Refinancing with Earnest
Refinancing rates from 1.99% APR. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.
In years past, you were stuck with your student loan interest rates. You had little to no options for changing your repayment situation.
But as more and more felt the pinch of student loan debt repayment, a new industry was born to help make things a bit more manageable: student loan refinancing.
You might have heard about student loan refinancing, but you might not be sure if it’s right for you. In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to decide whether you should refinance your student loans.
What is student loan refinancing?
Student loan refinancing is the process of obtaining a new loan at a new interest rate. Typically, you can refinance both your federal and private student loans, which involves paying off your old loans and getting a new one with different repayment terms and (hopefully) a better interest rate.
Student loan refinancing is different than consolidation, though many people erroneously use the terms. Consolidation typically refers to taking out a Direct Consolidation Loan and combining all your federal student loans into one loan with one interest rate.
While there are some similarities with refinancing, consolidation doesn’t offer any interest savings. Private student loan borrowers aren’t eligible for consolidation. As a result, refinancing can be a good option for private student loan borrowers or those with a combination of federal and private student loans.
The key benefit of refinancing is the potential to save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan. For example, as of July 1, 2018, federal Direct PLUS Loans have an interest rate of 7.60%. Through refinancing, you could get approved for a much lower rate, saving you a lot of money.
Using the extra savings, you could pay more money toward your principal balance, invest, or start an emergency savings fund.
Should you refinance? What to consider first
Student loan refinancing is a great way to make payments more manageable, but there are important things to consider before you decide to refinance your student loans.
Through the process of refinancing, you are essentially applying for a private loan. If you already have private loans, that might not be an issue. But if you have federal student loans, you’ll give up your federal student loan protections, including:
- Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans: IDR plans are a smart option for those struggling to afford their payments. With a longer repayment term and a monthly payment that is a percentage of your discretionary income, you can dramatically reduce your minimum payment with an IDR plan. But when you refinance, you’re ineligible for IDR plans.
- Loan forgiveness: Federal student loans have some loan forgiveness options, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs. When you refinance, you’re no longer eligible for these programs.
- Deferment and forbearance: If you fall on serious financial hardship, postponing your payments through deferment or forbearance can help. But if you refinance, you may have limited options to postpone your payments.
When you refinance your student loans, you work with a private lender and lose out on the federal protections offered to you with your federal student loans. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look into refinancing as a viable option, but it’s something to consider before moving forward.
The process of refinancing is irreversible, so you can’t go back and get these benefits at a later date. Once you refinance, you’re going to be with your refinancing company for the duration of your repayment.
How to determine your refinancing eligibility
Because student loan refinancing companies are private lenders, there is more than one option for student loan refinancing. There are many companies in the student loan refinance marketplace from which you can choose. Before you pick one, it’s key to determine whether you’re eligible for a refinancing loan.
Student loan refinancing companies tend to have stricter eligibility terms than you’d have with federal loans. Before you go through the hassle of applying, do your research on the requirements for each lender.
Most lenders require you to have a good credit score, though each lender is different. Lenders also want proof of a stable income and cash flow to support your new loan.
If your credit isn’t great, or if you don’t make enough money, you might need a cosigner to qualify for a loan. A cosigner acts as a guarantee to the lender. If you fall behind on your payments, the cosigner makes them instead. Having a cosigner reduces the risk to the lender, making it more likely to approve you for a loan.
To find out if you qualify, research several different student loan refinancing lenders and review their eligibility requirements. Be sure to read the fine print since refinancing may not be available in all states.
How to find the best student loan refinancing company for you
Once you’ve assessed your eligibility and narrowed it down to a few possibilities, it’s time to choose the best lender for you. Here are some questions to ask that could help you find the best lender for you:
- Does the lender offer fixed or variable interest rates?
- How much could you save with their interest rate? Use our student loan refinancing calculator to see potential savings.
- What are the repayment terms and how will that affect your monthly payment?
- Do the lenders offer any perks? For example, some allow you to make interest-only payments if you experience financial hardship.
- What are others saying about the lender? Does it have a good reputation?
- Is there an origination fee or prepayment penalty?
- What are the minimum and maximum amounts of debt it will refinance?
- What kind of customer support does it offer? Is it easily accessible?
After doing a comparative analysis between lenders, pick your top three and start applying.
Why three? Even after you’ve assessed your eligibility and chosen your top three lenders, you still have to get approved for refinancing. Each lender has its own requirements, and some are stricter than others. Depending on your credit score and your income, one lender might be more likely to approve you than another.
In the end, you want to have options and find the best lender for you.
How to prepare for refinancing
Before you apply for student loan refinancing, do a quick financial audit and prepare some documents to help the process move along smoothly. Here are some steps to take to prepare for refinancing:
- List all your federal and private student loan totals.
- Write down your loans’ interest rates next to the total.
- Create a third column and include your loan servicer’s information, including phone, email, and mailing address.
- Gather your most recent pay stubs.
- Collect last year’s tax return.
- Check your credit reports from the three major bureaus using AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Check your credit score for free at LendingTree, which is the parent company of Student Loan Hero.
Taking these steps can help you prepare to refinance your loans and have all your information in one place.
Choosing your refinancing terms
Through student loan refinancing, you may be able to choose from various repayment terms and interest rates.
Consider your repayment term and assess how it will affect your monthly payment. In other words, will your monthly payment be going up, staying the same, or going down? It all depends on the repayment terms that you choose.
Most refinancing companies offer repayment terms between five and 20 years. Of course, we believe it’s best to pay off your loans as quickly as possible. But you should also make sure that whatever repayment term you choose is manageable for you and allows you to reach other financial goals, too, such as saving for retirement.
With interest rates, assess the impact of choosing a fixed or variable rate. Fixed rates are typically a tad higher than variable rates — but they are fixed, meaning they won’t go up or down over the life of your loan.
Variable rates tend to be lower and can be an attractive option. Variable interest rates are tied to the markets — often the London Interbank Offered Rate.
Before you opt for a variable rate to save money, understand that rates can rise anytime. You could end up with a higher interest rate down the line than if you had selected the fixed-rate option.
If you think you can aggressively pay off your loans in a few years, a variable-rate loan could help you achieve that. But if you choose a longer repayment term, you may be better off with a fixed interest rate. To save extra money on interest, see if your prospective lender offers automatic payment discounts. Some lenders will reduce your interest rate by 0.25%, which can help you save money over time.
Deciding to refinance your loans
Refinancing your student loans could be a great way to save money on your student loans, but it’s still a major financial decision. Carefully assess the costs and the benefits of student loan refinancing and choose what’s right for you.
Ready to refinance your loans? Compare offers from multiple student loan refinancing companies to make sure you get the best rate and loan repayment terms.
Melanie Lockert contributed to this article.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 8 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
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: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. 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 3.20% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.89% 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 December 13, 2019, 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 12/13/2019. 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 https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 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.
2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
3 Important Disclosures for Figure.
Figure’s Student Refinance Loan is a private loan. If you refinance federal loans, you forfeit certain flexible repayment options associated with those loans. If you expect to incur financial hardship that would impact your ability to repay, you should consider federal consolidation alternatives.
4 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Disclosures
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
1College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine.
2All rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
3$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees.
4This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
Information advertised valid as of 1/1/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
5 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
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. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (“APR”)
There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.
For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
ELIGIBILITY & ELIGIBLE LOANS
Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).
Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.
All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to https://www.laurelroad.com/refinance-student-loans/refinance-parent-plus-loans/ for applicable terms and conditions.
For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.
The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.
The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.
POSTPONING OR REDUCING PAYMENTS
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.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.
If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of November 8, 2019 and is subject to change.
6 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.
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 1.76% effective November 10, 2019.
8 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com 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 LendKey.com. 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 LendKey.com 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 12/019/2019 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% to 8.59% Variable APR with AutoPay and 3.49% to 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
|1.99% – 6.89%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.31% – 7.36%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.06% – 6.81%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.62% – 6.12%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.29% – 6.65%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 7.06%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.85% – 6.13%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 8.59%8||Undergrad & Graduate|