Silicon-Valley startup Social Finance, Inc. — better known as SoFi — is an online company that offers college graduates consolidation of both federal and private student loans. SoFi offers student loan refinancing with low interest rates and no application or origination fees.
Since it launched in 2011, SoFi has added to its portfolio of financial services and loaned about $9 billion. The firm now offers mortgage refinancing, personal loans, MBA loans and even wealth management services.
SoFi is one way for employed college graduates to refinance student loans while avoiding high interest rates.
SoFi Student Loan Refinancing
Reviews of SoFi student loans are a mixed bag of positive and negative, with most people stating that the price is right, but funding can take a while.
In a Yelp review, SoFi customer Aruna R. from Minneapolis praised SoFi’s convenient application and information-gathering process:
“After the referral and approval, I just followed step-by-step instructions on how to transfer my loan accounts from the government lender to SoFi,” Aruna wrote. “Mind you, I had a lot of loan accounts after four years of doctoral school, so they were a total mess. I had to contact SoFi’s customer service once to figure it all out, but after only one phone call, I was completely in the clear and everything was smooth sailing.”
Along with the low rates, many borrowers expressed excitement over SoFi’s sponsored events for customers, including happy hours and dinners.
“I’ve refinanced my credit card and student loan debts recently with SoFi,” SoFi student loan borrower Tony P. from Phoenix wrote in a Yelp review. “I’m very happy with my new interest rates, which in some cases are 15 percent lower! They also host happy hours and networking events in my city which were free!”
Overall, SoFi’s loans reviews are positive, garnering four out of five stars from 200 Yelp reviewers.
Perhaps these customer-service benefits set SoFi apart from other lenders competing in the same space. Other companies offering low interest rates, such as Earnest, are also geared toward graduates who are employed and have good financial habits and a solid credit history.
But Earnest and SoFi differ in their perks. Along with customer mixers and happy hours, SoFi also offers:
- Services such as career placement for borrowers who have lost their jobs
- Customized coaching sessions
- Resume help
- Reviews of customers’ LinkedIn profiles
SoFi offers fixed and variable rates on student loan refinancing:
- Fixed rate: Rates available range from 3.5% APR to 7.74% APR, with automatic payment.
- Variable rate: Rates start from 2.15% APR to 5.95% APR, with automatic payment.
SoFi’s student loan refinancing terms range from five to 20 years.
SoFi’s student loan refinancing offers some advantages that make them stand out from their competitors. With SoFi, borrowers benefit from the following:
- Customers are instantly pre-approved.
- No origination fees are charged.
- No penalty is assessed for loan prepayment.
- Borrowers have the option to consolidate both federal and private student loans.
- Borrowers get access to perks such as career strategy services, seven-days-a-week customer support and invitations to SoFi events.
With those advantages come some disadvantages. If you’re considering SoFi for refinancing a student loan, be aware of the less-than-ideal features of their operations and requirements:
- Consolidation of public and private loans eliminates eligibility for federal programs such as forgiveness or repayment plans.
- Residents of Nevada are not eligible for a refinance loan from SoFi.
- You must be a graduate of a Title IV-accredited university or graduate program to qualify.
- You must have at least $5,000 in student debt; the minimum might be higher in some states.
Refinancing Student Loans Through SoFi
SoFi’s loan refinancing program is one of the best on the market, in terms of both the online lender category and the traditional financial institution category. Borrowers want student loan refinance options with low interest rates, and low rates are among the most appealing features of SoFi’s student loans.
Interest rates are cheaper than federal student loan interest rates, making SoFi an appealing option for many borrowers. On the negative side, SoFi does not offer same-day approval like some other lenders do. In fact, it can take up to five days to get approved, which might pose a problem for borrowers who need to make a faster decision.
SoFi Personal Loans
SoFi offers personal loans in amounts from $5,000 to $100,000, and there are no fees. SoFi’s maximum loan amounts exceed those of Lending Club by $60,000 and Discover by $65,000. That fact alone puts SoFi’s service in another category.
SoFi also beats Lending Club in the fee arena, as Lending Club charges between 1 percent and 5 percent in origination fees. Like SoFi, Discover does not charge fees.
Customer reviews of SoFi personal loans tend to be positive, with the one noted drawback being the waiting time it takes to receive funds. The disadvantage of getting a loan through SoFi is the fact that you have to wait between four and five days for your application to be approved. Other lenders offer same-day approval and funds.
In a review of SoFi on BestCompany.com, Joe Berg of Vero Beach, Fla. said the process was extremely slow. “It’s been three weeks and I am still waiting for my funds,” Berg wrote. “I started the whole process two months ago, so it is a very slow process.”
Another review of SoFi personal loans echoed a similar complaint. But overall, customers — like Larry Douglass of Palmdale, Calif., — appear to be happy with the service and the rates. Douglass also submitted a review on BestCompany.com; he wrote that SoFi’s rates were a big selling point, but complained about the slow pace of getting funds transferred.
“My experience with SoFi was very positive,” Douglass said. “The loan process was easy and I received approval in two days. The only thing that stopped me from giving a 10 was that it took longer than 30 days to have the funds placed in my account. I would definitely use SoFi again, and I would recommend the company to others.”
Another SoFi loans review urged others to plan ahead when applying for a loan:
“Very happy with the experience overall except having to wait so long,” Hal Morgan wrote in a review submitted to BestCompany.com. “If you’re considering SoFi, plan ahead. I would suggest applying two months prior to needing the funds. One month to get approved and all that, and another month to get money in the bank.”
SoFi offers fixed and variable rates on personal loans:
- Fixed rates: Rates available range from 5.95% to 12.99% APR.
- Variable rates: Rates available range from 4.75% to 11.35% APR, with automatic payment.
Terms of three, five or seven years are available for SoFi personal loans.
SoFi customers benefit from a number of advantages. Benefits of SoFi personal loans include the following:
- Customers are instantly pre-approved.
- No fees are charged.
- SoFi offers bigger loan amounts than other lenders.
- Interest rates are low.
- An unemployment protection plan is available.
Some disadvantages do exist with SoFi personal loans; consider these details to decide if SoFi is the right option for you:
- Same-day funding is not available.
How to Get Approved for a SoFi Loan
Students who want to refinance their public or private loans — or a mixture of both types — through SoFi must meet a few requirements.
To be eligible for a SoFi loan, you must be employed and be a graduate of a Title IV-accredited university or graduate program. Borrowers must have at least $5,000 in student debt to qualify. Residents of Nevada are not eligible for SoFi loans.
Although getting a personal loan through SoFi might be exciting because of the low interest rates and fee-free loans, it is not especially easy to qualify with this lender. The online loan company requires personal loan borrower to be employed and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien. Personal loans are not available to those living in Mississippi or Nevada, or to residents of Michigan who already are refinancing student loans with SoFi.
How Does SoFi Stack Up?
A borrower can benefit from both SoFi student refinancing loans and personal loans. Most strikingly, SoFi offers low interest rates. The maximum allowed amount for personal loans is an impressive $100,000, giving borrowers a lot of options. In addition to this, the fact that SoFi does not charge costly fees — such as the common origination fee that many lenders tack on — is also an attractive feature.
SoFi is a solid choice for personal loan borrowers who are gainfully employed and have good credit. For college grads looking to refinance and reduce their interest rates, SoFi’s student loans are worth considering.
On the other hand, SoFi probably is not the best choice for people who need money immediately, or student loan borrowers who might want to consider federal loan help down the road.
This content is not provided by Social Finance, Inc. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by Social Finance, Inc.
Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi's underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org) Fixed rates from 3.375% APR to 6.740% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.365% APR to 6.290% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.365% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.79% plus 1.825% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.