Refinancing with Laurel Road
Refinancing rates from 1.89% APR. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.
Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and relief efforts from the government, student loan lenders and others. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.
* * *
The average student loan debt among Arkansas graduates of the Class of 2018 was $26,579, according to The Institute for College Access & Success. While this figure came in below the national average of $29,200, it’s still a significant amount of money to pay back. If you’re considering Arkansas student loans, it’s crucial to find an affordable loan with low costs of borrowing.
This guide will help you to get the Arkansas student loans you need, or if you’ve already borrowed, there are tips about refinancing your debt to save money:
- How to get Arkansas student loans
- How to refinance Arkansas student loans
- Final tips on student loans in Arkansas
|Arkansas student loan debt: At a glance|
|Average debt at graduation||$26,579|
|Percent of students who graduate with debt||53%|
|National ranking for amount of debt||37|
|National average debt at graduation (Class of 2019)||$29,900|
|Source: The Institute for College Access & Success|
When you apply for student loans to attend school in Arkansas, it’s best to exhaust options for loans from the government before obtaining private student loans.
Federal loans often have lower interest rates than their private equivalents, as well as access to federal loan forgiveness options and income-driven repayment (IDR) plans that cap your monthly payments at a percentage of your disposable income.
Federal student loans
Most Arkansas students borrow from the Department of Education through its direct loan program.
Direct loans, also known as Stafford loans, include both subsidized and unsubsidized loans from the federal government. Subsidized loans will cover your interest during undergraduate study, but you must demonstrate financial need to qualify.
Unsubsidized loans don’t cover in-school interest costs, but they’re available to graduate and professional students — as well as undergrads — and they’re awarded regardless of financial need.
For both subsidized and unsubsidized direct loans, the government charges a low fixed interest rate and set origination fee, so there’s no need to shop around. There’s also no credit check required for these government loans, and students are automatically eligible once they submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as FAFSA.
The state of Arkansas also provides resources to help students, although the state doesn’t offer loans itself. Students can visit the Arkansas Student Loan Authority website to find out about their federal loan options and get free help with college planning.
Graduate students and parents of undergrads may be eligible for PLUS loans, which are also federal student loans. But PLUS loans are not available if you have adverse credit. Unlike direct loans, PLUS loans aren’t always a better deal than private student loans, so it’s important to compare all your options.
Private student loans
There are limits on the amount that students are eligible to take out in direct loans, both on an annual basis and throughout their time in school. Since direct loans alone are often insufficient to fully fund college, many students also take out private student loans.
Private student loans don’t offer the same kind of borrower protections that federal loans do. There’s no IDR option and no loan forgiveness for public service work. There’s also more variation in rates and terms among private lenders, which is why it’s so important to compare options to find your best deals.
To qualify for private student loans, you’ll need to have good credit and proof of income. Many students will likely have to have a cosigner to get approved. A cosigner shares legal responsibility for loan repayment, so it is a big responsibility for someone.
Students looking for private student loans in Arkansas have many options, including:
- Centennial Bank
- Carries the Smart Option Student Loan from Sallie Mae
- APRs run from 25%-12.35%, as of July 20, 2020
- College Ave Student Loans
- Variable APRs: 1.24% – 11.98%
- Fixed APRs: 3.49% – 12.99%
- Also offers parent loans
- Ascent Student Loans
- Has a 1% cashback graduation reward
- Variable APRs: 2.69% – 12.98%
- Fixed APRs: 3.53% – 14.50%
- Variable APRs: 1.25% – 11.10%
- Fixed APRs: 4.25% – 12.35%
- Offers cosigner release with certain lenders
After graduation, Arkansas student loan borrowers also have ways to make their monthly payments more affordable. One of these options is to refinance the student loans.
Refinancing is generally done with private lenders, including local and national banks, credit unions or online lenders. The federal government doesn’t offer loan refinancing, although it is possible to consolidate certain federal loans through the Department of Education if you’d prefer to have one big loan to pay instead of many, or want to change your length of repayment.
Unlike consolidation, refinancing can significantly lower your interest rate, depending on how high your rates are now and how strong a credit profile you (or your cosigner) has. As a result, student loan refinancing can reduce both your monthly payments and the total cost of your loan.
But the downside to refinancing is that you lose access to federal borrower protections, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness and IDR programs, since your loan will now be private.
You should carefully weigh whether it makes sense for you to give up these federal loan benefits to achieve the savings that refinancing Arkansas student loans could provide. If you want to refinance, some financial institutions offering this option include:
- Has fixed refinancing APRs of 2.99% – 6.09% and variable APRs at 2.25% – 6.09%
- Unemployment protection program will pause your payments and help you find work
- Fixed refinancing APRs at 2.98% – 5.79% and variable APRs at 1.99% – 5.64%
- Protections also available if you’re having trouble making payments
- Education Loan Finance
- Has a wide variety of repayment terms, from five to 20 years
- Offers fixed refinancing APRs at 3.21% – 5.79% and variable APRs at 2.39% – 6.01%
As with private student loans, you’ll want to do some student loan refinance comparison shopping since terms can vary widely from one lender to another with these loan types.
Whether you’re going to school in Arkansas now or have graduated and want to take control over your Arkansas student loans, understanding different financing options is key to making school affordable. Remember to max out scholarships and grants first, then take federal loans, and finally turn to private loans to make up the difference.
Likewise, if you’re looking into refinancing previous loans, also check out some of the forgiveness options available.
By borrowing as little as you can and choosing the right loan products, your path to freedom from debt should be shorter, quicker and smoother. You might even pay off your student loans ahead of schedule.
Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2020!
|1.24% – 11.98%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|1.25% – 11.15%*,2||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.12% – 12.37%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.24% – 11.44%4||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|1.77% – 11.89%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|2.69% – 12.98%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.52% – 9.50%7||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers. |
1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
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.
Information advertised valid as of 9/24/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Lowest advertised rates require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.
2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans, and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.
4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.23% to 11.83% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.87% to 11.66% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 11.83% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.77% to 11.73% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.30% to 11.98% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.94% to 11.89% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.60% to 11.26% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.87% to 11.16% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. 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. Information current as of 10/02/2020. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).
6 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicant’s ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.17% effective Sep 1, 2020 and may increase after consummation.