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 graduate students and undergraduates.
Aug 1, 2022

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Student loan ratings

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
  • Student loan refinancing

  • Private student loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

SoFi is a legitimate online lender that offers student loan refinancing and private student loans. Its refinancing loan is best for borrowers who want plenty of benefits with their refinanced student loan. Its private loan is best for flexible repayment options and no fees.

Student loan refinancing review

SoFi Student Loan Refinance

5.0

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score
650
Fixed APR
3.99-8.24%
Variable APR
2.24-7.99%
Check rate

on SoFi's website

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.

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

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 announced in June that borrowers with federal student loans can lock-in an interest rate now and still benefit from the federal payment pause. Borrowers who do so will keep their federal student loans until Oct. 1 before they are officially refinanced with SoFi at the locked-in rate.

This student loan refinancing program will allow borrowers to cancel and stay with their federal student loans if they decide they don’t want to refinance.

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

Interest rates, fees and terms
  • 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.

Requirements

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, permanent resident or have a qualifying visa (E-2, E-3, H-1B, J-1, L-1, or O-1). Non-permanent residents, DACA recipients and those without a qualifying visa need a co-signer who is a citizen or permanent resident.

  • 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.

Repayment options

Many lenders are offering relief related to COVID-19. Check this list of private loan relief options to see what this lender offers.

  • 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: Yes.

  • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No.

repayment preferences:

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

  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

Customer service
  • 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.

Extras

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.

  • Referral bonus: Earn up to $10,000 for referring friends and family to any of SoFi's products using a unique referral link. Restrictions apply. More details are available on SoFi's website.

  • Student loan cash out refinance: SoFi lets you use your existing home equity to pay off your student loans.

Before refinancing 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.

If you aren’t eligible to refinance with SoFi

If SoFi denies your refinance application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other lenders or need a co-signer.

NerdWallet recommends prequalifying with multiple refinance lenders before you apply. This will let you know which lenders you may be eligible with, without affecting your credit.

STUDENT LOAN REFINANCE RATINGS METHODOLOGY

Our survey of more than 29 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and the top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 41 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

How does this loan compare?

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
Splash Financial Student Loan Refinance
Earnest Student Loan Refinance
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score

650

Min. credit score

650

Min. credit score

650

Fixed APR

3.99-8.24%

Fixed APR

2.59-8.19%

Fixed APR

3.24-7.99%

Variable APR

2.24-7.99%

Variable APR

5.31-11.57%

Variable APR

1.89-7.99%

Private student loan review

SoFi Private Student Loan

4.5

/5
 NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
Fixed APR
3.50-13.60%
Variable APR
2.39-12.13%
Check rate

on SoFi's website

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 and flat-fee, and deferred for undergrad and grad students.

  • Additional perks like career planning, job search assistance and entrepreneurship support available.

Cons

  • Does not offer bi-weekly payments via autopay.

Best for flexible repayment options and no fees.

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 greater-than-minimum payments via autopay. As SoFi offers several other financial products, it is also a good choice for borrowers who want a one-stop-shop for their financial services.

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.

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

Interest rates, fees and terms
  • 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.

Requirements

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: Does not disclose.

  • 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: Must be a US citizen, permanent resident or visa holder (E-2, E-3, H-1B, J-1, L-1, or O-1). Non-permanent resident alien (or DACA recipient) without a valid visa must apply with a creditworthy cosigner who is a US Citizen or permanent resident.

  • DACA borrowers: Eligible with a qualifying co-signer who is a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident.

  • Location: Available in all 50 U.S. states.

  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes.

  • Loan can be used for past due tuition: 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: 97%.

Repayment options

Many lenders are offering relief related to COVID-19. Check this list of private loan relief options to see what this lender offers.

In-school repayment options:

  • 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.

  • Full in-school deferment: Yes.

Post-school repayment options

  • Grace period: 6 months, but only for the deferred repayment option.

  • Income-based repayment option: No.

  • In-school deferment: Yes.

  • Military deferment: Yes.

  • Forbearance: Yes, up to 12 months.

  • Co-signer release available: Yes.

  • Death discharge: Yes, loans will be forgiven due to a borrower's death while in school and/or repayment.

  • Disability discharge: Reviewed on a case-by-case basis and offers forgiveness when requirements are met..

  • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No.

Repayment preferences

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

  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

Customer service
  • 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.

Extras

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.

Before applying 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.

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 aren’t eligible for a SoFi student loan

If SoFi denies your student loan application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other lenders or, if you haven’t already, try applying with a co-signer.

If you don’t have access to a co-signer — or still aren’t eligible with one — consider lenders that don’t require co-signers or specialize in bad or no credit student loans.

STUDENT LOAN RATINGS METHODOLOGY

Our survey of more than 29 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 40 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

Frequently asked questions