PROS / SoFi offers competitive interest rates, a low max-variable cap and unemployment insurance.
CONS / You are less likely to be approved for a SoFi student loan than with other private student loan lenders.
VERDICT / SoFi is a new company bringing a new vision to the student loan industry, with programs and features that aren't included anywhere else.
SoFi is a new type of student loan company. With so many changes in regulations, the student loan industry has shifted along with the practice of companies that offer private student loans. These are private loans in addition to the federal student loans, the Stafford and Plus loans. Private student loan companies, including SoFi, encourage their lenders to exhaust all federal aid before turning to private student loans. SoFi takes a different approach to student loans than other private student loan companies by offering peer-to-peer loans.
This peer-to-peer lending allows SoFi to be more competitive with its interest rates and lending programs. SoFi also offers features like unemployment protection and career assistance that other private student loan companies don't offer. SoFi does have a smaller lending base, so it is more difficult to be approved for a SoFi loan. As of this review, So-Fi offers parent loans and student loan refinancing. Yet, for qualified individuals, there are many benefits of going with SoFi to finance and consolidate your college loans, making SoFi the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner.
SoFi offers three types of loans: parent undergraduate loans to be used by students that are currently enrolled in school, parent graduate loans to be used by students of all qualified graduate programs, and private student loan consolidation for both federal and private college loans. Since the change in student loan regulation, this is a full array of private student lending options. The loan limit that SoFi offers on its parent loans is up to the cost of attendance. This is the maximum amount you can borrow, in addition to your federal loans, from SoFi to supplement your income.
SoFi is very selective of whom they approve for loans and only look for excellent clients with good employment history, current employment, strong monthly cash flow and excellent FICO scores.
SoFi offers both variable- and fixed-rate loans, a feature common from the best private student loans. The rates on a SoFi loan are very competitive when compared with the other student loan companies in our review.
Two of the unique features that SoFi offers are unemployment protection and career support. Traditional private student loan companies offer very little in the way of financial relief should you lose your employment during the repayment term of your college loans. SoFi offers unemployment protection to customers that lose their job through no fault of their own. SoFi will suspend your monthly SoFi loan payments and provide you with job-placement assistance during your forbearance period. While your payments will stop, interest will still accrue on the loan.
Career support is another unique program offered by SoFi in the private student loan industry. SoFi offers complimentary services to help you improve your employment opportunities. These services include free interview coaching, resume review and networking tactics. One feature that SoFi doesn't include that is offered by most other private student loan companies is a cost calculator on its website. These cost calculators are ideal for budgeting and helping to determine the proper amount to borrow.
SoFi offers a standard grace period of six months. This grace period is used to help you find employment after graduating before you are forced to begin paying back your student loan debt. Interest still accrues during this period, and there is no penalty if you want to make an interest payment or not use the entire grace period.
SoFi has three terms that apply to its loans. The variety of term options is a plus as you are applying for student loans for your children. There are different base interest rates assigned to each term, so if you aren't borrowing much more than the offered federal student loans, it could be very beneficial to finance at a shorter term. Most other lenders only offer one term.
You can make payments to your SoFi loan online, or you can set up an automatic payment that pays a set part of the loan each month. The benefit of using automatic payments is that it you can qualify for a reduction on your interest rate.
Help & Support
The help and support options for SoFi are similar to the vast majority of private student loan companies. The website includes a good FAQs section that highlights the differences between SoFi and traditional lenders. It also helps you to find quick answers to common questions that many students and parents have about student loans. If you are looking for more-detailed answers, then you can either email or call the company. The phone support for SoFi is prompt and helpful.
SoFi is a new way of finding private student loans. The peer-to-peer lending, while more difficult to qualify for, offers massive amounts of benefits you simply cannot find with a traditional lender. SoFi is a great place to start looking if you want to refinance your existing student debt or if you are a parent looking to find a loan to help a child pay for college.