Earnest vs. SoFi: Best Student Loan Refinancing Comparison
Choosing a refi lender is a process similar to obtaining a new loan. This article breaks down the differences between Earnest and SoFi.
Comparing refinancing offers can get a little tricky.
It's not like shopping for most products and services, where you can just choose the best price and move on. There are multiple factors that need to be taken into account, and not understanding how those factors interact could lead you to make a misinformed decision.
That's why we've done the work for you by comparing two of the most popular options for student loan refinancing - Earnest and SoFi. Here's how they stack up.
How to Choose a Refinancing Offer
Once you’re interested in a lender, you can fill out a basic form showing what interest rates and terms you qualify for. While the final rates may differ slightly, these preliminary results will help you see which lender offers the lowest rates.
You will likely receive several different quotes from each lender with different terms and interest rates. For example, you may receive estimates for both fixed-rate and variable-rate loans, with terms generally ranging from five to 20 years.
When comparing lenders, make sure to compare like items with like items. For example, don’t weigh a 10-year variable-rate loan from Lender A against a 15-year fixed-rate loan from Lender B. The term and type of interest rate make a huge difference, so it’s vital to compare the same terms.
Choosing a term can be difficult if you’re not sure what your other financial goals are. If your main goal is paying off student loans quickly, pick the refinancing offer with the shortest term. The shorter the term, the lower the interest rate. Shorter terms have the highest monthly payments, so make sure to verify that you can afford those payments.
Longer terms have higher interest rates, but give the borrower more room in their budget for saving, investing and meeting other financial obligations. For example, if you have high-interest debt like a credit card balance, refinancing student loans to a longer term frees up more money to pay down the credit card debt.
The second most important decision is whether you want a fixed-rate loan or a variable-rate loan. Payments on a fixed-rate loan will stay the same throughout the entire loan term. If your payment is $500, it will be $500 every month until you pay off the balance.
Payments on a variable-rate loan may change because the interest rate will increase or decrease depending on the market. For example, when the Covid-19 pandemic began, interest rates dropped dramatically. If you had a variable-rate loan, your interest rate may have decreased.
How often interest rates change on a variable-rate loan depends on the lender. Your payments can fluctuate every month, once a quarter or once a year. Before you choose a variable-rate loan, make sure you know the maximum monthly payment you could have. If you can’t afford that amount, you may be better off with a fixed-rate loan.
Earnest vs. SoFi: How They Compare
Earnest and SoFi are some of the biggest student loan refinancing companies on the market. Here’s what to know about their student loan refinancing offers and how to decide which one is best for you.
Earnest’s parent company is Navient, one of the largest student loan servicers in the country. You can refinance both private and federal loans with Earnest, as well as both undergraduate and graduate loans, including loans from law, medical and business school.
With the Juno discount, fixed interest rates start at 2.25% APR, and variable interest rates start at 1.63% APR as of 8/29/21. Borrowers who apply with Earnest through Juno will receive a special .25% interest rate discount that is not available by refinancing with Earnest directly.
If you’re a parent with federal Parent PLUS loans, you can refinance them with Earnest. If you’re interested in refinancing the loans into your child’s name, you’ll have to ask the current loan servicer to transfer the loan into your child’s name. Then, your child can refinance the loan with Earnest.
Earnest currently does not allow co-signers. If you need a cosigner to qualify, choose from one of the other Juno partners or use SoFi.
SoFi was one of the first companies to exclusively focus on student loan refinancing, but has now expanded to include other products. Borrowers can refinance both federal and private student loans with SoFi.
If you refinance student loans with SoFi, you can choose from a five-year, seven-year, 10-year, 15-year and 20-year term.
Fixed interest rates start at 2.74% APR, and variable interest rates start at 2.25% APR as of 8/29/21. Both of these rates include the .25% discount if you sign up for automatic payments. These rates are noticeably higher than what Earnest and Juno offer.
SoFi lets you check your interest rate and terms with only a soft credit check, which will not hurt your credit score.
Juno can help you find the most affordable possible rates on refinancing student loans. Juno negotiates on behalf of borrowers with partner lenders to help each student qualify for the best refinance rates they can given their financial situation.
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins.
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