve made at least a year’s worth of timely payments since leaving campus.

No spousal consolidation loans

SoFi doesn’t provide the option for you and your spouse to combine student loan debt, which some couples see as a route to a simpler repayment.

If combining your debt with your spouse could simplify monthly bills, or even lower your interest rate, check out competing lenders with this option, a group that includes PenFed Credit Union.

Refinancing federal student loans always poses a risk

While refinancing could offer you a lower interest rate, note that you will lose certain borrower protections if you refinance federal student loans. Because the federal government doesn’t currently offer refinancing, any refinancing — including through SoFi — will turn your federal loans into private loans.

As a result, you won’t qualify for income-driven repayment plans or federal student loan forgiveness programs after you refinance with SoFi. If you’re trying to get forgiveness or worried that you might need an income-based repayment plan, it may not make sense to refinance your student loans.

How SoFi refinancing compares with competitors

Before settling on one lender, it’s wise to compare SoFi vs. Earnest or SoFi vs. CommonBond, among other competing lenders.

Imagine receiving different refinancing offers from three or four companies. You’d be in a better position to choose the best overall loan.

SoFi Earnest CommonBond
Products ● Student loan refinancing
● Parent PLUS loan refinancing
● Medical resident refinancing
● Student loan refinancing
● Parent PLUS loan refinancing
● Student loan refinancing
Eligibility requirements ● Good or excellent credit score
● No minimum income
● Nonpermanent residents without eligibles visas can apply with a citizen or permanent resident cosigner
● Associate’s degree or higher
● 650 credit score
● No minimum income
● Exclusively for citizens and permanent residents
● Can refinance without a college degree if you’re one semester from graduating
● 660 credit score
● No minimum income requirement
● Citizenship, permanent residency or eligible visa holder
● College degree from school in network
APRs* Variable starting at 2.25% and fixed starting at 2.99% Variable starting at 1.99% and fixed starting at 2.98% Variable starting at 1.99% and fixed starting at 2.78%
Minimum loan amount $5,000 $5,000 $5,000
Repayment terms available Up to 20 Up to 20 Up to 20
Apply with a cosigner Yes No Yes

*May include AutoPay Discount

Is SoFi refinancing right for you?

To sum up our SoFi review, the lender might be a good choice if you:

  • Can show consistent monthly income and comfortably afford the payments
  • Have a good-to-excellent credit score
  • Don’t plan to use income-driven repayment or federal student loan forgiveness on your federal loans
  • Have higher interest rates on your current student loans than what SoFi offers
  • Want access to program perks like career coaching and wealth management
  • Don’t care for cosigner release and spousal consolidation loan options

As you can see from our SoFi review, these loans come with many perks and advantages that student loan borrowers can benefit from.

But before you choose to work with SoFi, compare top student loan refinancing options. Carefully considering your circumstances and your financial needs as you decide about student loan refinancing can potentially save you a good deal of money in the long run.

SoFi review: Private student loans

Since its April 2019 student loan product launch, SoFi has promised a seamless prequalification process to go along with competitive rates for undergraduate, graduate and professional students, as well as parent borrowers.

SoFi student loans are a good fit for borrowers enrolled at least half time with good credit (or a cosigner) who value repayment flexibility while in school and after graduation. The lender’s slow-moving cosigner release policy, however, is a shortcoming.

SoFi student loans review: The basics

Like other online-only lenders looking to disrupt the student loan market, SoFi offers a wide range of loan and repayment options. Features include:

Basics ● Loans available for undergraduates, graduate, law and MBA students, plus parents
● Fixed and variable rates available
● No application, origination, insufficient funds, late payment or prepayment fees
Applying ● Prequalify in three minutes without a credit check
● Apply with or without a cosigner
● Borrow as little as $5,000 or as much as your school’s cost of attendance
Repayment ● Enjoy a six-month grace period (for undergraduate borrowers only)
● Defer in-school repayment or make fixed, interest-only, partial or full payments (for non-parent borrowers) while enrolled
● Enroll in autopay and receive a rate discount of 0.25 percentage points
● Additional discount of 0.125 percentage points if your cosigner is a SoFi member
● Repayment terms: 5, 10, 15 years
Support ● Defer repayment when returning to school, serving in the military or in other situations
● Remove your cosigner from the loan after two years of full, timely payments
● Unemployment protection program allows you to pause your payment for three months at a time
● Student loan discharge in the case of the borrower’s permanent disability or death
● SoFi membership also includes career and financial improvement services

Of course, to reap the rewards of SoFi student loans, you must meet a collection of eligibility requirements, including:

  • Citizenship or permanent residency, although nonpermanent residents can apply with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner
  • Attend a degree-granting program at least half time
  • Sufficient income and credit history to pass the lender’s underwriting check

What to like about SoFi student loans

SoFi reviews and updates its loan product continuously and has done exactly that since its 2019 launch. As of Oct. 2020, here are the primary advantages of borrowing from this lender.

Competitive fixed and variable interest rates

Competitive rates make SoFi worthy of your attention. With strong credit, student and parent borrowers may be able to score lower rates here than with other top-ranked private lenders.

Undergraduate Graduate Law/MBA Parent
Fixed* 4.23% to 11.26% 4.13% to 11.37% 4.30% to 11.98% 5.05% to 11.71%
Variable* 1.87% to 11.66% 1.77% to 11.73% 1.94% to 11.89% 3.65% to 11.25%

*May include AutoPay Discount

Aside from low fixed and variable rates, other hallmarks of SoFi student loans revolve around the application process and company-exclusive programs.

Prequalify without harming your credit

As you shop around, understand the differences between a soft and hard credit check. A hard check can ding your credit score (mildly) when you apply for a student loan.

However, SoFi allows you to prequalify, submitting to only a soft check that won’t harm your credit. The company says you could be approved and check rates within three minutes.

And if you elect to proceed, you can complete the more formal student loan application process from your smartphone. You would take and upload pictures of your required documents and sign your application electronically.

Keep in mind that while the preapproval process takes minutes, the timeline for your more formal loan application could span four to six weeks, depending on your school.

Variety of in-school repayment options

Making in-school loan payments, when possible, is always beneficial. And for its part, SoFi makes it more possible for its members.

The lender provides borrowers with four in-school repayment options:

1. Deferred Wait until after your six-month, post-graduation grace period to begin making full payments.
2. Interest only Submit interest-only payments while you’re enrolled to ensure your balance doesn’t grow until you leave school.
3. Partial Send along $25 payments every month to avoid seeing your balance balloon while you’re busy studying.
4. Immediate Start fully repaying your loan as soon as it’s disbursed, putting you in the best possible position to end your debt ahead of schedule.
Note: Parents borrowing on behalf of students are limited to the interest only and immediate repayment options.

Much improved menu of repayment protections

When you borrow federal student loans, you enjoy government-exclusive perks like income-driven repayment that keep you afloat if you struggle to make payments after leaving school. Unfortunately, IDR is rare or nonexistent among private lenders.

However, SoFi does offer a collection of perks that you’d be hard-pressed to find among some other private lenders. Most notably, its company-wide unemployment protection program would allow you to postpone your monthly payments for a total of up to 12 months (for three months at a time) if you lost your job involuntarily.

Other deferment and forbearance options available through SoFi student loan servicer MOHELA include:

Deferment Forbearance
● Returning to school
● Disability rehabilitation training
● Unemployment
● Economic hardship
● Military service
● Unemployment
● Economic hardship
● Military mobilization
● Natural disaster
● National emergency (i.e. COVID-19)

Unique perks of being a SoFi member

Less specific to student loan repayment, SoFi’s other member perks are even more unique:

  • Career services: Whether or not you’re unemployed, being a SoFi borrower entitles you to one-on-one career coaching sessions at no charge.
  • Financial planning: Schedule free sessions with a certified financial planner to discuss your loans or other money-related goals.

Other member benefits include referral bonuses, shopping discounts and networking opportunities.

What to keep in mind about SoFi student loans

SoFi reviews might make the lender sound like the right fit for your borrowing needs. However, no one lender is the best option for everyone, and in some ways, SoFi may fall short of your needs.

Credit requirements unclear

Unfortunately, just getting in the door could be a challenge. SoFi doesn’t state its specific credit requirements online, but a company spokesperson told Student Loan Hero that the typical credit score of approved applicants is 700-plus. Of course, applying with a creditworthy cosigner makes borrowing possible for students with thin credit histories.

Some other lenders are more transparent about their criteria. Ascent, for example, accepts credit scores as low as 540.

Not accessible for students enrolled less than half time

Beyond its financial qualifications, SoFi has eligibility rules that sometimes limit access. You must be attending school at least half-time, for example. If you’re studying less than half time, you’d find a better opportunity with competing lender College Ave.

Cosigner release takes two years

If you’re an undergraduate student, it’s likely that you’ll need a cosigner to qualify with SoFi. A student loan cosigner agrees to repay your loan in the case that you became unable to pay on your own.

Unfortunately, SoFi doesn’t offer you the ability to release your cosigner until after you’ve made two years of prompt payments.

If an even faster path to cosigner release is important to you, consider borrowing instead from a competitor like Sallie Mae — it allows you to remove a cosigner from your loan agreement after making just 12 monthly payments on time.

How SoFi compares with student loan competitors

Even if SoFi sounds like your best bet, it’s wise to compare multiple lenders before signing anything. Then you can improve your chances of scoring the best overall loan.

The following table should be especially helpful if you’re looking to compare SoFi vs. Earnest or Sallie Mae.

SoFi Earnest Sallie Mae
Loans available for… ● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Blaw school students
● Parents
● Undergraduate students
● Graduate students
● Business, medical and law school students
● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Career school students
● Business, law, medical, dental and health professions students
● Bar study and medical residency
● K-12 education
● Parents
APRs Variable starting at 1.87% and fixed starting at 4.23% Variable starting at 1.24% and fixed starting at 3.49% Variable starting at 1.25% and fixed starting at 4.25%
Ability to prequalify without affecting credit Yes Yes No
Borrowing amount $5,000 $0 $0
In-school repayment options 4 4 3
Repayment terms 5, 10, 15 years 5, 10, 15 years 5, 15 years
Cosigner release available Yes — after 24 months of timely payments No Yes — after 12 months of timely payments

Note that you may have to expand your search to additional lenders to find the student loan you need. Check out top-rated lenders for your situation:

Are SoFi student loans right for you?

SoFi student loans come with no fees, low rates and a high degree of flexibility. You could choose whether and how to make in-school payments in addition to selecting one of three loan terms.

Unfortunately, the lender known for refinancing is less forgiving during the application process. You’ll need especially strong credit (or a cosigner) and at least half-time class attendance, among other eligibility requirements.

To decide whether SoFi is right for you, take some time to think about your ideal loan, then see if SoFi fulfills everything you’re seeking. If it comes up short, you could always compare the lender to some of the other noteworthy private student loan options available.

SoFi review: Frequently asked questions

If you didn’t find your question answered in our SoFi review, see the following FAQs:

Is SoFi legit?

Yes, SoFi is a legitimate financial technology company that, among other products, refinances and lends student loans. While every lender has hiccups, SoFi is a well-vetted lender that has more than a million customers.

How long does it take to get a SoFi student loan?

Whether you’re applying for student loan refinancing or a new private student loan, SoFi reviews your initial information within minutes and promises instant credit decisions. You just have to create an account and enter basic details about your situation.

Actually receiving the loan, however, takes additional time.

  • For refinancing, you can quicken the pace by promptly requesting debt payoff letters from your existing loan servicers and lenders.
  • For private student loans, the entire process is more dependent on your school and can take four to six weeks to complete.

Miranda Marquit and Kat Tretina contributed to this post.

Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to SoFi student loans, which is current as of Oct. 16, 2020, unless otherwise noted. SoFi has neither provided nor reviewed the information shared in this article.

Need a student loan?

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. 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 to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with 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.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. 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 to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with 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.

Source Article