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College Ave vs. SoFi student loans

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College student works on homework in library
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College Ave and SoFi are two of the most well-known private student loan companies. Both lenders offer loans for undergraduates and graduates seeking money for college funding. While both lenders offer a good range of loan amounts and repayment terms, they have different benefits and unique features, especially for graduate students and returning borrowers. To know which is right for you, compare all of the lenders’ features and get quotes to see your rates.

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Key takeaway
College Ave is better for graduate students looking for generous repayment options, and SoFi is a better fit if you prioritize discounts or membership perks.

SoFi vs. College Ave

SoFi College Ave
Interest rates 1.89% to 13.17% variable, 3.47% to 12.55% fixed (with autopay) 0.94% to 12.99% variable, 3.22% to 13.95% fixed (with autopay)
Repayment terms 5 to 15 years 5 to 20 years
Loan amounts $1,000 to full cost of attendance $1,000 to full cost of attendance ($150,000 maximum for some graduate degrees)
Benefits No fees; membership rewards program; career coaching and financial planning assistance services Quick initial application; long grace period for some loans; scholarship opportunities
Drawbacks Poor rating on Trustpilot; potential for high interest rates Poor rating on Trustpilot; $150,000 loan cap for some graduate degrees

Details accurate as of June 16, 2022.

SoFi student loans: Pros and cons

SoFi offers student loans for undergraduates and graduate students, as well as specific loans for MBA programs and law school. It could be a good choice for students who want to take advantage of the SoFi membership program; here’s what to know about the benefits and drawbacks of the company.

Pros

  • No fees: You won’t pay any fees with SoFi, not even if you make a late payment.
  • Career coaching and financial planning: Whether you’re looking for help with your resume or assistance with planning your personal finance strategy, SoFi’s membership program offers access to career services at no additional cost.
  • Unemployment protection: If you lose your job, SoFi’s unemployment protection policy can make your life more manageable by adjusting your payments while you get back on your feet.
  • Several discounts: In addition to a standard 0.25 percent discount for setting up autopay, borrowers can receive a 0.125 percent discount if they have a checking account, auto loan or other financial product with SoFi.

Cons

  • Potential for high interest rates: The interest rates on the upper end of SoFi’s rate spectrum are very high – upward of 12 percent. Because of this, borrowers with poor credit could end up with an expensive loan.
  • Poor customer reviews: SoFi has poor rankings on Trustpilot, and many complaints from past customers are logged with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Relatively short grace period: All of SoFi’s loans come with a six-month grace period, meaning you will have to start repaying your loan six months after graduating or dropping below half-time enrollment. Other lenders offer longer grace periods, particularly for graduate school loans.

College Ave student loans: Pros and cons

College Ave’s student loan portfolio includes undergraduate loans, graduate school loans, MBA loans, medical school loans, dental school loans, law school loans and health professions loans. This wide range means that almost every type of student can find a suitable loan with College Ave, though it’s still important to consider the pros and cons of the lender.

Pros

  • Wide range of repayment terms: Borrowers can choose a repayment term of five, eight, 10 or 15 years, and some graduate school students have an additional 20-year repayment term option. This gives borrowers flexibility and can help them find a monthly payment that’s right for them.
  • Extended grace period for certain borrowers: While most College Ave loans come with a standard six-month grace period, law school borrowers get a nine-month grace period, dental school borrowers get a 12-month grace period and medical school borrowers get a 36-month grace period before repayment begins.
  • Promotions and giveaways: College Ave runs regular promotions, such as college scholarships and textbook giveaways.
  • Extremely low starting APRs: Borrowers with great credit may qualify for College Ave’s lowest rates, which are also some of the lowest rates in the business.

Cons

  • Poor past customer reviews: While the pool of College Ave reviews on Trustpilot is small – under 60 – the marks aren’t great. College Ave scores a 2.6 out of 5.
  • Potential for high interest rates: Some of College Ave’s loans have interest rates that can max out near 14 percent, which can make repayment much harder.
  • Loan cap on certain degrees: Borrowers taking out loans for dental school, law school, medical school or business school will face a loan cap of $150,000. This should be sufficient for most students, but it’s a limitation that few other lenders impose.

Which is better: SoFi or College Ave?

SoFi and College Ave offer very similar loan experiences with a variety of repayment options and a wide range of loan amounts. If you have excellent credit or a co-signer with excellent credit, either company will be able to offer you low interest rates to pay for college. Deciding between the two hinges on a few questions.

Are you attending a specialized graduate program, like medical school or dental school? If so, College Ave is a better fit, since the company has a 20-year repayment term for some graduate programs and grace periods that extend up to 36 months. Both of these options can make it easier and more affordable on a month-to-month basis to repay a large amount of debt.

Do you want a company with a lot of bonus resources and discounts? In this case, SoFi is likely a better choice. The company’s career counseling and financial planning programs set it apart from other student loan companies, and borrowers who want to take out several student loans with the company — or other financial products — could lower their interest rate significantly through membership discounts.

If you have the time, it’s a good idea to get quotes from both companies to see what interest rates and terms they offer you. Both companies boast a three-minute prequalification process, so you can compare offers with relatively little time commitment and no impact to your credit score. Taking advantage of prequalification from both SoFi and College Ave ensures that you have all of the information you need to make an informed decision about your student loans.

Written by
David McMillin
Contributing writer
David McMillin is a contributing writer for Bankrate and covers topics like credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. David's goal is to help readers figure out how to save more and stress less.
Edited by
Student loans editor