First Republic Bank Student Loan Refinancing Review: Low Rates But Strict Requirements

 July 24, 2019
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The good news is that First Republic Bank student loan refinancing comes with some very competitive interest rates. In fact, First Republic offers some of the lowest fixed rates in the country at a variety of loan terms.

However, the eligibility requirements for First Republic are also among the most strict.

This First Republic Bank review will help you figure out whether refinancing with First Republic is right for you and whether you could qualify. Specifically, we’ll look at:

First Republic Bank student loan refinancing review: The basics

First Republic Bank offers attractive terms for student loan refinancing. However, First Republic is a private lender, so keep in mind that if you refinance your federal loans into a private loan, you’ll lose access to programs offered by government, such as income-driven repayment plans and some types of student loan forgiveness.

However, if you have a high-paying job, or you don’t qualify (or intend to take advantage of) those federal programs, it might well be worth it to refinance your student loans privately — especially if you can lower your interest rate or monthly payment.

Choosing First Republic as your lender would also yield the following benefits:

  • No prepayment, origination, or annual fees
  • Low, fixed interest rates
  • Prequalify in one minute
  • Borrow between $25,000 and $300,000
  • Option to apply with cosigner support
  • Choose one of four repayment terms: 5, 7, 10 or 15 years
  • Receive a prepayment rebate for repaying your debt early

Unfortunately, there are also some cons of refinancing with First Republic, including:

  • Strict eligibility requirements, including some based on your location and employment (see more below)
  • Must open a First Republic bank account
  • No forbearance protection
  • No repayment terms longer than 15 years

What we like about First Republic student loan refinancing

The biggest advantage to refinancing through First Republic Bank is the low, fixed interest rates. On top of that, First Republic offers terms of five, seven, 10 and 15 years, providing several options for repaying your loan.

With a shorter loan term, you have a lower potential interest rate:

Term Rate
5 years 1.95%-2.45%
7 years 2.75%-3.25%
10 years 3.00%-4.05%
15 years 3.45%-4.45%
Note: Terms and rates as of June 17, 2019; rates include promotional discounts.

In addition, we like the following lender characteristics:

Personal banker support

Another nice feature of First Republic refinancing is the fact that you’ll be assigned to a personal banker. This is someone you can call or email whenever you have questions about student loan refinancing or other banking needs. You can even visit a banker in person, at one of the 78 brick-and-mortar locations.

This is a welcome alternative to going through customer service or dealing with a third-party company when you need something. Be aware, however, that your First Republic personal banker might try to sell you on other products, including wealth management and investments, though you’re not under any obligation.

Prequalify in one minute

While First Republic offers that one-on-one support, it also features an easy, online preliminary application that you can complete on your own time. They also offer a repayment estimator to help you figure out your student loan payment based on different loan terms.

If you don’t meet the credit requirement, you won’t be able to proceed. Borrowers who meet the requirements are connected with a banker to talk about their options. You must then complete the full, 20-minute loan application in person, with the banker.

Prepayment rebate

If you pay off your student loan within 48 months, First Republic will give you a rebate on the interest paid, up to 2% of the original loan balance.

So if you refinance $80,000 through First Republic, for example, you could get up to $1,600 back if you pay your loan off in four years.

What to keep in mind about First Republic student loan refinancing

One of the downsides to refinancing with First Republic is that you must live near one of its retail branches to get a loan. You do get personal service, but it’s limited by geographic area. You must live in or near one of the following cities:

  • California: San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, San Diego
  • Connecticut: Greenwich
  • Florida: Palm Beach
  • Massachusetts: Boston
  • New York: New York City
  • Oregon: Portland
  • Wyoming: Jackson Hole

Here are more potential drawbacks to consider before you borrow:

Stiff eligibility requirements

In addition to your location, eligibility requirements are also tough to meet with First Republic Bank. You need to have excellent credit and refinance at least $25,000 (if you have a graduate degree) or $40,000 (for undergraduate degrees) to qualify.

On top of that, it’s required that you are employed.

Connecting a First Republic checking account

To qualify for the advertised interest rates on First Republic refinancing, you also need to open and deposit at least $500 into a First Republic ATM Rebate Checking account. If you don’t open a checking account with First Republic and maintain automatic loan payment or direct deposit, your rate will be 5% higher than you were initially quoted.

The checking account, which offers rebates on ATM fees internationally, is fee-free as long as you maintain an average monthly balance of $3,500. Otherwise, you pay a fee of $25 per month.

On the plus side, if your checking account balance surpasses 20% of your loan amount, you could receive a 0.75% discount on your interest rate. Socking away 10% of your loan amount in the account would net a 0.50% rate reduction.

No repayment protections

It’s also important to note that First Republic Bank doesn’t offer repayment hardship policies. There are no provisions for deferment or forbearance, for example.

That means if you run into financial difficulties, you won’t be able to postpone loan payments.

Is First Republic student loan refinancing right for you?

With low rates for short terms, as well as a 2.00% prepayment rebate, First Republic is best suited to borrowers who have an unobstructed route to a fast repayment — perhaps because of a small remaining loan balance or a strong income.

The rate you end up with, however, depends on your credit, loan term and other factors.

Besides the chance to reduce your interest rate or monthly payment via First Republic, the bank could also deliver the brick-and-mortar banking support you might seek.

But if you don’t live near a branch or have a strong credit score (or willing cosigner), you might be out of luck. Refinancing with First Republic could be a risky proposition for you anyway, as it offers no ability to reduce or pause your payments in the event of economic hardship, like a job loss.

Still, if First Republic isn’t a good fit for you, you can consider our list of top-rated student loan refinancing companies.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.