SoFi Loans Review: Rates, Options, And Public Opinion

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SoFi loans provide some of the most competitive student loan refinance rates. In addition, SoFi loans for personal finance and mortgages are also available. SoFi members have access to business and social networking opportunities. They also enjoy financial education opportunities, mentoring, and entrepreneur mentorship programs. Compared to other types of loans, SoFi loans have lower interest rates and fees but have much more stringent qualifying standards. Read on to find out how SoFi loans differ from other loan types. 

What Is SoFi Loans?

SoFi is short for social finance. As the name implies, this company operates under a different philosophy than traditional lending institutions. Most lenders are impersonal. They base lending decisions on the numbers. They grow by increasing the number of loans on their books. As a result, they are short on customer service and fully automate many processes. From their point of view, customers are an account number in a vast sea of money. There is absolutely nothing social about the big lenders of today.

SoFi was founded by a group of Stanford business school graduates. They saw an opportunity to turn SoFi loans into a holistic system that provides customers with more than funding. Like a credit union, SoFi has members instead of customers. Members qualify for below-average interest rates and save substantially on their monthly payments. Also, they receive perks that include SoFi-sponsored networking events, investing and financial planning seminars, and job search assistance. SoFi also provides mentorship and social networking.

Members also receive dividends. As members pay down their SoFi loans, that money is used to generate new loans that increase SoFi’s profits. Members then receive dividend payments on those profits. No other lender provides a profit-sharing structure. The idea is for members to support the network so that SoFi remains liquid and profitable.

Member payments are contributions to the growth of SoFi loans, and the dividends reward members. This is the opposite model from big Wall Street banks where customers make payments and dividends go to stockholders.

SoFi provides student loans, mortgages, and personal loans. Student loans are its largest segment. SoFi offers refinancing for student loans but does not provide direct loans for students. Student loan refinancing is available for parent and student borrowers. Members can apply for mortgages and personal loans directly.

The company bases its operations in California. It provides US-based customer service. Reviews posted by SoFi members rank customer service as one of its strengths. Customer service agents are helpful and work hard to find solutions for members. Members also report substantial savings compared to other lenders.

SoFi offers some of the lowest interest rates for student loans, mortgages, and personal loans. Negative reviews result from a higher-than-average rate of application rejections. Part of the reason SoFi has such low rates is its stringent membership requirements.

Many reviews also report a lack of transparency in the company’s qualification standards. Most large banks make it easy for customers to understand the requirements. Often, a certain credit score and income level guarantee acceptance.

With such simple, concrete acceptance standards, applicants know why they don’t qualify and can easily set a goal of meeting the standards in the future. SoFi looks at additional factors and does not always make it clear why a particular application was denied. Here are some of its standard requirements:

  • Good to excellent credit score
  • No late payments or defaults
  • No bankruptcy, foreclosure, or other life events
  • No collections
  • No legal judgments against the applicant
  • Strong monthly cash flow
  • Excellent employment record
  • High education level
  • High income ($100,000 average)
  • Upstart

Some reviewers point out they meet the above criteria, and SoFi still rejected them. It’s important to note that these are minimum requirements. Just meeting them does not guarantee success because the application is a competitive process. When SoFi must choose between applicants, it favors those with higher incomes, stronger employment or educational records, larger cash flows, more financial stability and who are a better fit for SoFi’s networking and social events.

Product Specs

SoFi provides student loan refinancing services but does not provide original student loans. Its rates are far better than most student loans. Those who qualify for a SoFi loan enjoy rates below those from government-backed lenders. Because SoFi provides private student loans, members refinance out of the federal loan program. Though this decreases their interest rate, it also makes them ineligible for government programs that help borrowers manage their student loans.

All borrowers in the federal loan program have the automatic right to forbearances and deferments. These options suspend payments during periods of low income, unemployment, medical or family emergencies, and even while encountering debt stress or unexpected expenses. Many students find they cannot produce enough income to manage their student loan payments in the long term. Federal loans provide several income-based repayment options that reduce payments to levels students can afford.

SoFi offers unemployment protection. If the borrower involuntarily loses his or her job, SoFi allows a payment suspension of up to 12 months. Most private student loan lenders allow for no payment suspensions. This is a large reason for private student loan defaults. Those who miss several private student loan payments are subjected to collections, damage to their credit score, and ultimately a lawsuit that results in wage garnishment and other asset seizures. Private student loans are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Private student loans are suited for people who would never use the federal loan programs that allow for payment suspensions of income-based repayment plans. SoFi would not approve an application that needs these programs; however, applicants should consider the possibility of an unexpected change, such as a seismic shift in the economy or the development of a disabling medical condition.

If a person is negatively impacted by events like these, the federal programs will relieve them of monthly payment obligations he or she can no longer afford.


  • Fixed rates between 3.25 and 7.75 percent
  • Variable rates between 2.89 and 8.0 percent
  • 5,7,10,15, and 20-year loan terms
  • $5,000 minimum loan amount
  • $10,000 minimum for medical and dental student loans

How It Compares

We picked a few similar companies to see how they compare. We reviewed using a five-star rating system.

  • Hard Money Loans
  • General Purpose Business Loan
  • Auto Refinance Loans
  • SoFi Loans
  • Interest Rate
  • Loan Options
  • Public Opinion
  • Loan Terms

SoFi loans have no application or origination fees. For those who qualify, SoFi provides one of the most cost-effective options.

SoFi offers highly competitive interest rates. Personal loan interest rates range between 6.99 and 14.99 percent. For student loans, fixed rates range from 3.25 to 7.75 percent, and variable rates range between 2.89 and 8.0 percent.

SoFi offers student loans, mortgages and personal loans.

SoFi members have a high opinion of the company’s interest rates and customer service. Some reviews indicate that applicants are turned down despite good credit and meeting financial requirements.

Student loan terms range between seven and 20 years; personal loans range between 36 and 84 months.


  • Excellent customer service
  • Highly competitive interest rates
  • Business and social networking opportunities


  • Stringent qualification standards
  • Student loans do not qualify for federal programs like the Income-Based Repayment Plan.
  • Lack of transparency in qualification standards

Hard Money Loans

Hard money loans are short-term loans for real estate. They average 12 months, but some can be as long as two to five years. Private investors fund hard money loans as opposed to banks or credit unions. Hard money lenders base approval on the amount of equity in a home rather than credit history.

As a result, they have high-interest rates and fees. Borrowers use hard money loans to save their home from a foreclosure proceeding, as temporary funding while the home is being sold, or to acquire an investment property quickly with the intent of refinancing or reselling within the short term of the loan.

  • Interest Rate
  • Loan Options
  • Public Opinion
  • Loan Terms

Hard money loans are far more expensive than conventional mortgages.


Interest rates are an average of ten points above a conventional mortgage.

Hard money loans provide flexible terms. Because they are not based on creditworthiness, they provide quick funding to distressed homeowners or investors who want to acquire a property right away.

Public opinion is often negative because of high rates and fees. Because many of these loans are given to distressed property owners, a high rate of hard money loans result in foreclosure.

The flexibility in terms and ease of qualification are the primary reasons borrowers elect for hard money loans.


  • Easy to qualify if you have equity
  • Quick funding
  • Flexible terms


  • High-interest rates
  • Giant fees
  • Foreclosures or forced sales happen often

General Purpose Business Loan

Business loans are granted from a variety of brick-and-mortar banks and online lending sources. Many general business loans are Small Business Administration loans. These loans are provided by a bank but guaranteed by the SBA. Because of this guarantee, these loans must conform to SBA standards.

All loans require a personal guarantee from the owner(s). The assets of the business and those acquired with loan funds are considered collateral. Banks may require additional collateral, such as real estate owned by the business owner.

  • Interest Rate
  • Loan Options
  • Public Opinion
  • Loan Terms

Business loans come with fees that equal several percentage points of the loan amount, which is taken out of the loan proceeds. SBA loans under $$$ have no fees.


The average interest rate for business loans in 2018 was 4 to 6 percent.

There are many options including SBA loans, online business loans, and merchant cash advances.

Few businesses can start and continue operations without access to loans. Public opinion is positive, but in times of economic contraction, seizure of collateral becomes an issue. Often, the business needs the collateral to continue running.

SBA loan terms range between five and 25 years. Online loans range between 3 months and five years. Merchant cash advance terms range between three and 18 months.


  • Flexible terms
  • Low-interest rates
  • High loan limits


  • The owner must give a personal guarantee
  • The owner may need to pledge home as collateral
  • Business assets subject to seizure as collateral

Auto Refinance Loans

Auto refinance loans save consumers millions of dollars every year. When interest rates drop, shopping for auto refinance loans is a great idea. Borrowers who have improved their credit recently can benefit from auto refinance loans at any time.

  • Interest Rate
  • Loan Options
  • Public Opinion
  • Loan Terms

Auto refinance loans have low fees, usually ranging from $ to $$.


Auto finance loans for people with good credit range between three and eight percent.

A wide selection of banks provide loans. Loans are available for all credit and income levels.

Most people perceive auto refinance loans as a way to save money.

Auto refinance loan terms range between 24 and 72 months.


  • Low fees
  • Flexible terms
  • Vehicle owners save money


  • People with poor credit pay high-interest rates
  • Longer terms lead to severe negative equity


SoFi provides 5-star loan terms and service compared to other private student loan lenders. Its signature networking, mentoring and business development programs can’t be found at other student loan lenders. Also, members of SoFi can qualify for personal loans and mortgages. SoFi loans are not for everyone. They have exceptionally stringent qualifying standards, which is a big reason SoFi loans offer such low rates.

Students with federal loans should be wary of refinancing with a private lender. Once out of the federal program, they lose access to income-based repayment plans and automatic forbearances and deferments. These programs are especially important because student loans are ineligible for a discharge in bankruptcy.

Students with balances at other private lenders should apply for a refinance of their private student loan debt with SoFi. Students may want to keep federal loans in the federal program because of the income-based and forbearance options.

Compared to other private student loan lenders, we give SoFi 5 stars.


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