Introduction to Student Loan Refinancing
A student loan refinance involves replacing your old student loans with a new student loan from a private lender. A student loan refi can be used to refinance private student loans, federal student loans, or a combination of the two. Borrowers may choose to refinance some one or more student loans and a portion or the entire amount of their student loan debt.
Student loan refinancing offers numerous potential benefits, including:
Lower interest rate than your old student loans;
Lower monthly payment than your old student loans;
A single monthly payment, instead of multiple payments to private lenders and/or the federal government;
The option of releasing your cosigner from your student loans.
How to Decide Whether to Refinance Student Loans
If a student loan refi can deliver one or more of the benefits we listed above, then it’s probably worth getting one. Here’s a checklist of things to consider before going ahead and contacting the best student loan refinance providers.
Compare the interest rates on your existing student loans to the ones currently on offer in the student loan refinance market. Federal student loans have ranged from 2.75% to 6.80% in the past decade while private student loan rates have ranged from less than 2% to more than 10% over the same period. If your rates are in the middle to upper parts of this range, then the 2-3% student loan refinancing rates being offered in 2021 should look very attractive!
Your credit score.
In order to qualify for the lowest student loan refinance rates, you’ll need to demonstrate strong credit along with steady income and employment. If your credit score is good, this will also help you to qualify for the best student loans without a cosigner.
The size of your debt.
If you’re fresh out of school and weighed down by tens of thousands of dollars in debt, then a student loan refinance makes sense. But if you’ve paid off most of your loans and only have a small amount of debt remaining, then even the lowest rate on a student loan refinance may not be worth the hassle.
Our Top 3 Student Loans Refinance Services
- No need to have graduated to qualify
- Non-U.S. citizens can apply with cosigner
- Up to 0.50% rate discount
- Minimum credit requirement not disclosed
- You must have at least $10,000 in student loans to refinance
Citizens offers competitive APRs and flexible terms with borrowers who can demonstrate strong credit – or bring a cosigner with strong credit. One of the best things about Citizens is that it caters to almost everyone, even accepting international students, people who haven’t graduated, and people undertaking a medical residency. If you’re looking at refinancing your student loans, then there’s a good chance Citizens has something to offer you.
- Matches you with best rates
- Friend referral bonuses
- Some lenders allow cosigner and cosigner release
- Website lacks key information about refinancing
- Some partnering lenders don’t allow a cosigner
If you’re just starting out your search for a student loan refinance, then Splash is a good place to start. Rather than go out and apply for multiple lenders one-by-one, Splash allows you to apply for multiple lenders with one form. The Splash platform is free to use, it won’t affect your credit score (until you move forward with a formal application), and you can apply as many times as you want.
- Low interest rates
- Borrower chooses payment and loan term
- Option to skip a payment once per year
- Not available in Delaware, Kentucky, or Nevada
- No cosigner option
Earnest stands out from its competitors in the student loan refinance market for two reasons: its seamless application process and the flexibility it gives borrowers. When you use Earnest to refinance your old student loans, you really do get the power to customize the loan the way you want. If low monthly payments are priority, good for you; and if paying less interest over the life of the loan is more important, good for you too.
Student Loan Refinancing Requirements
The rules for applying for refi student loans vary slightly from lender to lender. However, most private student loan refinancing companies accept borrowers who meet the following conditions:
U.S. citizen or permanent resident (or have a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident);
Aged 18 years or older;
Reside in a state where your chosen lender is authorized to lend;
Have employment, sufficient income from other sources, or have an offer of employment starting within the next 3 months; and
Have graduated with an undergraduate degree or higher from a Title IV school (an institution that is eligible to process U.S. federal student aid).
The best student loan refinance companies have strict lending requirements, typically reserving the best rates for borrowers that can demonstrate the following:
You’ll typically need a credit score of around 680 or higher to qualify for the best student loan refinancing rates. While some lenders offer student loan refinancing for bad credit, these loans generally have higher interest rates and are therefore only worthwhile if your original student loans had exorbitant rates.
Low debt-to-income ratio.
Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is the amount you currently owe in debt payments each month, as a percentage of your gross monthly income. The maximum DTI allowed by lenders is usually 43-50%, although often they will want to see a much lower ratio than this.
Some but not all student loan refi providers have a minimum required income threshold. Regardless, your lender will probably ask for proof of income and employment.
If you’re unable to qualify for the best student loan refinance rates on your own, then you may be permitted to bring a cosigner. A cosigner is simply a person you trust (such as a parent, relative or close friend or associate) who has strong credit.
Student Loan Refi Rates, Fees and Terms
The main purpose of refinancing a student loan is to get a lower interest rate and, as a consequence, lower monthly payment. Based on our survey of the best refinance student loan companies, APRs currently start from 2.15% - 4.54% for fixed-rate loans and 1.87% to 2.94% for variable loans.
Another good reason to get a student loan refi is the flexible repayment terms, which typically range from 5-20 years. Some lenders offer multiple repayment options, such as 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years.
A third good reason to refinance is the fees, or rather lack of them. The best student loan refinance companies have no origination fees, application fees, and no prepayment fees. They only make money from interest.
Finally, some private student lenders offer a 0.25% rate discount to borrowers who use autopay to pay their student loans. Other potential rewards include refer-a-friend bonuses and special offers on various other financial products and services.
Alternatives to Student Loan Refinancing
If you have private student loans, then a student loan refinance is generally the best option for reducing and managing your debt. However, if you have federal loans, then you also have the option of student loan consolidation. To consolidate a student loan (or loans), simply fill out a free Federal Direct Consolidation Loan Application and Promissory Note and confirm the loans you wish to consolidate.
People with federal student loans may also be able to qualify for student loans loan forgiveness or cancellation under various circumstances.
Total and permanent disability.
After becoming president, Joe Biden cancelled $5.8 billion in federal student loans for people with total and permanent disability.
Borrower defense to repayment.
Biden has also cancelled more than $1.5 billion in student loans for eligible borrowers. If your school misled you or engaged in other misconduct in violation of certain state laws, you may be eligible for “borrower defense to loan repayment,” which is the discharge of some or all of your federal student loan debt.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
If you are an employee of a federal, state, or local government organization or of a qualifying non-profit, then you may qualify for student loan forgiveness.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness.
If you have taught full-time in a low-income school or education service agency for a minimum 5 consecutive years, then you may qualify for student loan forgiveness. If you teach in a discipline classified as having a shortage of qualified teachers (e.g. math, science, and foreign languages), then you may also qualify for student loan forgiveness.
Federal student loans (and in some instances, private student loans) may also be canceled in the event of disability, death, bankruptcy, school closure, withdrawal from school.
Comparing Student Loan Refinancing Options
The student loan refinance market is a competitive one, with dozens of lenders out there competing for borrowers’ attention. As a person with student loans, you have the power to find a great deal. To begin, shop around and compare the best student loan refinance companies on key factors like APR and repayment terms. Once you find the one that’s right for you, it shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes to submit a formal application online and get your student loan refi confirmed.
* Credible is so confident in the personal loan rates you’ll find on Credible, we’ll give you $200 if you find and close with a better rate elsewhere.
See full terms and conditions.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
(1)The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as the borrower or cosigner, if applicable, enrolls in auto-pay and authorizes our loan servicer to automatically deduct your monthly payments from a valid bank account via Automated Clearing House (“ACH”). The rate reduction applies for as long as the monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during periods of forbearance and certain deferments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
Information advertised valid as of 09/10/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.