SoFi Student Loans Review: Should You Apply?

SoFi
SoFi

SoFi Student Loans Review: Should You Apply?

SoFi is one of the best options for refinancing your student loans thanks to its employment assistance and competitive rates. The lender is known for accepting borrowers with excellent credit history, although it doesn't mention any credit score requirement on its site. At the very least, you'll need an associate's degree and a steady income to qualify for refinancing.

Good for

  • Unique member employment benefits.
  • Medical residency refinancing.
  • Parent loans and refinancing parent PLUS loans in your child's name.

Bad for

  • Medical residency refinancing not available to borrowers in Mississippi, Montana or D.C.
  • Co-signers: No co-signer release.

Editor's Rating

4.5/5.0

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SoFi offers some of the most well-rounded benefits, making it a great choice for most borrowers. The lender provides competitive rates, employment programs and specialty loans, which is more features than you'll find with other companies.

SoFi Refinancing Review

SoFi
SoFi

While offering similar rates to its competitors, SoFi provides a better value, as it is the only lender to have built an infrastructure to help its borrowers find employment or advance their careers. This makes SoFi one of the best student loan options for those with an associate's degree or higher and good credit history. With the number of borrowers defaulting on their student loans, SoFi also works to help those facing financial difficulties by providing career coaches and networking opportunities, instead of just granting forbearance or deferment like most lenders.

SoFi refinancing is also among the best options for medical students entering residency programs. It's one of the only lenders we've seen that allows you to defer full repayment for up to four years. This type of program relieves future doctors and dentists of having to pay off their student loans directly following medical school by paying only $100 each month through residency. Compared to Laurel Road, SoFi has better medical residency refinancing rates, but unlike Laurel Road, the lender does not provide loans to borrowers in Mississippi, Montana or D.C.

On top of these benefits, SoFi shows it's committed to helping parent borrowers by being one of the few lenders that allows them to transfer their federal parent PLUS loans to their children through refinancing. Federal Direct Parent PLUS loans tend to have high interest rates, and SoFi works to offer parents a more affordable option with lower rates and no origination fee. However, even though SoFi allows you to refinance your parent PLUS loan in your child's name, know that you cannot transfer a SoFi parent loan to your child.

SoFi Student Loans Rates, Terms and Fees

SoFi provides refinancing for student and parents borrowers with at least $5,000 in student loan debt. You can choose from fixed and variable rates with loan terms up to 20 years. Compared to other lenders, SoFi has one of the lowest late fees of $5, which is only applied to your account if your payment is more than 15 days late. Like most lenders, you can sign up for automatic payments and receive a 0.25% discount on your rate. In addition, you can get up to $300 for each person you refer who takes out a loan with SoFi.

Refinance Loan Features

Loan typeRefinance
Loan amount range$5,000 up to 100% school-certified expenses
APR range*
  • 3.89% - 8.074% Fixed rate
  • 2.50% - 7.12% Variable rate
Fees
  • Late fee: $5 after 15 days
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • Application fee: none
Loan terms
  • 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years
Discounts$300 referral bonus

*Rates include 0.25% rate discount with auto-pay

Medical students that have been accepted to a residency program or fellowship can put off full loan payments for up to four years by opting to pay $100 every month during the program. Although rates are a bit higher than regular refinancing, this repayment plan can help residents who are worried about having to pay off loans right after medical school. It is important to note that residents in Pennsylvania need a minimum of $25,001 to refinance, and Connecticut and Kentucky residents need at least $15,001.

Medical Resident Refinance Loan Features

Loan typeRefinance
Loan amount range$10,001 up to 100% of student loan balance
APR range*
  • 4.140% - 8.834% Fixed rate
  • 2.80% - 7.875% Variable rate
Fees
  • Late fee: $5 after 15 days
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • Application fee: none
Loan terms
  • 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years
Discounts$300 referral bonus

*Rates include 0.25% rate discount with auto-pay

Loan Repayment

If you decided to refinance your loans with SoFi, repaying your loan starts within 30 days after your loan is disbursed. SoFi will honor any existing grace period from your previous lender of up to six months. However, the lender allows medical and dental residents six months after residency before they must start full monthly payments. Payment is due each month for the duration of your loan term with up to 15 days from the due date before it is considered late. You can always pay more than the monthly amount without penalty, but doing so can adjust your payment if the total amount left is significantly lower.

Deferment and Forbearance

SoFi allows borrowers to defer their loans if they return to school on a half- or full-time basis, or if they have to undergo disability rehabilitation or serve on active military duty. Borrowers must provide a deferment request form with the required documents listed on the form. At the end of the deferment period, your loan balance will be reamortized over the remaining loan term. As stated previously, borrowers are given up to 15 days past the due date for each monthly payment and SoFi will honor deferment from your previous lender for up to six months.

Permitted DefermentsLimit
Payment grace period15 days
Medical or dental residency6 months after training

SoFi created their own Unemployment Protection Program for borrowers that lose their jobs through no fault of their own, to help them get back on their feet. In order to qualify, you must actively work with SoFi's career team to look for new employment. The company provides career coaches and networking events to help you find job opportunities. If you're approved for the program, SoFi will put your loans into forbearance in three-month increments for up to 12 months in total. You have the option of making no monthly payments or interest-only payments during this period as interest will continue to accrue and will be added to your principal balance.

ForbearanceLimit
Permitted PeriodUp to 12 months
Conditions
  • Must be experiencing financial hardship, unemployment, excessive debt burden or medical disability.

Who Can Qualify for SoFi Refinancing?

SoFi refinancing is available to borrowers who have a steady stream of income or those who will start a job within 90 days with at least an associate's degree from a Title IV school. SoFi does not have an official required credit score but mentions that a good credit score will give you a higher chance of qualifying.

Credit scoreNot specified (most SoFi borrowers have a credit score over 700)
Co-signerYes, release not permitted
Accepted citizenship status
  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident (with more than two years before expiration)
DegreeAssociate's or higher
EmployedYes or signed job offer
Eligible schoolsTitle IV public and private institutions

How Does SoFi Compare to Other Student Lenders?

SoFi is one of the most competitive student loan refinancing lenders, with low rates and bonus benefits for borrowers. However, when compared to its competitors, the lender falls short in a few areas. Earnest offers lower rates than SoFi for both fixed- and variable-rate loans, while Discover reaches more student loan borrowers as the lender does not require borrowers to graduate with at least an associate's degree to qualify for refinancing.

SoFiEarnestDiscover
Loan types offered
  • Student loan refinance
  • Medical resident refinance
  • Student loan refinance
  • Student loan refinance
  • Private Student Loan
APR range*
  • 3.89% - 8.074% Fixed
  • 2.50% - 7.12% Variable
  • 3.50% - 7.89% Fixed
  • 2.49% - 7.27% Variable
  • 5.74% - 8.49% 10 year
  • (5.99% - 8.49% 20 year) Fixed
  • 4.74% - 7.74% Variable
Loan amount$5,000 up to 100% school-certified expenses$5,000 - $500,000$5,000 - $150,000
SchoolHold a two-year or higher degree from any Title IV institutionHold a degree from any Title IV institutionAny Title IV institution
EmployedYes or signed job offerYes or signed job offerYes or signed job offer
Co-signerYes, release not permittedNot permittedYes, release not permitted
Discounts
  • $300 referral bonus

*Rates include 0.25% rate discount with auto-pay

SoFi vs Earnest

Earnest
Earnest

If you can qualify without a co-signer, Earnest offers more affordable rates than SoFi, which can be helpful for borrowers with excellent financial histories. Unlike most lenders, Earnest looks at more than your credit score to determine whether you can refinance, including your earning potential and saving habits. But the lender does not permit co-signers, making approval more difficult if you don't have enough financial history. Also Earnest is not available for borrowers in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada or Rhode Island. If you can't qualify for Earnest's low rates or you live in one of those states, SoFi is a more competitive option with employment programs for borrowers who lose their jobs or those who just want to further their careers.

SoFi vs Discover

Discover
Discover

You should only consider Discover instead of SoFi if you didn't graduate with at least an associate's degree as you won't be eligible for refinancing with SoFi. When it comes to all other aspects, Discover is a far less competitive student lender than SoFi, due to its higher rates, limited loan terms and loan amount range. Discover does provide borrowers with multiple payment assistance options if they need help repaying their loans, including deferment, early repayment assistance, payment extension, reduced payment, forbearance and hardship. But SoFi goes a step further by giving you employment tools to help you improve your situation, beyond paying off your student loans.

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