SoFi Reviews Refinance and Consolidation

SoFi Student Loan Refinance and Consolidation Review

Michael Lux Blog, Student Loan Reviews 99 Comments

Article updated January 6, 2020, to reflect the latest interest rate information.

When this site first reviewed SoFi back in March of 2014, readers wanted to know if SoFi was legitimate and how student loan refinancing worked.

Over the years, refinancing has become far more common, and SoFi has grown into one of the biggest names in student loans and finance in general.

Despite all of these changes, the fundamental questions remain. Is SoFi student loan refinancing a good deal? What should consumers expect?

Meet SoFi in 2020

SoFi first started as a student loan refinance company, but they have significantly expanded.

SoFi Student Loan Ratings

Interest Rates
Co-Signer Release
Loan Terms
Repayment Length

Excellent

SoFi has grown into a massive company offering many different services but SoFi continues to be a great student loan refinance option.

SoFi now offers mortgages, personal loans, and investing services. The days of SoFi being the plucky underdog are over.

For borrowers focused on getting a lower rate on their student loans, this evolution has some advantages.

For SoFi to grow, they had to evolve from a lender that focused only on high earners to a lender willing to accept a wide range of borrowers. The good news for borrowers is that many of the perks that SoFi used to target the doctors and lawyers of the world still remain. These premium perks include low interest rates, job placement resources, and $150 for new customers who sign up.

We have seen many borrowers with less than perfect credit get approved with SoFi. We have also seen borrowers with excellent credit shop around to compare rates and find that SoFi was the best option. As a result of SoFi’s ability to offer the best rate for a variety of borrowers, SoFi checks in at #2 in our student loan refinance lender rankings.

SoFi Refinance Rates and Options

SoFi offers a wide range of student loan refinancing options, as seen below:

SoFi Overview
Loan Terms5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 Years
Variable Rate Loans2.25% - 6.16%
Fixed Rate Loans2.99% - 6.16%
Minimum Refinance Amount$5,000
New Borrower Bonus$150

SoFi will refinance federal student loans, private student loans, and Parent PLUS loans. SoFi, like most legit lenders, does not charge any application fee, origination fee, or prepayment penalties.

Looking at all of the SoFi possible rates and options, borrowers should be careful to tweak loan repayment lengths to find the sweet spot between getting the lowest rate and getting the best monthly payment.

For example, one strange aspect of the current SoFi options is the close rates offered for the longer length loans. The rate on a 10-year loan may be only a fraction of a percent less than the rate on a 15 or 20-year loan. Opting for a longer loan can result in an interest rate that is only slightly higher, but provide a borrower with a great deal of flexibility.

Note: having a 20-year loan does not mean that a borrower must take 20 years to pay it off. Opting for the longer duration loan gives the borrower the flexibility of low minimum payments, but the loan can still be paid off aggressively by making extra or larger payments.

The SoFi Advantages

SoFi offers some of the lowest interest rates on the market and flexible repayment terms, but the advantages associated with SoFi go beyond the numbers.

Perhaps the biggest advantage is a job placement program. SoFi hired the former Assistant Dean for Career Services at a top MBA school to lead its career services division. Their thinking seems to be that they will make more money by investing in borrowers who lose their job, rather than spending the money on collections.

SoFi also runs its customer support out of a California call center. Having the customer support team here in the United States doesn’t necessarily guarantee better service. Still, we do like to see them spending the extra money to make sure customers get the best treatment possible.

Borrower Beware – The Danger of Refinancing Federal Student Loans

If you have the credit score and income to qualify for SoFi, it is a great option, but there is one warning that all borrowers need to consider carefully…

SoFi, like most other refinance lenders, is willing to consolidate federal loans with private loans. Though combining federal loans with private loans is a mistake for some, in other instances it is a good idea. The classic example would be high-income earners with strong job security. The important thing for borrowers to realize is that the repayment plans and forgiveness programs of federal loans are eliminated upon private loan consolidation. Because there is no way to undo a consolidation or refinance, it is critical to make a smart decision when weighing the federal perks vs. the lower interest rate on the private market.

Outside of the traditional concerns that go with student loan refinancing, we see no additional concerns associated with SoFi.

How does SoFi work?

Borrowers specify the loans that they want to be consolidated or refinanced, SoFi pays them off, and then the borrower pays off their debt to SoFi. The goal 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’s seems to have a goal of becoming the finance company for millennials, as evidenced by their aggressive expansion into areas like banking and life insurance.

Helping people pay off their student loans seems to be SoFi’s way of securing long-term customers who continue the business relationship in more profitable areas such as wealth management. From a student loan borrower perspective, this is probably a slight advantage because it means SoFi has an incentive to keep customers happy even after they have refinanced their loans. These long-term goals would also explain why SoFi can keep their rates lower than most of the other lenders in the marketplace.

SoFi Reviews from Actual Customers

When this article was originally published, we could only base our opinion on the black and white terms of the SoFi loans. Since that time, dozens of customers and would-be customers have taken the time to leave their thoughts in the comment section.

What we have learned is that SoFi customer satisfaction seems to revolve around whether or not the application was approved. Because of the originally tough underwriting criteria, many people have stopped by to share their disappointment with their denial. As one user summed it up, “people with high FICOs and high incomes sail right through while people with more moderate FICOs and incomes don’t seem to have the same experience.”

SoFi Reviews from Around the Web

Most of the SoFi reviews from other experts have reached similar conclusions. NerdWallet proclaims that SoFi shines due to their low interest rates and job placement services. They take issue with the fact that SoFi loans only come with a one-year forbearance if you lose your job.

The Better Business Bureau gave SoFi an A+ rating, but there were several user complaints about SoFi. Some of the complaints dealt with SoFi’s mortgage and personal finance loans. Most of the student loan consolidation complaints were filed by consumers unhappy with a rejection. However, we were able to find one reviewer who had an issue with the unemployment forbearance. Evidently, SoFi requires borrowers to register with their career services before approving an unemployment forbearance.

In short, the SoFi reviews are largely positive, but like any financial company, they are not without their warts.

SoFi Compared to Other Lenders

SoFiLendKeySplash FinancialELFI
Pros:SoFi is the only lender who will help a borrower find a job, and they routinely have the lowest rates offered.LendKey works with a large network of smaller credit unions and banks. As a result, many applicants get the best offer from LendKey.Splash has the best new customer bonus right now, and they have excellent rates and term opitons.Because ELFI is backed by a bank rather than investors, ELFI rates tend to stay low and fluctuate less than others.
Cons:SoFi has grown into a large company offering mortgages, personal loans, and investment services. They no longer focus entirely on student loan refinancing.Going the LendKey route does require working with a local bank or credit union. For many, this is a plus, but it is an extra step.Splash is a newer lender and getting approval may be more difficult for some borrowers.ELFI is one of the newest lenders in the marketplace. As a result we have limited head to head information.
Bonus:
$150
$150
Up to $500
$150

Should I apply for a SoFi loan?

SoFi is an excellent option for student loan refinancing, but SoFi is far from the only option.

Borrowers looking for the best deal would be wise to check their rate with SoFi, but checking rates with other lenders is also essential as many companies advertise rates as low or lower than SoFi. Because each lender uses different underwriting criteria, it is impossible to say which of the top student loan refinance companies will actually offer the best rate.

Check Rates with SoFi          Explore Other Lenders

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S
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.

Ryan
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.

Rez
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
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
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
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.

WIStoney
WIStoney

Great article. Glad I read the comments. This company did a target direct mailing campaign to members of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. I received a letter from SoFi, which states SoFi medical customers save x amount of money and if I refinance now I’ll get $500 from them. Looks good at first glance. This whole process has made me look into my loans (which I only seem to be chipping away at), but I have all federal loans, so the interest rate is not bad at 4.125%. Instead of refinancing, I chucked a little more cash towards my monthly payment and will continue to do so. Great Lakes (my loan servicer) doesn’t seem to offer any easily identified way to pay off the loans faster, so I will do it manually as I draw down other debt.
Makes me not too happy that my national association sold the member mailing list to a company that hasn’t been fully vetted. I reviewed some other websites with similar complaints about SoFi.
Thanks for everyone’s comments. I’m steering clear of this company.

Mike Andrews
Mike Andrews

I was denied for a $12,000 loan! I make $65,000 and have a 750 credit score. Stay away from this place! What a waste of time, and hard credit hit.

Jenn C
Jenn C
Reply to  Mike Andrews

Same here. I make a good income employed for 8 years full time, my credit score is 793 and they still denied me for a $13k refinance! I went with Laurel Road, they approved me right away and I got a $400 referral bonus I split with my sister 🙂

ShoppedAround
ShoppedAround

Don’t Expect to Get Their Lowest Advertised Rate!!!

Pro: Quick and easy application process with readily-available customer support to assist.

Con: They aren’t (in my experience) the most competitive! Keep shopping!

I completed the application process for a student-loan refinance with both SoFi and a competitor, Darian Rowayton Bank. I’m so glad that I applied with multiple lenders! DRB offered 3.5% for a 5-year term refinance (their lowest advertised rate). SoFi offered 4.74% for the same loan (even though they also advertise 3.5%). I decided to try requesting SoFi to match the competitor’s rate because SoFi had a NCAA sweepstakes that I wanted to enter. So I made the request on Mar 12. It took until Mar 26 and multiple back-and-forth emails before SoFi finally gave me their “best offer” which was 4.625%. No Thanks! I find it hard to believe there are many more qualified borrowers than myself and so I would guess that you probably won’t get whatever rate they are advertising either.

There aren’t many lenders to shop from but google “best banks to refinance student loans” to see a few alternatives to SoFi.

FeFist
FeFist

My experience with sofi is similar to many ppl here. Terrible, unreasonable and waste of my time. Let’s me tell you… Sofi seems very unorganized and their underwriting policy is ridiculous! Don’t bother with sofi and don’t let them mess up your credit score for nothing (they did hard pull on credit check)!

My story:
Filled out my application and upload all paperwork online on day 1. Live chat with a sofi rep who told me, my application could get reviewed within 4 business days if I called and talked to a rep. So I did. I then waited waited and waited. No single word from sofi at all after 2 whole weeks. I called, that rep told me one of the paystubs I uploaded was Outdated, they would need me to upload/ email a more recent one. I thought to myself, of course it now outdated … Coz the application review took way longer than expected and promised. Anyways, I immediately uploaded and emailed my paystub to that particular rep (as he offered on phone, so he could forward it to someone to review my case as soon as they got my paystub).

I was stupid to trust sofi the second time! Guess what? No word from sofi again, a week after I updated my paystub. If they hadn’t done credit check on me, I would have withdrawn my application at that time coz sofi seems very very unprofessional. Anyways, I called again. I asked why still no word ?!

That rep dared to tell me ……

Rep: “oh, it looked like we need your most recent paystub.”
Me: “what?! Again?! I just uploaded and emailed xxx my paystub last week. Did you not see it on my profile?”
Rep: “hm… if that is case, let me look into it…pls hold”
(5 min later)
Rep: “we did receive your paystubs last week. Somehow, it just didn’t reach to the underwriter. I will forward it now.”
Me: “well. When I talked to xxx last week. He said he would make sure someone looked at it right away, so my application didn’t get delayed any longer. How did it still get overlooked? On the day I applied, I got promised review within 4 business days!”
Rep: “I apologize. I will forward it to our underwriter now. You should hear from us in a week.”

One week later, I received an email from sofi, denied my application for insufficient income.

They promised 4 business day review. It turned out to be a month process! If I didn’t call them, they probably wouldn’t bother to call me, not even a courtesy call.

I made $150k a year. Full time employment since grad 3 years ago. Always paid my student loan on time, even often made extra payment. Credit score is 775. No mortgage. My student loan balance was $96k at that time.

Sofi, seriously?!

JS
JS
Reply to  FeFist

That’s how they operate, they actually review all details about you before they approve your loan. I have had 3 loans with them in the past and each one of them took at least a week before they approved it.
– They do not operate like most financial institutions.
Facts:
– Number of pple in your income bracket of $60K with SoFi loans are 32%
– Average SoFi income is $110k which is about 42% of their loans
– 50.1 % of SoFi members own a home
– 39.4 % Rent
-10.6% live with Parents
– 77% have a fixed rate loans on Mortgages
Otherwise, their rates are great. personal loans are at 5.19%, Student Loans start at 2.815% include those with parents and medical students.
– They now offer Wealth Management accounts and they give you $100 for just opening the account.

scott
scott

avoid this business. they blatantly false advertise. they sent me an unsolicited mailer offering a loan. I was prequalified according to their mailer and was again prequalified after submitting my initial information. after the company obtained my initial information they then asked for an excessive amount of additional information including a copy of my passport, 2 years of tax returns and a utility bill only to turn me down for the loan they contacted me about and said I was prequalified for. additionally, they took way too long to confirm or deny the app and the rate they offered wasn’t even close to the rate quoted on the mailer they sent me. I would not recommend this company to anyone.

DM-MBA
DM-MBA

Great Refi – Saves Me $$$!

I was initially hesitant to refi my student loans with SOFI given some of the bad reviews I saw at the time, but I took a chance and am very glad I did. I did my refi in May 2015 and the process was seamless. I had 6+ seperate loans ranging from 2.5% to 7% and I was able to refinance them all together for a 1.9% rate and much lower term with a slightly lower monthly payment. The process was easy – uploaded my docs online and the loan funded and my lenders were paid off quickly. The servicing has been great and its much nicer to have one loan and see the balance go down faster due to the lower rate and shorter term. To give some perspective I had over $100k in student loans between undergrad and grad school. I’ve paid them down to $50k and now with the refi I can finish them off much sooner. Its a great feeling.

I will not hesitate to consider SOFI for future loans. I know everyone’s situation is different, but SOFI was great for me. I also got a $100 bonus and welcome gift (Diptique candle) when my loan completed. I have also been invited to local events hosted by Sofi and attended a very posh, open bar free happy hour they hosted at a hot spot in my area. All the SOFI people I met there were very nice as well.

SR207
SR207

I just completed the process on my private student loans. I’m saving a few percentage points and I got a lower monthly payment. Their process was rigorous, but they looked more closely at the numbers than other lenders. For example, I had tried to get a Wells Fargo loan, and my amount of federal debt was prohibitive. However, Sofi took in documentation that I’m on an IBR with 10 year loan forgiveness. I think they take a better-rounded look at everything.

Jennifer Love Stringfellow
Jennifer Love Stringfellow

Depends on the loan and whether you are or were married when you take it out. Read your loan terms carefully! (I am an attorney).

thisannoysme
thisannoysme

Wondering if its worth my time. Have $20k in loans at 4.865%. Current min monthly payment is $120 but usually I pay around $200-$500. Gross is now $195k/year – just doubled thanks to a new job. Credit score 805. Wanted to pay off my Mohela loan in two years and was hoping this would get me there faster . Right now about $70/month going to interest on Mohela and this annoys me.

Tony
Tony

Going to give SoFi 5 stars. Excellent company from my experience with them. Tried consolidating with DRB starting December 4, 2015. I have solid income and excellent credit. After 6+ weeks of runaround from DRB that my loan was “with underwriting” (my mortgage didn’t take THAT long) I gave it a shot with SoFi. I applied on a Monday evening, by Tuesday morning at 10AM I was approved and signed all my paperwork through DocuSign. Now a mere 10 days later, all my loans have been paid off with my original lenders. Can’t recommend SoFi enough.

Ty
Ty

I initially received misleading customer service, but re-applied with a new application and all went smooth. Happy so far, just be sure to keep good notes of your communications if anything is out of the ordinary.

Dave Shapiro
Dave Shapiro

SoFi was so easy it made me scared that I missed something. Expressed interest in a personal loan at 9pm of each evening. So for responded the next day. I did all my paperwork on their mobile website and within 36 hours of my initial query I had the money in my account.
Good, like I said, scarey good.
PS I make 85,000 per year over 800 credit score and borrowed 20,000 over 5 years.

Kelly Pry
Kelly Pry

My credit score is 755 and make 47k per year trying to refinance $34k in student debt. Pre-approved, submitted the application, read and signed the loan agreement, was told it would be funded in 4 days, then suddenly was denied due to insufficient income and asked for a consigner. Pathetically unethical. Don’t waste your time.

Berh
Berh

What they don’t tell you is that the average income of someone who qualifies for SoFi’s refinancing is $130,000. So yeah. Don’t bother unless you are already loaded.

Tim Fortin
Tim Fortin

My son attempted to refinance his student loans with me as a co-signer. In a nutshell we were denied because the idiots at SoFi didn’t understand how to read the financial reports from my businesses. They ask for all the right reports but can’t comprehend what they are looking at. I told my son to move on and deal with a real company that has a clue! SoFi was unimpressive in all ways….don’t waste your time!

Al
Al

Sofi refused to consolidate my student loans. They claimed it was my credit score (which happened to be 810). I believe it was because I am disabled because everything was going just fine until I gave my income as being from both social security as well as a private disability provider. I make the same amount that I did while I was working full time, and they certainly don’t have any trouble sending out all sorts of marketing material to my house. They are a waste of time if you are concerned about discrimination. I went to credible and got a better loan right away.

mike
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.

The Student Loan Sherpa
Reply to  mike

Hey Mike. SoFi is a fairly unique company in the way that they conduct business, however, this site has reviewed a couple other student loan consolidation companies that may be able to help you out. Check out our reviews here: https://studentloansherpa.com/category/student-loan-consolidation-reviews/

jaybob
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?

Jules22
Jules22
Reply to  jaybob

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?

Brandon
Brandon
Reply to  Jules22

No one has to pay your loans when you die. So this is a waste of money on your part.

Tsarkov19
Tsarkov19
Reply to  Brandon

Brandon is correct.

Jennifer Love Stringfellow
Jennifer Love Stringfellow
Reply to  Tsarkov19

Depends on the loan and whether you are or were married when you take it out. Read your loan terms carefully! (I am an attorney).

Justbecause
Justbecause
Reply to  Brandon

Your kids or spouse do.. look it up. especially if its a federal loan.

Frank
Frank
Reply to  jaybob

if you make 120 payments without being late or missing one, you can have your federal student loans forgiven under Obama’s forgiveness act.

all_I_have_to say
all_I_have_to say
Reply to  Frank

is this true? I’ve never heard this before,,,,thats awesome if its true

Tsarkov19
Tsarkov19

BUT, you will receive a 1099 so the forgiven balance will be imputed to you as income, for which you will have to pay the income tax on it. If you have a massive balance, that could present an issue, because now you have an IRS debt/problem instead of a student loan debt/problem.

Nick
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

The Student Loan Sherpa
Reply to  Nick

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.”