CommonBond vs SoFi Student Loan Refinance Review

Learn the comparison between two big student loan refinancing companies - CommonBond & SoFi. You can learn about Interest Rates, API’s and loan terms for student loan refinancing through this article.

Updated by Sagar.C on 11th September 2020

Refinancing student loans is a big financial move. It is extremely important to choose the right company when refinancing your student loans. If you choose recklessly without proper research, you may end up spending more money than you save in the process. Read more on What is student loan refinancing.

CommonBond and SoFi have been the top student loan refinancing companies. Together, they have refinanced over $20+ billion student loans. In this article, we will compare and contrast the student loan refinancing programs that they offer. It includes an in-depth review of all the features of the programs.

Choosing the right lender comes down to choosing the one that offers you favorable interest rates, flexible loan terms, and conditions, along with other features that will save you the most amount in the long run.

Always take refinancing advice from others who are professionals and can study your financial situations first, because the outcome of refinancing depends on multiple factors as discussed below.

List of contents

CommonBond vs. SoFi Refinancing

This table shows a comparison between CommonBond and SoFi Student Loan Refinance. Given information like APR, loan terms, protections, and other factors that can change in the future

Factors CommonBond SoFi
Rate Type Fixed, Variable, and Hybrid
Fixed and Variable
Variable APR 2.41 - 7.95%
2.41% - 7.874%
Fixed APR 3.48% - 8.22%
3.49% - 8.124%
Hybrid APR 3.96 - 7.01% N/A
Loan Term 5 to 20 years 5 to 20 years
Co-signer Release
Yes, after 36 months No
Minimum Loan Amount
$5,000 $5,000
Maximum Loan Amount
The full balance of your qualified education loans
Auto-Pay Interest Reduction
Yes, 0.25% of Interest Rate
Yes, 0.25% of Interest Rate
Forbearance and Deferment Options
Forbearance of 24 months in case of financial trouble.
Forbearance of 12 months in case of Financial Trouble.
In the case of "Return to School" Deferment is offered.
Pros & Cons Pros: your funds will be paid off in 2 weeks. Cons - options will be restricted by state eligibility, lengthy process to approval
Pros: Keep federal grace period, refinance Parents Plus Loans Cons: Must have a great credit score
Additional benefits
Indirectly help the needy through their Pencils of Promise. Community perks.
Unemployment Protection Program, Member benefit - Career Coaching, Financial Advice, and Exclusive events

When is the CommonBond loan option better?

When to consider Commonbond student loan refinancing -

1. Due to medical conditions or job loss, you can opt for CommonBond's forbearance program and postpone payments by 24 months.
2. You can apply for a hybrid loan, in this case, in the first 5 years you may have a fixed interest rate which is less. If you intent to finish your debt in 5 years applying for hybrid loans is useful.
3. If you plan on removing a cosigner, you can pay the loan consecutively for 3 years with timely payment and request for cosigner release.

CommonBond has been one of the key lenders who offers the best student loan refinance rates. They have their own strong social missions that set them apart from the other lenders. With their partnership with Pencils of Promise, they have been providing schools, teachers, and technologies to thousands of students in Ghana.

10 Key features of CommonBond

1 - Low-interest rates, you save more

The low-interest rates advertised are meant for individuals with exceptional credit scores and history with a stabilized financial status.

If you qualify for these low-interest rates, they could save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan when you compare it with your current loans that have higher interest rates.

Even a 0.5% decrease in interest rates can save you a considerable amount if your loan terms are long enough.

2 - Credit Score is not only the game changer

Yes, a good credit score is needed to qualify for CommonBond Refinancing but there are other factors affecting your eligibility. Other than the three digits CommonBond considers other aspects of your profile to check your eligibility.

3 - CommonBond does not hide fees

There are no origination fees and application fees if you apply to CommonBond.

4 - Pay early without penalties

There are no penalties on early repayment. You can pay more than your monthly due amount. The extra amount will be applied to the principal of the loan.

5 - Flexible option - Fixed, variable and hybrid interest rates

The company provides three types of interest rates - Fixed, Variable, and Hybrid rates.

If you want predictability, you should choose fixed rates. Fixed rates are usually higher than the other rate options.

Variable rates depending on the market. If market changes, variable rates change. It is a bit of risk to choose variable rates as it has no surety on whether the low rates will remain low.

Hybrid loans are designed uniquely. They offer this loan in the 10-year term. The fixed-rate will be applied to the first 5 years of the loan term. For the remaining 5 years, it will change to variable rates. If you compare, the rates can be lower than the typical 10-year fixed rates.

6 - Autopay to reduce interest rates

If you choose the auto-pay option then you will get a 0.25% discount off your interest rates.

7 - Forbearance and Deferment Options

CommonBond offers up to 24 months of forbearance over the life of the loan. So, if you can not make a monthly payment due to some genuine financial issues, you do not need to panic. Academic deferment is also offered to the borrowers willing to go back to school.

8 - The adequate amount for refinancing

If you have borrowed a heavy amount of loans for your school you do not have to worry. For most borrowers, the $500,000 refinancing loan limit through CommonBond will be able to cover everything.

9 - Borrowers’ community and networking

CommonBond is a community-centric company. It conducts many networking events, panels and career assistance. This will give you the advantage to build your network and get multiple job opportunities.

10 - Referral perks

If you recommend CommonBond to your friend or family whether it is their normal or refinanced loans, you get a $200 cash bonus for every successful referral.

Eligibility for CommonBond refinancing

The eligibility criteria for CommonBond Student Loan Refinancing are as follows.

  • You must be the USA, Permanent Resident or eligible visa holder

  • You should have been awarded a degree from one of the 2,000+ eligible Title IV accredited universities or graduate programs

  • Have Proof of your income or a letter of acceptance from the future employer

  • You must have a good credit score or you may need to add a cosigner with a good credit score

Read more on CommonBond Student Loans

When is the SoFi loan option better?

SoFi is another one of the top players in the student loan refinancing market. It started out as a small company funded by the alumni of Stanford Graduate School of Business to help students have more affordable loan options. It has since grown to this giant financial institution that has refinanced more than $18 million student loans. You should consider it if - 

1. If you have a high loan balance choosing SoFi is the best option.
2. If you are a member of soFi you get career coaching, member events, personalized financial advice, and discounts on future loans.
3. Its useful while refinancing parent plus loan into the child's name.

One of the unique features of SoFi Refinance Loan is that they come with SoFi member benefits that include career coaching from professional career coaches. On top of that, you get financial advice from an advisor, invitations to exclusive community events, and others. that cannot be found elsewhere.

Key features of SoFi

1 - Low-interest rates for the creditworthy

If you are an individual with a good credit score and a stable income, SoFi will be able to provide you with refinancing loans at low-interest rates. They will also excess your credit history so the better your records are, the lower your interest rates will be. Ultimately, you will save more money on the loan.

2 - Respects your Grace Period

If the loan you refinance with SoFi has a grace period or is in a grace period, you will be able to exercise the same privilege with them.

For example, if you refinance your federal student loans with SoFi, you get the same 6 months grace period before you have to make your first payment.

3 - No penalties and no extra fees

There is no processing fee or origination fee. There also are no prepayment penalties, i.e. you can make payments higher than your monthly dues. The extra payment will be used to reducing the principal of the loan, hence reducing the total cost of the loan amount. You can also make an early payoff with no extra charges.

4 - Referral benefits

If you refer to your friend about SoFi, under the referral plan you can get a $100 bonus for every successful referral.

5 - Autopay benefits

If you opt for autopay, you can get a 0.25% reduction on your interest rate.

 6 - Choose your own term

The repayment term for many of the refinance loans may be set based on your financial profile. Under SoFi refinancing, you can switch between 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20-year loan terms. This means that you have the option to control your monthly repayment amount up to a certain extent.

7 - Refinancing the Private as well as Federal Loans

You may refinance any student loan, whether they are federal and private loans with SoFi. However, if you refinance your federal loans with SoFi, you will lose all the federal loan benefits that come with the loans.

8 - Unemployment Protection Program

Losing your job is a nightmare as it may affect your ability to make your regular monthly payments. The Unemployment Protection Program provides a 12-month forbearance in 3 months increment.

This kind of program is not always found by private lenders. If you couple this program with SoFi’s career counseling, you may be able to get back on track faster than you might have been without these offers.

9 - Separate program for medical residents

There is a Medical Residency Student Loan Refinancing program offered by SoFi. In this program, medical resident students have to pay $100 minimum per month for up to 54 months. It offers a lower interest rate and it will not get compound during your residency. It is offered as a separate program.

10 - Take over Parent PLUS Loan

SoFi offers the option to refinance for Parent PLUS loans and be taken over by the student borrower. This option is really valuable if you have decided to be independent and take over the loan taken for your education.

Eligibility for SoFi Refinancing

The eligibility criteria for SoFi Student Loan Refinancing are as follows.

  • You must be at the age of majority in the state you are residing in

  • You must be the USA, Permanent Resident or eligible visa holder

  • Have graduated from eligible Title IV accredited universities

  • Possess a minimum of $5000 loan amount or more

  • Reside in a state where SoFi provide their services

  • Employed with considerable income or have a verified employment offer which will start in the next 90 days from application

  • Bar loans and residency loans are not eligible for refinancing

  • Must have a good credit score and credit record or you may add a co-signer who does

Read more on SoFi student loans

Verdict - Which is better - CommonBond or SoFi?

To make a decision on which lender is better between the two - CommondBond and SoFi for their refinancing loans, you must consider every aspect of your current situation. What you need off of the refinance loan as well as your eligibility will determine which lender to apply to.

CommondBond and SoFi separately offer unique and useful benefits that you may not find in the other. These benefits may be a deciding factor for some borrowers while others may not need them at all.

Remember to calculate the total cost of the loan for the interest rates that you have been offered. It will give you an idea of which loan is better for you.

Read the illustrated the circumstances below as it may help you make the right decision.

1 - You should go with CommonBond if you want to have an option of co-signer release. Co-signer release is offered by SoFi only in the case of the death of the co-signer.

2 - If you have bad credit then it may be easier for you to get a better rate from CommonBond since SoFi is more strict with their credit checking.

3 - If you’re a medical student you should opt for SoFi as it has its own separate program for Medical Resident Students.

4 - SoFi offers a unique unemployment assistance program, where the borrower can get help regarding resume review and job hunting to find their next job. You will not have this option if you refinance with CommonBond.

5 - Other than refinancing a student loan, SoFi offers the Entrepreneur Program. You can expect seeding and mentoring. SoFi has a large community where you can meet investors under this program.

Wondering if a student loan is right for you? Read about the best student loans for more

6 - If you want flexible loan rates then you should go for hybrid rates under CommonBond refinancing a student loan. It has 10 years repayment terms where for the first 5 years you can select a fixed rate and after that, for another 5 years, you can choose variable rates.

7 - If you want to enjoy the benefits of the community then you should select CommonBond as it has the reputation to build good communities.

8 - CommonBond has partnered with Pencils of Promises, a nonprofit organization that helps overseas education with their funding. The social mission is beneficial for many borrowers who want to combine their fiscal and social responsibility.

How to choose the right refinancing company

When choosing a lender to refinance your student loans, you must prioritize the factors that are important to you with regard to the newly refinanced loans and choose accordingly. The following points will help you understand what to look for in a company.

  • The maximum amount that can be refinanced

  • Eligibility criteria - Minimum credit score and income requirements

  • The interest rates offered - Types, rates, and terms

  • The flexibility of the repayment terms

  • Option for adding cosigner and cosigner release

  • Length of grace period for current college students

  • Availability of forbearance and deferment in times of financial struggles

  • Availability of forgiveness for death and disability

  • Fees for origination, prepayment, late payment, and more

  • The additional benefits and perks offered

Apart from these points, you must check the customer reviews regarding the customer support offered and the company's online presence and reputation to help you understand the satisfaction of their customers.

Note - After making an assessment of different student loan refinancing lenders, apply for your top choices keeping in mind that you may not be eligible for all the lenders that you have chosen.

Some of the lenders are more strict than others. Usually, your credit score and your income will weigh the most in determining the interest rates you will be offered. If you have these two factors in a good place then you will likely be offered multiple good options.

Remember you do not have any obligation to follow up for the offer you get. The final decision is in your hands only.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1.Is CommonBond a non-profit organization?

    Yes, it is. CommonBond has a strong social mission which helps them in providing world-class services.

  • 2.Who will service my loans if I take my loans from SoFi?

    MOHELA will service the loan. They can be contacted at 877-292-7470.

  • 3.Are CommonBond policies of forbearance and deferment differ from others?

    Yes, usually most refinancing lenders offer forbearance for 12 months when the borrower faces financial hardships. But CommonBond offers a forbearance of 24 months to their lenders when they face a financial crunch

  • 4.Are SoFi Loans considered “student loans” for tax purposes?

    Student loans are not taxed as they are not considered as income. If they are forgiven during repayment then student loans can be taxed. SoFi Student Loans are not taxed as they are also student loans and it can be taxed in a similar way that is when forgiven during repayment.

  • 5.How long does it take SoFi to fund a loan?

    Generally, SoFi does not take much time to approve your loan and you can immediately access funds once it gets approved. To quickly access funds you just need to apply for loans online with the required credentials.

  • 6.What is SoFi Career Coaching Program?

    Along with student loans SoFi also offers career coaching where you can discuss your career with an experienced career coach. Members can also have one to one sessions on topics related to a career under this program.