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Earnest Review
Earnest enables borrowers to choose from a broad range of monthly payments and loan terms on their student loan refinance.
Earnest Review
Earnest enables borrowers to choose from a broad range of monthly payments and loan terms on their student loan refinance.
September 02, 2021 / Nadav Shemer
Earnest Review
Earnest enables borrowers to choose from a broad range of monthly payments and loan terms on their student loan refinance.
September 02, 2021 / Nadav Shemer
Customized & flexible loan terms
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Intro

Earnest is a fast-growing fintech lender specializing in student loan refinancing and other financial products and services. Its tech-powered underwriting software quickly analyzes each applicant’s unique profile, allowing it to make quick decisions and offer competitive rates. Earnest offers what it calls “radical flexibility” on student loan refis, allowing borrowers to pick their payment and loan term. Earnest was founded in 2013 and acquired in 2017 by Navient Corp, but continues to operate as a separate brand.

Pros

  • Low interest rates
  • Borrower chooses payment and loan term
  • Option to skip a payment once per year¹

Cons

  • Not available in Delaware, Kentucky, or Nevada
  • No cosigner option

Earnest at a Glance

Loan types: Refinance federal and private loans

APRs: From 1.74% (variable) APR and 2.44% (fixed) APR *with autopay discount²

Repayment terms: 5-20 years³

Refi amount: $5,000 to $500,000 (N.B. California residents must refinance at least $10,000)

Origination fees: No

Refinance Rates and Fees

Earnest offers variable-rate loans starting from 1.74%* APR and fixed-rate loans starting from 2.44%* APR (with autopay discount²), ranking it among the best providers of student loan refinancing in America. There is one catch with variable rates: residents of Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas are not eligible (in addition to residents of Delaware, Kentucky, and Nevada – who are not eligible for any of Earnest’s products).

Once you're approved, Earnest lets you choose your monthly payment. As you move towards a lower monthly payment, you’ll see how much your loan term and total interest increase. As you move towards a higher monthly payment, the exact opposite will happen and you’ll see how much your loan term and total interest decrease.

Earnest never charges origination fees or prepayment penalties.

*Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account.

Repayment Options

Earnest lets you pick your preferred repayment term in monthly increments from 5-20 years (e.g. 8 years, 3 months; 12 years, 10 months; 16 years, 7 months).³ As your loan term changes, you’ll see how it affects your monthly payments and total interest3. In this respect, Earnest is much more flexible than most other student loan refinance providers.

Earnest builds a lot of flexibility into your student loan refinance, including:

  • Deferment up to 36 months for borrowers who return to an accredited graduate school at least half-time.
  • After 6 months of on-time payments, you will be eligible to skip one payment every 12 months.¹
  • With documentation from your previous loan servicer, Earnest may match your existing grace period for up to 9 months.⁴

Discounts and Rewards

When you share your personal referral link or code with your friends and family, you will each receive $200 when they refinance their student loans with Earnest. Due to state limitations, Earnest is unable to provide bonuses to residents of Massachusetts, Michigan, and Kentucky.

Application Process

Earnest takes applications for student loan refinancing online, on mobile (the website is optimized for mobile), or on the phone. Simply apply and upload all your documents and review the loan options. Most approved borrowers get a final decision within 72 hours.

Eligible students must be:

  • At least 18 years old;
  • A United States citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card;
  • Your current enrollment status is less than half-time and your student loans are in repayment, or your degree will be complete at the end of this semester;
  • You currently reside in the District of Columbia or one of the 48 states Earnest lends in (all but Kentucky and Nevada). Please note, they are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX;
  • You are currently the primary borrower on the student loans you would like to refinance;
  • You are not requesting new loans for future schooling;
  • You hold student loans for a degree from a college or university that is accredited under Title IV, within the U.S, and from your own education;
  • You are requesting to refinance at least $5000 in student loans (residents of California must request to refinance $10,000 or more);
  • Your student loan accounts are all in good standing;
  • You are current on your rent or mortgage payments, you do not have bankruptcy on your credit report or accounts recently in collection;
  • Be employed or possess consistent income in USD; and
  • Have a credit score of at least 650.

CoSigner Options

Unfortunately, Earnest does not allow cosigners when applying for a student loan refinance. If you have a cosigner on your old student loan(s), then they will automatically be released upon approval of a student loan refinance from Earnest.

Contact Earnest

Judging from the 4.7-star Trustpilot rating from 4,000+ reviewers, Earnest is a hit with the vast majority of borrowers it serves. Check out the Help Center on the Earnest website for answers to frequently asked questions and contact information. Earnest Operations LLC is based in San Francisco.

Summary

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.

Choosing to refinance to a longer term may lower your monthly payment, but increase

the amount of interest you may pay. Choosing to refinance to a shorter term may

increase your monthly payment, but lower the amount of interest you may pay. Review

your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.

Earnest Disclosures

¹Skip-A-Payment Disclosure

Earnest clients may skip one payment every 12 months. Your first request to skip a payment can be made once you’ve made at least 6 months of consecutive on-time payments, and your loan is in good standing. The interest accrued during the skipped month will result in an increase in your remaining minimum payment. The final payoff date on your loan will be extended by the length of the skipped payment periods. Please be aware that a skipped payment does count toward the forbearance limits. Please note that skipping a payment is not guaranteed and is at Earnest’s discretion. Your monthly payment and total loan cost may increase as a result of postponing your payment and extending your term.

²Auto Pay Discount

You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.

³Loan Cost Examples (Student Loan Refinance)

These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042.39. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,249.77. Your actual repayment terms may vary. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit earnest.com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

⁴Grace Period

Nine-month grace period is not available for borrowers who choose our Principal and Interest Repayment plan while in school.

Get started now, visit Earnest
By Nadav Shemer
Nadav Shemer specializes in business, tech, and energy, with a background in financial journalism, hi-tech and startups. Nadav writes for www.bestonlineeducationhub.com. He enjoys writing about the latest innovations in financial services and products.
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