MEFA Refinancing Review: Good for Student Loan Borrowers Without a Degree

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mefa review

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Refinancing with Laurel Road

Refinancing APRs starting at 1.89%. Checking your rates won’t affect your score.

Check out Laurel Road

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Whether you’re just learning about student loan refinancing or are ready to compare rate quotes, it’s worth considering the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA).

MEFA refinancing could help you lower your interest rate or monthly payment while also consolidating your various student loans. Like other reputable lenders, you can check your potential MEFA refi rate without hurting your credit. Still, MEFA loans aren’t always ideal, lacking key features like cosigner release.

MEFA refinancing is a good fit for creditworthy U.S. citizens and permanent residents, especially those who borrowed federal or private student loans for a nonprofit college or university but didn’t complete their degree. Read our MEFA review to learn more.

What to like:What to keep in mind:
Easily check your potential rate without impacting your credit
Options to pause or modify your repayment
Eligibility: No degree necessary, but other requirements can be narrow
Cosigner release not available
Interest rates aren’t especially competitive
Repayment terms are lacking

MEFA loans review

MEFA, located in the heart of Boston, focuses on helping students and families afford college. Created by the state legislature in 1982, MEFA offers a range of services, from student loans to college savings programs.

While you have many options for refinancing, MEFA can be a smart choice for some borrowers. As one of the few companies that offer refinancing loans to borrowers who did not complete a degree, MEFA loans can help you take charge of your debt.

MEFA products

MEFA offers a range of products to help families pay for a college education, including:

  • Refinancing loans: MEFA also offers refinancing loans to borrowers across the country.
  • Private student loans: MEFA provides undergraduate and graduate student loans.
  • Prepaid tuition: For those looking to save on tuition, MEFA runs U.Plan, a prepaid tuition program available nationally.

For the purposes of this MEFA review, we’ll focus on its refinancing product.

MEFA refinancing at a glance

Like other banks, credit unions and online lenders, MEFA refi loans could allow you to reduce your interest rate or monthly payment. They also yield a more streamlined repayment, as you could consolidate private and federal loans (borrowed for nonprofit colleges and universities only).

Here are the key features of MEFA refinancing:

  • Refinance as little as $10,000 worth of education debt
  • Fixed and variable interest rates as low as 3.65%, as of Sept. 15, 2020
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit score
  • Repayment terms of 7, 10 and 15 years
  • Eligibility requirements include U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
  • Ability to apply with a co-borrower or cosigner

What to like about MEFA refinancing

Here are some of the upsides to choosing MEFA for refinancing your student debt:

Easily check your potential rate without impacting your credit

MEFA allows you to apply for a student loan or refinancing loan via their website or by phone. Before formally applying, however, you can click “Find My Rate” to be quoted possible terms without submitting to a hard credit check.

You can create your MEFA account and input the necessary information in just a few minutes. However, if you plan to file a full application, you do need to have documents on hand to verify your income, necessary loan amount or cosigner information.

The MEFA website is intuitive and easy to use. However, it doesn’t offer a mobile app, so it can be difficult to navigate on a smartphone.

Also, be aware that if you sign on with MEFA to refinance, it’ll actually be third-party American Education Services that manages your account in repayment.

Options to pause or modify your repayment

MEFA is not a federal loan lender, so it does not offer benefits such as income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness programs and expansive options for forbearance or deferment.

With that said, MEFA isn’t alone among lenders that offer temporary payment postponements without outwardly promoting them.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, MEFA took initiative, announcing helpful safeguards, including:

  • Natural disaster forbearance: No payments are due, and while interest accrues onto your balance, it will not capitalize.
  • Modified payment plan: After completing the forbearance period, you could qualify for temporarily reduced monthly dues.

To learn more about their support programs during and after the COVID-19 era, contact the company directly:

What to keep in mind about MEFA refinancing

And now, let’s turn to some drawbacks to U-fi refinancing:

MEFA eligibility requirements can be narrow

Unlike most other lenders, MEFA does not require you to have completed your degree before refinancing. That means MEFA may be an option for you if you left school early.

Keep in mind that you must be the primary borrower on the original loans. At MEFA, you can’t refinance a Parent PLUS Loan into your name, for example, as you can do with other lenders.

Here are other eligibility requirements of MEFA refinancing:

  • Citizenship or permanent residency
  • Solid credit history (or a find a cosigner with one)
  • No previous default on education debt
  • No delinquencies on education debt in the past year
  • No history of bankruptcy or foreclosure in the past five years
Looking to refinance parent loans into your name?SoFi allows this maneuver, but you must be the primary applicant.
Don’t have $10,000 in loans to refinance?LendKey will refinance as little as $2,000 worth of debt
Not a U.S. citizen?Prodigy Finance is among lenders assisting international borrowers

Apply with a cosigner but don’t count on cosigner release

To qualify for MEFA refinancing – or to snare a lower interest rate – you could apply with a cosigner.

On the downside, the student loan company doesn’t mention the possibility of a cosigner release anywhere on its website.

If cosigner release is an important feature to your repayment, consider shopping around with lenders like CommonBond.

MEFA interest rates aren’t especially competitive

MEFA claimed on its website that its refinancing customers reduce their interest rate by 28%.

If your application is approved, you can take out a loan with a fixed or variable interest rate as low as 4.65%, as of Sept. 15, 2020 .

While that rate could be a win for your repayment, you might be able to do better with a competitor. Many of the top student loan refinancing companies offer noticeably lower rates.

For example, Splash Financial advertised fixed rates bottoming out at 2.63%, plus variable rates starting at 1.89%.

MEFA repayment terms are lacking

If you choose to refinance your student loans with MEFA, you’ll be forced to select a 7-, 10- or 15-year repayment term. If that’s flexible enough for your repayment, you could be good to proceed. You could also simply prepay your loan ahead of schedule.

If you’d like more options, however, consider that many top-ranked lenders offer at least five repayment term options. The most common durations are 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years.

Is MEFA refinancing right for your student loan repayment?

As discussed in this MEFA review, this company might be a great lender for some borrowers. It could be especially useful for students who left school without graduating.

But because each lender has different criteria that determine your interest rates, it’s wise to get quotes from multiple lenders to make sure you’re getting your best deal.

To compare MEFA refinancing with other lender products, check out our marketplace of banks that refinance student loans.

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.89% – 5.99%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.99% – 5.64%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.91% – 5.25%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.25% – 6.88%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.89% – 5.90%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

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 Feburary 1, 2021.

2 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: 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, 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.

3 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via 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 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 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 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.

4 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 7.33% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.88% 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 0.13% plus 2.37% 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. The discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the interest savings are applied to the principal loan balance, which may help pay the loan down faster. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. *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. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.  

5 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

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%.


This information is current as of January 4, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.