SoFi vs Laurel Road student loan refinancing | Which is a better deal?

Compare SoFi vs. Laurel Road student loans

Competitive student loan refinancing rates with no origination or prepayment fees.

Looking at your student loan statement, you can feel like you’re at the bottom of a financial hole without a shovel. One way to regain control is to refinance or consolidate your existing student loans.

SoFi and Laurel Road are both solid places to start when you’re considering refinancing. But how do they compare?

Winner snapshot

sofi-logo
Interest rates
  • Winner
Reputation
  • Winner
Lending limitsTieTie
Fees
  • Winner
Funding speed
  • Winner
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An overview of SoFi and Laurel Road

Online providers SoFi and Laurel Road are both top-tier student financing companies.

Established in 2011, SoFi is an online lender that deals with student loan refinancing, personal loans and mortgages. This nontraditional lender prides itself on treating customers as part of a community, rather than just another source of its income. In a world where many lenders don’t necessarily see you as a person, SoFi would rather help get you back on the right track.

Backed by Darien Rowayton Bank, Laurel Road is an online lender also focused on student loan refinancing, personal loans and mortgages. If you’re looking to transfer a parent loan to your own name, Laurel Road is one of a few lenders that can help. It also offers a specialized borrower program for doctors and dentists that allows for $100 monthly repayments during a residency.

How are SoFi and Laurel Road different?

Although they have a lot in common, you’ll find distinct differences between the two.

For one, SoFi will give you an extra 0.125% rate discount if you have an existing loan with them. It may also forgive your loan if you go into teaching, public interest work or start your own business. One downside is that SoFi has no cosigner release option, and it doesn’t offer bar or residency loans. And if you want a variable parent loan in Illinois or Ohio — or any kind of loan in Nevada — you’re out of luck.

Offering loans nationwide, Laurel Road allows you to defer your loan for up to one year if you’re facing economic hardship. And if you’re working toward becoming a dentist or a doctor, you may be able to pay only $100 monthly while in residency.

First, am I eligible for a student loan with SoFi or Laurel Road?

Eligibility requirements are just about the same, no matter which lender you go with.

SoFi

To be eligible for a SoFi student loan you must:

  • 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.
  • Be employed or have a job start date within 90 days.
  • Have good to excellent credit.

Laurel Road

To be eligible for a Laurel Road student loan you must:

  • 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.
  • Have a credit score of 680 or higher.

Which lender offers lower interest rates?

SoFi

Student loans from SoFi start at fixed rates of $5,000 and variable rates of 2.58%.

Laurel Road

Student loans from Laurel Road start at a variable rate of 2.58%, with fixed rates being slightly higher.

  • Winner: SoFi

    While both lenders offer competitive rates, SoFi could save you more money if you’re eligible for its best rates.

Which comes with fewer fees?

Neither lender charges application or origination fees or penalizes prepayments.

SoFi

SoFi gives you a 15-day grace period on late payments before it charges a late fee of $5 or 4% of the payment, whichever is less.

Laurel Road

You’ll also get a 15-day grace period with Laurel Road, but after that you’re slapped with a late fee of $25 or 5% of the missed payment, whichever is less.

  • Winner: SoFi

    Since neither lender charges origination or application fees, SoFi’s lower late fees take this round. Don’t let this influence your decision too much, however — if you’re expecting to be paying even one late fee, you might want to reconsider taking on new debt.

Summer refinances her student loans

Summer took out a $50,000 loan for to help pay for college, but it’s now come time to start paying it off. To avoid getting stuck with a higher interest rate down the road, Summer’s interested in refinancing her full loan at a lower fixed rate.

She’s heard good things about SoFi, but she’s new to online lending. She decides to compare SoFi with Laurel Road to see who offers lower rates and fees when it comes to refinancing $50,000.

SoFiLaurel Road
Variable rate starting APRStarts at 2.58%Starts at 2.99%
Borrowing range$5,000 and up.$5,000 and up.
Ease of applicationEasy online application with money disbursed in 7–10 daysEasy online application with money disbursed in 14–30 days

After weighing her options, Summer finds that she’s able to get a better deal with SoFi. Not only will she potentially pay a slightly lower rate on her loan, but she’ll also be able to fully pay off her refinanced repayments earlier.

Which has a better reputation?

SoFi
Earning a score of 9.5 on Trustpilot, SoFi’s online reviews are mostly positive, with customers saying they find its services professional and helpful. Users point to SoFi’s unemployment protection and career support as something that sets it apart. Entrepreneur program and member events like baseball games, dinners, workshops and more contribute to overall customer satisfaction.
Laurel Road
Since Darien Rowayton Bank rebranded its online student loan refinancing branch, there hasn’t been a peep about Laurel Road on Trustpilot. However, users on other sites say that Laurel Road’s rates can be higher than advertised, so beware. Besides that, its penalties and fees are pretty transparent.
  • Winner: SoFi

    In addition to upholding high customer satisfaction, SoFi puts its footwork into programs that can bridge the gap between lenders and borrowers.

How much can I borrow with each lender?

SoFi
SoFi refinances student loans starting at $5,000 with no maximum.
Laurel Road
Laurel Road also refinances student loans starting at $5,000 with no ceiling — ideal if you’re studying to be a doctor or accumulated high student loan debt.
  • Winner: Tie

    If you have an least $5,000 to refinance, either SoFi and Laurel Road can help up to the total amount of your student debt.

What are the perks with each lender?

SoFi and Laurel Road share a lot of the same benefits you’ll find with many legitimate online lenders.

Here are a few of the perks you’ll get when consolidating your federal or private loans with either SoFi or Laurel Road:

  • Autopay discount. Starting rates reflect a discount of 0.25% that comes with monthly automatic withdrawals.
  • Referral bonus. Get $300 for each new borrower you refer for refinancing.
  • Roll over existing grace periods. Both SoFi and Laurel Road will honor grace periods set up by your previous lender.
  • Transfer a Parent PLUS loan. Refinance a Parent PLUS Loan into the student’s name — often at a lower rate.
  • Deferment and forgiveness. Defer payments for up to six months if you become unemployed, with the possibility of debt forgiveness in the event of death or disability.
  • Be aware that if you refinance your federal loans with a private lender, you could lose some of the benefits that come with all federal loans, including longer deferment, income-based repayment plans and other protections.

Which lender can get me money faster?

Dedicated online lenders, both SoFi and Laurel Road provide easy applications and preapproval with rates typically within a day’s time. Once you complete the preliminary process, these lenders conduct a soft credit pull to offer you conditional rates and loan terms. If you decide to move forward, they perform a hard inquiry to give you the most accurate rates and terms they can offer.

If you have your documents in order, SoFi typically disburses money to cover your previous loan in seven to 10 days, whereas Laurel Road disburses your funds within two to four weeks.

  • Winner: SoFi

    If you need refinancing as quickly as possible, SoFi may be able save you a few days time.

Get SoFi student loan refinancing

Read the Laurel Road student loan refinancing review

Bottom line

If you’re studying to become a doctor or a dentist, Laurel Road’s specialized program could help you pay off your loans faster with monthly repayments of $100 during your residency.

Otherwise, SoFi could be your better option: Its customer service and perks give it a bump ahead of Laurel Road.

If neither lender sounds tailored for your situation, shop around for a student loan refinancing option that best fits your specific needs.

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