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SoFi Reviews: Student Loan Refinancing and Private Student Loans

SoFi is a leader in the student loan refinancing space. It also offers private student loans for undergraduates.
May 7, 2019
Loans, Student Loans
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SoFi is an online lender that offers student loan refinancing, private student loans for undergraduates, mortgages, personal loans, insurance and investment accounts.

Here we review SoFi’s student loan refinance and private student loan products.

Review of SoFi’s private student loans

SoFi student loan refinancing

5.0 NerdWallet rating

SoFi is a leading student loan refinance lender. In 2012, it became the first company to refinance federal and private student loans together.

The average income among approved borrowers is over $100,000. However, SoFi could also be a fit for borrowers with more modest lifestyles; it has no specific minimum income requirement and accepts borrowers whose highest education level is an associate degree.

SoFi at a glance:

  • Personalized rate estimates without affecting credit.
  • Perks include free career coaching, no-fee investing.
  • No co-signer release option.
SoFi
Reviewed loanStudent loan refinancing.
Interest ratesFixed: 3.89% - 8.074%.
Variable: 2.49% - 6.65%.
Includes autopay discount of 0.25%.
Loan terms5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years.
Loan amounts$5,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance.
Co-signer release availableNo.
Can transfer a parent loan to the childYes.
Check rates At SoFi

How SoFi student loan refinancing scores

NerdWallet student loan experts evaluated more than 50 data points across five categories to see whether SoFi ranks below average, average or above average compared with other student loan refinance lenders.

Enables faster repayment:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they offer a variety of term lengths and make extra payments easy.

Discloses requirements, limits costs:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they limit fees and interest rates, are transparent about their underwriting criteria and allow borrowers to get personalized rate estimates before applying.

Serves range of borrowers:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they cater to customers in varying locations, in different financial situations, and with varying citizenship statuses.

Offers payment flexibility:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they offer longer than 12-month forbearance periods, in-school and military deferment, and any other flexible policies that help borrowers during tough times.

Supports customers:
Average
Lenders score highly if they assign borrowers an advisor, offer multiple ways to get in touch, and have in-house customer service. Websites should display full APR ranges, fees and forbearance policies.

How SoFi student loan refinancing could improve

SoFi, like other five-star lenders, isn’t perfect. SoFi could improve by offering additional programs such as:

  • More than 12 months of forbearance.
  • Co-signer release.
  • Refinancing for borrowers who didn’t earn a degree.

SoFi student loan refinancing details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: Yes.
  • Application or origination fee: No.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: Yes; $5 late fee if your loan is 15 days past due.

Compare SoFi’s range of interest rates with other student loan refinance lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate SoFi will offer you, apply on its website.

Check rates At SoFi

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: 650.
  • Minimum income: No minimum. SoFi looks at borrowers’ free cash flow, or the amount left over after you’ve covered monthly expenses.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 700+.
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: $100,000+.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Yes, after the bankruptcy drops off your credit report. This happens after seven years for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and after 10 years for Chapter 7.

Other

  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Permanent residents must have more than two years until their status expires or have filed an extension.
  • Location: Available to borrowers in all 50 states.
  • Must have graduated: Yes, with an associate’s degree or higher.
  • Must have attended a Title IV-accredited school: Yes.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Did not disclose.

Additionally, borrowers must be employed, have enough income from other sources or have a job offer to start within the next 90 days.

  • Academic deferment: Yes, borrowers can postpone payments if they return to school.
  • Military deferment: Yes, borrowers can postpone payments while they’re on active military duty.
  • Disability deferment: Yes, borrowers can postpone payments while they’re undergoing rehabilitation for a disability.
  • Reduced payments for medical and dental residents: Physicians and dentists can pay $100 per month during their residency for up to four years.
  • Forbearance: Borrowers who lose their job through no fault of their own are eligible to postpone their payments for three months at a time, for up to 12 months total. They must work with SoFi’s career advisors to qualify.
  • Are loans discharged in the event of death/disability of borrower? Contact customer service for eligibility requirements.
  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Loan servicer: MOHELA.
  • In-house customer service team: Yes.
  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.
  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.
  • Average time from approval to payoff of the refinanced loans: One week.

SoFi offers its borrowers the following perks:

  • Career coaching: Work with a one-on-one advisor to plan a career transition, search for a job and improve your personal branding.
  • Community events: Attend workshops, speaker series and social events such as happy hours and dinners.
  • No-fee investing: Use SoFi’s wealth management platform without paying any management fees.

How to refinance with SoFi

Before deciding on a student loan refinance lender, compare multiple student loan refinance options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, compare lenders’ repayment options and the flexibility they offer for borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

» MORE: How to refinance student loans in 6 steps

If you’re ready to borrow, you can apply on SoFi ’s website.

Check rates At SoFi

SoFi private student loan

5.0 NerdWallet rating

SoFi began offering private student loans for undergraduates in April 2019. It’s a solid option for borrowers who have exhausted their federal student loan options and need additional money to fund college costs.

Compared with the largest private student loan companies in the industry, SoFi stands out by offering personalized rate estimates without affecting your credit. This allows you to shop for the best rate without penalty. SoFi is also a good option for borrowers who want to pay off their student loan quickly — you can make biweekly and greater-than-minimum payments via autopay.

SoFi private student loans at a glance:

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Multiple in-school repayment options available, including interest-only, partial and deferred.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen.
SoFi
Reviewed loanPrivate student loan.
Loan terms5, 10 or 15 years.
Loan amounts$5,000 up to your total cost of attendance.
Grace period6 months.
Co-signer release availableYes.
Check rates at SoFi

How SoFi private student loans score

NerdWallet student loan experts evaluated more than 50 data points across five categories to see whether SoFi ranks below average, average or above average compared with other private student loan lenders.

Enables faster repayment:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they offer a variety of term lengths and make extra payments easy.

Discloses requirements, limits costs:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they limit fees and interest rates, are transparent about their underwriting criteria and allow borrowers to get personalized rate estimates before applying for the loan.

Serves range of borrowers:
Average
Lenders score highly if they cater to customers in varying locations, in different financial situations, and with varying citizenship statuses.

Offers payment flexibility:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they offer longer than 12-month forbearance periods, in-school and military deferment, and any other flexible repayment policies that help borrowers during tough times.

Supports customers:
Above average
Lenders score highly if they assign borrowers an advisor, offer multiple ways to get in touch, and have in-house customer service. Websites should display full APR ranges, fees and forbearance policies.

How SoFi could improve

SoFi, like other five-star lenders, isn’t perfect. SoFi could improve its private student loan product by:

  • Lending to international students.
  • Offering more repayment options for borrowers who are struggling.

SoFi private student loan details

  • Get a personalized rate before applying: Yes.
  • Application or origination fee: No.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: No.

Compare SoFi’s range of interest rates with private student loan lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate SoFi will offer you, apply on its website.

Check rates at SoFi

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: 700.
  • Minimum income: None.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 700+.
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Yes, after it drops off your credit report, which takes seven years.

Other

  • Citizenship: Borrowers must be U.S. citizens.
  • Location: Available in all 50 U.S. states.
  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes.
  • Must attend a Title IV-accredited school: Yes. Most four-year public and private institutions are accepted.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Did not disclose.

In-school repayment options:

  • Deferred payments: Don’t make any payments while you’re in school.
  • Interest-only repayment: Pay only interest while you’re in school.
  • Partial repayment: Pay $25 a month during school.
  • Immediate repayment: Make full payments as soon as the loan is disbursed, while you’re still in school.

Post-school repayment options

  • In-school deferment: Yes.
  • Military deferment: Yes.
  • Forbearance: Yes, borrowers who lose their job through no fault of their own are eligible to postpone their payments for three months at a time, for up to 12 months total. They must work with SoFi’s career advisors to qualify.
  • Are loans discharged in the event of death/disability of borrower?: Yes. Contact customer service for eligibility requirements.

Repayment preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Loan servicer: MOHELA.
  • In-house customer service team: Yes.
  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.
  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.
  • Average time from application to approval: Many applicants can get their approval decision within minutes.

SoFi offers its borrowers the following perks:

  • Career coaching: Work with a one-on-one advisor to plan a career transition, search for a job and improve your personal branding.
  • Community events: Attend workshops, speaker series and social events such as happy hours and dinners.
  • No-fee investing: Use SoFi’s wealth management platform without paying any management fees.

How to apply for a SoFi student loan

Before taking out a SoFi student loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal student loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s FAFSA Guide

Compare your private student loan options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.

If you’re ready to borrow with SoFi, you can apply on SoFi’s website.

Check rates at SoFi

STUDENT LOANS RATINGS METHODOLOGY

NerdWallet believes the best student loan is one you can repay at the lowest interest rate you can get. That’s why NerdWallet’s student loan ratings reward lenders that offer a variety of loan terms, limit their fees and penalties, and extend borrowers multiple options to avoid default. Points are also awarded for soft credit checks, underwriting transparency and other consumer-friendly features. Use these ratings as a guide, but we encourage you to shop around for the lowest interest rate you can qualify for. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for its reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best for consumer-friendly features

4.5 stars out of 5 — Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features

4 stars out of 5 — Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features

3.5 stars out of 5 — Good; may not offer something important to you

3 stars out of 5 — Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features

2.5 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution

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