Earn Free Money With These 5 Student Loan Referral Programs

loan referral program

Have you ever scored a free ride on a ride-sharing app or earned a recruiting bonus from an employer? Then you’re already familiar with refer-a-friend promotions. But you might be surprised to learn about student loan referral programs that could earn you money — we even have one at Student Loan Hero.

Most student loan referral programs operate on a simple premise. If your friend uses your code to apply for or refinance a loan — and it’s approved — you get money. These referral bonuses can help boost your own monthly loan payments.

But not all of these student loan referral programs are equal.

What to look for in a student loan referral program

Unlike programs you might be familiar with in other industries, student loan referral programs typically don’t require you to be a borrower in order to recommend a lender and reap the reward.

The key differentiators between referral programs are how big of a reward you can earn and how fast you can get it. But what makes them similar is their eligibility requirements. Most programs require the following terms:

  • The person you refer can’t have an existing account with the lender.
  • You can receive only one bonus per referral.
  • Your referral’s loan must be refinanced or approved before you earn a bonus.

It’s worth noting that most programs allow you to send out as many referrals as you wish. But be sure to read the rules of the referral programs under consideration. Keep in mind, too, that you won’t be updated on the progress of your referrals’ loan applications unless they tell you directly. This is to ensure the privacy of the loan applicant.

5 awesome student loan referral programs

Here are five lenders who offer a student loan referral program and the details of each.

1. SoFi

The SoFi referral program is unique in a few ways. First, you can get rewarded for referring someone who is interested in refinancing a student loan or a Parent PLUS loan, or even someone who is considering taking out a personal loan.

Registering and enrolling in the program will create the customized link that you and your referrals will need to collect the cash bonuses. Unlike other lenders, SoFi’s referral program awards $300 to both you and your pal.

Once your referral’s new loan has been approved, you’ll each receive the money via Automated Clearing House (ACH) and to your bank account within 30 days. All U.S. residents — except those living in Michigan — are eligible to participate.

Refer a Friend to SoFi

2. Laurel Road

One nice benefit of the Laurel Road referral program is not having to register. Provide your name and contact information, plus the same for referrals. You can invite as many people as you like, but you’ll need to manually add them one at a time. You won’t have a unique link to share more openly.

Still, a $300 check with your name on it could be in the mail if someone in your network gets approved for a loan with Laurel Road.

Refer a Friend to Laurel Road

3. CommonBond

Enter an email address on the CommonBond sign-up page to get a link and send it around as you wish. CommonBond pays out $200 via PayPal for each new or refinanced loan that originated with your referral.

Need a selling point to share with your referrals? Every time they take out a loan with the company, it funds the education of a child in a developing country.

Refer a Friend to CommonBond

4. LendKey

With its Refer and Earn program, LendKey separates itself from the competition. It offers a bonus for each referral who gets approved ($50), plus each referral who actually takes out a loan (another $250).

This could be the ideal referral program if you have friends who are rate-shopping and willing to submit their credit report as part of an application.

You need to enter your name and email address to get started — and that’s it. The small or big bonus would arrive via PayPal within four weeks of each loan’s approval or disbursement.

Refer a Friend to LendKey

5. Education Loan Finance

Like the SoFi referral program, the Education Loan Finance program is doubly rewarding. It offers $400 for successful referrals, and your friend would score a $100 bonus when refinancing a loan within 90 days of registering on the site. A second $100 Education Loan Finance Fast Track Bonus is awarded to new customers who have their loans stamped within 30 days of their initial application.

Registering is as simple as filling out a quick form. But there is one unique qualifier: A friend or family member must refinance a minimum of $15,000 in order for you both to be eligible for the cash bonuses.

Refer a Friend to Education Loan Finance

How to use your bonus from a loan referral program

If you’re a borrower and are awarded $300 or $400 for helping a friend refinance their own loans, there are a number of ways to handle this influx in income.

There’s not one correct way for everyone, but making a larger-than-usual monthly payment on your student loan can help immensely. If that’s your plan, don’t let the bonus get lost in your bank account. Make an extra student loan payment as soon as you receive the bonus to remove the temptation of spending it elsewhere.

Of course, you can also apply the cash to other routine expenses. Perhaps you use it to pay your rent or mortgage, internet bill, or maybe even the next few grocery trips.

You might not receive the full bonus as advertised either — it might be taxable income. SoFi, for example, will ask you to complete a W-9 form before handing you more than $599. CommonBond says it will send a 1099-MISC form to use when filing your taxes if six or more of your referrals result in new loans.

If you’ve ever been burdened by student loans, you can appreciate how impactful a good referral can be. Even though you don’t need to be a borrower of a particular lender in order to recommend it to friends, relaying a positive experience could lead to someone else’s.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
LenderRates (APR)Eligible Degrees 
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
2.75% - 7.24%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.57% - 6.39%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.57% - 7.12%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.99% - 6.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.74% - 7.26%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.89% - 8.33%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
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