In a student loan refinancing and consolidation match off between SoFi, DRB, CommonBond and LendKey, it is going to be the subtle differences which sway the borrower towards one or the other. All of these companies are reputable, competitive and innovative. There are a slew of benefits with all four of these loan consolidation companies, so the differences may lie in perks and credit. Whether startup or traditional, they all specialize in one common goal, to provide borrowers with the best loan they can get.

SoFi Stays Innovative



SoFi prides their company on implementing new programs for borrowers. They identify with their struggle to pay back student loans. SoFi is the prototype for the job placement program offered by loan consolidation firms. SoFi actually hired the former Assistant Dean for Career Services at a top MBA school to lead its career services division to help unemployed borrowers get back to work.

This is commendable in a loan company given most lenders want their payment now, and seem to lack insight as to why borrower’s payments are late or falling so far behind. Unfortunately, the world we live in today, people are losing their jobs. It could be in a variety of ways like outsourcing or aging out someone. SoFi made the change borrower’s needed to see. The first line of help is with job placement, and not a beeline to the collection agencies. This implemented program created by SoFi may just be the prototype for all student loan refinancing companies to follow.

SoFi offers new borrowers a nifty $150 sign up bonus as a quick little perk. Sure, it may not be the lottery, but at least it shows this company is noteworthy and one to watch.

DRB Holds On To Tradition


DRB services all of their own student loans. This conventional bank setting provides borrowers with a relatively straightforward borrowing and repayment experience.

DRB created a specialized borrower program. One such program for medical school graduates allows Residents and Fellows to pay only $100 per month towards their student loans until the end of their fellowship or residency. They then get a 6 month grace period to begin making standard payments. DRB offers this perk because they recognize the initial hardships that may come early after graduation.

DRB is different because very few traditional banks offer student loan consolidation services.

Whether you need more time to pay your loans or you desire to aggressively tackle the loan amount DRB has something for everybody. The biggest advantage to DRB has to be their low interest rates coming in at 1.92% is the lowest rate yet to be seen. And for the ones who need that extra time, they carry a fixed rate of 3.5%.

DRB also has a commendable cosigner program. For one, they are not insistent on cosigners as are some other consolidation companies. Even for borrowers who require a cosigner there is no fixed waiting period for release. As soon as the borrower builds his good name in credit and has a steady income, the cosigner is free to go.

LendKey Offers Different Platform


LendKey is a middleman companies which does the drawn out searching for the best loan for you. They are a cloud sourcing consolidation servicer, but have their loans serviced by their access to over 300 credit unions nationally. LendKey matches borrowers to a tailored loan unique for the borrower. LendKey believes the student loan consolidation experience should be transparent, seamless, and intuitive. They want the process to be easy for the worried borrower.

The application process is identical to other lenders; the big difference is the end result matches the borrower with the ultimate lender to provide the loan. This allows smaller credit unions and local banks to compete on the national scene.

Credit unions have always received high marks from consumers because they are member fed. Not only this they have exceptional benefits, immediate data on portfolio performance and offer some of the best loans to borrowers. Credit union’s capital goes to work from private student loans, attracting new members and supporting the higher educational goals of members.

If you have done your research, then you already know LendKey can match or beat any other interest rate offers. This is what they are known for. Another offering of LendKey is it advertises an interest-only repayment option for the first four years of the loan. For some this may be a win while they try to secure higher paying jobs. However, in the long run, that large payment is still forthright.

CommonBond Has a Conscious



It was only five years ago when CommonBond was a mere idea, and then became a student loan refinancing platform by a few Wharton MBA students. While some borrowers appreciate the fresh perspective and ever changing innovations, more traditional consumers may not consider CommonBond the best experience for their loan needs.

CommonBond also followed SoFi with a similar employment assistance program. They call this perk CommonBridge, which is a program designed to help those unemployed borrowers a new job. Like SoFi, they are willing to spend the money in a calculated risk that borrowers will return to work, and less loans will be in default or behind in payments.

CommonBond also has a Hybrid Loan that is both a fixed rate loan and a variable rate loan with a 10 year repayment term. The interest rate starts out as a fixed rate loan for the first five years and then becomes a variable interest rate loan for the last five years.

Another nice advantage of CommonBond is that in the event of the death of a borrower, the loan will be discharged. Some lenders pass that debt on to the cosigner. This is a good sign of a conscience reputable lender

Other great perks of CommonBond is their financial hardship forbearance and academic forbearance. They also offer a grace period between 30-60 days. And finally, as of June, CommonBond added another nice little perk with a $150 sign up bonus.

The Quick List for SoFi:

  • Refinancing and consolidation of private and federal student loans
  • Must have completed an eligible undergraduate or graduate degree program
  • Available for both undergraduate and graduate school student loans
  • 1.90% APR to 5.19% APR (with autopay) variable rates, capped at 8.95% to 9.95% APR
  • 3.50% APR to 7.24% APR (with autopay) fixed rates
  • 5, 10, 15, 20 year repayment terms
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • Unemployment protection – loan payments are paused and they help find new job
  • Career support – complimentary coaching for SoFi members
  • Entrepreneur program – qualified applicants can receive loan deferrals and mentorship

The Quick List for DRB:

  • Refinancing and consolidation of private and federal student loans
  • Must be an alumni of a bachelors or graduate degree program (e.g. MBA, Law, post-residency Medical/Dental, Physician Assistant, Advanced Degree Nursing, Pharmacist, Engineering, PhD, etc.) who meet the underwriting criteria
  • DRB also offers parents of Bachelor degree holders the opportunity to refinance student loans they took out to finance their child’s education as long as their child has graduated and is working. Parents can refinance Parent PLUS loans in their own name or their child’s name.
  • 1.90% – 3.98% (with autopay) variable rates
  • 3.50% – 6.25% (with autopay) fixed rates
  • 5, 10, 15, 20 year repayment terms
  • Maximum variable rates capped at 9% for 5, 10, 15 year terms. For 20 year term, maximum rate cap is 18% APR
  • No origination fee or prepayment penalty
  • .25% Interest Rate Reduction with automatic payments via ACH

The Quick List for CommonBond:

  • Refinancing and consolidation of private and federal student loans
  • Available for undergraduate, graduate, and Parent PLUS student loans
  • 1.93% – 4.97% APR variable rate refinancing (with autopay)
  • 3.74% – 6.49% APR fixed rate refinancing (with autopay)
  • 3.98% – 5.64% APR hybrid rate refinancing (with autopay)
  • 5, 10, 15, and 20 Year Repayment Terms
  • 0.25% Interest Rate Reduction with automatic payments via ACH
  • Unemployment protection – loan payments are paused and they help eligible graduates find new jobs and also hire them for short-term consulting projects
  • Access to CommonBond Community – Borrowers are connected to events in their cities, networking opportunities, and lifestyle perks
  • Social good – for every fully funded degree through CommonBond, they fund the education of a student in need abroad for a year through Pencils of Promise
  • No application, origination or disbursement fees
  • $150 sign on bonus available to new borrowers

The Quick List for LendKey:

  • Work with not-for-profit credit unions
  • interest rates under 2% APR
  • Range of 1.93% APR to 6.92% APR.
  • higher approval rates
  • long unemployment protection
  • Fixed and variable rate loans
  • A Unified Application Process
  • Cosigner Release Available after 24 consecutive on-time payments
  • No Origination Fee
  • Further Interest Rate Reduction
  • 0.25% ACH Interest Rate Reduction for automatic payments
  • Federal and Private Loans Can Be Consolidated Together.
  • Return Policy offers to let you cancel the loan within 30 day of disbursement without fees
  • Not quite a student loan marketplace
  • 15 Years Max to Repay Loans, no industry 20 year term
  • Misleading Marketplace, some lenders are listed who are not currently accepting new applicants
  • LendKey Doesn’t Give You the Complete Picture on their interface, they don’t help much stacking institutions against each other.
  • Only Certain States Offer Fixed Loans

Which loan consolidation company is the best?

Both SoFi and DRB are excellent student loan refinancing and consolidation companies. Either is going to a good choice for a borrower. The biggest hindrance is that even though they both offer the lovely lowest interest rates around, not everyone is going to qualify for it. Lenders evaluate borrowers differently, so your given interest rate is going to be based on your own personal finances.

  • If you are considering federal loans for consolidation with SoFi or DRB, 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.
  • If you are not in LendKey’s supported coverage area, then this is an obvious no-go. SoFi does offer new programs, like career support and entrepreneur program, which can be a cushion for nervous borrowers.
  • If your income isn’t huge or your credit score is less than perfect working with a company like Lendkey may be a better alternative. They will match you with a non-profit credit union to consolidate your debt – you just won’t get the rock bottom interest rates.
  • If you have a solid income and credit score, and plan on aggressively paying off your student debt, CommonBond could be a great option. Actually, CommonBond might just be an over better choice with all the added benefits, benefits that most of us could use.
  • If you have a solid income and credit score, and plan on aggressively paying off your student debt, CommonBond could be a great option. Most of these similarities are in place because both companies are targeting the same borrowers. SoFi is the top contender, but CommonBond is soon to become neck-in-neck.