Are you looking for a private student loan to supplement federal student loans so that you can pay for college? SoFi is a recent entrant into the student loan business, and a popular choice for many borrowers. Before you decide to borrow from them, though, you should be sure you understand the business.
Below, we explore who SoFi is, what their relationship is with MOHELA, how to apply for a SoFi student loan, and more.
Who is SoFi?
SoFi (short for Social Finance, Inc.) was founded in 2011 as a company offering a different way of lending educational loans. In this way, they are a part of the wave of new tech-backed student loan lenders (like Earnest, and others) to have sprung up in the past ten years. They are based in San Francisco.
Since founding, the company has evolved to offer a range of other financial products and services, including personal loans, mortgages, and investment products.
SoFi and MOHELA
At some point (the exact date that the partnership started is not clear) SoFi began partnering with MOHELA for student loan servicing. This means that for private student loans originated by SoFi, MOHELA essentially acts as the servicer, collecting payments, managing the loan, and educating borrowers of their options.
If you currently have federal student loans serviced by MOHELA, and you are unhappy with your experience with the company, you may want to consider a different lender.
Types of Student Loans Offered by SoFi
SoFi offers a wide variety of private student loans, including:
- Undergraduate Loans: Private student loans for undergraduate students earning their first bachelor’s degree
- Graduate Loans: Private student loans for graduate student borrowers
- Parent Loans: Private student loans that parents can use to help their children pay for college; similar in many ways to a federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan
- Law School & MBA Loans: Student loans for student borrowers working towards a business degree or law degree.
In addition to private student loan origination, SoFi offers a range of other financial products as well. These include:
- Student loan refinancing
- Personal loans
- Home improvement loans
- Credit card consolidation
- Mortgage origination
- Mortgage Refinancing
- Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)
- A range of investment products
SoFi Interest Rates
Whereas federal student loans carry an interest rate that is set by Congress each year, SoFi is a private lender. This means that they can set their own interest rates for borrowers. These rates can fluctuate substantially depending on the underlying credit market, as well as individual borrower factors including:
- Income: Are you currently earning an income and, if so, how much?
- Credit score: What is the age of your credit history? Do you have any other debt? All of these factors influence your credit score, which is meant to measure how risky you are as a borrower.
- Whether you have a cosigner or not: If you apply for your student loan with a cosigner, you will typically qualify for lower interest rates (and are more likely to be approved for a loan). This is because a cosigner offers the lender one more person they can turn to for payment if you default on your loan, making you a riskier borrower.
While SoFi often advertises exceptionally low interest rates, it is important to note that these are typically reserved for borrowers with an excellent credit score. Other extremely low interest rates may be tied to loans that carry a variable rate, which can fluctuate substantially as the credit market changes over time.
How to Apply for a Student Loan Through SoFi
Applying for a SoFi student loan is pretty straightforward. When you are on their student loan website, simply click “Get Started” to begin the application process. Once you have started, you will need to answer a number of questions designed to prescreen you and let you know whether or not you are qualified for a SoFi student loan.
If you are pre-approved, SoFi will give you a range of interest rates that you should qualify for. If you decide to move forward in submitting a final application, SoFi will make you a final offer, including your final interest rates, depending on the results of a hard credit pull
To complete your SoFi student loan application, you’ll need:
- Your Social Security Number
- The name of the school you will be attending
- Your estimated date of graduation (month and year)
- The loan amount that you would like to borrow
- Proof of income (if you have a source of income)
If you are applying with a cosigner, they will also need to complete the application.
SoFi Pros and Cons
Pros of Borrowing from SoFi
- No fees: SoFi does not charge fees on student loans. This includes origination fees, application fees, and prepayment fees. They don’t charge late fees either, which is rare.
- 0.25% Interest Rate Discount for Auto Pay: By opting into auto pay, SoFi will reduce the interest rate charged on your loan by a quarter percent, which can translate into big savings over the life of your loan.
- Member Rate Discount: If you (or your cosigner) already have an account with SoFi, you may qualify for a further 0.125% interest rate discount.
Cons of Borrowing from SoFi
- Interest rates not set by law: While the interest rate on federal student loans is set by Congress, SoFi’s interest rates are determined solely by the company. Though borrowers with an excellent credit score may qualify for interest rates lower than what is typically available through federal loans, others are likely to be charged higher rates.
- Limited deferment options: While federal student loans come with a range of deferment and forbearance options, private loans offered by SoFi typically cannot be deferred once the loan is in repayment.
- Not eligible for forgiveness: SoFi does not offer student loan forgiveness options comparable to federal student loans.
- No guaranteed acceptance: Whereas unsubsidized undergraduate federal student loans are made available to borrowers regardless of credit score or financial situation, private student loans (including those offered by SoFi) have much stricter eligibility requirements.
How to Contact SoFi
Need to get in touch with SoFi? You can do so through any of the options listed below. SoFi’s hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, 5am to 7pm Pacific Time; Friday through Sunday, 5am to 5pm Pacific Time.
SoFi Student Loan Payment Address
P.O. Box 1022
Chesterfield, MO 63006-1022
Alternatives to SoFi Student Loans
While SoFi may be a competitive and popular lender for private student loans, we recommend that borrowers turn to private lenders only after they have accepted other forms of funding. SoFi agrees: On their FAQ page, they state that borrowers should “exhaust all of your federal grant and loan options before you consider SoFi as your private loan lender.”
Federal student loans, state-based student loans, and institutional student loans all offer competitive interest rates and other powerful benefits that are typically not available from private lenders.
If you do decide to turn to private student loans, it is important to shop around to ensure that you are getting the best possible interest rate and terms. For that reason, we often recommend that borrowers begin their search through a student loan marketplace.