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If you’re looking for a way to finance your college education, LendKey and SoFi are two solid options. While SoFi is a more traditional student loan lender, offering specific loans for undergraduates, graduates, law students and more, LendKey is a loan comparison tool that matches you with small banks and credit unions. The choice between the two comes down to how much you value flexibility in your loan choices and what features you prioritize.
- LendKey is better if you're looking to quickly compare several loan companies, while SoFi is better if you want an established company with plenty of opportunities for discounts and member benefits.
SoFi vs. LendKey
|Details accurate as of June 13, 2023|
|Interest rates||4.44% to 13.80% Fixed APR (with Autopay)||4.39% to 11.31% Fixed APR|
|Repayment terms||5 to 15 years||10 years|
|Loan amounts||$1,000 to full cost of attendance||$2,000 to full cost of attendance|
|Benefits||No fees required; membership rewards and discounts; unemployment protection benefit||Compare several lenders at once; low APR caps; no application fees|
|Drawbacks||Brief grace period; loan term capped at 15 years||Extensive application requirements (with select lenders) ; loan details and fees vary by lender|
SoFi student loans: Pros and cons
SoFi offers undergraduate, graduate, law and MBA student loans. While it’s one of the more well-known student loan lenders, it’s important to think through the benefits and drawbacks before applying.
- No fees required: There are no required origination fees, application fees or late fees with SoFi.
- Rewards opportunities: SoFi offers membership rewards points for actions as simple as logging into the app and checking your credit score. As you earn those points, you can use them to help pay down your loans faster.
- Membership discounts: If you already have an account with SoFi, you could earn a 0.125 percent discount on your student loan. A 0.25 percent discount is also available to borrowers you enroll in automatic payments.
- Unemployment protection: If you lose your job, SoFi’s unemployment protection policy can help adjust your payments while you get back on your feet. SoFi also offers assistance with planning your professional life and searching for jobs.
- High APR: If you have a below-average credit score, a SoFi loan could be expensive. Its interest rate maximums are well over 14 percent for some of its loans.
- Short grace period: The grace period is just six months, which could make it challenging for new graduates or borrowers entering the workforce to manage monthly loan payments.
- Loan term capped at 15 years: Borrowers must choose between a 5, 7, 10 or 15 year term. Still, the maximum is a bit shorter than other comparable lenders offer.
LendKey student loans: Pros and cons
LendKey does not offer separate loan products for undergraduate, graduate, medical and law students, as many companies do. If you’re looking for a student loan, you’ll go through a single portal, and your information will be reviewed by several companies. Here’s what to know before starting the process.
- No application or origination fees: None of the lenders that partner with LendKey charge fees for applying or originating your loan.
- Compare rates from multiple lenders: LendKey isn’t a student loan lender itself; instead, it matches borrowers with banks and credit unions that it partners with. Because of this, borrower information will be processed for multiple lenders at once, making LendKey a quick way to compare several companies.
- Resources for students: LendKey goes beyond offering student loans. Its website also includes a scholarship search tool, a downloadable guide to paying for college and a hub with useful student loan-related articles.
- Co-signers allowed: LendKey lets you apply with a co-signer to possibly increase your approval odds if you’re having trouble qualifying for a loan on your own.
- Loan details vary by lender: The biggest downside of LendKey’s model is that borrowers won’t have an idea of rates, terms or fees until they’re matched with a lender. Some of LendKey’s lenders may charge late fees, and some may not offer sufficient forbearance. Plus, you may have to meet other eligibility guidelines to qualify for a loan.
- Refinancing limitations: LendKey’s loans all come with a 10-year repayment term, which is extremely limiting when compared to other student loan companies.
- Relatively short grace period: Regardless of the lender you’re matched with, all student loans through LendKey have a six-month grace period. Some other companies offer grace periods of nine months or longer, especially for borrowers in graduate school.
Which is better: SoFi vs. LendKey?
SoFi and LendKey are both strong options for student loans.
Both companies offer competitive rates for borrowers with good credit. So, you could qualify for a loan with attractive terms if you have a strong credit score, regardless of which option you choose.
Borrower perks and application process
They also offer several unique perks that can make the student loan process easier. And you can apply and view potential loan offers in minutes.
Accessibility and other offerings
If you have great credit and want a more full-service lender, SoFi is for you. SoFi will loan you money for your education, but it will also want to entice you to use it for basically everything else in your financial life — and if you do, you can earn impressive discounts and membership benefits. It’s the more digitally savvy of the two options, too, with online chat support.
If you’re hoping to stick with a credit union or you want to take some of the hassle out of comparing lenders, LendKey may be better for you. It’s an easy way to submit your loan details to several companies, and you’ll end up with a small bank or credit union that may offer more personalized service.
The bottom line
SoFi and Lendkey are worth considering if you’re searching for ways to fund your college expenses. Still, it’s always smart to get quotes from several sources before taking out a loan.
Be sure to compare quotes from both lenders to see which offers you the best combination of interest rates, terms, perks and fees. From there, you can decide which lender is truly right for your needs or if you should explore alternative lenders.