How to Get or Refinance New York Student Loans

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New York is home to some of the top universities in the country, including Columbia, Cornell, and NYU. The state also made news in 2017 with its introduction of the Excelsior Scholarship, which offers free tuition at public schools to New York residents with financial need.

If you don’t qualify for this full-ride scholarship, though, you’ll need to find other ways to pay for college. Once you’ve exhausted your options for scholarships and grants, you might choose to borrow student loans in New York.

Student loans can be a useful tool for paying tuition as long as you don’t get slapped with high interest rates or borrow too much. This guide will point you to the best New York student loans so that you can take out loans strategically. And if you already have education debt, read on to learn how refinancing could help you pay it off more easily or more quickly.

New York student debt: At a glance

Average debt at graduation $30,346
Percent of students that graduate with debt 58
National ranking for amount of debt 15
National average debt at graduation (Class of 2017) $39,400
Info current as of 2015-16 school year, except when noted
Source: The Institute for College Access & Success

How to get New York student loans

As a New York student, you can borrow federal or private student loans to pay for school. Here’s what you need to know about each type.

Federal and New York student loans

Although the state of New York doesn’t offer student loans itself, it does have a Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) for eligible residents. TAP grants can be for as much as $5,165 — and you don’t have to pay them back.

Since grants or scholarships are essentially “free money,” you should apply to as many as you can before borrowing student loans. But if you still have a gap in funding, student loans could help you cover education costs.

Your best option is a federal student loan from Federal Student Aid. You might qualify for subsidized or unsubsidized Direct Loans, both of which come with a fixed interest rate of 5.05% for undergraduates.

Federal student loans tend to be a better option than private ones since anyone attending an eligible school can obtain them. Plus, they’re eligible for income-driven repayment (IDR) plans and federal student loan forgiveness programs.

That said, you can only borrow a certain amount in Direct Loans each year, so you might still need extra money to pay for school. If that’s the case, your parents could consider taking out a federal Parent PLUS Loan, which comes with a 7.60% interest rate.

Alternatively, you could explore your options for a private student loan.

Private student loans

If you’ve exhausted your options for federal financial aid but still come up short, you might borrow a private student loan from a bank, credit union, or online lender. Unlike federal student loans, private lenders check your credit before approving you for a loan, so you might have to apply with a credit-eligible cosigner to qualify.

Once you’ve been approved, you can typically choose between a fixed and variable rate. You’ll also choose repayment terms, which often start at five years and go up to 15 or 20 years.

Note that unlike federal student loans, private loans aren’t eligible for IDR plans. They also don’t qualify for federal forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness or Teacher Loan Forgiveness. Some private lenders offer forbearance or deferment if you go back to school or lose your income, but you’ll have to check with each lender to see if it has this protection.

If you decide taking out a private student loan is right for you, consider these lenders for student loans in New York:

  • ACMG Federal Credit Union
    • Finances a student line of credit starting at $1,000
    • Offers variable rates between 6.00% and 8.75% as of Sept. 10, 2018
  • AmeriCU Credit Union
    • Provides a student line of credit starting at $1,000
    • Offers variable annual rates between 7.00% and 7.50% as of Sept. 10, 2018
  • Money Federal Credit Union
    • Finances a student line of credit from $1,000
    • Offers variable annual rates between 7.75% and 9.00% as of Sept. 10, 2018
  • Citizens Bank
    • Finances undergraduate loans up to $100,000 (with larger loan amounts for graduate degrees)
    • Annual rates from 4.04% to 12.19%
  • College Ave Student Loans
    • Provides loans from $1,000 up to the cost of attendance for your school
    • Has student loan repayment terms of five, eight, 10, or 15 years
    • Annual rates from 3.69% to 12.07%
  • Ascent
    • Annual rates from 3.82% to 14.53% for undergraduate students
    • Has student loan repayment terms of five, 10, or 15 years for undergrad borrowers, and 10 or 15 years for graduate students
    • Has an award of 1% cash back upon graduation if you meet certain terms and conditions

Since private student loans have various terms and conditions, make sure to shop around with several lenders to find the best rate.

How to refinance New York loans

One of the biggest challenges of paying off debt is keeping up with interest. Fortunately, you might be able to refinance your student loans for a lower interest rate.

To qualify to refinance student loans, you’ll need a decent credit score and steady income (or you can apply with a creditworthy cosigner). Not only can refinancing potentially get you a lower rate, but it also lets you choose new repayment terms.

You could choose a shorter term, which could raise your monthly payments but get you out of debt faster. Or you could go with a longer term, which would result in lower monthly bills. Before you make your selection, use our student loan refinancing calculator to estimate the long-term costs of your new student loan repayment plan.

A third benefit of refinancing is that it can simplify your debt repayment. If you refinance multiple student loans, you combine them into one. So instead of keeping track of multiple payments, you will only have to manage a single bill each month.

Note that refinancing is different than federal consolidation, which involves combining multiple federal student loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan and does not lower your interest rate. With refinancing, you can combine both types, federal and private.

Before you refinance student loans, though, consider this potential downside: When you refinance a federal loan, you turn it into a private one. As a result, you lose access to federal IDR plans and forgiveness programs. If you’re relying on either, refinancing likely wouldn’t be a good move.

But if you’re comfortable turning your loans private, then consider these lenders for refinancing student loans in New York.

  • ACMG Federal Credit Union
    • Refinances student loans from $5,000 up to $125,000
    • Offers student loan repayment terms of five, 10, or 15 years
    • Has fixed and variable annual interest rates between 3.00% and 7.25% as of Sept. 10, 2018
  • First Republic Bank
    • Provides student loan refinancing options
    • Offers up to 2% of your original balance back if you pay your loan off within four years
  • Earnest
    • Refinances student loans from $5,000 up to $500,000
    • Annual rates from 2.47% to 6.32%
  • SoFi
    • Refinances student loans from $5,000
    • Annual rates from 2.57% to 8.18%
  • Citizens Bank
    • Refinances student loans of $10,000 or more
    • Has terms of five, 10, 15, or 20 years
    • Annual rates from 2.57% to 8.69%

You have your choice of institutions for refinancing student loans, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Before choosing, make sure to shop around with multiple providers to find a loan with the best rate.

Compare your options for the best student loans in New York

Whether you’re headed upstate or packing your bags for the Big Apple, take time to explore your financing alternatives for college. If you’ve maxed out your eligibility for federal student loans and need a private one, look around so that you can find a loan with the best terms.

And if your goal is to refinance student loans, compare offers from multiple lenders before choosing the right one. Beyond finding the lowest rate, you might also look for extra perks, such as great customer service reviews or the option to remove a cosigner from your loan later down the road.

Managing debt can feel complicated, but if you’ve done your due diligence, you can make strategic decisions that save you money. Although it might take a few years, eventually you’ll be free of debt — and you’ll have earned your valuable degree along the way.