After borrowing his way through business school at the University of Chicago, Benny Joseph emerged with an MBA, the spark of an entrepreneurial idea, and $115,000 in debt. Even with interest rates at all-time lows, he couldn’t find traditional lenders willing to refinance his student loans. Instead he tapped a network of deep-pocketed alumni. They offered him a lower interest rate along with access to a community of savvy business advisers.

SoFi, or Social Finance Inc., is one of the newest...


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