Can we be honest?
 
You’re thankful for your education. But you also dread the fact that your “new normal” involves thousands of dollars of debt.

You feel stuck. But you have options. 

So today I want to give you my honest SoFi review.
 
I first found out about student loan refinancing after college, and I had no idea what it meant. Then I learned it’s a way to lower your interest rate and monthly payment.
 
I thought it sounded like a scam. But I had over $76,000 worth of debt.
 
So I threw minimum monthly payments at it and tried my best to stay afloat.
 
Then I stumbled on Erik’s book, How to Manage Your Money When You Don’t Have Any, and it inspired me to take action.
 
I started researching the best ways to pay off debt, and I stumbled upon SoFi. So let’s dive in. 

What does SoFi do?

SoFi is a personal finance company that offers student loan refinancing and personal loans. So when you find yourself on the wrong side of debt, SoFi can take a massive burden off your back.

SoFi offers two main services:

1. Student Loan Refinancing
2. Personal Loans
 
Here’s how it works:
 
Student Loan Refinancing

When you refinance your student loans, you combine one, (or all) of your existing loans into one new loan. Your new loan comes with a lower interest rate and lower monthly payments.

For example:

When I refinanced with SoFi, they lowered my interest rate from 6.03% to 4.96%.
 
This saved me $3,816 in interest.

Personal Loans

Student loan refinancing only works for student loans. Personal loans, however, work for other debt like credit cards or car loans.

Because when you get a personal loan, they loan you the money directly.

Fair warning:

Use it wisely. I encourage you to use it to pay off your high-interest debts like credit cards. In other words, don’t go on a shopping spree.

Their personal loans will also offer you a much better interest rate.

Think about it:

The average credit card interest rate is 19.24%. SoFi personal loans with fixed rates are between 5.99% and 16.34%

Much better.

Does SoFi charge any fees?

Nope. Not at all. It was important to me that I addressed this question in this SoFi review.

So here’s the deal:

SoFi doesn’t even charge application fees or prepayment penalties for paying off your loans early.
 
Will checking my rates and terms on SoFi affect my credit score?

Nope, checking your rates will not affect your credit score.
 
But, if you continue your application and choose a service, they’ll do a hard credit pull which will affect your score.
 
How much will the credit pull affect my score?

In general, inquiries have a small impact on your credit score. For most people, one credit inquiry will take less than 5 points off their credit score.
 
Of course, this will vary from person to person based on credit history.

For example, inquiries can have a greater impact if you have fewer accounts or a short credit history.

Is it possible to refinance both federal and private student loans?

Yes!

Should I choose a fixed interest rate or variable interest rate loan?

I always recommend choosing a fixed interest rate. Variable interest rates can rise and fall with the market, which makes them risky.

One minute you could have a super low interest rate (which is good) and the next you could have a super high interest rate (bad).

My recommendation? Don’t bet your odds. Just go with fixed instead.
 
What are the requirements to qualify?

Here are the requirements directly from their website:

  • A US citizen or permanent resident.
  • Hold a 4-year undergraduate or graduate degree from a Title IV accredited institution.
  • Good employment history. Currently employed, have sufficient income from other sources, or have an offer of employment to start within the next 90 days.
  • In good standing on current student loans.
  • Strong monthly cash flow.
  • A responsible financial history.

 
Notice how it says strong monthly cash flow above? That’s extremely vague, and it’s ultimately up to SoFi to determine what ‘strong’ means in your situation.
 
With that said, the pre-approval process is quick, and you’ll know if you qualify within 2 minutes.

Pros and Cons

This wouldn’t be a SoFi review if we didn’t talk about the pros and cons.

So let’s jump in.  

Pros

woman thinking

1. They offer discounts on your interest rate.
 
If you sign up for auto-pay, then SoFi will reduce your interest rate by 0.25%. This can add up to big savings over the loan term.
 
2. Unemployment Protection
 
If you lose your job, SoFi will suspend your monthly payments for up to 12 months, or until you find another job.

I don’t know of any other financial institution that does that. 
 
3. You don’t need collateral
 
SoFi’s personal loans don’t require you to put up property or other assets. This makes SoFi less risky.
 
4. Competitive Interest Rates
 
SoFi offers some of the lowest rates around. This can save you hundreds – if not thousands – in interest alone.
 
5. You can refinance or borrow a little or a lot
 
With other financial institutions, you have to refinance or borrow at least $30,000. With SoFi, the minimum is only $5,000.
 
6. Quick and easy application process
 
You’ll know if you’re pre-qualified within 2 minutes.

Cons

man writing

1. Longer funding process
 
While their application is quick and easy, the underwriting takes more time.
 
It can take up to 7-15 days to refinance your loan or give you the money from your personal loan.
 
2. They set high standards
 
They’re looking for high-quality borrowers. So if your credit is iffy or if your income is low, then you’ll have a hard time getting approved without a co-signer.

How do I get started with SoFi?

1. Fill out the online application.

2. Select your interest rate and repayment term.

3. Choose between a variable or fixed interest rate. (I recommend fixed)

4. Confirm your info by uploading necessary documents. (ID, old loan documents)

5. Electronically sign

Ending Thoughts

Refinancing my student loans with SoFi kicked off my debt payoff journey. There were many times that I wished I had done it sooner.

But, better late than never.
 
If SoFi works for you, then share your story with your friends and family. You never know who you might help.
 
And let me know in the comments:

Do you have any questions?

Thanks for reading.
 

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Jessica Campbell obtained her Bachelor’s of Accounting from Northwood University. She’s been a Certified Public Accountant with Collins P.C. Financial Group for over 7 years, and serves as a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. After paying off over $75,000 worth of debt, she became focused on helping others navigate their financial lives and become debt free. Connect with Jessica on LinkedIn.

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