SoFi, short for Social Finance Inc., is a lender that specializes in personal loans, student loan refinancing and mortgages.
In granting loans, SoFi emphasizes financial responsibility over credit scores, heavily weighing nontraditional factors such as earnings potential, payment history, education and free cash flow — the amount of money left over after a borrower has met monthly expenses. But SoFi borrowers generally have high credit scores even if their credit history isn’t lengthy.
Below, NerdWallet writers review the details on SoFi’s personal loans, student loan refinancing and home mortgage offerings.
SoFi loans highlights
|Personal Loans||Student Loan Refinancing||Mortgages|
|No minimum credit score, but typically 700+||Does not consider credit scores, but typically 700+||Down payments as small as 10%|
|Variable and fixed rates, ranging from 4% to 15%||Variable rate: 2.23% to 6.03% APR; Fixed rate: 3.50% to 7.74% APR||Offers purchase, refinance, ARMs and fixed-rate loans|
|Loan amounts $5,000-$100,000||Five-, seven-, 10-, 15- and 20-year loan terms||No PMI even with less than 20% down|
|No loan origination fees or prepayment penalties||No application or origination fees, or prepayment penalties||No loan origination, application or broker commission fees|
SoFi was founded in 2011 by four Stanford University business school graduates who saw an opportunity to provide cheaper student loans and student loan refinancing options by enlisting school alumni to invest. Since then, SoFi has broadened its funding sources, and it began offering personal loans and mortgages in 2015. It rolled out an employee benefits program to improve financial health, SoFi at Work, in 2016.
SoFi extends other unusual benefits to its customers: It offers unemployment protection for personal loan and student loan refinancing borrowers, for example, and doesn’t require private mortgage insurance on its home loans. It even organizes networking events, startup mentoring and career services.
Personal loans from SoFi
SoFi personal loans are aimed at borrowers with excellent but thin credit profiles. Applicants typically have enough cash flow to cover their loan payments and living expenses. Those who qualify for personal loans typically have credit scores in the 700s and earn a median income of $106,000, the company says.
Personal loan borrowers have access to the same career services and networking events available to student loan refinancers. That includes the option to pause loan payments if the borrower becomes unemployed. (Interest still accrues.)
SoFi’s personal loans aren’t as flexible as those of other online lenders that cater to people with excellent credit, but its rates are competitive with other good-credit lenders. SoFi’s upper loan limit of $100,000 is higher than that of most other personal loan providers.
Mortgages from SoFi
In the world of mortgage lenders, SoFi is looking to stand out by opening its doors to jumbo borrowers who earn high incomes but have little saved up for a down payment.
This approach differs from traditional lenders that are hesitant to enter the jumbo lending arena. With stiff credit scoring criteria and strict debt-to-income ratios, other lenders are more apt to reject applicants than is SoFi, which will look closely at applicants’ disposable income as a more comprehensive way of approving them for a home loan.
Student loan refinancing from SoFi
SoFi’s roots are in student loan refinancing, a process through which borrowers can get a lower interest rate to save money and potentially pay off their student debt faster. It was the first company to refinance federal and private student loans together, according to SoFi co-founder Dan Macklin. It’s also one of the most well-recognized student loan refinance companies in the market.
SoFi caters to high earners; its typical refinance borrower makes more than $124,000 a year. If you qualify, you’ll benefit from competitive rates and exclusive career services and networking events. On the downside, SoFi doesn’t offer as many flexible repayment options as other companies that refinance student debt, and its forbearance limits are shorter than other lenders.
Compare SoFi with other options on NerdWallet’s student loan refinancing page.