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Student Loans Student Loan Repayment

Earnest vs. SoFi Student Loan Refinance Comparison

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Rates (APR) Start at 5.19% fixed, 5.99% variable 3.99% – 9.99% fixed
6.24% – 9.99% variable
Rates (APR) Rates (APR)
Start at 5.19% fixed, 5.99% variable 3.99% – 9.99% fixed
6.24% – 9.99% variable
Loan amounts $5,000 – 105% of loan balance $5,000 – total loan balance
Loan amounts Loan amounts
$5,000 – 105% of loan balance $5,000 – total loan balance
Repayment terms 5 – 20 years 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
Repayment terms Repayment terms
5 – 20 years 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years

Refinancing student loans can be a smart move if you’re looking to simplify multiple loans into one or seeking a lower interest rate, but choosing the right lender is critical. 

Earnest and SoFi are top-rated online lenders with a strong presence in the student loan refinancing market. Earnest and SoFi have several similarities in their refinancing products, but small differences might have a significant impact on your decision. 

The following analysis delves into their rates, terms, and eligibility, highlighting the distinct scenarios in which one might be a better choice than the other and guiding you to make the right refinancing decision.

Earnest vs. Sofi: Rates, terms, and eligibility

When comparing Earnest and SoFi for student loan refinancing, the choice comes down to what suits your individual needs. Both lenders rate well on our system: 

  • SoFi scores 4.9 out of 5, and we deemed it the best online lender.
  • Earnest rates at 4.8 out of 5 with the unique designation of best skip-a-payment benefit, being the only lender we rated that offers one skipped payment per year. 

Here’s a detailed rundown on rates, terms, and eligibility for Earnest vs. SoFi:

Our rating4.8/5 (Best skip-a-payment benefit)4.9/5 (Best online lender)
Fixed rates (APR)Starting at 4.96%4.74% – 8.99%
Variable rates (APR)Starting at 5.32%5.29% – 9.19%
Term lengths5 – 20 years5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
Loan amounts$5,000 – $500,000 (residents of California must request to refinance $10,000 or more, and residents of New Mexico must request to refinance $10,001.00 or more)$5,000 – Total outstanding loan balance
Cosigner accepted?YesYes
Cosigner release?NoNo
Graduation requirementDegree is complete or will be at the end of the current semester, or all the following are true: 

Degree is incomplete, last attending date is more than 6 years ago, credit score is 700 or above, and the school attended was not a for-profit school
You must have earned a degree to be eligible
Minimum credit score650650
Income requirementNot stated, but Earnest requires applicants to have a job and a steady incomeNone but you must have free cash available after paying monthly expenses
State restrictionsAll states are accepted except Nevada. 

Earnest loans to borrowers in the District of Columbia.
Lends to all 50 states + District of Columbia
Repayment assistanceDeferment for unemployment or economic hardship (up to 3 years) and full-time military service (during active duty and the first 13 months after)

Up to 1 year of forbearance in certain cases
Deferment and forbearance for eligible borrowers experiencing financial hardship
Unique featuresOption to sign up for biweekly automatic payments

Rate-match guarantee with a $100 bonus

Option to skip 1 payment each year

Can adjust your term down to the day to get your ideal monthly payment
Unemployment protection: You can pause monthly payments if you become unemployed, and the career services team will help you to find new opportunities.

Discounts on additional SoFi loans

Member benefits, including free career coaching and exclusive invitations to career networking events

You can read more about Earnest’s full student loan offerings in our ultimate guide to Earnest student loans. Learn more about SoFi’s student loan products in our comprehensive review

Want to see more options? See our top picks for student loan refinancing.

SoFi vs. Earnest: Which is better for student loan refinancing?

Earnest and SoFi both offer student loan refinancing, but the right lender for you may come down to specific needs and scenarios. Here are four common situations and the lender that might be the best fit. Click the link to navigate to more details and explanation.

Choose SoFi if…Choose Earnest if…
You need to transfer Parent PLUS loansYou want customized loan terms
You want your finances in one placeYou want repayment flexibility
You’re worried about losing your jobYou didn’t graduate

You need to transfer Parent PLUS loans: SoFi

Transferring Parent PLUS loans can be a significant advantage for some families. SoFi allows you to transfer parent loans to a child’s name, assuming the child qualifies and applies for a student loan refinance. 

This ability to shift responsibility to the child can offer financial flexibility and potential interest savings, aligning the loan terms with the child’s needs and circumstances.

In contrast, Earnest only allows the primary borrower (the parent on a Parent PLUS loan) to refinance, limiting these options.

Apply with SoFi

You want customized loan terms: Earnest

Choosing the right loan term can make a significant difference in your overall repayment experience. While SoFi provides set repayment terms of 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years, Earnest takes customization to the next level. It allows you to tailor your repayment term down to the very day within a time frame of five to 20 years.

This level of customization means you can align your loan repayment with your financial goals and circumstances precisely. Whether you aim to pay off the loan quickly to save on interest or need a longer term to make monthly payments more manageable, Earnest provides the flexibility to create a plan that fits you perfectly.

Apply with Earnest

You want your finances in one place: SoFi

A lender that offers multiple financial products can simplify your financial life. SoFi stands out in this aspect, providing not only student loan refinancing but personal loans, mortgages, auto loan refinancing, and banking. 

Borrowers benefit from a 0.125% rate discount on an additional SoFi loan, which can make subsequent borrowing more affordable.This one-stop-shop approach allows you to consolidate your lending and banking needs with a single provider, saving time and streamlining your financial management.

Earnest, in contrast, focuses primarily on student loans and student loan refinancing. It partners with LoanSnap for home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) specifically for college tuition. While strong in its specialization, Earnest offers fewer comprehensive lending solutions.

Apply with SoFi

You want repayment flexibility: Earnest

Repayment flexibility is key for many borrowers, especially if they’ve faced difficulties with student loan payments. Earnest shines in this area by allowing you to skip one payment per year. 

This feature sets it apart as the only lender we rated that offers this benefit, giving you a unique cushion should unexpected financial challenges arise.

Both Earnest and SoFi provide deferment and forbearance for eligible borrowers experiencing financial hardship, ensuring some degree of flexibility. But Earnest’s option to skip a payment adds an extra layer of convenience and peace of mind.

Apply with Earnest

You’re worried about losing your job: SoFi

Job security is a concern for many, and if this is something you’re worried about, SoFi offers a supportive solution. You can pause monthly payments if you become unemployed, allowing for financial breathing room. 

But SoFi goes beyond that, with member benefits including career coaching and invitations to exclusive networking events. These features aim not only to help you find new opportunities but to build and enhance your career.

Apply with SoFi

You didn’t graduate: Earnest

Not having a degree doesn’t have to be a barrier to refinancing your student loans. While many lenders, including SoFi, require a degree for refinancing, Earnest offers a more flexible approach. 

You can refinance without a degree with Earnest if you last attended school more than six years ago, have a credit score of 700 or above, and the school you attended was not a for-profit institution.

This option opens up refinancing opportunities to those who may have started their educational journey but didn’t complete a degree, providing financial flexibility where it might not otherwise be available.

Apply with Earnest

After comparing Earnest and SoFi in the sections above, you may be leaning toward one or the other. But how do you make the final decision? Here’s a guide to help you make an informed choice between these two lenders or others that may fit your needs:

1. Evaluate what’s important to you

  • Identify your deal breakers: Think about what’s crucial to you in a lender. Whether it’s specific loan features or flexible repayment options, knowing your priorities will guide your decision.
  • Decide whether the lender meets those requirements: With your unique needs in mind, look at lenders such as Earnest and SoFi to see whether they align with your requirements. This evaluation will narrow down your choices.

2. Do you qualify?

  • Review the eligibility requirements: Examine the qualifications for the lenders you’ve selected, ensuring you meet the criteria.
  • Prequalify via a soft credit check: Use this process to confirm eligibility without affecting your credit score. Both Sofi and Earnest perform soft credit checks for prequalification.

3. What are the rates and terms?

  • Compare preliminary rates and terms: Through prequalification, you’ll receive initial rates and terms from lenders. Analyze how they compare, and calculate your potential savings. Refinancing generally makes the most sense if you can secure a lower interest rate than on your current student loans.

4. Apply and refinance

  • Select the best offer: After comparing the options, choose the lender that suits you best.
  • Submit your application: Once your application is approved, you’re on your way to refinancing.

Alternatives to Earnest and Sofi

You may also find that Earnest and SoFi are not the refinancing lenders for you, and you need to explore alternatives.

In that case, here’s a collection of resources to guide you:

  • How to refinance student loans with bad credit: Earnest and SoFi require a decent credit score to qualify. If you’re looking for specialized options for lower credit, this resource can provide alternatives.
  • Refinancing for dental school: Sofi and Earnest can refinance dental school loans, but you may want to explore other tailored solutions and providers.
  • Refinancing of medical school: Earnest and SoFi can refinance medical school loans. However, to dive deeper into specific options, consult this guide.
  • Refinancing for Parent Plus loans: SoFi offers features for Parent PLUS loan refinancing, but if you wish to investigate further, this resource covers additional lenders and approaches.
  • Refinancing without a degree: While Earnest offers refinancing without a degree under specific conditions, for broader options and criteria, this resource may be of help.

By exploring these resources, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of the student loan refinancing landscape beyond Earnest and Sofi. Whether you’re a seasoned borrower or just beginning your research, these tools and guides will equip you with the knowledge you need to make confident decisions about refinancing your student loans.