SoFi vs. Laurel Road: Which is Better for Student Loan Refinancing?


Updated on November 13, 2019
By Jen Williamson

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If you’re looking into refinancing your student loan, then you know every lender is different—and choosing the right lender is crucial.

A lower interest rate is the most obvious criteria you should look for when refinancing your student loan. But other factors matter as well. Finding the right lender often means finding the one that works best for you—not everyone else.

Here’s a closer look at two lenders—Laurel Road and SoFi—that are offering extremely competitive rates and novel refinancing packages right now. Which one is better for you?

Who should refinance with SoFi?

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If you're all about getting a great interest rate while climbing the career ladder, SoFi is a lender you should consider. 

SoFi is a major player in the student loan refinancing marketplace. They've helped borrowers refinance over $14 billion in student loans.

That's with good reason. SoFi is unique in that they throw a lot of resources behind their members—and these go beyond refinancing.

SoFi offers career advisory services, where you can work one-on-one with an advisor to develop a resume, transition your career, refine your personal brand, and get customized support.

In addition, they run events for members—including cooking classes, wine tastings, yoga classes, happy hour meet ups, cycle classes, and financial planning sessions. These events take place coast to coast, in cities including New York, Oakland, Boston, and San Diego.

If you're a budding entrepreneur, know that SoFi may be able to provide seed capital. It also has an accelerator program, and a demo day featuring a select group of member companies. They also offer a six-month loan deferment for entrepreneurs getting their businesses off the ground.

SoFi is great for a lot of people—but especially for those looking for community and support in their job search, and for those interested in starting companies.

Who should refinance with Laurel Road?

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If you want to refinance to a better rate but you're worried about losing some of the benefits of federal loans, Laurel Road may be a good choice for you. 

Laurel Road also claims big savings from its members—more than $20,000 on average.

One thing that makes them stand out is their contingency plan for borrowers who hit hard financial times. Laurel Road provides up to one year of forbearance for those under economic hardship—which is an extremely rare benefit from a private lender.

They also offer death and disability loan forgiveness. That is, your loan could be forgiven if you pass away or become disabled before you've finished paying. 

See also: Should I Refinance My Student Loans?

Comparing interest rates and loan terms

SoFi offers fixed and variable rate loans. Their range is as follows:

  • Fixed-rate loans: 3.46%-5.98% APR
  • Variable-rate loans: 1.81%-5.98% APR

SoFi offers loans durations of five, seven, and ten years.

Laurel Road also offers both fixed and variable loans, with interest rates as follows:

  • Fixed-rate loans: 3.50%-7.02% APR
  • Variable-rate loans: 1.99%-6.65% APR

They offer terms of five, seven, ten, 15, and 20 years.

Laurel Road also specializes in refinancing medical school debt. 

What discounts are available?

Both lenders charge zero origination or pre-payment fees.

Both offer 0.25% discounts for AutoPay.

Whats the application process?

Both lenders keep it pretty simple.

Laurel Road lets you apply online. You’ll need two recent pay stubs or other proof of income, a photo ID, and payment statements for your student loans.

SoFi has an online pre-approval process that lets you find out if you qualify. Once qualified you will then gain access to the full application.

Which one is better for you?

So which of these lenders is better for student loan refinancing? The better question is, which one is better for you?

There are several factors that make each one stand out—the career and entrepreneurship support for SoFi, and the generous forbearance and forgiveness terms for Laurel Road, for example.

Both offer very competitive interest rates. It’s difficult to say which lender would give you a lower rate—as this depends on your finances and the company's own underwriting priorities.

The best way to decide is to carefully consider each lender’s strengths and drawbacks—and apply to find out how your finances might change.

Learn more about refinancing with SoFi

Learn more about refinancing with Laurel Road

Check out our Student Loan Refi Calculator to see how much you could save by refinancing your student loan.
 

Refinance & Save Today With These Leading Lenders

#1 View More Details

Earnest empowers people with the financial captial they need to live better lives.

  • APR: 1.81% - 6.99%
  • Minimum credit score: 650
  • Refinance up to $500K
View More Details
Visit Earnest View Loan Disclosure

Using technology, data, and design to build affordable products, Earnest's lending products are built for a new generation seeking to reach life's milestones. The company understands every applicant's unique financial story to offer the lowest possible rates and radically flexible loan options for living life.

  • Commitment-free 2 minute rate check
  • Client Happiness can be reached via in app messaging, email, and phone 
  • No fees for origination, prepayment, or loan disbursement
  • Flexible terms let you pick your exact monthly payment or switch between fixed and variable rates
  • Skip a payment and make it up later
  • Online dashboard is designed to make it easy to apply for and manage your loan

Click here to apply with Earnest and to see how much you can save.

#2 View More Details

For every loan they fund, they contribute to the education of a child in need

  • APR: 2.02% - 6.45%
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Refinance up to $500K
View More Details
Visit CommonBond View Loan Disclosure

CommonBond was founded in 2011 by three MBA graduates from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who wanted to help their peers escape from high-interest student loan debt. Its original focus was on grad students, but it has since expanded to cover undergrads as well.

Of all the companies we reviewed, CommonBond has some of the best customer service. The company prides itself on being easy to reach by email, phone, or live chat. It offers networking events, expert panels, insider newsletters, and even has a program help borrowers who lose their jobs to find new ones. CommonBond also makes you feel good about choosing to refinance with them by donating money to an education nonprofit for each loan they write.

CommonBond Student Loan Refinance review

  • Unemployment protections - If you lose your job or decide to go back to school, you can delay your payments for up to 24 months.
  • Social promise - For every loan they fund, they also contribute to the education of a child in need.
  • Hybrid loan option - Offerings include a 10-year hybrid loan with fixed interest for the first five years, and variable interest for the final five.
  • Referral bonus - For every friend you refer who refinances their loans with CommonBond, you’ll earn a $200 cash bonus.
  • Qualification - Borrowers must have graduated at least 2 years prior if they want to apply without a co-signer. And borrowers in 6 states – Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota, and Vermont – cannot currently refinance through CommonBond.

Get a personalized review of your refinancing options with CommonBond today.

#3 View More Details

Offers unemployment protection and career/coaching/networking

  • APR: 1.81% - 5.98%
  • Minimum credit score: 650
  • Refinance up to 100% of student debt
View More Details
Visit SoFi View Loan Disclosure

SoFi, which stands for “Social Finance,” was created by a group of Stanford business students who found themselves with a mountain of debt after graduation. They set out to change the student loan industry and help borrowers like themselves to get lower interest rates. SoFi has some of the lowest interest rates and, unlike the other lenders we reviewed, it has no maximum amount you can finance. However, Nevada residents can’t currently refinance with SoFi. Minimum loan balances are higher in Arizona, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania due to state laws. Additional state restrictions may apply.

SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Review

  • Low interest rates - For well-qualified borrowers, SoFi offers some of the lowest rates we have found.
  • Strong customer service - It has more than 350 customer service reps available to help applicants through process.
  • Career coaching and networking - Perks include career services representatives who can help you find a job or negotiate a higher salary. SoFi also hosts networking events, happy hours and educational lectures on topics like buying a home in major cities around the country.
  • Unemployment protection - Borrowers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own may apply for Unemployment Protection. If approved, SoFi will suspend their monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during the forbearance period. These benefits are offered in three month increments, and are capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. Note that interest will still accrue while loans are in forbearance.

Find out what interest rate SoFi can offer you here.

#4 View More Details

Operates in all 50 states; 2nd largest student loan refinancing lender

  • APR: 1.99% - 7.02%
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • No refinancing amount maximum
View More Details
Visit Laurel Road View Loan Disclosure

Laurel Road is a national online lender with customers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Many of our non-bank competitors are not able to lend in all 50 states.Laurel Road has grown to be the second largest player in the student loan refinancing space in large part because of our reputation as the go-to low rate provider.

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance Review

  • National reach - Online lender that is available in all 50 US states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
  • No fees & the lowest rates in the space - Laurel Road is the most transparent about the rates they provide customers, and offer the lowest rates where it counts. Our customers will save more than $20,000 over the life of their loans on average. 
  • Customer service reputation - Laurel Road's customer service representatives are no rookies. With 19 years of experience on average, Laurel Road’s Customer Service team delivers an experience that is best in the industry. They work to build meaningful, life-long relationships with our valued customers to improve their overall financial wellness.
  • The stability & security of a bank - They are a division of Darien Rowayton Bank, a stable and secure FDIC-insured bank, regulated by the FDIC and the Connecticut Department of Banking.

Get your personalized, pre-approved rates in less than 5 minutes.

#5 - Nitro Recommended View More Details

Credible is an online marketplace that provides borrowers with competitive, personalized loan offers from multiple, vetted lenders in real time.

  • Free to use, no hidden fees
  • Minimum credit score: 650
  • No refinancing maximum amount
View More Details
Visit Credible View Loan Disclosure

Credible is a multi-lender marketplace that empowers consumers to discover student loan refinancing options that are the best fit for their unique circumstances. Our integrations with leading lenders and credit bureaus allow consumers to quickly compare accurate, personalized loan options ― without putting their personal information at risk or affecting their credit score. The Credible marketplace provides an unrivaled customer experience, as reflected by over 2,000 positive Trustpilot reviews and a TrustScore of 9.5/10. Credible is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

For more information, click here to apply now with Credible.

  • Compare prequalified rates from multiple, vetted lenders in 2 minutes.
  • Refinance federal, private and ParentPLUS loans.
  • San Francisco-based customer support 7 days a week.
  • Checking your rates won't affect your credit score.
  • Get your final offer in as little as 1 business day.
  • Credible’s partner lenders do not charge prepayment penalties, loan application fees, or origination fees.
  • Free to use, no hidden fees: Requesting rates can take just minutes and costs you nothing.
#6 View More Details

Works with 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances

  • APR: 2.01% - 8.88%
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Refinance up to $300K
View More Details
Visit LendKey View Loan Disclosure

Connecting student borrowers to a network of over 300 community lenders with low interest rates. By partnering with these lenders, LendKey is able to give consumers direct access to the best rates available from the most borrower friendly institutions. As the servicer of all loans obtained through its platform, you can rest easy knowing your personal information will be safe and that the best customer service team will be ready to answer your questions from application until your final payment.

LendKey Student Loan Refinance review

  • Lightning fast rate check - 2-minute rate check with no impact on your credit score
  • More lenders, more options - see the best offers from over 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances
  • Life of loan relationship - With LendKey, your personal information will never be sent or passed on to third parties. Their customer service team is with you from the moment you land on their website until you've completely repaid your loan.
  • Unmatched benefits- Community lenders put people over profits and offer unique benefits like cosigner release after 12 on-time payments, interest only repayment options to keep monthly payments low, the largest unemployment protection period in the market, and more.

Get a personalized quote from LendKey now.

#7 View More Details

Many ELFI customers save hundreds per month month and thousands over the length of the loan term.

  • APR: 2.39% - 6.69%
  • Minimum credit score: 680
  • No refinancing maximum amount
View More Details
Visit ElFi View Loan Disclosure

Education Loan Finance is designed to assist borrowers through consolidating outstanding education loans into one single loan that effectively lowers your costs of education and/or makes repayment very simple. Education Loan Finance - backed by the strength of SouthEast Bank - combines the benefits of traditional education loan refinancing with the superior products, service, and support found in the private market.

Education Loan Finance (ElFi) review

Check out their low rates today to see how much you can save.

  • Get Your Rate. With Education Loan Finance's Find My Rate tool, you can complete a short application to receive a preliminary quote on your eligible rates and terms, all without affecting your credit score.
  • Apply in Minutes. Education Loan Finance's online application is fast and simple.
  • Outstanding Personalized Service. Our Personalized Loan Advisors specialize in student loan refinancing and help busy professionals find the option that's right for them.
  • Student Lending Experience: Education Loan Finance isn't a start-up company - we have a longstanding history and expertise in serving student loan borrowers.

Attractive Bonus and Referral Programs:

  • Education Loan Finance Fast Track Bonus**: Education Loan Finance's application process is streamlined and simple, and you can earn a $200 bonus just for closing your loan within 30 days of your initial application.
  • Education Loan Finance Referral Program**: Earn $400 for each new Education Loan Finance Client referred by you!
#8 View More Details

Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products

  • APR: 2.43% - 7.60%
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • No Maximum when refinancing
View More Details
Visit Splash View Loan Disclosure

Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with new rates as low as 3.25% fixed APR which can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loans. No application or origination fees and no prepayment penalties. Splash Financial is in all 50 states and is intensely focused on customer service. Splash Financial is also one of the few companies that offers a great medical resident and fellow refinance product. You can check your rate with Splash in just minutes.

  • Low interest rates – especially for graduate students
  • No application or origination fees. No prepayment penalties.
  • Co-signer release program - you can apply for a cosigner release form your loan after 12 months of on-time payments
  • Specialty product for doctors in training with low monthly payment

Click here to see more of Splash's offerings and to see how you can save money.

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