According to Nerdwallet, the total U.S. student loan debt is $1.67 trillion, and 2018 college graduates with loans owe $29,200 on average. With the statistics increasing on a daily, students in America require a full guide to understand some of the best student’s loan refinancing lenders; Elfi vs Sofi.
Did you know, that U.S. student loan borrowers owed a collective $1.67 trillion in federal and private student loan debt as of last year in June, as reported by the Federal Reserve?
As a student looking out for a student loan, whether private or federal loan, you should go for loans that have a competitive interest rate, flexible payment conditions that suit your student status, very low-interest rates and clear loan terms.
In this read, I will do a thorough review of some of the best student loan refinancing lenders; Elfi vs Sofi. This analysis should help any student make informed decisions about which loan financing platform to subscribe to.
Is refinancing with SoFi a good idea?
The College Investor found that SoFi was once one of the toughest places to qualify for refinancing, but over the last few years, they have loosened their lending standards a bit.
Nevertheless, note that SoFi is not the best option for a low credit score. You will be better off with other companies like, Earnest, etc.
How do I know if student loan refinancing is right for me?
This is a question every student in need of a loan refinancing should be self-asking or asking a loan expert. Why do I think so? Simply, loans are not your regular “cash gift” from a magnanimous direct family and friends or third party. They are that ‘received monies’ that mostly come with interest rates and oftentimes, external pressure and paranoia.
Maybe because of the obligation to service the loan, most people could suffer from some form of distress or anxiety, or similar symptoms. Students can well avoid undue loan stress by asking themselves some honest questions. Don’t just stop at an honest question either; find honest answers.
That established, Forbes advisor mentions that there are three items to consider when deciding whether to refinance. These 3 basics include;
- Financial history,
- Interest rates and
- Repayment goals.
It’s imperative to clarify your qualification to refinance a loan. This is foremost, after which you’ll require proof of consistent revenue, proof of timely repayment of loans, and a low debt-to-income ratio.
If you are eligible to refinance, then as Forbes advisor recommends; look at your current loans’ interest rates. If they’re meaningfully higher than the rate you’ll likely get when you refinance—which you can check using lenders’ prequalification tools on their websites—refinancing might make sense for you.
But if you don’t stand to save much, or you are relying on federal programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness that you’d lose by refinancing, it’s not worth it.
Which student loans should I refinance?
It is always better to refinance high-interest private loans and not federal loans. As expert advise explains it, you won’t lose potentially useful federal repayment options, including up to three years of deferment or forbearance, since private loans usually come with less generous repayment terms.
The CARES Act and President Donald Trump’s Aug. 8 executive order, give federal student loan borrowers an extra forbearance option; They are not obligated to repay federal loans from March 13 through Dec. 31, 2022.
Also, the federal student loan interest rates are set at 0% within the said date.
Note that the best practice is not to refinance all your loans. Federal loans especially, should not be refinanced, rather focus on refinancing private loans.
However, if must refinance a federal loan, consider doing so after 31, Dec 2022. By then, the payment pause clause will be lifted.
When is the best time to refinance student loans?
A plethora of lenders demands a degree to refinance. This means you will have to wait until you’ve graduated.
Even though some lenders may have less stringent degree requirements, however, they may want to ensure you have a history of paying your student loans on time for at least, a period of 1 year. You also typically have to be out of school before refinancing, with some exceptions.
Forbes Advisor further maintains that if you don’t yet meet the credit and income requirements but you want to refinance anyway, you could possibly use a co-signer.
Due to the risk to their credit score the co-signer takes on, though, it’s ideal to wait to refinance until you have the financial profile to be eligible as the sole borrower. You can take the time to improve your credit score and refinance later on.
The top lenders listed below are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees, credit requirements, and broad availability.
Basic Facts About Elfi and SoFi
Social Finance, Inc, known popularly as SoFi, came to take student loan refinancing by storm. Maybe not the core target when the San-Francisco-based company kicked off, but the finance company has made its mark by helping people refinance their loans and save several hundred thousand as a result.
In August 2011, Social Finance, Inc (SoFi) was founded by Stanford business school students, originally using an alumni-funded lending model to connect recent grads with alumni in their community.
By May 2012, SoFi introduced Student Loan Refinancing, becoming the first company to refinance federal and private student loans. 8 years after, the loan refinancing giant celebrates 1,000,000 members.
This speaks explicitly volumes about the authenticity of the finance company. It’s as simple as this, “people are drawn to provable results.”
Products by SoFi
SoFi features the following products;
Education Loan Finance, Inc., more popularly identified as ELFI, is a not-for-profit organization and a national private lending company that purports to have a longstanding (25 years) commitment to higher education.
That commitment has led to more than $20 million provided in scholarships, as well as financial literacy curriculum offered to local high schools
ELFI is a division of Tennessee-based Southeast Bank which launched in 2015 and is designed to assist borrowers with student loan refinancing as well as with undergraduate, graduate, and parent private student loans. Contemporarily, it offers students loans to pay for college.
Furthermore, the private lending company provides loans in all 50 states with no application or origination fees charges attached.
Both private student loans and student loan refinancing can also be entirely electronic, and borrowers can enjoy flexibility in their rates, repayment terms, and conditions.
Averagely, a college graduate borrows
|Total borrowed: $25,000||per month on average: $265|
|Grad School Graduate|
|All borrowed: $45,000||monthly average: $522|
|All amount: $200,000||monthly on average: $1,600|
|Law School Graduate|
|Total borrowed: $140,616||per month on average: $522|
Thus, ELFI exists to provide the lowest rates to students to enable attain their educational goals.
Eligibility Requirements: ELFI vs. SoFi
As an intending borrower from ELFI, you’re required to meet the following eligibility criteria:
As an intending borrower from SoFi, you’re required to meet the following eligibility criteria:
|Be U.S. citizens or permanent resident.||A credit score of at least 650 (estimated)|
|Be enrolled at least half-time in a bachelor’s degree program or higher.||Free cash available after paying monthly expenses (there is no minimum income requirement)|
|Have a least annual income of at least $35,000.||To be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident|
|A minimum credit score of at least 680.||An Associate Degree or higher from a Title IV accredited school|
|A min. credit history of at least 36 months.||Proof of employment or an offer for a job with employment scheduled to start within 90 days or less|
|Be seeking a loan amount of at least $10,000.|
|Smallest Credit Score||680|
|Min. Annual Income||$35,000|
|Least Loan Amount||$15,000|
ELFI vs. SoFi Students’ Loan Refinancing: Rates, Terms, Fees & Limits
This table simply distills rates, terms, limits and fees provided by ELFI and SoFi respectively;
|Refinancing for Students||For Parents||Refinancing for Students||Parent PLUS loan refinancing|
|Fixed Rate||3.29% – 6.69%||3.39% – 6.69%||3.49% – 6.69%|
|Fixed Rates (APR)||As low as 4.50%||4.73% – 11.46%||3.46% to 6.88%|
|Variable Rate||2.80% – 6.01%||2.80% – 5.39%||3.21% – 6.69%|
|Variable Rates (APR)||As low as 1.50%||2.05% – 10.63%||2.31% – 6.88%|
|Loan Amounts||$10,000+||$15,000 – Total outstanding loan balance||$5,000+|
|Loan Terms||5 – 15 years||5, 7, or 10 years||5, 10, or 15 years|
|Autopay rate reduction||–||–||0.25%|
Pros and Cons: ELFI vs SoFi
It is necessary to weigh the consequences or rather the pros and cons of any product before subscribing to same. I always advise that you weigh the pros and cons and decide which outweighs which for you.
Where the pros outweighs the cons, by all means it is okay to subscribe to such products, however, if the cons outweigh the pros, then you should trade with caution.
The pros and cons of ELFI and SoFi respectively are;
|Competitive rates: ELFI offers some of the most competitive interest rates currently on the market.||Member benefits: When you refinance with SoFi, you get access to member benefits including career coaching; a referral program if you refer friends or family to SoFi; and invitations to exclusive member events where you can network and build your career.|
|Great customer reviews: ELFI has gotten high marks on consumer review websites for customer service.||Discounts on additional SoFi Loans: SoFi members who have one loan with the company can get a .125% rate discount on an additional SoFi Loan. This can make taking out a personal loan or other private student loans cheaper.|
|Generous deferment & forbearance options: ELFI also offers 12 months of student loan forbearance but does not offer academic deferment.||AutoPay discount: As with most online lenders, SoFi offers a 0.25% AutoPay discount for setting up automatic loan payments. Although this is a small discount, it can save you a lot over the life of the loan.|
|Remove your cosigner: You can refinance your loans to remove a cosigner if you qualify on your own.||Unemployment protection: You can pause monthly payments temporarily if you become unemployed and the career services team will help you to find new opportunities.|
|Generous referral program: Referral bonus of $400 to customers who refer friends.||No fees: SoFi offers simple repayment options with no hidden fees.|
|High minimum loan amount: There is a minimum loan amount of $15,000 required to refinance.||No cosigner release: After making a certain number of payments, some other lenders allow you to delete a cosigner, but SoFi doesn’t. As he or she may not be excluded from the loan, this leaves your co-signer on the hook for repayment during the entire repayment period.|
|No cosigner release: If you apply for ELFI refinancing with a cosigner, you will not be able to release them from your loan.||Many qualifying borrowers have high incomes: SoFi has no defined minimum income limits, but most borrowers have high income levels, particularly those who qualify for lower interest rates.|
|You will only apply if you have received a degree: refinancing with SoFi would not be an option if you have not completed your educational program.|
How to Refinance Student Loans: ELFI vs SoFi
For ELFI, you can apply for a loan either as a student borrower or as a co-signer. The role of a co-signer is more prominent in the event that the student cannot apply directly for the loan.
More so, after meeting all eligibility criteria, students can successfully apply for an ELFI loan via the following processes;
- Build an ELFI account or, if you have one already, log into your account.
- Choose the option of either showing past loans that you have already taken out or applying for a new loan. Instead of refinancing current debt, if you are trying to get a loan to fund your education, the button you would like is the one called “In-School Loan.”
- Specify whether you’re a student or a co-signer.
- By entering your personal details, including your name; address; place of birth and social security number; the school you are going to attend or are attending; and your date of registration, complete the pre-qualification form.
- Among the loans offered to you, choose from. You will be offered an option of fixed or variable rate loans with varying repayment terms if you are eligible for an ELFI student loan. There are varying interest rates and monthly payment amounts for each of these terms.
- Fill out the verification form for disclosure.
Where pleased with the interest rates and conditions of the loan, you be required to go through the remainder of the formal application process, including:
- The sum that you would like to borrow
- If you’re going to make some payments while still at school
- What the condition of your job is.
- You will also need to upload any documentation submitted, including a recent paystub, W-2 form, and an ID provided by the government.
SoFi makes refinancing students’ loans a walk in the park. More still, you can easily access this option by clicking “Find My Rate” on the official website of SoFi.
It’s important to note that SoFi pre-approves you, provides your rate without carrying out a credit check on you. Information you’ll be required to provide the following details;
- First and last name
- Your state of residence
- Email address
- A password
- Date of birth
- Details about your citizenship status
- Current residential address
- Mobile phone number
- Whether you are renting or a homeowner
- The highest degree you have (undergraduate or graduate)
- School and program you attended as well as your graduation date or the date you last attended
- Employment status
- Employer name
- Individual annual income
- The years of acquired professional experience
- The loan amount you would like to refinance
The information you provide enables SoFi to carry out a soft credit check and thus provide you with a personalized rate quote.
If the provided rate suits you, you can proceed to complete your application process. Also note that continuing with the application will require a hard credit check which may automatically require additional financial details like tax history, proof of history, etc.
Elfi vs Sofi Comparative Analysis: Best Loan Refinancing Lender
|For very flexible loan repayment or lowest possible rate, ELFI is most suitable.||SoFi offers lower loan minimums, better deals like career counselling and generally, is a more experienced lender with over 1,000,000 subscribers. Thus you can subscribe to SoFi if these features are your priority needs in a loan agency.|
|Loans a minimum of $10,000||While SoFi lets offers loans for as low as $5,000.|
|They offer refinancing options basically.||This is a better option for small private loans.|
|You require a degree already to borrow from ELFI.||With SoFi, you can borrow to finance your education for any degree certifying program, whether for an associate degree or not, as long as it is in an eligible institution.|
|Offers solely student loans and not customer loyalty discounts.||However, if you use multiple SoFi products, you can qualify for discounts.|
|Offers no such benefits.||Offers a diversity of fiscal products, like personal loans, home loans, student loans, investment accounts, and banking accounts.|
|It offers better dedicated customer service.|
ELFI and SoFi offer great deals for students (borrowers). With either of these two loan refinancing companies, you can either take new private loans or refinance an already existing one.
However, it is always advisable to consider other loan agencies especially to compare prices basically. This enables you to reach better and more informed decisions about which loan agency to subscribe to.