Earnest Student Loans Review: Payment Plans Customized to Your Needs

earnest student loans

Earnest is lender that offers both student loan refinancing and personal loans.

Earnest works differently from traditional lenders. It looks at a fuller picture of your financial situation to determine loan eligibility and interest rates.

Qualifying for Earnest student loans doesn’t just depend on credit scores; the company also evaluates an applicant’s saving patterns, 401(k) balances and investment accounts, employment history, and growth potential.

With Earnest, borrowers can consolidate both federal and private loans, as long as the debt is from a Title IV school. Parent PLUS refinancing is also available.

earnest student loans

Image credit: Earnest

This guide to Earnest student loans will help you decide if Earnest’s personal loans or student loan refinancing options are right for you.

Earnest student loan features

Earnest offers many features aimed at helping student loan borrowers. Features include:

  • Precision Pricing. With Precision Pricing, Earnest allows you more flexibility in your loan repayment term and tailors your interest rate based on the length of time you’ll repay the loan.
  • Repayment flexibility. You can increase your payment any time or make extra payments without prepayment penalties to pay off loans faster. There’s also the option to make biweekly payments. You can even skip a payment and make it up later.
  • An online application process. Apply online and then use Earnest’s web interface or mobile app to manage your loan and make payments.
  • A data-driven approach to loan approval. Earnest goes beyond your credit score when determining if you will be eligible to refinance your student loan or take a personal loan.

The streamlined application process makes it possible to apply and obtain your loan rate within minutes. Earnest’s algorithm will provide a personalized rate and timely approval for qualified borrowers.

Refinance with Earnest

How much do Earnest student loans cost?

Earnest earns its revenue by charging interest on loans. It has created a customized formula, called Precision Pricing, to set your loan rate to your exact repayment term.

As Earnest explains, most financial institutions have set repayment terms. If payment amounts fall between two terms, the amount due is bumped up to the longer term with a higher rate. Precision pricing allows borrowers to choose any repayment term, ranging from five to 20 years.

There are more than 180 different repayment options under Precision Pricing. Earnest provides a customized interest rate based on the exact term of each loan. The company claims this could save you more money compared with how much you’d otherwise pay.

earnest student loans

Image credit: Earnest

What are the interest rates and fees?

Earnest does not charge any fees to originate loans, nor does it charge fees to apply. There are no prepayment fees, no fees for extra payments, and no fees for early payments. However, Earnest does reserve the right to charge up to an $8 fee for returned loan payments to offset costs associated with processing the return.

A note for Florida borrowers: If a loan document for an Earnest loan is executed in Florida, the state government levies a .35% stamp tax. For example, if you took out a $10,000 loan, this tax would total $35. If you take a personal loan, on the day after the initial loan transfer, Earnest will debit the tax amount from your bank account and send it directly to the Florida Department of Revenue.

Because Earnest charges no fees, the company generates its revenue from interest paid on the company’s loans. Interest rates for Earnest’s student loan refinancing program vary. Variable rates for student loan refinancing start at 2.57%. Fixed rate loans start at 3.35% APR if borrowers set up autopay.

Personal loan rates start at 5.25% for a fixed rate loan. A fixed rate loan means the interest rate and monthly payment will not change during the lifetime of the loan. A variable rate means the rate is tied to a financial index and could rise and fall.

Minimum Interest Rate for a
Fixed Rate Loan
Minimum Interest Rate for a
Variable Loan
Personal Loan 5.25% N/A
Refinancing a
Student Loan
3.35 %
(with autopay)
2.57%

Who qualifies for Earnest student loans?

Earnest has certain eligibility requirements for refinancing student loans. Requirements include the following:

  • You must be the primary borrower on the loan you’re trying to refinance, and the debt must come from your education at a Title IV school. The debt must be from a degree you completed or a degree you’ll be finishing up at the end of the semester. You must not have any requests for new loans to go back to school.
  • The loans you’re requesting to refinance must have a minimum $5,000 outstanding balance.
  • Your credit score must be at least 650 and must not be behind on your student loan payments, rent, or mortgage payments. You aren’t eligible if you have a bankruptcy on your credit report or recent accounts in collection.

You may only refinance an existing Earnest student loan if you have a six-month history of on-time payments.

Earnest will also look at the big picture of your financial history, including the amount of savings you have, whether you’re spending less than you earn, whether you have lots of debt that’s not education or mortgage debt, and whether you’ve made payments on time or have regularly overdrafted checking accounts.

By taking a fuller look at your financial situation, Earnest may make it easier for some borrowers to become eligible for a refinance loan than if the company looked at credit scores alone.

customize your payment plan with earnest

How to apply for Earnest student loans

To apply for Earnest student loans, click the “2 Min: Get Your Rate” button on Earnest’s home screen.

earnest student loans

Image credit: Earnest

First, you’ll enter your name, email address, and telephone number, and check a box indicating if you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You can also create an account to save your information. (If you already have an account, you can sign in on the next screen.)

earnest student loans

Image credit: Earnest

Next, you must input your educational information, including the highest degree earned, your graduation date, the school you attended, and your full student loan balance.

earnest student loans

Image credit: Earnest

On the next screen, you’ll have to input information on your income, your investments, and your rent or mortgage payment. Your street address comes next.

earnest student loans

Image credit: Earnest

You’ll then enter your Social Security number and consent to a soft credit check. A soft credit check will not result in an inquiry on your credit report and won’t hurt your credit score.

earnest student loans

Image credit: Earnest

Click “Get Your Rate.” You will receive a personalized rate for refinancing your loans. If the rate looks good, you’ll continue to the formal application process by clicking “Start Your Application.”

earnest student loans

Image credit: Earnest

You’ll provide more details about your degree, your employment, and your bank information.

Finally, you’ll submit your application, await approval, and then decide if you want to move forward with refinancing your loan.

How do Earnest student loans help you?

Earnest claims that clients who refinance their student loans with the company save an average of $21,810. Personal loans are also available to use for just about anything you’d like if you’re approved.

do you qualify for student loan refinancing?

Customer service and experience

Earnest provides help via email and phone. There is also a Frequently Asked Questions section in Earnest’s Help Center; site visitors can search for a topic or enter a question.

earnest student loans

Image credit: Earnest

Earnest has an average 4.9 out of 5 stars on Credit Karma. One reviewer commented: “This is the first company that allowed me to refinance my very large student loan balances without ridiculous requirements. It was easy to get [the] documents, and their rates were fair. The process went quick & included a free brunch incentive!”

Contacting Earnest

Earnest refers to its customer service department as its Client Happiness Team. You can reach the team at (888) 601-2801. Business hours for telephone calls are Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST.

There is also an email form on Earnest’s website (you’ll need to provide an email address so Earnest can return your message).

You can follow Earnest Student loans on Twitter or Facebook.

If you’re thinking about refinancing with Earnest, first check out these 10 questions you should ask before refinancing your student loans.

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