SoFi and ELFI — two student loan refinance companies with very millennial-friendly sounding names. Both companies offer very low interest rates and target the same demographic. Which one is better? Is there any difference between the two lenders?
When comparing SoFi and ELFI, very little separates the two companies. However, ELFI’s improved interest rates and approval rates give them a slight edge.
Both of these lenders rank towards the top of our student loan refinancing rankings, so no lender is clearly better than the other. Borrower circumstances may dictate which lender ends up being the better deal.
SoFi vs. ELFI – The Company Basics
ELFI, short for Education Loan Finance, is one of the newer national lenders offering student loan refinance. The ELFI strategy targets borrowers with large amounts of debt, excellent credit, and high incomes. While ELFI is a new name on the student loan marketplace, it is a product of SouthEast Bank, a longstanding regional bank. As we noted in our ELFI Review, this makes ELFI a compelling option.
SoFi is the established giant in the student loan refinance marketplace. Even though the company was founded less than ten years ago, SoFi now refinances more student debt than any other lender. Our SoFi Review explains how SoFi has grown so quickly.
Loan Terms Compared
These two lenders are very close in terms of interest rate offerings. ELFI rates currently start at 2.39% for their five-year variable-rate loan, while SoFi is a bit ahead at 2.25%. On the fixed-rate side of things, Sofi has a 2.49% starting rate, while ELFI offers a slightly better 2.47%. Rates for both lenders tend to be close in nearly all loan categories. To compare these lenders across different loan types and lengths, be sure to check out our best student loan refinance interest rates page.
Neither lender caps maximum borrowing, but SoFi is willing to take on smaller balances starting at $5,000. To refinance with ELFI, you need a student debt of at least $15,000.
Finally, both SoFi and ELFI have comparable new customer bonus programs. SoFi started offering a $150 new customer bonus, and ELFI followed with its offer of $150. The $150 is a nice perk for signing up, but the interest rates offered will be the numbers that matter in the loan run.
Refinance Approval Rates
Approval rates with these two lenders tend to fluctuate.
When this article was first written, SoFi had a clear edge. As of the last update, ELFI appears to be slightly better than SoFi.
Ultimately, getting loan approval requires good credit and income, no matter what lender you select. The only way to know for sure what lender has the best interest rate is to apply with ELFI and then check your rate with SoFi.
SoFi and ELFI Perks
Each lender offers a consumer perk that is unique to the student loan refinance market.
SoFi Job Placement – Unlike any other lender, SoFi will help you find a job if you find yourself out of work or underpaid. Their calculation seems to be that by helping borrowers find jobs, they will spend less time and money chasing down borrowers who default on their loans. It is a bold strategy. We hope to see other lenders copy in the future.
ELFI Customer Support – Several lenders, including SoFi, have customer support entirely based in the United States. What makes ELFI unique is that each borrower is assigned a single point of contact for handling questions and issues. This means you have a direct number to the same person who is addressing any questions or concerns. The result is more personalized customer service and less time explaining the same problem over and over.
Which Student Loan Refinance Lender is Better: SoFi or ELFI?
Separating these two lenders is a bit of a challenge. ELFI has slightly better rates, but SoFi is the biggest lender for a reason.
In our student loan refinance rankings, we put SoFi in fifth place and ELFI in third. ELFI offers some of the very best rates to consumers with excellent credit scores and high income, but SoFi is still a willing lender able to offer excellent interest rates.
That being said, how we rank these two lenders should be of little significance to someone looking for the best deal on student loan refinancing. For a prospective borrower, the deciding factor should be the lender who offers the lower actual rate. The good news is that it takes less than 15 minutes total to check your rate with SoFi and to check your rate with ELFI.
Readers: Did you look into both of these companies? How did the rates they offered compare?