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Published: Jul 21, 2022 13 min read
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Whether you’re looking for private student loans as an undergrad or loans to help pay for a law or MBA degree, SoFi likely has options available for you. SoFi offers competitive rates and multiple repayment options, but it stands out for the added benefits and discounts it offers to members.

SoFi customers can take advantage of member benefits like interest rate discounts, career coaching and free advice from a credentialed financial planner, making it our choice for the top student loan lender for added perks.

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SoFi Student Loans Overview

Founded in 2011 as a student loan refinancing company, SoFi has expanded its services to include in-school private student loans. It offers loans for undergraduate students, graduate students and parent borrowers, and it allows borrowers to choose between fixed interest rates and variable interest rates.

Pros
  • No loan maximums
  • Deferment options for borrowers experiencing financial difficulties
  • SoFi members get access to extra benefits
Cons
  • Loans not available to all borrowers
  • Very good to excellent credit required
  • Higher-than-typical loan minimums

Students attending private colleges or enrolling in law school or medical school can quickly reach the loan maximums for federal loans and some private loans. But with SoFi, students can borrow up to the school-certified total cost of attendance.

SoFi has multiple options for borrowers experiencing financial issues, such as postponing payments if you lose your job or have damage to your home. As a SoFi member, you can also take advantage of benefits like financial advice, career coaching, estate planning and exclusive member experiences.

However, not all borrowers are eligible for SoFi loans. To qualify for a private student loan, you must be enrolled in a four-year program at least half-time. Those pursuing an associate degree are not eligible.

Borrowers typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for a loan. SoFi doesn’t specify its minimum credit score or income requirements. However, SoFi reported that the weighted average FICO credit score for originated student loans was 774 for borrowers in 2021. According to Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, a score of 774 is in the “very good” range. If your credit score is in the poor to fair range, you’ll likely need a cosigner to get a loan.

Also keep in mind that the minimum loan amount for private student loans or student loan refinancing with SoFi is $5,000. Other lenders have loan minimums as low as $1,000.

SoFi’s Services

SoFi is best known for student loan refinancing, but it also offers multiple types of private student loans. SoFi provides loan options for undergraduate, graduate, medical school and law school students, as well as parents who want to help their children pay for college.

What they offer: Private student loans

SoFi Private Student Loans
Undergrad Graduate School Medical School MBA or Law School Parent
Loan Amounts $5,000 to total cost of attendance $5,000 to total cost of attendance $5,000 to total cost of attendance $5,000 to total cost of attendance $5,000 to total cost of attendance
Loan Repayment Terms 5, 7, 10, 15 years 5, 7, 10, 15 years 5, 7, 10, 15 years 5, 7, 10, 15 years 5, 7, 10, 15 years
Repayment Options Deferred
Interest-only
Partial
Immediate
Deferred
Interest-only
Partial
Immediate
Deferred
Interest-only
Partial
Immediate
Deferred
Interest-only
Partial
Immediate
Interest-only
Immediate
Interest Rates Fixed: 3.75% - 13.30%
Variable: 1.89% - 11.98%
Fixed: 4.75% - 13.30%
Variable: 2.59% - 11.98%
Fixed: 4.75% - 13.30%
Variable: 2.59% - 11.98%
Fixed: 4.75% - 12.65%
Variable: 2.64% - 11.98%
Fixed: 4.48% - 13.55%
Variable: 1.69% - 11.98%
Interest rates are current as of July 1, 2022. Rates include 0.25% autopay discount.

With SoFi’s private student loans, you can borrow between $5,000 and 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance. Loan terms range from five to 15 years, and all loans — with the exception of parent student loans — have four repayment options:

  • Deferred: With SoFi’s deferred payment plan, you don’t make payments while you’re in school, and you have a six-month grace period after graduating or leaving school before you have to start paying toward the principal and interest.
  • Interest-only: While you’re in school on an interest-only plan, you only make payments toward the accrued interest.
  • Partial: If you opt for a partial payment plan, you pay a flat $25 monthly payment while you’re in school.
  • Immediate: Immediate repayment has the lowest overall cost, but you have to start making payments against the principal and interest while you’re in school.

Parent student loan borrowers are only eligible for interest-only and immediate loan payments.

Borrowers, particularly those with no credit history, can improve their chances of qualifying for a loan by adding a cosigner to their loan application. As borrowers build their credit scores and incomes, they may be eligible for a cosigner release, in which they remove the cosigner from the loan. Borrowers can apply for cosigner release after making 24 consecutive monthly payments on time.

SoFi does not charge origination fees when you take out a private loan, nor does it charge late fees or prepayment penalties.

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What don’t they offer?

Although SoFi has a variety of loan options, there are some limitations to consider:

  • International students aren’t eligible for loans: To qualify for a SoFi loan, you must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or non-permanent resident alien. International students are not eligible.
  • Borrowers must be enrolled at least half-time: Borrowers must be enrolled on at least a half-time basis. Students that are enrolled part-time cannot get a SoFi loan.
  • Students must be pursuing four-year or graduate degrees: SoFi student loans can only be used to pay for four-year colleges and universities and graduate programs. If you’re planning on earning an associate degree, you’ll have to look for another lender.

SoFi’s Credentials

SoFi is subject to rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that supervise non-bank loan servicers, since SoFi’s loans are serviced by MOHELA, a third-party student loan servicer. The rules are designed to ensure that all large servicers follow the same rules in the student loan servicing market.

In January 2022, SoFi received regulatory approval to become a bank holding company, and it acquired Golden Pacific Bank. Rebranding itself as SoFi Bank, SoFi used this development to broaden its product offerings to include a credit card and checking account, as well as fund its loans.

Licenses and Registrations

SoFi holds state licenses in 50 states, so it can offer loans nationwide.

Awards and Certifications

Investor’s Business Daily selected SoFi as winner of the Best in FinTech award, with high ratings for customer satisfaction and ease of use.

Third-Party Ratings

Although SoFi has been rated for its mortgage products, its student loan options have not been rated by credit rating agencies.

Regulatory Actions

SoFi has dealt with some regulatory issues regarding the marketing on its loan refinancing. But it hasn’t faced any regulatory actions related to its in-school private student loans.

On the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) complaint database, 628 consumer complaints were submitted about SoFi between June 12, 2019, and June 12, 2022. Of those complaints, 166 were about student loans and credit reporting. The most common complaints concerned issues around getting a loan and incorrect information appearing on credit reports.

SoFi’s Accessibility

SoFi aims to provide comprehensive customer support with educational resources and live customer service staff.

Availability

SoFi doesn’t operate in-person branches or facilities. Users apply for private student loans entirely online.

Contact Information

During the application process, you can contact SoFi with questions by chat or phone. SoFi’s student loan support team is available Monday through Thursday from 5:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. PST, and Friday through Sunday from 5:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. CST.

User Experience

SoFi’s website is easy to navigate, and you can use the prequalify option to view your rates without affecting your credit score. You can fill out the form to see available options in just a few minutes.

Once you choose a loan and submit an application, SoFi will perform a hard credit inquiry.

SoFi also provides users with a robust library of educational resources about student loan debt, refinancing and other financial topics. Options include articles and loan calculators, and users can also use their SoFi membership to get free personalized advice from a credentialed financial planner.

Limitations

SoFi doesn’t offer 24/7 customer support, and its team can only answer questions about the application and disbursement processes. After you take out a loan through SoFi, you have to work with another company.

Like many lenders, SoFi doesn’t service the loans it originates. Instead, it contracts with a third-party company to handle loan servicing. If you are a SoFi borrower and have questions about monthly payments, interest or repayment options you will have to contact the Higher Education Authority of the State of Missouri (MOHELA).

You can reach MOHELA at 877-292-7470, or you can send a secure message online. MOHELA’s customer support team is available Monday through Thursday from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. CST, and on Fridays from 7:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. CST.

You can also create an online account at SoFi.Mohela.com to make payments and view your account.

SoFi’s Customer Satisfaction

Generally, SoFi has positive ratings for customer support in its student loan segment. However, it offers a range of other products, including life insurance, investment options and mortgages, so some of its ratings have been lowered due to common issues with those products.

Customer Complaints

On TrustPilot, SoFi has a score of 2.5 out of five based on over 2,500 reviews, putting it in the “poor” category. The lowest-rated reviews typically concern other financial products, particularly denials of personal loans and delays on home loan closings. For student loan issues, the most common issues were getting a higher interest rate than expected or applications being denied.

Similarly, SoFi has a 1.26 out of five rating with the Better Business Bureau based on approximately 100 reviews. Common problems reported to the BBB concerned issues with SoFi’s banking products and loan denials.

Third-Party Ratings

Although SoFi is not rated by third-party organizations specifically for its student loan products, it was ranked in the 2022 J.D. Power U.S. Consumer Lending Satisfaction Study.

The study rated leading personal loan lenders based on customer satisfaction with loan application processes, loan management, shopping and loan terms. In the study, SoFi was ranked eighth out of 22 lenders. It received a score of 738 out of a possible 1,000, and its score was higher than the segment average.

SoFi FAQ

What credit score do you need for SoFi student loans?

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SoFi doesn't publicly list its minimum credit score requirements. However, its annual report stated that the average weighted score of student loan borrowers that were awarded loans was 774 — a very good score based on the FICO scale, which ranges from 300 to 850. To get the lowest rates, you will likely need an even higher credit score.

What are the rates for SoFi student loans?

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For its private student loans, rates depend on the level of study you choose, your credit and the loan term you choose. In general, the starting interest rates on undergraduate loans are lower than those for graduate students or parent borrowers. Fixed interest rates start as low as 3.47%, while variable interest rates are as low as 1.69%. The lowest-advertised rates include a 0.25% autopay discount.

Is SoFi trustworthy?

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SoFi is a reputable and trustworthy lender. It's regulated by multiple authorities, including the CFPB, and is licensed in all 50 states.

What is the most significant difference between SoFi and Sallie Mae?

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Both Sallie Mae and SoFi are well-known lenders. The biggest difference between them is that Sallie Mae doesn't offer student loan refinancing. If you're looking to refinance your loans to save money, reduce your payments or pay off your loans faster, Sallie Mae isn't an option.
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How We Evaluated SoFi Student Loans

We compared SoFi with 18 other leading lenders to see how it measured up. To evaluate SoFi’s student loans, we looked at its available loan options, interest rates, repayment terms, customer service, financial hardship policies and other benefits, with particular emphasis on in-school repayment options and alternative payment options available to borrowers facing financial difficulties.

Summary of Money’s SoFi Review

For borrowers with very good to excellent credit — or those who have a cosigner with a credit score in that range — SoFi provides competitive interest rates and multiple repayment options. Where it stands out from other lenders is in its member benefits. SoFi members can take advantage of additional discounts on future loans — including mortgages or personal loans — career coaching, unemployment protection and other perks that other lenders don’t provide.

However, SoFi isn’t for everyone. It typically requires very good credit scores. If you don’t meet the lender’s requirements, you’ll likely have to work with another lender.

To view more options, check out our picks for the best student loans of 2022.