Student loan refinancing at low rates that reduce your payments with no added fees.
Choosing the right student loan option could mean thousands of dollars in savings over the years. Refinancing or consolidating your student loans can put you back in control and give you some breathing room on your monthly payments.
SoFi and Earnest are both solid places to start when reconsidering your student loan options. How do they stack up against each other?
An overview of SoFi and Earnest
On top of offering multiple loan products, SoFi offers mentoring services and hosts events for its community of over 275,000 members. It also offers career support to help you get to you where you need to be in the professional world.
Earnest is an online lender that can help you refinance federal, private and Parent PLUS loans. It has a unique way of assessing potential borrowers that goes beyond the standard credit check by looking into your ability to save money, your earning potential and employment history.
How are they different?
Borrowing from SoFi is kind of like joining a club. SoFi gives existing members who qualify an extra 0.125% rate discount plus access to a long list of perks including career advice, forbearance and deferment, and a startup funding program for member enterpreneurs.
While you can choose whether or not to apply with a cosigner, you can’t apply for cosigner release —instead you’ll need to refinance. If you need a bar study or residency loan, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
Earnest has a unique Precision Pricing program that could be beneficial to someone with an entry-level income or trying to building credit. You’ll have the option of making bi-weekly payments to lower your total paid interest and extend your payments up to seven days. You also have the option of switching between fixed and variable rates once every six months once you’ve made six months of on-time payments.
Unlike SoFi, Earnest doesn’t let you apply for a loan with a cosigner. Loans are not available in Alaska, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada or Rhode Island.
First, am I eligible for student loan refinancing with SoFi or Earnest?
To be eligible for student loan refinancing with SoFi or Earnest, you must:
- Have good to excellent credit.
- Be 18+ years old and a US citizen.
- Have a minimum student loan balance of $5,000 or more.
- Have an associate’s degree or higher level of education.
- Be employed.
Which lender offers lower interest rates?
SoFi offers student loans with variable rates starting at 2.48% and fixed rates starting at 3.999%.
Earnest student loans have variable rates as low as 2.57%. For fixed rate loans, it offers a starting APR of 3.89%.
SoFi only beats out Earnest if you’re looking to refinance your loan for a set term of 10 years or more. Other than that, Earnest’ starting APR for variable-rate loans is the lower of the two. But remember, these are only advertised starting rates, not guaranteed. Each applicant will have a different credit history, so it’s difficult to predict which will give you the best deal in your particular situation.
Which comes with fewer fees?
SoFi and Earnest will not hit you with any origination or prepayment fees and applying for a loan is free. Earnest also doesn’t charge any late fees. With SoFi, however, you’ll have to pay 4% or $5 if your payment is more than 15 days late.
Earnest wins this category by not charging late fees. But if you’re thinking about possibly racking up late fees before you even apply for the loan, you may want to reconsider taking on the loan in the first place.
Perks both SoFi and Earnest offer to its borrowers
Which has a better reputation?
SoFi’s 9.1 Trustpilot review is nothing to sneeze at as of June 2018. Its program to assist with unemployment shows that it care about its customers. Members also seem to enjoy the handful of perks — SoFi events, mentor services and more.
Earnest only has seven Trustpilot reviews as of June 2018, scoring it a pretty meaningless 8.3 out of 10. But customers seem to find the application process simple and the customer service helpful. The Precision Pricing tool may give applicants with little credit history a better chance of approval, as the process is not as traditional as other lenders.
SoFi has nearly 1,000 reviews on Trustpilot and Earnest has zero. The people have spoken.
How much can I borrow with each lender?
Student loans from SoFi can be anywhere between $5,000 and the full balance of your qualified education loans.
Earnest student loan refinancing ranges from $5,000 and has no limit.
Since both Earnest and SoFi have a minimum of $5,000 and no maximum limit, both are good options to refinance your total student debt, even if it happens to be a large loan amount.
Which lender can get me money faster?
Both online lenders have quick, easy applications that can get you preapproved rates within minutes. When deciding to move forward with either lender after preapproval, both will do a credit inquiry to give you the most accurate rates that apply to you.
If approved, SoFi will likely get you your money within seven to 10 days, if you’ve provided all of the needed documents.
If approved, Earnest will likely get you your money within 10 days, if you have all of your documents in order.
Depending on how quickly you can get you documents together, both lenders tend to move quickly.
In the end, it all comes down to what you want out of your lender. The difference in fees is marginal and once you get preapproved, the rates might be nearly identical. But what SoFi offers that Earnest doesn’t is a well-rounded social and professional networking space for its members. If neither lender feels like a fit, shop around for other student loan providers and see what seems like the best deal.
Be aware that if you refinance your federal loans with a private lender, you could lose some of the benefits, including longer deferment.
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