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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.
Aug. 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

Bottom line: Best for borrowers who want plenty of benefits with their refinanced student loan.

SoFi
Reviewed loanStudent loan refinancing
Interest ratesFixed: 3.49% - 8.074%
Variable: 2.43% - 6.59%
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

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • You can refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Additional perks like career planning, job search assistance and entrepreneurship support available.

Cons

  • No co-signer release available.
  • Loan size minimum is higher than most lenders’.

Full Review

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.

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.
  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years.
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance.
  • Can transfer a parent loan to the child : 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.

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 degree or higher.
  • Must have attended a school authorized to receive federal aid: Yes.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Roughly 15%.

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.
  • Co-signer release available: No.
  • Death or disability discharge: 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 approval to payoff: 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.
  • Southwest Airlines points perk: Through Sept. 18, 2019, new student loan refinance customers can earn up to one Rapid Rewards bonus point for every $2 they refinance, up to 50,000 Rapid Rewards bonus points. Enter your Rapid Rewards information in the application after uploading your documents.

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


SoFi private student loan

5.0 NerdWallet rating

Bottom line: Best for borrowers who want plenty of perks with their student loan.

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

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 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, flat-fee and deferred.
  • Additional perks like career planning, job search assistance and entrepreneurship support available.

Cons

• Must be a U.S. citizen.

Full Review

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. It also offers perks like career coaching, community events and no-fee investing.

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.

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.
  • Loan terms: 5, 10 or 15 years.
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 up to your total cost of attendance.
  • 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.

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 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: Borrowers must be U.S. citizens.
  • Location: Available in all 50 U.S. states.
  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes.
  • Types of schools served: Any school authorized to receive federal aid. 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 repayment: 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

  • Grace period: 6 months, but only for the deferred repayment option.
  • 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.
  • Co-signer release available: Yes.
  • Death or disability discharge: 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 for 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.

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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