SoFi Review

Sarah BadaniBySarah BadaniAug. 22, 2019

In a Nutshell

With its online application, flexible repayment terms, and lack of fees, SoFi makes applying and getting loans fast and easy. Launching its newest flavor of financial support—private student loans—SoFi adds yet another notch to its already-impressive belt. As with all SoFi products, these loans come with transparent terms, reliable service, and competitive rates. In short, it’s the place to go for smart student loans.

pros

  • Autopay discount
  • No origination, late, or insufficient funds fees
  • Post-graduate employment opportunities and networking events

cons

  • Not eligible for many community colleges

SoFi SoFi Visit Site

SoFi at a Glance

Loan Types: Undergrad loans, graduate loan and parent loans

Loan Amount: Up to 100% of cost of attendance

Repayment Terms: Can be paid off during or after school

Average APR:  

  • Fixed rates from:  4.33%
  • Variable rates from:  2.93%

Minimum Credit Score: No minimum credit score, cosigners encouraged

Fees: No fees
SoFi needs no introduction. A well-known name in the finance world, SoFi offers consumers just about every type of financial assistance under the sun, from personal loans to home mortgages. And if you’re a student, there are even more options for you including medical residency refinancing, undergraduate student loans, and yes, private student loans too.
Overview

With tons of positive feedback online, an A- rating with the Better Business Bureau, and a reputation for being a fun, forward-thinking, and just plain cool financial option, SoFi is a great choice if you’re looking to finance your way through school.

Best For?

SoFi private student loans are the best fit for students who have already exhausted their federal grant and loan venues and are looking for an easy, affordable, and flexible financing option. SoFi is also great for grad loans and parent loans - perfect for parents looking to help their kids through college.

Loan Features

SoFi is a well-known name in the finance world for a reason. It offers solid products, unparalleled customer experience, and some of the most flexible policies you’ll find anywhere. Plus, if you qualify, you can get extremely competitive rates. Here are some areas where SoFi really shines.

  • Social financing

As the name implies, SoFi is a social financing option. This has several ramifications. For one thing, SoFi actually sets up social networking events where you can meet people in your field, scout potential job opportunities, and learn more about your industry. SoFi is also known for helping its borrowers get jobs after they graduate (though this is not guaranteed).

  • No fees

Another fabulous advantage of going with SoFi for your private student loan is the glaring lack of fees involved. Hardly a lender out there will hand you a loan without tacking on some sort of fee, whether it’s a finder’s fee, registration fee, late payment fee (the most common), or something else they make up. This is why SoFi’s lack of fee policy is so impressive. Truly, SoFi charges absolutely no fees, not origination, application, insufficient funds, or prepayment penalty fees. In fact, this company doesn’t even charge a late fee, the most basic penalty charged if you miss a payment.

  • Human touch

SoFi has extremely considerate repayment terms. It even has a deferment and forbearance policy aka unemployment protection policy. If you lose your job, you can qualify for loan repayment deferment. That means you won’t be responsible for repaying your loan during your months of unemployment for up to 12 months.

The Application Process

The SoFi private student loan application process takes minutes to complete.

  • Fill out the online application form.
  • You may or may not get pre-qualified.
  • When you are approved, you’ll need to review the terms of your loan.
  • If everything looks good to you, you can sign using the e-signature tool.
  • The school you are currently enrolled in will then need to verify all of your information. This stage can take more or less time, depending on the institution.
  • Once verified, you can have your money right away.

Altogether, the whole process usually takes 4 to 6 weeks, but it can vary depending on the speed of your school’s verification process.

Additionally, SoFi encourages (but doesn’t require) borrowers to apply with a cosigner. Generally speaking, you’ll be given lower rates if you do this. That’s because, while SoFi doesn’t have a specified minimum credit score, your credit history and income may not be top tier in your student years, but a cosigner will have a longer credit history and more substantial income to back up the loan. A cosigner can also help improve your chances of getting approved for the loan altogether.

Eligibility Requirements

SoFi has fairly standard eligibility requirements. The only thing that stands out is that it doesn’t have any minimum credit score requirements. Here’s what you need:

  • US citizen
  • Of legal age within your state of residence
  • Live within the United States
  • Be enrolled for a minimum of half-time
  • Be enrolled in one of the eligible institutions
  • Be enrolled in one of the eligible degrees

Cosigner requirements include:

  • Must be of legal age within the state of residence
  • Be a US citizen or permanent resident

Loan Rates

SoFi offers both fixed and variable rates. They range as follows:

  • Fixed rates: 4.33%
  • Variable rates:  2.93%

While there aren’t specific numbers, having a cosigner alongside you will definitely reduce your APR. For example, if your cosigner is a SoFi member already, you’ll get an immediate 0.125% off your interest rate.

SoFi will cover up to 100% of the cost of attendance at your school. This can include tuition, books, travel expenses, personal expenses, supplies, and room and board.

Repayment Terms

As mentioned, APRs start from 2.93% depending on several factors. You can get an automatic 0.25% discount on your interest rate if you sign up for auto-payments that come directly out of your checking or savings account. There are several repayment options, including:

  • Deferred payments: Make no payments while in school (for students only)
  • Interest only: Only pay interest while you’re in school
  • Partial payments: Pay a set rate of $25/month while you’re in school (for students only)
  • Immediate payments: Start paying off your loan right away and finish faster

Choose the one that works best for your finances.

How Safe is It?

SoFi is a fintech brand and so takes online security and privacy very seriously. It has all the normal industry-standard safeguards in place, including technical, administrative, and physical layers of protection.

Your personal account information is protected by a unique user ID and password that only you know. Along with the other sensitive information, those passwords are encrypted even during transmission, so nobody ever sees or knows your password. SoFi uses TLS (Transport Layer Security) to keep prying eyes away from your sensitive data.

Customer Service

This company really does customer service right. For one thing, SoFi’s customer service is based in the US, so you know you'll be getting someone who speaks the same language as you and understands your problems when you reach out for help. For another, a support team member is available to you via telephone or email channels. The hours are pretty long too, starting earlier and ending later than the norm. Here are the customer service details:

Available Monday thru Thursday 4am to 9pm PT and Friday thru Sunday 4am to 5pm PT

Finally, SoFi has a useful FAQ section on the site that has just about all the answers you could be looking for from customer support.

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How SoFi Compares


SoFi
Laurel Road
LendEDU
APR
2.93%
4.11%
3.99%
Minimum credit score
Not specified
650
700
Loan amounts
$5,000-total COA
$5,000-total COA
Varies based on lender
Accepts co-signers
Yes
Yes
Yes
Best for
Ambitious borrowers looking to finance the rest of their schooling
Students who are specializing in the medical fields
Students who want a good financial education

Summary

SoFi is putting the personal edge back into financing. Offering flexible repayment terms, competitive pricing, and an easy-to-use online application, this brand stands by its customers all the way. The forbearance and deferment programs are just more examples of why SoFi is the cream of the crop.

Disclaimers:

Undergraduate Student Loans

Fixed Rates: Fixed rates range from 5.05% APR to 11.71% APR (with autopay).Variable Rates: Starting variable rates range from 3.65% to 11.25% APR (with autopay), and will never exceed 13.95% (sometimes lower in certain states as required by law). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin of between 1.58% and 9.98%. The current one-month LIBOR rate is 2.27%. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law.

Graduate Student Loans

Fixed Rates: Fixed rates range from 4.33% APR to 11.99% APR (with autopay).
Variable Rates: Starting variable rates range from 2.93% to 11.57% APR (with autopay), and will never exceed 13.95% (sometimes lower in certain states as required by law). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin of between 0.86% and 9.76%. The current one-month LIBOR rate is 2.27%. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law.

Parent Student Loans

Fixed Rates: Fixed rates range from 5.05% APR to 11.71% APR (with autopay).
Variable Rates: Starting variable rates range from 3.65% to 11.25% APR (with autopay), and will never exceed 13.95% (sometimes lower in certain states as required by law). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin of between 1.58% and 9.98%. The current one-month LIBOR rate is 2.27%. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law.
Autopay Discount. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make your scheduled monthly payments by an automatic monthly deduction (ACH) 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. The discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the interest savings are applied to the principal loan balance, which may help pay the loan down faster. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
Credit Pulls. 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 you are pre-qualified for, subject to the verification of the information you have submitted as part of your application. 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 and may impact your credit score.
Unemployment Protection.If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for Unemployment Protection. If you qualify, SoFi will suspend your monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during your forbearance period. Interest will continue to accrue and will be added to your principal balance at the end of each forbearance period, to the extent permitted by applicable law. Benefits are offered in up to three month increments, and capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. To be eligible for this assistance, you must provide proof that you have applied for and are eligible for unemployment compensation, and you must actively work with SoFi Career Services to look for new employment. If the loan is cosigned, the unemployment protection applies where both the borrower and cosigner lose their job and meet conditions. Learn more about SoFi’s Unemployment Protection here #what is sofis unemployment protection program.
Negative Amortization. Interest begins accruing on the first disbursement date, but some repayment options do not require full principal or interest payments until the end of the deferment period. Any unpaid interest that has accrued and remains unpaid at the end of the deferment period will be added to the principal balance at the end of the deferment period. Thereafter, interest will accrue on this new principal balance. This is known as negative amortization. You can help avoid negative amortization by making extra payments on your loan during the deferment period. Check out our APR examples and terms. Still have questions? Our FAQs have answers.
Important Information About Federal Repayment Options.SoFi Private Student Loans do not have the same repayment options that federal loan programs offer, such as Income-Based Repayment or Income-Contingent Repayment, or PAYE or REPAYE. In addition, federal student loans offer deferment and forbearance options that are not available for SoFi Lending Corp. Private Student Loan borrowers. Find out more about federal repayment options here.

Sarah BadaniBySarah BadaniSep. 16, 2019
Sarah Badani has extensive research and review experience in the finance industry. With a degree in psychology and education, she brings a level of depth and understanding to her writing along with her own flavor to spice up each topic in a unique and inviting way.
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