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Compare SoFi vs. CommonBond student loans
Student loan refinancing with low interest rates and big member perks.
|Widest lending limits|
An overview of SoFi and CommonBond
SoFi and CommonBond have a lot in common. They’re both online lenders that have been in the student loan business for less than decade but have become go-to companies for student loan refinancing.
SoFi might be a better choice if you’ve already established your credit and want to take advantage of customers perks such as member events and career guided workshops.
CommonBond offers similar perks to SoFi— though not as many. But it also but specializes in MBA refinancing and puts part of its profits funds education for children in need across the world.
First, am I eligible to apply with SoFi or CommonBond?
To meet SoFi’s eligibility requirements, you must:
- Have good to excellent credit.
- Be at least 18 years old and a US citizen.
- Apply for a $5,000 minimum loan balance.
- Have an associate’s degree or higher level of education.
- Be employed or have a job start date within 90 days.
To meet CommonBond’s eligibility requirements, you must:
- Have good credit or a creditworthy cosigner.
- Be at least 18 years old and a US citizen.
- Apply for a $5,000 minimum loan balance.
- Have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Which lender offers lower interest rates?
Variable rates for student loans go from 2.25% to 6.09% and fixed rates go from 2.99% to 6.09%.
Student loan variable rates start at 2.14% — fixed rates start at 3.35%.
CommonBond’s starting variable rate is lower than SoFi’s. CommonBond also has more options for refinancing student loans. The hybrid loan is also something to look at if you’re in the market for a 10-year loan and are unsure if you want a fixed or variable rate.
Which comes with fewer fees?
Neither SoFi nor CommonBond have origination or prepayment fees, so it all comes down to late fees. SoFi borrowers have a 15-day grace period before they’ll have to pay a late fee of 4% of the payment or $5 — whichever is lower.
CommonBond has a 10-day grace period, after which borrowers will have to pay a late fee of 5% or $10.
Though you should try to avoid paying late fees, if it’s impossible to get your payment in on time, SoFi is the cheaper choice.
Case study: Morgan refinances $100,000 of student loans
After five long years of college and a lot of soul searching, Morgan finally graduated with a bachelor’s in media studies — and a whopping $100,000 in debt. They knew it was going to be hard to pay off no matter what, but they heard refinancing could help cut down on interest.
Since Morgan just got a high-paying job, they decided to explore their options for variable rate loans in the hope that they could pay it off quickly on a lower interest rate. They narrowed their choices down to SoFi and CommonBond. Here’s how they compared:
|Starting APR||2.25% for 5- and 10-year variable loans.||2.14% for 10-year loans.|
|How much can I borrow?||$5,000 to full balance of your qualified education loans||$5,000 to $500,000|
|How easy is it to apply?||Easy online application with money disbursed in 7–10 days||Easy online application with money disbursed within 10 days|
Morgan decided to go with CommonBond because it offered lower interest rates that would increase at a lower rate than SoFi.
What are the perks?
SoFi offers services that are good to have, but aren’t all necessary for a student loan. While it also woos the borrower with extra benefits, CommonBond has a social mission to push forward an educational outreach program to the underserved.
Both lenders offer:
- Autopay discounts.
- Consolidation of both federal and private loans.
- Option to roll over your existing grace periods when refinancing.
- Option to refinance a Parent PLUS Loan into the student’s name, often at a lower rate.
- Deferment periods.
How are these two lenders different?
On top of SoFi’s autopay discount, it offers an additional 0.125% rate discount if you already have a loan with it. There are a few options for loan forgiveness if you’re eligible, they include teaching, public interest work and entrepreneurial efforts. Where SoFi falls short is that it don’t offer cosigner release or accept applicants from Nevada. Bar study and residency loans are a no-go as well.
CommonBond has student loan refinancing options for MBA students. It also offers deferments up to 32 months. The CommonBond program rivals the SoFi community in that they both offer a career support system as well as a social network. The hybrid loan is also an untraditional spin on a loan that could work out to be beneficial. CommonBond does require a cosigner and offers a cosigner release after two years of consecutive payments — but it isn’t guaranteed. CommonBond is not available in Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota and Vermont.
Be aware that if you refinance your federal loans with a private lender, you could lose some of the benefits of your federal loan, including longer deferment if you need it.
Which has a better reputation?
SoFi comes in strong with a 9.5 Trustpilot score as of December 2018. Speedy customer service seems to be the norm and it has several ways to reach out including email, chat and social media — seven days a week. It’ll also take into account your financial history when reviewing your application.
CommonBond isn’t rated on Trustpilot as of December 2018 but it has a customer-first model that can make you feel valued and informed. Use the live chat option via the website to answer your questions in seconds. However, it doesn’t have an onsite calculator to give you a rough idea of your loan rates and some users have claimed that the approval process took longer than promised.
SoFi and CommonBond are both legitimate companies. Although SoFi has raving customer reviews, CommonBond has a charitable mission that attracts socially-minded people.
How much can I borrow with each lender?
Student loan minimum is $5,000 and the maximum is full balance of your qualified education loans.
Student loan minimum is $5,000 and the maximum is $500,000.
Since SoFi can refinance up to 100% of your student debt, while CommonBond’s maximum is $500,000, SoFi wins for lending limits.
Which lender can get me money faster?
Both lenders can get you money fast. When you apply they’ll give you preapproved rates determined by a soft credit pull. If you decide to refinance a loan, a hard credit inquiry is required to give you the most accurate rates and terms.
SoFi typically disburses money anywhere between seven to 10 days, that is if you have provided all documents required.
CommonBond typically disburses money within 10 days of signing your final documents — your funds are then mailed to your lenders and that payment is typically received within one to three weeks.
This really depends on how fast you can get your documents together, but most likely if everything is in order, SoFi will disburse your funds faster.
Which is more cosigner-friendly?
You can bring on a cosigner to help you qualify for a more competitive rate at SoFi. But you’ll have to meet its eligibility requirements on its own.
It also doesn’t offer cosigner release so you have to refinance if you want to move the loan into your own name.
CommonBond allows you bring on a cosigner to help you get approved or qualify for a more competitive rate. You can apply for cosigner release after making two years of consecutive on-time repayments.
A cosigner can help you get approved if you apply with CommonBond — and you don’t need to apply for a new loan if you want to remove them from your loan.
Compare more private student loans
In the end, CommonBond seems to have more flexibility and advertises lower rates. That being said, these two companies have a great deal in common. They both roll out the red carpet for their customers and have solid customer service teams. SoFi can refinance larger student loan debt balances and often with a shorter turnaround time. CommonBond has an admirable social mission of providing education to the underserved, if that’s of interest to you. Before deciding on either, it’s a good idea to check out all of your options — you might find something even better out there.
See how other top student loan providers compare
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