Earnest and SoFi are two student loan refinancing companies that both offer fixed as well as variable rate loans, a 0.25% autopay rate discount, and certain unemployment protections to help in the event of involuntary job loss, but they also have their differences.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison of both lenders to help you make an informed decision.
|Fixed rates from (APR)*||3.89%+||3.89%+|
|Variable rates from (APR)*||2.55%+||2.54%+|
|Loan terms||5 to 20 years||5 to 20 years|
|Loan amount||$5,000 to $500,000||$5,000 to full loan balance of your qualified student loans|
|Minimum credit score||650||650|
|State restrictions||Residents in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, and Rhode Island can’t qualify for a loan||None|
|Perks||You can choose your own monthly payment with the Precision Pricing program||You’ll get access to both career coaching and wealth management services|
*All rates are accurate as of March 11, 2019.
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Earnest student loan refinancing
Earnest, which was acquired by Navient in 2017, is a refinancing lender with a very comprehensive approval process, which may increase your chances of getting approved for a loan. With an Earnest refinancing loan, you can have a loan repayment term from five to 20 years in length, and there are no origination fees or prepayment penalties.
- Flexible application process: While many lenders only look at your credit score and income, Earnest has a more comprehensive view. It looks at a number of factors, including your bank and investment accounts and job history, to make a decision. That difference could boost your chances of getting approved for refinancing.
- Precision Pricing: With Earnest, you can choose your repayment term and what monthly payment you can afford. If you can only afford a small payment, Earnest can be a great choice for you. You’ll pay more over time in interest, but opting for a small payment now can give you relief when you need it.
- Loans are managed in-house: Many loan companies don’t actually manage the loans after they’re disbursed; instead, they hand you off to a loan servicer. Earnest works a bit differently. It manages the loans in-house, so you’ll work directly with Earnest if you have any questions or concerns regarding your account, but it does so with help from Navient (the servicer).
- Minimum credit score: Even though Earnest looks at other factors besides just your credit history, your credit score still plays a big role in your chances of getting approved. Earnest has a minimum credit score of 650; if you don’t have a score that high, you won’t be able to get a loan.
- No cosigner offered: When you have a lower credit score or smaller income, a cosigner can help boost your chances of getting a loan. Unlike most refinancing lenders, Earnest doesn’t allow you to add a cosigner, so that’s not an option here.
- Location limitations: If you live in certain states, you’re ineligible for an Earnest loan. Residents in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, and Rhode Island can’t qualify for a loan.
Check out our Earnest review to learn more about their student loan refinancing.
SoFi student loan refinancing
SoFi is one of the biggest names in the refinancing industry, refinancing $18 billion in student loans for over 250,000 members. Catering to young professionals, SoFi focuses on helping its members advance their careers and expand their networks.
- Career coaching: When you refinance your loans with SoFi, you become a SoFi member, making you eligible for free career coaching. Its services can help you polish your resume and even establish a personal brand.
- Wealth management services: As you tackle your debt, you’ll increasingly look to building personal wealth. SoFi can help you on your journey, advising you on portfolio selection and diversification.
- Deferment options: Rare for student loan refinancing companies, SoFi offers deferment options, allowing you to postpone making payments on your loans while you go to graduate school or if you’re serving in the military.
- Minimum credit score: Like Earnest, SoFi requires applicants to have a credit score of at least 650 to qualify for a loan.
- No cosigner release available: Unlike Earnest, SoFi does allow you to include a cosigner on your application. However, think long and hard before adding one, because SoFi doesn’t allow cosigner releases.
Check out our SoFi review to learn more about their student loan refinancing and personal loans.
Choosing a lender to refinance your student loans
If you’re struggling to manage your student loans — while also juggling other debt like a credit card or auto loan — a student loan refinance can be a huge help. With refinancing, you can save money, get out of debt faster, and even reduce your monthly payment. Before submitting your application, make sure you compare rates from multiple refinancing lenders to ensure you get the best rate.