SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Review
SoFi, or Social Finance, was founded in 2011 by four Stanford Business School grad students. The company was originally created by leveraging the interest Stanford alumni had in seeing new Stanford graduates become successful.
The founders’ goal was to provide more affordable options to students taking on debt to finance their education.
SoFi’s inaugural loan program offered $2 million in loans to 100 students. Fast forward to February 2016; SoFi just surpassed $7 billion in outstanding student loans.
The company originally offered student loans to prospective borrowers. However, it increased its offerings to mortgages, mortgage refinancing, and personal loans. Additionally, it moved away from its alumni-funded model to a non-traditional underwriting approach.
Now, SoFi focuses on lending to “financially responsible” students. Part of this new approach was eliminating the FICO score from the underwriting process in all of its products.
Instead, SoFi looks at a prospective borrower’s history of past payments, earning potential, and industry.
What does SoFi offer to Potential Borrowers?
SoFi offers students and graduates with existing student loans the ability to refinance and consolidate their existing loans.
Refinancing existing student loans allows the borrower to change the length of the loan, from say 10 years to 15 years, and obtain a lower interest rate. Borrowers can also remove cosigners from their existing loans.
Also, when refinancing, you can also consolidate your loans. Consolidation allows the potential borrower to take all of her existing student loans and combine them into a single loan. This option makes a lot of sense to students with a bunch of federal loans. It simplifies the loan accounts. Also, the potential borrowers can change their loan length, and also lower their interest rates, the main benefit over Direct Loan Consolidation.
With lower interest rates and longer loan terms, borrowers have been able to enjoy an average of $14,000 in savings over the life of their loans. In many cases, students have been able to reduce their monthly loan amounts as well.
Unlike some other loan companies, SoFi can refinance and consolidate both private and federal student loans. They also allow Parent PLUS loan consolidation. This is definitely something that sets them apart from most other companies.
SoFi offers competitive variable and fixed interest rates, which range from 2.13% to 7.49%.
SoFi borrowers also enjoy career coaching, unemployment protection, and an entrepreneur program.
The unemployment protection program offers a deferment to borrowers who lose their jobs. The loans can be deferred for up to three consecutive months. Over the life of the loan, each borrower can defer his payments for up to twelve months. Once again, SoFi offers career counseling to unemployed borrowers.
Their entrepreneurship program offers qualified applicants to receive loan deferrals and mentorship as they start their own businesses. The borrowers can defer their loans for up to six months, while they work on growing their businesses. All along the way, they have lots of resources to help them succeed.
They also offer regular member events all over the country. These events range from industry-specific networking events and panels, to happy hours and even single events.
SoFi’s Eligibility Requirements
Just like every other institution regulated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, SoFi abides by all applicable laws. As a result, every potential borrower must meet all of the following requirements to be eligible for a SoFi loan:
• Must be the age of majority (18 in most states) in the home state.
• Must either be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
• Must either be employed, or have an offer of employment to start within 90 days of application.
• Must have graduated from a selection of Title IV accredited university or graduate school program.
• The loan amount must be at least $10,000.
Here is some other good information on their credit requirements
• No minimum credit score is required.
• No minimum gross income is required.
• No minimum credit history is required.
• No maxiumum debt-to-income ratio is required.
• However, all borrowers need to have “high income” and “good credit history.”
In addition to these requirements, students residing in Nevada aren’t eligible for loans, and if they live in Ohio or Tennessee, variable rates aren’t available.
How to Apply for Refinancing and Consolidation with SoFi
Applying for a SoFi loan is painless. All you need to do is go to their website and click the “find my rate” button, which is located all over their home page. Once there, all you need to do is create an account and fill out a questionnaire, all of which takes around two minutes to complete. Checking your rates will not affect your credit.
Once you’ve checked your rates and terms, you can then decide whether or not to go through the full application. They also offer good customer service. So, if you decided to go with them, you can be sure that someone will be available to help you out all along the way. Their customer support is available seven days a week.
SoFi also has the following fees and penalties:
• No origination fees.
• No prepayment fees.
• No personal-check processing fees.
• Late-payment fee: either 4% of the payment due, or $5.00, whichever is less.
SoFi is a very attractive option for student loan options. They offer industry low rates, and have great programs for their customers. Just be warned that they are very selective about who they offer money to.
The most difficult part about getting a loan with SoFi is passing their credit check when you send in your application. Speaking honestly, a lot of potential borrowers get denied.
While SoFi doesn’t use a potential borrower’s FICO score in determining eligibility, they definitely want a particular kind of borrower to work with. These borrowers need to be good at paying their bills, and need to have high monthly income.
SoFi is looking for potential borrowers who can qualify for personal loans at other institutions.
However, once a borrower qualifies for a loan with SoFi, the experience couldn’t be better. The resources and options available to their customers are amazing, and their borrowers couldn’t be happier.