If you’re thinking about refinancing your student loans, it’s crucial that you take the time to research lenders and find the one that works best for you. The best student loan refinancing options provide low interest rates, flexible repayment terms and other features that can make your student loan repayment plan more effective.
To help you make the right decision, we’ll compare Earnest student loan refinancing and SoFi student loan refinancing. Among the top student loan refinance companies, these two lenders can offer what you’re looking for.
If you’re trying to decide between the two, here’s everything you need to know.
Refinancing student loans: SoFi or Earnest?
SoFi and Earnest are among the best student loan refinancing companies. But if you’re trying to decide between the two, which one is right for you? Here’s a quick guide to help you decide.
SoFi student loan refinancing review: An overview
SoFi began operations in 2017, primarily as a student loan refinancing company. Since then, the lender has become a full-blown financial services company. In addition to student loan refinancing, the company also offers:
- Private student loans
- Personal loans
- Mortgage loans
- Auto loan refinance loans
- Investment accounts
- Insurance policies
- Checking products
- Credit card
- Small business financing
Earnest student loan refinancing review: An overview
Earnest was founded in 2013 and offers a handful of financing options. That includes student loan refinancing, private student loans, personal loans, and a credit card. Earnest promises extra flexibility when it comes to your repayment term, making it easier to find a monthly payment that fits your budget.
The lender offers in-house servicing and also makes it possible for borrowers to skip one payment every year and make it up later.
SoFi vs. Earnest: Student loan refinance rates
Both SoFi and Earnest offer both fixed and variable interest rates. As you compare rates between these and other lenders, it’s important to understand the differences and compare apples to apples.
Variable interest rates generally start lower than fixed interest rates. However, they can fluctuate over time as market conditions change.
This means that while your interest rate may start out low, it can increase over time. And because student loan interest rates have hit record lows in 2021, the chances of a variable rate increasing are high. If your interest rate increases, so will your monthly payment.
In contrast, fixed interest rates start out higher than variable rates, but they don’t change throughout the life of your loan.
In the majority of cases, it’s better to choose a fixed-rate loan over a variable-rate loan. The time to consider the latter is if you have a very short repayment term, so there’s little chance of a big fluctuation in the interest rate or if interest rates are high and market experts expect them to drop.
In both cases, you’ll get a 0.25% interest rate discount if you sign up for automatic payments.
Fixed interest rates: SoFi vs. Earnest
Student loan interest rates change regularly, sometimes from day to day. As a result, it’s important to check each lender’s website to get the most up-to-date information on what they’re charging.
As of November 15, 2021, here’s what each of these lenders offers:
|Lender||Fixed interest rate|
|SoFi||2.49% – 6.94% APR|
|Earnest||2.44% – 5.79% APR|
As you can see, Earnest is offering lower interest rates than SoFi in what is publicly advertised. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a lower interest rate with Earnest, though.
This is because each lender has its own criteria for determining your creditworthiness and how that affects your loan terms, including your interest rate.
As a result, you may get prequalified with both lenders and end up with a lower interest rate with SoFi than Earnest.
It’s also important to note that SoFi has a low-rate guarantee, which means that if you find a lower interest rate with a different lender, the company will match it and give you $100 for your trouble.
Variable interest rates: SoFi vs. Earnest
As previously mentioned, variable interest rates can fluctuate over time, which means that you’re taking on more risk. That said, if you’ve considered both fixed and variable interest rates and want a variable-rate loan, here’s what to expect between SoFi and Earnest as of November 15, 2021:
|Lender||Variable interest rate|
|SoFi||1.99% – 6.59% APR|
|Earnest||1.88% – 5.64% APR|
Again, Earnest’s interest rates look lower than SoFi’s, both on the low and the high end of the spectrum. But your actual rate with each lender will depend on various creditworthiness factors and how the lender considers them.
As a result, it’s always a good idea to shop around and compare rates instead of choosing a lender simply because its interest rate ranges look lower.
Did you know? Student loan refinance rates are at historical lows
Lowering your interest rate is the easiest way to save on student loan debt. You can refinance to a shorter term and get out of debt faster.
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SoFi vs. Earnest: Student loan refinance terms
A lender’s student loan repayment term options are a crucial factor in determining whether or not they’re a good fit. Even if you can get a lower interest rate somewhere else, it may not be worth it if you don’t have enough flexibility.
There are also other terms, such as loan amounts and fees, that you’ll want to keep in mind as you compare your options.
SoFi refinancing terms
SoFi offers several repayment terms, including five, seven, 10, 15 and 20 years. This kind of flexibility makes it relatively easy to find a good payment option that works for you, especially compared with federal student loans.
SoFi doesn’t limit how much you can borrow — you can get a loan for the total amount of what you owe, regardless of how much that is. The lender goes as low as $5,000.
There’s no application or origination fee and also no prepayment penalty. There is a late fee, but it’s just $5, and it only kicks in if your payment is 15 days past due.
Earnest refinancing terms
Instead of prescribing loan terms for you, Earnest allows you to choose a repayment term that fits your budget. You can choose a schedule anytime between five and 20 years, right down to the month.
This kind of customization gives you so much more flexibility than most private student loan companies. The precision makes it easier to find a loan term that fits your budget well.
Earnest will refinance loans from $5,000 to $500,000, which should be more than enough for most student loan borrowers. But if you happen to have more than that limit, SoFi may be the better choice between the two.
One bright spot is that the lender doesn’t charge an application fee, origination fee, prepayment penalty or even a late fee.
Of course, late payments can still damage your credit score if they’re past due by 30 days or more, so don’t let the lack of a fee make you complacent.
SoFi vs. Earnest: Customer service and experience
While interest rates and repayment terms are key factors in determining which student loan refinance lender is best for you, the overall experience as a customer is also crucial. Here’s what you should know about SoFi and Earnest in this area.
SoFi customer experience
In 2020, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) received 13 student loan-related complaints about SoFi. The lender has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
If you have questions about SoFi student loan refinancing, you can contact customer service at 855-456-7634.
Earnest customer experience
As with SoFi, Earnest received just 13 complaints about student loans through the CFPB in 2020. The lender’s rating with the Better Business Bureau is an A. If you need to contact Earnest’s customer service team, you can reach them at 888-601-2801.
SoFi vs. Earnest: Online reputation and awards
Earnest received an award from NerdWallet for being the best overall lender for student loan refinancing in 2021. This award is likely attributable to the lender’s low interest rates and customizable repayment options that you can’t get elsewhere.
The lender also received an award from NerdWallet for the best MBA and law school loan refinancing, so if you’re a business or law school graduate, consider using that lender for a better experience.
SoFi, on the other hand, received an award from NerdWallet for best medical school loan refinancing. So if you’ve graduated from medical school, consider working with SoFi to get your refinancing in place.
Is Student Loan Refinancing Right for You?
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Key additional features of SoFi student loan refinancing
As you compare student loan refinance options, there are several other features beyond the most important ones to keep in mind. Here are some other reasons to consider refinancing with SoFi over Earnest:
- Parent-to-student transfer: SoFi is one of a handful of lenders that allow you to transfer parent student loan debt to a child. This process involves the consent of both parties, but if everyone agrees, it can be a good way for a parent to avoid letting student loan debt get in the way of their retirement savings and other important financial goals.
- Forbearance: If you’re struggling to keep up with your monthly payments because you’ve lost your job, SoFi allows you to get forbearance for as long as 12 months — in three-month increments — as you work on finding a new job. The lender also provides resources to help you find your new job. You can also get access to other career resources and even one-on-one coaching.
- Discounts: As a student loan refinance borrower, you can get a 0.125% interest rate discount on new personal loans and student loans. You may also be able to get a discount on a mortgage loan processing fee.
- Experiences and events: As a SoFi member, you may be able to access exclusive events and experiences that aren’t available to non-SoFi customers. That can include happy hours, dinners, networking events and more. You’ll also get expedited entry and lounge access at SoFi stadium in Los Angeles.
- More financial services under one roof: It doesn’t always make sense to do all of your financial dealings with one financial services company. But if you like the idea of keeping your banking, lending, and investments under one roof, SoFi offers a solid chance to do that, at least with a majority of your financial accounts.
- No cosigner release: While most of SoFi’s features are positive, it’s important to note that the lender doesn’t offer cosigner release. This means that if the primary borrower has improved their credit and income, they’ll need to refinance again to have their cosigner removed from the loan.
Key additional features of Earnest student loan refinancing
For the most part, Earnest doesn’t offer as many major features. There are, however, some to keep in mind as you do your due diligence:
- Skip one payment per year: Earnest allows its customers to skip a payment every year. To make up for it, the payment gets spread across the remainder of your loan term, slightly increasing your payment. This can be helpful if you need a break sometimes, but keep in mind that it will increase how much you owe overall because it’s increasing your loan amount.
- Forbearance: Like SoFi, Earnest offers the chance to get forbearance in three-month increments, up to 12 months total. Just keep in mind that if you skip a payment, that counts toward your 12 months under the previously mentioned program. However, it appears that Earnest is more flexible than SoFi with eligibility for forbearance.
- Can’t add a cosigner: If you’re struggling to qualify for refinancing on your own and need a cosigner, Earnest won’t allow you to apply with one.
- Can’t transfer parent loans: You’re not allowed to transfer parent student loans to a child through Earnest, which means you’ll need to look elsewhere if this is what you want to accomplish.
SoFi vs. Earnest: Eligibility requirements
Both lenders have minimum requirements to qualify for student loan refinancing. While meeting those requirements won’t guarantee favorable enough terms to make refinancing worth your while, they can give you a benchmark to help you determine whether or not you’re eligible.
SoFi eligibility requirements
In order to qualify for a SoFi refinance loan, you must meet the following requirements:
- You are at least the age of majority in your state.
- You are a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or visa holder who is 18 years or older.
- You’re employed, have sufficient income from other sources or have a job offer, and will start within the next 90 days.
- You have at least an associate degree from a Title IV school.
- You’re refinancing educational debt (bar loans and residency loans are not eligible).
SoFi does not disclose a minimum credit score, and there is no minimum income requirement, at least not an official one it has disclosed to the public, but the lender will look at your cash flow after your monthly expenses.
Earnest eligibility requirements
Earnest provides a little more information about what it takes to get approved for student loan refinancing, as well as what can disqualify you. Here’s what to expect:
- You are at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen, or you possess a 10-year (non-conditional) permanent resident card.
- Your current enrollment status is less than half-time, and your student loans are in repayment, or your degree will be complete at the end of this semester.
- You currently live in a state where Earnest operates (Kentucky and Nevada are excluded).
- You are currently the primary borrower on the student loans you would like to refinance.
- You are not requesting new loans for future schooling.
- The debt is from paying for a Title IV-accredited school.
- The debt is from your own education.
- The debt you’re refinancing is from one or more completed degrees or a degree that will be completed by the end of this semester.
- You have a minimum credit score of 650.
- You’re employed or possess consistent income.
- Your student loan accounts are all in good standing.
- You’re current on your rent or mortgage payments.
- You do not have a bankruptcy on your credit report or accounts recently in collections.
It’s also important to note that Earnest considers more than just your credit to determine whether or not you’re eligible for a loan. Other factors include:
- You have enough savings to cover two months’ worth of expenses.
- You spend less than you earn (your bank account balance increases every month).
- You don’t have a lot of non-student and non-mortgage debt.
- You’re not regularly charged overdraft, late or insufficient funds fees.
Why choose Earnest student loan refinancing
Earnest student loan refinancing is one of the best options available for most people who are looking to refinance their student loans. There are several reasons for this, especially compared with SoFi, including:
- Lower interest rates
- More flexible repayment terms to fit your budget
- Fewer fees
- More transparency about eligibility.
- A wider range of eligibility criteria.
- The ability to skip one payment every year.
That said, the lender does not allow cosigners, so if you can’t get approved for refinancing on your own, this lender isn’t even an option for you. The same goes if you’re a parent who wants to refinance on your own or transfer the debt to your child who was a college student — the debt must be yours and for your education.
If you don’t qualify for a loan from Earnest, it’s a good idea to look elsewhere. But if you do and you can get better terms overall than with SoFi or any other student loan refinance company, it’s a good idea to apply.
See How Much You Can Save
Student Loan Refinance Calculator
Student loan refinancing combines your current loans into a single loan with a new rate and term. See how much you can save by entering your loan information below, or by getting quotes from multiple lenders using Purefy’s rate comparison tool.
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|Current Loan||New Loan||Savings|
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How to see your prequalified Earnest student loan refinancing rates
As with all other major student loan refinance companies, Earnest allows you to see rate quotes through the prequalification process. This process doesn’t require a hard credit check, so there’s no damage to your credit score.
However, with a little credit information, Earnest can show you what your likely terms would be. Then if you decide to proceed and submit an official application, the lender will run a hard credit check and give you a final offer, typically close to the quote, if not the same terms.
Before you apply with Earnest, though, it’s important to shop around and compare interest rates and other features across multiple lenders to determine which is best for you.
The best way to do this is through Purefy’s rate comparison tool. This tool functions similarly to the prequalification process each lender offers, but instead of doing it with just one lender, you’re doing it with multiple lenders at the same time.
This not only saves you money but also makes it easier to compare your options.
Remember, though, that interest rates aren’t the only important factor to consider. Earnest’s flexibility is one of the lender’s best features, and you likely won’t get that anywhere else. Also, because the lender looks at more than just your credit score, people with less-than-stellar credit who are generally responsible with their money will still have a chance to get approved.
The bottom line
Comparing SoFi and Earnest student loan refinancing can help you find the right option for you. As you look beyond the lenders’ interest rates and review other terms and features, it’ll be easier to determine which lender will provide the most savings and the best overall experience.
While SoFi has some excellent features and may be a solid option for many, Earnest can provide a better all-around experience, so it’s important to compare both before you decide.
The important thing is that you take the time to do your due diligence and find the best path forward for you and your student loans.