10 Things You Should Know About SoFi Student Loan Refinance

Written by: Matt Kuncaitis
Updated: 4/30/21

Refinancing could be a way to lower your interest rates, lower your monthly payments, or pay off your loans faster. This article will tell you everything you need to know about SoFi’s student loan refinancing program.

Social Finance (SoFi) was founded in 2011 by four students who met at Stanford Graduate School of Business. When SoFi introduced its signature product, student loan refinancing, in 2012, it became the first company to refinance federal and private student loans. 

Since then, the company has expanded its financial services, including loan refinancing for medical residents and fellows, mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, insurance, investing, and deposit accounts. To date, SoFi has recorded over $30 billion in refinanced student loans for more than 375,000 members. 

Is SoFi Good for Refinancing Student Loans?

SoFi is the pioneer of student loan refinancing, and their program could be the right fit for you. Follow along below as we explore their eligibility requirements, most current interest rates, and the perks and borrower protections they provide for members. 

At first glance, here’s what you can expect with SoFi:

  • SoFi’s customers automatically become members, which comes with additional perks like career planning, financial advice, and entrepreneurship support.
  • SoFi offers refinancing for federal and private student loans, parent PLUS loans in the parent’s or the student’s name, and student loan refinancing for medical residents and fellows.
  • With SoFi, you can check if you qualify and at what rate without a hard credit check.
  • SoFi refinances loans for borrowers with an associate degree or higher.
  • SoFi doesn’t offer co-signer release for borrowers.
  • SoFi uses MOHELA as their loan servicer for student loans.

Eligibility

SoFi was the first company to refinance student loans, which may be why they have tough criteria for qualifying. Here are SoFi’s eligibility requirements for student loan refinancing and parent PLUS loan refinancing:

  • You’ve reached the age of majority in your state and can enter into a binding contract.
  • You are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or a visa holder. Permanent residents must have more than two years of status validity or have filed an extension. Visa holders must have a valid visa and proof of an approved application for a green card, including either an approval notice for Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker or receipt of Application to Register Permanent Residence.
  • You must live in a state where SoFi is authorized to lend. 
  • You must be employed or have an offer of employment to start within the next 90 days.
  • You have graduated with an associate degree or higher from a school that processes U.S. federal student aid.
  • You also need to qualify based on several additional factors, such as your financial history, credit score, strong cash flow, and debt-to-income ratio. Additionally, you must meet their underwriting criteria. 

Borrowers who are non-permanent resident aliens or DACA recipients need to apply with a creditworthy co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident by calling 877-936-2269. 

Refinancing Minimums and Maximums

With SoFi, you can borrow up to the full balance of your qualified education loans. The minimum amount you can refinance on your student loans or parent PLUS loans is $5,000, but that figure may be higher in specific states due to legal requirements. For medical and dental resident student loan refinancing, though, the minimum loan amount is $10,001.

Some lenders may offer lower minimum loan amounts for refinancing compared to SoFi. Since student borrowers reportedly owe an average of nearly $40,000 each in education loans, a $5,000 minimum may not pose a significant barrier to qualifying.

Repayment Plans

SoFi offers loan terms of five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years. To check how much you can potentially save by refinancing your student loan debts with SoFi, use their Student Loan Refinancing Calculator. Input your current loan information and the tool will show your estimated savings — both monthly and over the life of your loan. 

SoFi’s repayment terms are the same as most private lenders, except for their unique repayment plan for refinanced student debts of medical and dental residents and fellows. SoFi allows residents to make minimum monthly payments of $100 on their debt until the end of their residency or fellowship program, up to 54 months. This is a huge benefit for residents and fellows in training and not earning a full physician’s salary but carrying large amounts of education debt.

Interest Rates

SoFi’s interest rates for student loan refinancing are:

  • Fixed APR: 2.99%–6.88% (with autopay)
  • Variable APR: 2.25%–6.42% (with autopay)

SoFi’s medical and dental student loan refinancing rates are: 

  • Fixed APR: 3.12%–7.38% (with autopay)
  • Variable APR: 2.37%–7.37% (with autopay)

These are SoFi’s interest rates for parent PLUS refinancing:

  • Fixed APR: 2.99%–6.04% (with autopay)
  • Variable APR: 2.24%–5.59% (with autopay)

SoFi uses the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) to set interest rates for loans. LIBOR is an interest rate benchmark commonly used by banks and other lenders to set rates for loans. If you refinance with a variable rate loan, you’ll see your loan’s APR and monthly payment fluctuate depending on the index’s rise or fall. Rates are typically adjusted monthly.

If you’re confused about why interest rates are listed as APR, here’s a little definition to clarify. An interest rate is a percentage of the loan amount added to the total payment as the fee for borrowing money. APR stands for annual percentage rate. It’s a broader measure of the cost of borrowing money since it reflects the interest rate and fees you have to pay to get the loan.

Interest Rate Discounts

There are two ways to benefit from SoFi’s interest rate discounts:

  • Receive a 0.125% interest rate discount on an additional SoFi loan of a different type. For instance, if you refinance your student loans with SoFi and then decide to take out a personal loan, you will receive a 0.125% interest discount on the personal loan. 
  • Get a 0.25% interest rate reduction when you apply for autopay. To receive the discount, MOHELA needs to approve your application for automatic payments electronically.

Here’s some important information about SoFi’s autopay program:

  • The program requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account.
  • The autopay rate reduction only remains in effect while you’re actively participating in the program.
  • You’ll lose the 0.25% interest rate reduction if you have three consecutive payments returned due to insufficient funds. 
  • If you go into forbearance, deferment, or have a grace period, any accrued interest will not be subject to any interest rate reduction from your autopay participation. 
  • The autopay rate reduction is not included in the monthly payment amount calculation; instead, the savings are applied to the principal loan balance, which may help you pay the loan down faster.

Co-Signer Policies

Since SoFi looks at your financial history, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio to qualify for refinancing, having a creditworthy co-signer can strengthen your profile and may get you a lower interest rate. 

SoFi, however, encourages borrowers to apply first to give them a chance to process information. You can add a co-signer by logging into your account to enter their name and email address in the application. SoFi will send them an invitation to consent as a co-signer, enter their information, and supply necessary documents. 

You’ll also need to let your co-signer know that SoFi doesn’t offer any co-signer release. Co-signers could only be removed if you chose to refinance your loan and qualify on your own (though SoFi does discharge loans in the case of a borrower’s death so the loan does not become a burden of the co-signer). 

SoFi doesn’t discharge loans in the event of a co-signer’s death, however. They’re simply removed from the contract. Be sure to read your promissory note so you are clear on these terms. 

Parent PLUS Refinancing

SoFi’s parent PLUS refinancing has the same eligibility criteria as student loan refinancing. The interest rates are capped slightly lower with fixed rates 2.99% to 6.04% APR and variable rates at 2.24% to 5.59% APR. Both rates are reduced by an autopay discount. 

SoFi also offers transfer of a parent PLUS loan to the student’s name. However, there’s no additional information provided on their website on how to proceed. If you are looking to refinance a parent PLUS loan into your child’s name, you’re encouraged to contact customer support for more details. You can call 855-456-7634.

Application and Origination Fees

Like most lenders in the industry, SoFi doesn’t charge application fees or origination fees. There are no prepayment penalties, too, if you can pay off your student loan refinance before the end of the repayment term. However, you’ll be assessed a $5 late fee if your loan is 15 days past due.

Forbearance and Deferment Options

In the case of forbearance and deferment, repayment options are at the discretion of SoFi or MOHELA, depending on permissions granted by SoFi. It’s also important to note that unpaid accrued interest may be capitalized at the end of a forbearance or deferment. Capitalization means any unpaid accrued interest will be added to the principal of your loan.

SoFi offers the following borrower protection repayment options:

  • Academic deferment: You are enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school to obtain a graduate degree.
  • Military deferment: You are serving on active duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency or performing qualifying National Guard duty during a war or other military operation or national emergency.
  • Disability deferment: You are enrolled in an approved full-time disability rehabilitation program.
  • Forbearance due to unemployment: If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you are eligible to postpone your payments for three months at a time, for up to 12 months total. You must work with SoFi’s career advisers to qualify.
  • Forbearance due to economic hardship: You may request forbearance if you are experiencing financial difficulty. This includes if you have medical expenses, you’re on medical leave from work, you’re relocating for employment purposes, you need to take care of damage expenses to your home or automobile, or you have legal fees.
  • Military mobilization forbearance: You can request to postpone payments if you are involved in a military mobilization not covered under the military deferment option.
  • Natural disaster forbearance: You can request to postpone payments if your ZIP code of residence is declared an Individual Assistance zone by FEMA due to a natural disaster.
  • National emergency forbearance: You can request to postpone payments if you are experiencing difficulty making your payments due to impacts from COVID-19.

There may be additional eligibility criteria and requirements you’ll need to show before any of the above repayment options can be granted. To determine if you qualify, call SoFi or MOHELA at 877-292-7470.

Application Perks and Borrower Benefits

Aside from competitive rates and comparable options for repayment plans, refinancing with SoFi also comes with some perks you might want to explore. 

Member benefits include:

  • Financial planning advice from credentialed advisers
  • Referral bonuses
  • Access to financial webinars, career networking, social activities, and more
  • Career coaching from an adviser to plan a career transition, search for a job, or navigate negotiation conversations
  • Unemployment protection program
  • Use of SoFi’s wealth management platform without paying any management fees

Explore the Best Student Loan Refinancing Options Today

SoFi’s student loan and parent PLUS refinancing programs are great choices if you can take advantage of the extra perks they come with. SoFi also has helpful repayment options for medical residents and fellows. 

Refinancing is a great way to manage your payments, qualify for a lower interest rate, and pay off your debts faster. If you’re looking to refinance your federal student loans, understand that you are giving up access to federal repayment programs, such as income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). You can also choose not to refinance loans where you can qualify for federal repayment programs.

Compare and prequalify if you can with several lenders to make sure you are getting the lowest rates available. Consider each lender’s borrower protection options, repayment terms, and benefits, as well. There’s no shortage of lenders, and you’re sure to find one that will suit your needs. 

At CollegeFinance.com, we help potential and current borrowers understand the ins and outs of student loans, explore loan payment options, and more. Explore our platform for resources and guides on planning, managing, and repaying your student loans. 

SoFi Student Loans Refinancing FAQ

What Are SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Rates?

SoFi’s current fixed interest rates are at 2.99% to 6.88% APR (with autopay) and the variable rates range from 2.25% to 6.42% APR (with autopay).

Does Checking My Rates on SoFi Hurt My Credit?

No, SoFi only does a soft credit pull when you check your rates, so it doesn’t affect your credit. They’ll do a hard credit check once you decide to apply, which could temporarily lower your score by a few points.

What FICO Score Does SoFi Use?

SoFi doesn’t disclose the minimum FICO score borrowers need to qualify. SoFi maintains that qualifying for a loan depends on your financial history, employment, other sources of income, debt-to-income ratio, and credit score.