#1 Student Loan Lawyer
Updated on November 5, 2022
SoFI doesn’t have a student loan forgiveness program, and its loans aren’t eligible for the president’s student loan forgiveness plan. But if you refinanced your federal student loans with SoFi during the pandemic, you might be entitled to debt relief.
SoFi has been lending and refinancing student loans for the past decade. In all that time, SoFi has yet to create a student loan forgiveness program — even for death or disability. Like other private lenders, the company expects borrowers or their cosigners to pay according to the loan terms — even if their financial situation deteriorates and they can no longer keep up with the monthly payments.
The best option SoFi offers borrowers with financial hardship is forbearance, which allows them to suspend payments temporarily for up to 12 months.
The lack of forgiveness options and limited repayment flexibility is why it often makes little sense to refinance federal student loans. The perks you gain — career coaching, wealth management, lower rates, and so on — pale compared to the unique federal benefits you’ll lose.
But if you’ve already refinanced, you may wonder if you qualify for the sweeping debt forgiveness the federal government has begun to implement.
Related: Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness
SoFi student loans won’t be forgiven
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden approved sweeping student debt cancellation for federal student loan borrowers. The plan faced immediate legal challenges. The White House has battled many of those lawsuits and won. A few are still pending, but they’ll likely fail due to a lack of standing.
Once the legal charade ends, the Biden administration will proceed with this one-time federal student loan forgiveness opportunity, which the president claims will be a “game changer” for the 40 million Americans who stand to benefit.
Not one dime of this federal student loan cancellation will go straight to private student loans — even though private student loan borrowers represent about 8% of the $1.71 trillion total outstanding student debt in the US.
There is a workaround, however. If you refinanced your federal loans with SoFi or another private lender during the pandemic, you might qualify for some forgiveness indirectly.
Related: Can Refinanced Student Loans Be Forgiven?
Here’s how that works.
Borrowers who paid off their student loans in the last two years may be eligible for a refund if they are qualified for the president’s cancellation, according to the Education Department. The loans listed in the application are paid off via refinancing. So, if you refinanced your loans during the pandemic and qualify for the cancellation benefit, you can get your money back.
You’d get up to $10 thousand if you got a Pell Grant, which is a type of aid available to low-income undergraduate students, and up to $20 thousand if you did.
Visit the Federal Student Aid website, StudentAid.gov, to check if you got a Pell Grant and to apply for the relief. The Department of Education has already approved the applications for 16 million borrowers. It plans to apply the forgiveness to borrowers’ loan balances before the end of the year.
Learn More: Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Eligibility requirements for Biden’s plan
You qualify for cancellation if the Education Department owned your federal student loans and your adjusted gross income was $125 thousand or less in 2020 or 2021. Married couples qualify if they earned $250 thousand or less during that time. Most borrowers qualify for $10 thousand. Pell Grant recipients qualify for $20 thousand.
SoFi’s CEO wanted student loans to be forgiven
Earlier this year, SoFi CEO Anthony Noto made headlines when he penned a letter demanding the White House end the moratorium and immediately forgive $10 thousand in federal student loan debt.
At first glance, his support of broad debt cancellation would appear to conflict with SoFi’s revenue stream. Just the opposite is true.
A closer inspection reveals that the targeted forgiveness Mr. Noto favors — limiting relief to $10 thousand for borrowers earning less than $150 thousand and ending the payment pause for all except those experiencing severe financial hardship — would have a minimal effect on SoFi’s bottom line.
SoFi’s stock plummeted during the pandemic, dropping nearly 70% from its NASDAQ peak, partly because the company’s student loan refinancing business had been cut in half over the past two years.
After the president took the measures Mr. Noto supported, certainty entered the marketplace, and investors began to speculate that Sofi’s stock price would increase.
Learn More: SoFi Student Loan Repayment Options
Does SoFi qualify for student loan forgiveness?
SoFi borrowers can’t get their private student loans forgiven under any of the forgiveness programs offered by the federal government — even if they refinanced their federal student loans with SoFi. People who refinanced their federal loans with SoFi forfeited their eligibility for benefits and protections exclusive to federal loans. SoFi loans aren’t eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-Driven Repayment Plan Forgiveness, or the president’s most recent student loan relief. Unfortunately, you cannot transfer your loans back to the federal government.
Related: Do Navient Loans Qualify for PSLF?
Although SoFi borrowers can’t count on blanket student loan forgiveness to erase their debt, there are steps they can take to make their loans more manageable. Refinancing for a lower rate can be a smart financial move depending on your credit score.
Inflation, coupled with the resumption of federal student loan payments, is expected to push those rates higher in the next few months. Now may be the time to grab the best deal.
Use an online marketplace like Credible to compare rates with multiple lenders simultaneously.