SoFi consolidation savings

SoFi (aka Social Finance Inc.) Student Loan Review

The Sherpa Blog, Student Loan Consolidation Reviews, Student Loans 25 Comments

If you are in the market for student loan consolidation or student loan refinancing, one company worth investigating is Sofi.

The bottom line on this company is that they are offering some of the best interest rates and most flexible terms.  The $300 promotion for new borrowers is unmatched, but even with that much cash up front, the quality of the deal will still come down to the interest rate and loan terms.  Though some of SoFi’s financing options do present a little cause for concern, their innovative approach and great rates make SoFi a good option for many borrowers.

How does SoFi work?

Before you consider using SoFi, it is important to understand what makes SoFi different than traditional lenders.  SoFi was actually created by a group of Stanford business students who wanted to help other business students.  Alumni invested in the program, and the funds were used to help recent grads lower their interest rates.  The program started out just at Stanford, expanded to some other schools, included some other programs, and eventually became a nationwide program.  This approach is commonly referred to as crowd-sourcing or peer-to-peer lending.

One of SoFi’s goals is for former borrowers to go on to become lenders.  Even if you have no interest in future investments, the fact that the company seeks an ongoing relationship with its customers is a huge positive.  Most student loan borrowers know that the customer experience goes down hill quickly one the lender has your name on the dotted line.  Working with a company that has an incentive to keep you happy is a major upgrade.

What loans does SoFi offer?

SoFi presently offers student loan consolidation and refinancing services.  Borrowers specify the loans that they want consolidated or refinanced, SoFi pays them off, and then the borrower pays off their debt to SoFi.  The objective behind consolidation and refinancing is to lower your monthly payments by qualifying for a lower interest rate or by spreading out the payments over a longer period of time.  Doing both of these things can save you money over the short term and in the long run.

SoFi offers both fixed rate and variable interest rate loans.  The fixed rate loans start at 3.625% and have a maximum possible rate of 7.49%.  Borrowers can sign up for 5, 10, and 15 year repayment plans.  The variable rate loans are presently as low as 2.66% to 5.035%, and they are tied to the LIBOR rate.  The interest rate is capped at 8.95%.

SoFi, like most legit lenders, does not charge any application fee, origination fee, or prepayment penalties.

What is the cause for concern with SoFi?

SoFi offers a service that some lenders do not provide.  They are willing to consolidate federal loans with private loans.  Here at the Student Loan Sherpa, we often refer to mistake as breaking the Golden Rule of Student Loan Consolidation.

Though combining federal loans with private loans is a mistake for many, in some instances it is a good idea.  The classic example would be people who are certain that they will be paying off all of their federal loans, have no doubt where the money will be coming from, have no fear of losing their job, and want to get a lower interest rate.

If you are considering applying for consolidation with SoFi and want to make sure that your federal loans are not included, go to the federal student loan database.  There you will be able to pull up a full list of your federal loans.  If the loan is not on the list, you can be assured that it is a private loan.

Who is SoFi best for?

Due to the fact that SoFi offers such low interest rates, most private loan borrowers could likely benefit from their services.  For borrowers with a decent credit and a good income, SoFi could be an ideal option for student loan consolidation.

[Update 8/17/14: SoFi is presently offering a $300 bonus for new applicants.  To qualify, apply through this link]

 

The SherpaSoFi (aka Social Finance Inc.) Student Loan Review
  • mike

    hi michael, thanks for the article on sofi and your website in general. my school is not on the list of schools serviced by sofi. do you know of any similar programs like sofi that has more schools or no limitations on what schools you attended? thanks.

  • Nick

    Hi Mike, I know everyones tax situation is different, however if you went with a SoFI loan would you still be able to claim the interest on your taxes like you can with federal student loan

    • http://studentloansherpa.com/ The Student Loan Sherpa

      Great question Nick. Let me first say that the student loan tax interest deduction applies to federal AND private loans. SoFi loans do qualify for the student loan interest deduction, but like you said, it depends upon your individual situation.

      According to SoFi, “SoFi loans are considered student loans for federal and state tax consideration. Note that you may or may not be eligible for interest deduction depending on your individual tax situation. You should consult your tax advisor for more information.”

  • jaybob

    Hey Mike, I have over $68,000 in Federal Student Loans at 4.125%. I am currently paying $300.00 a month and the principal keeps growing. I can’t afford to pay any more than that so I’ll probably pay this until I die. Will my family be held responsible for this loan at that time?

    • S

      if it makes you feel any better I have loans exceeding 200K at interest rates varying from 6 to 8.25%. I think after death you don’t have to pay, but if you are bankrupt you will still be liable for student loan debt. best of luck to you.

    • Jules22

      I actually took out a life insurance policy to cover my loans. I’m 25, in good health.. and took out a 25 year term policy that covers more than enough for my loans (150K policy, I owe about 80K). I actually only pay like $200 a year for this.. Maybe you should look into that if you’re worried?

  • Cory

    I refinanced my student loans through SoFi and have to say that the
    entire process was horrible. The application process ended up taking 3
    months. Every time that they said something would take 3-4 days it took
    3-4 weeks. Each time I called them I got a different story about what
    stage my application was in. When they claimed that everything was
    finalized I found out that they never sent checks to several of my old
    loan companies and I ended up paying payments to multiple companies for
    the same loans. I called them to rectify the situation and asked to
    speak to a manager. I spoke to a VP and she told me she would figure it
    out “right away” and call me right back. It has been 4 days and I
    still have not received a call. Pretty much sums up my interactions
    with this company. I feel like you couldn’t run a company this poorly
    if you tried.

    • Lil25

      I’ve heard that SoFi is very easy compared to Darian Rowayton.

    • Enrique M. Rivera-Cortes

      It was super easy! I had initial reservations based on Cory’s response but I still decided to go through with it. I am glad I did.

    • YappysDogTreats

      About how long did it take for it to go through from the day you first applied?

    • http://studentloansherpa.com/ The Student Loan Sherpa

      I’ve heard of it taking as little as a couple weeks to as long as a month.

    • Enrique M. Rivera-Cortes

      It took about two weeks from start to finish. I checked my loans with Mohela and Wells Fargo and they were paid on 12May. I started the process on 30Apr.

  • Lil25

    What about refinancing federal graduate loans with a private company like SoFi? The interest rates on federal are insane! Yes, I know that you lose protections, but we hope to pay off our loans in less than 10 years, and the chances of us needing the federal protection is very slim.

  • Ryan

    I applied for a refi through SoFi and they declined my application based solely on my credit score, which isn’t too abysmal at 680. Seems like they’re pretty picky.

  • Mark

    I Just attempted to refi a 24,000 loan got denied. with a 722 credit score and 60,000 a year income I am 39 and been paing my Salliemae since 2011 even before it came due. They recommeded I get a co-signer HAHAHA. Nope I am an adult thank you

    • Linda

      Same here!!! I just attempted to refinance $38K and got denied! I have the same credit score and make $72,500. I’ve never missed a loan payment and have been repaying my student loans for years. Not impressed with SoFi, especially when it states it is ‘ideal for those with good credit and are established.’

  • Rez

    Just got off the phone with these guys… they refused to give you a quote over the phone and forced you into applying online. I had my credit pulled 3 weeks ago and had all my scores (all three over 750) and they still refused to assist me over phone. I started the application online and when I saw the offered products, it really wasn’t that impressive. So, I decided to withdraw my application. Before applying online, I called to ensure that their credit pull was a soft pull (I am in the process of purchasing a house) – they confirmed it “was” over the phone. I had to call back (twice) to request an application withdrawal, and this time I was told that the credit check was a hard pull. It even indicates that the credit check is a soft pull on their site (and I hope that truly is the case) .. anyhow, frustrating customer service. Below is their response regarding the credit check:

    I confirmed that you did consent to a hard credit pull when
    submitting your application. We begin with a soft credit pull to
    determine the product, and finish that step with a hard credit pull to
    ensure the product matches your credit portfolio.

    Thank you for your recent interest in refinancing your education loans with SoFi.

    This email will confirm your recent request to withdraw your application for a SoFi Refinance loan.

    Thank you again for your interest in SoFi. If you have any questions
    or concerns or would like to resume your application, please don’t
    hesitate to call us at 855.456.7634 or email us at [email protected].

    I don’t recall ever consenting to a hard pull. Maybe I did not read the entire thing…but be aware and good luck for those of you who chose to go SoFi.

  • Ruhiyyih

    I had a very similar experience to Rex below. They claim on the site that they only perform a soft pull of your credit and that it won’t affect your score. Well my credit monitoring was pinged and it turns out they performed a hard pull of my credit and it will be affected. Blatant false advertising, and a downright lie. I am also in the process of trying to purchase property in a very competitive market and certainly did not need this sort of aggravation. Given that others have experienced this problem I’m sure it’s making the rounds.

  • TED

    SOFI only refinances if the person refinancing graduated from a college on their approved (limited) list of colleges.
    i.e. If you have a parent plus loan for your child, and (even though they graduated from) you didn’t graduate from one of their ‘approved colleges (or graduated from a foreign college), you cannot get refinanced !!

  • TMEA

    I applied a few weeks ago and was just notified that I was approved, but I am very reluctant to accept because of how horribly this company seems to operate. I had to call multiple times before I spoke to someone, then the information I received was inaccurate. The numbers (interest rate I was offered and maximum lifetime amount I would pay) both went up from what I was given initially (after the credit pull) and today when the offer was made. Additionally, I applied for a fixed loan, it says fixed, but the interest rate listed is variable with the high end being higher than what I am currently paying. I recommend using caution when dealing with this company.

  • Andrew

    Screw these guys. I have an 803 credit score and have made over $100k the past 3 years. They declined me for “insufficient income” in relation to the amount of my monthly repayment which would be around $560/mo. I guess you need to be a billionaire to deal with these bozos. Their underwriting policy is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen.

  • Ellen

    I have only federal loans at 6.5 %….is it wise to consolidate with Sofi?

    • http://studentloansherpa.com/ The Student Loan Sherpa

      This question will really depend upon your finances. Private consolidation of federal loans is something that should only be done if you are absolutely positive it is the right move and you understand the consequences. Read more here: http://studentloansherpa.com/golden-rule-student-loan-consolidation/

      Basically you are weighing the advantage of lower interest against the loss of the many great programs that only apply to federal loans. If you can save a bundle with Sofi and you are certain you won’t be taking advantage of any of the federal repayment plans or forgiveness programs it might be for the best. Otherwise, your best bet is probably to stick with federal loans.

  • Bi

    Do NOT refinance your student loans with SOFI / Trustudent.
    If I could give them negative stars, I would. I refinanced and consolidated my
    2 loans in to a new SOFI loan and TRU Student handles the loan servicing. One old
    loan was with Sallie Mae and the other one already with SOFI. The day my new
    loan was disbursed, Sallie Mae received the money from SOFI and paid off my
    loan in full and I NEVER paid even a penny on the Sallie Mae loan after that
    date. Now what happened with the loan that I had with SOFI. From the day the
    new loan was disbursed, it took 23!!! days for the old loan to be paid off!!!!
    Sallie Mae which is an external company received the fund on the same day of
    the new loan disbursement and paid off my loan but SOFI took 23 days to
    transfer the fund from the new loan to pay off the old loan within the SAME
    company. And guess what, during those 23 days, they accumulated interest on
    both my new loan and old loan while the old loan should have been already paid
    off. Also, they debited my bank account for my monthly charge on the old loan!!!
    How could that happen?? I was making payments on both loans simultaneously and
    both of them were accumulating interest!!! Expect DOUBLE interests for more
    than 20 days when going with SOFI! The fact that they say there is no fee for
    the loans, is NOT the truth. There is a fee and that’s the fee that YOU pay for
    their extremely slow processes and extremely unproductive working way. So I did
    call them for at least 12 times!!! SOFI asked me to call TRUStudent and TRU
    student referred me back to SOFI. Every agent gave me a different response and
    when I called back to follow up every time, the new agent was completely blank
    not knowing anything about my account history so every time I had to explain
    what happened to my case from scratch. Ultimately after talking to 10 agents or
    more, and not getting any response from any of them, I requested to talk to a
    manager. I called 3 more times in a 1 month period asking for a manager to call
    me back and every time I was promised that a manager will call me ASAP. 1 month
    since my last email and call and I’m still waiting for a manager to call me!!!
    The customer service is horrible and when you email them, what you get is an
    automated response or some generic answers!!! BTW, they never sign their emails
    with their names. Is that professional at all??? All they put under their
    emails is their name initials like A.B. so you’d never know who responded to
    your emails. I’ve been in the business world for 10 years and I’ve never seen
    people responding to emails with their initials as their signature! As a result
    of this refinancing, I’ve lost almost $300 because of paying interest on both
    old and new loans simultaneously while they were thinking how to handle the
    case. It’s really interesting that an external company receives the fund on the
    same exact date and pays off your loan but it takes 23 days for SOFI to
    transfer the fund from your new loan to pay off the old loan. I’m completely
    disappointed with their customer service. If you think there are no fees in
    refinancing loans with SOFI, think twice, because ultimately YOU are the one
    who has to pay for their extremely unproductive and slow work. I’m still
    waiting to hear back from a manager after calling them back and forth for 5
    months!!!! The wait goes on…….