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SoFi Review

Wednesday, June 29th

2022 Student Loan Provider Reviews

SoFi Review 4 Star Rating

SoFi

4 Star Rating
  • Loans up to 100% of school-certified attendance costs, minimum loan is $5,000
  • Very competitive rates for both fixed-rate and variable-rate loans
  • 0.25% discount on interest rate when making automatic payments
  • No fees of any kind (origination, application, NSF)
  • US-based customer support
  • Available to residents of all 50 states plus Washington DC
  • Many loan types available: undergraduate, career training, graduate/MBA, medical/dental/law school, parent
  • Can be enrolled half- or full-time

SoFi got its start back in 2011 as an alumni-funded lending model founded by Stanford business school students, and in 2012 they became the first company offering refinancing options for both federal and private student loans. SoFi launched its own student loans program in 2019, with the goal of helping students cover educational costs more easily. Across all of their financial products, which include personal loans, mortgages, and even crypto, SoFi has over two million members and more than $50 billion in funded loans. This is clearly a company that knows how to lend money!

Broad eligibility requirements

Most students will qualify for a loan with SoFi. Residents of all 50 states and DC are eligible for SoFi loans, which range from basic undergraduate studies to graduate programs, medical school, and so on. You also only have to be enrolled half-time (or more): a big plus over lenders that require full-time enrollment to get a loan. However, students enrolled in associate's degree programs aren't eligible for student loans here.

Minimum loan of $5,000, no fees

You can borrow up to 100% of your school-certified attendance costs, which covers everything from tuition and books to room and board, travel, and laptops or other necessary equipment. The minimum loan amount, regardless of the type of student loan (i.e. undergraduate, graduate, dental school, etc.) is $5,000. We love that this provider charges absolutely no fees: you'll never be charged for applying, for your loan's origination, or even for an "insufficient funds" situation.

No credit score impact to check your rates

Checking your loan rates won't affect your credit score, but you'll need to create an account to see them. The process will ask you for your contact information, your date of birth and citizenship, whether you're applying as a student/parent/cosigner, your school and estimated graduation date, year in school, and several other details. (As an aside, it was interesting to see how much SoFi had funded for different schools: over $30 million to students and alumni of University of Central Florida, over $260 million for Harvard students, and so on.) We encourage you to go through this process to find all of the rates and options you prequalify for. In our case, on a $12,000 loan, we were given fixed-rate loan offers and variable-rate loan offers that seemed to be on the higher side (despite having a credit score of 800+ and sufficient income).

Best Student Loan Providers

Many combinations of loan types and repayment terms

SoFi's student loans have terms of 5, 7, 10 or 15 years. You'll typically choose among four repayment plans on student loans here: full immediate repayment, interest-only payments while in school, fixed $25/month payments while in school, or no payments while in school and up to 6 months after graduation. SoFi makes it easy to see every possible combination of rates, interest rates, and repayment terms until you're left with a list just with the student loans that best match your needs.

Get perks that help you succeed

SoFi student loans come with an attractive array of perks. You'll get the 0.25% autopay discount offered by most lenders, but if you're a SoFi member with another product (like auto insurance or investment accounts) you'll get an additional discount on the interest rate on your student loan. Also, SoFi has several partners, like Grammarly, Coursera and Evernote; you'll get 3-6 months of access to those services with your loan. That demonstrates an admirable commitment to student success that goes above and beyond what many financial institutions offer.

Some mixed feedback about loans

How about reputation? Because SoFi has so many financial products, including several types of loans, most client feedback isn't limited strictly to educational funding. Overall, SoFi is about average. They've got an "A+" with the Better Business Bureau but no accreditation; that could be related to the number of complaints filed there (150 over the last 12 months alone) or the fact that there was an FTC action that wasn't resolved until 2019. The majority of the negative comments on the BBB site mention frozen accounts, missing referral bonuses, or delays in disbursing loan funds. Going beyond the BBB listing, we found students who said that loans were funded slowly (up to six weeks) and that interest rates were much higher than rival lenders' - and higher than what students expected based on the rates advertised while going through the prequalification process. That lines up with our experience as well.

Good enough for most students

SoFi winds up with a better-than-average rating, mostly because they offer so many possible combinations of loan types and repayment terms, and because their student loans are available even to students who aren't enrolled in school full-time. However, SoFi's higher-than-most interest rates and somewhat lackluster client feedback keep this lender from earning the best ranking among providers of educational loans.

Where Can You Find the Best Student Loans?

With 45% of high school graduates finding it necessary to take on student debt to finance their higher learning, that's an important question to answer. While most student loan debt comes from federal loans, some people discover that their government loans just aren't enough to cover the full costs of tuition, room and board, expensive textbooks, and everything else necessary for their college education.

If you find yourself in that situation - for your studies or your children's - you might get overwhelmed trying to figure out where the money will come from. And even once you've selected a lender, you still need to decide what repayment terms are best. Fixed- or variable-rate? Interest-only or small fixed repayments while still in school or fully deferred for 6-9 months after graduation? Repaying over five years or twenty? There are a lot of factors to consider that are unique to you.

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Student Loan Provider FAQ

Most students need a loan to fund the full cost of their college education. While the majority of student loans in the United States come through federal programs, there are also private loans available. You usually have to start making repayments on student loans six months after your last semester, though you can start sooner if you wish. Student loans often have repayment terms of at least 10 years.
Yes, very easily. If you're applying for federal student loans, you'll complete the FAFSA online. For private student loans, there are several ways to apply: either directly with a financial institution, like Discover or Wells Fargo, or using a platform that connects you with multiple lenders using a single quote request or application.
Unlike many other types of borrowing, student loans are designed to be affordable - it's rare to be charged an application or origination fee, and you should be able to pay off your loan early with no penalties. Interest rates are also much lower than credit cards and personal loans, and you'll usually have very long repayment terms: starting 6 months after your last semester and often stretching 10 years into the future. Expect interest rates between 1% and 6%, but watch out for fixed vs. variable APRs.
Your student loan will probably be disbursed directly to your school, not deposited to your personal bank account. That's a good thing if you want to ensure that your loan money actually gets used for your education! Because the process requires your school to certify the loan amount, the process can take a few days or more. It's a wise idea to start the loan application process early, to make sure there's plenty of time to meet your school's payment deadlines.
If you have a financial hardship or other eligible circumstance, you can request to defer your student loan repayments. Most lenders allow you to suspend your payments for up to three years if you qualify. Contact the servicer of your student loan to find out what requirements you need to meet to defer your loan.
Forbearance is similar to deferring your student loan payments. If you don't qualify for a deferral but still can't pay your student loan, you might be able to get your payments reduced or suspended temporarily, for up to 12 months. You'll need to get in touch with the servicer of your student loan to see if you're eligible for a forbearance arrangement.
In limited circumstances, yes. It usually depends on the type of student loan you have, the lender, and your situation. Student loans may be forgiven (or, essentially, written off) in the event of the disability or death of the borrower; issues with the school, like closure, error or fraud; income-driven repayment plans or employment-based forgiveness programs.
Yes, most of the time. Tax laws are changing constantly, but in the past students have been able to reduce taxable income by as much as $2,500 based on student loan interest paid, as long as they meet eligibility criteria (like having a qualified student loan that was used exclusively for educational expenses).
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Fortunately, there are quite a few providers of student loans that can help you not only figure out those answers but also connect you with the money you need to pay for school. Many of them can even prequalify you for a loan with just your name, address and birthdate, with no impact on your credit report. Rest assured that millions of students (and many of their parents) have successfully navigated this process - and you can too.

Here are several aspects of student loan providers to keep in mind as you decide which ones merit further consideration:

  • Referral service or direct lender: Some sites serve as a comparison shopping platform, allowing you to get preliminary information about what loans might be available to you. These referral services may or may not use your information to complete some of the first steps of the application process. Other student loan sites directly connect you with the funding you need.
  • Interest rates. Don't be overly impressed by the super-low interest rates posted by any student loan provider: they almost always come with the caveat that only the "most qualified" candidates qualify for the best rates (and we've yet to find anyone that actually got a loan with rates that low). Just make sure that the rate you're offered is reasonable and competitive with other loans.
  • Repayment options. There are so many different ways to configure a student loan, like repayment terms ranging from 5-20 years, fixed and variable rates, and repayments either while still in school or deferred until after graduation. The more choices available to you, the more likely it is that you'll get loan terms you can afford.
  • Loan servicing. Getting a student loan is just the beginning. Take into account what other students have said about the experience after the application has been approved. Are funds disbursed quickly? Does the customer service team handle issues well? Can you expect any unpleasant surprises (like payments not being recorded accurately or not being able to reach support)?

To help you get the funds you need for your education, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best options for student loans today. We're confident that this information will make it possible to find the right way to cover the costs of your tuition, books and more!

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