PenFed Review: Student Loan Refinancing With Flexible Solutions

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Refinancing rates from 2.57% APR. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.

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From a less-than-stellar GPA to a high student loan rate, your college-era mistakes have a way of sticking with you. But even if you never earned a spot on the dean’s list, you can get a second chance at a low-cost student loan.

Refinancing your student loans can be a chance to modify your debt to match your needs — and possibly pay less interest. Companies like PenFed, formerly known as Purefy, give you the opportunity to lower your student loan rate, lower your monthly payment, or both.

Use our PenFed review to find out more about this student loan refinancing platform and whether it could help you ace Student Loan Repayment 101.

PenFed review: Student loan refinancing process

PenFed is a lending platform that connects applicants with lenders that fit their student loan refinancing needs.

PenFed works with two lenders, PenFed Credit Union and Citizens Bank, to offer both student loan refinancing and private student loans for in-school borrowers. This PenFed review will focus on PenFed student loan refinancing offers.

Pros of PenFed student loan refinancing

Here are some PenFed student loan refinance benefits that stand out:

  • Adjust student loan terms to match your current needs: With a new student loan, you can take advantage of offers for lower student loan rates. You also can choose the best terms to match your financial situation and goals.
  • Quickly see if PenFed can beat your student loan rates: PenFed’s “Find My Rate” tool delivers instant rate estimates from two lenders, with no credit check required.
  • Take advantage of unique solutions for all types of applicants: PenFed tailors student loan refinancing offers to meet the specific needs of parents, couples, and even borrowers with imperfect credit.

Cons of PenFed student loan refinancing

As a student loan refinancing platform, PenFed is a solid choice. However, there are a few student loan refinancing drawbacks borrowers should be aware of:

  • You have to meet eligibility standards: In other words, you’ll need to have at least decent credit and steady income to get approved for PenFed’s student loan refinancing offers. Or you’ll need a student loan cosigner who can qualify.
  • You’ll lose federal student loan benefits: Once you refinance your student loans, you’ll no longer be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness options such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness. You’ll also lose access to federal repayment protections such as deferment and income-driven repayment plans.

How to get customized PenFed student loan refinancing rates

You’ll see in the PenFed review below how easy it is to get a rate estimate for refinancing student loans. Using PenFed’s tool, you have to answer just five questions (pictured below).

purefy review

Image credit: PenFed

Since you submit an estimate of your credit score, there’s no credit check, and your credit won’t be affected. If you’re not sure what your score is, you can check your credit score for free on sites such as Credit Karma and Credit Sesame.

PenFed uses the information you submit to generate customized student loan refinancing rates and offers from its lenders. For each loan offer, PenFed highlights the change in monthly payments and total costs over the life of the loan (pictured below).

penfed reviews

Image credit: PenFed

If you see an offer you like, you can click through and apply to refinance your student loans with that lender.

On its site, PenFed suggests applicants should be ready to submit important documents, including:

  • An image of their driver’s license
  • Proof of income, such as a pay stub or tax return
  • College transcripts to verify their degree
  • Payoff statements for the student loans the applicant intends to refinance

Additionally, you’ll need to submit a PenFed membership application before you can refinance student loans with this credit union.

PenFed interest rates and fees

Since PenFed works with two lenders, it’s easy to quickly compare offers — all with a single rate request. During our PenFed review, we noted the following cost-effective benefits:

  • Competitive refinancing rates. PenFed offers low student loan refinancing rates to help many borrowers save. According to PenFed’s site, its lenders set student loan rates based on your credit score and the college degrees you hold.
  • A wide range of terms. Whether you’re looking to get out of student debt fast or want to to lower your monthly payments, PenFed can probably help. In the rate offers we previewed, refinanced student loan terms ranged from five years up to 20.
  • No fees. PenFed’s student loan refinancing offers carry no origination fees or prepayment penalties, giving you a better chance at savings.

Unfortunately, not every borrower can refinance to lower student loan rates. If you already have low student loan rates, PenFed might not be able to beat them. Borrowers with high-interest student debt, such as Grad or Parent PLUS Loans, are most likely to save money via PenFed.

PenFed student loan refinance eligibility requirements

PenFed student loan refinancing options can be used to pay off and replace outstanding federal student loans, private student loans, and even PLUS Loans.

Applicants also must be U.S. citizens and have a healthy financial background to meet PenFed student loan refinance requirements. That means you’ll need good to excellent credit to be eligible, as outlined by the following lenders:

  • PenFed requires a credit score of 700 or higher to qualify for student loan refinancing or 670 with a qualified cosigner.
  • Citizens Bank requires a minimum credit score of 680 on student loan refinancing applications or 620 with a qualified cosigner.

Both PenFed lenders also have income requirements for their student loan refinancing offers:

  • PenFed requires a minimum annual income of $42,000 or $25,000 with a qualified cosigner.
  • Citizens Bank requires a minimum income of $24,000 per year (it may be combined income for applicants with a cosigner) to qualify.

Through our PenFed review, we also noted a few unique student loan refinancing options that not every lender provides:

  • Refinancing student loans with the help of a cosigner: If your credit is too low to qualify for student loan refinancing on your own or get the best rates, try adding a cosigner. Both lenders working with PenFed accept cosigners on student loan refinancing applications.
  • Parent PLUS Loan refinancing: Only a handful of lenders refinance Parent PLUS Loans, and PenFed’s lenders even provide an option to refinance these loans from the parent’s name to the student’s name.
  • Student loan refinancing for married couples: A rare offering, PenFed can facilitate the request to combine and refinance married couples’ student loans. One spouse is the primary borrower, and the other is the cosigner, with interest rates set by the higher credit score of the two.

Lastly, PenFed is willing to work with borrowers in “unique situations” to find the right student loan refinancing solution.

PenFed customer service

Reach out to talk to a representative and see what PenFed can do for you. Here’s how you can get in touch with PenFed’s customer service team:

  • Phone: 202-524-1115
  • Email:
  • Twitter: @PenFed

If you think PenFed could help you pay less on your student debt, give it a try. With its low-pressure rate checker, you have nothing to lose — and could save quite a bit.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Get real rates from up to 4 Lenders at once

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% 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 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% 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. 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. *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. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.