I thought a lot about SoFi and refinancing in general. A few points:1) Refinancing is absolutely critical.
The interest rate on student loans is killer. I have loans at 7.9% and 6.8%. The "tyranny of 7.9%" has become a meme among law students for a good reason. Only once you start trying to repay them does it become apparent what such a high interest rate really means. I've been making minimum payments for 3 months (totaling less than $5000), of which $2000 has gone just to interest. In less than a month, $700 of unpaid interest has accrued. And I didn't even pay close to sticker.
I just refinanced at around 3.9% variable. That's literally less than half of the GradPlus rate. 2) Fixed or variable? Downsides of refinancing?
I chose variable, but there are reasons to pick fixed as well. SoFi's variable rate is based on the 1-month LIBOR. Short term interest rates are projected to remain low for the next few years. Since I plan on paying off my loans in that time frame, variable made the most sense.
If you're truly concerned about the possibility of rising short-term interest rates, and you're planning to take 10 years to pay off the loans, then it's more tempting to go with fixed. To me, the tradeoff of the higher interest rate doesn't seem worth it.
I had some Perkins loans at 5% fixed. I didn't refinance those.
A few people I know looked into SoFi but don't want to refinance because they may quit biglaw and go into government/PI and take advantage of LRAP/IBR/PSLF. This is pretty much the only reason NOT to refinance. 3) My experience with SoFi
To answer the poster above me: you can apply to SoFi right after receiving bar results -- you don't have to wait until the swearing-in. The application process is pretty easy. All I did was take pictures of my ID, billing statements, etc and upload them to the site. Whenever I called SoFi, their customer service people were pretty knowledgeable. The hold time over the phone is 5-10 minutes though.
As another poster mentioned, the best way to apply to SoFi is to use their referral program
. You and the referring friend both get $100. One of my friends told me about this, and I literally started a new application to claim it. As long as you set up your account and refinance after clicking on the link, you are entitled to the fee. Obviously using a friend's would be best, but if you need a referral, mine is http://friends.sofi.com/3lZqQ