Student loans may at-first seem like an only alternative, can bring a lot of challenges down the road. Currently, 70% of students who took loans to attend college are struggling to pay the debt back. With high-interest rates and long periods of repayment, this has a debilitating effect on the quality of life of these people. However, this situation can change with the effective use of consolidation programs. Borrowers can apply for government consolidation or other private SoFi student loan consolidation. By combining the loans into one, monitoring payments is more manageable. In the best case, debtors can even get a reduction in monthly payments. However, they should first decide which program to apply for. Each of them provides various advantages and disadvantages. Their terms differ considerably. Hence, in this article, I want to show you the differences between Direct and Private SoFi Consolidation and how borrowers can make informed decisions.
While all differences matter, the truth is that your choice will heavily depend on the type of your loans. Direct consolidation is only for joining federal loans. If you want to combine private loans, too, you cannot apply for that program. You need to decide whether private SoFi student loan consolidation offers the best option for you or perhaps other private lenders.
One of the most critical differences in the types of loans that those programs cover. Direct consolidation includes many forms of federal loans. Some examples can be Subsidized Federal Stafford loans, Federal Perkins, or Nurse Faculty loans. However, this program only joins federal loans. Direct consolidation is not possible for debt made for private education.
While you can not consolidate your private loans in this way, it sometimes plays a crucial role. For some programs, when officials estimate the length of the repayment period, they use the total amount of debt- federal and private- as an influential factor. Besides, you should be aware of the PLUS loan application. In practice, a Direct PLUS loan is eligible for the Direct Consolidation plan. However, if parents made this debt to pay for the education of dependent students, it can not be consolidated with federal student loan debt that students themselves got.
On the other hand, SoFi student loan consolidation covers a much broader range of loans. It puts no restriction to consolidation; whether private or federal, you can enjoy lower interest rates by combining them. Plus, this online company also supports the refinancing of Parent Plus loans.
In general, students only become eligible for Direct Consolidation after they graduate, leave college, or get less than half-time education. In terms of timing of consolidation, SoFi indicates that the earlier you refinance, the better. The platform supports early application by honoring the first six months of grace period of loan graduates refinance.
Now let’s look at eligibility criteria for these two programs individually. For the Direct Consolidation plan, there exist a few requirements. First, you become eligible if you started repayment, or you are in a grace period. If a graduate has a defaulted debt, there are some other requirements to satisfy. Before getting consolidation, he/she should make three successful, consecutive monthly payments. Besides, he/she should agree to repay consolidation bu Income-based, Pay As You Earn, Revised Pay As You Earn, or Income-contingent repayment plans.
Another eligibility criteria are about the garnishment of wages. This term indicates a court rule which orders your employer to keep a portion of your salary separately for paying the loan server. If you face such an issue, Direct Consolidation is only possible after the order expires. To sum up, a desire to repay the loan by combining all debts into one is enough for debtors to get consolidation unless they face default or garnishment of wages.
For SoFi student loan consolidation, the number of requirements, and the burden of documentation increase.
While it is not on the eligibility list, you should also have a good credit score. Social Finance is a private company, and it would not risk serving people who have a poor credit history. They also utilize this factor for decision making of which loans to refinance. If you meet all the requirements, the SoFi student loan consolidation program will cover loans from $5000 to $100000. However, this rate also can be higher, depending on your state’s legal requirements. For Arizona, Massachusetts, Kentucky, or New Hampshire, the minimum amount is higher.
There are also differences in the interest rate you will get after consolidation, depending on which program you choose. Plus, repayment methods can vary. Again, let’s first look at Direct Consolidation. This program has a fixed interest for the entire life of the loan. Officials calculate this interest by finding the weighted average of interests of loans you want to combine. Then, they round the number to the nearest one-eighth of a percent. Also, there does not exist any cap for the interest rate.
In the case of SoFi student loan consolidation, you have a chance for better rates. The reason is that SoFi operates online. Unlike local banks or credit unions, this platform has fewer costs. In this way, they can provide lower rate refinancing. The decision on the exact interest rate is not a simple weighted average, as in the case of Direct Consolidation. Instead, it depends heavily on the credit score and income level of the debtor. While the direct method has a fixed rate payment, you can choose to pay either with a fixed or variable interest rate with SoFi. Usually, the interest rate for fixed-loan is between 5.74-14.24%, and for variable-rate, it is from 4.78% to 10.88%
Repayment of Direct Consolidation usually starts during the 60 days after the loans combined. In general, your loan servicer notices you about the first due date for repayment. If you have a debt that is in the grace period, you can opt for delaying combining it until the end of the period. Choosing this option means that you do not start repayment until the grace period ends. Also, borrowers can select their repayment method- including an income-based loan payment– among several options available for Direct Consolidation.
If you select SoFi student loan consolidation, the repayment is different. The company sends funds to your current loan servicer after signing the final documents, and a three day rescission period ends. Then again, 7-10 days later, borrowers will receive an email with instructions to repay. They should open an online account and follow the repayment plan that SoFi offered. Usually, SoFi creates this repayment method based on income, loan amount, and interest rate. You can choose from three, five, or seven-year repayment terms. Besides, they also try to make payments error-free. There is an automatic deduction function called AutoPay. If you use Autopay, then the loan servicer will deduct the amount from your bank account automatically each month. In addition to being convenient, this system allows you to get a 0.25% discount on the interest rate if you authorize automatization.
Direct consolidation is a federal program. Hence, debtors apply for the program usually through Studentloans.gov. Two ways of application are possible; online and by mail. The borrowers can complete the online form and submit through the website. Alternatively, they can download, print, and fill the application and send it by mail for submission. After submitting, a servicer for student loan consolidation will perform actions to combine your loans. This service is also a person whom you contact if you have any concerns or questions. You should be careful about keeping loan payments. Unless servicer informs you that consolidation is completed, you need to make on-time payments to lenders.
For applying SoFi student loan consolidation, it is better first to check your credit score. You can do it by requesting your credit scores. See if you can meet the minimum score required for eligibility. Then you can move to the next step. After you input your name, birth date, address, phone number, and social security number, SoFi officials will immediately inform you whether your application is approved or not. But this approval is an initial one and is the result of a soft check of your credit score.
Next, they will perform an in-depth analysis of your request. You need to share employment, banking information, as well as loan amount and income level. In this stage, they will calculate the initial interest rate, which is tentative. The exact percentage will depend on SoFi’s decisions after they check your financial history and current standing. Also, be ready to upload documents to prove income, citizenship, or bank accounts. Lastly, you need to e-sign the agreement to get funds into your account. If you agree to AutoPay in this step, you will get a 0.25% discount for your interest rate.
While both programs help debtors to decrease their loan burden, they bring some drawbacks, too. It is essential to know the advantages and disadvantages of SoFi student loan consolidation and Direct Consolidation, before making any decision on which one to choose.
The advantage of this program is that it offers an excellent simplicity for loan repayment. By combining many federal loan repayments into one, it is easier to keep track of them. Plus, it can also decrease your monthly payment amount. The reason is that the program will give you a chance to pay the whole amount for extended periods like 30 years. Another benefit is for people who wish to combine loans other than William D. Ford Federal Direct loans. In this case, they can get access to extra repayment options such as income-driven and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Some people mention that the switch to a fixed interest rate is a pro for this program. However, we cannot make this claim for sure. If later in the future, the interest rates rise, having a fixed one can be advantageous. But, if interest rates fall, you will pay more than the market interest rates, which is not a desired situation at all. Hence, the switch to a fixed percentage has an ambiguous result for debtors.
The disadvantages of the program also exist. As mentioned before, the repayment period is longer. While this feature decreases monthly payments, it can lead to a higher total amount of payments at the end of the period. Another point is that the outstanding interests of your current loan become a part of the original balance after the consolidation. Hence, interest can accrue on a higher balance. In this case, you will be better off if you do not consolidate loans. Consolidation also cost you losing some benefits such as interest rate discounts or some other loan cancellation. If you pay an income-driven repayment plan or PSLF, consolidating loans will lead to a loss of credits of payments for those programs.
SoFi student loan consolidation also brings some benefits and drawbacks to borrowers. The main advantage is that SoFi allows combining private loans, which Direct Consolidation does not offer. Plus, it is easy to apply. After all, SoFi is an online company. You can apply for consolidation wherever and whenever you want. Other than ease of the process, you can get a 0.25% discount to your interest. As mentioned before, it is possible if you agree that they will deduct monthly payments from your bank account automatically. In addition, you can contact them seven days a week to direct your questions. Plus, debtors can enjoy some membership benefits, such as getting the help of a financial coach without any extra cost.
The drawback of the program can be the documentation process. For direct loans, the desire for consolidation covers the majority of eligibility criteria. But for SoFi refinancing, debtors should prove their eligibility through a collection of numerous documents, which can also be time-consuming. Other than that, if you apply this plan, you will lose many protections that federal loans offer to you. The reason is straightforward. SoFi is a private company. To maintain your federal benefits such as potential student loan forgiveness, you need to apply for a governmental program.
Lastly, people mostly complain about interest rates of SoFi student loan consolidation. It is not that they offer a higher percentage; it is the process itself that complicates the process. As I said before, you will get an initial rate after a soft credit check. However, they will make an in-depth analysis and decide the exact rate after you bring more documents. The problem is that the exact percentage can be much different than the initially proposed one. Therefore, the process can be a waste of time.
Combining multiple loans into a single one makes the repayment process simpler. Tracking the repayment is straightforward. Plus, if you can lower the interest by consolidation, you will enjoy the decreased burden of student debt. Consolidation is possible through governmental bodies and many other private companies like SoFi. The most significant difference between these two types of plans is that SoFi student loan consolidation allows consolidating private loans, while Direct (Federal) Consolidation does not. However, there are still some differences in terms of eligibility, interest rate, repayment terms, and application method. Additionally, they provide both pros and cons. Before deciding which one to choose, it is better to know which benefits they will bring you and how drawbacks will affect your current standing. If you decide to opt for a governmental program, Student Loans Resolved can also guide you through the process for a smooth debtor experience.