6 Reasons to Refinance Your Student Loans in 2020

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Refinancing with Laurel Road

Refinancing rates from 1.89% APR. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.

Check out Laurel road

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your student loan payments, refinancing could be the solution you need to turn things around. Not only could student loan refinancing potentially result in a better interest rate, but it can also simplify repayment and adjust your monthly bills. If you’re ready to take control of your student debt, read on for some good reasons to refinance student loans, such as:

1. Lock in a lower interest rate
2. Reduce your monthly payments
3. Take advantage of a flexible repayment plan
4. Release a cosigner from your student loan
5. Switch to a lender offering better service
6. Consolidate student loans for easier management

1. Lock in a lower interest rate

One excellent reason to refinance student loans is to seek a better interest rate. When you refinance your student loans, you combine all your federal and private loans into one new loan with a private lender. This private lender could be a bank, credit union or an online institution like SoFi or CommonBond.

Before giving you an offer, the lender reviews your income and credit score. If you have a steady job and strong credit, you could qualify for lower interest rates, since these factors show that you’re not a risky candidate for a loan.

Most lenders look for a credit score of 650 or higher. If your score falls below that mark, applying with a cosigner could net you a better interest rate. Adding a cosigner to your application can be another way to reduce risk in the eyes of the lender.

The lender will offer you a variety of loan terms with both fixed and variable interest rates. Currently, variable rates tend to be lower than fixed rates at the beginning, but they could go up (or down) over time. Whatever you choose, lowering your interest rate could save you money over the life of your loan.

Let’s say you have $50,000 in student loan debt with an average interest rate of 6.80%. Through refinancing, you lock in a new fixed interest rate of just 4.99%. After 10 years of repayment, you would save over $5,438 on interest.

You can game out different interest rates for your own situation with our student loan refinancing calculator.

2. Reduce your monthly payments

Besides snagging a lower interest rate, another reason to refinance student loans is the opportunity to change your repayment terms.

Most federal and private loans come with a 10-year repayment term. Although student loan refinancing options vary by bank, most range from five to 20 years.

If your current loan has a 10-year repayment term and you refinance to a 20-year term, your monthly payments will of course drop significantly. This can help add room in your monthly budget if you need it.

Let’s reconsider that example of $50,000 in debt at a 4.99% interest rate. On a 10-year term, you’d pay $530 per month. But if you lengthen your repayment term to 20 years, you’d pay just $330 every month. That $200 in monthly savings could be just what you need to make rent or buy groceries.

The federal government also offers some income-driven repayment plans, such as Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Income-Based Repayment (IBR), but they only apply to federal student loans, and you might not even qualify if you don’t meet the income requirement.

Student loan refinancing helps grads who don’t qualify for income-based repayment but also don’t make enough money yet to manage their student loan payments comfortably.

Keep in mind, though, that a longer payment term can mean more interest paid over time — so pay attention to the total cost of the loan and consider paying it off early when your finances improve. Often, there’s no penalty for prepaying your loans before the term is up, but always check with your lender to be sure.

3. Take advantage of a flexible repayment plan

Banks and other private lenders aren’t usually known for their flexibility, but some do offer helpful repayment options if you go back to school or run into financial hardship.

SoFi, for instance, lets you defer your monthly payments if you return to school on at least a half-time basis. CommonBond offers temporary forbearance in the case of economic hardship.

Some private lenders (SoFi and Laurel Road, among them) also honor an existing six-month grace period if your current loan has one. So if you refinance right after graduation, you may not have to start paying until your grace period is up.

That said, refinancing your student loans with a private lender means you lose access to federal repayment plans. Some of these plans include IBR, Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE). If you want to retain access to federal programs and plans, this could be a reason not to refinance student loans.

Plus, you won’t have access to federal loan forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). So before refinancing, make sure you won’t need these federal programs.

4. Release a cosigner from your student loan

Sometimes if your parents are cosigners on your current student loans, it can add stress to your relationship with them. What’s more, your loan impacts your cosigner’s credit and their ability to borrow additional funds.

When you refinance with a private lender, you could be eligible to release your cosigner. Some lenders remove your cosigner from the loan after you make on-time payments for a certain number of months. Two banks that currently offer cosigner release are CommonBond and Citizens Bank.

Once released, your cosigner can improve their credit score. As a result, they’ll gain access to new lines of financial capital if they need to buy a big-ticket item like a home or car.

If you’re looking to release a parent or other cosigner from your student loans, find out which lenders will work with you. If you have good credit and a steady income, it will be a lot easier to release your cosigner.

Similarly, refinancing could allow your mom and dad to transition a federal parent PLUS loan into your name.

5. Switch to a lender offering better service

Some borrowers find themselves unhappy with their student loan lender or servicer — student loan refinancing gives you the opportunity to switch to a new one with better customer service, if that’s an issue.

There are tons of online reviews to help you decide who to go with. As lenders compete for your business, put them under the microscope using resources like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau and TrustPilot.

Many new lenders in the refinancing space offer extensive online and phone-based customer service. Plus, they help you throughout the application process.

6. Consolidate student loans for easier management

Finally, one of the top reasons to refinance student loans is to simplify repayment. If you borrowed money to pay for college, it’s likely you have more than one student loan you need to repay. On top of that, student loan servicers buy and sell loans. That means you could end up sending your payments to new places every few years. This becomes confusing and hard to manage after a while.

Student loan refinancing allows you to combine multiple student loans into one, making your debt easier to organize, track and repay.

Rather than tracking multiple payments and interest rates each month, you only have to worry about making one payment — with one potentially lower interest rate.

A Direct consolidation loan through the federal government would also combine your debt, although it would leave you with about the same interest rates. Refinancing solves both problems.

If you’re tired of dealing with multiple student loans with various terms, and you’re also aware of the possible downsides of refinancing, then it’s time to start researching your student loan refinancing options. You could save money, time and a whole lot of hassle.

Rebecca Safier contributed to this article.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.89% – 6.66%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.89% – 5.90%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.25% – 6.09%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.99% – 5.34%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.97% – 8.54%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.39% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of October 1, 2020.


2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.18% plus 2.32% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. 

4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


5 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 11/13/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.97% to 8.54% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.